5716 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Bethany Cabe (Marvel Comics)

Bethany Cabe

(Profile #1 - XXth century)


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

Context

Bethany Cabe was a major Iron Man character from 1979 to 1981, playing a key role in the landmark Demon in a bottle storyline. She returned in 1985/86, where this time the storyline was more about her and less about being the Awesome Woman Who Saves The Hero With Love Then Conveniently Disappears.

She was cool, strong, smart and probably ahead of her time, especially by super-hero comic book standards.

This profile stops in 2000. Beth essentially vanishes from 1996 to 2010, and when she returns she has developed new skills and assets – so it’ll be best covered in a second profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Bethany Anne Camilla Cabe van Tilberg
  • Note: Her married name has been occasionally given as “van Tilburg”, including in one Marvel sourcebook. Current preference is to stick to the original van Tilberg spelling.
  • Marital Status: Widowed
  • Known Relatives: Alexander van Tilberg (husband, deceased), Brother-in-law (name unrevealed)
  • Group Affiliation: Former partner in Cabe & McPherson
  • Base Of Operations: Formerly the Cabe & McPherson office/apartments (1339 W. 70th St., NYC, NY), then an unspecified Manhattan penthouse, then the Stark Enterprises headquarters
  • Height: 5’7” Weight:125 lbs.
  • Eyes: Gorgeous green Hair: Resplendent dark red


Powers & Abilities

Cabe is an expert in security, personal security, hand-to-hand combat and handguns operation. She also has considerable willpower, excellent social skills, and the looks and body of a high-end swimsuit model (albeit she’s too short to actually be a model).

Her skills are almost but not quite cinematic . She can take out two or three ordinary opponents in a brawl or gunfight, but not more. She has successfully intervened in superhuman combat. But this relied on her intelligently choosing when and how to attack, and aiming very carefully.

She generally fights smart and thinks on her feet. Both Cabe and McPherson seem specially trained in shooting weapons out of the hands of their opponents.

Beth has a myriad skills, from being trained in combat driving to having excellent helicopter-piloting skills. And she has a myriad contacts, from knowing folks in the Secret Service (she seems to be a certified contractor with the Treasury Dept.) to assembling teams of German mercenaries willing to raid secure installations beyond the Iron Curtain.

Bethany’s signature weapon is a classic blued steel .357 magnum L-frame Smith & Wesson revolver. It seems to be a model 586 with a 3” barrel, often marketed as the “Distinguished Combat Magnum”.


History

During a East Coast society event, debutante Bethany Cabe met Alexander van Tilberg – the new ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the US. They fell in love and married. That turned out to be a mistake.

Though he was a strong and witty man, van Tilberg was also a workaholic and believed in getting things done all by himself. Increasingly neglected, the stunning and elegant Mrs. van Tilberg ended up just playing the role of arm candy during social events.

Widowed

Van Tilberg’s health degraded from overwork and a sleeping pills addiction, but he refused his wife’s help. The ambassador seemingly died in a driving accident caused by fatigue and pills, leaving Mrs. van Tilberg wracked by guilt.

Beth swore that she would never again be dependant on anyone – emotionally, financially or physically. She returned to her maiden name, then trained to hold her own in confrontations. She eventually made that her job, as a professional bodyguard.

She leveraged her beauty and upper class background to specialise in rich and/or famous male principals. She worked to ensure their security without ever seeming out of place, even during exclusive cocktail parties. With Ling McPherson, also a security expert with superior pulchritude and combat skills, they created the successful agency Cabe & McPherson Security Specialists.

Tony Stark

Cabe met Tony Stark during a reception at the Carnellian embassy. Stark was trying to be as conspicuous as possible to lure an assassin in the open, and noticed that Bethany was attracting a lot of male attention. The terminally bored Cabe liked his lousy pick-up lines and superior charm, and they started dating.

Bethany Cabe revealing to Tony Stark that she knows the truth about Iron Man

Ms. Cabe was hanging out at Stark International when reports indicated that Tony Stark’s flight had crashed in the Atlantic. She volunteered to accompany James Rhodes aboard a fast response plane. On site, they ran into a trigger-happy US Navy Special Forces detail who detained them. Cabe and Rhodes soon realised that the sailors were disguised Roxxon Oil security men.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) and Prince Namor dispersed Roxxon’s boats. But during the fray the cunning Cabe noticed that Iron Man referred to her as ”Beth“ though they had never met.

Bodyguard

Though Cabe and Stark continued dating, she got angry at him for the cavalier fashion in which he acknowledged that James Rhodes had been wounded during the rescue operation. Tony tried to assuage her with an extravagant restaurant soirée in Atlantic City.

