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Luther Strode (Image Comics)

Luther Strode


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

Context

Luther Strode first appeared in a stand-alone Image Comics limited series in 2011. It was written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Tradd Moore.


Background

  • Real Name: Luther Strode
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed Father (Deceased), Unnamed Mother (Deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: United States
  • Height: 6’7” Weight: 340 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown (Red) Hair: Blond


Powers & Abilities

Strength Level

Luther possesses supernatural strength allowing him to lift (press) at least 1 ton under normal conditions.

Known Superhuman Powers

Luther is perhaps the most talented practitioner of the “Method” that has been born in the last 500 years.

His strength is many times that of a mortal man. He can literally rip a grown man in two or batter down heavy steel doors with his bare hands.

His speed and dexterity are likewise enhanced. For brief periods of time he can move faster than the human eye can perceive.

Luther’s talents are not limited to raw strength or speed, he also has complete mental control over his body. This allows him to endure inhuman amounts of pain and heal fatal wounds, from gunshots to disembowelment, in moments with concentration.

Finally, the “Method” has amplified Luther’s senses to superhuman levels. His olfactory senses are capable of distinguishing between individuals through scent alone. His sense of hearing is so acute that he can hear a human heartbeat from hundreds of feet away.

Abilities

While Luther has zero formal training in melee combat. Yet he is an absolutely devastating hand to hand fighter. In the past he has maimed and/or killed a dozen men in a matter of seconds with his hands alone.

Like all practitioners of the “Method,” Luther subconsciously employs his superhuman senses and absolute understanding of human anatomy to instantly discern weak-points in his opponents.

This knowledge when combined with his superhuman strength and precision, allows him to rend bone, muscle and flesh in the same manner that a child tears paper.

Moreover, he has developed an uncanny knack at reading his opponents’ body language. With a single glance, Luther can instantly discern the most likely physical action that his target will pursue simply from the way they hold their body.

This ability combined with his incredible reaction time makes Luther appear to be precognitive.


History

For the majority of his life, Luther Strode was the type of teenager that most adults pity. He was a “nerd” and often found himself a target of the bullies that attended the same school that he did.

To make matters worse, he was raised in a horribly abusive environment. That lasted until his mother found the courage to call the authorities.

While her husband was imprisoned, Luther and his mother took everything they could carry. Then they found a small apartment where they could hide. The two lived in constant fear that Luther’s father would find them.

One day, Luther came across a simple advertisement in a magazine that stated that he could change his life through the “Hercules Method.” Having nothing to lose, Luther ordered the book, and upon its arrival he devoured its contents.

School Daze

Initially, Luther didn’t notice any changes. He went to school as normal, hung out with his only friend Pete, mooned over Petra (an obviously rebellious young girl that he went to school with), and continued to be bullied.

This pattern was finally broken on the day that Pete decided that Luther needed to speak with Petra. With a simple unexpected shove, Pete forced Luther to come face to face with his crush. The moment was initially awkward, and was only made more so when Paul, Luther’s main tormentor, came across the situation and openly teased him.

Luther Strode punches a man through a 2x4

In response, Petra mocked Paul and inadvertently made the situation worse. By the end of the week, Luther found himself (and Pete) surrounded by jocks in one of the boy’s washrooms. It seemed a sure thing that Luther was about to receive another in a long line of beatings from Paul. However, Paul then called Petra a “bitch”.

At that moment, something deep inside Luther snapped. He threw the hardest punch he was capable of directly into Paul’s mouth.

To his own surprise, it turned out that Luther could punch very hard. He shattered Paul’s jaw and gave him a severe case of whiplash with that punch. As a result, Luther was suspended from school for the next six weeks.

He spent those weeks in quiet contemplation with his mother and practicing the Hercules Method in their small apartment. As he did, his body changed remarkably. His formerly scrawny frame filled out with layers of heavy muscle.

When his suspension was finally lifted, Luther returned to school only to find his peers actively avoiding him. Word had spread about his encounter with Paul. But instead of making him a hero it relegated him to the status of “dangerous psycho”.

In spite of this, Luther managed to find contentment. He still had a friend in Pete. Moreover, Petra had expressed her interest in him and the two struck up an unlikely relationship.

Vigilante Born

Days turned to weeks, as Luther’s once tumultuous life began to settle into an easy pattern. He spent time with Petra and hung out with Pete. Until one night, while visiting a local convenience store. Both Luther and Pete were present when armed gun men entered the store.

