The Atlas Foundation is one of the most inscrutable, pervasive and enduring secret societies on Earth.
Traditionally, the Atlas Foundation pursued world domination but currently uses its covert power and influence for humanity’s greater good. Steeped in advanced science and sorcery, the society regards itself as a perpetuation of the ancient Mongol Empire.
In each era, they select a new leader as their revered Khan, the most worthy descendant of and rightful successor to legendary 13th Century warlord Temujin, aka Genghis Khan. Their most sacred talisman is the Spirit Banner of Temujin, woven from the hair of Temujin’s loyal horse. Only the true Khan can pluck the Banner from its flaming resting place, confirming his worthiness as their leader. As he grows ancient, each Khan seeks a successor The immortal Lung Dragon called Mr. Lao has served as royal advisor to each Khan for generations—and when a new Khan is acclaimed as ruler, Lao ceremonially devours the previous Khan.
Over 700 years ago, Lao fought a mighty genie in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, inspiring the current name of the Mongols’ secret society. Lao usurped the genie’s magical power but also took the genie’s place inside his lamp, trapped for 600 years. In the late 19th Century, the society mounted a rescue mission led by that era’s Khan, Plan Tzu, aka Master Plan. Aided by master sorcerer Yao, AKA Ancient One, Plan freed Lao.
During the mission, a beautiful, hypnotic-voiced naiad (siren) nearly destroyed Plan’s entire crew by luring them to a sea monster, but the Ancient One neutralized the naiad by endowing her with human consciousness. Now aware of her monstrous nature, the repentant naiad changed her ways and later became humanity’s defender in the 1950s as the adventurer Venus. Also during the 1950s, Lao (in human guise) helped cause soldier of fortune Ken Hale’s mystical transformation into the Gorilla Man, and the Atlas Foundation commissioned the creation of unique mechanoid M-11, the Human Robot.
Secretly monitoring the next Khan, Plan followed Woo Yen Jet, AKA Jimmy Woo, over the course of his life in America where his parents fled to, to avoid the Khan’s legacy. The Atlas Foundation helps Woo advance his career in law enforcement and hone his skills by creating a super-menace for Woo to defeat. Playing on 1950s America’s anti-communist fears and thinly veiled racism, Plan adopted a new identity as Chinese criminal mastermind the Golden Claw, known derisively in the USA as the Yellow Claw. Wearing Lao’s clawed crest as his emblem, the Claw clashed with Woo and his Agents of Atlas repeatedly.
After discovering Yellow Claw groomed Woo to take his place, Woo accepts his role as the Atlas Foundation’s new Khan with the dragon Mr. Lao as his advisor. The Atlas Foundation’s operations are run out of the Temple of Atlas, AKA the Hidden City, which is an immense cavern below San Francisco. Once Woo takes over, the Hidden City is also referred to as the Empire of Woo Yen Jet, after his Chinese name. Within the cavernous city, there lives a conclave of warrior scholars, who establish business fronts for Atlas operations that go undetected. Mr. Lao also resides in the Hidden City.
Temugin is second in command and former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Derek Khanata becomes an overseer of the organization. Suwan, AKA Jade Claw, leads an Atlas Foundation faction heading the Great Wall. The super heroic clandestine operatives known as the Agents of Atlas eventually fall under the authority of the Atlas Foundation.
Fierce Friends and Fearsome Foes
While the Atlas Foundation is largely run by the criminal mastermind Yellow Claw, it’s all a ruse to help groom the organization’s next leader, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo. The foundation often battles Woo and his Agents of Atlas team Gorilla Man, Aquaria Neptunia, AKA Namora, the siren Venus, Robert Grayson, AKA Marvel Boy, and Human Robot until Yellow Claw reveals his true plans as their ally all along.
When Woo accepts his role as the Foundation’s leader, the enemies the organization faces are those that threaten the people of Earth. The Foundation, through the Agents of Atlas, faces the Skrulls, Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, and Sinder, Queen of Cinders during the War of the Realms.
