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Count Vertigo (Suicide Squad member) (DC Comics)

Count Vertigo


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

Context

Count Vertigo is a minor enemy of DC Comics’ Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), who first appeared in 1978. However, much of his importance comes from joining the Suicide Squad in 1989, and becoming one of the main characters therein until the book ended his run. This considerably fleshed him out.

He’s still more likely to appear as a villain, but he’s a fairly complex character nowadays.


Background

  • Real Name: Werner Vertigo
  • Former Aliases: White Queen’s Knight
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Suicide Squad; formerly Injustice Society, the Society, Checkmate
  • Base Of Operations: Belle Reve
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 189 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers and Abilities

Count Vertigo can disorient his opponents by disrupting their sense of balance, making it difficult, or impossible, for them to act. The game stats section in this profile has more discussion of the exact effects and behaviour of this power.

He can also fly, by means not entirely clear.

He’s had combat training both as a member of the Suicide Squad and Checkmate, and is skilled with blades.


History

Vertigo is the last descendant of the royal family of the Eastern European country of Vlatava. His family fled to Britain when their country fell to the Soviets, and Werner was raised in exile.

Having a serious medical condition affecting his inner ear, he required a specialised hearing aid to be implanted in his right temple. He learned how to use it to project the feelings of disorientation it suppressed in him onto others.

Count Vertigo

His first costumed appearance was in Star City. He attempted to steal the jewels his parents had sold to fund themselves on first escaping Vlatava. This brought him into conflict with Green Arrow and Black Canary for the first, but not last, time.

This career ended with him imprisoned in Belle Reve.

Suicide Squad

Agreeing to serve on the Suicide Squad in order to see his sentence reduced, Vertigo was initially among the more reluctant members. He was inclined to join any attempt to revolt and free themselves. But he did eventually come to see the group as a kind of home.

Count Vertigo uses his powers

As part of his psychological and medical screening, he learned he had a hereditary bipolar disorder, which caused his manic depressive mood swings.

It was during one such extreme that he agreed to join Duchess’ mini-revolt. Duchess abducted a number of Squad members to accompany her back to Apokolips. Trying to use his power on the New God, Kanto, Vertigo found him immune to it, and received a blade in the stomach for his effort.

While it dropped him, he survived. Vertigo then caught Kanto from behind, stabbing him with his own weapon. Badly injured, Vertigo survived the trip back to Earth, although recovery took time.

Homecoming

The Squad had disbanded by the time he’d recovered. The free Vertigo was then approached by Vlatavan rebels to lead them in overthrowing the Soviet-backed government.

He readily accepted, but the rebel leadership was more interested in him as a figurehead than an actual ruler. They used a variety of drugs to counter his mental problems and keep him a useful tool.

The conflict with the Russians then spread to the US, due to factions within the US government secretly funding the Vlatavan rebels. This led to the involvement of a reformed, now mercenary, Suicide Squad.

Waller, now leading the Squad in the field, dispatched Poison Ivy to break the rebels’ control of Vertigo. But in so doing, Ivy chose to make him reliant upon her drug-like secretions.

While the Soviet puppet government was overthrown, Waller took Vertigo, now Ivy’s puppet, with them when they left the country.

Suicidal Squaddie

The Squad’s next mission took them to Israel. It was there that Waller learned the extent of Ivy’s control over Vertigo, which compromised his usefulness as an asset. Breaking him free, she sent him to urgently stop a bombing of the Dome of the Rock . This attack would have ignited a full war in the Middle East that could have dragged in the rest of the world.

He managed to hold the attacking planes off long enough for the rest of the Squad to defuse the situation. However, this allowed Ivy the time to flee his vengeance.

Count Vertigo disperses Israeli jet fighters

Staying with the Squad, Werner learned that the combined effects of his drugging by both the Vlatavan rebels and Poison Ivy had actually cured his bipolar disorder. However, he had trouble accepting the fact. The manic-depressive cycle had become so ingrained that he still found himself controlled by it. It took him time to work free of it.

The knowledge he was cured did little to change him. This in turn caused a depression which saw him ask Deadshot whether he’d be willing to kill him if he asked. Deadshot readily agreed.

