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Blackwing (Marvel Comics) (Manfredi) with the circus of crime

Blackwing

(Joey Manfredi)


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

Context

Blackwing (Joseph Manfredi) is a very minor Marvel Comics character. He popped up as a so-so D-list villain in 1975, but started making unexpected and not uninteresting returns… 17 years later.

He could be useful in low-powered street campaigns, as a mob captain with more resources, contacts and experiences than one would expect.


Background

  • Real Name: Joseph “Joey” Manfredi.
  • Other Aliases: Giuseppe Manfredi, Joe Silvermane, Joey Silvermane, Mister Silvermane.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Silvio Manfredi (aka Silvermane, father), Caterina Manfredi (mother, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Maggia. Formerly Masters of Evil, Skeleton Crew, Hydra, Circus of Crime.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City (most recently a townhouse in Brooklyn Heights).
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 190 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black (usually dyed brown).


Powers and Abilities

Manfredi is a competent but not exceptional athlete and fighter. Furthermore, he sports psychotronic  implants that give him artificial psionic  control over, and communication with, bats.

Said communication is limited by the flying rodents’s limited intelligence. Still, it is easy for Blackwing to teach them tricks. Examples include warning him about an approaching person, or to recognising jewels and dollar bills (and snatching them).

Blackwing slowly acquired a small suite of weapons and gadgets during his career.

Manfredi has a knack for striking opponents much stronger than himself during a moment of weakness or disorientation. In DC Heroes RPG terms, this is represented by his Luck Advantage. He will often use his Luck roll for a tactical manoeuvre such as Duping or a Planned Knockback Attack.


History

Joseph Manfredi is the only known son of the legendary New York City Maggia Don Silvio Manfredi – better known as Silvermane. He was born after the Don came back from a lengthy stay in prison, but seemingly only became a made man and an officer within his father’s mob when he was 30.

By that point the now aged Silvermane was attempting to take his successful mob to a new level. He was trying to match the firepower and organisation of major threats such as Hydra. This included :

  • The recruitment of minor supervillains.
  • Assembling combat groups of heavily-armed and uniformed soldatos (going as far as using Hydra-made advanced urban battle tanks).
  • And eventually the take over of a drifting shard of Hydra after the bulk of the organisation was destroyed in a key S.H.I.E.L.D. campaign personally led by Nick Fury.

He also had an interest in developing super-powered agents. This is how his son was enhanced with artificial superhuman powers and developed a costumed identity as Batwing. As Batwing, Joseph was the Division Chief for Air Action for Silvermane’s Hydra.

Another ambitious bit involved a secret high-tech base right in New York City, under the Shea Stadium.

Joining the circus

When the garish Circus of Crime came to New York City to attempt a gigantic robbery, they coincidentally made Shea Stadium their base. In order to make sure they would not accidentally discover his fusion Hydra/Maggia base, Silvermane had his son join them as Blackwing. A possible secondary objective was to have him gain valuable experience.

Blackwing was a performer among the other Circus experts. He even became a key player in the Circus’s plan. After the Ringmaster hypnotised thousands of New Yorkers watching the Circus on live TV, Blackwing sent dozens of trained bats throughout the city. They snatched the valuables the victims handed them, and brought them back to the Circus.

Meanwhile, other Circus members such as Princess Python or the Great Gambonnos attempted to stop Daredevil, whom had previously proven to be immune to hypnosis. However they failed, and Daredevil stopped the plot. Blackwing fled as Daredevil was fighting the others.

Fall of the Hydra mob splinter

Meanwhile, Silvermane’s HYDRA caught the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It soon found itself out of its depth. Still using Hydra uniforms, techniques and resources (including an advanced Dreadnought combat robot), Silvermane attempted to strike back as the Supreme Hydra.

Silvermane even managed to kidnap Foggy Nelson, who had been shortlisted to became a member of a new leadership structure within S.H.I.E.L.D.. But this last-ditch plan failed. There were numerous brutal engagements between S.H.I.E.L.D. forces (backed by Daredevil and the Black Widow) and Silvermane’s Hydra throughout New York City.

Aided by a gigantic bat, Blackwing and El Jaguar confronted Daredevil and the Black Widow as part of an Hydra trap. Daredevil was forced to break his billy club and use the jagged shaft to kill the giant bat. This put him at a disadvantage, and Blackwing tricked him into a fall.

However, S.H.I.E.L.D. soon came in. They and the heroes handily prevailed, destroying the Silvermane Hydra splinter. Still, Blackwing managed to fly himself and his father, still in his Supreme Hydra costume, to safety.

Joining the Skull

In 1992, Blackwing was seen again when he attempted to find and explore the Skullhouse. It was a former base of Silvermane, which was later taken over and renamed by the Red Skull.

Blackwing allied himself with Jack O’Lantern, who had useful intelligence connections to help locate the Skullhouse. While Manfredi had spent much of his childhood in this house, even he did not know its exact location.

Jack O’Lantern and Blackwing arrived shortly after Red Skull ally Arnim Zola had stolen the entire house. They soon clashed with another person investigating the disappearance of that base – Captain America. Blackwing and Jack got several good shots in, including one with an hallucinogenic gas grenade that forced Cap into a defensive stance.

Watching through hidden cameras, the Red Skull was favourably impressed. He sent his agent Mother Night to recruit the two minor villains into his current group of super-agents, the Skeleton Crew. Using her powers of illusion, she made it seem like the two criminals had been executed by the Scourge of the Underworld shortly after Cap defeated them.

Batwing and Jack O’Lantern agreed to join the Skeleton Crew. The roster already included the likes of Cutthroat, Mother Night or the Machinesmith.

They served for several days until the Crew was defeated by Captain America, the Falcon and Diamondback. During their stint with the Crew, Cutthroat was seemingly killed. Crossbones came back and reclaimed his position as the Skull’s lead henchman.

Joining the Cowl

By 1999 Blackwing was sporting a new, more Batman-esque costume. He was also serving a new master – the new Crimson Cowl (who was later revealed to be Dallas Riordan, although that was a ruse by the *real* Cowl — Justine Hammer). The Cowl had assembled a small army of costumed criminals, the new Masters of Evil.

The Masters’s plan was opposed by the Thunderbolts. It seemed likely that the Thunderbolts would prevail despite their 5-to-1 numerical inferiority until Blackwing sneaked behind Hawkeye (Clint Barton). Manfredi took the archer out with a mace blow to the head.

Still, the Thunderbolts recovered from the brief loss of their leader and defeated the Masters. Blackwing was taken out when Jolt duped Shockwave into hitting him with a superhuman, electrically charged kung fu punch.

Back to the Maggia

After getting out of prison, Manfredi seemingly retired his Blackwing career. He returned to New York City to run the Silvermane mob. Most of his men called him “mister Silvermane” due to the reputation of his father.

He assembled a well-organised group of costumed super-criminals called Heavy Mettle as his agents. These included Firestrike, Stronghold, Warbow, Barracuda, Riot and a new Blackwing (a woman with different abilities and wearing a different costume).

The younger Silvermane, encountering opposition from a version of the New Warriors, had Heavy Mettle ambush them. But the results were inconclusive.

The older (and almost entirely cyberneticised) Manfredi was pressuring his son into succeeding, but things went south. The leader of Heavy Mettle, Firestrike, was infiltrating the life of New Warrior Turbo to kill her and steal her armour. But he fell in love with her and switched sides, providing intelligence as to where his comrades would strike next.

Thus did the New Warrior and the NYPD managed to take out Heavy Mettle and Joey Silvermane; Firestrike agreed to testify against his former boss, then entered the Witness Protection Program.

While it was thought that Firestrike’s testimony would build enough of a case to stick to the former Blackwing, the outcome of the trial is unrevealed. In any case Joey Silvermane has not been seen since AFAICT.


Description

When he’s not Blackwing, Manfredi usually wears a suit with a white shirt and brightly coloured tie.

His Bkackwing costumes are in chronological order – the blue suit is Circus of Crime / Silvermane’s HYDRA, the blue suit with a sort of bat-like cloak is the suit he wore before joining the Skeleton Crew (and while working with them), and the darker, Batman-like suit is the one he wore among the Masters of Evil.


Personality

Little personality was evident during most of Blackwing’s appearances, except perhaps for an interest in perpetuating the legacy of the Manfredi mob. He’s fairly intelligent and articulate, though he tends to be a bit too confident.

Later appearances depicted him as being highly concerned with making his intransigent father proud of him. He tried to demonstrated how he could lead the Silvermane mob to even greater heights than Silvio did. Feel free to use relevant The Sopranos  characterisation.


Quotes

“Attack him, my dark ones !”

