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

Deathbird of the Shi'ar (X-Men enemy) (recent Marvel Comics)

Deathbird

(Profile #2)


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

Context

This is our second Deathbird profile. From this exciting statement about the thrills of ordinality, readers will have cunningly concluded that they need to have read our classic Deathbird profile prior to this one.

This profile ends with the Kingbreaker Limited Series and does not include the War of the Kings events, since it has barely started as this writeup is being done. It includes many S P O I L E R S about the stories it covers.

I guess the name of the royal house of the Shi’ar is hard to pronounce – so far in the comics we’ve had Neramani, Neramini, Nermani and Neremani.


Background

  • Former Name: Cal’syee Neramani (becomes her Real Name again after her marriage).
  • Other Aliases: Death-Bird, Death-Phoenix, “Miss Charming”, “D.”, War. A secondary source has a note about her being Al’shree Neramani, but I haven’t found primary source material for that so far.
  • Marital Status: Single, later Married.
  • Known Relatives: Unidentified parents (deceased), D‘ken Neramani (brother, deceased), Lilandra Nermani (sister), unidentified sister (deceased), Deathcry (formerly Sharra Neramani, niece, name stricken from the records), Black Light (alleged son), White Noise (alleged daughter), Adam-X (aka X-Treme, nephew), Charles Xavier (aka Professor X, brother-in-law), Alanna Neramani (niece in an alternate future), Aliyah Bishop (daughter in an alternate future and *possibly* in Reality-616), Gabriel Summers (aka Vulcan, husband).
    After her marriage she adds the Summers family (Cyclops and Havok are her brothers-in-law, Corsair and Katherine Anne Summers (both deceased) are her parents-in-law, etc. etc.) to her family nest.
  • Notes: There is also a high likelihood that Deathbird is the mother of Heather and Davis Cameron (aka Lifeguard and Slipstream).
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Shi’ar Royal Family, former vice-roy of the Shi’ar in charge of the Kree territories (and leader of Starforce), former partner of Bishop, former Horseman of Apocalypse.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile (often Earth, or Chandilar, or the Shi’ar Empire).
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 181 lbs.
  • Eyes: Solid white Hair: Purple and blue feathers.


Powers and Abilities

Deathbird’s abilities have settled around a new level of strength and competence. She’s now more of a great warrior and competent adventurer than a superhuman. She still has talons and wings, but chiefly uses high-yield Shi’ar energy small (and no-so-small) arms.

During this era she goes — in DC Heroes RPG terms — through a variety of Credentials, Military Ranks and Resources Scores depending on her official standing at the moment.

At one point Deathbird smelled that two Phalanx shapechangers were not who they pretended to be. I’ve assumed it was simply Deathbird not liking the smell of most humans and being observant enough to notice its absence in the Phalanx. Noticing alien and distasteful smells, or a lack thereof, does not require super-powers.

Die hard

During this era, Deathbird is the only survivor of an undocumented attack that kills close to 3,000 sapients  on the docking station she is on. Later on she survives an unclear amount of time (at least minutes) in hard vacuum.

Though I’d assume many “named”  characters in tip-top health could have done so, there are comments by Dr. McCoy about her physiology not being as fragile as that of humans. Furthermore, she’s a superavian mutant with an history of markedly superhuman durability.

In DC Heroes RPG terms I thus opted for some Invulnerability. Which would also help explain how she survived that rocket blast waaaaay back in Ms. Marvel v1 #10.


History

(This section starts right were the previous one stopped)

The Warskrulls had kidnapped the Starjammers (including Xavier), and placed them into a special confinement facility allowing them to copy their powers.

Xavier’s telepathy proved instrumental. The Skrulls used it to take mental control of Lilandra (who was at that point a Starjammer), started striking with impossible accuracy thanks to mind-reading, and used Xavier’s massive mental intrusion capabilities without any regard for life or decency.

Soon, Deathbird and the loyalists were on the defensive, and within a short time the Warskrulls had taken the throneworld. The mind-controlled Lilandra and the Skrull impersonating Xavier ruled part of the Imperium, with the Xavier-Skrull being called the Warlord.

The Warlord ordered genocides, though those were carried out without the troops being quite certain whether the orders came from Deathbird, Lilandra or the Warlord.

Deathbird art by Jim Lee

While the situation seemed desperate, Deathbird started sensing faint telepathic whispers giving her information and advice. As a result, she contacted teleporter Lila Cheney and convinced her to serve her by showing her the results of the genocides ordered by the Warlord.

Cheney brought back the X-Men on Deathbird’s order. But the deposed royal barely had time to greet them when her flagship was boarded by the pseudo-Starjammers, telepathically warned of what was going on. Bereft of context, the X-Men sided with the Starjammers, and Deathbird was defeated in an ad hoc duel with Wolverine.

X-Men to Deathbird’s rescue

The Warlord telepathically coerced Gladiator, who smelled a rat and remained loyal to Deathbird, to rip off (or maybe just break) the deposed Imperatrix’s wings.

Several X-Men realised that something was amiss, however, and freed Deathbird. Counter-striking, Deathbird, Lila Cheney and most X-Men managed to kill the Warskrulls, including the Warlord, restoring peace to the Imperium. At this point, Deathbird confirmed what she had suspected – that her anonymous telepathic advisor had been the real Xavier all along.

