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Manhunter (Chase Lawler) (DC Comics)

Manhunter

(Chase Lawler)


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

Context

DC Comics has had a plethora of Manhunter characters, starting in 1942. *This* one is Chase Lawler, who chiefly appeared in his own 1994/1995 series. He also appeared in the Manhunter series that followed his. These appearances bought retcons , which we’ll ignore in this profile except in a dedicated section.

The series’ aesthetics seemed very oriented toward the specific atmosphere of the then-current “guns and pouches age of comics” – think early Image. As a result, the series may not have aged in the best possible manner.


Background

  • Real Name: Chase Lawler
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Billy “Lawless” Lawler (brother, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Star City
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 190 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue (red as Manhunter) Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

(Reprinted from Manhunter #8)
Chase is still learning about the true extent and nature of his powers.

  • He has the ability to track anyone anywhere as long as he has had physical contact with the target.
  • Chase has a degree of super-strength and can rapidly heal wounds.
  • Although he is not immune to stab wounds or bullets, physical blows seem to have less effect when he is wearing his costume.

(Though Chase’s actual durability seems to be within human norms, his ability to ignore damage is superhuman. For example, a person with normal human strength was able to impale Chase through the lower abdomen with a scimitar. But Manhunter simply pulled it out, only demonstrating very brief hindrance and bleeding due to the wound. The lesion then promptly disappeared.)

Among his other abilities, Chase can summon and manipulate wind. To actually manipulate wind requires a great deal of concentration. But by using this ability he can “walk on air.” Chase has used gusts of winds to either draw his opponents to him or away from him. However, this seems more an instinctive reaction rather than a consciously-willed assault.

Chase still has much to learn about his abilities. He proves to be the most reluctant of all of the Manhunters to exercise his powers.

Chase’s name seems to take on a more literal meaning than those of his predecessors, as hunting is a compulsion with him instead of an occupation. Whether he will be able to control his compulsions or be controlled by them remains to be seen.(End Manhunter #8 excerpt)

Other assets

Additional abilities that Lawler learned of as time went by were that he was apparently unaging and had a resistance to mental takeover and influence. His physically based skills such as driving and unarmed combat are enhanced to some degree as Manhunter as a side-effect of his overall physical enhancement.

However, Chase seldom uses mundane vehicles or weapons in his heroic identity. Perhaps they do not feel right to a man empowered by an ancient inhuman predatory spirit.

Lawler is also an excellent musician, though he this is not always obvious as he plays with self-imposed restraint in his sessions work.

Gabriel hounds

Chase has demonstrated the ability to summon the Gabriel Hounds. These are former human souls transformed into mystical hunting dogs. He can also to pull people’s souls out of their bodies and transform them into Gabriel Hounds.

Both the Wild Huntsman and Manhunter only summoned three Gabriel Hounds at a time. It is unknown if this number remains constant, with new additions supplanting old Hounds, or if the pack can vary in size depending on circumstances.

Manhunter (Chase Lawler) turns a man into a hound

The Gabriel Hounds are lion-sized, reptilian-looking quadrupeds that can be summoned to harry the Wild Huntsman’s target. They do not try to harm the person they are hunting, but rather try to corner them or failing that take hold of them and restrain the victim until their master arrives.

Two Gabriel Hounds sent by Manhunter (Chase Lawler) after Captain Atom

It is unknown if they track their prey by scent as mundane hunting animals often do. Perhaps they have an extrasensory ability equivalent to the Manhunter’s.

Thrill of Hunt

As an avatar of the Wild Huntsman, Chase shares the Huntsman’s compulsion to stalk solitary prey. Whenever Chase detects a person in isolated circumstances (within 40 to 60 feet), he’s compelled to hunt them. Fortunately, he need not attack the target of his hunt. Simply touching them will suffice to satisfy this urge.

What constitutes “isolated circumstances” is flexible. Most of the time, it is simply a person who is not in close physical proximity to anyone else. On the other hand, beings that are unusual or unique can trigger the Huntsman instinct even in a crowd.

For instance, Chase first detected a Skinwalker in such a manner. Even though the Skinwalker was in a crowded restaurant, it was a very rare creature, perhaps the only one of its kind still in existence. Thus, it was “isolated.”

This urge can also be triggered by someone attacking Chase. Once this happens, he feels the compulsion just as if he had encountered them in isolation. Even though Chase loses all of his Huntsman powers whenever he is not wearing his costume, the urge remains with him at all times.

Once someone has become a target of Chase’s, he cannot simply let them go. If Chase attempts to abandon a hunt, he will grow progressively physically distressed with symptoms including fever, nausea, and eventually becoming near-comatose.

Once Chase resumes the hunt, the symptoms immediately abate though the compulsion remains until satisfied and the sickness will return if he abandons the hunt again.

