8 min read


During the 1970s, First Issue Special was both a tryout title for new concepts, and a dumping ground for unpublished material.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.

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

This specific character (a creation of Gerry Conway and Carmine Infantino) feels like somebody’s Player CharacterRPG characters played by a player, rather than the gamemaster or the computer. – designed in a game of Villains & Vigilantes, Champions 2nd edition… or the Basic Marvel Roleplaying Game.



  • Real Name: Jonathan Drew.
  • Other Aliases: The Assassin.
  • Known Relatives: Marie (sister, deceased), parents (names unrevealed, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 5’10” (1.78m). Weight: 185 lbs. (84 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Blond.

Powers and Abilities

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

The Assassin has an odd array of psionicPsionics are sci-fi style psychic powers 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 psychically repair his own flesh !

Codename: Assassin (First Issue Special DC Comics)

Go go gadget Assassin !

He also 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’s special gear was built by a man named Ben. However, the mob killed Ben 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 likely is vaster than what could be demonstrated in a single comic.

Codename: Assassin (First Issue Special DC Comics) walking on air and pointing his pistol


Johnny Drew lost his parents when he was 10. He was then raised by his adult sister Marie.

Unbeknownst to Johnny, Marie was working for one Victor Grummun. This heavily-connected criminal was also known as the Mob-Master.

A death in the family

As a freshman in Antioke University (possibly an equivalent of Antioch U  ), Johnny participated in an ESP experiment designed by one Dr. Stone. Drew needed 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.

After the 21-year-old Johnathan recovered, Grummun had Marie executed in a public drive-by hit. She died in Johnny’s arms.

One of the first uses of his power was to blow up the drive-by car. 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 mobs.

Meanwhile Stone deduced his identity and warned the police. But for two years Drew eluded 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.

Dr. Stone eventually 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 limboWhen a character still exists, but hasn’t appeared in comics for years for more than three decades. Even the results of the fight on the yacht remained unrevealed.

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

Codename: Assassin (First Issue Special DC Comics) punches a guard out


See illustrations.


A standard 1970s, pre-Punisher urban superhero. He therefore 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 !”

Codename: Assassin (First Issue Special DC Comics) face closeup

DC Heroes RPG


Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04
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.
  • Enhanced Initiative 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.
  • Mind Blast 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, and Contingent Upon Telekinesis.
  • Thief (Locks and Safes) 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).


Seeking Justice.






  • 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.

Codename: Assassin (DC Comics 1st issue special) unmasked face

DC Adventures RPG

Codename: Assassin — Averaged PL 8.2

02 03 04 02
06 02 02 01


Levitation ● 5 points ● Descriptor: Psionic
– Flight 2, Subtle 1, Limited 1 (cannot gain more than 4 Ranks of altitude from the surface underneath).
– Leaping 2.

Telepathy ● 24 points ● Descriptor: Psionic
– Mental Communication 2
– Enhanced Advantage (Improved Initiative 2), Quirk 1 (must be able to read the mind of all current opponents).
– Mind blast — Ranged Mental Damage 5, resisted by Will, Limited 1 (is always lethal damage).
– Mind reading 5.

Telekinesis ● 20 points ● Descriptor: Psionic
– Ranged force Damage 8, Quirk – if C:A uses this, or uses Levitation or Telekinesis Powers at max Rank or for a prolonged time, using C:A starts requiring Extra Effort. This fades after a day or two of rest.
– Regeneration 1, Quirk 1 (Requires concentration, so a Move Action covers half the normal distance whilst Regeneration is running).
– Move Object 1, Subtle
– Enhanced Skill (Technology +16, Limited 3 to picking locks and safes), Quirk – as with Ranged force Damage above.


Tranq pistol ● 10 points (Easily Removable) ● Descriptor: Technology
– Ranged ballistic Damage 2 Linked with Ranged Affliction 6 (Fatigued, Exhausted, Asleep ; Progressive)
– The Range of both effects is three Ranks, instead of their normal Ranks.
– Affliction has Limited 1 (cannot affect targets protected by hard and/or thick layers).

Disposable pocket blowtorch ● 2 points (Easily Removable) ● Descriptor: Technology
Close heat Damage 9, Limited 2 (the Damage only works when used to cut through a solid, stationary object over at least a full minuteà.

Combat Advantages:

Close attack 2, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Improved Trip, Instant Up, Power Attack, Ranged attack 2.

Other Advantages:

Equipment 3.


Acrobatics 3 (+7), Athletics 6 (+8), Close combat (Unarmed) 1 (+9), Deception 1 (+2), Insight 3 (+5), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 1 (+2), Ranged combat (Firearms) 5 (+9).


Almost certainly other stuff on his utility belts. Let’s blindly assume three Ranks of Equipment.


Initiative +4 (+12 with Telepathy)
Unarmed +9, Close, Damage 4 (13 w/Null-Bands), Crit 19/20.
Dart pistol +9, Ranged.


Dodge 10
Fortitude 08
Parry 10
Toughness 03*/05
Will 05

* Without Defensive Roll.


  • Obsession Johnny will avenge Marie at any cost.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 08, Dodge/Toughness PL 08, Parry/Toughness PL 08, Fort/Will PL 07.
  • Points total 150. Abilities 44, Defences 19, Skills 13, Powers 49, Devices 12, Advantages 13. Equiv. PL 10.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

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