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Bengal (Duc No Tranh) over a white background

Bengal

(Profile #1 - Montagnard avenger)


Context

The Bengal (who has no link to the Indian subcontinent as far we can tell) is a martial arts and assassin type in the Marvel Universe. He first appeared in 1988. He’s had a somewhat odd, though always low-profile, career since. He’s not a bad choice for stories that need a non-powered, fighty, good-ish guy.

This profile is split into two parts, since major character evolution took place in 2007. Thus, this profile is continued in Bengal (profile #2 – Initiative).


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed at this stage.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Eyes: Dark blue Hair: Black (shaven bald).


Powers and Abilities

Bengal is a very proficient martial artist. He was able to match the early Night Thrasher in combat, but was outclassed by Daredevil. He can hit extremely hard – if wielding a tough melee weapon, he could shatter parts of Night Thrasher’s body armour.

His training includes a host of warrior-monk-like skills, and he’s very good with those, too. For instance, the Bengal is skilled at pain management. As an example, he was still fighting after Daredevil shattered both his ulna and his radius to stop him.

The Bengal carries two knives with broad, leaf-shaped blades. Those can spring open in a sai-like configuration. Those later became ordinary sai, though this was probably an artistic mistake. He also occasionally uses a bow, which seems made of bamboo, and carries a few throwing stars as an extra option.

Bengal armed with a pair of sai

Bengal is also superiorly stealthy and an accomplished adventurer and assassin. He can be considered to be a ninja-type, though of course he has little association with medieval Japan.

Despite being a stranger in a strange land and not speaking the language, the Bengal seems to be extremely perceptive. He could understand complex situations (such as Jane’s redemption and asking for pardon) without verbal communication. It was later confirmed that Bengal is a superiorly observant and intelligent man.


Chronologic

Bengal is one of the Marvel characters with clear ties to the Việt Nam invasion by the US. Since the dates of that war are historical and well-known, it makes his biography increasingly problematic as these events recede in the past. Bengal appeared in 1988, when it was still workable for him to be in his mid-20s. But that was 29 years ago as of this writing.

The two usual fixes are :

  1. In the Marvel Universe, the US were involved about 20 years ago in a war in the fictional South-Eastern country of Sin Cong . It somehow was loosely comparable to the Việt Nam invasion, including a draft. This is a sliding time scale event, and thus always has happened about 20 years ago.
    This approach is favoured by our Marvunapp  colleagues.
  2. Many characters in the Marvel Universe do not age at anything resembling a normal rate, and this has always been the case. See the Leon Genetic Sequence article for more about that.
    This approach is favoured by writeups.org.

History

The man who would become the Bengal was born in the early 1960s in the central highlands of Việt Nam, near Buôn Ma Thuột . It is likely that he’s from one of the Montagnard cultures .

Bengal (Marvel Comics Daredevil) three-pronged spring dagger

In 1968, an exhausted American fire team entered his village. One of their member, Sgt. Janes, was cracking from combat fatigue. A grenade was thrown at the Americans. The unit’s Lt., Lincoln, managed to throw it away but was grievously wounded in the explosion, eventually losing his sight.

Janes snapped and opened fire, immediately followed by the others. Dozens of villagers were indiscriminately massacred before the fire team would retreat, carrying Lincoln. The Americans emptied pretty much everything they had, slaughtering everything they saw in the village. They also lighted up trees they thought served as cover for VC troops.

Part of the carnage was seemingly caused by indiscriminate return fire from the jungle from Việt Cong soldiers. If so these likely were the same men who had thrown the grenade at the patrol.

The Edmond Dantès of the Degar

One child escaped from the carnage, and went berserk. The six-year old charged the Americans with an empty gun as they were being evacuated by a Huey piloted by James Rhodes, USMC. Despite being shot in the leg by someone in the woods, he managed to jump and grab a skid. Shellshocked, Janes started stomping his face and hands until the kid lost his grip and fell back into the jungle.

The kid survived the fall. Traumatized by both the events and survivor’s guilt, he decided the reason he was still alive was that he could be the agent of vengeance for his village. He dedicated his life to training, and to get to the US when he was ready to find the soldiers. When he did so, he was wearing a costume and calling himself (in Vietnamese) the Bengal.

(Why a Vietnamese man would name himself after an area in India and Bangladesh is unclear. But the Lee Falk comic strip The Phantom has been released in many countries as The Phantom of the Bengal. It is very popular in some areas of India and further East. It is thus reasonable to suggest that Bengal may have been inspired by the Phantom.)

Did the jungle breathe?

Meanwhile, the American soldiers went on with their lives. At least one of them, Janes, was court-martialed and found guilty. During his 25 years in prison at Quantico , Janes craved redemption for his actions and found God, then studied to become a priest.

