5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Bushwacker (Marvel Comics)

Bushwacker aka Bushwhacker


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

Bystander: “He has a gun !”
Bushwacker: “Excuse me sir ? I *am* a gun.”


Context

Bushwacker is a somewhat obscure but intriguing Daredevil enemy. He appeared in 1987, during the remarkable — if divisive — Ann Nocenti  run on Daredevil. Though latter appearances of the character tended to be watered down, this profile considers the Nocenti appearances to be the authoritative ones.

He’s a full-featured character who drew from the themes of the Daredevil Nocenti run – masculinity, faith and crises of faith, insanity, charisma, etc.. As part of the first, Bushwacker is a powerful man who is also a powerful gun.

IIRC this profile was done in 2006.


Background

  • Real Name: Carl Burbank
  • Other Aliases: “The Living Gun”
  • Marital Status: Married, but likely now divorced
  • Known Relatives: Marilyn (wife – probably ex-wife now), sister-in-law (formerly Mrs. Donahue, maiden name unrevealed)
  • Group Affiliation: Former employers include the Marauders, the Kingpin
  • Base Of Operations: New York City’s Hell Kitchen
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 225 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond (though likely bleached)


Powers and Abilities

Bushwacker is a beefy soldier and a hard-hitting hitman. He can kill somebody and destroy everything he has to destroy in an amazingly short time, never hesitating or pausing. He’s quite strong, a solid close-combat expert, and he can take a lot of punishment. In this latter respect he’s somewhat reminiscent of the Punisher.

Bushwacker has a considerable presence and a raw, dangerous charisma. His personality is very intense (manic, in fact). He comes across as fast, forceful and good with repartee. People tend to trust and distrust him in equal and confusing part and follow his lead. He likely was a superb priest in that specific respect.

His presence is particularly strong on young women, and he can positively sweep them off their feet in most cases. This trait disappeared once the character started being handled by most other writers.

Bushwacker is an excellent cyclist, preferring to travel on a off-road-capable motorbike. He often rides one right into combat, and can perform dangerous stunts even while shooting with his other hand.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

His gun arm is fed via ordinary bullets. It also has to be manipulated into shape with his left hand before it can fire. He can use it :

  • as a pistol (shooting from a modified index finger)
  • as a quad-barelled assault rifle
  • as a shotgun (with one or two barrels, either side-by-side or over-under)
  • and at one point as a huge flamethrower

It is apparently indistinguishable from an ordinary arm and hand before it is shaped into a gun. Several remarks imply that the gun arm is multicalibre-capable. Burbank can apparently adjust the diameter and length of the chambers to fire a new calibre of ammunition, though it likely takes 20-30 seconds concentration and muscle work within the gun arm

At one point Bushwacker made a reference to having “infinite ammunition”. But he was likely referring to the fact entire crates of bullets were nearby.

He has been occasionally seen ramming standard ammo clips into his forearm. Like with the chambers, he can likely adapt the exact shape and size of the magazine well though muscle movements. But he apparently chiefly relies on magazines within his body. Presumably he has such internal ammunition storage spaces beyond his arm, given the volume of fire he can deliver.

He also routinely carries spare ammunition in the pockets of his coat and the like – especially bulky ammunition such as shotgun shells. Bushwacker apparently has a handful of bullets hidden in a secret pocket of his jacket.

The flamethrower mode is also fed via an internal magazine. It has a limited capacity, but Bushwacker apparently has a flexible pipe he can snap in position in his throat through special muscles. This allows him to simply pour jet fuel into his mouth and have it flow into the internal magazine.

We have the technology

Once, when solidly hit by a high-calibre burst of automatic fire from the Punisher, Bushwacker seemed to have the consistency of putty. He survived and stayed mobile despite several large, non-bleeding holes through his person.

This would mean he has actually a full conversion cyborg using a rather unusual technology (perhaps based on the Leader’s ’plastic‘ androids ?). This was only displayed once. However, during his career he did seem to withstand attacks such as common calibre bullets, buckshot and Wolverine’s claw without taking too much damage.

