Arclight grows up working on ships on the Great Lakes. He joins the Army and fights in Korea. He later becomes part of a secret program to infiltrate political positions, presumably in Europe. There, he gains his powers due to radiation exposure. In later years, he seems unhappy with his military experience. He leaves, and joins C.O.W.L., the Chicago superhero union, where his powers are very much appreciated.
Major Story Arcs
Arclight is on the scene as a member of the Tactical Division when C.O.W.L. stops an apparent assassination attempt on Alderman Lowe by Skylancer, the last member of the villainous Chicago Six. When Skylancer flees from the other heroes, Arclight flies after him and tackles him in the air, but Skylancer grabs Haydn’s arm and redirects it so Tom’s blast hits his ally Blaze instead. Then Skylancer ties Arclight’s cape to his own backpack, takes it off, and sends Arclight careening off into the sky. Luckily Radia is able to kill the villain.
However, with the Chicago Six gone, the city believes that there is much less need for C.O.W.L., and wants to renegotiate their contract.
Union chief Geoffrey Warner brings him and Radia to talk about the operation, and chews out Arclight for his sloppy work. Haydn, however, thinks Warner is arrogant and wallows in his past as the first hero often city, and talks smack back at him. This is more than a little hypocritical, since Arclight is himself indulgent and self-centered about his role as a hero.
Later, union detective, and Arclight’s friend, John Pierce shows up to talk to him at a strip club, where the handsome Arclight is using his fame to score with the ladies. John gets down to business, however, and tells him he has evidence that C.O.W.L. was giving Skylancer the plans for their old technology. Arclight is dubious but agrees to keep his mind open if John finds more evidence.
When Radia has a photoshoot for Bombshell magazine (essentially Playboy), Haydn also shows up. He and Radia have some somewhat antagonistic banter—she thinks he’s a pig, and he plays down her abilities because she’s a woman—then he goes off to do an interview. Radia offers to join in, but the interviewer says she should stick to her strengths, clearly thinking she’s all beauty and no brains.
Some time later, Arclight gets a hooker from the strip joint and gets drunk. When the girl’s pimp follows and tries to blackmail Arclight, he beats him up badly. C.O.W.L. deputy chief gets a call about it, and shows up to find Arclight still drunk, the girl sobbing in her underwear with a black eye, and the guy tied to a chair—and Arclight thinks it’s no big deal. He even calls Blaze a lapdog to Warner for trying to take care of the situation. Angry at how irresponsible Tom can be, Blaze blasts him and beats him up.
Blaze wants to fire Arclight, but Warner convinces him to let him stay on for a while, until the negotiations with the city are done. Otherwise the publicity over the incident will hurt their chances on the contract. The union ends up going on strike.
Arclight goes to see the results of a riot on the strike line at City Hall, where an unknown union member shot a fire blast at the building, causing chaos and more bad news for C.O.W.L.
John Pierce talks with Tom again about the Skylancer’s secret arms deal. He wants to give his evidence to the Chicago police so there’s an impartial trial. John and Tom know this means they’ll lose their jobs at C.O.W.L., and Tom isn’t excited to have to find other options, like moving somewhere else or rejoining the Army, but he’s also so angry with Warner that he agrees to help John.
However, when Haydn goes to clean out his stuff from his locker, he runs into Warner, who has been drinking. He flatters Arclight’s ego, tells him he could be running C.O.W.L. in a few years if he doesn’t do this, and gives him a pep talk about how people need heroes, and how letting people know about the arms deal would rob them of their heroes. The mercurial Arclight changes his mind, and looks for John.
He finds him on his way to meet his police contact. John had randomly run into some robbers, and stopped them in an alley, which also provides cover for John and Tom to talk without being seen. He tires to talk John out of it, and when that doesn’t work, Arclight casually blasts him, killing his friend. Then Arclight destroys the evidence about the arms deal and burns the word “scab” (as in a strike-breaker) into the corpse’s forehead.
C.O.W.L. opens an investigation into John’s death, which further rattles the city and the union members. Arclight drowns himself in drink, now unable to believe what he did. Warner shows up and takes him out in an alley to berate him. Despite seemingly having egged him on to do it, Warner seems legitimately shocked at Arclight’s actions, and he demands that Tom confess to the crime. Arclight refuses and blames Warner, who proceeds to beat him up and choke him, hurting Haydn’s inflated ego even more.
Arclight ashamedly makes a confession to the police, saying that he saw John stop the robbers and confronted him, since they were on strike and shouldn’t be involved in stopping criminals. Then, in his story, John punched him and Tom wrote “scab” on his head in retribution. John supposedly tried to choke him (thus explaining the bruises Warner left on Arclight’s neck) and Tom lost it and killed him by accident. The police accept this fabrication and let him out on his own recognizance while the internal affairs board deliberates on his sentence.
Detective Evelyn Hewitt, a friend of Pierce’s, starts her own investigation, since she doesn’t trust C.O.W.L. to be fully honest. She believes Warner and Arclight are more culpable than they admit. She confronts him at the funeral, but he burns her card and flies off.
Meanwhile, the violent vigilante Sparrow, who once was part of C.O.W.L., finds the robbers that John tried to stop and beats one of them into giving a confession to the police, saying that Arclight did in fact murder Pierce with no provocation. Detective Hewitt now hopes she has a case against Arclight. Unfortunately, the DA won’t support her case. But, Warner is worried that, given Hewitt’s resourcefulness, she’ll eventually succeed, so he persuades Arclight that he has to go on the lam and get out of Chicago before he goes to jail. Arclight agrees, but yells at Warner that it’s really his fault, and that he knows that he was really asking him to kill Pierce, whether he admits it to himself or not. They’re both dirty.
Haydn is last seen taking a bus out of town, trying to accept the fact that he’s no longer the famous Arclight, but a nobody.
Powers & Abilities
Arclight can fly and shoot heat-based energy beams from his hands and eyes. These energy beams are powerful enough to short out Blaze’s gauntlet or kill a man with relatively little effort, but can also be controlled to a very precise degree, such as when he used his finger to burn the words “scab” into Pierce’s skin, an effect Arclight later described as being like a strong suntan. One time his beams were reflected by a simple garbage can lid, but perhaps he wasn’t using them at full force as he was fighting Warner at the time.