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Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career)

Speedball


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

Context

  • Speedball first appeared in Spider-Man Annual #22 in 1988.
  • He had his own series the next year. It was cancelled after 10 issues.
  • He got recycled in the New Warriors (see The New Warriors (year one) team profile).
  • Robbie Baldwin then became Penance.

Background

  • Real Name: Robert “Robbie” Baldwin.
  • Other Alias: The Masked Marvel, “Toothpick” (when Nova teased him).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Madelyne “Maddie” Naylor (mother), Justin Baldwin (father).
  • Group Affiliation: The New Warriors.
  • Base of Operations: Ambrose Building in Manhattan, New Warriors Crash Pad near the Brooklyn Bridge, New Warriors mothballed firehouse in The DUMBO.
  • Height: 5’10″/5’8″ Weight: 170/120 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers & Abilities

Speedball is a channel to the Kinetic Dimension . This is a place where everything is motion. When he’s hit, he absorbs the kinetic energy and his body redirects it, making him bounce to great heights. It makes him a human super-ball.

This “Speedball effect” manifests as a field of kinetic bubbles surrounding him. This kinetic field modifies his body mass. It:

  • Increases his weight and height.
  • Gives him a costume.
  • Distorts his voice.

He has to exert himself to calm down for the effect to dissipate and get back to his normal self.

At first, he had no control, and was just bouncing on the opposite direction of the hit. In confined spaces. He randomly bounced over walls, statistically ending by hitting the bad guys he was fighting. Then he gained mastery:

  • Avoiding to transform on the slightest hit.
  • Transforming back and forth at will.
  • And most of all, controlling the direction of his bouncing.

After months of practice, and a visit in the Kinetic Dimension, he mastered how to project these bubbles at a distance.


History

Robbie Baldwin was a teenager, living with his parents in Springdale, Connecticut. His mother, Madelyne Naylor, a former actress, was in charge of organizing cultural events in the Springdale community. His father, Justin Baldwin, was Assistant District Attorney.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) Ditko art

His parents were constantly arguing. His mother was promoting arts and wanted Robbie to do artistic studies while his father was promoting law and order and wanted Robbie to do law studies.

The Masked Marvel of Springdale, part 1

Robbie was an average high school student with an interest in sciences. After school, he worked as a part time assistant at Hammond Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Benson. Dr. Benson was a brilliant physicist, doing advanced researches on extra-dimensional energies.

Out of curiosity, Robbie sneaked into Benson’s lab during an experiment. Unfortunately, the experiment went wrong and a wave of extra-dimensional  radiations went out of control. While the physicists ran for cover, the wave hit Robbie. It immediately manifested the “Speedball effect” on him. He freaked out and ran away.

On the roof of the building, he crossed petty burglars who were after the rare metals of Hammond Lab. With a bit of luck and a lot of random, uncontrolled bouncing, he routed the burglars. Fleeing in panic, they crashed their car, and the police arrested them.

As Robbie had violated the safety rules of the lab, he kept everything quiet. He got anxious of anything hitting him, as the least shock unleashed the Speedball effect. He was avoiding his friends, finding lame excuses to deny playing ball with them or refusing to hit the track with the high school’s team.

The Masked Marvel of Springdale, part 2

After some times, he learned how to control the Speedball effect. He avoided its appearance but for the most violent shocks (like a fall, a punch or a bullet), and instantly recalled it when done.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) vs. Terrax

During this time, he confronted petty criminals operating in Springdale. They had colorful names like Logan the Leaper or The Bug-Eyed Voice, but no real super-power. He earned the nickname of Masked Marvel.

During a week-end in New York with his mother, he interfered with The High Evolutionary’s attempt to decimate the city’s population. In the end, he discovered Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Daredevil (Matt Murdock) were also involved in preventing the mass murders.

He tried out for Avengers’ membership, but Captain America (Steve Rogers) turned him down because his fighting style was too chaotic.

