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Argus (DC Comics) (Nick Kovac)

Argus

Nick Kovac aka Nick Kelly


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • A part of our partial coverage of the Bloodlines annual event, which attempted to launch new characters, with mixed success. Argus actually received a series of his own.
  • Though there is far more material than with most Bloodlines characters, many things are not clearly explained (including his abilities), leaving several speculative bits in this entry.
  • For the non-mythology-minded, Argus is likely named after Argos Panoptès, the all-seeing giant with a hundred eyes from Greek myth.

Background

  • Real Name: Nick Kelly
  • Other Aliases: Nick Kovac
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Hank Kelly Kovac (father, deceased), Dina Kovac (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: Former FBI agent. Argus is a member of the ’outer circle‘ of Oracle agents, activated for major crises.
  • Base Of Operations: Central/Keystone city
  • Height: 5’10 ½” Weight: 179 lbs
  • Eyes: Dark brown (solid red when using powers) Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Argus has tripled strength, agility and reflexes, can see in the whole EM spectrum (including X-rays), and becomes transparent in darkness.

His “Argus vision” can see the truth within anything. More concretely, he has used it to detect the weak points of items – for instance the fault lines of an item that is going to fall apart, or the external ejection controls of a suit of power armour. He can also :

  • visualise the trajectory of objects (which helps his Acrobatics (Dodging) Subskill)
  • sense auras
  • decipher codes by looking at them
  • parse raw data with his naked eyes to understand its significance

The Argus vision can also be occasionally used, at the GM’s whim, to “highlight” important items and protagonists to provide clues to the player.

Argus also demonstrated remarkable pugilistic and acrobatic skill – those apparently come naturally to him as a result of his training and enhanced capabilities.

Kovac is a veteran special agent, with great skill at undercover work. He’s an intelligent, strong-willed man and has an excellent tactical sense. As a hobby he’s also a stage magician, and enjoys showing those skills off to persons he meets, especially to make objects appear. He’s also a former gunship pilot and combat paramedic.


History

Nick Kovac was raised in a very poor household by a harsh father – a construction worker with deep faith in integrity, honesty and hard work. Nick was a sullen kid and a rebellious teenager, with no friend at school but quite popular among the criminal lowlives in Central City’s dockland.

His father hated these criminal connections, and beat Nick more than once over that. Still Nick remained a part of the docks scene, and was adopted as a protegé by a capo named d’angelo, whom he considered to be his second father. D’angelo taught him the tricks of the trade, and came to consider the kid as made man material even though he hadn’t been born in the blood.

Nick’s actual father died tragically – while discussing with his son on high iron over the foundations of Central’s newest, largest bridge, he fell into the cement of the foundations. To most, it was an accident – however Nick was convinced that he had killed him. For years, since Nick pathologically repressed his memories of the event, it was unclear whether Kovac was irrationally blaming himself for the death of his dad, or was actually a patricide.

Much later in Kovac’s life, he managed to recover his memories of what had happened. In a way, he was guilty – he had previously ranted at D’angelo about wishing that his father were dead. The capo took the youth at face value and had Mr. Kovac iced, disguising the hit as an accident. He also arranged for the cops not to dig too deeply into the death.

D’angelo’s motivation may have been to become the sole mentor for young Nick, whom he intended to eventually make his second lieutenant. If so it backfired – the shocked Kelly left Central City without a warning, renounced his last name to become Nick Kelly, and enlisted in the US Army. For a time he was a Apache gunship pilot, and apparently later changed MOS to become an aircav combat medic. Having worked through his anger as a soldier he became an intelligence agent – then joined the FBI.

Secret Agent Man

After several years with the Bureau, Nick Kelly had become a top agent, specializing in long-term, high-risk infiltration missions and undercover work.

