Hobgoblin I (Icons Writeup)

The Hobgoblinhobgoblin
aka Roderick Kingsley

Prowess 6
Coordination 6
Strength 7
Intellect 4
Awareness 5
Willpower 5

Stamina 12

Powers
*Goblin Formula – In addition to boosting his physical attributes, the Goblin Formula also gives the Hobgoblin Regeneration 3.
*Body Armor – Damage Resistance 5
*Goblin Grenades 7 (Extras: Plain Smoke, Knock-Out Gas, Explosive, Spider-Sense Clouding)
*Razor Bats – Strike 4
*Glove Blasters 6
*Goblin Glider: Handling 6, Speed 6, Structure 4, does Strike Damage 6 when used for charging with horns

Hobgoblin also has made extensive use of a piece of mind-controlling equipment known as Winkler’s Device. This piece of machinery has Mind Control 7 and is generally used to brainwash others into wearing the Hobgoblin outfit so that Roderick can remain safely elsewhere.

Specialties
Aerial Combat (Expert +2 bonus), Art – Fashion (Expert +2 bonus), Business (Expert +2 bonus), Pilot – Goblin Glider (Expert +2 bonus), Technology (+1 bonus)

Qualities
*Specializes in taking the ideas of others and improving them
*Always has an escape route
*”You pathetic fools! Your combined strength is nothing when compared to the power of the Hobgoblin!”

Background

Roderick Kingsley was a successful fashion designer and millionaire who had built his empire through underworld ties and unethical practices. One of his criminal associates, George Hill, had stumbled upon one of the secret lairs of the original Green Goblin. He relayed this information to Kingsley, who killed him to ensure the secret would remain hidden. Reading through Norman Osborn’s journals and examining the various “goblin” paraphernalia and weaponry, Kingsley found himself enthralled with the idea of becoming a costumed criminal. Therefore he forged a new identity, with an altered costume as the Hobgoblin.

Using information he acquired from journals left behind by Norman Osborn, Kingsley intended to blackmail several key figures including J. Jonah Jameson and Osborn’s son Harry. Inevitably, this drew him into conflict with Spider-Man, who Kingsley saw as only a nuisance and had only planned to deal with him in afterthought. After being beaten soundly by the web-slinger several times, Kingsley became obsessed with reproducing Osborn’s original strength enhancing formula so he could deal with Spider-Man more effectively. Not wanting to suffer the insanity that plagued Norman Osborn as a result of exposure to formula, Kingsley decided to test it on a small time thug named Arnold “Lefty” Donovan. After exposing him to the formula, Kingsley had Donovan attack Spider-Man in the guise of the Hobgoblin. Kingsley monitored Donovan’s vitals from afar, checking for anomalies. Spider-Man defeated Donovan and unmasked him, but before he could compromise Kingsley’s identity, he remote-controlled the goblin glider to crash, killing him.

Convinced that the test was a success, Kingsley immersed himself in the new formula and emerged with strength that surpassed even the original Green Goblin’s. Sometime later Kingsley discovered that the reporter Ned Leeds had followed him to his lair and learned of his secret identity. Through hypnosis, Kingsley was able to brainwash Leeds into becoming a new Hobgoblin that Kingsley could manipulate from the shadows, particularly as a stand-in during negotiations with The Rose (Richard Fisk) in an elaborate plot to bring the Kingpin’s empire down. To further protect his identity and deflect the attention of his enemies, Kingsley at one point framed Flash Thompson as the Hobgoblin. Thompson was arrested, only to be freed by Jack O’ Lantern (Jason Philip Macendale). Macendale learned that Thompson was not the real Hobgoblin, which infuriated him. Thompson was subsequently exonerated.

