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Titanium Man (Iron Man classic enemy) (Marvel Comics)

Titanium Man

(Boris Bullski) (Profile #2 - 1980s and 1990s)


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

Context

This article is the second in a chronological series, which should be read in order. It goes :

  1. Titanium Man profile #1 – 1960s and 1970s – start here
  2. Titanium Man profile #2 – 1980s and 1990s – this here writeup
  3. Titanium Man profile #3 – current

Background

  • Real Name: Boris Bullski
  • Other Aliases: Bullski the Merciless, Boris the Merciless, the Other, the Commander, Bullski the Butcher
  • Marital Status: Married – possibly now divorced
  • Known Relatives: Unidentified wife, unidentified father
  • Group Affiliation: NKVD, former member of the Titanic Three, former leader of the Green Liberation Front, former member of Remont IV, former agent of Half-Face and Thanos
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 7’1” (often taller, see above) Weight: 425 lbs (often heavier, see above)
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black, later brown


Powers and Abilities

Bullski’s abilities do not change during this era, apart from the variations in his height and armour suits documented in the game stats.

In late 1994, he switches to what seems to be a completely different technology from the one created 30 years before at the work camp by Anton Vanko’s team. From the external design it seems that he’s now using the Gremlin (Kondrati Topolov) version of the Titanium Man armour. It doesn’t seem to have much in common technologically and is much more modern.

This armour is only seen once during this era. But he presumably used it from 1995 to the end of this writeup, with an interruption during his nervous breakdown.

During said nervous breakdown he produced an old Titanium Man armour, apparently from the 1970s. It is possible that it was mothballed in an abandoned facility of Half-Face (Trung Tuan).

Rock that body, part 1

In 1995, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent refers to Bullski as “the Titanium Man LMD”. This is never elaborated upon or mentioned again.

Later that year, Bullski accuses Shatalov of having promised him his humanity back then having taken in away forever. Shatalov answers that the technology that let Bullski become human was killing him due to his altered biochemistry.

The most economical explanation would be :

  • The alterations making Bullski a giant had more severe effects that was ever mentioned in the stories, and were mutating him.
  • This presumably means that it was not just his size that prevented Bullski from functioning without wearing his armour. He also needed it to regulated his altered body.
  • Valentin Shatalov, the director of the Remont 4 conspiracy, attempted to have Bullski cured as his condition became terminal. That didn’t work, and Bullski would sooner or later die.
  • A LMD (Life Model Decoy)  housing a duplicated consciousness of Bullski was assembled. That was the closest one could come to saving Bullski’s life. This LMD was a duplicate of Bullski’s original, 7’1” tall body. It was more mentally stable than Bullski (presumably for neurochemical reasons).
  • Thus at this point there were *two* Boris Bullskis. The giant who rampaged near Moscow in the old armor was actually the dying original, whereas the pragmatic man who worked with Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. was the LMD (see what we did here ?).
  • The original was killed fighting the Crimson Dynamo (Tony Stark), leaving the LMD as the only Boris Bullski.

(These events are described in the History section).

Rock that body, part 2

Please note that these bullet points are an *original hypothesis* on our part. It is solely based on the two bits of 1995 dialogue mentioned above. It is *not* substanciated by Marvel accounts such as his 2007 Handbook  entry.

However, the first appearance of Titanium Man after his apparent death — which concludes this era — makes sure that his face doesn’t appear on-panel. It is purposefully ambiguous as to whether this is Bullski, or another man who has press clippings of Bullski’s careers.

In 2006, Peter Parker remembers reading that the Titanium Man “had been replaced, then the next guy was killed or retired or —”. But he doesn’t finish the sentence or provide context.


History

(This section starts right where the History section of the first entry stopped)

Escaping in an unrevealed manner, the Titanium Man started operating from the shadows as the unseen “Other”. The Other launched a plan to defeat Iron Man, apparently to regain cred with Soviet authorities.

