In this world, metahumans only became public knowledge in 1995 when the news captured video of a superhero/supervillain fight for the first time. There had been people with powers before this point, but few in number and kept hidden by government forces “to keep the Public from panicking.”
For the campaign, here are certain significant events the PCs should know about:
1995 - March
The Guardian Incident happens in California. The public learns people with powers exist, including supervillain Lord Synthetic and the superhero Guardian. Both clash periodically over the next 20 years.
2004 - February
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources founds Special Unit One – the first government-sponsored team of superheroes. While little was expected of them, the team does well and earns the respect of police in Maryland.
2005 - January-March
The “Cape-KRAKEN War” happens. A series of events led to escalating violent conflicts between the superheroes in Baltimore and a previously unknown organization named KRAKEN. Eventually deaths occurred on both sides. Superheroes across the Mid-Atlantic Region worked with police to eliminate KRAKEN. After the “war’s” conclusion, Special Unit One was moved to from Capitol City to Baltimore to re-establish the public's trust in superheroes.
2005 - April
PRIMUS was dragged into the light by a concerted effort by the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA [because they were tired of being blamed for everything PRIMUS was doing]. PRIMUS agents were identified as the “men in black” keeping the existence of metahumans secret since the late 1950’s. Public outrage at PRIMUS, their activities, and their methods ensued.
2005 - May
First televised VIPER attack. PRIMUS releases data showing VIPER has been active in the United States for nearly 10 years.
2009 - March
The superhero group SABRE is founded by Max Powers*, the owner and CEO of Futuretech Systems. The group is established in the Futuretech Systems Tower in Capitol City, which is renamed SABRE Tower. Max Powers also established the SABRE Response Teams (SRTs), whose jobs are to minimize collateral damage (by getting bystanders safely out of the way) and get repairs to the city under way. [This later part was required by the City Council before they would make the zoning changes to allow SABRE to operate in the city.]
*This was a PC in the previous campaign, whom I am keeping as an NPC. I mention this to avoid being blamed for the name.
VIPER is a mainstay of Champions campaigns as THE villain agency. I played with the idea of reskinning VIPER to be KRAKEN, but hero universes thrive on multiple villainous agencies, so I decided to keep them separate entities and get VIPER out in front of the other agencies in play by having them show up in the timeline. There are other groups out there, some deep in the shadows...