Deathbird decided to abandon the throne and let Lilandra become Majestrix. Truth to be told, her options were rather limited at that point. Wryly observing that Xavier had chosen her over her sister to lead the resistance, she stole a kiss from him then departed.

As Deathbird had predicted, Lilandra soon started being worn down by the soul-crushing responsibilities and host of necessary evils that came with ruling the Shi’ar Imperium.

The Kree/Shi’ar war, part 1

About a year later, a war erupted between the Shi’ar and the Kree. Somehow reaching her sister to discuss with her (perhaps with the help of secret supporters and hidden passages), Deathbird made a proposal. She would act as her sister’s personal assassin, beheading the Kree Empire by destroying its top rulers and putting a quick end to the war.

Haunted by the enormous death and destruction that was sure to result from the war, Imperatrix Lilandra accepted.

Deathbird as she appears in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game

(It is unclear what Deathbird asked in return. The most obvious possibility is that she asked to be declared vice-roy in charge of the Kree ex-empire once it had fallen, but a caption later implied that this promotion may have been Lilandra’s idea to keep Deathbird under close watch.)

(Another possibility is that Deathbird’s price was to have her wings repaired and/or grafted back, since she was seen flying under her own power a relatively short time after the fall of the Kree empire.)

Though she initially failed, Deathbird eventually managed to engage and kill the two rulers of the Kree, Ael-Dan and Dar-Benn. This was possible since Deathbird was secretly allied with the Supreme Intelligence, who wanted to overthrow the reigning duo and take over for the greater good of the Kree.

The Kree/Shi’ar war, part 2

But the S.I. had not revealed the bulk of his plans to Deathbird. The S.I. had manipulated everything from day one (including sparking the war) to lead the Shi’ar into detonating a weapon of galactic destruction — a Nega-Bomb — within Kree space.

The S.I.’s enormous, genocidal scheme succeeded. In the wake of the Nega-Bomb explosion, Deathbird was left one of the few survivors in the ruins of Hala and other Kree core worlds. She found Captain America in the ruins, and resuscitated him through CPR.

When the Avengers came, she angrily told them the truth about the war, which the Supreme Intelligence had admitted to Cap and her before the detonation.

This triggered a split within the Avengers. Several of them disobeyed Cap and chose to execute the S.I. for the billions upon billions of corpses that resulted from its demented plan. This decision had a lasting impact upon the Avengers. However the S.I. had also predicted that attempt at payback and beamed its consciousness out at the last second.

Since Deathbird’s assassination mission had been successful, Lilandra honoured her debt. In front of uncomprehending officials, she made Deathbird the vice-roy reigning over the shattered remnants of the once-great Kree empire.

Deathbird wearing armor and a rebreather helmet

Though an empire-wide 98% death rate was claimed, it was probably only true for the core worlds, since the Kree population recovered to its pre-Nega-Bomb levels.

Other explanations such as massive use of cloning have been proposed, but the most economical explanation is simply that the Nega-Bomb’s destructive radius was overestimated by all parties. In this hypothesis, the initial casualties reports mistakenly extrapolated from the hardest-hit central worlds.

Queen to the Kree

Deathbird declared martial law over the Kree territories, and had the gigantic rescue and salvage efforts organised. She also personally led the remnants of the elite Kree strike team, the Starforce (Korath the Pursuer, Shatterax and Ultimus) whenever needed.

Much of what happened next is undocumented, but Deathbird seems to have played an important role in the immediate post-disaster recovery. Once the situation was somewhat stabilised, the Shi’ar had the traditional ceremony celebrating the “marriage” of the Kree territories with the Imperium, as per their central religious rite.

The ceremony was marred by a Kree terror action. The intransigent Deathbird ensured that, despite Lilandra’s attempt at a peaceful resolution mediated by Xavier, the Shi’ar retaliation be mercilessness.

Kree resistance strikes continued but Deathbird remained inflexible. Her troops even briefly came into conflict with X-Force, who had involuntarily ended hosting a hacker AI of the Kree resistance.

She also made it difficult for the Silver Surfer, assisted by a delegation of X-Men and Lilandra’s science staff, to deal with the threat of the Inciters. Deathbird did not want any outsider involved in what she saw as Shi’ar issues.

The Pure

In the late 1990s, one of the periodic, devastating Phalanx  incursions struck the Shi’ar galactic empire. This time, it was a sect of the Phalanx called the Pure. The invasion was overwhelming and rapidly threw the Imperium into complete disarray, ravaging Chandilar.

Deatbird was in the Shi’ar galaxy at that point. She was nearly killed by a Pure strike against the major space hub she was in, only surviving thanks to her inhuman toughness. She was found and healed by a small party of X-Men who had been called to the rescue. Once again, Deathbird had little choice but to ally herself with them.

Burning with hatred, she jumped into action at their side before she was really healed, and soon suffered from reopening wounds and some nasty bleeding.

Seeing the X-Men take considerable risks to fight off the Phalanx and save the Shi’ar, Deathbird was favourably impressed. This was especially true after she and Bishop were detailed to prevent the Phalanx from assimilating the collective Shi’ar crèche/nest on Chandilar and all the Shi’ar eggs within.