The Other

At first, the Other was mainly the manipulator behind attacks on the new Stark International. These included a powerful assault from the Unicorn (Milos Masaryk), with whom Bullski was in constant radio contact. After thus assessing Stark’s defences, Bullski attacked a gala where Iron Man was to make an appearance. But this had been cancelled at the last minute, and the replacement guest was a comedian.

Outraged by this turn of events, the Titanium Man flew out. He then issued a challenge to Iron Man right in the middle of Times Square.

The battle raged throughout Manhattan, and the Titanium Man realised that the current Iron Man armour was even more powerful than his assessment showed. He was forced to retreat, but the Golden Avenger caught up with him.

Bullski turned the tables by trapping Stark into a bear hug. But Stark — who had been spending Hero Points  throughout the fight — tore open Titanium Man’s helmet in an heroic effort. Stark then knocked Bullski out on the ice rink in front of the United Nations building.

Credit card soldiers, part 1

Bullski came back with a plot not unlike his Other scheme. Under the identity of the Commander he manipulated the Green Liberation Front. The Front was a group of disgruntled American veterans from the Việt Nam war who had become criminals.

The GLF vets were also wearing power armours of Soviet design – built by a defector named Sergei Simonov. Bullski blackmailed Simonov into working for him by threatening his family, who was still living in Russia.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) as the Commander

The Commander had the GLF successfully attack several banks, then prepared them for an attack on the Fed. The GLF was to breach the building and activate an electronic device the Commander gave them.

The veterans thought that it would just disrupt government activity. But the device would actually fry or infect nearly all of the US’s banking infrastructure.

Credit card soldiers, part 2

This operation went awry when Beta Ray Bill and his friend Sif intervened. Knowing that the GLF armoured squad was no match for Bill, the Commander took on the alien to keep him busy. However, during the fight, Sergei Simonov learned that his family back home had been accidentally killed.

In revenge, Simonov disrupted the Commander’s holographic disguise. He thus revealed to the GLF that they had been manipulated by a Communist. The veterans turned against Bullski – and sooner or later they would land a lucky hit.

The Titanium Man retreated by using Simonov’s signature technology – teleporting back to base in the shape of a green credit card-sized rectangle of plastic. However, Simonov was waiting for him and ripped the card to bits.

Uncompressed

With Bullski believed dead, diminutive Russian genius the Gremlin (Kondrati Topolov), operated as the second Titanium Man. He wore a suit of armour coloured in the same shade of green and with some vague similarities to Bullski’s, but based on his own technology. Topolov worked with the Soviet Super-Soldiers, but was accidentally killed by Iron Man.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) smashes two police cruisers

In 1992, the Crimson Dynamo (Dmitri Bukharin) was sent to recover Bullski. The intelligence for the mission was excellent. Thus, Bukharin entered the Commander’s deserted base, located the debris of the card and had equipment that could reconstruct Bullski in seconds.

However, the Russian was attacked by GLF troopers. They had also been “carded” in unknown circumstances and Bukharin accidentally reactivated them. There were too many GLF troopers for the Dynamo to handle, and Bukharin was forced to trigger the reintegration process to rebuild Bullski before all necessary precautions had been taken.

Bullski made his return, slaughtering GLF troopers in a state of mindless rage and pain. As would be soon established, he had been restored with his lower left leg mangled. Presumably a shredded bit of the card hadn’t activated properly.

New world order

Bullski would likely have razed a good chunk of Brooklyn. But Bukharin lured him over the Atlantic and “carded” him again before flying home.

The official who had launched the mission was the ever-manipulative Colonel-General Valentin Shatalov of the State Security Bureau of the GRU. Shatalov was also the head of a conspiracy called Remont 4, intended to bring back Russia to its Soviet heydays.

Bullski happily collaborated with Shatalov. Shatalov had GRU technicians help repair and upgrade the Titanium Man armour and outfit Bullski with a leg prosthesis. A Remont 4 group of “heroes” was organized, with Shatalov donning the Crimson Dynamo suit.

