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Winged Victory (Astro City comics)

Winged Victory

(Lauren Freed)


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

Context

Astro City is a fantastic comic book series that constructs an entire, classic super-heroic universe laden with archetypes and references. It then proceeds to tell human interest stories from a different angle, usually that of ordinary people or even onlookers.

Winged Victory is the Wonder Woman figure of Astro City, though she’s clearly not as formidable.

This profile has S P O I L E R S about recent-as-of-this-writing Astro City issues.


Background

  • Real Name: Lauren Freed.
  • Other Aliases: “Vic”, “Wings”.
  • Note: The Infidel once referred to Winged Victory as “Kristen”, but K. Busiek clarified that the Infidel was wrong – this character does have a track record of getting women’s names wrong since he sees them as but property.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Mother (name unrevealed), father (name unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Honor Guard ; director of her own organisation.
  • Base Of Operations: Samothrace shelters near Astro City.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 140 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

Winged Victory is empowered by a collective of female psychics. These have found a method to tap a tiny quantity of psychic energy from all women on Earth, and funnel this immense power into a single champion.

In this superhuman form, Winged Victory sports a large pair of angelic wings that allows her to fly. It is possible for her to fly at speeds greater than what is physically possible by beating her wings, by tapping additional energy through the psychics.

Though doing so will normally drain and weaken Winged Victory, she can reach speeds in excess of 50,000 mph via transatmospheric flight. This allows her to be anywhere on Earth within minutes.

Strong enough

Beyond her wings, Winged Victory possesses immense superhuman strength (“Class 75”) and matching durability. This allows her to destroy practically any vehicle with her bare hands and endure assaults less powerful than a bursting shell. She is a superb fighter, whether hand-to-hand or with her signature sword.

With her strength and speed, she is considered to be among the most powerful heroes of the setting. Vic is widely seen as the premier super-heroine.

Being Winged Victory also enhances Lauren’s height, musculature, comeliness and charisma. She also doesn’t seem to age in her superhuman state.

Other assets

Her sword is presumably nigh-indestructible, and can fly back to her when she throws it. Winged Victory can apparently strike precisely enough not to kill, and tends to only draw her sword when fighting well-armoured opponents.

One sequence depicts her with an energy pistol, but it’s never seen again.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed) flying majestically over a white background

Her winged medallion allows her to switch back to her normal form at will.

Winged Victory could recognise a specific molecular structure at a glance and remembered how to synthesize this compound. She may have been a chemistry student before becoming a super-heroine, or perhaps she took classes at one of her own schools.

Perceptions and communication

The medalion also gives her ill-defined extra-sensory powers. These have to do with sensing when certain things happen. She can thus give prepared beacons to persons and be alerted through the medallion when the beacon is activated. Vic could apparently “place” a mark on her colleague Beautie that warned her when Beautie defeated Winged Victory’s foe Goldenboy.

Such alerts will be accompanied by fleeting images giving her a sense of what’s going on, and where.

She appears to have a radio link with her staff. It might just a cell phone with an in-ear piece, since that’s sufficient and no device could be seen. How much of her information comes over this radio, and how much comes from medallion intuitions, is unclear.

Gimme shelter, part 1

As Winged Victory, she runs an impressive activist network. It is centered on education, and providing relief for distressed women.

She originally set up 14 conventional shelters for abused women, but by 1996 these were turned into schools. After that only the staff lived on site, and the schools offered free education for women – starting with self-defense classes to build up confidence.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed) faces the Council of Nike

During the 2000s, Vic overhauled the network again to have combined shelters and schools, on a larger scale and with better security. One also gets the impression that an advanced program to train new female leaders was created.

One such site is a fortified compound with a distinctive architecture, called Samothrace. Located near Astro City, Samothrace can house hundreds of women. It has state-of-the-art living facilities, educational facilities, power generation, computing centres, medical facilities, etc.

A journalist calls it Samothrace-Four, and an E.A.G.L.E. officer mentions multiple compounds, but no further details are known.

Gimme shelter, part 2

The students receive on-campus counselling, which still includes excellent self-defense courses. The security of a Samothrace shelter puts most military bases to shame, with tight guard patrols and extensive electronic and computer security.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed)'s Samothrace walled community

The guards carry swords during their patrols. While they’re probably not half-bad with them, these may not be their only weapons, and a security alert will probably bring Winged Victory in.

Vic’s staff includes various specialists and even superhumans, such as the squat and bronze-like Healer Meg, or the telempathic Delphi. The rest of the staff wears an uniform with black trousers and a violet tunic. They are recruited following a special procedure set up by Delphi to weed out infiltrators or people who might be harmful for the refugees.