Eventually, Hobgoblin and the Rose had a falling out, with the latter enlisting the Jack O’Lantern to dispatch the former. Hobgoblin defeated him, forcing Macendale to pursue an alternative method of destroying his enemy. As Kingsley had gone to great pains to convince everyone that Ned Leeds was the real Hobgoblin, it was Leeds that ultimately paid the price. Macendale had the mercenary called the Foreigner arrange an assassination of Leeds in his hotel room while on assignment overseas with Peter Parker. Kingpin then told Parker’s alter-ego, Spider-Man that Leeds was the Hobgoblin, illustrating this fact with photos of the assassination, showing Leeds in full Hobgoblin costume. Kingsley, satisfied that his identity had been protected and that the underworld believed the Hobgoblin dead, retired to Belize.

Macendale then took the opportunity to take up the mantle of what was then thought to be the “deceased” Hobgoblin. After his tenure as the Hobgoblin, and corruption into a demonic form (resulting in the emergence of the Demogoblin), Macendale was ultimately arrested. During his trial Macendale publicly revealed that Ned Leeds was the “original” Hobgoblin – even though many people (including Macendale) had reason to believe that wasn’t true.

The true Hobgoblin, Kingsley, returned from retirement, his first act being to kill Macendale whom he deemed unworthy of his title. He then kidnapped Betty Brant as part of a trap for Spider-Man. However, during the battle, Kingsley’s brother Daniel was captured and Kingsley was unmasked. Finally, the true and original Hobgoblin was revealed and Ned Leeds’ name was cleared.

When Norman Osborn was revealed to be alive and well, the imprisoned Kingsley became furious at Osborn’s denial of being the Green Goblin. He claimed the existence of a lost journal of Osborn’s that proved that he was indeed the Green Goblin. Osborn had Kingsley broken out of prison and provided him with new Hobgoblin equipment while a mysterious new Green Goblin (a genetic construct created by Osborn) kidnapped Daniel Kingsley, the only person who supposedly knew where the last journal was. After capturing both Daniel and Spider-Man, the two Goblins returned to Osborn who revealed the truth – that he knew there was no other journal and he had bought Kingsley’s empire out from under him. Infuriated, Hobgoblin attacked and a climatic battle between both Goblins and Osborn ensued. Spider-Man was able to take Daniel to safety as the entire building began to collapse and burn down. All three villains escaped, and although Osborn believed himself to be victorious, Kingsley had safely stowed away several millions of dollars in various overseas accounts. He then quietly retired to the Caribbean for some time before boredom led him back into super-villainy.

In recent years, he has created a business for himself whereby he outfits would-be supervillains in abandoned identities for a fee. His brother Daniel was murdered by Phil Urich at one point and Urich used the Hobgoblin identity himself briefly before moving on to the identities of Goblin Knight and Goblin King. Kingsley battled Urich and defeated him, claiming revenge for his brother’s murder, and Urich was later slain by Osborn during his Red Goblin phase.

Murder Unlimited!

lg_v3_murder_unlimited_smallOne of the great tropes of modern heroic fiction is the “dark reflection,” where we get to see a villain that’s very similar to our hero – so much so, that they’re practically two sides of the same coin. Lazarus Gray has clashed several times with a man known as Nemesis, whose very existence is due to a spell to turn him into Gray’s equal.

But what about Assistance Unlimited, the group that Lazarus leads? Do they have an opposite number?

Actually, the answer is yes – and they’re known as Murder Unlimited!

Be warned if you read further, however… because spoilers lie ahead.

The first version of Murder Unlimited made their debut in 1936 when a scarred woman named Constance Majestros brought together a team based out of 666 Holder Way – a brownstone located in one of Sovereign City’s worst neighborhoods (“Murder Unlimited,” Lazarus Gray Volume 3). Despite its surroundings, the interior was quite lush and well-suited to its evil membership. The initial members were:

  • Dr. Melvin Pemberley – A doctor that had been discredited for his awful experiments and a frequent foe of Assistance Unlimited in its early days.
  • Prince Femi – The resurrected Egyptian sorceress that has fought Assistance Unlimited more than any other villain has.
  • Abraham Klee – The son of the notorious Adolphus Klee, this madman has a bald head and a terrible scar around it — surgeries have allowed him to utilize 90% of his brain capability.
  • Stanley Davis – A heavyset man gifted with clairvoyance.
  • Constance Majestros – Scarred after a battle with Lazarus Gray, she was fixated on gaining revenge.

