5717 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Hepzibah of the Starjammers (X-Men Marvel) by Jim Lee

Hepzibah


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

Context

Hepzibah is an alien skunk lady who’s a space pirate – but the good kind of space pirate (well, more or less). She and her fellow cosmic corsairs, the Starjammers, have been recurrent allies of the X-Men ever since 1977, arrr.

Hepzibah has even occasionally served with X-teams whilst marooned on Earth, arr.

Since her name cannot be pronounced and chemmed  by humans, she was nicknamed “Mam’selle Hepzibah” after the beautiful skunk girly girl character in Pogo comics. Created by Walt Kelly and populated by cartoon animals, Pogo was published in newspapers from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Arrr.

This entry is best read in tandem with our Starjammers profile.


Background

  • Real Name: A combination of smells and sounds that cannot be reproduced by humans
  • Other Aliases: Mam’selle Hepzibah, “Zee”. During the reign of Martinique Jason over San Francisco, her “hippie name” was Lady Kitten.
  • Marital Status: Single (mate of Christopher Summers for decades).
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Starjammers ; former member of the Wolverine-led X-Force ; X-Men.
  • Base Of Operations: HMSS Starjammer (mobile throughout the Shi’ar galaxy).
  • Height: 5’6” Weight: 150 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green irises over yellow corneas (sometimes solid yellow) Hair: Black and white fur (sometimes white, or light grey).


Skunkworks

Hepizibah is a Mephitisoid female. Though the Earth name of the race is in reference to skunks (of the genera mephitis), Mephitisoids (sometimes erroneously called Mephisitoids) are also somewhat reminiscent of Earth cats.

An active, spacefaring species, the Mephitisoids clashed with the developing Shi’ar empire. They were apparently the Carthage to the Shi’ar’s Rome . Hepzibah seems to be quite unusual in terms of gender roles. The males are quite larger and bulkier than the females, and traditionally wartime has the males fighting whilst the females remain hidden from the enemy.

Chemming glands

Smells are important to the Mephitisoids. They have a complex systems of glands allowing them to emit specific smells, which constitute a key part of their language. Certain such pheromones are potent enough to mesmerise most humanoid races, turning them into fanatical fighters following the Mephitisoid. This ability was behind much of their past military success.

Secreting the proper pheromones cocktail to achieve this effect requires specific training. Thus, it is largely a speciality of male military officers. It is also likely that not all Mephitisoids have the same physiological potency when it comes to secreting them.

Hepzibah design and coloring sheet

Like all known females, Hepizibah does not have any such training. Any effects she might achieve with her Mephitisoid pheromones would be the involuntary product of luck. It is likely that she never produced any such effect, at least in her documented appearances and/or voluntarily.

Since those specific smells are normally used in Mephitisoid mating rituals, it is also possible females have different kinds of pheromone cocktails. However it has been proven that female pheromones can be chemically treated to produce the mind-control odours.

A brief history

More than 1,200 years ago, the nascent Shi’ar empire and the Mephitisoids were at war. The Mephitisoids started getting the upper hand and worked their way back well into Shi’ar territory, and toward the historical heart of the Imperium, Chandilar.

Eventually a lesser Shi’ar officer named T’Kyll Alabar rallied the Empire. He managed to take down a great Mephitisoid war hero and general, whom Shi’ar propaganda called the Butcher.

Both war heroes were put into suspended animation and shot into space – the Butcher so as not to create a martyr, Alabar so he could not leverage his deeds into political power. The Shi’ar war hero had also been pressed into suspended animation and exile so he could not reveal the secret of how the war was won.

How we fight

Alabar owed his victory to an abbey of Mephitisoid females, among the rare few that were seen by Shi’ar troops during the war. The Shi’ar soldiers, routed, had stumbled upon the abbey on some obscure world. As per the commandments of their religion the females harboured the Shi’ar soldiers and healed them, speaking of peace.