Bishop

The badly bleeding Deathbird fought back to back with Bishop to defend the central nest. This had to last until the Beast managed to disrupt the Phalanx on Chandilar and the rest of the X-Men saved Majestrix Lilandra. During the fight, Deathbird and Bishop came to share an appreciation for their respective courage and determination in battle.

Deathbird glaring

Thus, when the Majestrix Lilandra sent the X-Men home after thanking them, their escort was Deathbird. She considered this team to be brothers-in-arms to be honoured – and obviously wanted to date Bishop.

As she was busy looking dashing in a silken déshabillé and offering Bishop to spar, their craft was overtaken at near-C speeds by a monstrous battleship. As a result, they crashed against the stargate they were planning to use.

As everything imploded, Deathbird grabbed Bishop and teleported to safety. Severely wounded in the crash, Bishop was put in intensive care in the sick bay. She told him she planned to rule with him as Consort. It soon became apparent that she had purposefully let the X-Men to their fate in order to keep Bishop for herself, and the X-Man decided to play along from his ICU bed.

Lost in space

It soon became apparent that the uncontrolled stargate jump had sent the pair into uncharted space, and possibly into another dimension . As they tried to determine their location they got shot by a warship from a local power, the Chnitt, who were blockading a nearby planet.

Crashing on this alien world, Deathbird and Bishop adventured together. They found a local ally who had a plan to get offworld and defeat the Chnitt for the sake of his homeworld. It soon became obvious that Bishop and Deathbird were genuinely in love with each other. Yet they both stuck to the story that they were temporary allies trying to extricate themselves from a situation they could not survive alone.

During a battle with the Chnitt, Deathbird even uncharacteristically let go of a chance to leave the planet alone and forge ahead with her plans. She wanted to stay with Bishop.

(Meanwhile, the Kree Empire regained its sovereignty. What happened was never explained to my knowledge.)

(It is reasonable, though, to assume that the combination of the Phalanx invasion, the disappearance of Deathbird and the emergence of the Ruul among the Kree caused enough chaos for the Kree to take back the power. Perhaps the Pure destroyed a key stargate that allowed jumps from the Shi’ar galaxy to the Kree Empire and took years to be repaired.)

Foray into a future, part 1

Deathbird and Bishop managed to resume their travels, looking for a way to go home. Though they were still attracted toward each other and occasionally had sex, Bishop had made up his mind. He had decided to return to Earth and leave Deathbird behind. Eventually they chanced upon a strange-looking Shi’ar stargate, and had to hurriedly jump in to avoid hostiles.

The odd stargate had been rigged for transdimensional  transport. The universe they found themselves in was an alternate future, in the year 2018. There the new Majestrix, Alanna Neramani, had extended the Imperium to the Milky Way galaxy, and even conquered Earth.

The daughter of Lilandra and Charles, Alanna looked mostly human (with hair instead of feathers), and had inherited her father’s telepathic power. However, her role-model was Deathbird. She had read Deathbird’s war journals and copied her methods. This included the semi-covert patricide and matricide that brought her to the throne.

Deathbird attacks Shi'ar guards

Some years before the arrival of Universe-616’s Deathbird and Bishop, Alanna had been behind a rebellion on the throneworld, and Lilandra’s side was losing.

The Majestrix fled to Earth to recruit reinforcements, but while she was negotiating with the major Earth heroes at the X-Mansion, Alanna had several starcruisers in Earth orbit decloak and nuke the Mansion from orbit, killing her parents and their most powerful allies. Earth fell to the Shi’ar soon afterward.

Foray into a future, part 2

Alanna planned to use Deathbird to legitimise her rule, and took measures to honour her. In particular, she thought that officially restoring Deathbird as Cal’syee Neramani would please her. It instead made Deathbird furious, turning her against her alternate future niece and resulting in a fight.

Though Allanna could telepathically predict Deathbird’s moves and had trained in her youth against simulations of her role-model, Deathbird was still her superior. She knocked the hybrid out with a blow Bishop had taught her. Having spent enough time with Bishop to learn a bit about compassion, Deathbird chose to spare her opponent, which pleased her lover.

Deathbird arranged for a peace treaty between the humans and Shi’ar of this reality. She and Bishop then left to return to Reality-616  and resume their attempt to navigate back to the Shi’ar Imperium.

(In at least one alternate future Deathbird became pregnant at this point, though she hides her pregnancy then her human-looking daughter, Aliyah, from Bishop. It is possible, though unlikely, that Aliyah Bishop was also born in Reality-616. Allow me to insist on the “unlikely” bit.)

Foray into the ancient world, part 1

Disappointed by Bishop’s choice to turn down her offer to rule at her side, Deathbird resumed her scheming. When they found in space the drifting, gigantic corpse of the Living Monolith she landed their craft on it, pretending not to know what it was.

Unbeknownst to Bishop, she had actually been contacted by the ancient Cult of the Monolith. They had recruited her in exchange for a swift return to the Shi’ar space once she had worked for them. Deathbird knocked Bishop out by surprise, then ensured that he received safe passage back to Earth.

Deathbird takes flight

For millennia the ancient Cult of the Living Monolyth, with its prehistoric Egyptian trappings, had ultimately been serving Apocalypse. Apocalypse was looking for new Horsemen, and thought Deathbird would make for an excellent War.

