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Phantom of the 42nd Street (Luke Cage enemy) (Marvel Comics)

Phantom of the 42nd Street


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

Context

The “Phantom of the 42nd Street” was an early encounter of Luke Cage as the Hero for Hire, in late 1972. It is a variant on the “Phantom of the Opera” archetype, from Gaston Leroux’s novel.

I don’t think they’ve ever been seen since, except perhaps in a recap/flashback panel.


Background

  • Real Name: Armand Loring & Jacques (last name unrevealed).
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed for both.
  • Known Relatives: Adrian Loring (Armand’s father, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Partners as the Phantom.
  • Base Of Operations: Manhattan’s 42nd Street, New York City.
  • Height: About 4’ (Armand) ; 6’5” (Jacques) Weight: About 100lbs (Armand) ; 240lbs (Jacques).
  • Eyes: Brown (both) Hair: Light brown (Armand) ; Black (Jacques).


Powers and Abilities

The Phantom of the 42nd Street seems supernatural, but it’s all a clever trick.

  • While it seems to be at least 8′ tall, that’s because two people (one riding the other’s shoulders) are operating the costume.
  • While it seems to shimmer eerily, this is simply a glow-in-the-dark cloak (and people’s nerves). Its ghastly, burned visage is simply a mask.
  • Its seemingly supernatural strength is actually the peak human strength of Jacques, one of the two operators.
  • The Phantom can disappear at will, but this is often done using a network of secret passages built throughout theatres in Times Square.
  • In other cases, the disappearances are done by splitting up. The strongman Jacques wears a black body suit and has dark skin, and is thus easy to miss in a dark room. Armand, the other operator, will take the glow-in-the-dark cloak of the costume with him, but he’s very small and manoeuvrable.
  • The Phantom can seem intangible when attacked. This is done by having Armand leap or be thrown toward the enemy whilst Jacques ducks. Thus a body blow against the Phantom will be denied a target.

Individual skills

Jacques is an impressive strongman. He’s able to lift steel file cabinets above his head and throwing them at opponents with ease. However, his great strength and size mean he rarely has to fight for keeps.

Armand is a proficient acrobat despite his dwarfism, much like Puck. And he’s a smart bloke as well.


History

After World War One, the Times Square area in New York City boomed. It became an elegant, lucrative fixture of New York night life. The area boasted reputed theatres, music halls and the like. This lasted until the Great Depression ruined everything.

Even after World War Two, it was among the areas of New York City that failed to recover. By the 1960s, it had become a symbol of the urban decay of many NYC neighbourhoods. This squalor lasted for decades.

Mister Loring

In the Marvel Universe, Adrian Loring and his partner Jasper Brunt were the moguls of Times Square during its heydays. They owned most theatres in the area, including the Gem Theater.

In 1972, the Gem was but a squalid, smelly shadow of its former splendour. But it was cheap enough for the Hero for Hire, Luke Cage, to rent an office within.

Adrian Loring had a son, Armand, who was born a dwarf. As a boy Armand, ashamed of his small stature, fled. Thus, it was soon forgotten by most Loring even had a son. Adrian, however, never gave up looking for Armand. But the youth had already made his way to Haïti.

L’union fait la force

There, he learned both kreyòl ayisyen — the French Creole  in Haïti — and acrobatics. He used his size and physical skills to become a thief. He was eventually caught, and thrown into the slammer. There, he befriended a fellow convict, an imposing Haitian powerhouse named Jacques.

Adrian Loring eventually got his young son (and Jacques) out of prison and back to New York City. But by that point, the theatre mogul was having a falling out with his partner Jasper Brunt. Loring correctly suspected Brunt of embezzling.

Adrian Loring gathered evidence. He hid these documents in the frame of a portrait of himself that hung within the Gem Theater. He also told his son. But when Adrian confronted Jasper the discussion went bad. Brunt shot Loring. He then set fire to the theatre they had been in, to cover his tracks.

Murder, they wrote

Certain that Brunt had killed his father, Armand dedicated his life to ruining and then killing Brunt. Using his and Jacques’ talents, he designed the “Phantom of the 42nd street” identity. It was a seemingly supernatural, eight-foot tall, impossibly strong creature. Its face was the ravaged, burned visage of Adrian Loring.

The Phantom got to work in an efficient manner. Soon, the theatre-goers in Times Square steered well clear of 42nd Street, being terrified of the Phantom there. A placard-bearing, deranged homeless man claimed that the Phantom was the result of the sins committed in Times Square, and was the herald of Judgement Day.

The Phantom of the 42nd Street announced his plan to Brunt. He then invaded the Gem Theater to find the portrait of Adrian and the papers within. The portrait, however, was kept very near Cage’s bedroom. Thus, the Phantom discovered that overcoming the Hero for Hire was impossible. Yet he easily fled, leaving Cage half-convinced that the Phantom was an actual ghost.

Hero for Hire

Jacques, who had hurt his hand hitting Cage, had to be persuaded by Armand to see a doctor. He was treated at Temple’s and Bernstein’s free clinic. The strongman threw a brief yet destructive tantrum when Bernstein made his bandage too tight. Seeing Jacques’ strength and his wound, Cage came to suspect the truth.

The Phantom entered the Gem Theater again, still after the portrait. But Cage gave chase, knocking Jacques out. Armand managed to stagger the Hero for Hire into live wires, leaving Cage muscle-locked from electricity.

With Jacques out of the picture for now, the Phantom trick was unfeasible. As a result, Armand decided to shoot Brunt dead ahead of schedule.

