By the late 1980s, Millennium started to have some serious competiton from the Chicago Press (CP) comic book company. Their heroes were of a different style, more grittily realistic. For example, they lived in real cities and tended to deal with genuine problems like paying the rent.
Probably the most famous of the CP heroes is WinterMan, who dons a mask and uses a special "freezing gun" to fight injustice. In real life, he is Owen Nguyen, an orphan in his twenties still recovering from years of abuse. WinterMan is not only his heroic alter-ego, in a lot of ways he is a symptom of Owen's psychological ills. More, since he doesn't restrict himself to tracking down criminals but injustice in general he is viewed with profound suspicion by the official police.
But CP's first best-selling title was The Infernal Five, an assortment of people in one way or another cursed. One is a Vompire. Another is a minor demon who longs to earn her way back to heaven. Still another sold his soul to Satan and is seeking redemption. The fourth is a defrocked priest who botched an exorcism. Last is a tough-as-nails mercenary who had a near-death experience and glimpsed his own eternal damnation.
One aspect of the CP universe is the emergence of "neohumans" and the social changes that has brought about. For example, one government agency has created a cadre of cyborg Purifiers in an attempt to wipe out the "Neohuman Threat." In fact, well over half of the superheroes (and supervillains) in CP titles are neohuman.
The origins of Neohumanity lie in a bizarre comet dubbed the Brin-McDevitt Comet which passed disturbingly close to the earth in 1968. Some of the exotic matter of which it is composed ended up on the moon, while some filtered into the atmosphere as the planet passed through its tail. A small percentage of those exposed, or their offpring, developed radical mutations as a result. Some biologists theorize that this actually jump-started evolution in those individuals, turning them into the next stage of homo sapiens.
Neohumans are the center-piece of no less than four group titles:
- Team Omega - Recruited and funded by the Commonwealth Ministry of Intelligence, this group acts to counter the threat of criminal or rogue neohumans. Most are neohumasn themselves.
- The Doom Squadron - A team of neohuman heroes who operate without any kind of government sanction, whose members are convinced of their responsibility to defend against villainous neohumans.
- Revenge Inc. - Unusually, this is a comic book that covers the story of a group of supervillains, or at least criminals. They view themselves as freedom fighters.
- The Langstrom Seven - One of the more enigmatic groups of neohumans, they are generally rivals of the Doom Squadron. However, the two teams do join forces on occasion.