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Codename: Assassin (First Issue Special DC Comics)

Codename: Assassin

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


During the 1970s, First Issue Special was both a tryout title for new concepts and a dumping ground for unpublished material. This “lost” stuff is prime material for GMs who want to reinvent obscure but published characters for their games. Since it gives but the seed of a character.

This specific character (which I think is an early creation from Gerry Conway, with the costume being an Infantino design) really feels like he has been designed in a game of Villains & Vigilantes, Champions 2nd edition or the Basic Marvel Roleplaying Game and is somebody’s PC !

A few weeks after this profile, DC writers started using First Issue Special characters again in Superman stories. Since the spirit of this entry, as noted above, was to provide semi-forgotten 1970s material as a seed, this profile will not cover modern appearances of the character. Those may eventually be described in another write-up.



  • Real Name: Jonathan Drew.
  • Other Aliases: The Assassin.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Marie (sister, deceased), parents (names unrevealed, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 185 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond

Powers and Abilities

Drew seems to be a well-trained athlete and hand-to-hand fighter.

He uses an array of small gadgets. The main one is a custom-built semi-automatic pistol shooting tranquilliser darts. He also has a tiny but powerful blowtorch to cut some obstacles open.

The Assassin has an odd array of psionic  powers. He can :

  • Read minds.
  • Project beams of physical or mental force from his forehead.
  • Walk on air.
  • Remotely manipulate and levitate small objects.
  • Telekinetically operate locks.
  • Or even repair his own flesh !


Go go gadget Assassin !

The Assassin’s special gear was built by a man named Ben. However, the mob killed early during the Assassin’s career. More details were promised in later issues, which of course never came.

It is thus possible that the Assassin only has a limited stockpile of gadgets. And he may not be able to repair damaged pieces of special equipment by himself. However, throw-away gadgets such as the pocket blowtorch seem to be available in ample supply. The Assassin does not hesitate to use them.

Most gadgets are smallish capsules stored bandolier-style on his belt or his bracers. The Assassin’s arsenal is likely much greater than what could be demonstrated in a single comic.


Johnny Drew lost his parents when he was ten. He was then raised by his adult sister Marie. Unbeknownst to Johnny, Marie was working for one Victor Grummun. This heavily-connected criminal also known as the Mob-Master.

For unrevealed reasons Marie became a security risk. Therefore, Grummun had her executed in a public drive-by hit. Marie died in Johnny’s arms when he was 21.

As a freshman in Antioke University, Johnny had recently participated in an ESP experiment designed by a certain Dr. Stone. That was in order to gain extra credit for a psychiatry course he had been flunking. During the experiment, the equipment was accidentally overloaded and blew up. That sent Drew to the hospital but gave him psionic powers.

One of the first uses of his power was to blow up the car from whence Mary had been shot. That led to the arrest of the wounded gunmen.


Traumatised by Marie’s death, Drew trained to become a vigilante, adept in both physical and psychic combat. As the Assassin (an odd choice of code name, since he wasn’t a killer), he started his vendetta against the New York mob.

Meanwhile Stone deduced his identity and warned the police. But for two years Drew managed to elude both Stone and the cops. This wasn’t difficult – the Assassin was mostly considered as an ally by the police. They publicly denounced his activities but actually appreciated his abilities to get crooks who would otherwise escape justice.

Stone evetnually managed to locate his former student and hear his extraordinary tale. Shortly after that, the Assassin left for a showdown with the Mob-Master to avenge his sister. Little did Drew know, however, that two costumed henchmen were present on the Mob-Master’s yacht – Snake and Powerhouse.


The man whose code name was Assassin remained in comic book limbo for more than three decades. Even the result of the fight on the yacht remaining unrevealed.

Starman I (Ted Knight) mentioned encountering him once in 1976 or 1977, though.


See illustrations.


A standard 1970s, pre-Punisher urban superhero who will not kill if he can help it. He is obsessed with revenge against the mob – and V. Grummun in particular.


“Right the first time, handsome ! And if you were as fast with your gun as you are with your mouth, you might have avoided this tranquilliser dart !”

“You don’t understand ! They killed Marie !”

“The answer’s simple, Mr. Carmody. I want revenge.”

“For a guy with powers like mine — powers your machine gave me — a cut hand is nothing at all !”


Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Avenger
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 018 HP: 025

Air walking: 06, Enhanced Initiative: 06, Jumping: 02, Mental blast: 09, Mind blast: 06, Mind probe: 06, Regeneration: 05, Telekinesis: 01, Telepathy: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Enhanced Initiative is Contingent Upon Telepathy and only works if the Assassin can read the mind of all his current opponents.
  • Jumping is Contingent Upon Air Walking.
  • Mental Blast becomes Minor Marginal if the Assassin uses his telekinetic abilities extensively (any use of Mental Blast, or prolonged or maximum APs use of Air Walking, Regeneration, Thief (Locks and safes) or Telekinesis). It can then be Recovered as if it had Burnt Out – once fully ’Recovered‘, it stops being Minor Marginal until the next time.
  • Mind blast is Contingent Upon Telepathy (-1) and is Lethal, but is its own AV (+0 or +1 depending on house rules).
  • Mind Probe is Contingent Upon Telepathy (-1).
  • Regeneration requires an Automatic Action each Phase to stay active.

Acrobatics: 05, Martial artist*: 06, Thief (Locks and safes): 08, Weaponry (Firearms): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Thief (Locks and Safes) is Powered, Contingent on Telekinesis and becomes automatically Burned Out if the Assassin uses his telekinetic abilities extensively (any use of Mental Blast, or prolonged or maximum APs use of Air Walking, Regeneration, Thief (Locks and safes) or Telekinesis).

None demonstrated.

Dr. Andrew Stone (Low).

Guilt (Death of Marie).


  • Tranquilliser pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 03, Poison touch: 05, Ammo: 06, R#03, Bonus: Projectile Weapon and Poison Touch are Combined, but Poison Touch has Restricted Penetration].
  • Pocket blowtorch [BODY 02, Laser beam: 10, Ammo: 01, Limitations: Laser Beam has No Range and normally only useable to cut through solid, stationary object over at least a full minute]. This is usually kept in his utility belt.
  • Omni-Gadget (x2) AC 4 APs.

Design notes

There is but one issue worth of material, so these stats are necessarily speculative.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: First Issue special #11 (1976).

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