ROBERT E. HOWARD’S REAL RED SONYA (NOT SONJA)

A great look at one of REH’s best characters. I like the Red Sonja version, as well, but I’ve always really liked Red Sonya even more — even though she only appeared once.

Balladeer's Blog

red sonyaTHE SHADOW OF THE VULTURE – This story by Robert E. Howard, the ONLY Howard story to actually feature Red Sonya, was first published in the January 1934 issue of Magic Carpet Magazine. As I’ve mentioned in many other reviews of old pulp characters, Howard’s REAL Red Sonya was indeed a warrior woman, but not one from his fictional Hyborian Age.

It was Marvel Comics who distorted Red Sonya into “Red Sonja” and placed her as a guest star in assorted Conan stories as well as her own series. That Red Sonja has more in common with female author C.L. Moore’s warrior woman Jirel of Joiry than she does with Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya.

red sonya picThe Shadow of the Vulture is one of Howard’s historical adventures and it’s set during the 1520s, largely at the Siege of Vienna from September 27th to October 15th in 1529. Red Sonya of…

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Shadowman (Icons Writeup)

Shadowman (modern)
aka Jack Boniface

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

Stamina 11

Powers
* Detection (other Loa) 2
* Leaping 2
* Regeneration 4
* Night Vision 3
* Darkness Control 4
* Shadow Scythe 6 (Extra: Can be used to open a portal to the Deadside)
* Mind Control 5 (Limit: Only functions on creatures in the Deadside)

Note: Jack’s powers stem from the necromantic energy of the Loa held with him. As a result, all of his powers are only effective at night. In addition, during the daytime hours, Jack’s Prowess, Coordination, and Strength are reduced to 3, which means his daytime Stamina is 7.

Specialties
Athletics (Expert +2 bonus), Occult – Voodoo (+1 bonus), Performance – Saxophone, Stealth (Expert +2 bonus), Weapon – Shadow Scythe (Master +3 bonus)

Qualities
“You have got to pull it together, Jack.”
Utterly ruthless when the need arises.
“I didn’t ask for this.”

Background
Some of the following comes from the Valiant Fandom Wiki

Jack Boniface, better known as Shadowman, is a young man from New Orleans. His supernatural abilities come from the Shadow Loa, an immensely powerful (voodoo) spirit that has been passed down his bloodline and which he bonded with as the latest Shadowman, the one who protects the world of the living (Liveside) from the world of the dead (Deadside).

As the Shadowman, Jack had been working with the Abettors to battle spirits and demons, and to protect the world against the necromancer Master Darque. Later, Jack was tricked by Master Darque to serve him in the Deadside as the menacing figure known as Magpie. Unbeknownst to Jack, Master Darque’s binding were only psychosomatic and he could have left at any time but he didn’t. Eventually Jack was freed from the Deadside by Ninjak and Punk Mambo.

Five years after first entering his pact with Darque, Jack crawled his way back to the world of the living. Rescued for his near-comatose state by his old ally Alyssa Myles, they began working together to investigate the Shadow Loa’s true nature and hopefully free Jack from it. This investigation led them to the bad side of powerful loa Baron Samedi. Battling his minions, Jack, Alyssa and their allies were seemingly overwhelmed, until a quick-timed summoning ritual by Alyssa and a sneak attack by Jack seemingly put them on top. A well-placed curse on Jack’s Shadow Scythe, however, disabled the hero, and allowed Samedi to kill Jack, his corpse collapsing in front of Alyssa.

Death was, unsurprisingly, not the end for Jack Boniface. Instead of journeying to the afterlife, Jack’s soul slipped back in time, attaching itself to other people who wielded the Shadow Loa throughout history. Seeing the adventures of his great-grandfather Maxim Boniface during the 1940s, and then those of Marius Boniface, the first Shadowman, Jack became terrified to find his soul just kept falling through time. Astonishingly, his soul found someone else to latch onto: Standing Wolf, a tribal warrior in prehistoric Africa. He witnessed Wolf make a pact with the Loa to save his tribe, becoming the real first Shadowman, before being sucked back into the present. He awoke after his own funeral, now armed with the knowledge of how far back his legacy truly goes.

For those of you who want to compare these stats to the VH1 Shadowman, you’ll notice a few differences. The modern version of Shadowman has gone insane, been psychically manipulated, and just plain lied to on multiple occasions. That’s why is Willpower is only a 4 instead of a 5 that the VH1 Jack has. On the other hand, the modern Shadowman seems to a little stronger (Strength 7 vs. 6) and he has several additional powers. Keep in mind that VH1 Shadowman was limited in what he could do because of the alien spider-bite that he received in issue one of his series. Without that bite, he may have manifested some of the abilities that the modern version has, though none of the previous VH1 Shadowmans were ever shown manifesting a ‘shadow scythe,’ so it could just that in a different universe, you get different powers.