Foray into the ancient world, part 2

As for Deathbird, beyond a starcraft with the proper route programmed in, she was likely interested by Apocalypse’s survival-of-the-strongest ethos. She also probably wanted wanted to strike back at the X-Men out of spite over having been dumped by Bishop.

Apocalypse launched his master plan to unite the Twelve, with the help of the Cult of the Monolith troops and a contingent of Skrull drifters. His key agents were Deathbird as War, Mikhail Rasputin as Famine, Caliban as Pestilence and a brainwashed Wolverine as Death. The Horsemen captured many of the Twelve, and helped repulse their allies. War, in particular, seized Iceman and Bishop.

However, as the Horsemen fought to prevent the Twelve from being freed, Mikhail Rasputin went rogue. He teleported himself and the other Horsemen away. What happened to them is unknown, and while they soon managed to get back the whole Twelve affair was over.

On one hand Deathbird was free from her contract. But on the other the situation had gotten complicated.

Return to the Imperium

While Deathbird was busy on Earth, several space-faring empires, including the Shi’ar Imperium, decided to turn the planet into a penal colony. Deathbird, for her numerous crimes, was also sentenced to stay imprisoned in Earth. This of course solidified her resolve to leave.

Forewarned about what would happen to Earth when she received her sentence, she managed to infiltrate a Shi’ar station. There she stole a key allowing her to shut down the energy barrier erected around Earth. She then either stole a Shi’ar ship, or used the one that had been promised to her by Apocalypse.

The Shi’ar soon restored the penal containment field but Deathbird had already slipped through.

Deathbird reached an isolated Shi’ar space station, but got unlucky and the staff there did its best to stop her in the name of the Imperium. The battle was brutal, leaving dozens of corpses in Deathbird’s wake. Apparently, Deathbird had boarded with her oxygen and heating supplies depleted, and was near-feral from the cold and the oxygen deprivation.

Deep death nine

The station was severely damaged. This likely was a result of sabotage by the last staff members when it become obvious that they couldn’t stop the mad former Imperatrix. Soon Deathbird found herself trapped on space junk in an altered state of mind, with no way out, no power and with life support functions rapidly fading.

Deathbird with paired pistols

The first force to reach the obscure starstation was Professor Xavier. He was accompanied by a team of Skrull mutants under his tutelage, Cadre K. Xavier, who was off-planet when it became a penal colony, was looking for the key Deathbird had in order to break Earth’s confinement.

Another player appeared when Bishop, returning from the future, crashed into the station. He had subconsciously used Deathbird as his chronal/dimensional anchor and zeroed in on her to return to Earth-616.

Survival of the craziest

Bishop joined Xavier’s hunt for Deathbird, and managed to corner her. Acting even more erratically than usual and ranting about Bishop’s loyalty to her and how he was now as heartless as she was, Deathbird gave him the key but then spaced herself. Bishop only narrowly survived the decompression.

As it turned out, Xavier had not beaten Shi’ar forces to the starstation by much – minutes after Xavier, Bishop and Cadre K left, Imperial Guard members came in to investigate. They found Deathbird drifting in space, and saved her.

After extensive medical care she was locked into a maximum-security Shi’ar prison moon. News of her return to Shi’ar space were suppressed.

Meet Vulcan

In the shadows of the Imperium, an organisation called the Secret Order toiled. Their goal was to bring D’Ken back to the throne, and they saw Deathbird as a major ally. The chamberlain of the Secret Order was Chancellor Araki, as loyal toward Deathbird as he was toward D’Ken. The Order set their plan in motion.

First, they freed a powerful Earth mutant who had recently clashed with the Imperial Guard – Vulcan (Gabriel Summers), son of Corsair. Vulcan had been placed in a cell near Deathbird’s by Order sympathisers. The Secret Order suicide agent sent Vulcan to free Deathbird, and the mad ex-Imperatrix and the psychotic Earthman fled using a jump ship the agent had left nearby.

Vulcan was insane, but the Order gambled that they could leverage this to control him. Apparently Deathbird’s strong personality and her familiarity with humans was key to that plan

As the Shi’ar equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde, Deathbird and Vulcan fled for weeks. They repulsed all Shi’ar troops that managed to intercept them. As the Secret Order
hoped, even a mad dog like Vulcan was impressed by Deathbird’s rage, charisma and ruthlessness, which he witnessed up close during their journey.

Rise of Vulcan

The son of Corsair soon fell in love with her, which she happily accepted and reciprocated. Eventually, they reached the Secret Order’s hidden base.

Deathbird rushes in

D‘Ken was kept there. Over the decades the Order, sacrificing numerous telepaths, had nearly repaired the mad Imperator’s brain. They had no way to finish the treatment, though.

Vulcan volunteered to use his energy powers to fix D’Ken’s neural pathways. Years before he had sworn to kill D’Ken for the rape and death of his mother, but Vulcan was loyal enough toward Deathbird to try instead to heal D’Ken to please his lover.

D’Ken restored

He was successful. Now headed by D’Ken, the Secret Order was forced to reveal itself (apparently, Deathbird had been tailed to their refuge) – but they had numerous sympathisers. The political earthquake triggered by the return of the hugely popular D’Ken Neramani, accompanied by his damned sister, soon led to his return on the throne.

