AKA: Billy Blaze
As seen in: Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticans (PC)
Also in: Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy (PC)
Distinguishing feature: Can convert imagination into adventure.
Strengths: Astronomical I.Q., pogo prowess, Green Bay Packers helmet.
Weaknesses: A childlike addiction to chocolate bars, soda, cake, and all manner of sugary confections.
When you’re an eight-year-old kid with an IQ of 314, spending all day cooped up in elementary school and wasting away the evenings at the mercy of a babysitter must be a real drag. On the other hand, all that time normal kids spend toiling away at their math homework is completely up for grabs. What’s a boy genius to do? Study every major philosopher since Socrates? Join the human genome project? Go to college? No, that all sounds so... academic. Where's the excitement? Where's the adventure? Where's the danger?
As it turns out, all of that and more was in Billy Blaze's backyard in the rough-and-tumble form of the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket. Cobbled together from ordinary household detritus, old soup cans, and running on Everclear, Billy's spaceship was one of two instruments the boy genius of eight needed to explore the cosmos. The second was his older brother's football helmet, for once the prodigal headgear was donned, William Joseph Blazkowicz II became Commander Keen, defender of the galaxy!
Perhaps taking a cue from his wilder, less intellectual contemporary Spaceman Spiff, Keen journeyed far and wide in the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket, doing battle with a host of alien races along the way. His first encounter with another species came early, during an exploratory mission to Mars; a group of troublesome Vorticons stole parts of the Megarocket, marooning Keen with no hope of rescue…or so they thought! Keen promptly trekked across the rocky surface of the red planet, seeking out his stolen parts and discovering the holy Pogo Stick that would accompany him for the rest of his galaxy-explorin’ days.
Upon repairing the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket and flying back to Earth, Keen encountered the true face of the Vorticon menace: a deadly mothership, weapons trained on Earth’s major cities! As any fearless eight-year-old adventurer would do, Commander Keen dismantled the orbiting ship and set his sights on the Vorticon homeworld and the mysterious “Grand Intellect” leading the Vorticons.
The Vorticons weren't such a bad lot, as it turned out (a plot twist that would be revisited with Half-Life's similarly-named Vortigaunts a decade later). All their nefarious part-stealing, Earth-threatening activites stemmed from the brilliantly evil mind of the Grand Intellect, who turned out to be none other than Keen's schoolyard nemesis Mortimer McMire! Considering himself superior to Billy Blaze and the rest of the Universe thanks to his 315 IQ, Mortimer made it his personal mission to rid the galaxy of all inferior intellects. Perhaps that superiority complex was his undoing; Keen defeated his rival after battling across Vorticon VI and made it home in time for a nice family dinner.
Though details of his later escapades are scattered and vague, it's known that Commander Keen once again took up arms against McMire in the "Goodbye Galaxy!" incident. It may forever remain a mystery whether or not the intrepid eight-year-old ever vanquished his rival—the eye of popular historical study shifted in focus to Billy’s grandfather William "B.J." Blazkowicz after revealing (and somewhat disturbing) documents were unearthed from the ruins of the German castle Wolfenstein. Even with the final chapter of Keen's history left unwritten, however, the galaxy's continued survival seems to indicate that somewhere, out there, Commander Keen still fights for peace, justice, and reasonable bedtimes.