Once he has locked on a target, he can track that target anywhere on Earth. Not only is he able to sense the target’s approximate directions and distance from his location, but he can also instinctively pinpoint their current location on maps.

Ritual Behavior

The details of the ritual that summoned the Wild Huntsman are unclear. But it is known that it involves music that must be played for hours. Once the Huntsman is summoned, a person can take on the Huntsman’s powers by killing the Huntsman’s target before the ancient power can do so itself. This is how Chase became Manhunter.

Once a human avatar possesses the Huntsman’s abilities, others can claim that mantle by killing that avatar. This was how Bloodmoney planned to take Chase’s powers and how Mark Shaw ultimately inherited them.


No one retcons the Manhunters !

In the 4th Manhunter series, the origins of Chase’s powers were radically retconned. Instead of a mystic spirit, Lawler was deemed a good test subject by the same government agents that had created Mark Shaw’s Manhunter persona.

They injected him with nanites that gave him his powers as well as triggering Lawler’s illusions of the Wild Huntsman’s existence.

This writeup ignores this retcon for the most part for two reasons.

  1. First, some people may wish to use this version of Manhunter as he was originally presented.
  2. Second and more importantly, the nature of the retcon makes it difficult at best to determine which events in the 3rd Manhunter series actually happened and which were products of Lawler’s delusional state.

This is made even more problematic by contradictory accounts of events in the 3rd and 4th Manhunter series by people other than Lawler. Ultimately, there is simply no solid ground from which to derive stats for the retconned version.

Heroic Legacy

For the sake of clarity and though we no longer use Roman numerals, here is a brief list of the other Manhunters before and after Chase:

  1. Manhunter I: Dan Richards.
  2. Manhunter II: Paul Kirk.
  3. Manhunter III: The unnamed Manhunter who mentored Mark Shaw and was then replaced by him.
  4. Manhunter IV: Mark Shaw.
  5. Manhunter V: Pre-Crisis Paul Kirk clone that created the Secret Society of Super-Villains and was killed by Darkseid.
  6. Manhunter VI: The Mark Shaw ringer killed by Eclipso in Parador.
  7. Manhunter VII: Chase Lawler.
  8. Manhunter VIII: Kirk DePaul.
  9. Manhunter IX: Kate Spencer.

History

(Reprinted from Manhunter #8).
An unsuccessful sessions musician, Chase Lawler found his life crumbling around him. His brother Billy, lead singer in a metal punk band, had a rapid rise to the top of the music charts. But Billy quickly burned himself out with drugs and a fast lifestyle. Now left with a child’s mentality, Billy relied on Chase to take care of him.

Chased blamed his brother’s corrupt and greedy agents for Billy’s condition. He also feared that his girlfriend Brenna was heading down a similar road of destruction when she signed with the same agents.

Desperate and unable to find help elsewhere, Chase sought out Dr. Malig. Malig was rumored to be a sorcerer. Chase became the living component of a spell summoning the Wild Huntsman, a primal being that sought out those who lived outside the laws of society.

With the spell successfully cast, Chase realized to his horror that the Huntsman would not end its reign of terror with the agents Chase had summoned him to kill.

The game is afoot

Attempting to halt the force he had released, Chase tried to stop the Wild Huntsman. To do so, he donned a ceremonial costume given to him by Malig. By cheating the Huntsman out of its prey, Chase would create a mystical bond between the Huntsman and himself.

This bond would not only make him immune from physical attack by the Huntsman, but also give him a portion of the Huntsman’s power.

The music agents, the Huntsman’s original prey, were killed. Then the Huntsman attempted to kill Billy in response to Chase’s interference. To spare Billy from a horrifying death, Chase granted his brother a swift and honorable death.

By claiming the Wild Huntsman’s victim, Chase had taken the Huntsman’s place in the “ecology” of mystic entities. This in turn forced the Huntsman back into its exile. Vanishing in the mist, the Huntsman cursed Chase. He promised that Chase would hate his newfound power.

Soon Brenna, angered by Chase’s interference, rejected Chase. (End Manhunter #8 excerpt)

Predator

Chase tried to resume his old life. But his new abilities rendered this impossible. His Manhunter instincts made him to aggressive to work with groups, hindering his musical session work. And he kept getting into battles with mystical and superhuman threats that he found himself at cross-purposes with for various reasons.

Lawler ended up taking a job working as muscle for one of the same shady characters he had met during his previous battles. He was a seedy private eye named Goodish. BUt Lawler only found himself inadvertently in conflict with the same enemies he had fought before.

Lawler’s fortunes began to look up when he was contacted by Star City’s government. Their research had indicated that metahumans had a positive effect on tourism that outweighed the risk factors. Accordingly, they were seeking a superhero to replace Green Arrow as a town mascot of sorts.

