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Cinder (Cinder & Ashe DC Comics)

Cinder

(Cinder Dubois)


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

Context

Cinder and Ashe was a 1988 DC Comics four-issue limited series, by Gerry Conway  and José Luis García-Lopéz . It was very much like a high-end, characters-driven thriller/action/detective film. The characterisation, atmosphere and art were particularly solid.

The story takes place in a normal-looking world. But there’s no reason not to assume they are not in the DC Universe. We’ll list them as such for convenience’s sake. And because that allows for the characters not to have aged since 1988.

The Cinder and Ashe profiles do not come with S P O I L E R S as to the plot. However, half the story is flashbacks, and *these* are covered therein.


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Background

  • Real Name: Her original Vietnamese and/or American name is unrevealed. In the US she was adopted as Cinder Dubois.
  • Other Aliases: Cendre (French for “Cinder”, often used by the Dubois as her first name).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Thuỳ (mother, deceased), Jimmie (father, possibly deceased), Khánh (unofficial adoptive mother, deceased), Jean-Marc Dubois (adoptive father), Angélique Dubois (adoptive mother), unnamed grandfather (deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Partner of Ashe.
  • Base Of Operations: New Orleans.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 130 lbs.
  • Eyes: Dark blueish brown Hair: Orangeish-red.


Mood indigo

Cinder and Ashe operate in a specific small-g genre. It was common in American fiction in the second half of the 1970s, the 1980s and beyond. This genre was heralded by movies such as Dirty Harry  and Death Wish , and TV Series such as Baretta .

Though it long reigned over TV serials, during the 2000s the sub-genre was displaced by new, more socially-conscious takes, such as The Wire.

It could be called the “urban wasteland genre” or the “new gangland genre”. It is a subgenre of the more general crime thriller.

Other examples of characters set in this genre with a writeups.org entry include Sachs & Violens, Mark Hazzard, Marion “Cobra” Cobretti and of course the Punisher.

For a discussion of the genre, see our Juanita Jean Sachs character profile and our Mark Hazzard character profile.


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Big uneasy

In the specific case of Cinder & Ashe, genre tropes are heightened since the action is based in New Orleans. The 1980s NOPD (nicknamed “Not Our Problem, D’ahlin’” by the population) has a track record of not only failing to pay attention to criminal activities, but of having some officers acting like a mob.

This will change, but nearly a decade after the Cinder & Ashe LS.


Powers and Abilities

Cinder has :

  1. Well-above-average intelligence and social skills.
  2. Considerable street smarts.
  3. Strong street fighting experience.
  4. Firearms operation and tactics training from Ashe.

She is thus a clever and competent operator and detective.

Her techniques range from putting her studies in psychology to good use, to putting her past as a street thief to not-so-good use.


Soundtrack

From a 1988 concert, to match the book’s publication. And it’s a good thematic match.

Beyond being one of the definitive examples of 1980s American arena rock, this song is tied to an old memory. I was but a lil’ boy in 1984, and spoke very little English, and I *couldn’t* grok  why I understood the lyrics better than most Americans. This made no sense !

 

Available for download on Amazon .


History

Cinder was born in Sài Gòn in 1961. Her mother was a Vietnamese bar girl and her father an African-American GI. Her paternal grandfather was White and Scottish.

These genetic combinations gave Cinder distinctive red hair — hence her name. Her eyes also look almost blue-ish under certain lighting conditions.

Her father Jimmie came in with the US military “advisor team”. He spent years in Saigon. He loved the city, and had plans for when the war would be over. Of course, these did not exactly work out.

The first kick I took was when I hit the ground

Cinder’s mother died during the Tết offensive in 1968. She was killed by artillery fire right in front of Jimmie and little Cinder.

Though she had been crying for her mother, the little girl stopped cold when she saw Thuỳ killed. She let Red Cross staff shuffle her around for first aid, staying silent and staring in the distance.

Jimmie was lost in the commotion. He was never seen again, though he had promised numerous times that he would never leave.

I had a brother at Khe Sanh fighting off the Việt Cong

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cinder grew up to be a Sài Gòn street thief. She was initially freelancing, and got harassed for that by other street urchin gangs.

In 1972 she started working for an American named Lacey. A CIA man, Lacey was chiefly involved in the heroin trade. He used Cinder for such stunts as stealing the money back from local suppliers who had just sold him horse. Lacey’s local girlfriend, a bar girl named Khánh, raised Cinder during those years.