Tribulations

When approached by members of the new Vlatavan government who wanted him to reclaim his family’s role ruling the country, Vertigo declined. He did not believe himself fit to rule in his current state.

Werner encountered Poison Ivy again when he found her captive of Amazon agents of Circe. As the base began to fall apart around them, he departed and left her to die. However, she was saved from that by another member of the group.

Vertigo reluctantly worked alongside her later. So his grudge against her was apparently dropped, possibly in part due to her inadvertently curing him.

Following the last mission of this version of the Squad, Vertigo and Deadshot went apart from the others, and Vertigo had to make a decision. Realising it would merely be suicide by proxy, which disturbed his religious upbringing, Vertigo ultimately chose to live.

Spectre’s Judgement

Ultimately returning to Vlatava, Vertigo found it split along ethnic lines. A bloody civil war raged on, which threatened to rip it apart. He led the rebel forces against the government army, with neither side seeming to gain any real advantage. At this point, the emotionally distraught Spectre arrived to render judgement on the country.

Horrified by the hate seemingly ingrained into the land, the Spectre cleansed the entire country. He killed everyone but the President and Vertigo.

Societies

Distraught and homeless, with no real goal for his life any more, Vertigo, became embittered. Looking for someone to blame, he easily slipped back into the villain’s life. Count Vertigo was recruited by the Injustice Society with the promise of revenge on Black Canary for her role in his earliest defeats.

Count Vertigo attacks the military

He attacked Canary and Doctor Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) at dinner. However, Mid-Nite managed to neutralise the device which gave him his powers, leaving Vertigo helpless.

Werner was recruited into the new Society soon after, taking part in a number of their operations. But after they ultimately began to disintegrate he again found himself in Waller’s reformed Suicide Squad.

Checkmate

When Waller became White Queen of Checkmate, she took Vertigo with her as her Knight. He primarily acted as her eyes, ears and hands on missions, and as her bodyguard. He also remained a part of the secret Suicide Squad, whose existence, especially its control by Waller, was illegal under Checkmate regulations.

When Waller was eventually ousted from the organization, Vertigo was dispatched alongside her. He continued working as part of the Suicide Squad.


Personality

Aristocratic and aloof, Vertigo can sometimes take easy offence at affronts to his pride, depending on his mood. He has a degree of honour in that he won’t kill incapacitated opponents, and he’s relatively loyal to his teammates (as long as he’s a willing member of the team). But his temper can easily overcome his lip-service to courteous behaviour.

For the early portion of his career he was governed by his manic-depressive impulses. He’d be stuck in a cycle of lethargy, despair, and mania. While lethargic and depressive states left him lacking the impetus to do much, his manic phase generally saw an increase in his temper. This was the phase during which most of his villainous activity would have been conducted.

Even following his being cured, the bipolar cycle remained so ingrained that it took him a while to grow out of it.

Royalty

His primary, long-term, goal for much of his early career was regaining the throne of his homeland. Following the loss of Vlatava, he seems to have lost much of his own drive. Now he’s seemingly willing to accept direction from others.

Initially he fell back into the role of villain, mainly out for revenge. Then he fell back into the Suicide Squad, his home for most of his costumed career. Whether he’ll develop his own goals in the future is uncertain. But for now he seems to want the familiarity of the old roles as he mourns the loss of his country.


Quotes

Vertigo: “I fear I am at a disadvantage here. There has been no proper introduction, and under the circumstances if I know you I must fight you. I dislike raising a hand to a woman.”
Lady Liberty (attacking him): “But I like raising a hand against impostors and hypocrites.”
Vertigo (raising a hand, and foot, to a woman): “I — an impostor ?!? Strumpet ! Harlot ! Insult my royal personage ! Debase my title.”

“My family was one of the last of the great aristocratic families of Europe and had a horror of anything but blue blood in our lineage. So my ancestors assiduously bred within an ever decreasing number of people, leaving me to reap the joys of dedicated inbreeding. I suppose I am fortunate not to drool — at least, not indiscreetly. This is an old, well-worn path. I now find myself gripped by an increasing lethargy, which will spiral into despair. That, if I do not kill myself, will give way gradually to mania, where, if I do not kill someone else, I will begin the slide towards despair again.”