After D’Ken and Deathbird’s triumphant return the political capital of Lilandra, long seen as being too soft by the hardline majority opinion, cratered. She had little choice but to flee.

Appreciating Vulcan’s enormous power and the necessity of controlling him, the wily D’Ken then used an obscure Shi’ar law to offer Deathbird’s hand in marriage. Inexperienced in matters of the heart and smitten with Deathbird, Vulcan accepted the offer. But he reminded D’Ken that he still intended to kill him someday.

Deathbird gets married

The marriage ceremony was eventful. It took place at the M’Kraan Crystal, and the execution of Charles Xavier was scheduled to take place right after it. The ceremony was attacked by Lilandra, the Starjammers and her loyalists, but the attack did not quite work out.

Vulcan killed D’Ken right after he made him and Deathbird husband and wife. The Earthman then threw Xavier into the M’Kraan Crystal to execute him before crowning himself Imperator by right of combat, with Deathbird as his Imperatrix. Deathbird was pleased, admiring the ruthlessness and ambition of her lover. And she never had been too fond of her brother.

In the confused fighting that followed around the altar, Vulcan killed Corsair right in front of Havok, and Xavier emerged alive from the Crystal thanks to his student Darwin. Deathbird was wounded by Korvus of the Starjammers, but still managed to wound Polaris in turn – though not badly enough to stop Polaris and Havok from mauling Vulcan.

A honeymoon of sorts

Taking command of the Imperial Guard and scooping Vulcan in her arms, Deathbird ordered a retreat and carried the new Imperator to safety. The Starjammers and their allies were left in control of the battlefield, but not much else, and had suffered heavy losses.

Deathbird takes over Bishop's guns

Vulcan was soon healed from the critical wounds inflicted by his brother and Polaris. Deathbird, as a Neramani, then ritually crowned him to confirm that he had won his title in combat. This was important, since having an alien Emperor outraged the conservative Shi’ar factions. The presence of a Neramani on the throne was the only thing preventing a revolution.

Interestingly, Deathbird was reinstated as Cal’syee Neramani. She had previously refused this by defining herself as Deathbird first and foremost. Her reasons were not stated, but given the timing it is probable that she decided to change as she became a married woman. Reaffirming her lineage for legitimacy likely also played a role.

Emperor Vulcan, part 1

The reign of Emperor Vulcan with Empress Cal’syee was as eventful as Lilandra’s. Lilandra and her rebels, spearheaded by the dreaded Starjammers and commanded by the legendary Shi’ar major-general Ka’ardum, continued to harass the Shi’ar military. They proved quite successful, quickly rebuilding into a serious threat.

The Imperium was also attacked by the Scy’ar Tal, a potent alien fleet out to destroy every last Shi’ar. Deathbird accompanied her husband in most of those events but generally let him hog the spotlight. She knew that he had the spirit of a true Shi’ar warrior and that the Shi’ar would come to love him for it, as she did.

Deathbird and Bishop

Against Cal’syee’s advice, Vulcan allied himself with his brother’s Starjammers to repulse the exceedingly powerful Scy’ar Tal. Despite her worries, the Emperor masterfully turned against Havok before he expected it.

Havok nevertheless turned the tables back on his brother and started hammering on Vulcan. Deathbird intervened, leading a contingent of Imperial Guards that captured most of the Starjammers. Threatening to kill an unconscious Polaris, she forced Havok to surrender.

Emperor Vulcan, part 2

At this point the superior, planet-incinerating threat of the Scy’ar Tal had been destroyed, the main Starjammers had been captured and were being paraded in the streets, and Lilandra was forced to flee. The Imperium’s military was reunited, as Lilandra loyalists came back to the fold.

This was a triumph beyond even Cal’syee’s expectations. Vulcan the Kingbreaker cemented it with a hardline, expansionist, militaristic stance. The alien Imperator became hugely popular virtually overnight, and Deathbird with him.

This renewed Shi’ar expansionism reneged on the agreements passed by Lilandra. This worried other spacefaring powers — especially after the Imperium managed to conquer the feared Z’Nox.

At this point, practically all powers in the Milky Way and several neighbouring galaxies had been devastated by the Annihilation Wave. At least 3.3 trillions positive matter sapients had been killed, and the Skrull Empire had practically been annihilated. As for the Kree, they had been further weakened by a devastating incursion from the Phalanx, called the Conquest War.

Cal’syee and Gabriel thus commanded what was by far the dominant military power in the known local galactic group. Though the Shi’ar military was stretched too thin, 14 systems fell to their next major imperialistic push.

Emperor Vulcan, part 3

Vulcan was getting increasingly reckless, even incinerating representatives of the Galactic Council and declaring the Council to be dissolved. At this point doubt appeared even in Deathbird’s cold heart.

Gabriel assured her that he knew what he was doing. In his well-informed assessment the Shi’ar military could conquer the post-Annihilation, post-Conquest local galactic group.

Deathbird and Bishop in a gunfight

The usual monkey wrench popped up again after several months, though. The decidedly indomitable Starjammers managed to get reunited and escape. The Imperial couple and a handful of Imperial Guards confronted them, but everything went wrong.

Demonstrating the increased control she had learned from Bishop, Cal’syee did not charge in. Instead, she smartly concentrated on rallying Gladiator to her service after he went ballistic over seeing his demented cousin free.

