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Context

Cormorant is an obscure DC character, first seen in 1980.

He played a notable role in Batgirl’s biography. Specifically, the pre-Crisis Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

This profile doesn’t cover the much more recent (2019) version of Edward Wells.

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Background

  • Real Name: Edward Wells.
  • Known Relatives: Mrs. Wells (Given name unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Former operative for General Scarr.
  • Base of Operations: Gotham City.
  • Height: 6’2″ (1.88m). Weight: 225 lbs. (102 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Reddish blond.

Powers & Abilities

Cormorant is a well-trained soldier, specialised in small arms operation.

A deadly marksman, he was particularly successful as an underworld assassin and enforcer.

A strong and tall man, Cormorant built himself a powerful musculature. He clearly maintained his fitness since he left the service.

He owes at least a dozen small arms, including high-end sniping and assault long guns.

Wells doesn’t seem psychologically stable. As long as he’s on top of the situation, he’s a good professional. But if he gets unnerved, he’s liable to completely lose it. This may be why he left the military.

Cormorant (DC Comics) (Batgirl enemy) flashback



History

Cormorant presumably is a former serviceman. He may have served as a drill sergeant for a while, given his taste in hats. He presumably served in Việt Nam.

During the 1970s he came to work for General Scarr (Anthony Scarano). This deluded criminal ran his own mob in Gotham, and briefly gained significant underworld power.

One suspects that Scarr’s success was largely tied to Cormorant, who never failed in more than 75 missions. Batman considered Cormorant one of Gotham’s top hitmen.

Another part of Scarr’s success was that Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) had spent the late 1970s in Washington, DC. The “General” was primarily working in areas patrolled by Batgirl, and benefited from the slack in vigilante activities.

However, in 1980 Gordon returned to Gotham. Scarr ordered Cormorant to eliminate her before she’d cause trouble.

Killing in the name

Cormorant lynched a dummy in a Batgirl costume, and told the police that it was rigged to explode if anybody but Batgirl approached.

He then laid in ambush – and brought in a schoolgirl he had taken as an hostage.

Wells shot and seemingly killed Batgirl. But though the bullets broke her arm, she narrowly managed to hide – and use the hung dummy as a decoy. Cormorant thus could see “her” body hit the pavement after a 18-stories fall.

Cormorant (DC Comics) (Batgirl enemy) portrait

Rally

Batgirl was shaken by the incident, and wanted to retire her cowl.

But as Batman (Bruce Wayne) went after Scarr, she forced herself to go back into action. Invading Scarr’s base, she found Cormorant – and eventually psyched herself up into confronting him.

But the hitman unexpectedly surrendered. He was certain that he had killed Batgirl, and had always been told that Batman wasn’t human. Thus, he thought that she had come back from the dead to get him.

Batgirl took Scarr down, then rescued Batman from a death trap.

The damage done

Cormorant’s attack had long-term consequences. The little girl who had been held hostage remained traumatised, with a somatic diplegia  .

Furthermore, Batgirl became less active, as she experienced paranoid anxiety about running into Cormorant again.

(Pre-Crisis, Batgirl continued having adventures after the 1980 Scarr/Cormorant case, though they did drop in frequency. That she was less active from anxiety is a 1987 retconMaking changes to a character or story after the fact.).

By 1988, Wells was out of prison. It had presumably been impossible to pin the Cormorant’s crimes on him. He used his ill-gotten gains to buy a nice house in Westchester, a wealthy suburb of Gotham.

(In 1988 it is stated that the Cormorant/Batgirl clash was “four years ago”. Considering that, post-Crisis, the Cormorant case took place in 1983 or 1984 works well, since it matches the fact that there were few Batgirl stories between 1983 and 1988).

And now you do what they told ya

In 1988, a mysterious killer named Slash became active in Gotham.

Her handler was actually Mrs. Wells, Cormorant’s frequently abused wife. Mrs. Wells sent Slash to murder rapists who had not been imprisoned.

Slash’s kills led underworld contacts to hire Cormorant to dispose of the new vigilante.

This forced Mrs. Wells to brief Slash for a preventive strike against Cormorant. Though she was regularly beaten, Mrs. Wells apparently considered that avenging other women had priority.

And now you do what they told ya

Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon returned to being Batgirl. She mistakenly attributed a Slash murder (that of General Scarr’s son) to the Cormorant, being still obsessively apprehensive of him. Batgirl was thus attempting to confront Ed Wells when Slash came in.

The situation got out of hand, in part because Batgirl was scared of Cormorant. However, she did overcome her fear and thrash him.

In the end :

  1. Edward Wells was killed by the grievously wounded Slash to save Batgirl.
  2. Slash was arrested and hospitalised.
  3. The police also took Mrs. Wells in, though it is unlikely charges were ever brought against her.

The wounded Barbara now considered that she could retire the cowl without feeling guilty about the Cormorant still being active. However, a short time later, she was shot and crippled by the Joker.

Cormorant (DC Comics) (Batgirl enemy)

Description

As a Scarr operative, Wells wore an uniform that may have resembled a 1940s USMC sergeant’s (with the white webbing).

He had what became a drill instructor hat, with a golden “C” on the front.

In his home, he usually wore surplus BDUs.

Personality

A big misogynistic brute and cruel murderer.

Cormorant (DC Comics) (Batgirl enemy) white shirt

DC Heroes RPG

Cormorant

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 04
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 02
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 02
Init: 012 HP: 020

Skills:

Military science (Camouflage, cartography, demolitions): 04, Medicine (First aid): 02, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 05

Advantages:

Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols, Mob lore).

Connections:

Street (Low), Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:

Minor Rage, SIA toward Misogyny, MPI.

Motivation:

Mercenary.

Occupation:

Hitman.

Wealth:

005

Equipment:

Cormorant will have two or three guns, and perhaps a knife. These are all stock models, so use the Weapons Locker articles on WORG.

In 1980 he had an automatic Iver Johnson .30 “pistol” (WWII submachinegun stats), and what likely was a Remington M700 (sniper rifle stats).

In 1988 he had an unidentifiable assault rifle and submachinegun, plus a M1911 pistol. He also made use of a side-by-side shotgun that was kept ready as a home defense weapon.


Design notes

His STR may have been 03 during his first appearance, since he wasn’t drawn as beefy. I guess he pumped iron whilst in prison.

His stats are largely cookie-cutter, since there isn’t much information.

When Batgirl fought him in 1988 she was locked out of her Martial Artist Skill and Hero Points by fright, and thus ineffective. But once she rallied and could use those, Cormorant was completely outclassed.


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DC Adventures RPG

Cormorant — Averaged PL 5.2

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

Combat Advantages:

Chokehold, Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 2, Improved Aim, