6050 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Big Ed of the Newsboy Army (7 Soldiers) (DC Comics) avatar

Big Ed aka Baby Brain


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

“The Manhattan Guardian. We don’t just report crime — we fight crime !”

Context

This profile is meant to be read after the Newsboys Army team profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Edward Stargard.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the 1940s Newsboy Army, publisher of the Manhattan Guardian.
  • Base Of Operations: The 23rd floor of the Manhattan Guardian building, downtown Manhattan, New York City.
  • Height: Baby-sized. Weight: Baby-sized.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Not really.


Advertisement


Powers and Abilities

Ed is very smart, has a voraciously vast and vertiginously varied vocabulary, and knows how to do a lot of things very well. The latter apparently includes SCIENCE! He’s an excellent, if pompous and overwrought, leader.

Although he’s far more intelligent than most adults, he physically remained a baby during his whole life. He’s thus weak, has to eat baby food, has to wear diapers and be cleaned up, etc.

The Golem Four

Baby Brain once built a team of four elementals, the Golem Four, to act as super-heroes of a sort. That may have taken place during the late 1950s. These likely defended New York City from strange threats. To Ed’s knowledge only one of the four has ’survived‘ to this day — the clay golem Brutus.

Brutus is a bit of a Marvel homage – the FF-like “4” logo (and of course the notion of a group of four elementals, including a rock man with Jewish roots), the general, very Awesome Android look, and the hammers shaped like Marvel’s Thor’s Mjolnir.

Brutus the golem vs. the Manhattan Guardian

On his head is written het – kaf – het – yud (or maybe the other way around – it’s inverted on one panel). Which, as far as we can tell, means nothing in Hebrew.

An air golem called Strato was seen bodyguarding don Vincenzo. It is unknown if there is any relation between Baby Brain’s elemental golems and Strato.


Advertisement


The Manhattan Guardian newspaper

The Manhattan Guardian — By The People, For The People looks like a cheap, lurid tabloid. It appears to chiefly cover New York City news.

It’s full of stories about pirates in the subway, albino alligators in city hall, demonic possessions, rampaging robots with rifles, black bayous haunted by nests of killer fairies, headless corpses haunting hospitals, and the like.

Of course, the twist is – it’s all true.

By the people, for the people

The best-known schtick of the paper is that the readers are also the reporters, and can get their reporting edited and published when they witness newsworthy events (hence the paper’s “By The People, For The People” tagline). The paper is pro-Democratic Party.

Every single reader of the Manhattan Guardian seen throughout the Seven Soldiers series is Black, as is every member of the Newsboy Army we see. Nobody ever comments on this. Perhaps the Manhattan Guardian is entirely distributed by its readers, a bit like Avon products  used to be ? That might explain the segregation.

The Manhattan Guardian’s circulation went up 40% after the Guardian cracked the subway pirates case (and skulls). Big Ed expected numbers to go even higher. The Manhattan Guardian apparently published everything Big Ed knew about the Sheeda in its special Harrowing edition, likely boosting sales even higher.

“We are not responsible for the offbeat actions of our freelance street reporters !”

All the Newsboy Army “freelance street reporters” seen in the story were Black teenaged boys, about 13 to 15.

They seem very dedicated to the newspaper (and in particular to its namesake superhero), quite disciplined, and unafraid to take physical risks. In fact they seemed adept at it. Some, the Base Jumping Crew, were proficient streetfighters trained even at parachuting.

They all proudly carry a special Newsboy Army ID card, and do their best cinematic FBI agent impersonation whenever they flash it.

The Newboy Army's card, and a crew in action


History

This section assumes that you have read our Newsboys Army entry.

Ed Stargard was first known as Baby Brain, the de-facto leader of the 1940s Newsboy Army. Then the group ran into the grim fates that had been sewed up for them by the Time Tailor to make sure they couldn’t be the Seven Soldiers. Baby Brain was one of the two survivors, through the terrible experience left heavy psychic scars.

The Nowhere Street News paper had been destroyed along with the Newsboy Army. Nevertheless, Stargard returned to his passion – press. He became the publisher of the Manhattan Guardian after unrecorded adventures.