Shadowman (Icons Writeup)

Shadowman (VH1 Version)
aka Jack Boniface

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

Stamina 11

Powers
*Detection (Darque Energy) 2
*Leaping 2
*Regeneration 4
*Night Vision 3

Note: Jack’s powers stem from necromantic energy (often called Darque Energy). As a result, all of his powers are only effective at night. In addition, during the daytime hours, Jack’s Prowess, Coordination, and Strength are reduced to 3, which means his daytime Stamina is 8.

Specialties
Performance (Saxophone Expert, + 2 bonus), Athletics (+ 1 bonus), Occult (+ 1 bonus), Stealth (Expert, + 2 bonus)

Qualities
Free-form improvisation in the dark
“Others to hunt down. Others to cast out of the night. MY night.”
“Someone’s shooting me ! Some sorry FOOLS are SHOOTING me !”

Background

Jack Boniface was a jazz player who became empowered by a mysterious organization, the Coven, with the “Darque” power to fend off the sinister Master Darque. When the night falls he becomes the Shadowman, gaining super-strength, fearlessness, and a drive to help others. During the event known as Unity, Jack learned that he was fated to die in 1999 – this brought about an extra layer of fearlessness as he believed that he could do anything and would find a way to survive until the day of his foretold demise. Unfortunately, the original Valiant Universe (dubbed VH1) never made it to 1999 so we’re not certain if the prophecy came true or not.

Roku (Icons Writeup)

Roku
aka Angelina Alcott

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

Stamina 12

Powers
*Body Supremacy – Regeneration 5, Extra Body Part – Prehensile Hair 7 (Extras: Bind, Strike), Stretching 3, Damage Resistance 3
*Telekinesis 5
*Telepathy 6 (Extras: Danger Sense, Illusions, Mind Shield, Mind Control)
*Roku carries various weapons with her – she often uses handguns and swords and may have other equipment as needed. Treat this as Gadgets 5.

Specialties
Athletics (Master +3 bonus), Linguistics (Expert +2 bonus), Martial Arts (Master +3 bonus), Occult, Stealth (Expert +2 bonus), Technology (+1 bonus), Weapons (Master +3 bonus)

Qualities
*Suffers from Amnesia
*Blames Ninjak for destroying her old life
*Agent of the Shadow Seven

Background

The woman now only known as Roku was born Angelina Alcott. She was an agent of MI-6, and Colin King’s trainer and lover. Her relationship with one of MI-6’s best agents made her a target for people who wanted to antagonize him. Agents of the mysterious Undead Monk broke into Colin’s house, killed Angelina, and stole her body. They performed dark rites on her, healing her body and granting her perfect anatomic mastery; including prehensile hair, but removed her memories. She now has physical abilities in excess of normal human limits.

Her MI-6 skills were expanded further and she was trained as an assassin, embracing her life as an agent of the Shadow Seven, more specifically as Kannon’s bodyguard. She battled Colin King, now known as Ninjak, several times, with her battles becoming personal when she remembered he was responsible for destroying her old life.

X-O Manowar (Icons Writeup)


X-O Manowar
Aric Dacia / Aric of Dacia

Prowess 6
Coordination 5
Strength 8
Intellect 6
Awareness 6
Willpower 6

Stamina 14

Powers
All powers are derived from the X-O Manowar Class Armor. Without the armor, his Strength drops to 5 and his Stamina is reduced to 11. His Intellect is reduced to 4 without the armor and his Awareness drops to 4, as well. Aric is the only one that can command the armor because he wears the Armor Control Ring. The Control Ring has two powers of its own – Detection and Interface, both level 10 and both with the Limit: X-O Manowar armor only. If someone were to take the Armor Control Ring from him, they could theoretically bond with the armor as Aric did.
*Blast (100 MGHz pulsed ion beams) 8
*Dazzle (blinding light) 6
*Extrasensory Perception (Remote Eye) 2
*Flight 8 (Extra: Spaceflight)
*Force Field 6
*Gadgets 4
*Interface 8
*Life Support 10
*Immortality 2
*Regeneration 4
*Damage Resistance 5
*Super-Senses 5
*Telepathy 4 (Limit: Only functions with the wearer of the Control Ring)

