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He was created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and debuted in 1996, at the tail end of the Dark Age of Comics -- against which he stands as a reaction. Aztek is The Cape: brightly dressed, noble to a fault, the kind of superhero who will happily take the time to search for a lost pet or fly halfway across the country to persuade a sick child's favourite celebrity to come and visit. By way of contrast, Aztek: The Ultimate Man drops him into the kind of violent, crime-ridden urban setting one would expect to see a Nineties Anti-Hero striding through. (It does, in fact, have a Nineties Anti-Hero striding through it -- up until halfway through issue 1, when he gets blown up by one of his many enemies.) Much trope-juggling ensues.
Uno was raised by a secret society to be the Champion of Quetzalcoatl and defend the world from the prophesied return of Tezcatlipoca; to this end he has been equipped with Charles Atlas Superpowers and a nifty white-and-gold supersuit. In the first issue of Aztek: The Ultimate Man, having finished his training, he arrives in Vanity City to await the fulfilment of the next part of the prophecy, witnesses the explosive death of the city's official superhero, adopts the identity of a man who was a collateral casualty of the explosion, and decides that superheroing would be a worthwhile use of his abilities while he's waiting for his true purpose to come knocking. In the second issue, the new hero is invited to become the city's new official superhero, and is dubbed "Aztek" by the media.
The series has a developing subplot about who really pulls the strings in the Q Society, and how they intend for Aztek to spend the waiting time.
Aztek: The Ultimate Man lasted only ten issues before being wiped out in The Great Comics Crash of 1996, but by then Aztek had already been established as a serious enough player to be invited into the Justice League of America, and his story continued in the JLA's own series (which, not entirely coincidentally, was being written at the time by Aztek's co-creator Grant Morrison). In the pages of Justice League of America, Morrison finished out the string-pulling subplot, and ultimately had Aztek, the JLA, and every other superpowered person on Earth unite against a world-threatening menace which was identified as the fulfilment of the Tezcatlipoca prophesy.
Aztek's adventures provide examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Only the major plot arc was continued into JLA; somewhere up to half a dozen subsidiary arcs dropped out of sight when Aztek: The Ultimate Man was canceled (although they weren't completely aborted; the implication was that they still played out off-panel). The final issue of Aztek takes the time to explicitly Sequel Hook every one of them, in what might charitably be considered a reminder that Aztek's story wasn't ending just because the series was (or, less charitably, as an annoying tease).
- Ancient Tradition: The Q Society
- Appropriated Appellation: (see Mayincatec below)
- Arc Welding: In a late issue, it's retroactively announced that many of the events of the series to that point were set up by the Q Society's backer to turn Aztek's life down a particular path. This is not entirely plausible in the details.
- The Cape
- Charles Atlas Superpower
- Clark Kenting: Subverted. When Aztek reveals his dual identity to the female lead Dr. Julia Frostick, she tells him she'd already figured it out, and points out that he doesn't change his voice or body language at all. Apparently, the only reason more people haven't figured it out is that most of the people who've met Curt Falconer haven't met Aztek, and vice versa.
- Clothes Make the Superman
- Continuity Nod: In the final issue of Aztek, it is revealed that the JLA has a ceremony of sorts for new members, which involves the costume of the Crimson Avenger, "the first of [their] kind".
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Q Society's main sponsor is Lex Luthor. To be fair, he genuinely wants them to succeed in their task of saving the world from Tezcatlipoca, but until Tezcatlipoca shows up he intends to take full advantage of effectively owning his own superhero.
- Crossover: Several, including with Green Lantern and Batman, leading up to Aztek's induction into the JLA.
- Dark Age of Supernames: Bloodtype
- Dead Person Impersonation
- Disposable Love Interest: nurse Joy Page
- Distaff Counterpart: Subverted; in issue 8 there's a female trained to be Aztek's "backup".
- Fish Out of Water: Aztek
- Fully-Absorbed Finale
- God in Human Form: When Quetzalcoatl returns, he'll possess Aztek, who was trained to be his "vessel".