“In my lucid moments, I wish I could be healthy. Depressed I am a danger to myself. Manic, I am a danger to everyone else. I do not wish to kill myself but I might not mind dying. Perhaps now you can see the attraction that something that calls itself the Suicide Squad might have for me. I am tired of being tired, Father — I wish to be well or dead.”

“The sobriquet is Count Vertigo, philistine. Call me ‘Vertie’ again and I’ll have you vomiting up parts of the anatomy you didn’t even know you possessed.”

“When your life has been measured by your failings, any success is worth celebrating.”

“Don’t struggle. You are in Vertigo’s grip — Count Vertigo — and the world will seem to spin as long as I command it. Or until you sink into oblivion.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Count Vertigo

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Psychopath
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Suicide Squad member; former criminal, former monarch
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 017 HP: 045

Powers:
Flight: 05, Iron Will: 10, Vertigo: 10

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Iron Will only protects against Vertigo (-2), and also adds to his EV to overcome it (+1)
  • Vertigo has the Sonic Limitation (-1), may affect machines (+1, see below), and has an enhanced Range of Hearing (+1, see below)

Skills:
Martial Artist: 05, Weaponry (Blades): 05

Advantages:
Connoisseur, Language (Vlatavan)

Connections:
Suicide Squad (High), The Society (Low)

Drawbacks:
SPR (Chronic vertigo if implanted device compromised), Power Loss (Iron Will and Vertigo reduced to 0AP if implanted device compromised)


Vertigo Effect

Count Vertigo can disorient his opponents by disrupting their sense of balance. This makes it difficult, or impossible, for them to act. The exact effect can vary from mere dizziness (sometimes severe enough to cause vomiting) to hallucinations (either seeing surrounding objects spinning wildly, contorting, and flying apart, or causing actual illusions drawn from the target’s mind).

This power also affects some machines, such as the guidance systems on missiles. If a machine is directly piloted (the pilot is within range of his Power), then it’s the pilot who is targeted by the Power. If the machine itself has an AV, then that is what is targeted. If the machine is controlled from a remote source (and doesn’t have audio receptors which could transmit Vertigo’s Power) Vertigo is unable to affect them.

The Power is sonic in basis, and may be blocked by those with sonic Powers, or by those whose physiology lacks an inner ear normally targeted by his Power. Being an audio attack, it has affected those listening in from a distance away, so anyone using audio surveillance equipment (or Remote Sensing) focussed on the area affected by his Power will also be targeted.

His powers come from a device implanted in his head to control his own overwhelming vertigo. Doctor Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) speculated it could be Meniere’s disease . It somehow allowed him to project the effect on others. Neutralising the device (consider it a 12 AP electronic device) removes all his Powers. It also causes Vertigo to suffer the full effects of an attack by his own Vertigo Power until the device is operational.

While his Powers cause no direct damage to a target, they do put them at threat from environmental dangers. For instance, should he cause someone to lose their balance on the edge of a building they would be in danger of falling off. In this case they must make an Action Check with their altered DEX against an OV/RV of 02/02, with success meaning they manage to collapse safely, avoiding the threat.


Previous Stats

Early in his career he wore boots which allowed him to walk on ceilings or walls to add to the vertiginous effect [BODY 03, Cling: 04].

Prior to his being chemically enslaved by Poison Ivy, Vertigo had a hereditary chemical imbalance which made him manic depressive, and had a SPI (see Personality section).

His status with regards to Vlatava fluctuated through his career. It was a Forced Exile while the Russians ruled it, then shifted between Voluntary Exile and Authority Figure depending on whether he wanted to be there. He had High Connections in the country prior to its destruction.

As a member of Checkmate he had Special Credentials.


Design Notes

He speaks whatever the native language of Vlatava is, which, barring further evidence, I’m calling Vlatavan.


By Gareth Lewis

Source of Character: DC Universe

Helper(s): Wikipedia, Roger, Peter S Piispanen, Darci

Writeup completed on the 23rd of October, 2011.

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