Since this bit was quite weird and nothing similar was even hinted at before or since, I’d suggest retconning  this as subdermal armour made of ballistic cloth. This would also would give him the Skin Armour noted in the Powers section in the game stats

It would also account for the scars he suffered at several points during his career. Scars that do not make much sense if his body is indeed made of some sort of melted plastic.

Mutatis mutandis

Likewise, in the 2005 Punisher vs. Daredevil series, Bushwacker reveals that he’s a mutant, that his gun arm is actually an activated mutant power and that he can also turn his *left* hand and arm into a gun.

Since the research on the character was less than optimal (the writer thought Bushwacker had never fought the Punisher !), I’ve disregarded this. Not that it changes anything stats-wise anyway, really…


History

The background of Bushwacker is uncertain. Furthermore, it is possible that some of the bits he mentioned are actually neurotic delusions.

Still, it would seem that he was originally a Catholic priest in the USA. His parish likely was in or near New York City. His flock had an endemic drugs problems, and kids kept dying. The priest was fantasising about vigilante action – but there was little he could actually do. He eventually had to leave the priesthood under unknown circumstances.

Later on, the CIA equipped him with a cybernetic arm that could be turned into a gun. That was in order to equip him for (or reward him for, it’s not clear) a difficult mission abroad. It was strongly implied he conducted numerous CIA wetwork missions, and that they left him with serious psychological issues.

A possible scenario based on an exchange with his wife is that he was a priest and a CIA agent *at the same time*, and that it become impossible for him to handle the two.

Confession — both of his own for his terrible and recurrent sins, and offering absolution for his flock’s far more mundane faults — became unbearable. The loss of his status as a man of the cloth and his breakdown likely led to his departure from the CIA as well.

The killer awoke before dawn

In the late 1980s, Bushwacker switched to being a hired killer of mutants. The anti-mutant hysteria meant there were clients paying solid money to have mutants, real or supposed, iced. And it gave him an outlet for his psychopathic urges. It was implied that one of his clients (perhaps the main client) for these hits was the Marauders, likely acting as fronts for Mister Sinister.

Bushwacker was quite successful, and this attracted the attention of the mutant Wolverine. Logan tracked him down but was always a step behind Bushwacker, only finding the corpses of hapless executed mutants. At that point, the list Bushwacker had been given was filled with a specific kind of mutants who looked normal, but had unusual creative and artistic talents.

Wolverine eventually found Bushwacker’s wife. The Canadian mutant told her he would soon have to kill her husband. In a panic due to this encounter, and due to her growing doubt about the sanity of her husband, she came to a nearby free clinic where Matt Murdock was offering free legal advice. She asked how she could protect her husband by having him committed or something.

The situation eventually came to a head, with both Wolverine and Daredevil locating Bushwacker.

The two heroes clashed, with Daredevil opposing Wolverine’s intent of killing Bushwacker. This allowed their target to escape and kill the artistic mutant he had come to destroy. Daredevil then narrowly saved Bushwacker from Wolverine and the explosion of a gasoline-filled tank trailer, and he was arrested.

Undeterred

Bushwacker got out of the hospital, still wearing heavy bandages to treat his serious burns from the explosion. It is likely he had been burst free by Typhoid Mary, since he was part of the gauntlet of villains she assembled to take out Daredevil.

He attacked second, after Bullet and before Ammo. Bushwacker’s onslaught did not kill Daredevil. But it left him in a terrible state, with serious burns and a severe concussion leaving him unable to use most of his senses and in a state of raving confusion.

Perhaps due to having left the hospital before the end of the treatment, Bushwacker was left disfigured over the right side.

Punishing

Bushwacker resumed working for the Marauders, until he was manipulated into accepting a contract to kill the Punisher. Wanting to make the kill “artsy”, he located the Punisher and engaged him in a sort of “joust” while they were both riding motorcycles, using automatic weapons instead of lances.

Bushwacker nearly killed the Punisher, but left him at death’s door since Castle refused to confess. Bushwacker had persuaded himself the Punisher *had* to confess before he would die. Microchip saved Castle’s life and located Bushwacker’s house. As a result, the Punisher soon was returning the favour and attempted to kill the assassin.