The team was defeated and for several years, the Murder Unlimited name was unused. It was revived in 1940 when a new version was formed (“As Above, So Below” – Lazarus Gray Volume 8). This team consisted of:

  • Nemesis – Agent of both The Illuminati and the Occult Forces Project, Nemesis was magically enhanced to be Lazarus Gray’s equal.
  • Bushido – A Japanese warrior, she is a female samurai and is fiercely loyal to Nemesis. The two are lovers and partners.
  • Vixen – Caroline Berber wears a black catsuit and is skilled at seducing men — in fact, she managed to trick Morgan Watts into marrying her.
  • Brick — Larry Carter was Caroline’s boyfriend and a thug of the highest order.
  • Alloy – Mario Gallo had suffered a terrible injury but was repaired by Italian doctors that used an experimental substance called Material-X to strengthen his shattered bones.

A third incarnation was formed in 1941 (Lazarus Gray Volume 9). This time, the group was once again led by Nemesis and Bushido but its final two members were quite surprising and featured betrayals of trust for Assistance Unlimited… that’s right: for the first time, a former member of Assistance Unlimited was now a member of Murder Unlimited! When we get closer to the release of Volume 9, I’ll talk more about who those two mystery members are but for now, all I’ll say is that one of the members is a former member of Assistance Unlimited and the other is a classic pulp character making his or her debut in my universe… and they come back to play a role in Volume 10, too!

John McClane (Icons Writeup)

John McClane

Prowess 4
Coordination 5
Strength 4
Intellect 4
Awareness 5
Willpower 6

Stamina 10

Powers
*Danger Sense 2
*Regeneration 3
*Police-Issue Handgun 4

Specialties
Athletics (Expert +2 bonus), Drive (Master +3 bonus), Investigation (Expert +2 bonus), Law (+1 bonus), Leadership (+1 bonus), Martial Arts (+1 bonus), Medicine – First Aid (Expert +2 bonus), Sleight of Hand (+1 bonus), Stealth (+1 bonus), Weapons – Guns (Master +3 bonus), Weapons – Explosives (Expert +2 bonus), Wrestling (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
*“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”
*“ Just once, I’d like a regular, normal Christmas. A little eggnog…a fuckin’ Christmas tree…a little turkey. But, no! I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin’ tin can !”
*Never gives up. Ever.

Background

John McClane is an extremely courageous and skilled police officer – and the main character in the Die Hard series of films. He has 15 years of experience with law enforcement in New York City. Given his array of skills — including the handling of explosives — one would suspect that he may have been part of the special crisis team of the NYPD, the Emergency Service Unit .

McClane’s ability to survive explosions, firefights, crashes and other hazards resides past the borders of the improbable. Though he is not truly a superhuman, his strength of will is so great that it allows him to function as if he has Regeneration. He is also quite attuned to danger, allowing him to use a natural form of Danger Sense.

We know that he’s still close to his ex-wife, but that’s about it. He does have two children – a daughter, Lucy, and a son, John “Jack” Jr. He tends to find himself in impossibly dangerous situations, especially around Christmastime.

Thanksgiving Week

With a week off from work, I’ve been doing a lot of writing on a Snow Leopard short story – it’s going to be part of a Skip Timeline anthology. I’ve already gotten in excellent stories from Bobby Nash and Joeseph Simon, with a couple more talented gents set to send in their own tales very soon. It’s been fun to write this character and I expect to finish it off in a week or two.

Grimarr’s collection has been sent off to Pro Se. It’s a digest-sized anthology.

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of Lazarus Gray so Tommy Hancock and I have begun thinking about ways to celebrate the event. If you have any suggestions, pass ’em on!

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week, may your festivities be pleasant!