Beyond Shatalov and Bullski, the team included the new Unicorn and the gunman Firefox (Grigori Andreivitch). Apparently, this group was well-received by the Russian public, or at least the more conservative parts.

космонавт, part 1

In 1994, the Titanium Man was fighting revolutionaries in Omsk when Thanos teleported him to his base. Thanos had also recruited the Super-Skrull, Nitro, the Rhino and Geatar and told these unsavoury types that he would pay them whatever they wanted in return for a high-risks mission.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) firing a big blast from his gauntlets

Bullski did not care about money, so Thanos promised him scientific knowledge for the advancement of his homeland.

Bullski and the rest were sent to the planet H’aarg to capture a messiah called the Oracle of Ancient Knowledge. The band of thugs fought an army of heavily-armed monks, then the powerful robot guarding the Oracle. The oracle turned out to be a deluded android.

космонавт, part 2

Ripping the Oracle from its computers banks brought down the planetary anti-teleportation shields. This was what Thanos had been really waiting for. Thanos waltzed in, grabbed the Oracle, told his agents that he was cutting them loose and had destroyed their spaceship, and teleported out.

Nitro and the Super-Skrull were badly wounded in the subsequent fighting. But the Titanium Man managed to repair to escape pod of their wrecked spaceship, and exhausted his energy reserves flying it past the gravity well. The villains drifted in space until they passed out from lack of oxygen, but the Silver Surfer and Legacy rescued them.

The Surfer healed the wounded, and took the Rhino and Bullski back to Earth.

Mercenary ways

Remont 4 was apparently dissolved in 1994, in unknown circumstances. From one bit of dialogue it seems that Shatalov was one of the backers of Alexander Rutskoy during the 1993 Constitutional crisis . Well, assuming that these events took place the same way in the Marvel Universe in the real world.

Sensing the winds of History after the Army sided with President Boris Yeltsin, Valentin Shatalov went back to working within the system.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) charging

Whatever happened exactly must have been pretty significant, for when he was seen next Bullski was a changed man. He had given up his political obsessions, returned to his 7’1” size, and was wearing a suit that seemed to have been designed by the Gremlin.

Furthermore, he had become an apolitical mercenary. He was at that point working for A.I.M., whose engineers had the knowledge and machines to keep his sophisticated power armour running.

(It is possible that this Bullski was a LMD of the original. See the Powers And Abilities section for our No-Prize Hypothesis ).

A deal with America

A conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to kidnap a former KGB star agent whom Bullski knew – Colonel Dmitri Panshin. A.I.M. sent the Titanium Man to convince the man to join them instead.

Bullski clashed with Captain America, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the conspiracy’s Agent Orange. The Titanium Man was trying both to convince Panshin to listen to A.I.M.’s offer and to protect his little boy Sergei, who was threatened by Agent Orange.

Soon A.I.M., S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US government realised that a fourth party was at work. All three decided to collaborate on the Panshin issue. Despite his past as a fervid ideologue, the disillusioned Bullski worked just fine with Captain America and Colonel Nicholas Fury.

The three men located, overcame and arrested the conspirators within S.H.I.E.L.D..

Breakdown, part 1

Mere months after this well-handled case, Bullski apparently experienced a severe nervous breakdown. He somehow became a giant again and rampaged in Russia. Bullski was wearing an old Titanium Man armour – quite possibly a model from the 1970s.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) and the Crimson Dynamo

Among other incidents he broke into the mausoleum of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to weep and lament the woes of modern Russia. Upon learning that Stark International was opening a new branch on Leningradsky Prospekt , the maudlin Bullski became furious and attacked the ceremony.

Fortunately for Bullski, the military officers monitoring the case were sympathetic toward his long career. They contacted his former ally the Crimson Dynamo (Valentin Shatalov) to rein Bullski him. Iron Man (Tony Stark) and his friend the Black Widow (Natalia Romanova) were also present.

Breakdown, part 2

Shatalov and Romanova tried to reason Bullski, but he was too far gone. The Titanium Man accused Shatalov of having betrayed him and betrayed the Remont 4 project after the coup attempt. Bullski broke Shatalov’s leg and flew away.