Specialties
Aerial Combat (+1 bonus), Athletics (Master +3 bonus), Leadership (+1 bonus), Weapons – blades, bludgeons, and throwing (Master +3 bonus), Wrestling (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
“With this new skin, I am the strongest one! With this new skin, Aric rules!”
Hates the Spider Aliens
Conan-In-A-Can

Background

X-O Manowar is Aric of Dacia, a Visigoth barbarian with a powerful suit of high-tech armor. Aric was abducted from his people in the 5th Century by a race called the Spider Aliens, who took him on board their spaceship. Eventually he was able to escape after stealing a suit of X-O Manowar Class Armor, one of the most powerful weapons ever designed. Aric returned to Earth, but thanks to complications of space travel, found that several centuries had past and everyone he knew was dead. Using the armor to seize control of a corporation secretly being run by the Spider Aliens, Aric became the CEO of Orb Industries. With the assistance of his allies Ken Clarkson and Randy Cartier, Aric became a successful business and hero. Eventually, his friends and his company were destroyed by the villain Crescendo. There are multiple accounts of Aric’s end – in Rai # 0, the story of his eventual demise was recounted but in the final issue of his own series it was suggested the entire 60+ issue run was nothing more than a dream.

X-O is probably my all-time favorite Valiant hero but I put off doing this writeup for a long time because I wasn’t sure how to approach it. There were times that he seemed incredibly powerful but other times where he was portrayed at a lower level. Ultimately, I decided to go with some pretty powerful stats but a lot of how tough he would be portrayed in a battle comes down how to intelligently he uses his abilities.

Ninjak (Icons Writeup)

Ninjak
aka Colin King

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

Stamina 12

Powers
*Ninjak Suit and Gear – Damage Resistance 4, Swords 5, Shuriken 4, Flash Grenades 4, Smoke Bombs 4, Concussion Grenades 6, Gadgets 4, Images 4, Wall-Crawling 4, Life Support 5, Interface 4
*Body Supremacy – Regeneration 5

Specialties
Athletics (Master + 3 bonus), Business (Expert + 2 bonus), Drive (+ 1 bonus), Investigation (Expert + 2 bonus), Linguistics (Expert + 2 bonus), Martial Arts (Master + 3 bonus), Medicine (+ 1 bonus), Mental Resistance (Expert + 2 bonus), Stealth (Master + 3 bonus), Technology (+ 1 bonus), Weapons – Blades (Master + 3 bonus), Weapons – Thrown (Expert + 2 bonus)

Qualities
“When I fight someone, they don’t realize it until it’s too late.”
“One can never be too prepared.”
“You can take away my equipment. But you can’t take away my training.”

Background

History is taken from the Valiant Fandom Wiki

Ninjak, the ruthless and charming, super-spy and mercenary for hire, was born Colin King, wealthy son of privilege. For the Kings, espionage was the family business, and Colin’s parents both served as clandestine operatives with MI6. Inattentive at best when they were home, his parents’ work kept them away, for months at a time, and the young Colin’s upbringing was left to his family’s brutal butler. At his hands, Colin received his earliest training in the deceit, ambush, and self-sufficiency, of the MI6 master spy.

On reaching adulthood, Colin King left his family behind and quickly fell into the folds of the intelligence community. Upon joining MI6, Colin’s training agent was Angelina Alcott. Against MI6 policy, the two soon began a secret affair. A year later she would be killed by Xaman, an assassin and acolyte of the Undead Monk – when Colin broke protocol and inadvertently led to her death. Lying about his own part in her death, Colin stayed with the agency to hunt down Angelina’s killers alongside his new handler, Neville Alcott.

The two tracked the Undead Monk to a remote monastery in the Himalayas. Colin infiltrated the group, joining them as a student. There under the Monk’s wordless tutelage, Colin’s mastery of the martial arts was completed. Colin succeeded in killing Xaman, but was banished from the monastery before he could complete the mission and kill them all. Years later, he would encounter the Monk’s most gifted students in their guise as the Shadow Seven.

His training complete, Colin rose in the ranks of MI6, becoming the lead agent of their newly formed ninja program, gaining the designation of Ninja-K. Working now as a freelance agent and inheriting his family’s wealth and estates, he lived a dual life as a wealthy financier and a secret agent.

It was in this capacity that he unwittingly took the contract to kill Aric of Dacia and retrieved the X-O Manowar for the Vine infiltrators that had assumed leadership of the MI6. When Aric and a Vine traitor named Alexander Dorian revealed the true identity of Ninjak’s employers to him, the three worked together to eliminate Vine Plantings all over the agency. Ninjak would again work side by side with Aric when they formed the superteam Unity, though the relationship between the two remains tense. Recently, the two have teamed again to track down and eliminate again the Vine plantings led by Aric’s enemy, Commander Trill.