Luther and Pete hid near the back of the store. They waited in excited silence for the robbers to leave, until one of the armed men threatened the lone woman who was in the store. Luther immediately reacted and in a flurry of motion he rendered both gunmen senseless.

Luther left the scene before the police could arrive and identify him (presumably to avoid attracting the attention of his father) with Pete excitedly in tow.

The idea that Luther was no longer normal had been festering within Pete’s mind for some time. Luther’s defeat of the robbers cemented the idea for him.

Luther Strode fights in a corridor

Pete began to encourage Luther to become a costumed hero, even going so far as to create a mask and uniform for him. Initially Luther thought the idea juvenile. But eventually he gave in to Pete’s incessant prodding and played along.

Luther spent a single night leaping from rooftop to rooftop of the city skyline. In the process of searching for crime to fight, he came to a sudden realization: crime-fighting was boring. He eventually grew frustrated and prepared to call it a night. At that point, he happened upon a domestic dispute between a drug-dealer and his girlfriend.

Luther watched closely for several moments, but when the argument grew to the point where the male grew physical, Luther intervened. The situation was rapidly diffused though, as before Luther could actually harm the dealer, the woman he had sought to protect actually assaulted Luther and told him to leave.

Deflated and embarrassed, Luther seemingly abandoned the scene. In reality, he stayed behind to ensure that the young woman didn’t come to harm and after following the couple home, eventually left to visit Petra.

Enter the Librarian

In the meantime a strange man appeared in the city. Over the next two days, systematically stalked and murdered any and everyone who had witnessed Luther’s unique “talents” first hand.

He coldly and brutally murdered Paul in his home, but only after dismembering his parents at the dinner table. He then murdered the two men who attempted to rob the convenience store, along with the two policemen who were transporting them to a prison.

Luther eventually heard of the killings, but thought little of them. For whatever reason, he had become focused on the drug dealer that he encountered a couple nights before. For whatever reason, Luther donned his makeshift costume and went to the dealer’s home and waited.

Eventually, the unsuspecting dealer arrived, only to find Luther waiting for him. The two got into a brief scuffle, which ended up with Luther demolishing his much weaker foe. Luther only stopped beating the dealer when he was interrupted by a strange bald man.

The man introduced himself as the keeper of the Method, the keeper of secrets, and finally formally as the Librarian. He then complemented Luther upon his actions, but encouraged him to finish the job.

The Librarian, part 1

The two bantered back and forth over the nature of violence and the Hercules Method, as Luther tried to get a handle on the situation. The Librarian eventually took the choice out of Luther’s hands when he suddenly rushed into the apartment and assaulted the young vigilante.

Luther Strode in a sordid brawl

Luther was surprised at the speed and strength the stranger possessed. He was eventually rendered unconscious by the much more experienced and vicious Librarian. Luther came to in the last place he ever wanted to be in again; his father’s apartment. As he began to move about, he also realized that he was not alone.

The Librarian sat waiting for him to get up, while his unconscious father was propped up limply against the couch. When Luther started to move about, the Librarian launched into a patient speech that revealed that the Hercules Method that empowered Luther had ties all the way back to the very first murderer, Cain.

The Librarian then went on to reveal that he had been tasked with discovering a practitioner of the Method for a lifetime. He said that Luther was as close to perfection as he could have ever found. The only thing he lacked was desire. All Luther needed to do to fulfill the Librarian’s requirements was to embrace “murder”.

Luther sat quietly and listened to the psychopath, all the while regaining his strength. Eventually Luther stood up quietly and when he realized what the Librarian was implying, he flat out refused to murder his father in cold blood. In response, the Librarian casually beheaded Luther’s father with a single blow leaving yet another dead body in his wake.

The Librarian, part 2

In shock and anger, Luther tensed up to retaliate against his insane foe but before he could move, the Librarian forestalled him with a few choice words. While Luther was unconscious, the Librarian informed the gang of the man he had assaulted earlier that night of Luther’s actions but also where “she” lived.

Though it took a few seconds for the implications of the Librarian’s statement to sink in, the moment they did a mixture of horror and panic rushed through Luther’s heart. The thought of a group of criminals converging on his home sent him racing out of his father’s apartment without another word.

Luther raced through the city at a manic pace, hurtling over cars and across roads in a desperate attempt to make it home before it was too late. After what seemed like an eternity, Luther barrelled through his apartment door and came to an abrupt halt when he saw both his mother and Pete sitting in shocked silence on the couch.

A halting moment of relief and confusion flittered through Luther’s mind as he realized his mother was safe, until the truth of the Librarian’s statement sunk in. He hadn’t sent the dealers to Luther’s home, he had sent them to Petra’s.