During dinner, Cabe subtly confirmed her suspicions that Stark and Iron Man were the same person. She also noticed that the captain of industry had an alcohol problem, and pointed out that Stark needed a bodyguard with more professionalism than Iron Man.

The restaurant was stormed by Justin Hammer operatives (Whiplash (Mark Scarlotti), the Melter (Bruno Horgan) and Blizzard (Gregor Shapanka)). Stark met them as Iron Man but was surprised and nearly killed. Cabe saved him by shooting off Whiplash’s whip with her magnum revolver.

Iron Man regained the upper hand, and Beth took down Whiplash as he fled. She then took the somewhat drunk Stark to her room for the night, though he had drunk too much champagne to present genuinely firm arguments during the following exchange. By this point, they were an item.

Smells like ethanol

However, Beth became concerned as Tony’s alcohol problem worsened. It hampered his skills both as a CEO and as Iron Man.

Things came to a head during another reception at the Carnellian embassy, where both Cabe and Iron Man were working security. The villainous Justin Hammer remotely triggered Iron Man’s repulsor, killing the ambassador.

This in turn led to a spat between Beth and Tony as she was criticising Iron Man’s growing sloppiness. Fearing that Tony’s alcoholism would lead to a repeat of the van Tilberg tragedy, Bethany considered dumping him to spare herself the pain.

Demon in a bottle

Beth attempted a reconciliation, but the now fully alcoholic Stark got the address wrong and missed the rendezvous. She made one last attempt for his sake. This is when Tony Stark took one of the most important decisions of his life – he uncharacteristically agreed that he had a big problem and needed her help.

Cabe managed Stark’ painful withdrawal, and forced him to resume his work as an inventor and engineer. Getting sober allowed Stark to:

  • fix his friendship with Edwin Jarvis before the butler quit rather than witness Stark destroy himself
  • fight off an attempt at corporate takeover by S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • survive a brutal fight with the Hulk

In time, Tony resumed his activities as himself and as Iron Man in full form. Beth was peripherally involved in some of these events – such as when the Titanium Man (Boris Bulsky) challenged Iron Man in New York City. During his travels, the immature Stark gallivanted with several women in Europe and Asia. Whether Cabe learned of this is unrevealed.

Enemy maker, part 1

In 1980, Madame Masque (or rather a bio-duplicate of her) set a mob contract on Cabe’s head, out of jealousy toward her romance with Stark. A half-dozen of Spymaster’s men set up an ambush, but McPherson had replaced Cabe for that engagement at the last moment. She was overwhelmed and beaten nearly to death, though the blue team narrowly saved her life.

Bethany Cabe, James Rhodes and Iron Man

Spymaster then captured Cabe himself and delivered her to a Maggia compound. Stark and Rhodes half-bungled their rescue attempt but Bethany got out, took a M16 from an unconscious guard and went back in for Masque to avenge Ling’s beating.

Cabe got the drop on Masque. However, she then realised that the mafiosa was driven by self-loathing – and shame over how much better Cabe was handling her relationship with Stark than Masque had. Since there was little point in hurting her further, Cabe let her go.

Enemy maker, part 2

Stark, who was trying to be less self-absorbed (ha !), then invited Cabe, Rhodes and McPherson to a big Caribbean vacation. Hammer mercenaries attacked the yacht, but Cabe reacted in mind and threw Stark’s briefcase overboard. Stark was then diving, but got his armour out of the briefcase and put it on underwater as Cabe intended.

However, Hammer’s men had already brought Cabe to Hammer’s base. She was imprisoned along with the crews of various other yachts that were now used to smuggle drugs.

When Iron Man attacked and cut the power, Bethany led the imprisoned yachters in storming the base’s docks, reclaim their boats and hurriedly sail away. This deprived Justin Hammer of his hostages.

As Stark was maturing a bit and their relationship was going on strong, he and Cabe started considering marriage.

Widow of a living man

Bethany Cabe then learned that Alexander van Tilberg was still alive.

The car accident that had reportedly killed him years before had actually been a KGB kidnapping to obtain confidential information from the ambassador. The interrogation had gone wrong due to all the prescription drugs van Tilberg was taking, and he went catatonic for years.

Bethany Cabe and James Rhodes

When he awoke, the KGB decided to use his wife for leverage instead. They leaked information about van Tilberg to Beth. As expected, she came to Eastern Germany where she could easily be arrested. However, the spies had underestimated her – they were actually the ones falling into her trap.

Don’t mess with Bethany Cabe

Cabe had set up a special operations raid with Western German mercenaries, and smuggled explosives into her prison. During the attack she would break free, find her husband and fly out of Eastern Germany with him.