Baby in the shadows

Stargard, with his deformed body, was a complete recluse. But he overcame some of his psychological scarring by making up an identity for himself. It was the fearless crusader for truth, Big Ed. Big Ed was a virtual face on a screen, the archetypal New York press publisher, through which Stargard spoke, using computers.

True to his roots, Stargard created a cadre of “street reporters”. It was a network of devoted teenage readers who helped the Guardian get the latest scoops from the street. Perhaps he hoped to recreate the magic of the original Newsboy Army for disenfranchised kids.

Fates of the Newsboy Army

The Manhattan Guardian, despite being often perceived as a tabloid rag, had a mission. It was to change the world, empower its readers and expose the often horrible truth about the things going on out there. Despite its low price (to be affordable for its working class readership), it was quite profitable. Yet the business-savvy Stargard was always looking for a new angle.

When an opportunity to buy the Guardian IP from Project Cadmus came up, the genius Stargard decided that *his* newspaper would have something no other paper had. An in-house, bigger-than-life, superhero-reporter.

The Manhattan Guardian

Part of the idea likely came from the man formerly known as “el Mar”, a Nowhere Street kid and friend of the old Newsboy Army. El Mar considered his daughter’s boyfriend to be a potential super-hero given his extraordinary courage, resourcefulness and physical power.

The boyfriend, Jake Jordan, an ex-cop, would thus became the Manhattan Guardian’s in-house super-hero/reporter after a brutal interview.


Guardians and Newboys

It is specifically stated that the Manhattan Guardian publishing company bought the rights of the Guardian identity and distinctive likeness from a government project (Project Cadmus).

I have assumed that the shield and helmet were similar to those once used by Jim Harper. With all the Harper clones with Guardian-like equipment that have been around, they probably have a stock of helmets and shields. The paper replaced Jordan’s helmet at least once.

Thus, there is no continuity conflict between the two Guardians. Having had a Newsboy Army operating in a similar time frame to the Newsboy Legion is slightly odd, but far weirder things have happened. Besides the Newboy Legion was from Metropolis’s Suicide Slum, while the Newboy Army from Nowhere Street were from New York City.

The amazing adventures of the Manhattan Guardian proved a potent boost to the circulation. But more importantly, and unknown to Big Ed, Jordan was a key piece in the subtle plan of the Seven Unknown Men to activate the Seven Soldiers without ever assembling them. The “stealth” Soldiers thus defeated the Sheeda and their ally the terrible Time Tailor like a bolt from the blue.

The squalid fate of the original Newsboy Army would thus, at long last, be avenged in blood. And the century was saved from its planned Harrowing.

The Harrowing

As the Harrowing of the XXIst century started, Ed tried to drink himself into a stupor. He thought that all was lost, and modern humanity would soon be devastated into a barely survivable state by the Sheeda. Preparing to die, he told the Manhattan Guardian the story of the Newsboy Army.

But the Guardian was not about to roll over and die. He led the charge for a counter-attack by the populace. They took it to the street, beating back the Sheeda using whatever was at hand.

Ed, rallied by the Guardian, joined the fray with his remaining golem, the paper’s security guards and dozens of Newsboy Army ’reporters’ he equipped with rad suits to protect them from insect-riding Sheeda mind hijackers.

The Spell of Seven

As the Seven Soldiers spell revved up one of the Soldiers, Zatanna, destroyed the eighth Unknown Man. It was the Time Tailor who had cursed and destroyed the Newsboy Legion. As it occurred, Ed psychically sensed it, perhaps thanks to the ghost of Ali Ka-Zoom.

Big Ed in his crib with a pistol

Avenged at last, Ed reprised the defiant words he had uttered as Baby Brain when the Legion first met the Time the Tailor in Cyrus Gold’s hovel – “I told you we’d beat you somehow.”

Big Ed presumably resumed his activities after the war in the streets of New York City was over. Since the Manhattan Guardian was likely the sole newspaper to publish facts about the Sheeda, its circulation and credibility presumably jumped even higher than with the launch of their namesake super-hero.