From Criminal to Legitimate
The Agents of Atlas often clashed with Atlas Foundation agents and pawns such as the mutated canine cosmonaut Laika. Over time, Woo began to suspect that his old foe the Yellow Claw was the mastermind of the Atlas Foundation and, tiring of office work, he gathered together a band of five disenfranchised and/or problem S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to raid Atlas’ base in San Francisco. Traveling inside Atlas’ underground lair, he and his men were burned alive by the dragon Mr. Lao, and a horribly scarred Woo was the only survivor. S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned agent Derek Khanata to investigate. After being questioned by Khanata, the Gorilla-Man (who had become a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent) was contacted by the Human Robot, who had been sent by the Claw to ensure Woo continued to pursue the Atlas Foundation. Despite an effectively brain-dead Woo being unable to even breathe on his own, Gorilla-Man and the Human Robot reunited with Marvel Boy and liberated Woo from the S.H.I.E.L.D. hospital. Using Uranian technology, Grayson healed Woo by restoring him to the exact physical condition of Bob’s last mental impression of him from 1958, effectively erasing all of Woo’s memories since then. When Khanata persisted in investigating Woo’s status, Woo’s allies took him along as a hostage as they sought the rest of their former teammates.
Recruiting their old teammate Venus and reviving their ally Namora, Woo and the others began to shut down Atlas Foundation business fronts one by one until the Yellow Claw revealed his involvement. Tracking the Claw to the site of his earlier raid, Woo and his group met the ancient dragon Mr. Lao, who informed them of the Atlas Foundation’s history and Woo’s destiny as Yellow Claw’s successor.
Seeing a chance to use the Atlas Foundation’s immense resources for good, Woo accepted his new post as Khan of the Eternal Empire and CEO of the Atlas Foundation with the blessing of Plan, whom Lao promptly consumed; thus, Mr. Lao became Woo’s vizier. Allowing the world to believe them slain by the Claw, Jimmy Woo’s heroic team has remained together as the core Agents of Atlas, the foundation’s primary covert super-operatives.
The Atlas Foundation also helped hinder the invasion of the Skrulls on Earth. Woo then had his Agents face the wrath of Norman Osborn who enlisted his black ops Thunderbolts team to assassinate them for backing out of their weapons deal; the Thunderbolts drew the Agents to an Atlas Foundation facility in Louisiana to kill them, but the Thunderbolts failed in their assignment.
The Agents then helped form an alliance with Namor McKenzie, AKA Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Atlanteans. Since Woo placed himself in constant danger, Mr. Lao appointed Jimmy a successor in Temujin, the son of the criminal Mandarin. Despite this, Jimmy ventured out with the Human Robot to locate his former love Jade Claw, who had become the head of the Great Wall, her own faction of the Atlas Foundation. By doing so he had unwittingly violated an Atlas treaty between factions when he entered Suwan’s territory. Despite Suwan and Jimmy’s still-mutual attraction for one another, their factions warred until Woo staged a last ditch attack and apprehended Suwan, who he allowed to go free, albeit in Temujin’s custody.
When Delroy Garrett Jr., AKA 3-D Man, approached the Agents for help investigating his history and powers, they helped him out. They then recruited him to be an agent and he accepted.
When the Dark Elf, Malekith, brought his War of the Realms to Earth, Woo gathered a new group of heroes to protect the Pacific Rim from an attack coordinated by the villainous opportunist, Sindr, the Queen of Cinders and Msupelheim. Woo recruited Amadeus Cho, AKA Brawn, Master of Kung Fu, AKA Shang-Chi, Cindy Moon, AKA Silk, Lei Ling, AKA Aero, Ami Han, AKA White Fox, of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Dan Bi, AKA Crescent, the magic bear Io, and Seol Hee, AKA Luna Snow. This team forms the New Agents of Atlas under the Atlas Foundation, and together they defeated Sindr and her minions.