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Asp (Marvel Comics)

Asp

(Cleo Nefertiti)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Asp is a Marvel Universe criminal and mercenary. She appeared in 1985, and has minor bioelectric powers.

Though she doesn’t have genuine charisma on her own, she was part of two fan-favourite organisations, the Serpent Society and the BAD Girls. Both received a lot of development in Captain America comics. Asp thus featured in several memorable story arcs.

It is probably best to first read the Sidewinder (Seth Voelker) writeup and the Diamondback (Rachel Leighton) profile before this one to understand the context and history.


Background

  • Real Name: “Cleo Nefertiti” has always been listed as her real name, but sounds very much like another nom de scène.
  • Other Aliases: The Temptress (stage name).
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: BAD Girls Inc., former member of the Serpent Society, former member of the “Secret Avengers”, former member of the Women Warriors team of Fifty States Initiative.
  • Base Of Operations: Previously the Serpent Citadel in upstate New York.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Eyes: Light brown Hair: Jet black


Powers and Abilities

Asp is an accomplished exotic dancer, with superb muscular control and in excellent shape. While much of her dancing training is Middle-Eastern, she seems to have incorporated some moves from Indian dancing styles. She is a competent gymnast and acrobat, preferring to use jumps, flips and tumbles when moving around on the battlefield.

Starting with their Cable and Deadpool appearance in 2005, Asp and her colleague Black Mamba display markedly improved fighting prowess and seem trained in breaking and entering. The most obvious explanation is that they were trained by their friend Diamondback (Rachel Leighton).

Little things of venom

Nefertiti can emit superhuman quantities of bio-electricity. The “venom bolts” she can shoot are very similar to Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)’s “venom blasts”. Like Drew’s, they look more like energy bolts than electrical discharges.

This bio-electricity builds as a side-product of muscular activity. While she can deplete this store of energy quickly by throwing around venom blasts, she can also build her charge back by moving her body. Her swaying dancing style is an efficient exercise to do exactly that.

Diamondback, Black Mamba and Asp doing a sexy pose

Rebuilding her full charge used to take about ten minutes of vigorous exercise, though it now seems to be closer to seven minutes or so due to practice. Likewise the output of her largest venom bolts seems higher than it used to be.

If she’s not active her charge will rebuild much more slowly – if only through movements of her heart, lungs, and other autonomous nervous system functions.

Side effects

Once her full charge is rebuilt, Asp starts invisibly radiating ’venom‘ in minute doses from her body. It has been theorised that staying in close physical proximity to a fully-charged Asp for hours would lead to temporary damage and paralysis as exposure builds up.

If this is true, her ability to have sex, to fly coach or ride the subway for long distances, to dance with a partner for a long while, etc. might be significantly hampered.

The Asp’s venom bolts are often described as having a paralysing action. This should be interpreted in the same sense as a TASER™ pistol having a paralysing action — in game terms the target is ’paralysed‘ because the electric shock knocked them out.

One suspects that the Asp’s discharges are less dangerous against something that doesn’t have an electricity-based nervous system, like a brick wall.

Asp can make her hand glow, a bit like Iron Fist, using her bio-electricity to provide illumination.


History

The Asp, aka “Cleo Nefertiti”, is an Egyptian national chiefly living in the US. She was recruited by Sidewinder (Seth Voelker) for the freshly-founded Serpent Society, which presumably means that she already had a super-criminal career and a snake motif.

Asp worked well with the Society, especially during its heydays under the management of Sidewinder. Four of the female Serpents (Diamondback, Asp, Black Mamba and Anaconda) became close friends and associates, though Anaconda would later turn against the other three.

Along with Cottonmouth (Burchell Clemens), Asp made the Society’s original sales pitch to the Kingpin after fighting through his hired help. Soon afterward, while other Society members were murdering MODOK, Asp, Diamondback and Black Mamba fought Captain America to delay him.

They accomplished their objective, but their lack of tactical coordination led to Cap knocking them all out. This apparently inspired them to train together to remedy to this weakness.

Coup and consequences

During the 1988 takeover of the Society by the Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian), Asp was among the few who stayed loyal toward Sidewinder even under threat of torture and execution – along with Black Mamba, Diamondback, Bushmaster (Quincy McIver) and for a short while Cottonmouth. She nearly paid for that with her life, but Diamondback saved her friends with the help of Captain America and his allies.

