Stars & Garters
Star-spangelled starlet with a jet pack.
Red Rocket (Toni Rae) is an attractive women with long red hair, bright eyes and a inviting smile. She is an open and expressive person upon meeting and is clearly athletic. Toni is as comfortable in evening wear as she is in cargo pants and a airman’s jacket (which is her preferred appearance). Deeper inspection reveals a women of keen perception and intellect. Mechanically inclined and skilled at gathering information, Red Rocket is likely the one in charge of the conversation, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
Red Rocket is a courageous and highly skilled operative, not only a marksmen and gadgeteer, but an escape artist par none. She works well in a team setting, but is a skilled independent operative where needs be. Red Rocket is highly committed to ending the war and defeating the Nazis. She was already a member of the O.S.S. before joining the Power Company.
Red Rocket is a 900 point character.
First Appearance: Issue #2 Operation Inferno
Little Antonija Milovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia on January 17, 1917 and her father (Milorad) was a brilliant engineer who loved the feeling of grease on his fingers and the rewards of inventing new and amazing things. Antonija unfortunately never knew her mother because she died giving birth to her. But her father it seemed was ready for his fatherhood role tried his very best to care for his daughter as best he could. Though it wasn’t easy he found a way and as a result he formed a really strong bond with his daughter which he loved so much.
As he was raising her, he couldn’t help but notice that she too seemed to be really smart and advanced. So he decided to start teaching her all about engineering among other things at a very young age. Little Antonija was making her own toys to play with by the age of 2 years old.
She loved it when her father would teach her something new because it felt exciting and fun. She also loved that her father took the time to teach her things and spend time her. In fact, she felt like he was her friend as well as her father. Antonija always felt she could talk to her father about whatever was on her mind and that meant the world to her and she loved him very much.
Travel to Japan
In the year 1924, Antonija’s father was recruited by the Japanese engineering firm Tonaka to work on a series or projects involved in rocketry, a specialty Milorad had a great interest in. In order to be a part of this once in a life time opportunity, Milorad had to leave his beloved Serbia behind and take his seven year old daughter to Tokyo, the capital of the blossoming Empire of Japan.
Though Milorad was concerned from the beginning about how Antonija would handle living in Japan, his daughter thrived, learning Japanese even faster than he did, and getting along quite well with her fellow school children as well as the children of other scientists and engineers recruited from all over the world by the Tonaka Corporation.
By 1929 Milorad’s work had progressed quite far, and he openly shared a great deal of what he and his comrades had learned with Antonija, who had no problems keeping up with the breakthroughs of the world renowned scientists. However by mid-year several scientists and engineers in the employ of the Tonaka Corporation had become weary of the governments intentions towards their research in small scale rocketry. Many were worried that though scientific research had been the promised goal of their work, it would be instead put towards militarization.
One night in July of 1929 Milorad woke Antonija from her sleep in their house, telling her that she had to be quiet as they were leaving Japan for good that night. Outside their house a small truck waiting for them with many other scientists and their families on board.
The truck only had the chance to drive a very short distance before being met by a large squad of Japanese soldiers, being lead by a young woman with an eye patch wielding a samurai sword. The soldiers mercilessly opened fire on the scientists and their families, Milorad had only a moment to leap out of the truck with Antonija and a large wooden box, fleeing into the woods at night.
Miloard however was soon shot by pursuing soldiers, and with his dying breath told his daughter to take the box with her and run, and to be sure that the woman who was chasing them, who’s name was Yamakura Yuka NEVER lays hands on the box.
Distraught and in shock, young Antonija took the box from her dying father and fled deep into the forest at night, managing to evade the soldiers and Madam Yamakura.
By the end of the next day Antonija had made her way out of Tokyo’s outer suburbs and to a nearby fishing community. With luck, Antonija found an America freighter in port buying fish for their journey to California. Antonija snuck aboard the vessel, but was found after only a day at sea.
Not speaking English, the crew weren’t too clear on what to do with her, but being sympathetic decided it best to carry on to California with their stowaway. En route Antonija learned her first words of English, and by the end of their journey she had managed to be able to communicate fairly well with the crew. As such she was able to outline her story to them, about where she came from, why she was fleeing Japan and how her father had entrusted a sealed large wooden box to her.
The ships engineer, a burly red headed bearded fellow named Lou took pity on her, and after arriving at the port of Los Angeles, convinced his own wife to at least let her stay at their house temporarily.
Getting Started in Hollywood
After first arriving in Los Angeles Antonija began working with Lou’s wife Molly, helping keep the boarding house that she ran in good shape. Antonija was very eager to talk to the guests at the house, improving her English every day. A great number of guests in the house Antonija observed (who by now was more commonly known as Toni by the houses guests) were newly arrived in the city having come from all across America and even Canada to become what were known as movie stars.
Toni had seen many movies in her youth in Serbia and in Japan, but never imagined that an entire city could exist to make and serve the industry that made them. Toni fell in love with the film industry, and soon began going with her newly made friends to every and any audition they could find across the city. With every audition Toni’s language improved, until by 1932 when she could speak English with almost no trace of accent.
Aside from the odd role as an extra in a crowd scene, Toni and her friends found little luck. It was then that Toni had the idea to try auditioning for a type of role few women tried for, stunt work. She pointed out to her friends that many scenes in adventure movies featured leading ladies in dangerous situations, and that surely there must be demand for stand ins when the situation becomes too dangerous for a major studio star.