Luther spat out a few words of comfort to his mother and Pete, before he raced off into the night again. His speed and rage grew with every step he took until he finally stormed into Petra’s house. He found her bound to a chair and surrounded by five men who had clearly abused her during his delay.

The Librarian, part 3

With little more than an introduction Luther flung himself at the men sending them pinwheeling about the room. Unfortunately for all involved, one of the men drew a gun from its place of concealment and shot Luther several times in the chest.

Luther dropped, seemingly dead to the floor, for several moments during which the dealers turned their attention back to Petra. This would ultimately prove to be their undoing. If only they had run at the time they may have survived the night. Instead, they were still present when Luther stood up, seething with pain, frustration and rage.

In a moment, he succumbed to the inner urges that drove him to true violence, and his world disappeared into a red cloud. Years of pent of anger were unleashed on the men, as Luther dismembered and murdered (and not necessary in that order) them in seconds.

In the meantime, while Luther was slaughtering the dealers, Luther’s mother tried to comprehend what had happened to her son. She was busy grilling Pete for information, when the Librarian casually stepped through the ruins of her apartment door.

Some sort of primal instinct told Luther’s mother that she was in danger, and as Pete leapt to her defence, she ran into the back and got the gun she had purchased when she left her husband. It did them little good.

Death, part 1

When Luther eventually returned home (with Petra in tow) he was greeted by a scene of chaos. The apartment was in shambles and it was obvious that a struggle took place. It took him less than a second to find Pete crucified in the kitchen, bleeding and suffering from several injuries.

With his last breath, Pete told Luther that the Librarian took his mother to a warehouse on the docks and that he was waiting for him there. He then apologized for failing his friend and died quietly.

Luther stood in silence for a moment, and when the horror of the moment wore off, Petra tried to console him. Enraged and despondent, Luther pulled away from her roughly, and told her to call the police and forget about him.

For what would prove to be the final time, Luther raced off into the night to rescue his mother without so much as a backwards glance to the young woman who had captured his affection.

A short time later, Luther confronted the Librarian at the abandoned warehouse where he held his mother, and this time their battle knew no quarter. The two engaged in a vicious and violent battle wherein both men delivered horrific wounds upon one another.

As their battle reached a fever pitch, the Librarian did something unexpected. He spit blood from his wounds directly into Luther’s eyes and temporarily blinded him. Enraged and panicked, Luther swung blindly at his foe repeatedly, but only managed to connect with the air until he finally felt a sickening crunch beneath his fist.

When the Librarian continue to chastise him, Luther realized what he had done. He wiped the blood from his eyes and looked sadly at his mother whose throat he had crushed accidentally with his blow. Luther could only watch as his mother died, and his last tenuous contact with his humanity was shattered.

In that moment, Luther embraced his hate and became the killer that the Librarian had wanted him to become.

Death, part 2

In a blur of motion, the two seemingly immortal warriors renewed their conflict. Their battle was fought at a such a pitch and with so much ferocity that the warehouse itself collapsed upon them. The Librarian was the first of the two to escape the wreckage of the condemned building.

When he finally forced his way out of the rubble, he was met by dozens of armed police officers.

Unfazed, the Librarian began to brag to the assembled officers about what he was going to do, when Luther rose from the rubble behind him and drove a supernaturally strong hand directly into his back. With one rapid and brutal tug, Luther wrenched the Librarian’s entire spinal column and head clean away from his seemingly immortal body, murdering him instantly.

Shocked and revolted by Luther’s graphic display of violence, dozens of armed police officers began to shout at Luther. They ordered him to lay upon the ground and to turn himself in. Luther, despondent and wracked with grief, simply looked balefully at the officers until he spotted Petra who had come with them.

In that moment, he realized that as long as he lived more men like the Librarian would come after him. Worse, they would use her to get to him.

With nothing left to lose, and wanting only to protect Petra, Luther charged the police officers. Left with little choice (and more than a little afraid), all of the officers opened fire upon Luther and riddled his body with bullets. Moments later, Luther dropped dead to the pavement.

Hours later, in the coroner’s office, an oversized body bag sat silently awaiting processing and its eventual autopsy. Silence filled the room, until the bag moved suddenly and a leather clad fist tore its way from the bag. And with that, a talented young man became a legend.

Five Years Later

Luther spent the next five years living in the shell of abandoned buildings. He avoided his old haunts and anyone that he knew in his former life. As time progressed, he felt the murderous instincts growing within him.