Badger (Icons Writeup)

Badger
badgeraka Norbert Sykes

Prowess 6
Coordination 5
Strength 4/5
Intellect 3/2
Awareness 4
Willpower 5

Stamina 9/10

Powers
*Rage! – Ability Boost 1 (Limits: Temporary; during the time that Strength is boosted to 5 and Martial Arts is raised to +3, his Intellect drops to 2)
*Telepathy 4 (Limit: Works only on animals)

Specialties
Art – Poetry (Alice personality only, +1 bonus), Athletics (Expert +2 bonus), Investigation (+1 bonus), Martial Arts (Expert +2 bonus, Master +3 bonus when under Rage!), Mental Resistance (Expert +2 bonus), Military (+1 bonus), Sleight of Hand (+1 bonus), Stealth (+1 bonus), Weapons – Melee (Expert +2 bonus), Weapons – Ranged (+1 bonus)

Qualities
*Badger is often accompanied by an animal companion. He has used trained dogs, badgers, bulls, rats, etc.
*Multiple Personalities
*Traumatic Flashbacks

Background

Norbert Sykes was raised in Wisconsin by his mother and step-father, Larry. Most of the time Larry would beat and abuse Norbert sexually. When Norbert was 10, he found an injured badger and nursed it back to health only for Larry to kill it. Not to mention all the times he would kick Norbert’s dog, Leroy.

When Norbert was old enough, he ran away and joined the Army. Norbert was captured during the war and made a POW for 2 years. During that time, he was starved and tortured. In his deprived and starved state, Norbert was visited by an animal god in the form of a badger named Myrtle. She showed him how to survive on beetles, talk to animals, and master all forms of martial arts, specializing in Shorin-Ryu. When he was strong enough, Norbert was challenged by the Colonel and defeated him. The troops, shocked at the outcome, gave Norbert a chance to escape into the desert where he was picked up by an American military patrol.

Returning to the states a war hero, Norbert did as Myrtle had instructed and outfitted himself a Badger costume; taking to the streets and fighting crime against litterbugs, purse thieves, and drunken college boys. Badger was arrested and committed to a mental institution where he met Daisy Fields, a resident psychiatrist. Not soon after he was committed, another inmate was put in a cell next to his. Badger learned that this stranger, Ham, was actually a 5th century druid who had been in a coma for centuries. In return, Badger filled the druid in on the current society and times. Badger was finally freed on the condition that Daisy could continue her treatment of Norbert outside the institution. Soon after, Ham offered both residence at his castle (having amassed a fortune in a matter of days using his magic) and hired Badger as his familiar and bodyguard; Daisy as his personal secretary.

Since the meeting, both have learned of Badger’s uncanny abilty to talk to animals. Badger also has 7 multiple personalities, each with their own distinct personalities:

  • Max Swell – a cultured gay man
    Emily – a nine year old girl
    Leroy – Norbert’s dog that was shot by Larry when he was ten
    Pierre – a French psychotic serial killer
    Alice – a poet
    Gastineau Grover DePaul – a black man from the southside of Chicago

Badger also talks to the ghost of celebrities such as Warren Oates, Bruce Lee, and John Wayne….to name a few.

Badger met a Vietnamese veterinarian named Mavis Davis during the Black Lotor Liu Hu martial arts tournament held every hundred years. Mavis was killed by Hodag in the final round and Badger avenged her death by killing Hodag. As winner of the tournament, Badger was given one wish for whatever he wanted. He used his wish to return Mavis back to life and soon after married her (much to his own surprise).

Badger continues his vigilant fight against demons, oppressing corporations and annoying people to this day.