Ninjak’s vendetta against the Shadow Seven would resume when he was tasked with infiltrating their underworld weapons dealing organization known as Weaponeer. This mission brought him face to face with Roku, an enforcer for the Shadow Seven whose relationship to Ninjak’s is more than it seems. Ninjak eliminated Weaponeer’s leadership and assumed control of the organization to find the remainder of the group, surrendering them to MI6 custody.

Following that mission, Ninjak was teamed with the voodoo mystic known Punk Mambo for a mission into the alternate dimension known as the Deadside to retrieve a lost MI-6 team. There the two encountered and fought The Magpie, whose attempts to break his mystical bondage to the necromancer Master Darque had led him to capture several members of the Shadow Seven from MI6 holding facility. Ninjak and Punk Mambo defeated the Magpie and his ally Ember and returned from the Deadside with Jack, the MI6 team and the missing members of the Shadow Seven as prisoners.

Ephemera (Icons Writeup)

Ephemera
aka Kiersten Patterson
Created by Barry Reese

Prowess 2
Coordination 3
Strength 3
Intellect 3
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina 7

Powers
*Dimensional Travel 8 (Limit: Only allows for travel to and from Deadworld)
*Darkness Control 5 (Extras: Binding, Force Field)

Specialties
Stealth

Qualities
Social Worker for the Dead
Money Troubles
Ally of the Straw-Man

Background:

Kiersten Patterson was a normal young woman, struggling to make ends meet, when she got an unusual new neighbor. This neighbor was eventually revealed to be the rejuvenated spirit of a witch — and when Kiersten got too close to the truth, she was targeted as the witch’s next victim. Thanks to the combined efforts of her uncle (the town sheriff) and the Straw-Man, the witch was defeated. Exposure to the supernatural elements triggered something within Kiersten, however, and she later learned that she had a series of unusual abilities — she was now able to journey back and forth to Deadworld, where spirits go before moving on to their chosen afterlife, and she was also able to manipulate darkness. As Ephemera, she now tries to help souls that have become trapped on the mortal plane, either through their ignorance or by their attempts to avoid their proper fate. She doesn’t see herself as a hero — in fact, she’d rather avoid anything even remotely resembling fisticuffs — but she does derive some pleasure from helping spirits find their eternal reward.

Lazarus Gray (Icons Writeup)

Lazarus Gray
aka Richard Winthrop
Created by Barry Reese

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

Stamina 11

Powers
*.357 Smith & Wesson Magnum 4 (Extra: The gun uses silver bullets that have been soaked in holy water. Does 5 damage to supernatural foes)
*Knife 2
*Detect 4 (Limit: Can only be used to track members of Assistance Unlimited – each member has been injected with a radioactive isotope that can be traced by Lazarus)
*Gadgets 3

Specialties
Athletics (Expert +2 bonus), Business (+1 bonus), Drive (+ 1 bonus), Investigation (Expert + 2 bonus), Leadership (Master +3 bonus), Linguistics (Expert + 2 bonus), Martial Arts (Expert +2 bonus), Medicine (+1 bonus), Mental Resistance (Expert + 2 bonus), Occult (Expert +2 bonus), Pilot (+1 bonus), Stealth (+1 bonus), Technology (+1 bonus), Weapons (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
Assistance Unlimited is his family
Associated with Project: Cicada (1941 forward)
Continually reinvents himself

Art by George Sellas, Script by Barry Reese
Art by George Sellas, Script by Barry Reese

Spider-Man (Icons Writeup)

Spider-Man
aka Peter Parker

Prowess 6
Coordination 8
Strength 7
Intellect 6
Awareness 6
Willpower 7

Stamina 14

Powers
*Web-Shooters: Binding 7 (Extra: Burst, Limit: Dissolves after several hours), Swinging 7, Dazzle 4 (“here’s web in your eyes”)
*Spider-Tracers: Detection 5
*Spider-Sense: Danger Sense 8
*Wall-Crawling 8
*Spider-Signal: Dazzle 3
*Damage Resistance 6 (Limit: Impact Forces)
*Super-Speed 3 (Extra: Fast Attack, Extra: Leaping)
*Regeneration 5
*Resistance 5 (Drugs and Diseases)
*Gadgets 4

Specialties
Art (Photography), Athletics, Business, Investigation, Martial Arts, Mental Resistance, Science (Expert +2), Stealth (Expert +2), Technology (Expert +2), Wrestling

