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Vormund (Marvel Comics)

Freiheitskämpfer aka Vormund…

(...aka Hauptmann Deutschland, aka Guardian, aka Freedom Fighter, aka Captain Germany)


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

Context

That nearly every single German character in American comics is a Nazi is a lifelong pet peeve of mine – so let’s have a hero instead.

Freiheitskämpfer (sometimes known as “Captain Germany” is the preeminent German super-hero in the Marvel Universe. As a “Captain $Country” type, he even has a flag costume. However…

However, little is known about Freiheitskämpfer and much of it doesn’t make much sense. This profile sums up what is known and mentions which area are problematic. Our assumption is that most people wanting to feature Freiheitskämpfer in their campaigns will modify the character.


Hallowed be thy name

Beyond the aforementioned Nazi fixation, another recurrent problem for German characters in US comics are the inappropriate (“Blitzkrieg”) or poorly translated names. The character at hand is a textbook example. Here’s a quick summary :

  • This character was originally Hauptmann Deutschland (“Captain Germany”), with the character concept presumably being that he’s the German equivalent to Captain America.
    ”Hauptmann Deutschland” is not an… optimal choice when it comes to modern German cultural sensibilities (particularly when it comes to books accessible to young readers, which is where the stricter legislation applies). It was thankfully phased out. Generally speaking, it would be inappropriate for a post-War German hero to have a military-sounding code-name.
  • The German distributor for Marvel Comics suggested that “Hauptmann Deutschland” be renamed Freiheitskämpfer (“Freedom Fighter”), a name presumably chosen to be as neutral as possible. This will be the preferred name in this entry.
  • “Freiheitskämpfer” is not what was picked by Marvel when phasing out “Hauptmann Deutschland”. The character became “Vormund”. This was obviously intended to mean “Guardian”, but is a translation mistake. ”Vormund” is a person who is allowed to represent a legally incapable person – a legal guardian.
    Actual German terms for “Guardian” would be Wächter, Hüter or Beschützer – which all work fine as code-names and are snappier than Freiheitskämpfer.
  • The name of Vormund’s team was given as “Schutz Heiliggruppe”. This is more or less “The Guardian Angels” (“Schutzheiligen” would be the simpler formulation), or literally “band of holy protectors”.
    The German publisher suggested Helden-Liga (“League of heroes”) instead, presumably since precedents of official fighting groups claiming the mantle of protectors include the SS (Schutz Staffel, meaning something along the lines of Force of Protection) during the Third Reich years. We’ll thus use Helden-Liga here, and it actually sounds good in German.
  • Lastly we’ll also use the name suggested for Blitzkrieger by the German publisher – Generator.

Background

  • Real Name: Markus Ettlinger.
  • Other Aliases: Vormund, Hauptmann Deutschland, Guardian, Freedom Fighter, Captain Germany. See the “Hallowed be thy name” section.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Helden-Liga (other members being Generator and Zeitgeist, now both deceased).
  • Base Of Operations: Undisclosed location in Germany.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 235 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Freiheitskämpfer seems to be a highly trained spy and special agent. He displays superior athletic and combative prowess. He could engage the Red Skull in combat (with the Skull having a cloned Steve Rogers body) or fight a cautious Captain America for a bit, but was visibly outclassed by the redoubtable Crossbones. He’s an excellent acrobat.

Kinetic absorption

Ettlinger is physically very robust, and can derive energy from impacts against his body. He will react to the mass behind the attack (for instance a heavy man kicking him will push him back), but attacks such as bullets and arrows will uselessly crash against his body.

Freiheitskämpfer can use the energy from such impacts to enhance his own strength and speed for a bit. So far, this ability has only been demonstrated with force-based impacts rather than, say, heat or electromagnetic energies.

He was also seen using kinetic energy to quickly expand a soft force field around him to repel civilians, knocking them on their behinds. But this seems to be a minor effect that wouldn’t be useful in a real fight.