History

Lauren Freed was born during the early 1970s. She was a shy kid with an anxiety problem, who did not deal well with conflict. As a little girl she was harassed about her buck teeth, and later on because she didn’t fit in.

When she was about 18 she discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her, destroying what may have been her first romance.

That was a disaster – this relationship was all that she had. She had moved in with her boyfriend, and he had given her her job. Lauren couldn’t even move back with her mother, who was also in serious trouble after her husband left.

All Lauren had was a ticket for Paris, where she and her boyfriend had planned a romantic holiday. Driven by a deep need to run away and disappear, the lost Freed ended up in France.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed)'s Samothrace HQ

While drifting in Paris, Lauren saw the Winged Victory at the Louvre . The statue inspired her and gave her a vision. By the next day she left for Samothrace , looking for a specific ruin she had seen in her dream.

(The Winged Victory of Samothrace is a large statue of the goddess Nike , made of white marble. Though it was shattered when found, it was gradually reassembled and partially repaired at the Louvre. This impressive statue still misses its head and arms, but sports large angelic wings and a chiton. It was probably sculpted circa 200 BC. As of this writing (Spring of 2014), the winged Nike is being cleaned up and restored – conservation project website ).

Νίκη της Σαμοθράκης

In Samothrace, Freed was contacted by the Council of Nike. The Council is a global, all-women secret movement with telepathic powers allowing them to organise.

By this point, the Council had found a way to tap a small part of the psychic energy of all women. The Council members being successful in business, academia and other spheres, they wanted to use this extra energy to empower a champion who could help other women. Presumably, they selected Lauren since she had latent telepathic powers allowing her to “hear” them.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed) flying in the sky

Lauren symbolically drew a sword, Excalibur-style, to become the superhuman Winged Victory. She then returned to the US, and started her work in the Astro City area. Her power level, the creation of multiple militant shelters for distressed women, and her advocacy for feminism made quite a splash – and she rapidly came under attack, which never ceased.

Though she became a frequent ally of the leading super-hero group, the Honor Guard, she remained independent.

Over the years Winged Victory developed her own rogue gallery. It included the likes of Golden Boy (who later renamed himself Ladykiller), Mentakk, the Courtesan, Whip Hand, Lord Winter, Mama Spanx, Cro-Mag, Catfight or Karnazon. She also intervened in most big crises such as alien invasions, giant monster attacks and the like.

A vindication of the rights of woman

In 1996, friends of Winged Victory among the Honor Guard (presumably Beautie and MPH) strong-armed her into having a date with the leading super-hero, the Samaritan. Both had shared a silent attraction for years, and both worked such absurd hours that their friends feared that they would burn out and crash.

Though the Samaritan accidentally hit a nerve when discussing their secret identities, the date was a success. It eventually gave birth to a relationship – albeit a slow-moving one, since the pair still worked almost 24/7.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed)'s Samothrace compound

In 1997, Winged Victory was among the heroes against whom the public, manipulated by alien invaders, lashed out. Since she was a controversial figure this was easy to achieve. But the aliens probably also used a shapeshifter passing itself for Winged Victory and making inflammatory declarations.

Vic was somehow captured by E.A.G.L.E. troops, but was free when Earth forces fought back against the invaders. She, the Samaritan and the Gentleman stormed the alien mothership and forced a general retreat.

Honor Guard

It was perhaps in 2010 or 2012 that Winged Victory finally agreed to formally join the Honor Guard, since she had been operating along with them for so long.

In 2014, Karnazon launched yet another plan against Winged Victory. This one was particularly cunning, and his disinformation made it credible that the shelters and schools had been a disguised cult all along, training criminals and terrorists.

Vic’s ideological opponents all charged through this breach, and once again E.A.G.L.E. came knocking at the door. Things went bad remarkably fast, and the exhausted Victory couldn’t control the damage in time.

A new ally, the Confessor (Brian Kinney) found intelligence to assist the iconic super-heroine. With his and the Samaritan’s help Winged Victory foiled the conspiracy and apprehended Karnazon before all her work could be reduced to ashes.

Third wave feminism

During the fracas, Winged Victory’s action were further hampered by a gradual diminution of her power level. The Council of Nike was starting to doubt her, and to wonder whether Lauren Freed was a failure as Winged Victory.

There had also been a longstanding debate among the Council, which was primarily made up of older women. It was over whether Winged Victory’s increased association with the Honor Guard and the Samaritan was weakening the message about women standing on their own.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed) on a white background

Lauren faced this censure with the support of her biggest fan among the Council — an aged survivor of the concentration camps for Japanese-Americans of the 1940s. Considering that the Council was too traditionalist (and about, oh, 25 years behind the evolutions of feminist thought), Winged Victory reaffirmed that her association with males wasn’t harming the cause.

