Master Darque – Original (Icons Writeup)

Master Darquedarkque_layton

Prowess 3
Coordination 5
Strength 3
Intellect 6
Awareness 8
Willpower 9

Stamina 12

Powers
*Magic – Darque Power 8
(Extras: Blast, Detect – Necromantic/Darque Energy)
*Immortality 3

Specialties
Mental Resistance (Expert +2 bonus), Occult (Master +3 bonus)

Qualities
Challenges make life more interesting.
It is my destiny to rule over all.
My beloved sister, my deadliest enemy.

Background

Master Darque is an extremely powerful necromancer who is obsessed with the dark arts. His only goals are to contribute to evil and to gain more power. He has had a run-in with about every hero in the Valiant Universe. He is an albino and has a twin sister named Sandria. He and Sandria have a complicated relationship – they are totally devoted to one another and yet they are the yin to each other’s yang, frequently coming to blows as Darque seeks to destroy the world and Sandria tries to protect it. Should one of them die, the other is fated to do so, as well.

Darque was primarily a foe of Shadowman but he also battled virtually every other hero in the Valiant Universe, particularly Solar and Doctor Mirage.

Hellhound (Icons Writeup)

HellhoundHellHound col final
aka Thomas “Tommy” Ferguson

Prowess 4
Coordination 6
Strength 6
Intellect 4
Awareness 3
Willpower 4

Stamina 10

Powers
*Hellfire Breath 5
*Claws 7
*Detection 3 (Limit: “evil” magic)
*Leaping 3
*Damage Resistance 3
*Swinging 2 (this is accomplished via Hellhound’s “ponytail”)

Specialties
Art – Writing (Expert +2 bonus), Stealth (+1 bonus)

Qualities
Why me?
Viewed with hostility by the authorities
Local hero

Background

Tommy Ferguson was a struggling writer living in the Bronx when the event dubbed “The Skip” took place. “The Skip,” which most sources connect to a glitch involving the Large Hadron Collider, resulted in everyone on Earth losing five minutes’ worth of time. The incident took place during a test conducted at 11:43 a.m. EST on New Year’s Day – during this period, Ferguson was in the midst of writing what he hoped would be the first in a series of stories revolving around a creature unleashed from Hell whose job was to pursue a group of escaped demons known as Satan’s Eight. At 11:43 a.m., Ferguson was toiling away on an action sequence… at 11:48, he suddenly found himself transformed into the bestial Hellhound of his stories.

Ferguson soon found that he was able to transition at will between his human form and his superpowered identity… and that he was not the only person in the world to have undergone a change. Superpowered men and women now made up approximately 1% of the world’s population – though the level of power granted to each varied wildly. Some merely looked different, others had abilities that were minor in usefulness.

For his part, Tommy has decided to keep his activities local – he’s a “street-level” hero for the time being and many people aren’t even sure if he’s real at this point. Unfortunately for him, there are signs that his fictional enemies – Satan’s Eight – may have either been created out of thin air or other men and women may have gained their abilities.

In his normal identity, Tommy is a 50-year old African-American male. He is twice-divorced and has two grown children. With all of this in mind, he is not a hot-headed hero, despite the fact that he spews hellfire. He relishes his power and the youthfulness that comes with it but he also knows it’s a tremendous responsibility and he feels a need to inspire the youth of today. Not wanting to reveal his connection to Hellhound, Ferguson has shelved that series and continues to write stories featuring his other characters.

Hellhound is part of The Skip Timeline, copyright Barry Reese.

X-O Manowar – original (Icons Writeup)

X-O Manowarxomanowar_old
aka Aric Dacia / Aric of Dacia

Prowess 6
Coordination 5
Strength 8
Intellect 8
Awareness 8
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 5 without the armor and his Awareness drops to 6. 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.
*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.