However, learning that Beth had been arrested for espionage, Stark came to the rescue and got into the prison. His arrival disrupted Beth’s meticulous plan. Before things could go south, she told him to suit up. With Iron Man’s help the van Tilbergs and the German mercs were all safely evacuated back West.

The distraught Bethany discovered that her husband now had a full-blown drugs problem and still refused her help. Furthermore, Alexander’s brother had spent all the van Tilberg money. Cabe spent unfruitful years trying to prevent her husband from disintegrating, but eventually ran out of options and decided to consult with Tony Stark.

However, Obadiah Stane sent kidnappers after her as part of his war against Stark. Cabe mauled the first team, but the second came loaded for bear and narrowly succeeded.

Masquerade

Stane was allied with Madame Masque, and used a consciousness transferral machine to switch the two. In Cabe’s body, Masque could get close to Stark and kill him. As to Cabe in Masque’s body, she was arrested.

Since nobody believed her story, Beth escaped, hijacked a private plane, and contacted a P.I. friend to locate Stark in California. She arrived just in time to save Tony from being shot by Madame Masque, and convinced him that she was telling the truth. The mind swap was soon reversed.

Bethany Cabe and Rhodey after Beth deduces the truth about Iron Man

Though Stane ultimately failed, his vicious and subtle war against Stark had left but scorched earth. Stark launched a brand-new enterprise – a space exploration company. For a few months, the unstoppable Cabe/Rhodes/Stark team was back, and raised tens of millions to finance their first project.

At that point, Beth suspected that she no longer loved van Tilberg and wanted to live with Stark. She returned to Germany to settle accounts and tell her husband that she was leaving. While she was away, the company she had helped start put the first component of a permanent space station in orbit.

Death of an addict

Beth found Alex in a skid row hotel, drugged to the gills. Seeing there was nothing she could do anymore, she opted for a divorce. While the paperwork was underway, a German contact approached her to offer a mercenary job in Boca Caliente. The man was gunned down while making his pitch, but Cabe shot the assassin dead.

Now having red-hot information about an impending crisis in Boca Caliente, Beth warned Iron Man. This allowed the golden Avenger to get there in time to save numerous lives.

As she tracked down her husband, divorce papers in hand, Beth approached some street pushers to ask them if they had seen Alex. The three men attempted to assault her, but she thrashed them. Humiliated, they decided to vent their anger on Alexander instead, and found him first.

Though van Tilberg was dead by the time Beth found him, she had the drug dealers arrested by the police.

Iron legion

Cabe & McPherson Security Specialists then fully resumed its activities. After some years Ling chose to retire, and Beth landed markedly fewer contracts – since Ling was the better saleswoman of the two.

Bethany Cabe and Tony Stark - demon in a bottle

In 1994, James Rhodes assembled a team of former operators of the Iron Man armour, plus Beth, to wear spare suits in an attempt to stop a disastrous rampage by Ultimo. Though Beth had the least training and ran into problems with her armour caused by her audaciously female anatomy, she gave the best performance. She was the last operator left standing alongside Rhodes.

Stark then joined the fight despite being nominally incapacitated by his severe medical issues, and took Ultimo out.

Guns and roses

Rhodes flew away in anger as he didn’t want to talk to Stark, but Cabe stuck around. Tony hired Beth as his new Director of Corporate Security for a rebuilt Stark Enterprises. Howbeit, Stark’s then-current lover took an instant dislike of Cabe as she sensed that they shared a past.

Two weeks before Beth’ contract would start, a hacker exposed a series of big scandal about Stark Enterprises. Cabe started digging into the hidden activities of the company back when it was still a Stane company. She then uncovered endless horrors — up to and including illegal stocks of gamma bombs.

She also tracked the hacker and stopped him without further legal exposure, then rebuilt the heavily-compromised corporate security from scratch.

As she was working, another conflict erupted between Iron Man (Tony Stark) and War Machine (James Rhodes). Fed up with it, Beth zapped the armoured titans with an EMP  rifle and ordered them to behave like adults and talk to each other – or else. Ashamed, the two old friends patched their differences in time to face a major onslaught by the Mandarin.

The Crossing

Beth and Tony had decided not to rekindle their relationship. However, Kang launched a complex manipulation to wreck Stark’s sanity using Space Phantoms and mind control. As a result Beth and Tony resumed having sex, though she couldn’t understand why she was doing it since they had both agreed that it would be a bad idea.

Kang’s plan was apparently to have them renew their relationship then fridge  Cabe to destroy Stark. However, the bomb intended to kill Beth missed her. She had just left her flat to respond to a security emergency at Stark Enterprises.