Negotiating with Shatalov and Romanova, Stark replaced Shatalov as the Crimson Dynamo as a diplomatic gesture. This way, everyone could pretend that Bullski would be stopped by a Russian operative. With his armor partially remote-controlled by his Russian allies, Stark engaged the Titanium Man.

Shatalov came to consider that a killing blow was the only solution – in part because he knew of Bullski’s medical condition. Thus, he triggered the Crimson Dynamo’s fusion caster before Romanova or Stark could react. The very powerful blast apparently slew Bullski, who died hallucinating of his father.


Description

Bullski’s head is seldom seen during this era. But from the two shots that exist one gets the impression that he was dyeing his hair in a darker shade of grey to conceal his age.


Personality

Bullski starts this era as much the same character as before, as ruthless soldier and manpulator. A large part of his motivation is to reestablish his cred, for instance by defeating Iron Man. This way he will be able to return home and see his family again.

By the 1990s, the USSR has collapsed but Bullski clings to his old dreams. He enthusiastically joins Remont 4 in the hope of fostering a return to the old days and stop the changes. The 1993 failure devastates him, and he sees Shatalov’s pragmatism as a treason of all that is good for the USSR.

His medical — and particularly neurochemical — issues may have played a role in his obsessive, nostalgic behaviour. They presumably are what resulted in his apparent death in 1995.

As can be seen in the quotes, Bullski is big on speeches and grandiloquent Cold War-style declarations. He will abstain if they’d make no sense, for instance because he’s operating with space aliens rather than fighting Americans.


Quotes

“Is it not revealing to see how the capitalists turn on each other in a moment ?”

“Cower, you scions of oppressive government ! Cower and beg and pray that I might at least spare you your paltry lives ! For the metropolis of capitalist decadence in which you live them is doomed ! Soon it shall fall before me as an example, to show the directorate in Moscow where my true loyalties lie ! So says the Other ! So says — THE TITANIUM MAN !”

“I shall crush this lackey of capitalism myself ! These enhanced laser beam can burn through even the strongest metal ! No being, alien or otherwise, can resist their destructive fury !”

“The KGB ? Hah ! Captain, the KGB can no longer afford the upkeep of my armor. I work for A.I.M..”

(During his nervous breakdown) “Old women hobble the streets, begging for rubles. 40,000 Muscovites call metro stations their home. 3,000 murders in Moscow last year. Everywhere the noviye bogatl, indulging their hedonistic Western habits. 20 million soldiers died fighting Hitler in the Great Patriotic War — and Zhirinosky calls for us to embrace Fascism. All is madness. All is in ruins.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Boris Bullski

Dex: 06 Str: 05 Bod: 05 Motivation: Power Lust, later Mercenary
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Drifter
Inf: 07 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 019 HP: 060

Powers:
Growth: 01, Invulnerability: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Growth is Always On and Already Factored In (see the “Merciless !” section for more about his Growth)
  • Invulnerability and the first AP of Growth are both Form Function
  • When Bullski uses Invulnerability, all of his Attributes and Skills drop to zero and must be Recovered normally. Invulnerability takes 1d10 Phases to take effect.

Skills:
Artist (Actor): 02, Gadgetry: 04, Scientist (Drawing plans): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, heavy, exotic): 05, Weaponry (Titanium Man suits weapon systems): 06

Advantages:
Familiarity (Marxist theory), Language (Russian), Scholar (Titanium Man armour technology)

Connections:
For a time Remont 4 (Low)

Drawbacks:
Minor Rage, MIA toward Spouting long-winded propaganda. He later developed some Physical Restrictions (see the “Merciless !” section for a full chronology and explanations)


Merciless !

This section traces the main evolutions in Titanium Man’s stats over the decades.