Broken Empire Gets Another Review!

barry reese 3 bAssistance Unlimited: The Silver Age – Broken Empire was examined over at Max Reads Comics in a special edition that’s dubbed “Max Reads Other Things.” You can click on the link to read the review in full and also check out the many wonderful columns and reviews that Max has posted. I follow his blog and always enjoy it. Here’s some of the highlights of what he had to say:

As you can see by the sub-title, this is the latest in the “Assistance Unlimited” series by the author, named after an organization founded by one of Reese‘s most iconic characters, “Lazarus Gray.”

The “Silver Age” part of that same sub-title is kind of a comic book reference, as the story takes place in the 1960s, and us comic book folks know that the 60s was prime “Silver Age” time.

Normally, the Assistance Unlimited (“AU” from here on) stories are set many years before this swingin’ decade, and this book marks a kind of experiment by Mr. Reese. Specifically, he’s decided to jump two decades into his characters’ futures, potentially “spoiling” certain things along the way. Continue reading → Broken Empire Gets Another Review!

Dillon (Icons Writeup)

Dillon
(created by Derrick Ferguson)dillon-2-2

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

Stamina 13

Powers
*Regeneration 2
*Resistance (poisons) 3
*Immortality 1 (Limit: Slowed Aging only)
*Guns 4
*Knives 3
*Gadgets 3

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

Qualities
Complete faith in his own abilities
A man needs a vacation every now and then
Loyal to his friends

Background

For more on Dillon and all of his adventures, check out the official Dillon website.

Dillon first came to the attention of the world at large fifteen years ago.  That’s when he emerged seemingly out of nowhere, formally began hiring himself out as a soldier of fortune. He distinguished himself by displaying many of the remarkable talents and gifts that would soon make him a highly respected and feared figure in that secret world of mercenaries, spies, adventurers and extraordinary men and women that most of us are unaware even exists.  He has been identified as having a variety of aliases and disguises that he uses on occasions.  But ‘Dillon’ appears to be his actual, true name.  If it is his first or last is not known as it is the only one he’ll give you when you ask.

Despite the horrors he experienced as a boy, Dillon has grown into a man with a healthy taste for wild excitement and adventure, fueled by his curiosity and an overpowering desire to see that others do not suffer as he has suffered.  Due to his rigorous and unconventional training he is remarkably disciplined even though he gives the impression that he is anything but.  He has an eccentric, wicked sense of humor that he enjoys exercising on his enemies.

Dillon exhibits a wide narcissistic streak and it has been pointed out to him on more than one occasion that he has way too much confidence in his own abilities. In a lot of ways it can be said that Dillon is an adolescent who has never really grown up  And that probably accounts for his quirks of personality.  But there is no doubt that he has a high degree of belief in his abilities and what he can achieve with those abilities.  Maybe too much belief as he frequently gets himself into hopelessly perilous situations just to see if he can get out of it.

But it cannot be denied that at heart he is a fiercely courageous man with a tremendous sense of loyalty to his friends and a desire to see that the innocent are not abused or harmed.  Although it’s true he hires his body out for pay he just as frequently assists the disadvantaged and oppressed without seeking recompense.

Dillon’s method of payment isn’t limited to currency.  Many times he will assist someone and instead of money will secure their promise to render assistance to Dillon anytime he calls upon them. Or exchange classified and/or secret information.  He’s also been known to accept a ‘silent partnership’ if the person asking for his help owns a profitable business.

Dillon is quite wealthy and enjoys a lavish lifestyle.  When he left Shamballah he was given a bag of precious stones that he converted into currency while traveling through Tibet and Africa and used to open up accounts in different cities around the world.  In his initial adventures if he had the opportunity to acquire the funds of his enemies, he did so without a qualm.

While he spends most of his time traveling he does own various safe houses in locations spread across the United States and Europe and he appears to have two permanent residences.  One is a modernistic mansion located in the Pennsylvania town of Grand.  The other residence is a mansion located on top of a mesa in Colorado.

His age may be unknown but at least one person he is aware of has knowledge of where he was born.  The adventurer Brighteyes Dillinger when confronting Dillon during the events of DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL stated that he knew Dillon was born on Usimi Dero.  From the little revealed about it so far, Usimi Dero was a technological island paradise destroyed by Thahali, She Who Wears The Dress Of Seven Sufferings when Dillon was 12 years old.  Apparently his father died there while Dillon and his mother escaped.  They spent an unspecified amount of time being chased by agents of Thahali who pursued them to Shamballah, hidden in the Himalayas.  Dillon’s mother died to ensure Dillon reached Shamballah safely where he was adopted by The Warmasters of Liguria, who had also trained his mother.

Dillon spent the next seven years being trained by The Warmasters in various martial arts as well as exceptional physical and mental disciplines that forged his body into a living weapon.  After those seven years, Dillon elected to leave Shamballah and return to the world.  He was warned by The Warmasters that he might never find his way back.  His mother was the first person in nearly five hundred years to find Shamballah twice, a feat considered to be miraculous.

Once back in the world, Dillon wandered, learning various skills that he thought would help him in his chosen profession. He also sought out notable adventurers in retirement for the purpose of them training him in their various specialties.  His intention being to earn his living as a professional adventurer while seeking out the trail of those who destroyed Usimi Dero.  It was during this period that Dillon met the man who eventually became his best friend, Elias Patrick Creed who himself had a long career as a professional adventurer.  Eli Creed took a liking to the young man and took him under his wing.  Eli taught Dillon how to fly aircraft and the two men partnered up and worked as a team for a number of years before Eli went into semi-retirement and Dillon went out on his own. A semi-retirement that apparently didn’t take because Eli drops what he’s doing whenever Dillon calls him for help. But due to recent events as related in “Dillon and The Devil’s Mercy” Eli is giving serious thought to grooming his son Idell to take his place as Dillon’s partner.

Dillon’s range of talents and skills are protean in variety.  He speaks eight languages fluently: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, Portuguese and Arabic and can get by in half a dozen others.  His physical skills border on the superhuman as he has displayed exceptional athleticism in feats of agility, speed and strength.  He’s capable of bench pressing 1000 pounds and can run a mile in just over minute.  His physical abilities are due in large part to his training in Shamballah.  But unknown even to Dillon himself,  his father injected his mother with various formulas of his own concoction while Dillon was still in the womb.

The experimental formulas gifted Dillon with a metabolism that does not build up fatigue poisons in his system as quickly as an average human giving Dillon far greater endurance. His cognitive and physical abilities also appear to have been enhanced, gifting him with increased energy, a vastly higher tolerance for pain and less need for sleep.  His senses and reflexes are significantly above average and while he is no scientist he has demonstrated an aptitude for various and diverse scientific disciplines such as biology which he studied under Nobel Prize winner Dr. Harold Wolper at the University of California and archaeology with Professor Sydney Fox at Trinity College.

Quite naturally he is expert with an amazing range of modern and ancient weapons, including but not limited to handguns, automatic weapons and bladed weapons.

One of his most interesting quirks is his ‘vacations.’  When Dillon wants to go on vacation he takes a regular job like an everyday citizen.  He’s taken jobs as a dishwasher, a roofer, a short-order cook, a car salesman and a high school custodian among many others.

My Favorite Spider-Man Writers (Updated!)

romita_jr_spidermanA couple of years ago I compiled a list of my favorite Spidey authors but as time has progressed I’ve had to shake up the list.

Let’s see how it currently stacks up:

10. Joseph Michael Straczynski – JMS wrote Spider-Man from 2001-2007 and he did a lot of very good things. He also did some truly awful things. But the early issues were pretty good. I quite enjoyed the Morlun storyline and there was a really good Doctor Octopus story in there. Yes, the later stuff (Sins Past and One More Day) were things that are almost unforgivable but I still include him here for the strength of the stories he wrote in the beginning.

9. Tom DeFalco – The 1980s was really “my” Spider-Man and DeFalco did some amazing stuff when paired up with Ron Frenz. I really enjoyed most of his stuff and continued to enjoy his contributions via Spider-Girl later on. An underrated Spidey writer in my opinion.