Kang’s manipulation seemingly killed Tony, and resulted in his replacement by a teenage version of him from an alternate reality. They also allowed corporate giant Fujikawa to buy massive amounts of Stark Enterprises shares.

Aftermath

Bethany Cabe and “Happy” Hogan discovered that Stark had made them recipients of his corporate assets in his will – but at that point Fujikawa held a controlling interest in Stark Enterprises.

Though some advocated fighting the takeover to the bitter end, the ever-responsible Beth knew that such a corporate struggle would pointlessly destroy thousands of jobs. She thus played a key role in the 1996 bloodless transition toward the Stark-Fujikawa corporate behemoth.

Though Stark returned after months of seeming death, he did not go after Stark-Fujikawa and instead founded a new company, Stark Solutions. As to Beth, she essentially vanished from publication until the late 2000s.


Description

Looking scrumptious being part of her old job description, Cabe owned a very high-end wardrobe (with originals from reputed designers) and was a cosmetics and fitness pro. As Stark Enterprises security chief all the frou-frou was no longer necessary and she just wore SHIELD-style jumpsuits, leather jackets and the like.

She could resume a high fashion defcon state whenever needed, and of course owned lots of very expensive business clothing for fundraising.


Personality

Smart, charming, tough, witty, mature, responsible. Beth is unusually independent but also has a nurturing and dutiful streak. She is determined to make every effort to save loved ones in trouble even if that requires extensive sacrifices on her part.

Cabe also has a way with sarcasm and cutting remarks, though those are strictly reserved to her opponents. She will often take charge of a situation, but is also an excellent team player and employee.

Bethany occasionally comes across as one of the few responsible, caring, autonomous, well-adjusted *adults* around. She’s just that strong, professional and realised.

She’s a pragmatist and understands the full value of talking, compromising and negotiating to solve problems rather than trying to out-tough them and rage on. The later trait has always been in stark contrast with Rhodes’s self-righteous, angry idealism.


Quotes

Whiplash: “I’m gonna break that iron bozo, an’ nothin’s gonna stop me.”
(Cabe shoots off the tip of his whip before it can kill Iron Man)
Cabe: “I hate to be a nitpicker, Whiplash, but it wasn’t ‘nothin’’ that stopped you.” (beat) “It was a Smith & Wesson.”

Rhodey: “That was some flyin’, lady ! Where did you learn to handle a chopper like that ?”
Cabe: “Let’s just say I play a lot of arcade games.”

(To a drunk Stark) “Only I’m not turning away this time. I know you’ve got pressures you can’t tell anyone, but for God’s sake let go of the trouble you *can* talk about !”

Justin Hammer (offering a tour of his base): “First we have the library. It’s not as comprehensive as I’d prefer, but it does offer me something to read when I wish to relax.”
Bethany Cabe (icily): “The complete works of de Sade  ?”
Justin Hammer: (beat) “Delightful.”

“I’m head of security around here. Trouble is my business.”

(Yelling at Iron Man and War Machine after she ended their fight by EMPing them both into immobility) “It’s high time you buried the hatchet. And the only way you’re going to do that is by *talking* to one another, not by acting like a couple of *gorillas* with *socialisation problems*. If I remember right, you’ve got six minutes until your suits reboot from optical ROM. Be smart, and use them. Don’t make me drop a *building* on you.” (storms off)


DC Universe History

Cabe would probably be the security chief of Steelworks, romantically involved with John Henry Irons (also a workaholic, offering room for… drama !) and often butting heads with Natasha Irons.

As bodyguards to royalty, Cabe and McPherson may have been hired several times to escort Aquaman whilst King Arthur was on official business in the surface world, and weakened by the lack of water.

In the same vein, Cabe would also have worked for Wonder Woman – perhaps as a consultant improving the security at the Themiscyran embassy on Aquaman and Steel’s recommendation.

Given Cabe’s intelligence and knack for learning, this offers the intriguing possibility of Bethany developing some rudimentary occult skills to interface mystical security with conventional measures.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Bethany Cabe

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding Good/Mercenary
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Bodyguard, security chief
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 015 HP: 015

Skills:
Charisma (Persuasion): 05, Detective (Legwork): 05, Martial Artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 04, Military science (Demolition): 03, Thief (Concealment): 04, Vehicles (Air, Land): 05, Vehicles (Power Armour): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Attractive, Confidant (Ling McPherson), Credentials (US government, Low ; often has a Medium or High Credentials with the current Stark company), Familiarity (High society, Tennis, Fashion and style, Stark tech), Expertise (Personal and corporate security), Iron Nerves, Language (German), Schtick (Disarmer (Weaponry (Firearms)))

Connections:
Anthony Stark (High, later Low), James Rhodes (Low), Mercenary/P.I. scene (Low)

Drawbacks:
Certainly not, though for some years she had her husband as a Dependent.