Diamondback, Black Mamba and Asp laughing

Asp then joined the version of the Serpent Society led by King Cobra. She was among the Serpents hired to round up artefacts for Ghaur and Llyra, but this contract failed due to the overwhelming opposition of the X-Men and a machination by Sidewinder.

She was next seen operating alone — Llan the Sorcerer magically drew her to Canada, along with a random assortment of American villains. Like the rest, she was manipulated into clashing with Canadian super-heroes to create enough violence to help power Llan’s ritual.

When Witchfire disrupted Llan’s mesmerism, Asp was knocked unconscious. Not having been in control of her actions during her rampage, she presumably deported rather than charged with crimes.

Always on the run, part 1

When Diamondback started dating Steve Rogers, she left behind her criminal life with Asp’s and Mamba’s help. Asp herself was clearly not interested in walking the straight and narrow, though.

When Captain America (whom Asp did not know was Steve Rogers) searched for the missing Diamondback, he tried to get information from Asp at the seedy Pink Flamingo club, but she reacted with violent hostility to the presence of a crimefighter, refusing to believe him.

During one of Diamondback’s dates with Rogers Asp, Black Mamba and Anaconda shadowed the couple to provide security. Asp discreetly took down a drunken Gamecock, then teamed up with Anaconda to knock out Poundcakes and Jackhammer.

When the Serpents learned that Diamondback was seeing Captain America, a crisis erupted. In particular Anaconda, who had grown distant from her three friends after the Viper takeover, felt betrayed. The Society decided to execute Diamondback, but Asp and Mamba saved their friend by calling Sidewinder to the rescue.

However Cobra and Bushmaster found them and took them down. Diamondback hired Paladin to help her rescue her friends, but they also failed.

Captain America then rescued everybody. The majority of the Society was defeated and arrested by Cap, Paladin and the three ex-Serpents, and was arrested. During the battle, Asp gained a better understanding of what Diamondback was seeing in Cap, whom she still distrusted as a symbol of the law, as she watched him in action.

Always on the run, part 2

Still, three Serpents (Anaconda, Puff Adder and Rock Python) remained free and liable to seek bloody revenge against Black Mamba, Asp and Diamondback. After some rest and recovery at Paladin’s place, Diamondback formed a new team with Black Mamba and Asp, the BAD Girls (BAD being the initials of their code names), to strike first.

They also changed their costumes, being wanted by the cops.

However the three Serpents got to them first, with Rock Python taking Asp out before she could react. While the situation looked dire, they were almost immediately rescued by MODAM, who took them (and an unconscious Anaconda) to the HSS Superia. There, they were invited to join the cruise intended to start Superia’s version of the Femizons.

Diamondback, Asp, Black Mamba (and Deadpool)

Thrown from a likely fatal defeat into a luxurious pleasure cruise, Asp and her two friends relaxed and met a fellow female felon named Impala, who became an occasional associate of the trio. However, Diamondback was captured and practically killed by Snapdragon. Though the medical teams aboard the ship resuscitated her, she was left traumatised.

Captain America and Paladin then boarded the cruiser, mistakenly thinking they were about to rescue the BAD Girls. They were mauled into submission by the army of super-villainesses aboard. Asp and Black Mamba thus ended up being the ones rescuing Cap and Paladin. Paladin and Asp teamed up to get Diamondback off the ship despite fierce opposition.

Snakes and dragons, part 1

Mamba and Asp returned to New York and again stayed with Paladin, while the shocked and depressed Diamondback prefered to remain close to Cap. Looking for a way to help their friend, Asp and Mamba opted for the unsubtle approach and, while visiting her at Avengers’ Mansion, used Mamba’s power to visualise Diamondback’s greatest fear.

While Diamondback was furious and felt betrayed, her friends now knew who had broken her — Snapdragon. Asp and Mambra left to plan in a super-villains bar — where they learned that Superia had issued a $10K apiece bounty for them and that some of the patrons were interested.