8. Kurt Busiek – This is mainly on the strength of the wonderful Untold Tales of Spider-Man series. Busiek did a pitch-perfect series that danced in and out of established continuity. Some of the new characters he introduced in there are some of my favorites in Spidey history. Loved it.

7. David Michelinie – Most of his run is remembered for two things: the artists he was paired with (McFarlane, Larsen, Bagley) and the Venom/Carnage stuff. But it was a lot of fun overall and you never knew where things were going — towards the end, this was because neither the writer nor editor knew either.

6. Dan Slott – Slott wrote the book for over ten years and there were some amazing highs (the Superior Spider-Man period in particular) but I did have some issues with a few of his storylines and the way he portrayed Peter, which wasn’t always consistent with my own personal view of the character. One day I’ll do a re-read of the entire run but for now it sticks out in my memory as some great stuff and a whole lot of “What are you thinking, Dan?”

5. Gerry Conway – I felt that the Stan Lee era had really become boring by the end and Conway injected a lot of life back into the character. His version of Spidey was actually the first I read as a kid and I still enjoy reading them today. Some of the stories are bad, sure, but some are wonderful and hold up very well. His return on Web of Spider-Man was pretty good but I wish it had featured better artwork.

4. J.M Dematteis – Yes, sometimes you run into the trademarked psychological mumbo-jumbo that Dematteis always does but he also wrote the amazing Amazing Spider-Man # 400, Kraven’s Last Hunt and the death of Harry Osborn. When he’s on, he’s very good.

3. Nick Spencer – Spencer is the book’s current writer and I’ve loved what he’s done – he’s really gotten Peter back on-track after some of the later Slott decisions that kind of took the character out of the sweet spot he usually occupies. Spencer has done wonders with Mary Jane, Fred (Boomerang), and Jameson. Plus, the Kindred mystery has been the most fun storyline of its kind since the Hobgoblin days.

2. Stan Lee – The early issues with Ditko are brilliant! I’ve always found the Romita issues to be bland and boring (though pretty to look at) so I’m ranking him so highly based upon his role as the character’s defining voice and the fact that the first 30+ issues are some of the greatest superhero comics of all time.

1. Roger Stern – My Spidey writer! Stern did some amazing stories and his Hobgoblin storyline remains one of my all-time favorites. I enjoyed it when he came back and revealed the true identity of the iconic villain, too. So many great stories and Stern was the best at handling the supporting cast. Hell, he even made Lance Bannon interesting!

What say you, Spidey fans?

Bombor (Icons Writeup)

Bombor the Living BombBOMBOR

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

Stamina 7

Powers
*Blast 5 (Bombor’s headpiece fires “knob projectiles”)
*Explosive Blast 8 (Limit: Bombor takes damage from this attack)
*Life Support 10

Specialties
None

Qualities
“You see, in me, a living bomb! I was designed to explode both myself and my target upon contact! You will be that target!”
A big dumb machine
Loyal to the Brain Emperor

Background
Much of the following comes from mightycrusaders.net:

Bombor was one of several henchmen the Brain Emperor gathered together to fight the Mighty Crusaders. He challenged the Black Hood to battle, gloating that he was a living bomb and could explode both himself and his target upon contact. When Bomber leaped towards his opponent, Black Hood’s mechanical horse, Nightmare, sacrificed himself and jumped in the path of his owner and exploded when Bombor hit.

This character appeared on two pages of a comic book published in 1966. On the first page, he just stood there. On the second, he introduced himself and then blew himself up. Considering that his major power results in his own demise whenever he uses it, Bombor is just as much of a threat to himself as he is to others. Still, something about this character strikes me as fun. He’s a robot so he could be rebuilt whenever The Brain Emperor (or whatever villain you’re using) wants him to reappear. Let the guy blow himself up every few adventures as a running gag? Maybe he develops an irrational glitch where he assumes an existentialist fear of blowing up? Or maybe a master villain mass produces Bombors so your heroes have to fight a horde of suicidal robots?