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Syonide (Black Lightning 1970s enemy) DC Comics

Syonide

(1978 Black Lightning villain)


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

Context

Syonide is an obscure DC Comics super-villain and hitman. He clashed with Black Lightning, one of the few African-American super-heroes with their own comic book, in 1978.

Syonide and his successor had a whole page about them in the 1985 of DC’s Who’s Who character encyclopaedia – which made them look like handy antagonists for street-level stories.

He has no known tie to an obscure 1946 DC character of the same name.


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Employee of The 100
  • Base Of Operations: Unrevealed
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Orange


Powers & Abilities

Syonide is an experienced professional hitman. He’s an excellent hand-to-hand combat expert (albeit markedly under the level of Black Lightning), but he’s primarily a weapons specialist.

His speciality is manhunting – tracking people down, locating them and capturing them. He boasted about having “mastered every known tracking skill”. Though he was presumably exaggerating, he seemed to have a good track record as seen by the mob.

He knows how to use “truth serums” for interrogation, and his successes have made him wealthy.

Syonide was assisted by two henchmen – the inept Steel-Fist Feeny and an unnamed, slightly more competent kung fu guy. The henchmen were mostly meant as a distraction to smoke up prey and create a capture opportunity for Syonide.

Gear

Syonide carries several weapons secreted upon his person. The list below is probably incomplete.

  • An electrified whip. Though this whip cannot kill outright a sufficiently strong person (such as Black Lightning), it was powerful enough shock superhumans such as Geo-Force (assuming it’s the same design as the one later used by Syonide II).
  • Two slim knives resembling throwing blades, hidden in spring-loaded sheathes along his left forearm.
  • A strange-looking carbine, about which nothing is known
  • A silent, precise dart pistol to deliver drugs. The impact feels like a wasp’s sting and can thus easily be missed in combat. When used against Black Lightning, the drug was both a knockout serum (though it felled Mr. Pierce within a dozen seconds, the effect lasted but a minute) and a will-weakening serum.
    This latter, improbable chemical makes the subject highly susceptible to suggestion, but only from a person who has taken a matching “will assertion serum”. Syonide used it to order Black Lightning to stop fighting, then to submit and follow him.

Powers ?

The set-up with the mind control serums is odd even by super-heroic comic book standards. One… drinks a serum to magically dominate somebody injected with another serum ? Furthermore, these drugs were never used again, not even by the second Syonide, despite their obvious power (the Who’s Who hypotheses they proved unreliable).

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that Syonide I actually bore the metagene , and had latent mind control abilities. He took a chemical to activate them for a short while, and could only get meaningful results if the target had been dosed by an interrogation drug beforehand to create susceptibility.

Being a No-Prize Hypothesis this is *not* directly supported by the material, but it has everything go easier on the suspension of disbelief without contradicting observed facts.

Perhaps these chemicals are based on common narcotics, which would explain how Syonide discovered his semi-active power.


History

During the 1970s, Syonide was a professional manhunter. He worked for the nationwide criminal network The 100, and possibly other mobs, as a sort of bounty hunter. He always delivered his targets alive, usually to be tortured and executed by his clients.

In 1978 Tobias Whale, the boss of the Metropolis branch of The 100 reigning over Suicide Slum, hired Syonide. The 100 were having a major problem with the new costumed crime-fighter Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce), and wanted him gone.

Syonide determined that the tailor Peter Gambi had a link with Black Lightning, and captured and interrogated the old man. He gained enough information to set up an ambush with his henchmen. Though Black Lightning clearly outclassed them, Syonide prevailed by sniping Black Lightning with a drugged dart.

Killing in the name

When Tobias Whale came in, he grew annoyed by Syonide – whom he sensed wasn’t a killer. Seeing this as abject cowardice, the terrifying Whale hit Syonide and demanded that he kill Gambi and Lightning himself, within the hour.

Unable to murder people in cold blood, but knowing that The 100 would hunt him forever if he didn’t comply, Syonide only found one way out. He rigged one of his weapons to also kill the shooter when fired. When the time came to kill Black Lightning, he was thus slain when he pulled the trigger.

During the same split-second, Gambi leapt in front of Pierce, saving Black Lightning’s life at the cost of his own.

A new Syonide later emerged, using similar skills, weapons and costume.


Description

Note that having orange hair is perfectly normal in super-hero comic books – Alpha Flight’s Heather Hudson being the traditional example (*where* the heck is High River ?).