The fight did not go very well for the Punisher. But the violence and similarities between the two men finally forced Bushwacker’s wife to admit that her husband was a demented murderer and tell him she was leaving. Bushwacker desperately tried to have her stay so he would not become like the Punisher, but she managed to drive away.

Bushwacker was shot by the Punisher, who let him drop from a bridge as he was confessing.

Don’t call it a comeback

Bushwacker survived the fall. He even had his facial scars repaired during his stay at the hospital. Perhaps he felt he could do so now since he had confessed his sins to the Punisher. He was, however, captured by Mechadoom along with several other cyborgs, such as Ruby Thursday, Coldblood Seven or Forge.

A group of super-heroes led by Deathlok (Michael Collins) managed to free the captives. Bushwacker was trying to convince, without success, Deathlok to destroy Mechadoom when another captive, Ultron, opened fire on Mechadoom. Bushwacker likely fled in the ensuing confusion.

Another reason why Bushwacker had his face looked after may have been that he decided to try and convince his wife to come back. This apparently did not go well. But then her sister’s ex-husband, one Donahue, a lieutenant of the West Coast crime lord Lotus, abducted their child from his ex-wife’s custody.

Seeing a way to get back into the good graces of his wife, Bushwacker tracked the man down to recover her niece.

Donahue lied to Bushwacker, telling him the kid he was looking for was Nomad’s adoptive daughter Bucky. This sounded credible under the circumstances. Bushwacker grabbed the baby from an ally of Nomad, who survived his onslaught through a remarkable stroke of luck.

However, a person he did not see stole Bucky from him. While he was attempting to find this abductor Bushwacker was caught cold by the Punisher, who forced him to flee.

Hate the sin, love the sinner

Bushwacker was next seen on a mob hit to ice an informer and the man’s press contact, Phil Ulrich of the Daily Bugle. Ulrich very nearly died twice – he survived once when the informant shielded him with his body from Bushwacker’s fire, and then when Bushwacker noticed a dropped photo as he was about to gun Ulrich down.

From this photo Bushwacker realised his employer was actually a man called Lambert. Lambert had been the main drug pusher in his parish back when Burbank was a priest.

Wanting to punish the sinner Lambert, Bushwacker let Ulrich publish his exposé. He also told the journalist that “the system” would in any case punish him, though it was unclear whether he was talking about the judicial system or his cybernetic gun arm.

As Bushwacker had predicted, Lambert walked out of his trial a free man, only to be brutally executed by Bushwacker using his gun arm – a “gift” from “the system”.

What happened next is unrevealed. But when Bushwacker returned, his facial scars were back. Though it likely was just a continuity mistake, my attempt at a No-Prize  would be that he recovered his wife’s niece. But she decided she did not want her husband back anyway, and he reopened his scars to mark himself as a sinner.

The cleaner, part 1

Bushwacker was next seen when he was hired by Jenkins, a criminal who wanted to become the new Kingpin of New York City. At that point the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) had been reduced to living as a homeless man. Jenkins’ plan ran afoul of Daredevil and several members of the large community of vagrants living deep in New York City’s sewers, and he hired Bushwacker to kill Daredevil.

At that point, Daredevil was thought by almost everyone to be a new man claiming hornhead’s mantle. But he actually still was Matt Murdock.

The hit initially went fairly well. Bushwacker landed a solid hit on the “new” Daredevil, though his opponent remained standing thanks to special body armour. However things soon went south as other denizens from the sewers joined the situation. Faced with the vastly more powerful Deathlok the Demolisher, Bushwacker had to abandon the mission.

He then confronted Jenkins, telling him he was dropping the contract due to the number of superhumans involved.

Bushwacker was next seen when he was hired by a manager with an IT corporation called Ampersand, to kill a renegade programmer they were having difficulties with. Daredevil foiled the hit when Bushwacker ran out of ammo. The cops took him away, but he managed to get a few spare bullets from a pocket and load them into his hand.

Bushwacker killed the cops (who were swapping jokes about Hell, which offended him) and escaped.