“Yes, sir. Cutthroat’s body will never be found.”

“The undependable thing about chaos, Hawkeye, is that more than one side can use it — and in more than one way ! The more noise, the more one is vulnerable to stealth — and Blackwing is a master at moving silently !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Joey Silvermane

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Mobster
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 012 HP: 020

Powers:
Eye of the cat: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Eye of the Cat is restricted to his specially-mutated bats (-2)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Dodging): 05, Animal handling (Bats): 06, Artist (Pool player): 03, Charisma (Intimidation): 04, Detective (Legwork): 04, Thief (Stealth): 06, Weaponry (Firearms, melee): 05, Weaponry (Thrown weapons): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Animal Handling is a Powered Skill (-1)

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Brooklyn), Expertise (Mutated bats – usually used with Animal Handling), Luck, Schtick (Blindside Adept)

Connections:
Silvermane Family (High), Underworld (especially the Maggia) (Low), Street (Low, Brooklyn only)

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Upholding the Silvermane family’s rep

Equipment:

  • BATWING COSTUME [BODY 06, Flight: 06]. This costume was apparently lost some time after the Shea Stadium battle (presumably, maintenance was impossible without Hydra resources) and replaced by a one man, bat-shaped flying platform [BODY 05, Flight: 05], which may have have been inspired by the Green Goblin.
  • .45 Handgun [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08, R#02]
  • This pistol was apparently later discarded in favour of a number of shuriken, which he called Razor-Bats (though they did not have a bat-shaped design). Razor-Bats (x12) [BODY 04, EV 03, Dart Bonus. He usually throws them in volleys of three.]
  • At the same time he developed the Razor-Bats, Blackwing add to his arsenal a large knife shaped like a bat’s wing. Bat-Knife [BODY 07, EV 03 (04 w/STR)]. This was later replaced with a thin mace (or a fat truncheon, depending on how one sees things) with the same statistics.
  • Pen Flashlight [BODY 02, Flash (steady illumination only): 02]. The Flashlight means he likely carries other small, useful everyday gadgets on his belt.

Design notes

I added some ’veteran New York mobster‘ bits in the Skills, Advantages, etc. since I think it was the angle they were going for in his return in New Warriors volume 2. Those were not really demonstrated, though.



Batting a hundred

Batwing uses three main types of mutated bats, with which he enjoys a mental rapport. The mutated bats (both kinds) were not seen past his first few appearances. Like the original costume, those probably require Hydra technology to create, and Blackwing became limited to using ordinary bats as agents.

  • He has a few dozen bats with ordinary stats (see the Animals File). Those bats are used as a surveillance system through Eye of the Cat, and are intelligent enough to be trained to perform complex tasks (such as flying into apartments with open windows, and snatching dollar bills and shiny small things that are handed to them.
  • He may have one or two flights of four slightly larger mutated bats – though it is unclear whether he retained access to those after the Shea Stadium battle. The strength of those bats is amazing, and a group of four can easily lift a large man such as Daredevil by sinking their talons into his costume – their standard tactic being to lift the person 2 or 3 APs in the air and drop it.
    On top of the usual stats, these bats have Gravity Decrease: 03 (Limitation: each AP, including AP 0, requires one active bat to be activated) to represent this lifting power, and Claws: 01. They also have Flash (affects Radar and Sonar, not countered by Shade): 05, which they achieve by flying rapidly around the head of a victim in close, irregular patterns.
  • While he developed his Batwing identity, a gigantic male bat (about 7’ tall, with a wingspan of at least five meters) was bred and enhanced to become his main weapon. It was apparently not able to mentally communicate with Blackwing and could only be trained to a limited extend. Thus Blackwing threw small bags of dried blood to mark the bat’s target before unleashing it. This bat-monster was killed by Daredevil during an early encounter. It had the following stats:

Giant bat

Dex: 04 Str: 05 Bod: 04
Int: 01 Wil: 01 Min: 01
Inf: 01 Aur: 00 Spi: 01
Init: 006

Powers:
Claws: 06, Cling: 05, Detect (Magnetic Fields): 03, Flight: 05, Growth: 02, Sonar: 06, Super Hearing: 03

Skills:
Charisma (Intimidation): 03, Thief (Stealth): 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Detect has a Range of 0, and is primarily used to detect magnetic north ; Growth is Always On and Already Factored In.

A giant bat sent after Daredevil by Blackwing

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

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