Full Name: John Mesmer
September, five years ago: Tank Red, one of the founders of Trinity Inc., was institutionalized with symptoms of acute paranoia. For two weeks he claimed he was frequently visited by a huge moth-man who drank his blood.
April, nineteen months later: bank robbers jumped into the harbor after being chased by a six-eyed fire-breathing insect.
Eight months later: John Mesmer was revealed to be a mysterious protector of Pulp City called Trail. Pulp City’s crime lords set a bounty on Trail’s head of three million dollars, as they could not take the offense of being publicly humiliated.
John Mesmer became an overnight celebrity and his home town’s prime target right after his second book came out. “Of Insects and Men”, a provocatively titled book, described the research of Dr. Mesmer, his life’s work.
The book sold out, but its hypotheses were so bold that most academic circles rejected them and exiled the text to the realm of science fiction. One of the most common criticisms was that the research methods were at least questionable and strictly unethical.
Mesmer claimed that hive mind theory, of which plenty of examples could be found in the insect, animal and alien kingdoms alike, was applicable to human race as well. He discovered that the hive mind in most cases was able to plant ‘trail marks’ in the brains of its subjects, effectively influencing behavior and perception even years after the actual programming. Dr. Mesmer named the entire process ‘trailblazing’, as the hive mind prowled through the subject’s thoughts and memories, leaving its marks only to come back to them when a need arose.
Some would have claimed this as the stuff of cheap pulp stories if not for the fact that the bulk of “Of Insects and Men” described Mesmer’s nightly outings when he tested his ‘trailblazing’ theory on human subjects. His guinea pigs were not the regular patients that frequented his little loft office in Pulp City’s Downtown – they were safe from the new vigilante. Mesmer claimed he had a good sense of what is good or wrong.
What some perceived as unethical and inhumane methods, appealed to most of Pulp City citizens, making Trail’s exploits the stuff of tabloid legends. John Mesmer chose his targets carefully, picking out criminals, usually in the process of committing a crime. He would carefully plan his every action, planting the so-called ‘trail marks’ and blazing ‘trails’. His victims, depending on the gravity of the crime, would either suffer a night of humiliation by ending up at the police station or be burdened with a lifetime of haunting hallucinations. Dressed in a long cape that would turn into nightmarish creatures and otherworldly shapes in the victims mind and a mask studded with hypnotizing gems, Mesmer was anything but merciful to villains while he pushed his research to the limits.
The limit of his punishments was the lives of his targets, but shattering the sanity of his test subjects was not. In many ways, the sight of his flowing cape and six glowing eyes would make petty criminals run faster than if they had seen a Necroplane Soul Golem – mind over muscle mass, as Mesmer would mention to Six Feet Under.
Today, quite voluntarily, John Mesmer polarizes people, they either love or hate him. Many wannabes exists who try to emulate his methods, but Trail is not stupid, and did not hand out his most powerful mind controlling methods to eager Villains. He is still the only and unequaled master of ‘trailblazing’, and he is really good at it.
Trail’s somewhat drastic methods have aligned him with Pulp City more shadowy Heroes, so he is often seen alongside Dead Eye or the Blood Watch. Some of them do not even realize that somewhere deep in their minds, trails are already blazed, as Mesmer has made sure that no enemy or friend would ever betray him before his great project is fully researched and handed over to a next generation of Pulp City Heroes.