- Go Mad From the Revelation: The Lizard King realize the "truth" about the Q Society.
- Hair Color Dissonance: Its unclear whether Uno has blond hair or light brown hair.
- Hair of Gold: Joy.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted, as it's the source of Aztek's power.
- Implied Love Interest/The Not Love Interest: Julia Frostick
- Last Words: "Tell them I did my duty."
- Let's You and Him Fight: Lampshaded and subverted in issue 2 with Kyle Rayner.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: "Luke, I Was Your Father's Backup"
- Mad Scientist: Fixit
- Mayincatec: Aztek's backstory and costume design. During the conference where Aztek gets his name, one person points out that his costume resembles Incan, but everyone else decides on Aztek because Inca doesn't sound cool.
- Meganekko: Julia Frostick
- Missing Mom: Aztek's mother made a brief appearance in issue 10. She's is alive and well in the suburbs of Vanity.
- Mood Whiplash: Piper's daughter set up her kidnapping and is working for the mob. She apparently has no love for her father, but in the first issue she was there when her father died and walked away in tears. She ends up getting killed by her boyfriend Synch.
- Noodle Incident: The voices the Lizard King hears from Aztek's helmet.
"It conjures up devilish faces or"
A boy named Juan may thwart a witch"
- Nightmare Face: Heatsnap (they were once two people, Heatstroke and Coldsnap)
- Nineties Anti-Hero: Parodied
- No Social Skills: Aztek, who up to the start of the series has spent pretty much his entire life in the Q Society's secret lair. In one issue, it has to be explained to him that a restaurant menu is a set of options, not a description of the entire meal.
- The Order: The Q Society (also known as the Q Foundation and the Q Brotherhood)
- The Pawn
- Psycho Prototype: One of the villains Aztek fights, the Lizard King, turns out to be an earlier failed candidate for Champion of Quetzalcoatl
- Secret Keeper: Julia Frostick
- Shape Shifter: Synch
- Shout-Out: In issue 7, near the Bibbo vs. Ted Grant poster is another poster promoting K. Rielly The Album.
- One of the questions asked in the superhero registration in issue 2 is: "Have you been bitten by anything radioactive?"
- Superhero Packing Heat: Bloodtype
- Super Registration Act: Kind of. It's established in issue 2 that, although superheroes in general don't require registration, becoming a city's Official Superhero entails filling out a standard registration form with questions like "Do you have any archenemies we should know about?". Even then, it's explicitly noted that the questions relating to secret identity are optional. There's also registration forms for extraterrestrial superheroes and former supervillains, and another form for if they're interested in seeking a teenage Sidekick.
- Super Soldier
- Tangled Family Tree: In addition to his mother, Aztek also has a brother named Lawrence (or half-brother if his mother's married, since her name is Mrs. Rodman). Lawrence is married and they have a baby. His wife mentions to his mother that he's been dreaming about an "imaginary brother"...
- Take Up My Helmet
- Technical Pacifist: According to what he wrote in his registration, he was "taught to respect ALL life", and would kill as a "last resort."
- Tell Me About My Father: Uno wanted the Lizard King to tell him about what happened to his father. But the helmet killed him before he could say anything.
- Ultimate Evil: Tezcatlipoca
- Weirdness Censor
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lizard King
- Will They or Won't They?: Uno and Julia Frostick
- Wretched Hive: Vanity City is explicitly described in one issue as being like Gotham City, only worse. It's hinted that the city's most influential architect deliberately included Alien Geometries in his work that cause mental instability, violent tendencies, etc. in the inhabitants. (This may have had something to do with the reason Aztek came to the city in the first place, but if so the series was canceled before the significance was revealed.) Alien geometries or not, it's certainly full of demonstrations of mental instability and violent tendencies, most dramatically with the city's former official hero Bloodtype and his girlfriend, both over-the-top Nineties Antiheroes... who were both Patriotic Fervor heroes before they came to Vanity.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Lampshaded and justified
- You Killed My Father: The Q Society killed Uno's father for falling in love with a woman. And tried to do in his backup when he refused to kill him.