Chasing cats

Overhearing a conversation between the scientists at Hammond Lab, Robbie learned that the extra-dimensional radiation had also hit Benson’s cat: Niels. Niels manifested the same powers as Robbie, except on a house cat’s scale. Dr Benson wanted to study the effects of the radiation on the cat.

Robbie tried to capture the cat. If Benson could cure the cat, Robbie expected to take benefits of the cure without blowing his secret. Unfortunately, the Speedball Effect on the cat made it impossible to catch.

The New Warriors

While on some errand in New York with his mother, Robbie saw, on TV, a group of young super-heroes fighting Terrax. He joined the fight. It was the founding moment of a new super-heroes’ team. Speedball proposed the team’s name: The New Warriors.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) and Rage no costumes

For details on Speedball’s adventures with The New Warriors, see the team’s profiles, starting with The New Warriors (year one).

At first, Chord disliked to have Speedball on Night Thrasher’s team, because of his lack of control over his bouncing powers. But the other members liked him. In time, Chord’s training paid off, and Robbie learned to control his powers. Joining The New Warriors, and gaining more control over his kinetic field dissipated his former anxieties.

After their second encounter with The Sphinx, where he experimented on Speedball to take possession of his kinetic powers, Robbie discovered untapped abilities, like projecting his kinetic field. These could be devastating, and scared him.

Secret Identity

When Speedball revealed his identity to his teammates, they were shocked to see how young he was.

When The New Warriors rescued Madelyne Naylor from the scheming of Project: Earth, Speedball had to reveal his secret identity to her. Revealing his powers to his mother relieved him of a great weight. She got anxious for him, but he was more relaxed at home. He even overlooked his parents’ constant arguments about his future in arts or law.

After the Infinity War , Speedball had to deal with his evil twin. To protect his mother, and defeat the creature, he unleashed his full kinetic effect. Doing so, he returned to his normal form, just in time for his father to witness the transformation.

Justin’s son was, indeed, the exact kind of things he was opposed to. He was a vigilante ignoring laws and procedures to deliver a so-called justice. Robbie confronted his father over his love for his son or his professional ethics.

After the Warrior’s clashes with the Poison Memories gang, and his father’s abduction and rescue, Robbie and Justin made peace over Speedball.

Parents’ divorce

Robbie’s mother was quite independent. A famous TV soap opera drafted her, thus she came back in the spots light. She used this renewed celebrity to get involved in political causes. On the opposite, Robbie’s father was quite the conformist.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) parents divorce drama

The gap between them furthered. Their arguments were turning into fights, and they agreed to divorce. Robbie was devastated. His mother moved to Manhattan, close to her TV set. Robbie went with her. It made his life easier for The New Warriors, and he was now out of his father’s jurisdiction.

Relationship with teammates

When The Avengers kicked Rage out, Robbie was waiting for him in front of The Mansion. He immediately offered Rage to join The New Warriors. Being of the same age, Speedball and Rage were close. They hung together, playing video games.

Carlton LaFroyge was Madelyne’s neighbor at her Manhattan’s apartment. He discovered Speedball’s secret identity. He harassed Robbie, blackmailing him to reveal Speedball’s identity, unless he co-opted him to join The New Warriors. As Hindsight Lad, the strategic genius, LaFroyge evolved from pain in the neck to valuable support asset.

Being a hormones driven teenager made Speedball act a bit of a jerk in presence of female teammates or allies. He was constantly, half-seriously, hitting on them, using lamer and lamer pick up lines. It was particularly strong toward Turbo, who was not the least bit interested in him.

On any occasion where The New Warriors impressed the media, Speedball was having a ball.

The Kinetic Dimension

During his next confrontation with The New Warriors, The Sphinx trapped Speedball in the Kinetic Dimension. There, Robbie realized he was not only a channel, but he was the Kinetic Dimension. It gave him a deeper understanding of his powers, enabling to easily project his kinetic field. For some times, he also had some trouble containing it.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) punchable

While Robbie visited his father in Springdale, he witnessed some of his former local enemies trying to capture Niels the cat. Dr Clyde Bodtchnik, a local mad scientist who Speedball defeated in the early days, wanted the cat to duplicate the kinetic field for himself.

