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Blacklash (Marvel Comics) (Iron Man enemy)

Blacklash

(Mark Scarlotti) (Profile #2)


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

Context

Mark Scarlotti is an old enemy of Iron Man (Tony Stark). He appeared in 1968. Scarlotti has occasionally changed his name, costume and weapons, though is main weapon remains a high-tech, deadly whip.

Our coverage of his career thus follows its three main eras. We suggest that you read them in order :

  1. Blacklash (1980s and 1990s) – this here profile

Background

  • Real Name: Mark Scarlotti
  • Former Aliases: Whiplash, Mark Scott
  • Marital Status: Single, later married
  • Known Relatives: Anthony Scarlotti (father), Barbara Scarlotti (mother) ; later Trudi Scarlotti (wife), an unnamed son (in foster care) and an unnamed father-in-law and mother-in-law
  • Group Affiliation: Hammer Industries (and in particular the B-Team)
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 215 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Dark blond


Powers and Abilities

Blacklash is a talented athlete and fighter, with a gift for wielding whips. He has broadened this to other weapons hinging on a rope or chain, such as nunchaku or bolas.

On the other hand Scarlotti doesn’t use his technical talents as much as he used to. He continues to gradually improve his equipment, but did not invent new things after developing his Blacklash arsenal with Justin Hammer’s staff.

Blacklash wears a lightweight but well-armoured steel mesh costume. Though his boasts that his armour is impervious to anything short of cannon fire are exaggerated, it indeed provides excellent protection against even massed small arms fire and superhumanly powerful blows.

The costume also seems insulated to a degree against energy, and the armoured cape can be used as further layers of protection (Force Shield in DC Heroes terms).

Thrashing all around…

Blacklash’s main whip is more powerful than anything he wielded as Whiplash. It has numerous uses. The key words in parentheses are for use in DC Heroes.

The whip can still be cracked to shear through solid steel and most walls (Extra Limb, Sharpness, Stretching), but it also has an arsenal of more specific functions:

  • It can stiffen up and be used as a vaulting pole to bypass some obstacles (Jumping), though this requires specialised training.
  • It can be collapsed entirely within the handle, which then splits into two parts to form a nunchaku. The nunchaku, while less powerful and versatile than the whip, still hits with technologically enhanced force and can shatter concrete. It also can be used indoors, whereas the whip requires more space (Miniaturisation).
  • The lash can be detached from the handle then explode – usually while wrapped around a target. While the force of the explosion was not sufficient to harm Iron Man, the flash dazzled the Golden Avenger for a bit (EV, Flash). Blacklash carries spare lashes he can plug into the handle after detonating one. These and a spare full whip are kept in the little purple bag on his right hip.

Schematics for Blacklash's whip

  • There is a rotation mode, where the lash splits in two and whirls like a high-speed rotor. This mode offers excellent protection against even bullets, forming a sort of shield (Force Shield). This proved effective enough to repel a large mass of Spider-Man’s webbing and hurl it back without it sticking to the whip. In this mode it can also be used as a fan, which comes handy to deal with gases, smoke and the like (Air Control).
  • The fibres have some odd properties, making the whip behave with power far greater than Blacklash’s strength (Extra Limb). For instance it could easily rip a fire hydrant from the ground, lift it and use it as a deadly projectile. The whip somehow multiplies Blacklash’s strength along its length, and can easily lift a person in the way shown in the right-hand illustrations column.
    The whip is presumably powered (perhaps through selective contraction of the fibres, like a muscle) and/or incorporates a minor gravity suppressor. It is also occasionally used to strangle (using both the EV and the Grappling Bonus of the Extra Limb).
  • It is electrified, with the intensity of the current being precisely determined through cybernetic command – from a mild shock to brutal electrocution (Lightning Being). A good hit has been known to numb the area hit, even in subjects with a superhumanly powerful physiology such as Spider-Man – whose arm went inert for close to a minute (Paralysis).
  • A later evolution was the addition of a “wide spectrum surge”. It is different from the baseline electrification of the whip and designed to confuse and overload the cybernetic control circuits of most power armours (Snare). The wide spectrum surge was powerful enough to hold the Iron Man Silver Centurion armour, though it is unclear how long this effect lasts.
    Blacklash later demonstrated something similar, immobilizing the “Neo-Classic” Iron Man armour for about ten seconds. This was described as draining the power of the armour through his whip rather than as a “wide spectrum surge”, but in practice the results were the same.

