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John Butcher (DC Comics) Who's Who illustration

John Butcher


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

Context

John Butcher is a DC Comics character created by Mike Baron, who primarily interacted with Green Arrow (Oliver Queen). Butcher appeared in a few storylines from 1990 to 1992, then vanished.

He’s a military intelligence and commando type, so that could definitely be useful in some campaigns.


Background

  • Real Name: John Butcher.
  • Other Aliases: Lester Cornfield, Amos Baker, and presumably numerous other fake identities used for infiltration.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Sue Ellen (sister), Mr. Butcher (father, deceased), mother (name unrevealed, deceased), grandfather (name unrevealed), unrevealed relatives.
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Military Intelligence Corps (United States Army).
  • Base Of Operations: South Dakota.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 165 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Butcher is a highly talented and experienced US Military Intelligence field agent. He’s apparently specialised in commando, assassination, undercover and scouting/espionage missions — both on the battlefield and in the civilian world.

He routinely uses infiltration, stealth, deception, cover identities, acting, and sentry removal techniques in his work. Butcher prefers to use a knife as a silent and perfectly reliable weapon. He is a superb climber, often tackling on ‘impossible’ cliffs or climbing up and down buildings in order to reach places one is not supposed to reach.

Martial artist

He is also highly trained in a shōrin-ryū style . This is a karate heavily based on traditional local Okinawan schools of unarmed combat, largely derived from Chinese martial arts such as the White Crane styles. It is a direct, linear hard style with precise but not elaborate-looking stances.

Butcher’s style includes powerful punches and kicks, knife work, staff work (used once to wield a spear) and tanjin breathing techniques. He also demonstrated flashy acrobatic moves, though not against skilled opponents.

Among his training regimen is the art of catching missiles, such as arrows, with his hands. Butcher also used aikijutsu techniques, particularly when dodging, and has some training in the Drunken Monkey style, capitalising on the drunken Indian archetype in several of his cover identities.

Lastly, secondary sources mention Butcher using Filipino dagger fighting and stick fighting techniques.

As a nod toward his heritage, Butcher eventually learned to use a bow, under Green Arrow’s tutelage. Queen later taught him fletching.

Equipment

Butcher’s main weapon is his U.S. Marine Raider stiletto, a weapon often figuring on US Military Intelligence Corps heraldry. It is presumably the modern version by Ek Knives. If it is an original that would make it quite valuable.

On high-stakes tactical operations he usually arms himself with a micro-Uzi machine pistol, and his usual undercover piece is a concealed Glock 19.

The decorative harness Butcher wears over his costume is apparently the traditional accoutrement of Hawk Society Lakota braves – though the reference is unclear. It has been modified to be able to serve as an emergency parachute. It can be steered to a small extend, but the landing will likely occur at leg-breaking speed given the low surface area.

Still, this compact parachute is a lifesaver, and Butcher will angle for soft terrain such as a large fountain.

John Butcher uses his emergency parachute

He has access to basic but reliable disguise equipment such as wigs and coloured contact lenses. He can also procure military equipment such as WP grenades, sound suppressors and milspec demolition equipment when needed, likely through contacts developed during his MI days.

His preferred ride is a Harley Fat Boy .

Other assets, part 1

Secondary sources mention that he’s a great tracker. While it was not demonstrated in the material, every single comic book Native American is a superlative tracker, so our game stats include this skill.

Butcher has a seemingly boundless network of contacts within a number of North American Indian nations. He seemingly can always find somebody to provide some small help (usually a discreet place to crash in) within hours.

When asked how he knew so many people throughout the continent, he just replied “through the drum”. As it turned out it is often manipulation on his part, playing up on what he self-derisively called the “downtrodden redksin rap”.

Generally speaking, while he’s not an extrovert, he has a powerful personality and would be quite convincing even without the social engineering he occasionally uses.

Other assets, part 2

Butcher insists on using a number of Lakota traditions , such as thanking the spirits after a journey, or meditating and smoking the calumet in a sweat lodge with his companions before undertaking something dangerous. The visions, dreams and portents he gets when accomplishing these rituals are almost always relevant, giving him a vague sense of the sort of things that is about to happen.

Butcher believes that he is a sort of agent for the Great Mystery (the Great Spirit of the Sioux peoples – Wakan Tanka ). This unusual belief is supported by what seems to be genuinely supernatural visions and his life story. Since magic and spirits exist in the DC Universe, it is entirely possible Butcher has genuine mystical significance for the spirits of Lakota spirituality.

Butcher is independently well-off – after Namdorph started trying to oust his parents, they invested everything they had in Rollwell International stock, Namdorph’s main competitor, presumably out of spite. After Butcher killed Corvus, Namdorph experienced a stock crash and Rollwell went up, meaning Butcher no longer had to work for a living.