And when they grew too strong to resist, he turned his rage upon the unsuspecting criminal element in the streets around him.

Luther had murdered dozens of criminals before he gained the attention of Michael Hill, a local mobster. Luther’s actions had cost Hill a fortune, and in retaliation Hill ordered his assassination.

He hired a strange man named Binder to deal with Strode, and a seemingly disillusioned Petra to lure him into Binder’s clutches.

Binder

Using information that Hill provided, Petra went to Luther’s lair and confronted him. But instead of following the plan she worked out with Hill, she warned Luther of the mobster’s plans.

Petra’s warning came too late. Anticipating her betrayal Hill had sent a contingent of armed mercenaries to murder Luther while he was presumably off-balance by Petra’s presence.

With a grim smile in his heart, Luther utterly massacred the mercenaries but not before Binder used the confusion of the battle to assault Luther. To Luther’s surprise, Binder, like the Librarian before him, was a practitioner of the “Method”. He had come to take Luther into custody for a man known only as Cain.

Despite his taking advantage of Luther’s surprise, and the mercenaries, Luther proved to be too powerful for Binder to handle on his own. Binder fled their confrontation with Petra as his captive to force Luther to chase him.

Luther, after questioning Hill’s butler Duvall, followed Binder to Hill’s house only to find Hill and his staff brutally murdered by Binder.

Worse, he found that Binder had brought backup in the form of Jack the Ripper… the original one. Jack, an extremely talented master of the “Method” had been captured by Binder all those years ago and was granted a form of amnesty if he helped Binder capture Luther.

The Ripper

The three super-humans battled briefly (and destroyed the mansion around them). But ultimately Luther was defeated and bound by Binder.

In thanks, Binder allowed Jack to murder Petra while he turned his attention to the last remaining loose end, Duvall. But Duvall had other plans. He set off a massive explosion which injured Binder severely.

Jack, who had been pursuing Petra, returned at that point. He took advantage of Binder’s injuries and murdered him. He then left Luther and Petra to perish in the burning mansion.

Luther, bound and helpless, pleaded for Petra to flee the mansion. But when she refused to leave him to to die, Luther shattered the steel chains that bound his form and the two escaped the conflagration. They then followed Jack to the local shopping mall, where they found at least one hundred of his victims strewn about in what Jack thought was a display of art.

When Luther encouraged Petra to lead the survivors out of the mall, Jack appeared. He and Luther engaged in a deadly final battle which destroyed much of the mall about them. Despite Luther’s greater strength and speed, Jack’s vast experience allowed him to gain the upper hand over his much younger foe. Or so it seemed.

As Jack prepared to deal Luther a final blow, Luther held him prone as Petra attacked from behind and dismembered him with a chainsaw. Even as Jack spat that others would come, Luther crushed his skull and ended his threat forever.

With the immediate danger over, Petra and Luther left the mall hand in hand only to be confronted and taken into custody by a massive gathering of police. What happened next has yet to be revealed.


Description

Initially Luther was a relatively plain and gangly Caucasian teenager. He had shoulder length blond hair, wore thick black glasses and dressed like anyone who was simply trying to blend into the crowd.

As he studied the Hercules Method, Luther started to grow. By the time of his “death”, he appeared to have grown over a foot in height, and put on at least 50 pounds of thick slab-like muscle.

His “costume” simply consisted of a pair of dark slacks, thick black army boots, a plain dark shirt and a leather biker jacket.

He topped it off with a white mask that looked like it was crafted out of paper-mache. The mask itself had a slit for the nose, two holes for the eyes, and left his lower chin bare.

After the five year gap, Luther’s “costume” was left in tatters and he dressed in the rags that were left. In most cases he simply wore: a pair of tattered blue jeans, his sturdy work boots and his mask.


Personality

Initially, Luther was a good kid that has found himself into a very bad situation. Even though he had power, he wasn’t really a costumed vigilante type. He “patrolled” the streets looking for trouble once or twice, but in reality, he just wanted to relax at home with his friends and know that his mother was safe.

Due to the circumstances of his upbringing, Luther developed a deep-rooted fear of becoming a man like his father was. This fear manifested itself as a somewhat irrational reaction to women being hurt.

If any woman was endangered in his presence, he would intervene with immediate and direct force (a fact that most likely still true). In fact, in his early days as a vigilante every act violent act (save one) that Luther ever committed was a direct reaction to the threat of a woman being hurt or insulted.

Five years later

After the five year gap, Luther’s motivations had obviously changed. He had clearly become comfortable with the idea of killing. He actively sought out victims within the criminal underworld and slaughtered them with abandon.