…acting like a maniac

Aside from his main whip, Blacklash carries an electrified whip (the Necro-Lash). He also has gravity-augmenting bolos (the Bo-Lash) designed to immobilise a target by magnifying its own weight. The first version of the Bo-Lash proved much less powerful than Iron Man’s boot jets, prompting Scarlotti to improve on the design.

The weapons Blacklash wields are cybernetic, and controlled through a mental interface in his cowl ; there are backup manual switches in the handles for the main functions. The whips are powered by batteries within his gauntlets feeding a smaller battery in the handle – destroying the gauntlets will leave Blacklash powerless.

The whips and handles (both the main whip and the necro-lash) can fully retract into wrist sockets ; when not in use the bo-lashes serve as the cape ornaments below the collar.


History

Despite the debacle on the floating villa, Whiplash continued to work for Justin Hammer, and improved his arsenal with Hammer’s scientists’ help. Equipped with a new costume and even deadlier whips, he renamed himself Blacklash and resumed his work as an enforcer for hire.

Now going by “Mark Scarlotti” rather than “Mark Scott” for unrevealed reasons, he either worked directly for Hammer – or more commonly gave him a 50% cut on revenue in return for Hammer Industries support.

Blacklash’s first documented job was to kill Vic Martinelli, the head of security for Stark International. Martinelli had a dangerous past and was targeted by a Philadelphia mob.

Iron Man foiled the assassination, but during the fight Blacklash semi-accidentally triggered a huge fire. The conflagration was only stopped after millions of dollars in damage, ravaging many top-flight Stark International labs.

Blacklash, Spymaster, Beetle, Blizzard

Though Stark was surprised by the power of Blacklash he eventually took him out and dumped him, unconscious, into an office of the Philadelphia mob that had hired him. They immediately wrote Scarlotti off.

Off the straight and narrow

After a brief stint with an army of super-criminals trying to kill the hospitalised Thing, Scarlotti considered returning to a civilian career as an engineer. However, his networking efforts failed due to his poor reputation, perhaps caused by his actions after his breakup with Victoria Snow.

Even his parents refused to see him. His father had forbidden him to come back, since he considered his criminal career a disgrace after all the sacrifices they had made to send him to college.

Scarlotti tried several times to come to the mom-and-pop bakery his parents operated in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. But his father was adamant and his mother reluctantly aligned with her husband. People from his old neighbourhood likewise reviled him and mocked him, and the presence of a cop prevented Scarlotti from beating them up.

The manic-depressive Blacklash started considering suicide.

Depressive enforcer

However, he was again recruited by the Maggia in 1984. This time it was a minor contract on a computer security expert who had thwarted one of their laundering schemes. His mood shooting upward again, Blacklash wrecked the entire bar where he had just been humiliated by neighbours, then quickly located his target.

However, Scarlotti’s trademark luck struck again. He ran into no less than Iron Man and Spider-Man, who happened to be attending the electronics convention his target was at. Blacklash fought fiercely and was fairly successful against Iron Man — who was now Jim Rhodes, and did not know about Blacklash’s tricks and arsenal.

Blacklash vs. Night Thrasher

Scarlotti also unwittingly confused Spider-Man’s spider-sense by simultaneously hurling back a mass of webbing in his general direction and throwing his improved Bo-Lash around his legs. Backlash nevertheless was defeated, and experienced a nervous breakdown when he realised that it was over for him.

This defeat in his hometown was a harsh blow to his already weakened rep. The Maggia refused to bail him out and both his parents estranged him. Scarlotti went into such a severe depressive loop upon hearing this that his lawyer pleaded an insanity defence.

Danger days

After getting out of the slammer, Blacklash was hired by the unethical Cross Technological Enterprises to steal prototypes from a competitor in Manhattan. The mission almost immediately turned sour. While the place was supposedly lightly defended, it was actually crawling with guards armed to the teeth.

Under heavy fire and surprised by the rapid arrival of the police, Blacklash was forced to retreat with an hostage, the visiting wife of one of the guards. Scarlotti was apprehended by Spider-Man – though he nearly killed Spidey during their fight.

When the Scourge of the Underworld started killing small time costumed criminals like Blacklash, Scarlotti assumed that he would soon be murdered too – especially after his old partner the Melter was executed. He returned to Cleveland and ran a series of jewelry heists, intending to launder his loot so his mother would inherit the money once he’d been murdered.

He fared pretty well against the police, but his unluck flared up and he was easily defeated by Captain America, who just happened to be in Cleveland.

While Blacklash was in prison, Cap crippled the Scourge conspiracy, thus likely saving Blacklash’s life.