The cleaner, part 2

He returned to killing the programmer, finding him working with Deathlok (Michael Collins) to destroy a highly dangerous virus. Deathlok was unconscious (being active in cyberspace), but Bushwacker decided against executing him since the cyborg had previously saved his life.

Luck and Daredevil prevented Bushwacker from killing the programmer until Deathlok came back to the physical plane. Unaware that the hitman had spared him minutes before, Deathlok shot Bushwacker in the arm with his plasma pistol, taking the killer out.

Bushwacker later was one of the killers who entered the ’competition’ of assassins organised by the Architect. Thus, he found himself caught in a three-ways fight in Greenwich village against Elektra and Boomerang. Elektra deflected a razorang to shear through Bushwacker’s gun arm, taking him out of the competition.

He later joined a plot by the Kingpin to gain revenge on Daredevil (along with Bullseye and a Hand chunin), but that fell apart.

Escapes

At some point after this, Bushwacker was arrested and thrown into the highly secure prison under Ryker’s Island old penitentiary, the Slab. He escaped during massive breakout triggered by Electro – the same breakout that saw the creation of the New Avengers.

Months later, Bushwacker was hired and briefed by the Jackal to kill the Punisher. He fared fairly well, but Daredevil took him out after a nearly successful hit on Castle resulted in six people dying in a fire, and several more getting wounded by gunshots.

Bushwacker was then thrown into a new concept of prison, the Big House – were the inmates were shrunk to a height of a few inches using Pym particles. A clever breakout was organised by the Mad Thinker, but it ultimately failed.


Description

A tic of Bushwacker is to nervously toy with a handful of bullets whenever he’s sitting or standing still for more than a few minutes.


Personality

Bushwacker (who prefers to always be called “Bushwacker” or “’Wacker” rather than by his real name, even by his wife) is haunted by whatever put an end to his career as a priest. To him this is an open wound he can never heal from. It makes him hate himself and jump out of his skin.

This forces him to a peculiar life. On one hand he lives in a fast and furious way, trying to lose himself and forget. On the other he secretly is a psychotic killer fascinated by death, destruction and his own power on the afterlife of others.

A renegade, he strongly dislikes and distrusts “the system”, especially his former employers at the Agency.

Though that wasn’t always the case with post-Nocenti writers, Bushwacker expresses himself very well. He sounds smart and in control, and can be so evocative as to be poetic – especially when talking about his past and his guilt.

In his least psychotic moments is even able to make light fun of himself and to indulge in some sarcastic, self-mocking references to his religious fixations and poor mental health.

Death ! Death !

Bushwacker, on rare occasions, evidences a passive death wish. He is not actively suicidal, but if he’s placed in a situation where he can die he will often (but not always) consider death a better choice than, say, capture and imprisonment.

Likewise, it once or twice felt like he actually wanted to be stopped before he would kill anew. Those rare occurrences can be useful if Bushwacker is proving to be too dangerous for the player(s) !

Bushwacker revels in his ability to be an agent of death, destruction and misery. In fact, he seems to have a murder addiction. He does not like just to kill – he wants to *destroy*, thoroughly, and he just cannot help it and does not know why. He has stopped resisting those urges for years now.

He occasionally opens fire on random things and people just for the pleasure and fun of it, and does not seem to give a damn about the consequences, being fascinated by the beauty of cruel carnage.

Sometimes he does not kill anyone, and ’just‘ acts like a random sadist. Sometimes he accompanies his kills with a little mise en scène  of the corpse, usually in an aesthetically pleasing or darkly humorous way.

Other traits

Bushwacker hates waiting, since that leaves him alone with his thoughts. He prefers to keep moving. Besides, in DC Heroes RPG terms he has a Guilt fee to pay and has to *do* stuff. This is unfortunate, since his work as a hitman implies a fair bit of waiting.

Apparently, he has an interest in, and knowledge of, some areas of contemporary art. Thus, his series of hits against the mutant artists were done not just for money, but also because Bushwacker felt it was wrong and unfair for people to receive “unnatural” aid from mutant gifts when creating art.