Avatar

Chase also came to a better understanding of the source of his powers upon meeting a fellow avatar named Incarnate.

Incarnate explained that people like Chase had become representatives of natural forces such as hope and fear (Incarnate and Manhunter, respectively). He added that while they could come to a violent end they would not age and die as other people did. Incarnate claimed to be 14,000 years old.

Soon afterward the thug Bloodmoney, one of Manhunter’s first opponents, tortured Dr. Malig to get vital information on Manhunter. Leaving Malig for dead, Bloodmoney captured Lawler while Chase was out of uniform and thus powerless. Bloodmoney destroyed the costume and prepared to murder Chase. This would transfer the Manhunter powers to Bloodmoney.

“Dumas”

It was at this moment that Mark Shaw, a.k.a. Manhunter IV, intervened. Shaw was there in disguise as Dumas, an international assassin whom Shaw had killed.

Shaw had been wracked with guilt over Dumas’s death until US intelligence operative Sarge Steel had offered a way to make up for it. Shaw took on Dumas’s identity and used it to infiltrate the criminal underworld using Dumas’s connections. Shaw eventually went so far underground that his handler Steel lost contact with him.

Dumas and the Psycho Pirate were in Star City on behalf of an unknown client. As a result, they witnessed Bloodmoney preparing to slaughter Chase. When Dumas expressed his intention to stop Bloodmoney, the Psycho Pirate used his powers on Dumas, driving him into a blind rage and enhancing his physical abilities.

Shaw charged in, killing Bloodmoney with a single punch that went completely through Bloodmoney’s chest. He then backhanded Chase with a blow that stopped Chase’s heart.

Having killed Lawler, Shaw inherited the Manhunter powers. This allowed him to throw off the Psycho Pirate’s influence. Shaw was then able to resuscitate Lawler by performing CPR.

A curse lost to death

By then the Psycho Pirate had gone on a rampage, warping the minds and bodies of many people nearby. Shaw was able to defeat the Psycho Pirate with his newfound abilities. He would have killed the villain if Chase had not stepped in and told Shaw how to control the violent urges of the Huntsman.

Shaw left the Psycho Pirate for the authorities and spent some time in conversation with Lawler learning how the Huntsman powers worked before leaving Star City.

After the damage wrought by the titanic battle with the Psycho Pirate, the Star City government decided that Lawler was too much of a financial liability. They offered to pay him $5000 per month if he agreed not to change into Manhunter ever again, at least within the county limits. They were unaware Lawler had lost his powers.

Chase agreed to the deal and took the money, hoping to use it as a seed fund to start an independent music career. (End of 3rd Manhunter series).

Dead again

Lawler’s subsequent history was a downward spiral. His musical career went nowhere. The band he started ended up starting a club fire when a pyrotechnics show went wrong. As a result, his Star City pension went to paying the victims.

Finally, Lawler was kidnapped and murdered by Mark Shaw. Shaw’s personality had fractured under the various mental manipulations and identities he had gone through over the years. This compelled him to hunt down all of the other people who went by the Manhunter sobriquet. (4th Manhunter series, issues #9-10).


Description

Lawler is a fit, broad-shouldered white male with long hair and ruggedly handsome features. He normally wears dark-colored jeans and either loose long-sleeved shirts or tight t-shirts.

His Manhunter costume was a blue body suit with:

  • Segmented metallic long gloves and boots.
  • A white belt and vertical torso stripe leading up to a white skin-tight mask that covered Manhunter’s entire head.
  • A red tabard split in the middle that flowed into a tasseled cape along with long red ribbons tied to his limbs.

Personality

Chase is very excitable. He tends to make snap judgments and rush headlong into any situation in which he feels the need to intervene.

He also tends to frame his circumstances in various dramatic ways in his thoughts, almost as if writing a script or story out of them in his head. Thankfully, he never expresses these musings aloud. These dramatic interpretations tend to be self-serving. They either cast his actions in a heroic light or justify his reckless behavior as dire necessities forced by the situation at hand.

The losses he has suffered in his life, starting with the death of his parents at an early age, drive him to protect others whether they want it or not. This often comes to the detriment of his relationships with them.

Aggression

Since he inherited the mantle of the Wild Huntsman, Chase has become increasingly aggressive. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the Huntsman’s influence. But the stress Chase is undergoing certainly contributes as well. In contrast to his occasional enraged outbursts or overzealous reactions, Chase just as often manages to maintain a fairly balanced emotional state.

For example, while annoyed that his brother’s body was turned into a weapon against him, Chase was also able to appreciate the idea that Billy would have taken some satisfaction in being used for a purpose. Lawler also adapted quickly to the realities of his situation, striving to work with his Manhunter instincts rather than fighting them.