History

John Butcher is from a very rural area on the edge of the Thunder Basin national grassland in Wyoming . It’s North of Lance Creek and East of Bill, with the nearest large city being Rapid City, in South Dakota. His father operated a small gas, candy and sundries store, presumably off Route 18. The family apparently lived in a doublewide behind the store.

The Butcher family are Lakota, one of the major and most famous cultures among the Sioux Indians. Whether they are citizens of the Lakota nation or of Wyoming was unspecified.

When John was 12, his grandfather took him to a butte in the desert, where they fasted for four days and his grandfather chanted. The old man eventually left the youth, who started experiencing visions. In the vision, a lamb was assailed by a constrictor snake. Little John knew he should help the lamb, but could not move. Then a hawk dropped on the snake and killed it.

When Butcher regained consciousness he was holding a dead snake, which he had apparently bitten in half. His grandfather told him that his destiny was to be a hawk, and to rend snakes. John Butcher eventually decided to enlist in the military to kill bad guys, largely because of this vision.

Secondary sources mention he he lied about his age and enlisted at 16 as he considered that life in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, was a dead end.

In the Army now

There are some contradictions between primary and secondary sources as to Butcher’s military career. As far as can be determined he joined the Army and was stationed in the Philippines. His excellent outdoors skills allowed him to attend the RIP  and join the Rangers – presumably the 75th.

He and a few other Rangers were then selected to become intelligence operatives, and received additional training. Part of this training took place in Okinawa where Butcher became friend with another intelligence man, nicknamed Tsunami.

The organisation employing him as an intelligence asset was stated to have been the CIA, but Butcher vehemently denied any tie with the Company. Butcher also stated that he and Tsunami did not leave Military Intelligence on good terms, which might be tied to any CIA involvement.

John then accompanied Tsunami in Okinawa, presumably for an in-depth study of the martial arts with his friend as his sensei. While he was there, his family received various visits from goons demanding that the older Butcher sell his land. When he refused to comply, they firebombed his store.

The Butchers were killed, though little Sue Ellen survived with severe burns, which were treated in Rapid City. The land had to be sold to clear the Butcher’s debt. At this point Butcher, largely estranged from his roots, had not seen his folks or his kid sister in four years.

Back to my roots

John Butcher flew back to the US, checked up on his kid sister, then investigated. After a month of detective work, he determined that the men had been sent by Namdorph Corporation.

This large concern was working on a particle beam weapon requiring rare minerals, which could be found in relative abundance on the land formerly owned by the Butchers. The man who had been visiting Mr. Butcher accompanied by thugs was one James Loftus, a resorts tycoon with strong underworld connections.

Butcher located Loftus. He was in his private car train, which was at that point attached to the Super-Chief train  in the Rockies. When John invaded the train the armed Loftus was threatening a passenger, Karen McLeach, and her daughter Audrey. Butcher successfully took out Loftus’ bodyguards (including, briefly, the superhuman Kam), brutally interrogated Lopftus then sent the private car crashing while rescuing the McLeaches.

Since Ms. McLeach was now embroiled in the vendetta between Butcher and Namdorph Corporation, the Lakota man’s priority became to get her and Audrey out of the line of fire. Disguised as a passed-out drunk he contacted her husband Luke, a Mountie living in Vancouver, then took him to his wife and child.

While heavily-armed but inept mercenaries attempted to kill them, the Canadians survived thanks to Butcher’s leadership.

John convinced the McLeaches that Karen and Audrey should stay hidden in a remote patch of Hetch Hetchy , with a contact of Butcher’s, until the war against Namdorph Corp done. Luke then discovered that Butcher’s assertions that Namdorph had contacts within the RCMP were true. Thus joined John to help him take Namdorph out and protect his family.

War against Namdorph

Butcher and McLeach drove to San Francisco to search the office Namdorph manager Edward Gryzinski, Loftus’ contact within the corporation. Butcher entered Gryzinski’s high-rise office by paragliding to the roof using San Francisco thermals, then rappelling down and cutting his way in.

However, Kam the bodyguard was waiting in ambush and defenestrated Butcher. John narrowly saved himself using an emergency parachute, then contacted Tsunami to have more allies.

Butcher, Tsunami and the McLeaches stayed on the move and made preparations to reach CEO of Namdorph CEO, Randall Corvus. Corvus was Crow  Indian who had rejected his roots and was a sort of twisted reflection of John Butcher, skilled in the arts of corporate manoeuvring and the Korean martial arts.

John Butcher sneaking around

Namdorph had by that point created its devastating particles weapon, which could be fired from a high-altitude spy plane and left no evidence. They were willing to sell it to anybody with enough money. Since this terrible weapon would likely end in the wrong hands Tsunami contacted another former student of his, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), as reinforcements.