I had the faint impression it was also a theologically-informed stance. That artistic creation was a gift from God and that mutant abilities were a perversion of that that link between mankind and the divine.

Bushwacker is apparently not an artist himself. But when he’s in the mood he will make comparisons and metaphors likening his “performance” as a hitman to art. He’s crazy enough that it’s hard to determine whether he’s serious when he talks of murder as being an art.

Bushwacker loathes Daredevil (whom he usually calls “red man”) and the Punisher. This is not because they defeated him (Wolverine did too, but Bushwacker does not obsess over it) but because of their stance.

Daredevil, asides from dressing up as the devil, is a good, humanitarian, charitable Catholic and thus everything Bushwacker failed to be. And the Punisher is too much like Bushwacker himself.


Quotes

“What I wanna see is the look on her face when she knows… that this is it… it’s all gonna fly outta her… blast her soul to Heaven…” (Gunning down a defenceless kid) “Hand a’ God, darlin’. Your moment in the sun.”

“Hope this anti-mutant craze keeps up. Killin’ mutants pays top rates. I’m gettin’ rich, fast. Pays better than prayin’ for it ever did.”

“I hate waiting. My mind always snaps back to things I’d rather forget. I need action. Get outta limbo here, before my own thoughts drive me crazy.”

“Wolverine, I understand you, even if you [turn out to be] my executioner. But you, red man – I had enough of your mealy-mouthed bleeding-heart humanitarian bull. I’d rather get torched than go rot in a cell. We’re all nowhere men. All three of us. I welcome the inferno.” (sets fire to everything with his gun arm)

(About his gun arm) “This little toy was a ’present‘ from the system. It doesn’t fail me, unlike the system.”

“As I’m sure you know, art should show contrasts and parallels — not just idealised forms.”

(Stalking a badly wounded Punisher) “It doesn’t matter how many hoods you kill — you’ll never bring your family back ! You’re a sinner, you know what you must do — confess ! I’ll end your pain, end your guilt, send you to Heaven’s reward ! But first you *must* confess ! Tell me your sins ! I too was a priest ! I understand you ! Confess ! You can’t hide from me ! Your trail is clear ! You can’t hide from your guilt ! Do what’s right ! Spit it out now or go to eternal damnation !”

“The devil who messed up my face was a real challenge. Never took a bullet. But he’s gone. And you took his name. It’s a sin to covet… to steal. God never takes the side of sinners.”

(Sarcastically) “Aw c’mon Max, open the door ! I’m not gonna hurt you — I just want to talk to you about our Lord !” (BWOOM BWOOM KRATCH !)


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Bushwacker

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Psychopath
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 019 HP: 030

Powers:
Skin armour: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Skin Armour only vs. bullets and blades (-1)

Skills:
Accuracy (Flame Project Gadgets): 08, Acrobatics (Dodging)*: 06, Martial artist: 05, Vehicles (Land)*: 06, Weaponry (infantry weapons): 06

Advantages:
Attractive, Expertise (Catholic theology and liturgy, modern plastic and pictorial art)

Connections:
Underworld (Low)

Drawbacks:
Catastrophic Rage, SPI, MIA toward Sadism, Guilt, MPR (each RAP past 6 he LDDes during a scene increases all the R#s of his GUN ARM by one), Dependent (ex-wife)

Equipment:

