1870 - Lee Walter Travis is born.
1885 - 15-year-old Lee becomes foreman of his father's silver mine.
1892 - 22-year-old Lee kills a man on the mine & runs away. He serves in the french foreign legion during the 2nd Franco-Dahomean War.
1894 - 24-year-old Lee runs away from the Foreign Legion when the war ends, & enlists on an opium trawler.
1897 - 27-year-old Lee finds his way to Namba Parbat, where he begins regaining his health.
1904 - 34-year-old Lee sees a vision of the future, watches Superman sacrifice himself against Doomsday. He returns home & begins his newspaper with his father's fortune, starting to build his network of informants.
1909 - 39-year-old Lee appears as the Crimson Avenger during the Hudson World Fair.
1914 - 44-year-old Lee goes overseas to fight in WWI, continues to fight there as the Crimson Avenger.
1918 - 48-year-old Lee returns from the war. He does less as the Crimson Avenger due to the respiratory distress he suffered from chlorine gas.
1929 - 59-year-old Lee dies of respiratory failure. before he passes, he sees a runaway ship in the harbor & manages to save the city one last time.
Modern continuity describes the Crimson Avenger as the very first costumed hero in DC's history, which is actually very close to accurate. Batman wouldn't appear in the pages of Detective Comics until issue 27 in May of 1939. Only Superman predated him, appearing in Acton Comics issue 1 in June of '38. Modern continuity actually found a cool little writearound by having Travis actually see a glimpse of Superman in the future, meaning that while Crimson Avenger was chronologically the first, he was still inspired by Superman. We liked that, and kept it.
As such an early character, the Crimson Avenger existed before the invention of modern ideas for superheros like "backstories" or "motivation". Obviously, he's had a few different versions of it added over the years, but he's also had his powers and costume drastically altered as well, including a period where he wore what very well might be the most generic superhero costume ever conceived. The suit & hat & domino mask is a well-worn look as well, but it fits his particular mystique, evoking classic radio drama heroes like the Shadow and the Green Hornet. In fact, if the Crimson Avenger is anything, he's DC's version of that particular era of heroes. We chose to really lean into that concept by giving him a backstory that follows several of the major story beats of those two heroes in particular.
In a nutshell, the Shadow was a man that had traveled the "mysterious orient", where he had learned mystical arts and now fought crime using a city-wide network of informants. Green Hornet was a wealthy newspaperman that fought crime in a domino mask. It was surprisingly simple to combine the stories into one cohesive whole. Also, the Green Hornet was originally meant to be a 'modern day' descendant of the Lone Ranger, although that idea is never mentioned as they've long been owned by rival companies. To incorporate this, we made Lee's family fortune come originally from it's silver mines. His service in the French Foreign Legion during the 2nd Franco-Dahomean War is our own invention.
We've made his story VERY early in our modern timeline to enforce the idea that he was the very first costumed hero. We focused on some of his major story elements like his debut at the World Fair, his service during WWI, his death due to respiratory failure brought on by wartime exposure to chlorine gas, and his final adventure. These are all actual in-continuity story elements that we're bringing into out timeline practically unchanged, and it makes for a robust, complete character that we're excited to include.