When he got out he was ordained. He took his ministry to a series of poor and violent urban areas, where he tried to bring peace and understanding.

Meanwhile the Bengal started by murdering Chin Fong, who had been one of the soldiers kicking him off the helicopter. He then killed former private Samuel Birulin in his home as he was sleeping with his wife. The avenger then moved on to kill the former Lt. Lincoln.

Bengal and Constrictor

Lincoln realised what was going on, as he had been on the phone with Birulin, discussing their traumatic flashbacks, when he was executed.

Willie Lincoln had encountered Daredevil and Matt Murdock a few years earlier. He was a former client and ally of Murdock, saved his life once, and knew Daredevil would sometimes “assist” Murdock. Thus, he contacted him for protection.

The devil and the wolf

The Bengal clashed unsuccessfully with Daredevil. He then came back to challenge him to a fight among the trees of Central Park, where Daredevil defeated him. When the Bengal woke up, Daredevil forced him and Lincoln to face each other. Seeing Lincoln’s empty eye sockets, the Bengal reacted with horror.

Now unsure about his vengeance, he crashed through the window and jumped away.

The Bengal eventually resumed his path of vengeance, this time targeting former private William Talltrees. Talltrees, the most level-headed of the group, had tried to oppose Janes and private Fong from kicking the boy away from the Huey, but not strongly enough.

Talltrees had become a high-rise construction worker, then the newest bearer of the mantle of the Red Wolf. But was still wracked with guilt over what he did.

When the Bengal confronted him, Talltrees did not really fight back due to his guilt. He ended up hospitalized in a critical state. His pet wolf Lobo was killed by the Bengal.

While dying in the ER, Talltrees underwent a series of visions and a dialogue with the Wolf Spirit. Understanding that his constant guilt had made him a better man and a hero, the Red Wolf mustered the will to survive his wounds.

Night Thrasher

The Bengal then moved on to the former Sgt. Janes. However, the superhuman Silhouette was present in his church when the Bengal attacked, being part of Janes’ flock. She fought the Bengal off until Janes could flee, then shadow-melted away. Her former lover, Night Thrasher, decided to protect Janes and intervened during the Bengal’s next attack.

Bengal vs. Night Thrasher in New Warriors comics by Marvel

The fight was interrupted by the Punisher, who was tracking Silhouette for her criminal past. The Punisher twice clashed with Thrasher and Silhouette. Then the Bengal made another attempt on Father Janes’ life, fighting with Thrasher a second time. Again, the fight was broken by the Punisher. The redeemed Janes and Bengal made a sort of peace.

Janes and the Bengal apparently tried to stay in touch and communicate. They presumably had help from an interpreter from the local Vietnamese-American community. Janes gave his version of the incident. In particular, he stated that many of the gunshots (including the one that had hit the future Bengal in the leg) did not come from them but from the jungle.

Gai No Don

The Bengal investigated Janes’ claims. He grew to suspect that Li Pan, a North Vietnamese general with a reputation as a mass murderer, was responsible for some of the deaths at his village. He also discovered that Li Pan was now known as Gai No Don.

The Bengal confronted him. However, Gai No Don did not appear to speak Vietnamese. Sensing that he was guilty anyway, the Bengal moved in but was stopped by Night Thrasher and Silhouette. They had been warned by Father Janes. Their own investigation had determined that Gai No Don and Li Pan were two separate persons.

The Bengal then attacked the Poison Memories, a Vietnamese-American street gang involved with Gai No Don. Thrasher and Silhouette intervened again, until Bengal accepted that Li Pan and Gai No Don were not the same man.

A possible impostor

The Bengal was later seen as a henchman for Tombstone, opposing the “Marvel Knights”. Howbeit, the characterisations during that episode were completely off. For instance the Bengal was a violent mercenary speaking fluent English and familiar with American and Chinese adventurers.

Much like with Big Ben Donovan, I’d suggest disregarding this appearance when it comes to the character’s continuity. But officially, for Marvel, this episode did feature the actual Bengal.

Bengal leaping

A likely hypothesis is that this man was just a mercenary wearing a replica the Bengal’s costume. It is a pretty cool and striking costume, after all. This person seemed trained in Kung Fu and very interested in confronting Shang Chi, and may thus have been Chinese.

If the man seen during that incident was indeed an impostor, it is likely that Bengal was at that time in Việt Nam to track Li Pan down.


Description

The Bengal is shaved bald and has very strong muscle definition. He fights powerfully, gracefully and in complete silence.

He originally knew but one sentence in English, which he speaks with a strong Vietnamese accent — “did the jungle breathe”. The “breathing jungle” was a slang phrase used by some American troops to describe a patch of jungle full of Viet Cong soldiers silently waiting in ambush.