Things initially did not go very well – though Asp quickly took down two opponents, she was now out of juice and Battleaxe (Anita Ehren) manifestly outgunned her. Impala unexpectedly joined the fight for the fun of it, and turned the tide long enough for her, Asp and Mamba to run away. At Mamba’s suggestion, Impala joined BAD Girls Inc.

Snakes and dragons, part 2

Still looking for clues to find Snapdragon, BAD Girls Inc. broke into the empty Serpent Citadel – but did not get the data they needed. The break-in alerted the Avengers and the three women were casually stopped by Circe, who briefly turned them into actual snakes.

The haughty Circe had no clear idea of what to do with the three female rogues and could not be bothered going through any paperwork, and Black Mamba convinced her to just let them leave with a leftover Serpent Saucer.

BAD Girls Inc then headed toward Europe to get some mercenary work and conduct legwork to locate Snapdragon. Their European adventures remain unchronicled. They were next seen at the 1993 Boca Caliente AIM weapon expo, which attracted a huge crowd of super-villains and mercenaries.

Impala eventually left the team under unrevealed circumstances. Black Mamba resumed some solo work, both as a criminal (joining a version of the Masters of Evil) and as a model and escort. Asp’s activities during that time are unrevealed.

The girls are back in town

The original BAD Girls reunited during the 2000s, as a mercenary outfit specialising in snatch jobs. They adopted more modern costumes and seemed to be more skilled as both fighters and thieves.

The BAD Girls in their pink Hummer

The BAD Girls were contracted to steal a hard drive, but the job became a complicated caper involving numerous other thieves, mercenaries, and people trying to stop them. After clashing with, in chronological order, Deadpool, Cable, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Weasel (Jack Hammer), they found out who had the drive – the legendary mercenary Cat (Shen Kuei).

The Girls found Cat in his home in Hong Kong, but the master thief and martial artist proved way too strong for them. After a short brawl, they settled for having tea with him instead. Impressed by the master, they helped him rescue Deadpool and Cable from Black Box.

Civil War and beyond

Most BAD Girls contracts during the 2000s are undocumented, but they were among the ’Secret Avengers’ working with Captain America during the Civil War. As such they clashed on several occasions with pro-registration forces, including a short and one-sided battle with the Mighty Avengers.

When the Civil War was lost, they registered en bloc and became the Delaware-based team — the Women Warriors — along with Skein (Sybil Dvorak) and Quicksand.

The Women Warriors foiled a RAID operation on the Baltimore-Washington International airport, reacted to the attack of the New Warriors at Camp Hammond, and were later among the huge force assembled in 2010 by Norman Osborn to take on Asgard. The later was a disaster that broke the Osborn regime, and the BAD Girls presumably ran to avoid getting caught in the fallout.

In 2012 Asp was briefly seen with Serpent Society alumni (Anaconda, Bushmaster, Cottonmouth, Puff Adder) on a bank heist, which was foiled by Hope Summers. What led to Asp reconciling and working with these Serpents is unknown.


Description

Cleo is a lithe, raven-haired Egyptian beauty with dancer’s body. She wears green snake-like jewelry around her arms and legs and as a tiara, and a white dress slit high on both sides with green snake motifs.

Her venom bolts do a “bzzzt” noise when she builds up her blast, and a “zzzassp” noise when she shoots them.

During the 2000s Asp was occasionally seen with a large snake wrapped around her – this may be the result of confusion between Asp and Black Mamba, though. Our game stats do give Asp some basic snake-handling skills, since Black Mamba could easily have taught her.


Personality

Cleo is remarkably loyal and courageous when it comes to her friends. She repeatedly took on bad odds to help her buddies. While gravely poisoned, Asp insisted that Diamondback inject the antidote to Black Mamba and Bushmaster first since she thought they were most at risk.

She is articulate, polite, serious and pleasant. Asp seems to have decent people skills, though she rarely tries to take centre stage socially, except when dancing.

Asp kept on performing in often seedy clubs, even when she could do without it as the original Serpent Society made huge amounts of money. Her art is important to her and she needs to dance and perform. Nefertiti seems to derive a lot of satisfaction from making the ogling customers drool.

Asp acts defiant and hostile toward the law, super-heroes and conventional morals. She has repeatedly associated with heroic stalwarts such as Captain America, but that was to help her friends.