The B-Team

Working directly for Justin Hammer, Blacklash formed a strike team with two other minor super-criminals — the Beetle (Abner Jenkins) and the new Blizzard (Donnie Gill). This group was nicknamed the “B-Team” and would later come to include other suitably-named Hammer flunkies such as Boomerang or Barrier.

The first documented mission of the B-Team was to burst into Stark Enterprises in LA to sanction a rogue Hammer Industries operative, Force (Clayton Wilson). The B-Team sheared through Stark security and would have killed Force without the intervention of Jim Rhodes, who commandeered an armoured police vehicle and fought them off.

The B-Team made a second attempt, but fell into an ambush. The ambush ended with Force accidentally shutting down everybody’s weapons with a poorly-controlled EMP. During the six minutes the EMP’s effects lasted, Blacklash duelled with Jim Rhodes, using his unpowered whip in nunchaku mode while Rhodey armed himself with an improvised quarterstaff.

Rhodey won the engagement, hitting Scarlotti in his unprotected throat. Blacklash and Beetle fled, abandoning the dangerously inexperienced Blizzard to their enemies.

Blacklash, Blizzard, Beetle

Hammer Industries recovered Blizzard and the B-Team was soon back in action — though the Beetle was unavailable and was replaced by new hire Boomerang. They attempted to stop legendary industrial saboteur the Ghost from hitting a Hammer-owned factory in Italy, but he proved too tough and elusive for them to handle.

The wily Hammer then maneuvered Stark into running into the Ghost, and sent the B-Team to assist Iron Man and Jim Rhodes in taking out the saboteur.

Following a plan devised by Iron Man, the five men swiftly defeated the redoubtable Ghost. At this point the B-Team revealed that its instructions were actually to assist whoever was losing. Blacklash briefly immobilised Iron Man with a surprise whip attack, but Rhodey opened fire and he and Stark defeated the B-Team in short order.

If I had a Hammer, part 1

In 1989, the psychotic Scorpion (Mac Gargan) reneged on a contract with Hammer Industries. Hammer sent in two of his regular heavies, Blacklash and the Rhino (Aleksei Sytsevich), for punishment. The two thugs attacked the psychopath while he was fleeing with an hostage, giving Spider-Man a shot at freeing the hostage.

Blacklash winged Spider-Man and the Rhino handily defeated and bagged the Scorpion, though the two mercenaries then had to flee from the police.

Blacklash was next seen as part of a small army of Hammer agents, rivaling in size with the one seen years before at the floating villa. These agents were part of an elaborate and costly trap that caught Spider-Man and the New Warriors. Fighting along with Blacklash were Discus, Stiletto, Speed Demon, Bombshell, Constrictor, Hydro-Man, Rhino and fellow B-Teamers Beetle and Boomerang.

Blacklash uses his whip to vault a high wall

Blacklash and his colleagues boxed their opponents in and drove them into the hands of the Sphinx, who captured almost everyone. The heroes eventually prevailed, and most of the mercenaries had to run for their life as the Sphinx’s base exploded.

If I had a Hammer, part 2

In 1992, Tony Stark was declared dead due to massive damage to his nervous system. Hammer sent in a team of mercs before the funeral was even over – Blacklash, the Beetle and Blizzard, led by the new Spymaster (Nathan Lemon).

While this team had extensively rehearsed their fight, they ended up against an unexpected model of armour (the War Machine suit) worn by an unexpected person (Jim Rhodes) and their careful preparations only led to their swift defeat as they employed inappropriate tactics.

The fight was interrupted by the West Coast Avengers, who mistakenly attacked War Machine. This gave Spymaster time to revive “the cannon fodder”, as he called them, and to engage the Avengers with them. However, they were swiftly shrunk and thrown into a plastic bag by Doctor Pym.

Blacklash also served with a team of Hammer agents who intervened in Beverly Hills during a major gang invasion and clashed with Silver Sable and her personal team. They were forced to retreat when armoured LAPD unit started retaking Beverly Hills.

Married with children

It was presumably after another nervous breakdown that Scarlotti renounced crime. Perhaps it happened after he starting dating and eventually married a woman called Trudi in Cleveland. He was still unable to find well-paying work due to his past and reputation, however, and had to live with his wife (who likewise earned very little) and son at his in-laws’ place.

In 1997, growing ever more resentful as he couldn’t provide good money for his family or to get away from his wife’s parents, Scarlotti decided to take one last job as Blacklash. He entered a competition among superhuman criminals organised by the mysterious Architect. He did not go very far, however.