Showdowns

Having realised the importance of the portrait, Cage and his buddy DW found the documents inside. Thus, they learned the whole sordid story. Cage then raced to Brunt’s place. It was actually Loring’s life that Luke saved, as Brunt had gotten the drop on Armand and nearly shot him.

Luke told Armand that Adrian Loring had willed his entire fortune to his son. Loring briefly hesitated upon learning that he was now a rich man, but chose vengeance anyway. Loring leapt on Brunt and both went through a window, falling to their death.

Jacques was rushed to a hospital, but presumably recovered from his wounds.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Armand is bitter and obsessed with revenge. But he’s also smart, quick on his feet and articulate. In many way he acts like a noble avenger, a sort of Count of Monte-Cristo .

Jacques is his best friend. If they’re not in an area where folks speak Haitian French Creole, Armand will translate everything for his buddy.

Jacques seems to be a simple guy from a dirt-poor place. An incompetent doctor once made him suffer terribly. Thus, he now distrusts physicians so much he has to be persuaded to seek treatment. If anything goes wrong with a doctor, he’s liable to get physically violent. But in other circumstances, he seems to be a peaceful bloke.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Armand Loring

Dex: 06 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Revenge
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Circus acrobat
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 017 HP: 020

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, dodging): 06, Martial artist: 04, Thief (Stealth, locks & safes, pickpocket): 04

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Times Square), Language (Haitian French Creole), Schtick (Fighting Array – unarmed combat, along with Jacques).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
MPR (Dwarfism), SIH of Jasper Brunt.

Equipment:
Phantom mask [BODY 01, Strange Appearance].


Jacques

Dex: 04 Str: 05 Bod: 05 Motivation: Uphold Armand
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Circus strongman
Inf: 03 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 010 HP: 010

Skills:
Thief (Stealth): 04

Advantages:
Language (Haitian French Creole), Schtick (Fighting Array – unarmed combat, along with Armand).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
Misc. (Jacques doesn’t speak a word of English), SID of medical doctors.

Equipment:
PHANTOM BODY SUIT [BODY 02, Enhance (Thief (Stealth)): 02 (Cap is 06), Limitation: Enhance only works in a dark place, and Jacques must first dispose of the cloak, which glows in the dark].


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Armand Loring — Averaged PL4.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
00 00 04 02 04 02 00 01

Powers

Fighting duo ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Skill
Close Attack 3 and Move-by Action (Limited 2 – only when teamed up with Jacques, only for Team Attacks Manoeuvres)

Devices

Armand Loring zombie mask ● 1 point (Removable) ● Descriptor: Practical effect
– Enhanced Skill (Intimidation) 6, Enhanced Advantage (Startle)
– Both are Limited 1 (only in circumstances when a reasonable person might think it’s a real revenant)

Combat Advantages

Defensive Roll 1, Evasion, Improved Defence pus Fighting Duo above.

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Architecture of Loring-owned Time Square buildings), Instant Up, Language (Haitian creole).

Skills

Acrobatics 5 (+9), Athletics 8 (+8), Close Combat (Unarmed) 5 (+9), Deception 1 (+2), Insight 2 (+2), Perception 4 (+4), Sleight of Hand 4 (+6) (Limited 2 to Stealing), Stealth 2 (+6), Technology 4 (+5) (Limited 2 to Security).

Offense

Initiative +4
Unarmed +9, Close, Damage 0

Defence

Dodge 10 Fortitude 02
Parry 10 Toughness 00*/01
Will 02

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Dwarfism Loring’s small size and limbs can be a handicap and/or make him more noticeable.
  • I am Edmond Dantès ! Armand is obsessed with his revenge, which conditions his entire life.

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 5, Dodge/Toughness PL 6, Parry/Toughness PL 6, Fort/Will PL 2.
  • Points total 65 . Abilities 26, Defences 16, Skills 15, Powers 1, Devices 1, Advantages 6. Equiv. PL 5.


Jacques (Last name unrevealed) — Averaged PL 4.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
04 03 01 00 02 00 00 01

Powers

Fighting duo ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Skill
Close Attack 3 and Power Attack (Limited 2 – only when teamed up with Armand, only for Team Attacks Manoeuvres)

Heave-ho! ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Skill
Ranged Attack 4, Limited 2 (only when throwing large, heavy objects)

Devices

Phantom outfit ● 1 point (Removable) ● Descriptor: Practical effect
Enhanced Skill (Stealth) 4, Enhanced Advantage (Hide in plain sight)
Both are Limited 1 (only in darkness)

Combat Advantages

Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 2.

Other Advantages

Language (Haitian creole).

Skills

Athletics 1 (+5), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+6), Insight 1 (+1), Perception 2 (+2), Stealth 6 (+6).

Offense

Initiative +4
Unarmed +6, Close, Damage 4

Defence

Dodge 05 Fortitude 07
Parry 06 Toughness 03*/05
Will 02

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Stranger in a strange land Jacques doesn’t speak any English, epi li yon pwoblèm. Furthermore, he is unfamiliar with his surroundings and the culture – li pa fasil.
  • Don’t call the doctor, I’m gonna get better Jacques is extremely wary about physicians and has to be persuaded to seek treatment.
  • BFF Jacques is Armand’s best friend, and will try to help him no matter what.

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 5, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 5, Fort/Will PL 5.
  • Points total 50 . Abilities 22, Defences 14, Skills 6, Powers 2, Devices 1, Advantages 5. Equiv. PL 4.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #04.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan.

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