Learning how the Mephitisoid pheromones worked, Alabr and his men turned against the nuns. They slaughtered them in their sleep, using the bodies to mix top-notch batches of Mephitisoid mind-control pheromones. They then used this mind-control weapon to rally anything that could fight along Shi’ar troops.

This treacherous massacre was the turning point of the war, and the battered Shi’ar eventually triumphed over the tatters of the Mephitisoid space empire.

Deleta Carthago est

The Mephitisoids were reduced to the status of a subject race under heavy Shi’ar garrisoning, and mostly concentrated on their home world of Tryl’sart.

But Hepzibah is apparently from another Mephitisoid world, which was destroyed during the reign of Shi’ar Emperor D’Ken – likely after a rebellion. Campaigns of Mephitisoidist terrorism, and the massacre of Mephitisoid rebellions with weapons of mass destruction have occurred during Hepzibah’s youth, and perhaps before.

After Lilandra returned to the throne in the wake of the Warksrulls plot, she did not change much to the treatment of the Mephitisoids. That was both for political reasons due to the very widespread hatred of Shi’ar for their fallen rivals, and for religious reasons. The Shi’ar official religion is the main factor shaping their alien policies.

This resulted in significant bitterness and disillusionment for Hepzibah. She had hoped on some level that the younger Neramani might improve things for her oppressed and decimated people.


Powers and Abilities

As a Mephitisoid, Hepzibah has a number of feline-like abilities –

  • enhanced agility and reflexes
  • highly developed sense of smell and danger awareness
  • claws that can rend metal
  • excellent balance and ability to land on her feet
  • night vision
  • etc.

She once demonstrated that she has very flexible bones, allowing her to squeeze into tiny spaces (in DC Heroes terms Fluid Form, Kinetic Absorption).

Arrr

The Starjammers are all fearsome fighters wielding the finest weaponry with great acumen. They have repeatedly proved able to successfully engage consequent military and/or superhuman forces, earning a remarkable series of victories and miraculous escapes.

The whole crew but Cr+eee also speaks fluent English – they were apparently taught by Corsair soon after they banded together. Corsair also seems to have trained most ’jammers to competently pilot spaceships, from starfighters to dreadnoughts such as the HMSS Starjammer.

One of assets of the Starjammers is that, whilst they normally fight with energy guns, they are very adept at switching to close combat with sabres, knives, claws, fists, etc. in close-quarter battle. In melee they thus have a considerable edge over conventional troops.

Perhaps due to her catlike reflexes, Hepzibah is the main gunnery officer aboard the Starjammer, and the backup pilot when Corsair is not piloting.

As a X-Woman, Hepzibah has demonstrated superior acrobatic and melee skill, superior speed and an excellent ability to fight and move in tandem with Warpath.


History

The bulk of Hepzibah’s history can be found under our Starjammers profile, as an experiment to see if this makes the individual writeups more readable. This section only includes material not covered in the team’s history.

Homeworld

Hepzibah’s origin is unclear. Though she is listed as having been born on Tryl’sart, Lilandra Nermani later mentioned that Hepzibah’s home world had been destroyed. Hepzibah herself said her world had been taken from her and that only the Shi’ar empire knew where she had been taken from.

Since we know that several secondary planets were razed by the Shi’ar military (including Mephisit Four, which was hit by disruption bombs), a *possible* sequence of events is :

  • Hepzibah is born in Tryl’sart
  • she is exiled very soon after birth to another Mephitisoid world under martial law (perhaps as punishment against her parents, and without ever being told she and her family were originally from Tryl’sart)
  • she survived massive planetary bombardment while still a child
  • then she is deported again, still a kid, to a prison camp

As a child, Hepzibah was a slave to the Shi’ar. From a comment she made it would seem that she escaped at a young age and became a Mephitisoidist terrorist, but was arrested again and thrown into even worse slave pits on Alsiba.

Starjammers

This is where she met the great love of her life, Major Christopher Summers, and her staunchest friends and allies – Ch’od and Raza.

The foursome formed the dreaded space pirates known as the Starjammers. For a comprehensive story of these badass buccaneers, see the Starjammers entry.