  • Bushwacker prefers to drive a MOTORBIKE [STR 03 BODY 05, Flash (steady illumination only): 04, Running: 06, R#02]
  • He also often carries a pair of grenades [BODY 03, EV 07 (Area of effect 1 AP), Grenade drawback, R#03]
  • At one point he carried a flamethrower – though this was specifically to burn Daredevil like he had been burned during a previous clash with the man without fear. Backpack Flamethrower [BODY 04, Flame project: 07 (Area of effect 0 APs), Range: 03, Ammo: 07, R#04, Limitations: Flame project has No Range – use the Range given next instead, MPR (cumbersome), No Reload In The Field]
  • GUN ARM [BODY 05]. Bushwacker’s GUN ARM holds a number of built-in Gadgets:
    • Pistol mode [Projectile weapon: 05, R#02, Misc.: it takes an Automatic Action to shape the GUN ARM into Pistol mode]
    • Machinegun mode [Projectile weapon: 07, Advantage: Autofire, R#03, Misc.: It takes a full Phase (including the Dice Action) to shape the GUN ARM into Machinegun Mode]
    • It never was very clear whether the GUN ARM actually has a shotgun mode, but that seems likely given how it is occasionally drawn. Shotgun mode [Projectile weapons: 07 (Diminishing), Range: 02, Ammo: 06, R#02, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range – use the Range given next instead, Misc.: It takes a full Phase (including the Dice Action) to shape the GUN ARM into Shotgun Mode]
    • In 2005, Bushwacker demonstrated a Flamethrower mode [Flame project: 08 (Are of effect 1 AP), Range: 03, Ammo: 06, R#03, Limitations: Flame project has No Range – use the Range given next instead, MPR (cumbersome), Misc.: It takes three full Phases (including the Dice Actions) to shape the GUN ARM into Flamethrower Mode]
  • Bushwacker seems to occasionally use high-caliber armour-piercing bullets [BODY 02, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 02, Ammo: 10, Limitation: Ammunition load for the GUN ARM], for instance when he knows his opponent will be wearing body armour.

Design Notes

The GUN ARM has been known to achieve some pretty solid hits — though some were obviously doubles, it happens a bit too frequently. To model this, have Bushwacker spend 5-6 HPs on his EV from time to time, though he’s oddly reticent to increase his AV by more than a few APs. His HPs are chiefly used for LDD and the gun’s EV.


Stigmata

During the later half of his career, Bushwacker is again heavily scarred over the right half of his face. This means he acquires a Distinct Appearance and loses the Attractive Advantage.

As it turns out, the manic presence and animal magnetism he had displayed in his Nocenti appearance have been forgotten by subsequent writers at this point, so the Attractive Advantage would have gotten dropped anyway…

Things are less clear for the *first* time he was disfigured (Carl Potts still used the characterisation intended by Nocenti), but a good conservative stance is to discard the Attractive Advantage even during this period. Especially since this is at that point that his wife stopped being under his spell and left him.


Obsessive compulsive

Bushwacker’s Psychological Instability being triggered does not usually result in a breakdown (though that can occur, too). It is more likely that he will go manic and irrationally obsessive about one of his neuroses, most likely having to do with art and/or religion. Though a suicidal or self-punishing impulse is also a possibility.

At one point, while he had the Punisher at his mercy, he decided he could not kill him. Bushwacker had committed himself to a scenario where the Punisher, whom Bushwacker saw as a poor reflection of himself, had to confess before dying. Since Castle refused to confess, Bushwacker could not “ruin the moment” by blowing his head off.


Don’t mess with a missionary man

Bushwacker appears with roughly two levels of dangerousness, which can be modelled via HPs (the 030 HPs above are an average).

Sometimes he has but 015 HPs and is a fairly minor threat. He’s just a random hitman who is not going to be very dangerous to a superhero.

Sometimes he’s much, much more dangerous. He has 045 HPs and knows out to use ’em. He’s even willing to spend them on AV, EV and OV in melee combat (which is not his usual HP spending pattern), which can surprise even superior hand-to-hand combatants like the Punisher – or even Daredevil himself !

Feel free to adjust his HPs total as you wish for any encounter. There is ample precedent for that in primary sources.


Fire on Babylon

The Accuracy Skill for Bushwacker might be confusing, so here is the explanation. When he uses a flamethrower (either a backpack military flamethrower, or the flamethrower mode of his GUN ARM) those sweeping attacks are very hard to dodge, and he tends to hit people he usually misses when firing bullets.

So the Accuracy is a combination of the man and the Flame Project power, not an attribute of either. The same flamethrower would not be more accurate in somebody else’s hands, but it is specifically the broad, billowing stream of flames that allows Bushwacker to hit people who are good at dodging bullets.

Note that Bushwacker does not seem to really have a preference for the flamethrower. While it is plain to see on his character sheet, he is not aware that he has a higher AV with this mode of attack.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

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