Syonide’s physique is powerful in the first issue he appears in, but super-hero-standard by the next issue. Based on Who’s Who height/weight the second take seems more accurate.


Personality

Syonide saw himself as a sophisticated expert and Great White Hunter, with class. He spoke using a needlessly elaborate vocabulary, and one gets the impression that he came from money (perhaps his name is a merger of “scion” and “cyanide”).

He was in for the money and the thrill of the hunt, and like most people wasn’t a murderer. He couldn’t bear to kill anyone or even watch somebody getting killed. He also preferred suicide to being forever hunted by The 100 to know the same fate as most people he captured for them.

If he has some sort of weak telepathic powers, this may explain why he was so reluctant to kill (psychic feedback ?) and why he chose a profession toward which this reluctance made him ill-suited (a fig leaf to use his unethical abilities).


Quotes

“For the record, Black Lightning, [I am] known as Syonide — flamboyant though that cognomen may be ! But I’m afraid subtlety would be quite lost on sort of people who have need of my special talents.”

(Loading a knockout drug dart) “The coup de grâce must, of course, fall to me. Beyond this stage the hunt always seem so… anti-climatic.”

“The bounty The 100 is offering for your associate’s head is a bit too generous for an expediter of my capabilities to ignore.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Syonide

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary/Thrill
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 03 Occupation: Manhunter
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 016 HP: 020

Powers:
Control: 09

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Control needs to be activated by taking a special serum – it is otherwise inert. The effect of the serum seem to last for 1 or 2 hours, at which point the Power Burns Out. There seems to be a delay before it can be Recovered by taking another dose of serum.
  • Control is only effective against people dosed with interrogation drugs and perhaps certain psychoactive medications. Perhaps rolls against people not dosed with such receive a +4CS OV/RV penalty
  • Control can only be used for simple physical Automatic Actions such as “stop fighting” or “follow me”

Skills:
Charisma (Interrogation): 04, Detective (Legwork): 05, Gadgetry: 05, Martial Artist: 05, Military science (Tracking): 05, Thief (Concealment, Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry has a Specialization in less-than-lethal weaponry

Advantages
Expertise (Manhunting), Familiarity (Surveillance, American mob affairs)

Connections:
Street (Low), Underworld (Low)

Drawbacks:
Misc.: Syonide abhors killing

Equipment:

  • Electric whip [BODY 06, EV 03, Lightning: 06, Sharpness (Lightning): 04, Stretching: 01, Bonus: EV and Lightning can be Combined, Limitation: Lightning has No Range but can use the Stretching, Stretching has No Fine Manipulation, Sharpness doesn’t apply if the target has any robust electrical insulation]
  • Slim knives [BODY 03, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 06 w/Martial Artist)]
  • Dart gun [BODY 02, Range: 03, Ammo (Very Long Reload): 01, Thief (Stealth): 06, Limitation: Thief only to muffle both the shot and the detectability of the impact]. The Range is used to propel compatible darts. Syonide usually uses this from ambush, which means that the Sleep of the dart (below) will Blindside – except perhaps against people with super-senses.
  • Drugged dart (x1) [BODY 01, Sleep (No Range): 06, R#04, Drawback: the dart cannot deliver the drug through armour or to subject with a natural RV of 07 or more]

“Pajamas”

The henchman teamed up with Steel-Fist Feeny never received a name, though Black Lightning called him “Pajamas” due to his yellow gi. He’s a semi-competent kung fu guy with a bandoleer and a belt stocked full of shuriken.

Likely stats include DEX 05, Martial Artist: 05, Weaponry (Thrown): 05, and probably Acrobatics: 04.


Design Notes

There is very little material, so obviously the stats are educated guesses. I am assuming low cinematic skills – sufficient to take on the vast majority of targets, and precise enough with weapons to hit even super-heroes (assuming he put HPs behind his attacks – he has enough to afford doing that a few times, and will do so), but nothing beyond that.

The Control thing is explained in the P&A section ; it is a No-Prize Hypothesis of ours. If you prefer the original explanation simply transfer the Power to the dart.

He was clearly outclassed by Black Lightning, but then BL isn’t exactly a creampuff – so it doesn’t mean Syonide is incompetent.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Black Lightning vol. 1 #6-7 (1978)

Writeup completed on the 24th of October, 2015.

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