Her friends reluctantly agreed, and after only a few months Toni and her four friends were all getting regular work, with one friend doubling for Janet Gaynor in the movie State Fair, another for Mae West in I’m No Angel, one for Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street, and last but not least, Toni had the privilege to double for Fay Wray in Merian Cooper’s epic RKO Adventure King Kong.
Working on King Kong gave Toni the chance to see how animatronics were used in the film industry, and by the end of the films production she had become very close to the visual effects team and the prop and set building teams.
Union Studios and Chairman Tommy Graves
By 1939 at the age of 22, Toni had become an extremely successful prop builder and engineer in the employ of Union Studios, of the largest Hollywood production companies of the day. Toni’s props and contraptions played key roles in many of the era’s highest grossing adventure movies.
Secretly however, Toni had also begun working on the contents of the box her father had given to her so many years ago. The box, as she learned, had contained an early prototype for a rocket pack to be worn by a human pilot. The box also contained notes and ideas on how to complete the then unfinished pack, which still needed a great deal of work.
Toni toiled on this rocket pack in secret until 1941, when she had finally perfected it’s design. That year, in a coincidental stroke, the eccentric chairman of Union Studios announced a new adventure film to star Maureen O’Hara as a woman that travels planet to planet in her own spaceship saving people all over the universe in danger. It was an ambitious project to be sure for the studio, but Chairman Graves made it a project every engineer worth their iron rings paid attention too when he promised a hundred-thousand dollar reward for a private inventor who could build a spaceship that could actually fly (but not necessarily in space because that would be silly) to make for the most realistic looking flight scenes ever filmed.
Though many engineers jumped at the chance to compete for this prize, few were women could be found competing. Toni however was not deterred, but in place of an actual flying spaceship, Toni submitted her design for the rocket pack.
Chairman Graves fell in love with the design, and had the entire movie re-written around Toni’s rocket pack. As Toni was the only person who knew and understood how to operate the device, she was cast as the official stunt woman and double for Ms. O’Hara in October of 1941. Pre-production started in November and the set design and construction was well underway for the major studio endeavour. Toni was proud to be a part of a movie that starred a strong willed heroin who was not afraid to face danger head on with her strength and her brains.
America Enters the War
December 7th 1941 would be a day Toni would never forget, the day Japan without warning attacked the American Pacific fleet docked in harbour in Hawaii. A mere week later Nazi German declared war on the United States, and America was now at war with an enemy across each of her shores.
Toni tried not to worry herself with the thoughts of what part the evil Tonaka Corporation and their sinister henchwoman Yamakura Yuka had in Japan’s war of conquest by focusing on her preparations for the film, slated to enter production in January of 1942.
Immediate supply shortages due to the war effort however brought production to a screeching halt. Chairman Graves personally apologized to Toni, telling her that he loved her rocket pack, but that for the time being, the world would have to wait to see it in action.
A dejected Toni was at a loss for what to do next. She wondered just how she could ever hope to have the world appreciate the rocket pack, now that it was now being dismissed as a Hollywood gimmick by everyone showed it too.
Shelling of Santa Barbara and the “Red Rocket Incident”
It was one late night however in early February of 1942 that changed how Toni’s invention was perceived. Toni had taken the device out to a secluded area of beach west of Santa Barbara to test out some modifications to the rocket pack’s thrust controls. Toni had taken the rocket pack almost a thousand feet into the air and flown out to see when she saw a horrible sight, a submarine firing on the Santa Barbara shoreline.
Thinking fast Toni dove straight down from the sky and kicked the sailor operating the submarine’s deck gun into the water. Several sailors on deck opened fire on Toni, but she quickly evaded their gunfire by flying high into the sky again. Toni then turned around once again, and made a running charge at the submarine, and picked off a man in a highly decorated uniform from the submarine’s conning tower, and flew him to the shoreline of Santa Barbara, kicking and screaming and yelling at Toni the whole way. The man’s shouting, clearly in Japanese told Toni without a doubt that this had been a Japanese raid.
She deposited the man on the beach at Santa Barbara in front of several dozen policemen who had gathered at the shore to witness the shelling. The shocked officers asked who the prisoner was that Toni dropped off after landing, to which she replied that he was the commander of the submarine, and that he should be charged with destruction of private property. The socked officers didn’t know what to say to the red headed woman who then flew off into the sky leaving a trail of red light behind her. Only a tourist on vacation from Okalahoma happened to snap a colour picture of the event, a picture which found itself on the cover of the LA Times the very next day under the headline “Mysterious Red Rocket Thwarts Japanese Attack”.
Colonel Romny and the OSS
Though the news story contained numerous factual errors and printed many assumptions as if they were fact, Toni was pleased to see her device being recognized for the potential that it had. Later that very day however as she returned home to her downtown apartment with an arm full of groceries, she found her apartment was occupied by several military policeman standing guard outside her door.
Inside her apartment were two US Army lieutenants, a major, and a colonel. The colonel identified himself as Romny, and stated that he and his men knew all about Toni, aka Antonija Milovic. He also knew about her life in Japan and her fathers death at the hand of the Tonaka Corporation, but more importantly he and his men had learned it was her the night before who captured the Japanese submarine commander.
Toni admitted it was her, and that she had in fact built the rocket pack herself upon further inquires. Colonel Romney then disclosed information he told her was highly classified, information she could never repeat to anyone. He told her that in a few months a new organization would be created known as the Office of Strategic Services. This office, Romney explained would exist to provide and coordinate secret operations behind enemy lines, the lines of the Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Empire of Japan and all members of the Axis Alliance.
When Toni asked just what role the colonel envisioned for her in this massive new operation, he assured her that she would fit in perfectly with the team he was assembling.