Neramani broke up the fight between Gladiator and his cousin, and ensured that the two powerhouses were back in the fray on her side. She then reverted to her old fury and attempted to kill Lilandra, but she underestimated her sister and did not spot the spear she was holding. Lilandra broke Cal’syee’s leaping charge by impaling her.

The fight unexpectedly ended when both sides had to hurriedly evacuate the battlefield. Cal’syee was placed in intensive medical care, but she was comatose and it soon became clear that her spinal column had been severed. Though the odds of saving her life were good, the doctors told Vulcan she would likely remain forever crippled given the severity of the damage.


Description

Deathbird favours various shades of purple, which go well with her feathers. She still occasionally emits deafening raptor-like cries that are very surprising coming from an humanoid — usually as war cries, or because she has been badly wounded.

Note that the unusual black markings on her face seem to be semi-permanent makeup. She has them even while sleeping or in her bath so it’s not ordinary makeup. But she clearly changes the pattern from time to time so it’s not a feature of her skin.

Neither is it miniature feathers helping protect her face from high-speed flight, as I had once theorised in my reckless youth – unless such can be “combed” into different patterns.


Personality

In the 1990s Deathbird acquires a certain Shakespearian gravitas. She’s the mad queen who has obvious nobility but is a victim of her uncontrollable ire and bloodthirstiness.

Her fearsome temper and warlike ferocity do not make her a moustache-twirling villain, though. There is a method to her madness, and she draws the line at such horrors as committed by the Warskrulls and the Supreme Intelligence.

She is deranged and somewhat uncontrolled, but not truly insane. During the early 1990s, she even sounds like a tragic character from Richard III.

O mores

Deathbird is attracted toward great power, the glory of war, and fit, handsome guys (especially human males – she shares the xenophile proclivities of her sister and finds some humans quite attractive). Though she knows she’s going to tire of any of these and end up rejecting them as they bore and constrain her, she just has to have them.

Thus she goes through cycles where she lusts for power, eventually ends up acquiring it… then just throw it away after some weeks, months or years, moodily reclaiming her freedom. Deathbird’s madness is that she is a prisoner of her desires. Her caprices have a definite hold over her.

Unfortunately for everyone, she is of royal lineage and has significant support, charisma and fighting expertise to back these caprices.

The words “fickle whims” have often been employed to describe her style of governance, and the words “bloodlust”, “prideful” and “obstinate” keep popping up when it comes to her personality. One Shi’ar account about her goes “action without responsibility, ferocity unchecked, fear and intimidation her sword.”

(The interest of both Lilandra and Deathbird in handsome, powerful human males may be in part a religious thing. The core myth in the Shi’ar religion is the marriage of outsiders into the Shi’ar “family” so they can bring it their strength and knowledge as they become subjects of the Shi’ar.)

(Likewise, in the future timeline of Alanna Neramani, the Majestrix chose Warren Worthington of Earth as her boy-toy. And Sharra Neramani was also interested in Earth males).

O tempora

Deathbird’s temper leaves her with no tolerance for frustration. She reacts like a colicky pitbull when somebody tries to oppose her. She’s practically certain to commit, or order, violent over-reaction against anything that actively annoys her.

She is very big on how the Shi’ar are invincible, superior, more evolved, possess great military might, etc.. But this is almost entirely because she is a royal and vaunting the might of the Imperium is advertising her own power and superiority.

Deathbird face closeup

Obviously, she’s not a fan of receiving any kind of outside help when she’s in charge, even if that means courting cosmic destruction. The best anybody ever got out of her was, when nearly dead, a formal command to assist the Imperium. But certainly not *asking* for help.

Deathbird traditionally is something of a berserker. She prefers the glory of a frontal assault, casualties be damned. However, she definitely is canny enough to realise the necessity of more stealth-based operations when necessary. Still, she will likely grumble about how undignified it is and act even more crankier and threatening than usual if she has to sneak around.

Of course, she’s also generally a control freak. Deathbird hates situations where she’s not clearly dominant or, worst, where she has to rely on some inferior person to make it through.

Reign

Like most of her race, Deathbird is a Shi’ar supremacist. She views her kind as intrinsically superior to all other. Thus, non-subject species are utterly expendable, subject species are somewhat expendable but must be defended against external assault, and Shi’ar lives are important to protect.

Unless they’ve done something to annoy her. Or if she forgets to bother.

She’s also a firm believer in the survival of the strong at the expense of the weak, seeing the domination of the weak as a necessity. It is hard to say how much of her fascistic beliefs is ideological, and how much stems from her strong throwback instincts as a bird of prey. She’s still very competitive, and seeks out challenges.

Deathbird, after the reign that was interrupted by the Warskrulls, has determined that she wasn’t really interest in all the minutia and responsibilities of power. Still, she sees herself as a queen — so the solution is to find herself a king so she can enjoy the power and control while having somebody else do the governing.

It didn’t quite work with Vulcan, however, who is too unhinged to manage a vast space empire except as a general.

We are family

Deathbird has a tendency to refer to Lilandra as the Regent even when Lilandra is the full Empress. Her relationship with her sister is complicated. She openly considers Lilandra to be the kind and measured one and herself to be the dark and evil-touched one, and seems to envy her in a way.