Personality

The Bengal is a dedicated and competent avenger, but sometimes seems conflicted when it comes to actually killing in revenge. I suspect he’s a Buddhist to some degree, or perhaps a follower of one of Việt Nam’s local religions (some of which include big dollops of Buddhism). Thus, perhaps he has trouble reconciliating his mission of vengeance with his faith.

He rarely speaks, even in Vietnamese. Since most people would not understand him anyway.

Despite the language barrier, he finds tricks to roughly communicate. To defy Daredevil, he gave him a piece of a map of Central Park (wrapped around an arrow), and he unmasked himself so he would be identified by his targets.


Quotes

“Leencon… deed the jungle breat ?”


DC Universe History

The Bengal would most likely be a Batman or Nightwing encounter in the DCU.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Bengal (original stats)

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Revenge
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Assassin
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 023 HP: 020

Powers:
Empathy: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
Empathy is a Skilled Power

Skills:
Acrobatics: 07, Detective (Legwork): 03, Martial artist: 08, Military science (Tracking): 04, Thief (Stealth): 07, Weaponry (Martial arts weapons, archery): 08

Advantages:
Familiarity (Survival), Language (Vietnamese and likely a Montagnard language such as Jarai), Lighting Reflexes, Schtick (Paired sai ; Pain Management (Low)).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
Exile (Voluntary), Misc.: Bengal does not speak or understand English, though he seemed able to read some bits of it, such as the name of his targets. Even then he probably just recognized the shape of the letters. In his later appearance, he could speak a few basic words and more or less understand simple sentences with the help of his Empathy.

Equipment:

  • Spring-open daggers (x2) [BODY 09, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Disarm Manoeuvre EV): 01 (cap is 06) ; Descriptors: Piercing, Blunt ; Note : OV/RV when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Limitation: Blocking bonuses can only be used against melee attacks, and the GM may rule that some weapons are too large for the daggers].
  • Self bow [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 02, Ammo: 01, Rec. STR: 02, R#03, Bow Advantage (EV is 03, Range is 04), Limitation : Low Penetration].
  • Quiver [BODY 02, Projectile weapon: 02, Ammo: 06, Limitation : Ammunition load for self bow].
  • Shuriken (x3) [BODY 03, EV 03, Dart Bonus, Grenade Drawback].


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Bengal (Early) — Averaged PL8.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
03 03 05 04 08 02 02 02

Powers

Spring-open daggers ● 1 points (Easily removable – needs paired parrying daggers or sai) ● Descriptor: Skill
– Enhanced Advantages (Improved Defense, Improved Disarm)

Combat Advantages

Close Attack 4, Defensive Roll 2, Evasion, Improved Critical 1 (Unarmed), Improved Defense, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Move-by Action, Power Attack, Ranged Attack 4, Takedown.

Other Advantages

Equipment 2, Great Endurance, Instant Up, Language (Vietnamese and probably a Montagnard language such as Jarai), Tracking.

Skills

Acrobatics 5 (+10), Athletics 7 (+10), Close Attack (Knives) 1 (+13), Deception 2 (+4), Expertise (Wilderness survival) 4 (+6), Insight 9 (+11), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 1 (+3), Ranged combat (Archery) 3 (+11), Ranged combat (Small throwing blades) 3 (+11), Stealth 5 (+10).

Equipment

Spring-open daggers Strength-Based Piercing Damage 1, Improved Critical 1 ● 2 points
Self bow Ranged Piercing Damage 2, Improved Critical 1 ● 5 points
Shuriken Ranged Multiattack Slashing Damage 1 ● 3 points

Offense

Initiative +9
Unarmed +12, Close, Damage 3, Crit 19-20
Parrying daggers +13, Close, Damage 4, Crit 19-20
Self bow +11, Ranged, Damage 2, Crit 19-20
Shuriken +11, Ranged, Multiattack Damage 1

Defence

Dodge 12 Fortitude 07
Parry 12 Toughness 03*/05
Will 09

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • In a strange land At this stage Bengal knows little about America and doesn’t speak or read any English. He can recognise the shape of letters, though, and he has a high Insight score.
  • Masked avenger Bengal’s life mission is to avenge his village.
  • Reluctant killer Bengal finds it difficult to murder people, and may hesitate or falter for a while.

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 9, Dodge/Toughness PL 9, Parry/Toughness PL 9, Fort/Will PL 8.
  • Points total 127. Abilities 58, Defences 22, Skills 23, Powers 1, Devices 0, Advantages 23. Equiv. PL 9.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): David Johnston, Pufnstuff, Jack, Capita_Senyera, Chris Cottingham, Ethan Roe, Darci.

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