  • 1980 or earlier — At some point before the Times Square challenge to Iron Man, Bullski has five APs of Growth. His armour was also improved, likely through his own tinkering, to accommodate his larger size and strength. But generally it’s still the Half-Face design.
  • 1992 — After he was reintegrated from an incomplete “credit card” and joined Remont 4, Bullski’s lower left leg was badly damaged. This is a Serious Physical Restriction. For a time he wore a crude prosthesis housing his mangled tissue and allowing him to walk, but this was apparently replaced with good-quality cybernetics, allowing him to ignore his handicap.
    At this stage Bullski could function as a giant without wearing his armour and without ill effects, perhaps for the first time.
  • Before 1995 — The improvements allowing Bullski to function as a giant are rejected by his peculiar body chemistry. In unknown circumstances — perhaps Shatalov using the last remaining resources of Remont 4 — Bullski is reverted to his normal, but still considerable, size.
    Bullski starts wearing an armour that resemble the Gremlin’s design. One suspects that the availability of this armour suit, large but not gigantic, is part of what allowed Bullski to revert to his basic height. By this point, Bullski has lost his MIA toward spouting propaganda.
  • March of 1995 — Bullski experiences a psychotic breakdown, during which he becomes a giant again (Growth: 04) and wears the “throwback” model of Titanium Man armour. He briefly relapsed into his propaganda MIA, which became a SIA.

Data & game stats about the armours

The following sections describe the successive suits of Titanium Man armour. The stats stick closely to what was actually demonstrated, without much speculation. One suspects that the armour had more systems that actually demonstrated at any various points – for instance, systems that were present in older versions of the suit but not used.

Conversely, some of the systems written up in this section may have been Omni-Gadgets, being awfully convenient for the situation at hand and never appearing again.

The version numbers have been arbitrarily assigned to the Titanium Man armour suits in order of appearance ; in-universe the nomenclature is probably different.


Titanium Man Suit MkIV (Bullski-improved armour)

/STR/ 17 /BODY/ 14, R#0, Hardened Defenses

Powers:
Attraction/Repulsion: 12, Energy blast: 11, Flash: 05, Flight: 10, Laser beam: 15, Lightning: 05, Paralysis: 15, Radio communications: 08, Sealed systems: 09, Shade: 05, Skin armour: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Attraction/Repulsion is effective against ferromagnetic materials only, but is its own AV (+1/+0 depending on your house rules)
  • Attraction/Repulsion has a Range of but 2 APs
  • Laser beam are his “ocular destructo-beam” (i.e., eyebeams), and only have a Range of 4 APs
  • Laser beam can only be fired once every five Phases, since it needs recharging
  • Paralysis : the Paralysis Ray mounted at the top of the Titanium Man’s helmet must be constantly shone at its target for the Paralysis to hold ; if that is not done the Paralysis breaks at the beginning of the following Phase.
  • Paralysis only works on electricity-powered technology
  • Paralysis is an electrical field — it can be disrupted by a circuit to earth or similar measure
  • Flash and Lightning can be Combined with Paralysis. Flash almost always is, since the beam looks like a searchlight ; Lightning more rarely is, as it requires tweaking the electrical field
  • Paralysis and its Combined Powers have the Scattershot Bonus

Advantages:
Misc.: This armour can extrude spikes from its soles, allowing it to walk on ice without danger of slipping.

Drawbacks:
MPR (the wearer must have at least STR 08 and exactly five APs of Growth to operate the suit — each AP of STR below 08 is a -1CS to all physical AVs and OVs)

Schematics for the early 1980s Titanium Man armor


Additional systems for the MkIV suit

Sergei added a few modules he had designed to this version of the armour when Bullski became the Commander.

The first was an IMAGE INDUCER [BODY 02, Chameleon: 05, Limitation: Chameleon cannot change the apparent size of the subject, and can only adopt pre-programmed shapes] which was used to make Bullski look like a Titanium Man-sized version of a suit of GLF power armour.