Speedball interfered but also got captured. Clyde tried to steal both kinetic powers but got overwhelmed. Niels neutralized him with a cat’s puke devastating attack. Afterward, Niels became nice and soft and Robbie adopted him as house pet.

Apparent death (not mentioned in New Warriors profiles)

Robbie got mysterious phone calls from a woman pretending to having seen him die. She harassed Carlton LaFroyge, and eventually got to meet The New Warriors. She explained her visions and joined the team as Timeslip. Speedball was not worried about her predictions. He didn’t believe in any fore-written future.

Then, time manipulation related people poured in the Crash Pad to neutralize Speedball, as a threat to this time frame. The Sphinx reappeared, in the hermaphrodite, completed form they had left after their previous encounter. Despite The New Warriors’ efforts to prevent it, The Sphinx actually killed Speedball.

But it was not Speedball. It was a construct, made by Darrion, a scientist from the future. He had explored the Kinetic Dimension. In this timeless dimension, he found Speedball when The Sphinx had trapped him there. He duplicated his molecular structure and sent the result in the Kinetic Dimension. It emerged in The Sphinx’s remodeled reality, instead of the real Speedball.

Darrion’s father was Advent. He went mad and used his son’s work to travel through the past and remodel this reality. Defeated by The New Warriors, he blew his new reality. Darrion projected Firestar, Turbo, Justice and Powerpax into the Kinetic Dimension. In this place with no time, they survived the annihilation of Advent’s time line.

The real Speedball, who was still trapped there, emerged with them, in their proper time line and reality.

New Warriors’ second run

The New Warriors had never officially disbanded, but they had drifted apart. Robbie went back to school, daydreaming of reforming the team as in the old days.

He renewed contact to start The New Warriors over:

  • Night Thrasher declined: he was moving to Seattle for studies.
  • Firestar and Justice declined: they were now full members of The Avengers, and liked it that way.
  • Rage declined: he was now at peace with his former anger, and didn’t need The New Warriors to vent it anymore.
  • Darkhawk? His school’s grades were bad, and he had no spare time for super-heroing.
  • Powerpax? Stealing his siblings’ power was now out of the question (but he got over The New Warriors nearly killing his friend Friday).
  • Cloak and Dagger? Already committed to one another.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) New Warriors volume 2

That left Namorita and Nova. She was mad at him for being a jerk when she needed him. They eventually agreed, out of sympathy, to join Speedball. On their first sortie against Blastaar, Turbo overheard the call, and joined. They were then joined by newbies: Aegis and Bolt.

Nova and Speedball made plans for a New Warriors’ movie. It died the moment they had contact with Hollywood agents. We’ll never know what tweaks these planned on their original screenplay.

Real TV

Night Thrasher came back in charge of a new New Warriors’ installment. This time, he was short on cash and called upon some rather unexpected financial backup: a broadcasting network. The New Warriors’ operations were now moving across the country, arresting fugitive masked criminals, in front of a TV crew, filming the action.

It turned The New Warriors into a media circus. Speedball was delighted.

The end of the world

As part of their real TV show, they had cornered four highly wanted super-villains, among them the explosive Nitro. Speedball launched an ill-prepared assault, but a TV-bankable one. Namorita singled out Nitro, expecting to impress him into submission. She didn’t… He exploded with the full might of his power…

The blast was so violent it propelled Speedball some 500 miles from the site… absorbing it drained all his kinetic field away. He was, indeed, powerless.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) the explosion in Stamford (Civil War)

When he woke up, all hell had broken loose.

This explosion had taken place in Stamford, Connecticut, and left over 600 dead… and started the first Marvel Civil War .

Exit stage left. Make room for Penance.