The Wizard (Icons Writeup)

The WizardTHE-WIZARD
aka Blain Whitney

Prowess 4
Coordination 4
Strength 4
Intellect 7
Awareness 5
Willpower 5

Stamina 9

Powers
*Extrasensory Perception 5
*Immortality 1
*Costume – Damage Resistance 4
*Dynamagno-Saw Ray Projector – Blast 5
*Gadgets 4

Specialties
Athletics (+1 bonus), Science (Expert +2 bonus), Technology (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
*Photographic memory
*Trained from youth to be a mental wizard
*Temporarily replaced by Hans Martz, the villainous Wizard

Background

Ever since the founding of the United States of America, members of the Whitney family have served America and have helped the country in its hour of need. Among those members of the Whitney family who have served America include such notables as general Steven Whitney, who had helped cover General George Washington’s retreat from long island and cleared the way to Valley Forge; Capt. Ambrose Whitney, who was a Privateer Commander during the War of 1812; Major Thomas Whitney, who accepted Robert E. Lee’s saber at Appomattox Courthouse on behalf of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to end the Civil War; and James Whitney, a Federal Agent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs who signed a treaty with several tribes of Native Americans to put an end to a series of raids against white settlers. They were among the many members of the Whitney family to serve America at her darkest hour. Trained from youth to be a mental wizard, Blain possesses a photographic memory and supersensory perception, which allow him to tune into criminal activity – his mental acuity also allows him to slow the effects of aging on his body. His costume also made him invulnerable.

For a time, he was believed to have been killed and replaced by a Nazi sorcerer that adopted the title of The Wizard. Hans Martz was eventually defeated and Blain returned to action.

Spider Spry (Icons Writeup)

Spider SprySPIDER-SPRY-600x574
aka Simon Spry

Prowess 3
Coordination 4
Strength 3
Intellect 7
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 7

Powers
*Silken Spider Cords 5 (Extras: Binding, Wall-Crawling)
*Gadgets 6

Specialties
Athletics – Climbing (Expert +2 bonus), Science (Expert +2 bonus), Technology (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
*Brought together the Mighty Crusaders (Uh-Oh)
*At the center of a worldwide web of crime
*Hates The Fly and Fly-Girl

Background

Simon Spry is a dastardly criminal scientist. His life work has gone into putting an end to his nemeses, the Fly and Fly-Girl! He was the first enemy to take on the combined might of the Fly, the Shield, the Comet, Black Hood, and Fly-Girl, who would later become the Mighty Crusaders. In fact, it was Spider Spry himself who created the idea of the Mighty Crusaders, in a plot to draw them all together and pit them against each other!

Spider Spry can build giant high-tech weapons and machines, capable of immense power. In addition to this, Spry can climb extreme heights with the aid of his silken spider cords, thus giving him the name “Spider Spry.” Also at his disposal are numerous other gadgets that he can call upon at will to combat the forces of good. And as if that weren’t enough, Spray has a world-wide system of corrupt operatives tracking the movements of precious metals and technology, which he uses in his schemes.

Megalith (Icons Writeup)

Megalithmegalith

aka Joe Majurac

Prowess 5
Coordination 6
Strength 7
Intellect 5
Awareness 5
Willpower 5

Stamina 12

Powers
*Poison/Disease Resistance 8
*Regeneration 2
*Leaping 3
*Damage Resistance 6
*Telepathy 3
*Telekinesis 3

Specialties
Athletics (Master +3 bonus), Linguistics (Expert +2 bonus), Martial Arts (+1 bonus)

Qualities
*Photographic Memory
*Mind/Body Link
*Just a kid at heart

Background

Joe Majurac was a gifted young student and athlete who aspired to one day become an Olympic champion. When his family farm was threatened with foreclosure, Joe eagerly accepted an offer of sponsorship by an unheard-of German corporation. Unaware of their sinister motives for him, Joe allowed the company to train him at their state-of-the-art facility in Germany. Joe drove himself to become the best at multiple athletic events, unknowingly achieving a “mind/body link” that allowed him to surpass normal human ability. When his trainers continued to push him towards an unseen goal, and contact with his parents became difficult, Joe began to suspect his benefactors and confronted them. Their response was to threaten his parents, thus driving Joe to break out of the compound and return home. Finding his family farm destroyed and his parents missing, Joe became the costumed hero Megalith in order to find them. His search often led him to fight alongside the Revengers, a team of other heroes.