She also announced that she would open Samothrace to male victims of domestic violence. That was :

  • In part to reflect evolutions in feminism.
  • In part due to the heroism of a battered boy who had been requesting sanctuary during the Karnazon crisis.
  • In part because the sheer size of Samothrace made it possible to isolate male students from the most badly traumatised female students.

Despite the ample and inevitable grumbling from the traditionalists, the Council renewed its confidence in Winged Victory. Reenergised, she returned to her super-heroic role and ran damage control PR after the Karnazon crisis.

She also now felt confident enough to occasionally resume being Lauren Freed rather than being Winged Victory all the time.


Description

Winged Victory is, well, winged. She also sports a leather, cuir bouilli and bronze light armour inspired by Classical Greek body armour. As part of the Nike symbolism she also wears a golden crown of laurels. When not equipped for adventuring — which is seldom — she wears a short white chiton with a golden hem.

To turn into Winged Victory, Freed pulls on the hilt of the tiny sword in her medallion. It becomes her full-sized sword and she transforms by swinging it in front of her. Since she was practically never in her Lauren Freed form until recently, she apparently has all of one set of clothes left for her human body.


Personality

Winged Victory runs a large progressive movement, with all the difficulties and attacks (and bickering…) that it implies. And is a very active super-heroine on top of that. She’s thus on practically 24/7, much like the Samaritan, and had no private life for years.

Winged Victory (Lauren Freed) with the Samaritan and the Gentleman

One gets the impression that there is a crisis centre prioritising situations in which Winged Victory should intervene, and communicating with her via radio or phone. It’s unclear, though. Maybe it’s the medallion that psychically tells her where the next crisis is.

When feasible, Vic tailors her super-heroic activities to send the message that women matter, and to inspire them to stand up and be heroic. All other things being equal she will prefer to rescue women, and she targets villains who abuse women.

Beyond her heroic activities and running her organisation, she also has a media presence, gives talks and is generally a militant for gender equality.

Other traits

Lauren is intelligent, brave, competent and forthright. But has an impostor syndrome problem. She is an inspirational figure, a leader and a top-tier super-hero, yet doesn’t feel that she is all that great and worthy. She suspects that people will eventually realise that she’s just some random schmuck rather than the goddess they imagine her to be.

She is also ashamed of whom she was before she became Winged Victory. She feels that Lauren Freed was a pathetic wreck and does not want to ever return to her previous life. These issues were partially solved during the 2014 Karnazon plot, but probably remain at a diminished level.

As a super-heroine, Winged Victory isn’t particularly subtle. She got a sword, she got a temper, she got a busy schedule and she can quickly solve a remarkable range of problems by punching them. Because she punches really hard.

Furthermore the sort of persons who target her are the kind of folks who underestimate women. They thus have a marked tendency not to realise how hard they’re going to be punched.


Quotes

“What’s your name, friend ? And how can I help ?”

“Enough of your mockery and your lies.” (SPLOW !)

“These men are well-meaning, but they are men. Men in authority over women. Men making the decisions, backed up with the threat of force. Men who make promises, but hold guns.”

“Here’s how it’s going to work, legion. You’re going to fight me. You’re going to lose. I encourage you to fight hard. Frankly, you’ve pissed me off, and I could use a good excuse to let off some steam.”

“I *told* those women. *All* of them. They’d be *safe*. I *wouldn’t* let them be hurt again.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Winged Victory

Dex: 07 Str: 16 Bod: 12 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Activist
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 023 HP: 075

Powers:
Flight: 08, Sealed Systems: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Flight is Winged.
  • Winged Victory’s top Flight is 16, but getting past 08 requires spending HPs (2 HPs per AP) ; the speed increase lasts until she lands. The Nike Council will occasionally supply the HPs for free.

Skills:
Charisma: 07, Evasion (Aerial only): 08, Martial Artist: 08, Scientist: 04, Weaponry (Melee, Thrown): 08

Advantages
Credentials (Samothrace shelters, High), Familiarity (Facilities management), Lightning Reflexes, Near-Immortal.

Connections:
Nike Council (Low), Samaritan (High), Honor Guard (High), Confessor (Brian Kinney, Low).

Drawbacks:
Limelight, Power Loss (the Nike Council can fully depower Lauren), Misc.: Winged Victory has numerous influential political opponents who despise her.

Equipment:

  • Victory Medallion [BODY 10, Alert: 24, Alter-Ego, Insta-Change].
  • Sword [BODY 20, EV 04 (17w/STR, or 14 w/STR when thrown), Gliding: 01, Bonus: Gliding can only be used to fly back to Winged Victory when thrown, which takes an entire Phase].
  • RADIO LINK [BODY 01, Radio communications: 07].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Kurt Busiek’s Astro City universe.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 17th of May, 2014.

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