Rance Colby is an agent of the President.
That is not entirely true but then again, nothing about Rance Colby is entirely true, including his real name. What his real name is, or was, is unknown even to most of those for whom he works. Or worked as is more accurate to say. If this is sounding confusing, it's probably because it is.
When the man who would be known as Rance Colby was two years old, his missionary parents' single engine plane was shot out of the sky over the jungles of the Philippines, killing both adults but leaving the young boy alive and largely unhurt. It was in the wreckage soon after that Master Song Lee found the child, quite hungry. After burying the parents, he took the boy back to his hideout.
Master Lee had been China's top martial arts expert for several years, revered and honored. That ended when the government erred in what they thought was a raid on a fringe religious cult and Lee's wife and three daughters were killed. In retaliation, the soldiers involved and several of the government leaders who ordered the attack were killed. Knowing his life in China was over, he fled to the Philippines and a new life as a hermit. That solitude came to a literal crashing end when the plane came down.
For nearly two decades the two lived together. Master Lee taught his new "son" whom he named Adam Lee all that he knew in the martial arts and in weaponry. Lee got books from a library in a town and home schooled the boy who proved to have a photographic memory. It was a good and fulfilling life for Lee but when Adam reached adulthood, Lee knew it was time for the man to re-enter the world even as Lee returned to his native China to die. Lee had been quite wealthy before his hermitage and much of that he passed to his son so when Adam Lee arrived in the United States, he was able to get fake documentation.
Adam Lee had no real plans so he wandered his new land with no intent other than to soak it all in. He did things that interested him, one of which was an Iron Man Decathlon. His abilities were observed by an up-and-coming governmental official who recognized the potential for an incredible agent. He was recuited, trained, and put into the field.
According to that recruiter, spoken about him years later, "The man in question was--emphasis on was--our country's most successful covert operator. There has been no other like him in foreign intelligence, for any nation--nor will there ever be--we hope. He's a man with no background as far as our intelligence has been able to determine. A photograph of him never existed until recently. It would not have mattered; he's a master of disguise. We have no idea of where he lives...He has no friends, as far as we know. No government record can be found of his existence. Bottom line, gentlemen," he emphasized, "we know very little about this man selected personally by former President Clifford Grayson....He's a trained killer. He's the most lethal human being on the face of the earth. There's not a weapon he hasn't mastered, including his hands. This man possesses a photographic mind--and speaks dozens of languages fluently, as well as various dialects."
It is here when the story takes an odd turn. In thanks for having handled so many highly sensitive missions, the outgoing President decided having him terminated ( ???!!! ) would not be the right thing to do. So "they" decided the nicer thing to do was erase his memory and replace it with that of a loving wife and family, all of which had died a tragic death.
This all happens before the first recorded adventure. Things changed a lot afterwards, luckily mostly for the better.