Of course, as usual, the number of people believing that the Guardian was published the straight story may have been on the low side.

After the death of the evil Unknown Man of Slaughter Swamp, Ali Ka-Zoom seemed free of his curse. He no longer appeared insane and diminished. It is thus possible that Ed was also freed of the curse and started growing a normal body for a man of his age, allowing him to stop being a recluse and to become Big Ed for real.


Lena’s secret ; Lars’ mystery

Lena is Big Ed’s assistant, nurse and bodyguard. She often mans the reception in the foyer of the Manhattan Guardian building. Lena usually works with a man called Lars, who strongly resembles her. Lena seems entirely devoted to Ed, and quite professional.

There are complicated clues about Lena and Lars strewn about the books, which fans tried to decipher. Based on reading the Morrison script it would seem a colouring mistake originated much of the confusion.

Lena and Lars from Big Ed's staff at the Manhattan Guardian

Lena was meant to be Black, with Asian-looking eyes and her hair dyed blonde. It is heavily implied that she actually is the daughter of Cap and Chop Suzi. Lars likely is her twin brother.

That Ed would have raised the twins of Suzi is logical. We can assume that Lars also was supposed to look like a Black/Asian mestizo. If you blink hard enough at the illo, both have somewhat almond-shaped eyes, Lena’s nose and mouth look more African than European, and Lars’s facial bone structure would not look unusual for an Asian guy.

Being the kids of two gifted teenagers, it is possible they have talents of their own. I’ve taken that into account in their higher-than-usual Hero Points  totals below.

Lars may have been killed in the foyer of the Manhattan Guardian building during the earliest stages of the Harrowing.


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Big Ed plays his character to the hilt. He was the hard nosed, no-nonsense New York publisher who lives for the Story, the Facts and the Truth. He has a over-the-top, wordy, pompous, extravagant way to put everything and seems bigger than life.

Think of a cross between the Beast, Stan Lee and J. Jonah Jameson, but without Jameson’s petty aggressiveness. This is a natural evolution of his somewhat glorious past as Baby Brain, when he spoke very much like the Beast.

The real Stargard, as opposed to the Big Ed persona, is actually a tired, almost broken, grotesquely deformed old man. He’s clinging to the only thing that gives sense to his life. He truly believes in his paper, ink is his blood, and the Guardian building is his extended body.

He lives in complete solitude. He only sees Lena and Lars (and later Jake Jordan) in his darkened, computers-laden, fortified secret room. He’s a reclusive, obsessive freak vicariously living through a projected caricatural image. Like all survivors of the Newsboy Army, he lives in deathly terror of the Sheeda and has nightmares about them.

Still, Stargard is a good man with incredible stories to tell. He fought his whole life to protect and empower the people through information, and his newspaper means a lot to many of its readers. Although broken, he remains a hero.


Quotes

(1940s) “While Ali has them distracted with his incredible prestidigitation and legerdemain, you and Kid Scarface get us skyward and racing for the stratosphere, Chop Suzi ! Tech-Fu !”

(1940s, explaining the optional “environmental modification through HPs” rules to the team) “Did I say something ? I practically regurgitated the entire content of the dictionary and thesaurus to theorize that if we maintain a positive attitude vis à vis a new engine, one will inevitably manifest.” (Millions and Cap come running with an engine they just found).

The Newsboy Army takes its oath at the United Nations

(1940s, all the Newsboys from Nowhere Street pledge in front of the UN) “And nothing will ever divide us.”

(About the Sheeda, while drunk, in 2005) “They come creep, creep, creeping at first. They watch their prey, they bait their traps. They wait and wait and it doesn’t matter how long it takes ; in their world, only a day will have passed. And that’s when they come for you, striking in the night, when you’re too old and weak to fight back. Ah, Jake, it all happens so fast and I barely got to know you as a friend.”


Other universes history

The Newsboy Army storyline, and the Manhattan Guardian paper could play an important role in New York-based street-level and/or high weirdness campaigns. In fact, it would be pretty cool, even outside of a super-heroes games.