Cinder drawing her garter gun

One evening of 1975, completely drunk and thinking the orange-haired youth had embezzled his money, Lacey beat little Cinder and raped her.

Not long after, Saigon fell to the VC. Khánh, knowing that Lacey would abandon her to be branded a collaborator, slit her own throat with a straight razor. She died just as Cinder was entering her room. Shocked, the teenager grabbed the bloody razor. She ran after Lacey in the street to kill him. But he shot her in the shoulder.

Lacey was going to kill the youth. But an American NCO they had never met shot Lacey in the head. The NCO picked the wounded Cinder up and brought her to the US embassy. The kid was among the last to be evacuated.

They’re still there, he’s all gone

The expressionless and taciturn teenager was taken by the NCO, named Ashe, to Louisiana. Ashe handed Cinder over to his cousin Jean-Marc Dubois and his wife Angélique, who apparently could not conceive a child. This nice couple adopted and raised Cinder.

Though she occasionally had problems with racists, she soon become an American in speech, dress and behaviour, concealing her roots.

Cinder seldom saw Ashe, who was serving as a professional mercenary in international conflicts. He usually spent months away from Cinder. But he kept paying his cousin’s bills for raising the girl, and paid for her education at Tulane College .

The soldier also gave her one of his Purple Hearts, which she wore as a pendant.

(Jacob Ashe and Jean-Marc Dubois were discussing in French-from-France rather than Cajun French. It is thus possible that Dubois was a recent French immigrant. This might further explain Cinder’s exposure to classic French songs. She stated that her French was not as good as Ashe’s, but she presumably meant Cajun French rather than French French).

He had a woman he loved in Sài Gòn

Cinder did not understand Ashe. She was unwilling to believe a man could do all of that for no reason.

Cinder and Ashe rescue an abuse victim

Cinder came to assume he wanted to sleep with her. One imagines that Cinder, having been raised among prostitutes during a foreign occupation, thought that White men would always consider Asian women as sex objects.

Ashe denied having any sexual interest in the beautiful Cinder. But it did not ring quite true. Beside Cinder herself had a definite, but unspoken, interest in him.

In 1984, Cinder graduated magna cum laude. The Dubois threw a BBQ party for all their friends to celebrate. The ambiguity and tension between them wearing her down, Cinder grabbed and kissed Ashe. Ashe returned the kiss. Yet he soon realised he had really come to think of Cinder as a daughter of sorts. He was thus unable to go further.

Though the experience was embarrassing, it gave them a much more comfortable understanding of their relationship. They settled somewhere between best friends, and father and daughter.

I got a picture of him in her arms now

In 1986, Ashe took an unusually long break from mercenary contracts. He had become tired of it all. Cinder, seeing the USA of the 1980s as damaged enough to remind her of Saigon in the early 1970s, wanted to start a two-persons outfit akin to private detectives.

Cinder & Ashe - DC Comics - Character study by Garcia-Lopez

The goal would be to help desperate people in dire situations, for a price. Cinder called it “damage control”. She considered that her education and street smarts, along with Ashe’s military experience, could make for a superb combo.

As “damage control” experts, Cinder & Ashe have been involved in a number of cases. Many of those were serious – such as kidnappings, murders, political cases and the like. They have an excellent track record.


Description

Cinder looks mostly Asian, but with hints of Europe to her nose and mouth and of Africa in her lower face. Her Eastern Asian skin tone an unusual ochre cast to it. That makes her look darker than most Vietnamese – but not in the same way than if she simply had a tanned skin. Her fine hair is naturally red, verging on orange.

She is an attractive lass with an athletic physique and fine features. She also happens to be markedly taller than most women.

She’s a sophisticated and trendy dresser. Her outfits are firmly mid-to-late 1980s, late New Wave , though she makes everything work even for a late-2010s observer. She usually goes for the high-end and distinctive if she wants to make an impression, or for the quietly elegant if it’s an ordinary day.

In the field she usually wears dark biker-style leathers, and a Vietnamese-style black headband to keep her hair away from her eyes.


Personality

Cinder is hard and wounded. Everybody has always abandoned her, she grew up in the mean streets with little in the way of safety or power, and she has been badly hurt numerous times.

Cinder & Ashe - DC Comics - Character study by Garcia-Lopez

She’s practically incapable of trust. Her main character growth arc is to accept that Ashe is not going to use her, is not going to hurt her and is not going to abandon her.

This inability to trust makes Cinder a profound loner.