A much deadlier attack was used when Every-Man attempted to stab him in the chest. Freiheitskämpfer redirected the lethal force of the thrust straight into his foe’s heart, killing him on the spot. In DC Heroes RPG terms Ettlinger probably can return attacks as a Mental Blast rather than Claws or Shockwave, but that has yet to be demonstrated in a comic.

Other assets

Freiheitskämpfer could within seconds identify the Red Skull’s body as the corpse of an undisguised human who had died within the last hour. While this could be part of his training as an agent, this profile assumes that he was originally some sort of doctor, probably a coroner. Authorial intent may have been to hint that he’s a policeman, though.

Secondary sources list Kommando Spezialkräfte training — the German equivalent to the SAS — which may indicate that he’s actually an elite soldier. But perhaps he simply received training from KSK instructors.


History

Freiheitskämpfer is a patriotically-clad German hero who seems to have ties with the German Federal government. He may be an official agent of his country. In the early 1990s he introduced himself as “the new national hero of united Germany”, which hints at government backing.

Another remark indicated that was new at being a super-hero. It is likely that the Freiheitskämpfer identity was created during the reunification and announced during the reunification ceremonies.

Secondary sources indicate that he was granted his powers through genetic experiments, without further details.

He met with Captain America during an international operation to capture the foremost living war criminal, the Red Skull. At that point he was the apparent leader of the Helden-Liga, a team of costumed German superhumans.

Und heute rufst du alle Superhelden, alle großen Meister

Freiheitskämpfer and his team located an Arnim Zola secret fortress in Switzerland, where spare clone bodies of the Red Skull were stored.

They destroyed the installation and vanished. This cut off Red Skull’s ability to just transfer his consciousness into a new clone to escape. Freiheitskämpfer then closely monitored the Skull, using a variety of disguises and covers to observe him and prepare his arrest.

Eventually he infiltrated Taskmaster’s Academy to impersonate and replace a mediocre “student” there. The trainee was scheduled to be sent to his death in a fighting workout with the Skull.

When the Skull attacked, the German hero grabbed him and teleported out of the Academy.

(Ettlinger indicated that the German authorities intended to execute the Skull after a quick show trial. This is… puzzling since death penalty was abolished in Germany in 1949 and the historical precedent at Nuremberg were actual trials with a full defence.
Though it is possible that Earth-616  Germany is very different from our own, the differences almost always seem to stem from poor research rather than intent, so this part is probably best disregarded.)

The German flew toward Europe with the captive Skull. He slyly let the Nazi activate a hidden transmitter, in the hope of drawing his minions into a trap and capture them too.

Alle Highlander, alle Krieger, alle guten Geister

As planned, the Skull’s support team, the Skeleton Crew (Crossbones, Machinesmith, Mother Night and a Sleeper robot) stormed the Berlin base where their employer was held.

Freiheitskämpfer and Generator engaged them. Though Crossbones briefly gained the upper hand against Freiheitskämpfer, Zeitgeist was working unseen, ensuring the victory of the Liga. The German government now held the Skull plus the Skeleton Crew.

Hauptmann Deutschland ignoring gunshots

The Machinesmith managed to break his bonds. Meanwhile the Skull claimed that he was not the original Red Skull but an American terrorist without ties to any version of Germany. At this point the Avengers intervened, confirming that all captives were American citizens and Germany had no authority over them.

Captain America further confirmed that the real Skull was dead, and the Avengers left with the prisoners.

Alle Superfreaks und Auserwählten und mich ins Hier

This was all a ploy – the “Avengers” were bioplastoids sent in by Arnim Zola after Machinesmith contacted him. Their Quinjet was actually the artificial shape-changer Doughboy. The Skull and the Skeleton Crew flew away laughing.

Within hours, Freiheitskämpfer realised that something was wrong when he checked with the real Captain America. He immediately flew back to Washington to raid the Skull’s current base before he could move to a new one.

Captain America had the same idea, and the German assumed that the American was the bioplastoid he had encountered in Berlin. As they fought, Freiheitskämpfer realised that he was wasting time. He swiftly jumped away and rappelled down into the Skull’s office.

