Fulminata is an inexperienced heroine who maintains a secret identity as an English professor at Millennium City University. When she speaks her "magic phrase," she is transformed into a superhero with amazing strength, invulnerability, the power of flight, and the ability to command lightning.
Sonja Fulmo was born in 1978 to a middle-class family of Bay Area conservatives. Always an intellectual, she entered UC Berkeley at the age of 19 and, after initially taking History courses, became an English major and graduated in 1999. The following fall she began her Ph.D. program in Literature at Harvard, specializing in the Medieval and Renaissance. Much of her research focused on the role of magic in the court of Elizabeth, and by 2003 she was already beginning work on her dissertation, which argued that, in his role as magician to the Queen, John Dee used Elizabeth’s court as a magical tool through which he attempted to influence both Europe and “Avalon,” his name for the New World.
In 2005 Sonja received a travel grant which allowed her to go to England and continue her research using Renaissance manuscripts. She was in London for several months and, near the end of her stay, she received an unusual letter from an anonymous author who claimed to be in possession of several of Dee’s personal books. Since Dee’s library had burned to the ground during his lifetime, this claim would be ground-breaking, if true. Although Sonja’s grant would soon expire and she would be forced to return to America, she could not bear to let such an opportunity go unexplored, and she set out for the British countryside late that night in a rented car.
The directions she had been sent led her to a remote and dilapidated country manor whose only residents were untalkative servants. Nevertheless, Sonja was led to a small locked cabinet with several old books contained within, and a quick inspection revealed that they were, at least, four centuries old. If these were not Dee’s personal books, they were at the least incredibly good forgeries, and by the poor light of the musty reading room she began to pour through the pages.
There she discovered the texts of several long spells which Dee had apparently invented, including many elaborate diagrams of protective circles and wards. Much of Dee’s work involved communication with angels through a scrying glass manipulated by a co-worker, and it was in this way that Dee had first discovered the ancient language of Enochian. It was by deciphering Dee’s Enochain that Sonja was able to discover that Dee believed himself to have bound one of the angels he communicated with into the book she was reading, as a way of protecting the book from harm and securing it against misuse by evil men. In the process of reading and transcribing this elaborate spell, Sonja triggered the release of the angel bound within, who rose out of the book in a brilliant show of light and music.
The angel proved to be extremely grateful for its release. While it had considered Dee a good person at heart, it quite resented being bound for centuries after the Doctor’s death. In a spirit of generosity, the angel offered to grant Sonja anything in its power. This posed a bit of a dilemma for the otherwise quite clever and self-motivated graduate student, who experienced a very selfish moment of indecision as she tried to figure out what she wanted more than anything else in the world. She thought about her career, simple riches, or something else, but in the end she fell back on a childhood wish shared by many children: she asked for super human powers.
The angel delivered as promised, investing Sonja with great strength, invulnerability, and the power to fly. Inspired by her last name, the angel gave her a final gift: the power to command lightning bolts. All of these powers were triggered by a magical phrase, and when Sonja uttered the words, “Armed with lightning” she was transformed into Fulminata, a superhuman being taller, more imposing, and more … developed than her ordinary self.
The original volume containing the angel had been consumed in the release of the spell, but there were other books there, and Sonja took them with her when she departed the country manor. Over the next year she continued to work extensively with them, finally completing her dissertation and earning her Ph.D. The notoriety she gained as the discoverer of “The Lost Journals of Doctor Dee” earned her several career offers, but she passed on other more permanent posts in favor of a visiting professor job at Millennium University, where she hoped to gain experience as a crime fighter and make valuable contacts in the superhero community.
Sonja completed her move to Millennium in the summer of 2010 and has been teaching classes in Elizabethan and Medieval Literature through the Fall and Spring semesters. Her salary is not especially high, and she struggles sometimes to make rent on her stylish brownstone apartment in the City Center, but her easy schedule gives her plenty of time to practice the use of her super powers. After an incident in which she was forced to transform into Fulminata and rescue a number of trapped civilians from a burning office building, she has begun regular patrols and has begun to interact with other heroes at Club Caprice and over the Champions network. She has yet to find a team of heroes to work with regularly, and she remains very cautious concerning her true identity, which she has so far revealed to no one.
In her ordinary “mortal” form, Sonja has no superhuman powers whatsoever. But by speaking the magical phrase, “Armed with Lightning” she transforms into Fulminata, whose powers are potent indeed.
As Fulminata, Sonja has superhuman strength sufficient to lift and throw approximately 100 tons. She is not, however, terribly experienced and she has a tendency to fumble large and awkward objects or tear off small, detachable pieces instead of properly hefting the object in question. Sonja is also very conscious of the possibility of accidentally killing someone with an overly-strong punch, and she habitually holds back when fighting so that she almost never uses her full strength in battle for fear of causing permanent injury.
Her second superhuman power is invulnerability, and Fulminata’s skin is impenetrable to small arms fire and ordinary injury. However, she can still feel pain, and advanced weapons such as those used by Argent, VIPER, or Doctor Destroyer’s Destroids have been known to hurt enough hat she was forced to retreat. These injuries are not permanent or even especially serious, however, and her reaction is another symptom of her inexperience. Magical weapons, psychic effects, and other superhuman powers can, however, inflict more serious injury and could even theoretically kill her.
Fulminata can fly about as fast as a helicopter, with a maximum speed of about 250 miles per hour. Her control is quite good and she can hover in place, though it can take her a minute or so to reach maximum speed.
Finally, Fulminata has the power to command lightning. These lightning bolts strike down from above her target, even if she uses the power inside a building or other area closed to the sky. A typical lightning bolt is powerful enough to stun or even kill an ordinary person, sometimes by inflicting cardiac arrest, and so Sonja is very careful about using this power on most foes and often goes for a “near miss” instead of a direct hit. If a target of her lightning is highly conductive – due to metal armor or the presence of water, for example – the lightning is far more likely to be lethal. Conversely, flying targets and other individuals who are well insulated will be stunned at best.
Sonja is highly intelligent. A teacher and writer, she is good with people and knows how to coordinate groups, speak in public, and communicate ideas in ways both clear and interesting. Her study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance has given her a deep knowledge of the people and cultures of these eras, which includes extensive knowledge of magical practices in Europe. She is not, however, a practicing magician and she has never even attempted to work a spell on her own. She is an amateur volleyball player, a decent cook, and she can surf.
Sonja’s greatest weakness is her inexperience. She simply has not been a superhero long enough to pick up the “tricks of the trade.” She can often be tricked or misled by enemies more experienced than she, and she tends to go into any dangerous situation presuming that what she sees is all she needs to know. She knows little about the extent or nature of her own powers, and she tends to be overly cautious, worrying that any unknown weapon might be able to hurt or even kill her. While this concern is not enough to keep her from helping people in danger, it can make her hesitate when quick action is called for.
Sonja’s other major weakness is the requirement that she speak her magic phrase in order to transform into Fulminata. As Sonja, she has no powers and can be easily incapacitated. If gagged or otherwise unable to speak (underwater, for example) she is unable to activate her powers and transform. This makes it relatively easy for a foe to keep her prisoner for a long period, if she can be captured in her mortal identity.
There remain many questions concerning Fulminata’s origin. Who was the mysterious benefactor who lured Sonja to Dee’s old books? Did that individual know about the bound angel, and was Sonja selected to read the book because she would be able to trigger the spell and release the being stuck within? Or was there some other plan, which Sonja’s accidental magic upset? For the last several years Sonja has wondered if or when her anonymous estate owner would reappear and demand something of her in return for her powers, but that fear has never materialized.