Description

Speedball looked like a fit young man with long blond hair standing straight over his head, as if he abused hairstyling gel. His kinetic field gave him a blue costume with orange boots, gloves, belt and mask. The orange parts were patterned with bubbles. The mask covered his neck, cheeks, ears and eyes. It left his mouth and hair free.

Later, he changed the pattern of the costume, the boots and gloves were black with only the top as orange with the bubbles pattern. His mask looked like orange bubble-like goggles.

The kinetic field distorted his voice.

As Robbie Baldwin, he was a skinny, short teenager with long blond hair and blue eyes. He was smaller (around 2″ shorter) and skinnier than Speedball. He dressed in usual clothes back then for a young man of his age.


Personality

At first, Robbie was very anxious about his powers. He feared the least contact might trigger them in the middle of a crowd. He feared for the damage he may cause and being discovered.

With mastery came confidence. He even became cocky. He was acting shallow. Most of all, he was seeking the limelights.

As Speedball, he was a jerk, hitting on women as if he were irresistible. It may have been an act, but it’s doubtful. Remember he was in his teens, with no girlfriend, and with an edge that made him special. He expected celebrity to bring irresistible attraction in him to women.

Speedball (Marvel Comics) (Classic career) and his mum

And with other people, ally or enemy, he just couldn’t stop talking: not taunting as Spider-Man or Deadpool did, just rambling.

As Robbie, he acted more reserved. With confidence in the control of his powers, he came back to his friends from high school, and did teenagers’ things with them.

He loved his parents. Despite his attitude toward his father’s ethics, he loved him.

He cared for his friends. Once pointed toward real issues, he was a good team player.


Quotes

“Speedball, The Masked Marvel !! Yeehaa !”

“Cap’ dumped on you ? Me too !! Hey, we can be The Legion of Substitute Avengers !”

“Is it just me… Or is it an incredibly dramatic and emotional turning point in our lives ?”

“Thrasher telling one of us to calm down ? I have seen the light ! Hallelujah !”

“We’ll talk later about this super hero thing, mom. I know it must have you pretty weirded out. But I have to help my friends first, okay ?”

(When his father finds out he’s Speedball)
Speedball: “This is what I am now. You’d better learn to accept it.”
Father: “And what if I can’t ? What if you and your kind stand for everything I’m opposed too ?”
Speedball: “Then you’re going to have to try and stop me. And you’re going to fail. Then you’ll have kept your ‘upright’ and uptight ethics… But you’ll have lost your son.”

Robbie: “Ooooh ! What a shaaaame… It’s just you and me Mickster !”
Michiko: “I just know he’s gonna hold my elbow and think he’s reached second base.”

(Trapped in the Kinetic Dimension)
“…I am this dimension ! This place is me !”

(Listing the candidates to reunite The New Warriors)
“And Namorita ! Yeah ! Every team needs a babe in a bikini.”

“Thatwasawesomedidyougetitoncamera ?!”

“The plan is you spend five more minutes in makeup, Namorita. You think people wanna see that great big ugly zit on your chin ?”


DC Universe History

There are similarities between the Speed Force and Speedball’s kinetic dimension. Robbie could thus be the Kid Flash of another world, back when Wally was with the Teen Titans. Other New Warriors could be altered into equivalent of 1980s Titans (Night Thrasher as a Robin figure, Nova as a Starfire figure…) and this team might end up stranded on the main Earth for a while.

There could also be a link with Chuck Taine (Bouncing Boy). Perhaps he’s the son of Chuck and Luornu from an unpleasant future timeline  that was destroyed by Glorith, but he escaped. Speedball might have been part of a New Legion of Substitute Heroes there, to match the joke mentioned in the Quotes section.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Speedball

Dex: 05 Str: 06 Bod: 04 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth:
Init: 011 HP: 030

Powers:
Kinetic Absorption: 20, Jumping: 02, Mental Blast: 00, Power Reserve (Jumping, Mental Blast): 15