Earthside

After Chris Summers was killed by his youngest son Vulcan (Gabriel Summers), the grieving Hepzibah found herself stranded on Earth. Furthermore she had no desire to go back where she had lost her man.

Her friends and allies the X-Men took her in, and she started spending time with Warpath (James Proudstar).

Hepzibah senses danger

Though they had been visibly attracted toward each other as soon as they met back in the Shi’ar galaxy, Corsair’s presence, both in life and death, meant that they both tactfully avoided the subject as Hepzibah adapted to life on Earth.

Eventually, Hepzibah started operating with the X-Men after they rescued a badly hurt Caliban. She investigated the situation in the Morlock sewers, along with Proudstar and Storm (Queen Ororo of Wakanda).

X-Skunk

This led to opposing the Masque-led Morlock cult and their terrorist campaign in New York to reach out to Magneto. Later, when the X-Men were attacked by the Hulk during the “World War Hulk” debacle, Hepzibah resorted to the radical tactic of crashing the Blackbird onto the Hulk in a full-blast power dive.

A short time later, she talked a bit with Scott Summers. Though Scott was characteristically too emotionally wound up and reserved to talk about the life and death of his father Christopher, Hepzibah told him that she intended to mate with Proudstar and that Scott should not interpret this as a sign of disrespect toward Christopher.

Scott understood that, and she then started a relationship with Warpath.

Messiah Complex

Becoming a de facto X-Woman, Hepzibah worked with the team during the Messiah CompleX crisis. Cyclops had her transferred to a kill team including the X-Men’s best trackers and melee fighters — Warpath, Wolfsbane, X-23, Caliban and the leader Wolverine – to find Cable, who had absconded with the first mutant baby born since M-Day.

The team found Cable, but Caliban was killed to save Warpath’s life. Warpath, feeling guilty of this death, told Wolverine that he wanted Hepzibah out of the team since the brutal war around the mutant baby was of no concern to her (not being a mutant or even an Earth person). But she refused and said she would fight alongside the X-Men.

Wolverine’s team caught up with the Marauders (who had previously managed to grab the baby) and engaged them in a bloody battle. As the battle raged, Cyclops had Wolverine’s squad (which they named X-Force) engage and destroy the powerful monster called Predator-X.

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Hepzibah was later caught in the reality rewriting going on in San Francisco – along with Warpath, Iceman and Angel. She was turned into a hippie enforcer for the amnesiac Martinique Jason, who was behind said rewriting. The confused and slow “hippie enforcers” were kept busy by Cyclops and Emma Frost long enough to neutralise Martinique Jason.

During that time, though, the rest of X-Force was sent on a secret mission, forcing James to break communication with Hepzibah. This led him to resort to such maudlin measures as calling her over the phone but saying nothing, so as to hear her voice as Hepzibah was cursing and trying to understand what she was doing wrong with Earth phones.


Description

Hepzibah resembles nothing so much as a hominid skunk with many feline traits. She is covered head to toe in fine white fur, that blossoms out into shaggy bits about her forearms, lower legs, head and chest. She sports a huge, shaggy black tail with a white stripe, which she uses for balance.

She used to wear a yellow bodysuit leaving her arms and legs bare, with a bright red belt and occasional accessories. She has since switched to Earth clothing, mostly with a clubbing theme and a vague 1970s vibe (low-cut tight-fit jeans, brightly coloured headbands and bustiers, etc.)

The official weight of 120 lbs. only makes sense if the tail was not counted. The tail might add about 30 lbs, taken into account in the figure in our Background block.

Like, presumably, other Mephitisoids, Hepzibah can purr when she is happy and comfortable, using whatever muscles and/or organs felines use to produce that sound and vibration. Her fur colour and thickness, eye colour and composition, etc. have also been somewhat variable through the decades.

It is possible that Mephitisoid have a very long maturation process where those features gradually change as they make their way into adulthood. Or maybe they just have a lot of cosmetics to change eye colour, fur colour and the like as fashion dictates.