Megalith is basically the Superman of the Continuity universe but he’s so good-natured and naïve that he’s easily taken advantage of. In terms of his powers, he was one of the best athletes in the world before mastering the Mind/Body Link so I gave him a Mastery in Athletics. With that, he’s able to perform some seriously superhuman effects.

Several years after becoming a superhero, Joe met someone else that had mastered the Mind/Body Link. This person taught him how to tap into his mental abilities but they are still unrefined – eventually his telepathy and telekinesis might become more powerful. Given his youth, his physical attributes might grow, as well.

Access (Icons Writeup)

Access
aka Axel Asher

Prowess 3
Coordination 3
Strength 3
Intellect 3
Awareness 5
Willpower 4

Stamina 7

Powers
*Cosmic Awareness 10 (Limit: Only detects threats that are related to BOTH the DC and Marvel universes simultaneously)
*Detect 10 (Limit: Only functions to help him locate people displaced from their native universe)
*Dimensional Travel 10 (Limit: Only allows him to travel back and forth between the Marvel and DC universes)
*Teleportation 7
*Time Travel 9

Specialties
None

Qualities
*“Wait a minute – I know you!” Whenever Access appears, memory of who he is and memory of the other universe suddenly returns to the hero meeting him. Normally, the denizens of the Marvel and DC Universes don’t recall the existence of The Brothers, Access, etc.
*An average guy
*People trust him

Background

Nobody knew until 1996 that the Marvel and DC Universes are connected. “The Brothers”, two massive all-encompassing cosmic entities, respectively comprise the whole of each universe. They are inextricably linked.

The person least aware of this was Axel Asher, itinerant student and drifter. He was a native of the Marvel continuum, Earth-616 . When The Brothers suddenly became aware of each other, having forgotten each other’s existence for untold eons, they began a battle. This caused the two universes to slowly merge into one.

Which activated the latent powers possessed by Axel. Mr. Asher was a “shard” – a living embodiment of a fraction of both Brothers’ powers.

Through the actions of a great many super-heroes from both universes (most notably Batman, Captain America, The Spectre, and the Living Tribunal), the Brothers were made to settle their differences. Thus, the balance between the dimensions was restored.

Axel now acts as a guardian of that balance. He monitors contact and travel between them in order to prevent another merger that might have disastrous consequences.

Axel is a terribly earnest and sincere fellow, with a good sense of right and wrong. Although he didn’t ask for his powers and responsibilities, he’s doing his level best to live up to them. And while he’s not really charismatic per se, he does seem to be awfully good at talking people into doing things for him.

The Family Grace Gets Reviewed

grace_cvrLongtime reader Jose Rivera posted a review on Amazon.com of The Family Grace: An Extraordinary History. He gave it four stars and labeled it “A Wonderful Primer!” Here is what he had to say in total:

“I’ve been reading Barry Reese’s work for almost ten years. In that time I’ve seen the Grace sisters (Charity and Samantha) and heard about the adventures of other members of their family, but I never got to read them…until now.

The Family Grace is an omnibus of stories dealing with the Grace family and the world of shadows. Sometimes it features a Grace while others and sometimes its tangentially linked to the world of shadows. But you know what’s incredible? It all fits so well! You can read the first couple of stories and have all the context you need for what’s to come later in the book.

There’s a few genres here: we have fantasy, adventure, new pulp and slight horror. If at some point you were ever interested in dipping your toe into the world of Reese’s characters I would HIGHLY recommend this as it is an excellent primer for what you can expect in other works like Lazarus Gray, The Peregrine, Gravedigger, the Dark Gentleman, etc.

Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!”

Thanks, Jose! This was a strange book to assemble as it took many previously published tales from all over the place (several of which were out of print by this point) and put them into a single anthology. If there was ever a second edition of this, we’d have to go back and include a Gravedigger story since she’s a prominent member of the Grace clan that was created after this one was published!

Thanks again!