Skills:
Evasion: 09

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Power Reserve fueled by Kinetic Absorption (BC 75, FC -5).
  • Kinetic Absorption fuels Power Reserve (FC +3).
  • When KA absorbs RAPs with any amount of Knockback (whether as a regular attack, or the special maneuver), at least 1 AP of PR gained must go to Jumping the next round, and the actual Knockback distance increases 1 AP (FC -2).
  • KA/PR works with his own jumps. Use the Falling rules (BoH:SE p151) and directly read RAPs on the Result table for 2xJumping/Bod to get the AP added to PR (FC +2 for Power Reserve).
  • Evasion is a Powered Skill, and is limited by active APs of Jumping (FC -1). The environment must offer obstacles to bounce onto like walls, trees or street equipments (FC -1).
  • Mental Blast has Serious Power Burnout (FC -2). If the Burnout number is rolled, Speedball automatically reverts to human form (FC -1). He can change back on the next phase. MB cannot recover with a Recovery roll. It needs new APs from PR. Reduce active APs of PR by the amount of MB lost in the Burnout (so they can be fueled again by further KA).
  • Jumping is Multi-Attack -1 CS when used as EV (FC +1).
  • Jumping is Dependent on Kinetic Absorption (FC -1).

Advantages:
Ultra luck, Misc. (can change his costume in minor ways: colors, patterns, but it still remains easy to recognize Speedball, 0 HP).

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (controlled, takes the usual 1 phase to transform back), Dependents (Mother, Father), Secret Id, SIA (don’t use Mental Blast over 10 AP).

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (controlled), Dependents (Mother, Father), Secret Id.


Robbie Baldwin

Dex: 03 Str: 01 Bod: 02 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 02 Occupation: High school student
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Wealth: 004
Init: 07 HP: 010

Powers:
Kinetic absorption: 20

Bonuses and Limitations:
If KA transforms him to Speedball (see Drawbacks), the RAP absorbed go to Speedball’s Power Reserve (0).

Advantages:
Insta Change (can change to Speedball instantly if hit and wishes to or by hitting himself), Luck.

Connections:
Credentials (TV studios, Low, 5 HP).

Drawbacks:
Age (Young), Alter ego (controlled), Dependents (Mother, Father), Misc. (If KA absorbs 2 or more AP of damage, it automatically triggers Speedball’s transformation, 10 HP), Misc. (cannot voluntarily change to Speedball if he’s not hit or cannot hit himself, like paralyzed, 5 HP), Secret Id.


Niels, the Bouncing Cat

Not really a pet, but its stats are worth mentioning. This is a simplified stats set for Niels as he appears in Speedball’s adventures. For a full take, see our Hairball character profile.

Dex: 05 Str: 00 Bod: 02
Int: 02 Wil: 01 Min: 01
Inf: 01 Aur: 00 Spi: 02
Init: 008 HP: 010

Powers:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 04, Claws: 01, Directional Hearing: 05, Extended Hearing: 02, Shrinking: 05, Super-hearing: 04, Ultra Vision: 04, Kinetic Absorption: 15, Jumping: 01, Power Reserve (Jumping): 05

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 03, Acrobatics (Dodging): 05, Thief (Stealth): 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Shrinking is Always On and already figured.
  • Same as Speedball for PR and KA.
  • Acrobatics (Dodging) is a Powered Skill (BC -5) and is limited to active APs of Jumping (FC -1) and needs things to bounce onto (FC -1).

Design notes

  • Speedball has a pretty high Str. He can lift and throw a safe.
  • He usually quickly builds up his Jumping power to 09, to boost his Power Reserve with the kinetic energy of his jumps and to cap his Evasion.
  • He also uses his Jumping as EV, charging his opponents (Self inflicted RAPs of the charge fuel his PR).
  • When he puts his PR on MB, he’s easier to hit.
  • Robbie’s credentials come from his mother’s celebrity, as he can easily access TV studios when he accompanies her.

By Nicolas Lemaçon.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci, Brent Walters, Kal El el Vigilante.

Writeup completed on the 30th of July, 2017.

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