He also added a module using his signature technology. This allowed the Titanium Man to teleport away to a control centre, his atoms reassembled there in the shape of a green plastic card the size of a credit card. After six hours, the card could be decompressed to have Bullski spring back to consciousness again (this was a combination of Teleportation, Shrinking and Suspension used by the machines at the control centre).

Both pieces of equipment were removed when the Titanium Man return to Russia (the image inducer had apparently been slagged, not just deactivated, by Sergei, and the “carding” mechanism was likely too big a vulnerability were it to be hacked).

On the other hand the armour was repaired and an humongous SHOULDER-MOUNTED GATTLING CANNON was added [BODY 05, AV (Diminishing): 10, Projectile weapon (Area of effect 1 AP): 11, Ammo: 10, Advantage: Autofire, Schtick (Trajectory Calculation), Note: The operator can ignore AV to use an appropriate Weaponry skill if they wish — especially for long-distance shooting. This weapon is most likely a modified GSh-6-30 cannon (the 6 being for 6 rotating barrels, and the 30 for 30mm shells). A GSh-6-30 weights 150kg, plus the weight of ammunition.]

On the other shoulder was a sort of weapon pod, but which systems it housed was never showed. There also seemed to be guns on the wrists. You could check out the Futurecop writeup if you want ideas for weapon systems.

Titanium Man (Boris Bullski) with a large shoulder-mounted minigun

After the repaired armour was fully tested, Sergei’s technology was modified to allow the Titanium Man to instantly teleport his armour into the shape of a plastic card held in his belt buckle, or back around himself.

This is simply a half-cost Insta-Change (the half-cost being due to the possibilities of the armour being stolen, damaged, etc. while in “credit card” form).


Titanium Man Suit MkV (Gremlin-built armour)

/STR/ 15 /BODY/ 14, R#0, Hardened Defenses

Powers:
Energy blast: 12, Flight: 10, Interface: 06, Radio communications: 08, Sealed systems: 10, Shade: 05, Skin armour: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Interface can only be used to have equipment perform its normal functions (or shut down), and can only do this using special codes to hack the embedded computers controlling this equipment (which requires excellent intelligence about the equipment in question) (-3)
  • Skin armour also protects against acceleration (+0)

Note:
This version likely already had most of the additional capabilities described for the Titanium Man Suit Mk5.2 in the third writeup, though Bullski did not use them.


Titanium Man Suit Mk2.5 (“Throwback” armour)

/STR/ 16 /BODY/ 13, R#0, Hardened Defenses

Powers:
Energy blast: 11, Flash: 05, Flight: 10, Laser beam: 17, Lightning: 05, Paralysis: 15, Sealed systems: 07, Shade: 05, Skin armour: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Flash is Steady illumination Only
  • Laser beam are his eyebeams, and only have a Range of 2 APs
  • Laser beam starts with an EV of 12 ; the EV is increased by one AP for every two Phases of uninterrupted focusing on a given small area. This is a form of Power Loss, where the Loss is not being focused on the same area for successive Phases
  • Paralysis : the Paralysis Ray mounted at the top of the Titanium Man’s helmet must be constantly shone at its target for the Paralysis to hold ; if that is not done the Paralysis breaks at the beginning of the following Phase.
  • Paralysis only works on electricity-powered technology
  • Paralysis is an electrical field — it can be disrupted by creating a circuit to earth or the like
  • Flash and Lightning can be Combined with Paralysis. Flash almost always is, since the beam looks like a searchlight ; Lightning more rarely is, as it requires tweaking the electrical field
  • Paralysis and its Combined Powers have the Scattershot Bonus

Drawbacks:
MPR (the wearer must have at least STR 08 and exactly four APs of Growth to operate the suit — each AP of STR below 08 is a -1CS to all physical AVs and OVs)

Equipment:
RADAR RINGS (x2) [DEX 08 STR (Wrestling only) 12, BODY 08, Flight: 11, Grenade drawback, Limitation : Flight can only be sustained for nine Phases (-2). This version of the Rings was stored around his fingers.]

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel comics (mostly Iron Man books)

Helper(s): Eric Langendorff

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