He was too late – the Skull had already faked his assassination, and that of the Skeleton Crew, using bio-duplicates provided by Arnim Zola.

Ich hab millionen Legionen hinter mir

The Helden-Liga was later seen investigating — for unknown reasons — a string of murders of superhumans in South America and Central America. Generator was himself murdered by the serial killer, but Zeitgeist found a lead. It took them to the US and a purported assassination attempt against the Angel (Thomas Halloway) – the first super-hero of the modern age.

Freiheitskämpfer again met with Captain America, who was present at a reception given to honour wartime super-heroes such as the Angel. Both the German and the American discovered that, inexplicably, Zeitgeist had been a traitor all along and was the serial killer. Furthermore he actually was the psychotic American villain previously called the Every-Man.

When Everyman ran into Freiheitskämpfer he attempted to stab him with his sword, his former colleague redirected the force of the thrust in his foe’s heart, killing the killer for his betrayal and the murder of Generator.


Description

Freiheitskämpfer is one of those flag-wearing superheroes. In his case of a German hero the colours are neutral enough that it could pass for an ordinary super-hero costume if onlookers are not familiar with the German tricolour.


Personality

Freiheitskämpfer is a skilled professional. However he comes across as pompous, proud and overconfident to the point of arrogance. He seems very concerned with not making a mistake and never looking bad, presumably because he feels that he represents his country.

Freiheitskämpfer was depicted as both being unsure of usage among the super-hero community (since he’s new at it) and having a vengeful, murderous streak if he feels betrayed. The latter is particularly odd is he’s meant to represent modern Germany.


Quotes

(Taunting the Red Skull to attack as the Nazi is ranting at him) “Hey, Skull, do you like smelling your armpits as much as you like smelling your breath ?”

“My name is [Freiheitskämpfer] ! It is just you know the name of your enemy ! And be sure that any ally of the Red Skull is an enemy of mine.”

“I feel responsible for his killing spree. He was my teammate. I should have done a more thorough background check on him.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Freiheitskämpfer

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Special operative
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 020 HP: 015

Powers:
Claws: 05, Kinetic absorption: 04, Power Reserve (DEX, STR, Shockwave, Claws): 04, Shockwave: 00

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws can only be used against somebody who just scored pre-Kinetic Absorption RAPs against Freiheitskämpfer using a Killing Combat piercing or slashing attack.
  • Power Reserve is normally zero and can only be fuelled by Kinetic Absorption.

Skills:
Accuracy (Claws): 11, Acrobatics: 07, Artist (Actor): 05, Detective (Clue analysis, Legwork): 06, Martial artist: 07, Medicine: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Accuracy is a Powered Skill.

Advantages:
Credentials (German Federal gov’t, Low), Expertise (Forensics medicine), Language (German).

Connections:
Helden-Liga (High).

Drawbacks:
Arrogant.

Equipment:
Freiheitskämpfer is occasionally outfitted with a harness holding a number of weapons. Demonstrated assets include :

  • Net grenade (x1) [BODY 01, Snare: 07, Grenade Drawback]. A metallic sphere that releases a steel net on impact.
  • Bearings grenade (x1) [BODY 01, Friction control: 08, Grenade Drawback, Limitations: Friction Control only to lower ground friction in a 1 AP Area of effect]. A cylindrical grenade that releases ball bearings coated in oil on impact.
  • Cable gun (x1) [BODY 03]. The pistol in his holster actually shoots a piton trailing a line that remains attached to the pistol. It is possible that the pistol includes a mechanism to reel the line in, and perhaps one to release the piton from whatever it is embedded in.
  • There were other weapons on the harness, but Captain America severed it before they could be used.

Design Notes

Freiheitskämpfer has but few appearances, and our game stats are clearly tentative. For now they err on the conservative side, but they may easily be higher – except for the combat stats, which can be assessed correctly.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Marvunapp.com  for listing the recommendations of Condor Interpart — Marvel’s distributor in Germany. Also Barbarossa Rotbart, Roy Cowan, Dr. Peter Piispanen, Ethan Roe.

Writeup completed on the 10th of August, 2011.

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