Sharing



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Big Ed

Dex: 01 Str: 01 Bod: 01 Motivation: Ink is his blood
Int: 04 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: Newspaper publisher
Inf: 03 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 009
Init: 006 HP: 030

Skills:
Artist (Writer): 05, Charisma (Persuasion): 06, Scientist: 06, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 03

Advantages:
Expertise (Press publishing), Expansive Headquarters, Leadership, Credentials (Newsboy Army, High).

Connections:
The Manhattan Guardian (Jake Jordan, High), the Newsboy Army (High, from Credentials).

Drawbacks:
Age (Old), Distinct Appearance (was Creepy before he got old), Guilt (after the original Newsboy Army was torn apart), SPR (he’s a baby), MIA toward “being” Big Ed whenever possible, Secret ID. He also seems to have a MIA toward Alcohol and a MPI (paranoia), but neither is very clear.

Equipment:

  • .45 semi-automatic pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, R#02]. He does not carry one himself (he can’t), but Lena or Lars will give him one whenever trouble starts. Presumably he’ll need a whole Phase to regain control of his weapon after each shot.
  • Big Ed supervises the entire Manhattan Guardian building through cameras and interphones. He can control all the security systems, computers and the like from his hidden room.
  • Big Ed apparently had a cache of gear waiting for the Harrowing, such as numerous rad suits for the Newsboy Army to isolate them from those tiny Sheeda insect-riding brain stem controllers. No special weaponry was visible, however — it was chiefly survival and exploration gear. I assume Ed simply intended to help the survivors of the Harrowing, not fight it while it occurred.

Design notes

It is *possible* that Ed has some Occultist skill. It is unclear whether the Golem Four were mystical or robotic constructs. Ed likely has some Gadgetry Skill, but it was not demonstrated.


Average Newsboy Army reporter

“Newsboy Army base jumpin’ crew !”

Guardian (cop voice): “Outta my way, kid !”
Kid (flashing his card): “Chill. Newsboy Army. Ed said you needed transportation and I was nearest to your location”

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold the Guardian
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Varies
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 008 HP: 002

Skills:
Vehicle (Land): 03, Weaponry (Street): 03

Advantages:
Rich Friend (the paper will sometimes loan them equipment, such as a news copter to parachute from).

Equipment:
Most of the Newsboys are armed with Baseball Bats [BODY 04, EV 04], though one had a sort of super-soaker with a backpack reservoir that had been converted into a light flamethrower [BODY 03, Flame project: 05, Range: 01, Limitation: Flame Project has No Range and uses the listed Range Instead, Bonus: Autofire].

They likely communicate with the paper via cell phone (presumably paid for by Big Ed). Nowadays it presumably would be a GPS-equipped cell phone for efficient dispatching, with a good camera for amateur photos of the events.


Lena and Lars

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: See above
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 010 HP: 015

Skills:
Medicine (First aid): 03, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
None demonstrated.

Connections:
Big Ed (High).

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated.

Equipment:

  • Glock 17 [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 17, R#02].
  • Backup pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 06, R#03].

Brutus the golem, oy

Dex: 04 Str: 09 Bod: 10 Motivation: JHVH, baby
Int: 02 Wil: 01 Min: //// Occupation: Golem
Inf: 01 Aur: //// Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: ////
Init: 010 HP: 005

Powers:
Growth: 02, Regeneration: 04 and either Gadgetry (SL): 10 or Occultist (SL): 10

Bonuses and Limitations:
Growth is Always On and Already Factored In.

Skills:
Weaponry (Hammers): 04

Advantages:
Schtick (Paired hammers).

Connections:
Big Ed (High).

Drawbacks:
Distinct Appearance, SPR (wiping out the word on his brow knocks him out, but he will Regenerate it within 7 Phases. All he can do without the word is Regenerate, though).

Equipment:
HEBREW HAMMER (x2) [BODY 10, EV 04 (10 w/STR)].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Seven Soldiers (2005) and in particular Manhattan Guardian 1-4.

Helper(s): Tsahala D. (Hebrew check), Roy Cowan.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

You can learn more with the writeups.org FAQ.