It didn’t matter if they were small-time drug dealers or mob muscle, in the end they all died a grisly death at his hands. By the time Petra had found him, he had covered a wall of his lair with driver’s licenses of his victims.

Luther’s losses and self-imposed isolation over the five years robbed him of most of his charm. He no longer came across as a young man who was capable of trading clever quips with his friends (of which he had none). Instead he had become a silent, grim and imposing individual who simply stared at the people around him. He only tended to smile when he was about to take someone’s life.

Fortunately, Petra’s presence has seemed to alleviate some of Luther’s pain and reminded him that life can still be worth living. He loves her dearly, and recognizes that she is his one remaining tenuous link to his own humanity.


Quotes

“My name is Luther Strode. And I was just shot seven times in the chest. It hurts.”

(Looking at himself in “costume” for the first time)
Luther: “I feel like an asshole.”
Pete: “But you look like a badass.”

(Regarding Luther’s father) Mrs. Strode: “Luther. You know he’s out there…”
Luther: “I know. But he won’t find us. And even if he did… I’m here.”

(While ruthlessly beating a drug dealer)
“How does it feel when someone stronger than you decides to take their shit out on you ? How does it feel to be powerless ? How does it feel to know you can’t do anything ?”

(Again… regarding his father)
“You know, I used to lie awake at night and try to build up the courage to stab him while he slept. But I was always too afraid. But you know what ? I’m not afraid anymore.”

“You say I’m nothing ? You’re right. I am nothing. I am empty. I am death.

“My name is Luther Strode, and I have talents. I know the secrets now. I know what is inside. I know what I was born to be. I know how to kill these men. I know that I could dance between the bullets. I know that they are all just meat for the butcher’s block. I know that as long as I’m alive, everyone I love will end up dead. I know that I can choose. I know that I can save her.”

Jack the Ripper: “Oh, there’s no them, Luther. Just us.”
Luther: “Pretty soon it’s just going to be ME.”

“If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that for me… there’s no such thing as a LOCKED door.

(Regarding the horrible mutilation of a mall’s residents) “This is what we are. This is who we are. This is what we do.”

Jack the Ripper: “Do you think you can murder me with muscles ?”
Luther: “You don’t understand. I’m not going to kill you. She is.”


DC Universe History

Though he is somewhat overpowered for the Batman’s genre, Luther would make an interesting replacement for Jean Paul Valley during the Knight’s End series.

The Order of St.Dumas’ “System” could easily be replaced with the “Hercules Method” with each member being part of the cult of murder.

Luther could have taken Jean Paul’s place and eventually become the Batman. He of course wouldn’t have relied on the equipment and/or weaponry, but he would still have torn a giant swathe out of Gotham, most likely culminating in the death of at least one high-profile villain from Batman’s Rogue gallery, forcing Bruce to attempt to reclaim the cowl.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Luther Strode

Dex: 08 Str: 07 Bod: 06 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 06 Wil: 08 Min: 08 Occupation: Vigilante
Inf: 04 Aur: 08 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 030 HP: 035

Powers:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 06, Enhanced Initiative: 10, Extended Hearing: 06, Invulnerability: 10, Jumping: 02, Mind Over Matter: 08, Regeneration: 15, Running: 07, Sharpness (STR): 02, Super Hearing: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Enhanced Initiative: Can only Be Used against Human Opponents (-1FC); Must be able to see target (-1FC)
  • Invulnerability: Doesn’t counter damage which causes the destruction of the Brain, Heart or Spine (-1FC)
  • Regeneration: Focused (-1FC)
  • Sharpness: Can only Be Used against Human Opponents (-1FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics* (Athletics, Climbing): 08, Charisma (Intimidation): 08, Thief (Stealth)*: 08

Advantages
Familiarity (High School Curriculum), Lightning Reflexes

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
Catastrophic Rage, CIA (Protecting women), Creepy Appearance (Massive over-developed physique, Glowing Red eyes when using powers), Dependant (Petra), Mistrust, Secret Identity

Genre:
Near Real


Design notes

  • Went with Sharpness over Weakness Detection, as the mechanics provide a better representation of Luther’s unique abilities.
  • STR may be an AP higher or lower, but the damage that Luther inflicts on doors, people and the warehouse in his final battle made me settle on 07


By Bryan Gittens

Source of Character: Image Comics Series – The Strange Talent of Luther Strode & The Legend of Luther Strode, created by Justin Jordan (Author) and Tradd Moore (Illustrator).

Writeup completed/updated on the 17th of March, 2015.

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