Yet Deathbird knows that her ruthlessness is much more suited to power than Lilandra’s morals and compassion. She also thinks that it’s just as matter of time or circumstances for even noble people who are important to her (such as Lilandra and Bishop) to become as ruthless and self-centred as she is.

Deathbird during Operation Galactic Storm

Like many Shi’ar warriors, Deathbird hates it when somebody “steals” the killing blow on her opponent, and considers it an insult. Another nobility thing is that she expects — she demands — to be treated like big-time royalty everywhere. This is her normal lot, this is her status and this is her birth.

Her time with Bishop has taught Deathbird to be less of a berserker and more of a soldier. Instead of obeying her whims, she became more able to plan, to anticipate the consequences of her actions, to reign in her passions, and to strike more precisely and indirectly.

This maturation has changed her relationship with power. Though she would still not be interested in being Majestrix alone, she seems to be a serious co-ruler and seems in fact to be the one who holds together much of the non-military aspects of the Imperium under Vulcan.

Deathbird seems to genuinely love Gabriel Summers, and they share a passionate relationship like two cuddly mass-murdering psychopaths should.


Quotes

“You pledged me loyalty and service, woman ! Do as I command !”

“I may be mad, Terran… I may even be, as Lilandra believes, the Devil’s incarnate. But I was still Majestrix Shi’ar, and these my people ! I did not [order this genocide] !”

(Ranting in crazy Shakespearian queen mode in the ruins of Hala) “O wretched Lilandra, my sweet, gentle, sister… did you in truth order this ? How bloodthirsty you’ve become, sister. How like me, your hated rival. […] Did you find in your heart that cold hard place all leaders must have, sister ? How I wish I had witnessed that ! But no… I walk alone among an empire of corpses and yet I still live ! Is it punishment, perhaps ? For this crime is Shi’ar… and my sins are legion. O, Aerie, we have brought the Kree low, indeed… but need we have killed them all ?”

“It is clear to me that you and Binary are co-conspirators. According to our laws, the penalty for such traitorous conduct is immediate execution. Therefore, you must all be put to death !”

“I am Deathbird — of the house of Neramani — sister to Majestrix Lilandra, regent of the Shi’ar Imperium !”

Deathbird : “You’re going to have your innards splayed on the end of my talons if you do not unhand my royal personage, human !”
Gambit : “Nice talk, D. No wonder you have no friends.”

“Take care how you address me, stranger — I shall give the orders here !”

“I am Deathbird, first-born of the house of Neramani ! You won’t buy my support, child. Your mother failed to reign me or define me. What made you believe you would succeed ? […] I will always be Shi’ar ! [But] I will be so on my own terms.”

(To Gabe Summers) “You are [Shi’ar]. I can see it inside you, and the time will come when you will show the Empire that you were born to rule them. You will show them greatness that D‘Ken never possessed, you will show them strength that Lilandra never had, and they will love you for it. As I do.”

“This is a mistake, husband. They are too dangerous. Kill them now.”

“Vulcan is Emperor. He does what he wants. But I know his heart, and I know the hate that blood [relatives] can make. Let him have his hate. It makes the Empire strong. My husband is strong enough to survive his own faults. His enemies are not.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Deathbird

Dex: 08 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Power/Psycho
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 07 Occupation: Exile
Inf: 07 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 023 HP: 060

Powers:
Claws: 07, Flight: 05, Invulnerability*: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Invulnerability can only take her back to a negative two BODY condition – going higher requires medical care.
  • Flight is Winged.

Skills:
Evasion (Aerial only): 09, Gadgetry: 03, Martial artist*: 08, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science: 05, Thief (Stealth): 06, Vehicles (Space): 03, Weaponry*: 08

Advantages:
Familiarity (Public governance, Shi’ar technology), Iron Nerves, Language (Low and High Shi’ar, Kree, Xandarian (though the later two may have been from using a translation device)), Schtick (Paired firearms).

Connections:
Deathbird supporters within the Imperium (High), Bishop (Low, if that).

Drawbacks:
Minor Rage, MIA toward Power, SIA toward Having an attitude and Being a control freak, Socially Inept, Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV vs. Lilandra – she consistently underestimates her sister).

Equipment:

  • SHI’AR COMBAT ARMOUR [/BODY/ 08, Flight: 07, Sealed systems: 12, Drawback: Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. blades)]. Deathbird often, but not always, wears some sort of Shi’ar body armour.
    The ARMOUR seems sealed, and has a retractable sealed faceplate for low-pressure, vacuum, etc. conditions. It could also deploy bat-like wings, which Deathbird used after her own wings were destroyed. This suit was a custom design for the throwback Majestrix, since it could accommodate her unique body. Since the suit could fly in rarefied atmosphere conditions, the wings likely are ornamental.
  • Deathbird may have some sort of universal translation device built into her clothes or accessories since she can routinely communicate with everyone, even aliens.
  • Shi’ar Sidearm [BODY 05, Energy blast: 09, R#02]. She occasionally sports two such energy pistols, especially if she expects a prolonged firefight. During this era Deathbird usually prefers to fight with more conventional weapons than the BRACER SPEARS below.
    At one point Deathbird fires a more powerful blast (Mental blast: 11) from the gloves of her ARMOUR. Since she never does so again, it presumably was some optional weapon module added in the forearms, perhaps with little Ammo and kept as a last-ditch weapon. She also once uses it, on a very low setting, to incinerate a piece of paper she’s holding.
  • PERSONAL TELEPORTER [BODY 02, Teleportation: 14, R#02]. As a viceroy, Deathbird has her royal person equipped with a personal teleporter which can be triggered quickly and can carry several persons if they huddle around her.
  • BRACER SPEARS (x6) [BODY 06, EV 04 (07 w/STR, 06 w/STR when thrown), Sharpness (EV): 02]. Deathbird does not commonly use those weapons anymore, though she still seems to carry the bracers. If expecting a close-quarter situation she might pop a spear up and keep it in one hand as a polearm, but she generally prefers guns.
  • Shi’ar Plasma Canon [BODY 06, Energy blast (Scattershot) : 13, Rec. STR 06, R#03, Drawback: Diminishes Physical OV and movement speed by one CS due to bulk].
    An example of a very heavy, bulky weapon with tremendous firepower. This is a rather specific weapon, and Deathbird will only use one of she has access to it and the situation specifically requires firepower rather than mobility. Shi’ar soldiers are only rarely seen with those, so it’s probably intended for specialised shock troops in power armour and the like of Saurid stormtroopers.
  • NEUROTOXIN [Poison touch: 09, Ammo: 02, Bonus: Can be Combined with her Claws]. At one point, Deatbird’s talons are invisibly covered in a potent neurotoxin. Presumably she does this when she cannot be armed for protocolar or other reasons.
  • MANACLE. While she was Imperatrix, Deathbird used an organism she called a Manacle to hold the X-Men prisoners. The Manacle looked like disgusting alien tissue covering the walls, floor and ceiling of an entire large room, and able to extrude tentacles to hold people prisoners.
    Those tentacles have a BODY of 05 and a STR of at least 09, and are considered to have a RV of 20 against one form of attack per tentacle, which is always customised to the person the tentacle is holding (the one holding Psylocke was resistant against telepathy attacks, the one holding Storm against lightning, the one holding Wolverine instantly regenerated from cuts, etc.) However they lack the heightened RV against other forms of attacks – for instance Jubilee couldn’t affect her tentacle with plasma, but blew up the one holding Wolverine. Such a handy organism would presumably be reused if needed.

Steel bird redux, part 1

It is difficult to assess Deathbird’s strength at this point, since she has changed tactics and prefers to employ firearms. However, it would appear that she performs at a different level now.

She seems to now be a strong Shi’ar warrior (which is stronger than a human). She’s neither a powerhouse able to go toe-to-toe with Ms. Marvel nor a weakened, imprecise opponent as has been the case before.

When grabbed by a Chnitt warrior she preferred to use a handgun rather than her strength. And when she is seen fighting her alternate-future niece, she does so as a martial artist with Shi’ar-level strength rather than as a brick .

Steel bird redux, part 2

What this means is unknown. But using the unsubstantiated hypotheses we suggested in the previous writeup works surprisingly well. Using this framework, she largely stopped her special diet feeding her mutation during this era in order to preserve her health. She then received medical care to overcome the period of weakness that followed.

This stabilised her at levels of strength and health corresponding to that of an elite Shi’ar warrior (perhaps with the help of a much less specific, non-toxic diet to feed her mutation at a maintenance level). This proved a good idea, since after the Pure’s attack she spent years away from Shi’ar resources.

After she allies with Vulcan, Deathbird reverts to her old costume and modus operandi (minus the BRACER SPEARS). Gone are the armour, firefights and martial arts expertise. She now attacks flying like a bird of prey, slashes with her talons, does not wear protective gear, and can always kill armoured Shi’ar troopers with one claws swipe, slashing through hardened helmets and bone.

This seems like ample evidence that at this point she is back to her old levels of power — namely STR 12, BODY 11, Claws: 13, Flight: 07, Invulnerability* : 11.

Steel bird redux, part 3

In the context of the *unsubstantiated hypotheses*, one notes that at this point she has access to good Shi’ar facilities and is preparing herself for a major war. She expects her royal person to soon be an important symbol and frontline fighter. So resuming her high-performance diet is a logical decision.

Beside, she may have been fed up with spending years at a low level of power. So the little “no-prize” explanation works its magic again, as long as we assume that the Secret Order started smuggling her her special food whilst she was still imprisoned.

After Vulcan is crowned, Deathbird is back to the maintenance diet and to the stats in the stats block above. She also resumes wearing her body armour, since she’s back to a more vulnerable BODY score.


War — what is it good for ?

As War of the Horsemen of Apocalypse, Deathbird is provided with some speciality equipment. It wasn’t seen much, though, and the powers that were seen seemed optimised to capture Iceman, so it may not even be representative.

Anyway, what was seen was : WAR SUIT [/BODY/ 08, Claws: 10, Cold immunity: 06, Energy blast: 10, Flame being: 06, Teleport: 12, Bonus: Flame being does not carry a penalty vs. cold-based attacks]. This costume could generate a flaming sword, burning energy blasts from the hands, and could erupt in flames to protect against cold. It also had a built-in teleporter to bring back her prey to Apocalypse.

Deathbird also had her old BRACER SPEARS as War, and did produce a pair of those to arm herself at one point.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe .

Helper(s): Darci, Capita_Senyera, Chris Cottingham.

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