Before he was even aware that the competition had started, he was spotted by another contestant, Bullet. Out of costume and caught by surprise, Scarlotti lasted but seconds against Bullet.

Blacklash vs. Stark security

While her husband was in the hospital, Trudi Scarlotti investigated his disappearance, suspecting he had become Blacklash again without telling her. She found his hotel room in New York City but Bullet was still there, along with his ally Shatterhead. After Mrs. Scarlotti found her husband’s Blacklash costume, she was ambushed, tortured and killed by the two enforcers.

Barking mad

Mark Scarlotti had left the hospital but hours before, and when he came back to his hotel found his dead wife and the two boasting murderers. Mad with rage, he dived for his whip and severely wounded Bullet and Shatterhead, leaving them in a critical state.

Putting on his costume, he then faced the likely winner of the contest, Elektra. He swore that he would kill everyone and get the money for his son. Before he could carry out his maniacal threats, he glimpsed the corpse of his wife and collapsed in tears, surrendering.

These events left Scarlotti traumatised, and his psychiatric state worsened when he was refused custody of his son – his unstable behaviour making him unfit as a caretaker. Sinking into insanity, Scarlotti ended up deciding that Blacklash had never existed and that years of his life had never happened.

He trained himself further, designed a new arsenal and started calling himself Whiplash again — but Whiplash was now a psychotic killer.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

By the 1980s, Blacklash has been formally diagnosed as being bipolar – or “manic-depressive” as it was called back then.

He tends to express this by behaving differently as Scarlotti and as Blacklash. The Backlash behaviour and manner of speaking are associated with the brash, violent, domineering mood whilst Scarlotti spends more time in a depressive and frustrated mood.

Blacklash thus behaves like a macho, street-bred thug and crude heavy – a behaviour very different from Whiplash’s articulate pompousness. Scarlotti, on the other hand, is surprisingly passive and is mostly ruminating over his frustrations and failures. He seems to feel that he cannot take action as Scarlotti, since his more dynamic moods have become associated with being Blacklash.

Swings

Note that it’s not a comic-book-style “split personality” issue. It seems closer to being a way to deal with mood swings. Even in costume, Scarlotti’s thought bubbles read differently than Blacklash’s out-loud dialogue. Basically it’s an act to help him cope.

Blacklash shatters a desk with his nunchaku

When things go bad for Blacklash and his dreams of macho, brutal, super-villainous grandeur are taken from him, there’s a good chance he’ll come crashing down from his dynamic phase into a depressive state. This could easily induce a nervous breakdown.

He might even go through a severe depression, seeking solace in hallucinatory flashbacks about his youth and childhood before he started wrecking his own life.

Early on, there were hints that Scarlotti might be doing illegal drugs to cope with his problems – he occasionally seemed addled and stuporous.

Ambitions

Scarlotti yearns for success and has a somewhat crass view of luxury, to be attained through great earnings as Blacklash. He apparently feels that ostentatious wealth would cure all his ills and vindicate all his failures.

For much of this phase of his career he wants to live in luxurious houses, obtain the companionship of attractive molls, make shows of wealth, etc. – thus over-stretching his resources and making him tense since he paints himself in a corner where he cannot afford to botch a job.

When he tried to go straight, poverty and the attendant feeling of powerlessness viciously ground him down until he couldn’t take it anymore.


Quotes

“They useta call me Whiplash, Martell ! But that was before I got my new costume an’ powers ! So now ya can go to yer grave knowin’ that the man who killed ya was… Blacklash !”

“Well, well, if it ain’t Stark’s super-flunky, ol‘ tin-britches himself ! Come to take notes, big guy ?”

“Stay back, Jack ! You’re lettin’ me walk right outta here — or the babe is dead ! Got it ?”

“That’s just the beginning, mister ! I owe you big for how you and Iron Man humiliated me ! You thought I would be washed up after that. But I’ve been given one more chance. I’m *not* going to blow it.”

(Wasting time whirling his whip around to threaten the dazed Spider-Man) “I’m enjoying this… It’s kind of a kick to see you so helpless… Waggling around like a worm on a hook !”

“I wanna piece of Iron Man !”

“I will get the job. I will assassinate whoever I am told. I will become *rich*. The kid will never have to work. I’ll… I’ll do it for Trudi. For Trudi…” (collapses in tears).