Though his emotional intelligence was above average (at least in terms of sensing and understanding others’ feelings), Chase had an unfortunate deficit in intellectual acuity. He often missed obvious clues.

The most telling incident was found in his battles against Scarth. Chase did a poor job of exploiting Scarth’s weakness during their first few battles despite Scarth’s ridiculous tendency to blurt out the workings of his power on a regular basis.

Lawler did identify and exploit Scarth’s psychological flaws long before using the more obvious limitations of Scarth’s power against him. This is further evidence of Chase’s being more adept in understanding feelings and instincts than logic and observation.

This imbalance even showed itself in Lawler’s art. Chase’s performances tended to be much more impressive to his fellow musicians when he stopped thinking and channeled his feelings into his playing.


Quotes

Goodish: “…and if you ever need an agent—”
Manhunter: “I’ve got an agent.”
Goodish’s Biker Thug: “Good, we’ll bury ’im right next to you…”
Manhunter (swinging his club to a halt less than an inch from the thug’s nose – ’chak !‘): “Bury *this*, hillbilly !”

(Upon being confronted by his dead brother’s reanimated and cyborged corpse) “You people are the worst scum ! You use his flesh, his bones — you dangle the hope that somehow, in some form, that Billy is still alive — and you can’t even get the damn voice right ?! He put out records ! All you had to do was dub his voice ! You want to take me down, fine, I can understand. But *that*, man, that’s sheer contempt ! And I’m SICK of it !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Manhunter

Dex: 08 Str: 07 Bod: 08 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Musician
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 040

Powers:
Air Control(M): 06, Detect (Isolated Persons): 08, Dimension Travel(M): 08, Dispersal(M): 12, Invulnerability (M): 12, Iron Will: 08, Transform(M): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Detect has +12 Range (+3 FC)
  • Detect initially only senses physically or socially isolated people within 3 APs distance of Manhunter, but once they are sensed he can pick them up within the full range of Detect until he completes the hunt — “see Thrill of the Hunt” below (-1FC)
  • Dimensional Travel can only access the Wild Huntsman’s Private Tesseract and only for the purposes of summoning and banishing Gabriel Hounds to and from the Tesseract (Total adjustment: BC 125, FC 04)
  • Dispersal is Always On but only applies to attempts at physical contact or assault from the Wild Huntsman (-3FC total)
  • Transform can only change others into Gabriel Hounds (total of -1FC)
  • Target cannot use his normal Powers while Transformed (+3FC).
  • Once a target is successfully Transformed, the change is permanent (3x Base Cost)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 06, Artist (Guitarist): 03, Military Science (Cartography): 06, Thief (Stealth)*: 08, Vehicles (Land): 06, Weaponry (Melee, Missile): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Military Science (Cartography) is a Powered Skill (-5 BC).
  • Military Science (Cartography) can be used in conjunction with Detect— “see Thrill of the Hunt” below (+1FC total).

Advantages:
Lighting Reflexes, Pets (Gabriel Hounds)

Connections:
Dr. Malig (Low)

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance (glowing red eyes, only when powers are active or Huntsman Instinct is triggered), Loss Vulnerability (All Powers fall to 0 APs and 4 APs are subtracted from Chase’s Physical Attributes and Physical Skills when he is not wearing his Manhunter costume), Minor Rage, Public Identity, SIA & Miscellaneous Drawback (See “Thrill of the Hunt” below)

Equipment:

  • MANHUNTER COSTUME [BODY 06]. This ceremonial costume is necessary for Chase to access his Manhunter abilities.
  • Studded Club [BODY 06, EV 04 (08 w/ STR]]. This short staff had a studded head. The handle was actually a large knife (EV 03), the blade of which was sheathed in the staff until the handle is detached from the club. Manhunter only used this during his first adventure, eschewing it thereafter for reasons unknown. It is possible that unarmed combat simply feels more natural to someone imbued with the power of the Wild Huntsman.
    The club also made a “chak !” noise when deployed, just like an ASP baton being flicked open, even though the club was not expandable. I guess it was because inexplicable sound effects were kewl.

Pets: Gabriel Hounds

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 05 Motivation: Serve Huntsman
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Hound
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 008 HP: 000

Powers:
Unrevealed, but possibly Tracking Scent or Detect (Manhunter’s target) at 08 APs


Thrill of the Hunt

In game terms, this compulsion — described in the Powers & Abilities section below — is treated as a Serious Irrational Attraction.

If Chase doesn’t hunt, he loses 1 AP of Current Body Condition every hour that he does not pursue his target, a loss that cannot be healed by normal means and continues until he reaches 0 BODY, at which point he lapses into a semi-comatose state.

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Manhunter vol. 3 #0-12, Manhunter vol. 4 #9-10 (DC Comics)

Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet

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