In particular, the Bureau made his life as Nick Kelly disappear and made up a life as Nick Kovac, without any mention of the Army or law enforcement. The goal was for Agent Kelly to infiltrate the Central City docklands mob. Nick-Kovac-as-Nick-Kelly-as-Nick-Kovac rebuilt the bridges with D’angelo, and was very successful as an infiltrator

Cavacci, one of the mob’s lieutenants, discovered the truth and gave Nick a rendezvous in a deserted train station to execute him. Cavacci didn’t warn d’angelo about this. He was planning to pass off Kelly’s execution as a hit from the rival mob – the weird, dangerous criminal faction known as the Combine. Cavacci’s overall goal was to create vacancies in the ranks so he and his allies could fill them and gain influence.

However, before the murder could take place, both “Kovac” and Cavacci were attacked by alien parasites. Kelly had some of his spinal fluid drained by the parasite Nenev, but managed to survive. Like some other survivors of parasite attacks, he developed superhuman powers, which he discovered as he got out of the hospital.

Coming to the erroneous conclusion that the aliens were Combine agents, he decided to strike at the Combine before they could get him – but his handler refused to back him up in this endeavour. He thought Kelly should go back to his cover and lay low — but Kelly was certain that he’d be killed if he did that.

Kelly decided to infiltrate the Combine stronghold ; although the place was reputed for its incredible security, he had quickly determined that his powers gave him a vast advantage, and boosted a suit of commando armour from the Bureau as a further asset.

During this raid, it became clear that the Combine was not after him at all – and the two Combine men he was eavesdropping on where attacked and killed by Glonth, another parasite. Argus was outmatched by Glonth, but managed to track it down to an old slaughterhouse. There, he and Central City’s star hero the Flash defeated Glonth and Nenev, though the alien parasites managed to flee.

Kelly later mended bridges with the FBI over his insubordination and his theft of the suit of lightweight armour. He resumed his cover as Nick Kovac, d’angelo’s chauffeur and occasional lieutenant – but his career as Argus remained concealed from both the mob and the Bureau, thought it was known to journalist Linda Park.

Thus, at that point, our hero had had four lives – his past as Nick Kovac, his reinvention as Nick Kelly, his cover as the fictionalised version of Nick Kovac, and his heroic alter-ego Argus.

The eyes of Argus

Argus became Central City’s other, minor hero, operating from the shadows. He didn’t go along very well with the Flash – he considered the scarlet speedster to be a showboat, while the Flash viewed Argus as an arrogant jerk – but they occasionally collaborated. Argus’ attraction toward Linda Park didn’t help in any way while it lasted.

Argus developed a partnership with Mac Allistaire, an amoral gadgeteer-for-hire in Keystone who provided him with improved armour and weaponry. Argus could not foot the bill for the cutting edge gear, so he negociated to accept missions instead, as long as they did not involve anything iniquitous.

Nick was then introduced to d’angelo’s big, big project – a scheme mostly inspired and managed by his assistant Hanna. The D’angelo mob had been pumping its earnings into a legit enterprise, Data Highways, which had become over the years a corporate giant with considerable financial and technological resources.

Data Highways even invested into and launched a new communication satellite. This satellite was they key to the master plan – it actually was an advanced spy sat, was equipped with long-range lasers, and could even block sunlight over a city-sized area. Its activation codes were encrypted into a weird glyph, which was imprinted under the base of a small statue D’angelo kept on his desk.

As the satellite was launched and the master plan neared its fruition, Nick accidentally knocked over the statuette, saw the symbol on the base and asked d’angelo what it was. D’angelo considered he had no choice but to eliminate Nick to close this security breach, and detailed two of his superhuman agents to ambushing and executing his former protegé. Nick managed to escape, but his eyes had been destroyed by the claws of one of the two men, called Shiv. Although he had lost his sight, he kept his Argus vision, which seemed to become more powerful and versatile.

Central City was then plunged into darkness by the satellite, which triggered a riot. The Data Highways satellite overrode all TV channels in town, broadcasting programs hosted by the Data Highways Director, a mysterious figure represented on screen by a CGI cartoon humanoid lion. The Director announced a zero tolerance policy for crime, using the satellite’s cameras and lasers to watch and punish.