During the infiltration Kam killed Luke McLeach, and Corvus put an arrow through Tsunami’s shoulder. Butcher and his allies nevertheless prevailed, apparently killing their foes and destroying the weapon.

Continuing to reconcile himself with his heritage Butcher started training in archery with Green Arrow. John had previously avoided this weapon due to its stereotypical associations with American Indians (and specifically the Sioux).

Shatter Eye, part 1

In the Fall of 1990, mere weeks after the Namdorph crisis, Butcher stumbled upon the menace of Rupert Rains aka Crippled Elk. This crazed Lakota medicine man was building up a terrorist cell, using his knowledge of chemistry and poisons to simulate magical powers and recruit impressionable Lakota youths.

At least one Federal agent was killed. Butcher started investigating, fearing that the “Abu Nidhal  of the Black Hills” and/or the FBI might end up killing even more people.

John discovered that Rains was passing out bogus ghost shirts to his followers, and was planning to reveal himself as the reincarnated Shatter Eye – a legendary shaman of the XIXth century.

Shatter Eye, part 2

Using white phosphorus grenades to create pillars of fire, Butcher intervened during the ceremony in traditional garb, claiming to be the real Shatter Eye and backing his claims with his solid knowledge of tradition.

Butcher won a knife fight to the death against the short by very powerful Rains. While a follower recognised John from his previous infiltration work among the terrorist cell, Butcher pretended to remain in a battle frenzy and ran off in the night to his seeming death. He actually used his concealed parachute to survive the fall from the tall butte where the ceremony had been taking place.

However, according to one follower, Rains’ wound then closed and the hair scalped by Butcher grew back. Crippled Elk then allegedly led his men on a raid on the Federal Courthouse in Rapid City. The truth of those allegations, and what happened if those were true, is unrevealed.

Questions and more arrows

In late 1991, Green Arrow stumbled upon a strange plot involving a dead lumber baron, ex-IRA terrorists and militant secessionists from various Native American peoples. Not understanding what was going on, he called in an expert in both counter-terrorism and Indian lore – John Butcher.

As it turned out, Butcher was already on the case. He had infiltrated the movement as “Lester Cornfield”, an obviously deluded would-be terrorist and full-time conspiracy theorist boasting about his time “at the ninja camp”. Recognising Green Arrow’s arrows, he broke cover and left the camp to team up with Queen.

As it turns out, journalist Vic Sage from Hub City was also working on the case, though he was chiefly interested in the IRA angle.

The three men met in a First Nations festival in Canada. The crowd there was angry about a recent sale of tribal land to another lumber baron, Mr. Youngblood. Sage and Butcher (posing as his assistant) confronted Youngblood, but on the way back their SUV was forced off the road by a lumber truck.

Youngblood

Meanwhile, the situation at the festival degenerated into an armed stand-off with the RCMP. All the bad blood around the Youngblood development project, which had been painfully dividing the community for months, was coming to a head.

As it turned out the situation had been engineered by Youngblood. He had arranged for extremist secessionists throughout the continent to come to the festival, and had procured stocks of military weaponry for them to use via his IRA connections.

Youngblood did not want to simply build a golf course in one field, but to leverage a failed insurrection into buying the entire territory for a song and build a huge industrial complex.

However Queen, Sage and Butcher convinced the son of a tribal leader, who had been manipulated by Youngblood, to denounce the plot in front of TV cameras. Meanwhile, the three adventurers took out the mercenaries and secessionists hired by Youngblood to spark a shooting war with the gendarmerie .

John Butcher has not been seen since 1992.


Description

See illustration.


Personality

John Butcher is a badass and a stone-cold professional. He’s essentially a cross between a ninja, a Lakota brave and a super-spy. He’s experienced, calm, in control and employs a flexible mix of stealth, force, subterfuge and manipulation.

He’s far from just being a elite heavy. Butcher will liberally use social engineering, disguises and ruses de guerre  (the Sioux nations were famous for those) whenever needed. He often plays possum, sets up ambush or disguise himself as a vagrant or service personnel nobody will pay attention to.

Even in the middle of a gunfight, he prefers to ninja around and take people out with his knife, as long as this tactic is reasonable.

The pro from Dover

Butcher is a professional paranoid. He’s always on, always trying to figure out every angle, always assuming the worst and always on the move. He knows a thing or two about the power of graft, often using corruption himself. As a result he will never trust any organisation.

His parting of ways with Military Intelligence seems to have gone real badly. When he discovered Namdorph was posing a grave terror risk, he was reluctant to pursue his vengeance as he felt he was doing the US intelligence community’s work and did not want to help them. He will never contact or request help from the authorities.