Qualities
*With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
*Frequently down on his luck
*Wisecracker

Background:

Sometimes student, sometimes scientist and sometimes photographer, Peter Parker is a full-time super hero better known as the web-slinging and wall-crawling Spider-Man. As an orphaned child, Peter was raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. At a science expo, Peter was bitten by an errant radioactive spider which granted him an array of arachnid powers. He initially became Spider-Man to use his powers as an entertainer, growing so conceited he didn’t bother stopping a passerby burglar. In a twist of fate, the same burglar wound up killing Peter’s Uncle Ben, leading him to realize that he needed to use his powers responsibly. From then on, Spider-Man became a crime-fighting vigilante.

Often a loner, Spider-Man is a stalwart member of the super hero community who has earned numerous allies like the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. He has also made numerous super villains his personal enemies, including Doctor Octopus, Electro, the Hobgoblin, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Venom, and most notoriously, his nemesis the Green Goblin, who once killed Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Peter’s support network extends to his civilian life, including Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn, Flash Thompson and J. Jonah Jameson, although the latter used to run a smear campaign against the wall-crawler in his newspaper, the Daily Bugle.

Recently, following the rise and fall of his start-up company, Parker Industries, Peter juggled his Spider-Man activities with his return to college, while also becoming the target of torment of a demonic entity known as Kindred. Following Kindred’s defeat, Peter was hospitalized for months due to a super villain fight, paving the way for his clone Ben Reilly to reassert himself as Spider-Man. Peter ultimately recovered from his injuries, but also had to come face-to-face against Ben, who had become morally corrupted due to the machinations of his corporate sponsors, the Beyond Corporation.

Huntress (Icons Writeup)

Huntress
aka Helena Wayne

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

Stamina 10

Powers
*Pistol Crossbow 4 (Extra: May be used to fire a swingline, Swinging 4)
*Throwing Dagger 2
*Utility Belt: Gadgets 4

Specialties
Athletics, Drive, Investigation (Expert +2), Languages, Law (Expert +2), Martial Arts, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Weapons – Crossbow (Expert +2), Weapons – Dagger

Qualities
*The daughter of Batman and Catwoman
*Refuses to use guns
*So busy! Works with the JSA, Infinity Inc., and Robin, in addition to working as a lawyer.

Background:

On the parallel dimension known as Earth-Two, the aging hero Bruce Wayne and his wife, Selina Kyle (the former criminal known as Catwoman) had a daughter named Helena.

When Helena was nineteen-years-old, a tragic mishap claimed the life of her mother. Due to the efforts of a former henchman named “Silky” Cernak, a photograph emerged revealing Selina Kyle murdering a police officer during her Catwoman days. Anguished by this stain to her mother’s memory, Helena adopted a costume in honor of both her parents and became the Huntress. She tracked down “Silky” Cernak and arrested him, leaving his unconscious body bound in a net outside of Police Headquarters. She learned that the photograph that Silky had in his possession was doctored and that her mother never actually killed anyone. With her mother’s honor restored, Helena continued to fight crime as the Huntress formally joining her father’s former ward Dick Grayson as his junior partner and later became a member of the revitalized Justice Society of America as well as of Infinity, Inc.

Using the dimensional transporter at the Justice League Satellite, Helena reached Earth-One seeking advice on crime-fighting from Batman by breaking into the Wayne Foundation building. Although he refused to give her advice, Batman introduced Huntress to Batwoman and Batgirl. Together, they shared past experiences and even captured Poison Ivy and Catwoman.

After returning to Earth-Two, Helena was soon promoted as one of the head executives of Cranston, Grayson and Wayne, a lawyer firm started by her father and Dick Grayson along with Arthur Cranston. However, Helena was not satisfied with her executive life and she continued her career as Huntress, often helping those in need in Gotham. In her quest, she uncovered a dishonest plot by a politician who created fires in the city and she managed to stop his evil scheme, although it cost him his own life.

Helena returned to Earth-One to spend Christmas with “Uncle Bruce”. During this time, Huntress assisted Batman in clearing the name of Thomas Wayne, who was being framed as a criminal who bankrolled gangsters.

As Huntress, she fought alongside Dick Grayson in various cases, including Grayson’s last case as the second Batman against the aging Joker, at seeming odds with Grayson against Per Degaton’s time trap during the historic case against the Justice Society.

Though she and Robin were among the many heroes that died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the very existence of the multiverse means that it’s very possible that she still exists out there, on a world very much like the original Earth-Two.