Personality

Hepzibah is originally the fierce but sensual, fun-lovin’ and hard-fightin’ sexy space catgirl. She really, really hates the Shi’ar and will always enter Killing Combat against Shi’ar opponents.

She even has trouble with allies. Raza Longknife is OK (though even he will have to endure the rare catty comment), but whilst Lilandra was a Starjammer Hepzibah constantly verbally sniped at her, blamed her for every piece of “rotluck” and complained that her presence had turned them from freebooters into political rebels.

She would usually call the ex-Imperatrix ’feather-brain” or “featherhead”.

Swashbuckling with the alien

More generally, Hepzibah tends to have silly nicknames for everybody but the core Starjammers (Professor X was “Charley Boy” and Wolverine “’apeling” or “Wolvie”).

Hepzibah dual-wielding blasters

She loves to party after any significant victory, and is a particularly energetic and attention-seeking reveller.

Hepzibah is a xenophile, and seems particularly and openly attracted toward human males. Despite all the tension, conflicting goals and the long list of differences, she stuck with Corsair through thick and thin, during many years and a number of wars and catastrophes. They spend their downtime together on an pristine planet they found, roughing it in the wild.

Revolution evolution

After Lilandra was restored to the throne of the Imperium but did very little on the issue of Mephitisoid oppression, Hepzibah realised that she had foolishly come to nurse the hope that things could change. She came to irrationally believe that she was a traitor to her race and had been untrue to her roots as a victim of Shi’ar exploitation and prejudice as a slave-child.

Though she never spoke about it to any of her fellow buccaneers, those feeling came to warp her. They made her devious, hateful, greedy and bitterly disillusioned – though she still pretended to be the same Hepzibah as before.

She also irrationally came to feel that the universe owed her something for the horrors and degradation she endured as a child in the slaves-pit. She saw money as a way to compensate for everything that had been taken away from her and make her happy at last.

After the Starjammers allied with the Clench worlds and starting working against Shi’ar oppression again, Hepzibah felt silently vindicated, and the worst of the bitterness and greed she kept within her went away as her friends’ goals were now more fully aligned with hers.

Her hatred of the Shi’ar became arguably worse, though, and everybody knew she was entirely capable of doing crazy things and risking everyone’s life just to kill more Shi’ar soldiers.

Xenolinguistics

As can be seen in the quotes, Hepzibah long had a peculiar way to manhandle grammar. Though it is impossible to tell when the dialogue takes place in English and when it takes place in common Shi’ar, she likely applied her own ideas about proper sentence construction to both languages.

By the mid 2000s her English at last is noticeably better, perhaps after a stay in the US where she got the chance to practice it for more extended periods. However, verbs and subjects occasionally resume their peregrinations into somewhat random positions.

As a X-Woman some grammatical quirks remain, but most of the peculiarities of her speech come from lack of familiarity with primitive Terran technology and American society.

Widowed

After Corsair is killed by his youngest son, Hepzibah is badly shocked and struggling with her grief for a while. She wants to stay far away from the Shi’ar galaxy to mourn. Ironically, Corsair’s death achieves what he could not do in life, burning Hepzibah out on the endless cycle of blood and revenge.

She has been less successful in accepting that most pieces of equipment on Earth do not have a built-in full AI with voice command capabilities, though.

Being underground has a special meaning to Hepzibah. Burrows and burrowing are strongly associated with mating in Mephitisoid instincts and customs. Depending on circumstances and company, being underground can feel very arousing or very inappropriate to her.

Generally speaking, she is proud of, and trusts her instincts – which seems to be a common Mephitisoid cultural trait.


Quotes

Hepzibah (Looking at Corsair): “Can fly starship ?”
Corsair: “Can learn.”

“Yah ! Been too long since decent party was held on this tub.”

(Bouncing into space to grab Wolverine) “No fear, apeling. Rescue imminent. Too much clutter around the ship. Tiny target like Wolvie hard to scan. If visual contact lost, take forever to find him again.”