Equipment:
Smith & Wesson [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02].


Further notes

Beth’s German language skills are never demonstrated, but strongly implied ; her paramedical are also an assumption (a top-flight bodyguard would definitely know first aid).

During her time as Director of Security for Stark, Cabe had High Credentials with the company plus Rank (the equivalent of a Captain) to represent her command over the security personnel.


Big science

Ms. Cabe has developed new skills and assets in more recent years. Since a second profile isn’t scheduled at present — if only because we need more material to analyse — here are our notes.

  • Expansive Headquarters (War Machine base)
  • Add Scientist (Analysis, Computers, Research): 04 or so
  • Her Vehicles (Air) talents have broadened to even heavy, specialised planes such as supersonic transports
  • Her Connection with James Rhodes is back to High, and she has a Low Connections with Team War Machine (Suzi Endo aka Cybermancer, Dr. Glenda Sandoval, Parnell Jacobs and Sergeant Jake Oh)
  • Cabe has her own suit of War Machine-type power armour, about which very little is known.
  • Her 2011 return would indicate at least a Familiarity with SCUBA diving and a Wealth of 007 or more, but it is too early to tell.
  • How far her computer security skills extend by 2011 is unknown – she obviously masters the more human aspects of the job (employee passwords, use of social media by employees, countering social engineering, etc.) and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if she turned out to now be a superb computer systems security engineer.

Ling McPherson

McPherson is, as can be surmised, the other half of Cabe & McPherson, Security Specialists. Very little is known about her, except that her professional skills seem similar to those of Cabe. The two women seem to be close friends, and to truly care for each other. McPherson was seldom seen in action, and the stats below are based on the reasonable guess that she’s a slightly less competent version of Bethany Cabe. Ms. McPherson is now retired from security work.

Ling McPherson

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding Good/Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Bodyguard
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 014 HP: 010

Skills:
Martial Artist*: 04, Vehicles (Air, Land): 04, Thief (Concealment): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Confidant (Bethany Cabe), Credentials (US government, Low), Familiarity (High society, Tennis), Expertise (Personal security), Iron Nerves, Schtick (Disarmer (Weaponry (Firearms)))

Connections:
International jet set (Low)

Drawbacks:
Unrevealed, but it is possible she retained a condition from the beating she took that led to her retirement some years later

Equipment: Smith & Wesson model 586 with 3” barrel [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02].


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Bethany Cabe — Averaged PL 5.6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
01 02 01 03 05 03 01 01

Combat Advantages

Defensive Roll 2, Improved Disarm, Ranged attack 2

Other Advantages

Attractive, Benefit 1 (US gov’t Security Clearance), Benefit 1 (Stark Enterprises Security Clearance), Connected, Contacts, Equipment 2, Fearless, Language (German – English is Native)

Skills

Athletics 3 (+4), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+7), Deception 4 (+5), Expertise (Security) 9 (+12), Expertise (High society) 5 (+8), Expertise (Fashion & style) 5 (+8), Expertise (Current events) 6 (+9), Insight 4 (+5), Intimidation 4 (+5), Investigation 9 (+12) (Limited 1 – Only for Search, Gather Information, Surveillance), Perception 5 (+6), Persuasion 3 (+4), Ranged combat (Handguns) 3 (+8), Sleight of hand 3 (+6) (Limited 2 – Only for Concealment), Treatment 6 (+8) (Limited 1 – Revive and Stabilise only), Vehicles 6 (+9) (Limited 1 – Common land and air vehicles only)

Equipment

S&W Distinguished Combat Magnum (Heavy Pistol) ● 8 points

Offense

Initiative +1
Unarmed +7, Close, Damage 1
S&W +8, Ranged, Damage 4 Ballistic

Defense

Dodge 6 Fortitude 5
Parry 6 Toughness 4/2*
Will 5

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Motivation Do the right thing, have fun, earn money
  • Previously a Relationship with Tony Stark
  • Responsibility Toward her employer and loved ones

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 6, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 5, Fort/Will PL 5
  • Point total 93 Abilities 34, Defences 13, Skills 32, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 14. Equiv. PL 7.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe (Iron Man comics)

Helper(s): Darci, Capita_Senyera, Gareth Lewis, Loki, Roger Ott

Writeup revised on the 8th of June, 2011.

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