Tsunami considers Butcher to be a man of honour and rectitude, and Butcher indeed seems concerned with doing what is right and just. This may be the reason why he parted inimically with his old Military Intelligence unit.

Butcher likes children, perhaps because they constitute a sharp break from his usual world. He always has tales and myths from the Lakota people that he can tell them if they want.

Heritage

For much of his life John ran from his heritage and refused to be seen as a Lakota. That was apparently out of shame or rejection for his impoverished roots.

The omens and portents that John receives during meditation and ceremonies are genuine. This gives him a surprisingly spiritual, mystical nature. Butcher will often clearly consider that things are preordained, have narrative coherence and can be expressed through spirit metaphors – just like in the snake-killing hawk vision he had when he was a teen.

He had trouble accepting that, though. This struggle to genuinely accept and make peace with his heritage lasted until his 30s. Before that he both respected and used many tradition of his people, and told their legends, but refused to have genuine belief in the supernatural lore involved and to let visions guide his life.

Visions

The visions are powerful experiences, and he interprets them as the will of Wakan Tanka as to his role. This makes them doubly unsettling and hard to handle, which may in large part explain that he was for years reticent to accept them. He wanted to remain free of the path the Great Spirit had apparently traced for him as, for lack of a better word, his agent.

The enemy of his god is the crow. Butcher is spiritual, or superstitious, enough that he will consider abandoning a mission if he sees a crow at a critical point.

Before he goes on a mission, Butcher will if the timing allows it retire to the desert with a 60-pound backpack, built a sweat lodge, smoke herbal melanges and meditate for three days. His main breach to the tradition is that he will not fast, to maintain his strength.

When he comes back from the desert he will take two days to recover, drinking a lot of Gatorade  to re-hydrate and working out to be in peak shape.

Butcher will also scalp his hated enemies.


Quotes

“I am on the black road now that runs from East to West — the path of difficulties, sadness, and death. I’ve been on this road before.”

“Listen… I know this is hard for you… You’re in shock. But we’ve got to get moving.”

“They’re *not* trying to follow us into the tunnel. Doesn’t that *tell* you something ?”

Audrey McLeach: “Don’t you mean ’Native American’ ?”
Butcher: “‘Indian’ is good enough for me. ‘Lakota’, if you want to get technical. ‘The People’ if you want to get sanctimonious.”

John Butcher (after a brief kneeling a prayer in front of their pickup): “I thanked the spirit of the truck.”
Luke McLeach: “I didn’t know trucks had spirits.”
Butcher (smiling): “Best to play it safe, mmm ?”

“I’ve spent most of my life running away from who I am — all I had to do was open myself to the visions.”

“Sensei, I’ve already involved too many [people] in my quest for vengeance…”

“The crow has stolen the sun god’s weapons ! I have disgraced my parents and my people…”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Butcher

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Badass
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 022 HP: 045

Skills:
Acrobatics: 05, Acrobatics (Climbing): 06, Artist (Actor): 04, Charisma (Interrogation): 07, Evasion (Subvelocity ranged only): 07, Martial Artist*: 06, Military science (Demolition): 04, Military science (Tracking): 06, Scientist (Research): 04, Thief (Security systems, Stealth)*: 06, Vehicle (Land): 05, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 06, Weaponry (Melee, Thrown knife): 07, Weaponry (Missile): 05

Advantages:
Expertise (Lakota warrior and mystical traditions ; Lakota legends ; military and paramilitary tactics, operations and protocols ; paragliding ; Okinawan martial arts), Familiarity (desert survival ; Native American lore), Iron Nerves, Language (Lakota), Lighting Reflexes, Misc.: Butcher might be an agent of the Sioux Great Spirit.

Connections:
American Indian communities (Low), Canadian Indian communities (Low), Tsunami Sensei (High), Green Arrow(Oliver Queen, Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward respecting omens and portents.

Equipment:

  • Ek U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto Mk II [BODY 08, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 07 w/Martial Artist), Can Be Thrown].
  • HARNESS/PARACHUTE [BODY 02, Gliding: 00, Misc: Gliding is low enough that landing on most surfaces will be 02/02 against BODY/BODY].
  • During high-stakes mission, Butcher packs a Micro-Uzi [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 06, R#03, Advantage : Autofire], presumably with a few extra clips.
  • Concealed Glock 19 [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 15].

By Sébastien Andrivet expanding on Mayfair (Mayfair’s version is v1).

Source of Character: The Butcher 5-issues limited series in 1990, a text story in Ms. Tree Quarterly, and a story arc in volume 2 of The Brave and the Bold. John Butcher created by Mike Baron.

Helper(s): Kevin Berger.

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