THE GOLDEN AGE
Before The Challengers, before The Infiltrators, before The Headliners, before The Frontline, before The Freedom Force, there was one team: The Defenders of Paragon. Paragon's first line of defense. They were the shining stars in the black hole that was Paragon City. After the first Rikti invasion, the superhero Xanatos formed The Defenders of Paragon to help protect the city from all manner of evils, and to teach the next generation what it truly meant to be a hero. And for many years the team did just that – fighting together against villainy both big and small, their numbers swelling by the dozen as heroes flocked to Xanatos’ call. A war-ravaged Paragon City was finally on the brink of salvation.
It would only take seven deadly sins to bring the city, once again, to its knees.
The Sadistic Seven was a loose coalition of seven of Paragon's most dangerous and downright evil supervillains. (And none moreso than Xanatos’ Praetorian double: Emperor Xanatos.) They were the first of their kind: supervillain leaders capable of rallying together the "destined ones" from the Rogue Isles into a fighting force capable of threatening Paragon City. A coalition of superheroes was formed, a collective of many supergroups including The Defenders of Paragon, The Bone Squad, The Liberty League, The Icons, The Steadfast pact, and The Guardian Force.
This coalition was known by one name: The Peacekeepers.
Under the leadership of Xanatos and Inertial, The Peacekeepers fought back against the villains of the Rogue Isles. They held the Sadistic Seven at bay. But they could never truly defeat them. For while they fought with everything they had...the Sadistic Seven always seemed a step ahead of them. The situation took a turn for the worse when Xanatos, the leader of The Peacekeepers, seemingly abandoned Earth and flew into deep space. The head of the snake had been cut off, and the city cried out in despair. It needed someone to show it the way. Paragon City needed a new leader.
It got two.
Enter...The Havok Brothers. Cade and Jason Havok. Two new members of The Defenders of Paragon. While The Havoks were rookie heroes, their extensive military training gave them the edge required to overcome the Sadistic Seven once and for all. Calling upon Luficia, Graphite, and many other heroes throughout Paragon City, The Havoks lead an assault on Warburg - an assault that finally ended The Sadistic Seven. The evil praetorian Emperor Xanatos was captured, and the other six supervillains scattered into the wind.
The Sadistic Seven were no more.
But the win had come at a great cost. The Peacekeepers (and many of it's subordinate groups - such as The Defenders of Paragon) had suffered heavy losses in the attacks. The groups were a shadow of their former glory, with many surviving members retiring due to post-traumatic stress. The Havoks saw the true affect of The Sadistic Seven's attacks, and made a promise to themselves that they would never let anything like this happen again. They promised that they would stand strong before the wave of villainy that threatened to engulf Paragon.
They would be The Frontline.
But The Havoks could not do this alone. Fortunately, during the final assault against The Sadistic Seven, The Havoks had seen a hero they had long considered to be nothing more than an urban myth: Nitedevil. Nitedevil had, unbeknown to The Havoks, lead a small strike team against The Sadistic Seven. Nitedevil had disabled their communications devices, their teleportation devices, and their medical evac devices. While the history books will never give him the credit he deserves, Nitedevil was instrumental in the final battle against The Sadistic Seven.
The Havoks saw Nitedevil's potential and asked him to help them co-lead The Frontline. Believing that his espionage experience, mixed with their knowledge of military tactics and superhero psychology, would provide for an effective leadership of a new City of Heroes.
And so it was with these three heroes that the story of The Challengers truly began...