It also offered Keystone to secede and become a low-taxes haven with complete security assured by the satellite — a proposal that was popular with Centralites. Nick Kelly relayed his findings to the government, but the attempts at shooting down the satellite failed, and the missiles came plummeting back to Earth with explosive consequences. At roughly the same time, Kelly started losing his Argus vision.

Argus, however, managed to precisely recall the glyph on the statue and used it to take control of the satellite and shut it down. Hacking his way into the Data Highway/D’angelo computers thanks to codes from the satellite, he discovered that the whole plan had actually been masterminded by Hanna, the assistant and D’angelo most influential consigliere. Not only that, but she knew about his identity and has been in league with MacAllistaire in helping him make his hero identity viable, and knew about his FBI connections and Nick Kelly life.

Argus also discovered the truth about the D’angelo-ordered assassination of his father, and how d’angelo had ordered the recent hit on Kovac. Argus’s eyes grew back, and his Argus vision reasserted itself, stronger than ever.

Hanna was revealed to be a rogue federal agent who had decided to take control of Central City using the satellite she had built with D’angelo’s money. She and Argus found themselves in a deadlocked position due to their very strong mutual attraction. Hanna failed to convince Argus to become her king and reign over Central City, and Nick failed to arrest her, letting her go after wrecking her plans.

Later career

With the Data Highways case over, Argus remained a hero in Central City, still operating from the shadows. At one point he was contacted by Linda Park, who wanted some stealthy help in investigating official harassement she and the Flash were being subjected to.

Argus’ investigation led him straight into a squad of undead members of the Rogue Gallery. Severely outpowered, Argus managed to save the Mayor of Central from the super-zombies, but was beaten within an inch of his life. As part of the plan of their master, Neron, the zombie Rogues then ambushed and captured the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Left behind after his unconscious body had been used to distract Garrick, Argus was presumably hospitalised and recovered.

During the Infinite Crisis, Argus was part of a small army of agents coordinated by Oracle who intervened to bring a massive breakout at Arkham Assylum back under control. From a remark Kelly made later, it is likely that he also had been activated as an Oracle agents during several previous major crises, but did not appear on-panel.

A few months later, Argus was one of the victims of a network stealing organs from metahumans to resell them. He was ambushed, knocked out and his eyes were surgically removed, then later bought by an actor. Argus was hospitalised at the STAR Lab medical facility treating the victims of this organlegging ring, who contacted Dr. Mid-Nite to investigate. Mid-Nite dismantled the organlegging operation, and took out the actor who had had Argus’s eyes grafted to replace his own.

Though Argus pointed out that the last time his eyes had regrown, it was eventually agreed to graft his eyes back to avoid possible medical issues. The operation apparently went fine.

Argus later survived an encounter with Prometheus, though two minor heroes he was with at that time didn’t.


Description

Kelly is considered to be quite attractive. The costume with the plates over the belly is the original ; it later changed to the one with the eye symbol over the chest.


Personality

Argus is originally a suave, cool maverick. He’s quite articulate, and was prone to both smart alec, classy chatter and sarcastic repartee in the middle of combat. He had the cool rebel bit down pat – leather jacket, motorbike, tall dark stranger haircut, neat magic tricks, fancy French words, big self-confidence, charming smart mouth.

He has become less fanciful as time went by, however, as he became closer to his father’s values. As he became more focused and businesslike, he stopped with the magic tricks and tended to dress like a made man or a spook, with black suit, shades and tie.

Argus is trained as a FBI special agent, and that shows. He acts with professionalism, carefully analyzing situations like a trained law-enforcement professional and counting on his training to get him out of bad situations. Being a sort of super-hero and being a LEO are different things, though, and he must often adapt. Due to this “I’m an experienced law enforcement professional and you’re not” vibe, he can easily come across as condescending.