Yet these issues are not visible at all in her behaviour. Cinder projects a strong feeling of being happy, vital, popular and well-adjusted.

Other traits

In her youth she considered herself to be like the wind. Fleet, impossible to catch, flexible, impossible to touch, going where it wants, snatching anything it wants but never keeping it for long.

Cinder and Ashe in Saigon in 1975

Sài Gòn, 1975.

Cinder is smart, well-educated and streetwise. She’s a sophisticated operator and a good sleuth. She’s at her best doing social engineering and research, but she is certainly not afraid of a brawl or a gunfight.

She’s more extroverted and dynamic than Ashe. Cinder is thus behind many of the initiatives of the duo. Howbeit, she deeply respects Ashe’s opinions, intuition and experience.

Yet their dynamics are more complicated than “face” and “solo”. For starters they both have considerable combat, social and deductive skills.

Cendres

Unbeknownst to practically anybody but Ashe, the tall, sophisticated young woman is still haunted by her memories of her homeland during the invasion. She remains scarred by the trauma that the war, greed and cowardice around her dragged her into. This squalid, shellshocked nightmare of a childhood drives her to make the world a better place.

Cinder & Ashe - DC Comics - Character study by Garcia-Lopez

Much of the trauma of those years is centred on the figure of Lacey. He was the exact type of person she now wants to stop.

Unlike Ashe, Cinder doesn’t like country music. She is more into older French songs such as Edith Piaf .


Quotes

“Ashe, how long did Kaplan say those creeps had been holding his wife ? Take a look. Most of these bruises look like they’re at least a few days old…”

Cinder : “We’re not in this to make money from people like you, Mr. Starger. We charge victimisers, not victims.”
Mr. Starger : “I don’t understand…”
Cinder (big smile, shakes his hand) : “You don’t have to.”

“We’ll find out. We’ll find her. We’ll find him. And this time I won’t let the bastard get away alive.”

(About a friend who just got shot) “He’s dead. But everyone dies. It doesn’t matter.”

“Between Starger’s missing TRW credit history and the lost DMV files, I’d say someone is trying to erase part of our client’s past. I wonder what happened in May ’78 ?”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Cinder Dubois

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation : Justice
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation : Private detective
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth} : 005
Init: 012 HP: 015

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics): 04, Charisma (Persuasion): 05, Detective (Legwork): 05, Scientist (Research): 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Thief (Concealment, Stealth): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Expertise (Art history, Psychology), Familiarity (Fashion & style), Headquarters (A townhouse in New Orleans), Languages (Vietnamese, French).

Connections:
Business/Finance World (Low), Street (Low), Donald (FBI agent, Low).

Drawbacks:
Dependent (Ashe, zero points), Creepy Appearance (Distinctive hair and height).

Genre:
Real.

Equipment:

  • Cinder is generally armed with a trusty .45 Colt M1911 Medium Calibre Semi-Auto [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08, R#03]. She seems to alternate between the basic model and a more compact Colt Combat Commander (same stats).
  • She often wears lightly-tinted designer sunglasses [BODY 01, Shade: 01].
  • Cinder drives a red Porsche.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cinder Dubois — Averaged PL4.6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
01 02 03 02 02 02 01 01

Combat Advantages

Defensive Roll 1.

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Access to Ashe’s townhouse and armoury), Benefit 1 (Well-off), Connected, Equipment 2, Language (Vietnamese, French).

Skills

Athletics 4 (+5), Close combat (Unarmed) 3 (+5), Deception 4 (+5), Expertise (Art history) 4 (+6), Expertise (Detective) 6 (+8), Expertise (Fashion & Style) 2 (+4), Insight 4 (+5), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 2 (+3), Ranged combat (Firearms) 3 (+5), Sleight of hand 4 (+6) (Limited 2 to Concealing), Stealth 2 (+5), Vehicles 4 (+6) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles).

Equipment

.45 handgun Ranged ballistic Damage 3 ● 6 points

Offense

Initiative +3
Unarmed +5, Close, Damage 1
Light pistol +5, Ranged, Damage 3

Defence

Dodge 06 Fortitude 05
Parry 05 Toughness 02*/03
Will 04

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Damage control Cinder works to save and salvage lives, even if there’s no money in it.
  • Distinctive appearance

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 4, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 4, Fort/Will PL 5.
  • Points total 68. Abilities 28, Defences 12, Skills 20, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 8. Equiv. PL 5.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Cinder & Ashe LS (1988, DC).

Helper(s): RPG.net, Darci.

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