29 years ago - Justin is born on a neo-nazi compound in Kentucky.
10 years ago - 19-year-old Justin discovers his 'tainted' blood & is beaten nearly to death by his fellow neo-nazis. He dsicovers the Red Panzer armor & attempts to use it to commit a racial atrocity but is stopped by Diana Prince & Donna Troy.
4 years ago - 25-year-old Justin escapes from prison and uses a retooled Red Panzer armor to assault Donna Troy. He is stopped by Donna, Kyle Rayner, and Roy Harper. Vandal Savage frees him, setting him up to build his own army.
Comics have been around for a very long time, but they really came into fashion during World War II, at a time when the world had a ready-made team of villains. There are actually a LOT of classic villains that existed in that era that regerence nazis (Shazam actually has a enemy named Captain Nazi). Some of them have been updated to appear in modern continuity, but it always feels pretty out of place and for the most part, we've kept those characters secluded to their little corner of history. This includes the original Red Panzer Helmut Streicher... but there is actually a very compelling and short-lived version of a modern-day Red Panzer that actually fits into our story really well.
Red Panzer's Comic History
Nazis are assholes. I never imagined that was something I'd need to clarify and I'm sure that Devin Grayson didn't think it would ever be necessary when she created this version of classic DC villain Red Panzer in the pages of The Titans in 1999. I'm writing this in the summer of 2018 though, when inexplicably the fact that Nazis are assholes needs to be stated up front.
This Red Panzer, the third version of the classic villain, is in fact an incredibly cunning concept, even moreso now. An exression of modern neo-nazism, but the character in it's earlist appearance reveals his hidden shame; that he himself is actually not purely aryan but is in fact at least part African American. It could have been a pretty cringy and awkward premise, but it was actually handled in a way that generated some genuine pathos. The character didn't last for long, but given the sudden inexplicable newsworthiness of the topic, the character takes on a new depth and actually becomes a very interesting rumination on the inherent pointlesness of this ideology.
Our Red Panzer Story
The modern Red Panzer, actually has a compelling modern story that has somehow bewilderingly become more relevant. He's a character completely mindwashed and overwhelmed by an ideology of hate, but it's consuming him just as thoroughly as it's destroying everything around him. While he makes for a pretty unsettling visual, It totally works to have this character who is victimizing himself with his own hate be swept up in the machinations of Vandal Savage. Even better; the comic hinted that it might be possible for the heroes to reach out and help the young man inside the armor, and that would be a wonderful story to tell.
And not for nothing... but... Nazis? Really?