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Blacklash I

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 012 HP: 035

Skills:
Acrobatics (Dodging): 04, Charisma (Intimidation): 04, Gadgetry: 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Flexible melee and thrown weapons): 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Charisma (Intimidation) is Contingent Upon wielding a whip and being able to hurt the target with it (-2)

Advantages:
Expertise (Weapons design)

Connections:
Underworld (Low), Hammer Industries (Low), the B-Team (Low)

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Toying with/bullying his opponents if he has the upper hand, MIH of Iron Man, MPI (Manic-depressive), Public ID, Unluck, Debt 1 (works for Justin Hammer). Possibly a SIA toward some drug early on (see the Personality section).

Bonuses and Limitations:
Public ID only applies to people who know him (ex-colleagues, locals in Cleveland’s Little Italy, etc.) – he’s not a big name and unlikely to be widely recognized.

Equipment:

  • ARMOURED COSTUME [/BODY/ 08, Force shield: 01, Limitation: Force shield consumes the Dice Action for that Phase (-2), /BODY/ has Partial Coverage (Long Coat level)]
  • Bo-Lash Mk1 [BODY 08, Glue: 07, Grenade Drawback, Note: No AV – must use appropriate Weaponry skill (-0 or -1 depending on house rules)]. This weapon is later upgraded to :
  • Bo-Lash Mk2 [BODY 10, Glue: 11, Grenade Drawback, Note: No AV – must use appropriate Weaponry skill (-0 or -1 depending on house rules)]
  • Necro-Lash [BODY 08, EV 10, Enhanced Initiative: 03, Lightning being: 07, Sharpness (EV): 05, Stretching: 01, Limitations: Stretching has No Fine Manipulation ; the defensive bonus of Stretching is only applicable to the Whip itself ; Enhanced Initiative is not factored into the stats block above – it only applies when Blacklash is actively using this specific weapon]
  • Main Whip Mk1 (x2) [BODY 10, Air control: 01, Extra Limb: 09, Enhanced Initiative: 03, EV (Area of Effect 1 AP): 08, Flash: 08, Force shield: 03, Jumping: 02, Lightning being: 08, Miniaturisation: 02, Paralysis: 08, Sharpness (Extra Limb): 02, Stretching: 01, Bonuses & Limitations:
    • Stretching has No Fine Manipulation.
    • The defensive bonus of Stretching is only applicable to the Whip itself.
    • Enhanced Initiative is not factored into the stats block above. It only applies when Blacklash is actively using this specific weapon.
    • Air Control only to move volumes of air, and prevents taking any other Dice Action with the Main Whip. It can be Combined with Force Shield, however.
    • EV and Flash are Combined, but also have No Range, can only be used on targets he can wrap his whip around, have Ammo: 02, and after using each Ammo Blacklash must spend one Dice Action and three Automatic Actions to plug a new lash into the handle.
    • Force Shield only vs. bullets, arrows and other physical projectiles (-2) ; using Force Shield for a Phase consumes a Dice Action and an Automatic Action (-2) but can be Combined with Air Control.
    • Jumping is the vaulting pole mode and requires ample sprinting space, a spot where to pitch the pole, etc.
    • Miniaturisation is nunchaku mode. It allows for the weapon to be used in much closer quarters, but when it is active the wielder of the Main Whip can only use its Enhanced Initiative, 2 APs of Force Shield and a EV of 7 (provided by the Extra Limb Power) (-2).
    • Miniaturisation is Innate – even if the whip is depowered (by an EMP, by destroying the gauntlets…) the whip can be used in nunchaku mode. However, it then loses all but one Enhanced Initiative AP, all Force Shield APs and can only use an EV of 04 (05 w/STR) compared to the normal Miniaturisation mode.
    • Paralysis is Partial, can only be Partial, can only affect limbs (which halves DEX, as per Partial Paralysis Bonus), is Contingent on Lightning Being, can be Combined with Lightning Being, can only affect targets against whom Lightning Being just scored pre-LDD RAPs, has No Range (but can use the Whip’s Stretching), and is Minor Marginal].
  • Main Whip Mk2 — the concussion charge seemed stronger than before when he used it for the second documented time, in Cleveland. The Main Whip’s EV and Flash probably should be upped to 10 at that point.
  • Main Whip Mk3 — adds a “wide spectrum surge”, as described below. This is modeled as Snare: 14 – Contingent on Lightning Being, can be Combined with Lightning Being, No AV (use the Whip’s AV instead), No Range (but can use the Whip’s Stretching), Only Effective Against Electrically-Powered Power Armour.

Can’t touch this

Working with Hammer Industries costs a 50% cut. This is generally handled as the Debt 1 Drawback. For the likely benefits, see our Justin Hammer profile.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe (chiefly Iron Man comics)

Helper(s): Darci

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