Being very familiar with undercover work, Nick prefers Argus to remain a shadowy presence, operating in the night and staying under the radar. The main advantage of being Argus is that he can actually act and mete out some justice – not just stay there smiling during brutal crimes and participating in criminal activities as he must as an undercover agent.

Nick was haunted by deep guilt over the death of his father, and was torn between his father’s values (hard work, honesty, integrity, responsibility) and the privileged life he enjoyed as a daring criminal lieutenant. Juggling identities and the constant risk of death by execution wasn’t easy either. Now that the d’angelo empire has crashed and he has discovered the truth about his father’s death, things are a bit easier.

Argus will rarely pass up an occasion to say something snarky about the Flash (Wally West), usually to imply that he’s a showoff and an idiot.


Quotes

“ A swell guy. He would throw a harpoon to a drowning man.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Argus

Dex: 07 Str: 07 Bod: 06 Motivation: Justice
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Vigilante, federal agent, chauffeur
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 020 HP: 035

Powers: Invisibility: 05, Jumping: 01, Recall*: 05, Regeneration: 06, Telescopic vision: 02, Thermal vision: 08, True sight*: 05, X-ray vision: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Invisibility only works in shadows and darkness (-1)
  • Recall is Visual Only (-1) and is Contingent upon Thermal vision
  • Telescopic vision is Contingent upon Thermal vision
  • Thermal vision extends to the whole EM spectrum (+2) – Argus can distinctly see microwaves, radio waves, radar, etc.
  • True sight is Contingent upon Thermal vision
  • X-ray vision does not have a taboo substance (+1) but includes no details (-1) – it’s closer to a fluoroscope
  • X-Ray Vision is Contingent uponThermal vision
  • Regeneration Only To Regrowth Body Parts (-2) – and may in fact be limited to his eyes (-2)
  • Regeneration will produce frequent attacks of stabbing pain when active (any roll below 07 while Regeneration is active triggers a Phase where all AVs, OVs, EVs and RVs are reduced to 02) (-2)

Skills: Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing): 08, Acrobatics (Dodging): 09, Artist (Actor, stage magician): 04, Detective (all but Law): 05, Medicine (First aid): 04, Military science (Cryptography): 11, Scientist (Analysis, Observation): 08, Scientist (Computers): 03, Thief (Stealth): 06, Vehicles (Air, land): 05, Weaponry (Melee)*: 07, Weaponry (Firearms, heavy): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Acrobatics (Dodging) is a Powered Subskill and is Contingent upon Thermal Vision
  • Military science (Cryptography) is a Powered Skill, is Contingent upon Thermal Vision and requires him to visually perceive the data
  • Scientist (Analysis, Observation) is a Powered Skill, is Contingent upon Thermal Vision and requires him to visually perceive the data
  • Scientist (Analysis, Observation) is Always On (+1 Bonus)

Advantages: Credentials (FBI, Medium ; D’angelo Family, High), Lightning reflexes, Schtick (Paired nunchaku)

Connections: FBI (Low), Central City underworld (Low), Flash III (Low), Linda Park (Low), Mac Allistaire (Low)

Drawbacks: Secret identity (Nick Kelly/Nick Kovac), Secret Identity (Nick Kelly/Argus)

Equipment:

  • COMMANDO ARMOUR [BODY 07, Blunting: 08]
  • Ceramic nunchaku [BODY 06, EV 04 (08 w/STR), Invisibility: 05, Limitation: Invisibility only vs. metal detectors]
  • Heavy nunchaku [BODY 11, EV 04 (08 w/STR), Recommended STR 04 – spent uranium core and titanium jacketing to allow Argus to use them with his full strength if needed)]
  • Argus rides a Motorbike [STR 03 BODY 05, Radio communications: 08, Recall: 08, Running: 07, R#02, Bonus : Radio communication includes radio packet IP communication (+1) and an access to FBI databases]

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Flash Annual 1993 and Argus series (DC Universe)

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