Quotes

“For your information, Captain, what I do is an art form ! I like what I do – it’s fun to see men slobber ! And on top of that, it’s great exercise ! Is that okay with you, Mr. High-and-Mighty ?”

“Mamba ! Forget your belongings and run ! I’ll hold them off with my venom bursts !”

“It’s okay, Rachel, darling. Get some sleep, we’ll stay here… watch over you…”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Asp (typical stats for most of her career)

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 012 HP: 025

Powers:
Flash: 04, Lightning: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Lightning operates with a very specific set of rules (see “Little things of venom” below).
  • The Range of her Lightning is equal to the active APs, with a maximum of 05.
  • Lightning has the Autofire Advantage.
  • Flash is Steady Illumination Only.
  • Flash eats up some power (see “Little things of venom” below).

Skills:
Accuracy (Venom bolts): 05, Acrobatics (Athletics): 05, Acrobatics (Dodging): 05, Animal handling (Snakes): 02, Artist (Dancer): 04, Evasion (Ranged only): 05, Vehicles (Land, Air): 03

Advantages:
Language (Egyptian Arabic).

Connections:
Diamondback (Rachel Leighton) (High), Black Mamba (High), Impala (Low), Paladin (Low), Street (Low), formerly the Serpent Society (Low).

Drawbacks:
MPR (Proximity toxicity – see below).


Kung-fu fightin’ — more recent stats

Starting with their Cable and Deadpool appearance in 2005, Asp and Black Mamba display markedly improved fighting prowess and seem trained in B&E. Those new abilities are not included in the main stats block, since they occur quite late in their long career. The changes are:

  • Her Lighting gradually increased to 10 – the score in the stats is for her early appearances.
  • Martial Artist: 05 (her Initiative goes up to 014).
  • Thief (Security systems): 05.
  • She starts using her Lightning to enhance her punches. Meaning Lightning can now be Combined with her hand-to-hand attack.
  • Asp starts packing, and presumably has learned Weaponry (Firearms): 04.
  • Said handgun is presumably for when she runs out of power. She doesn’t always carry, but when she does this compact weapon is kept in a thigh holster. While it was not clearly seen, it’s tempting to assume that it is an ASP special operations handgun — ASP-rebuilt 9mm S&W M39 pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07].

Little things of venom

Asp’s Lightning has a reserve of power of 110 points. Firing a venom blast costs her ten power points, plus the square of the APs of Lightning in the bolt — e.g., a 4 APs bolt costs 26 points, a 6 APs bolt 46 points, etc.. If she releases her bolt with a Range of Touch, the ten extra points do not need to be paid – just the square of the APs.

If the Asp if physically active (dancing, running around, dodging attacks…) she regains one power point per Phase. Note that it includes Phases during which she is using her Lightning. This means 15 points per minute, or about seven minutes and 20 seconds to rebuild her entire charge from depletion. If the Asp is not physically active, her charge rebuilds at about 4 points per minute.

She can also use her bio-electricity to make her fist glow and provide illumination. Each such AP of Flash (Steady Illumination Only) eats up one point of power per Phase.

It is likely that, when shooting at targets that do not have a electrically-powered nervous system the EV of the Asp’s bolts are AP-halved (e.g., 6 APs become an EV of 03). This would be the case when shooting, say, a car or a brick wall.

In intensive combat, Nefertiti tends to concentrate her HPs on the EV and, to a lesser extend, AV of her blasts, in order to get the most out of her energy reserves. By burning HPs she can turn several 5 APs blasts into the equivalent of full-power discharges. This models her track record of taking out minor opponents in one powerful surprise blast at the beginning of the fight.


Even littler things of venom

For people who dislike squaring, here is a simpler alternate. It’s mathematically cruder, but Roy assures me it gets the job done.

Asp has a point pool of 16. Firing a venom blast subtracts points equal to the APs used. At a Range of Touch, only ⅓rd of each blast’s APs are subtracted from the pool. Each 30 seconds of exertion restores 1 point to the pool ; when not physically active, Asp still builds up 1 point every 2 minutes.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Darci, Roy Cowan, Chaplain Chris, Adam Fuqua.

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