(To Carol Danvers, weeks before her transformation into Binary) “Superb effort, sunhair. Impressed even me.”

(Upon learning Scott Summers had a son) “Grand-sire Corsair. Didn’t think you had it in you, furmate. Proud-time. Lifeline reaches on, forging immortal strand. Good.”

“Defend featherhead, Raza, whether wrong or right — because you and she blood-kin !”

Hepzibah: “Fightsystems on stand-by. Guns heat up I ?”
Corsair: “Negative. They could pick that up on scan.”
Hepzibah: “Hmp.”
(Some minutes later, after receiving the order to prepare to fire)
Hepzibah: “Oh yeah. To maximum burn, main guns cycled, secondaries and deliverers standing.”

“Love you, Chris Summers. But you stupid. Shi’ar monsters are, and we all better off without them.”

“This is the life, Chris. Fighting birdies, something right doing, together being.”

(2007) “Did you not watch televising statement on machine ? These men are fanatics, makes simplest sense.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Hepzibah

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Freedom fighter then Mercenary
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Pirate, arrrr !
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 022 HP: 060

Powers:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 06, Claws: 07, Danger sense: 05, Enhanced hearing: 02, Fluid form: 01, Jumping: 01, Kinetic absorption: 02, Running: 05, Super-hearing: 04, Ultra-vision: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Fluid form is Only to Squeeze Through
  • Jumping has the Catfall Bonus
  • Kinetic Absorption is Structural Damage Only
  • Ultra-vision only for night vision (-1)
  • Claws are Contingent on STR

Skills:
Acrobatics*: 08, Vehicles (Space): 06, Weaponry: 08

Advantages:
Expertise (Shi’ar starship maintenance and repair), Language (Common Shi’ar, perhaps an unspecified Mephitisoid language), Misc: Guardsbane (Imperial Guard member cannot spend HPs against Hepzibah or her allies)

Connections:
X-Men (Low ; goes to High after she is stranded on Earth), Lilandra Neramani (Low), Starjammers (High), Clench worlds leadership (Low), Warpath (High)

Drawbacks:
Exile (free Mephitisoid, later compounded with a Exile from the Shi’ar galaxy), SIH of most Shi’ar. When in the Shi’ar galaxy, the Starjammers usually, but not always, have a (often severe) case of the Mistrusts and a Public Identity. When operating on backwater worlds like Earth, Hepzibah suffers from Distinct Appearance.

Equipment:
The HMSS Starjammer has a well-stocked weapons locker with robust weapons, such as:

  • Heavy pistol [BODY 04, Energy blast: 08, Range: 05, R#03, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead]
  • Heavy rifle [BODY 05, Energy blast: 12, Range: 07, R#02, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead]
  • Boarding sabre [BODY 12, EV 04 (05 w/STR), Sharpness (EV): 01]. Those weapons are not electrically conductive.

Furthermore :

  • At one point, Hepzibah also secured what seems to be a (likely illegal) Mephitisoid battle armour, with a large stylised panther-like helmet/mask. Stats are unknown ([/BODY/ 09 w/ Hardened Defences] ?). She also somehow has access to Shi’ar-style space suits, customised with a large housing for her tail ; this is likely a modification made within the Starjammer’s machine shop.
  • As a member of the X-Men, Hepzibah produced some small explosive capsules of considerable power – whether they were Earth technology or something she had kept from the Starjammer’s arsenal is unclear. Each capsule is [BODY 01, EV 13 (Area of Effect 1 AP), Dart Bonus, Grenade Drawback] and she has an unknown number of those. She no longer seems to have access to Starjammers guns, though.

Letting the fur fly

Before 2007, Hepzibah seems to have a DEX of about 07, Acrobatics at about 06 and no Running – at least she is never seen performing above those levels. The higher agility and speed start becoming evident during the Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire story arc and are certain when she reaches Earth. Those are apparently a result of straightforward Character Advancement.

By Kevin Mulder and Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

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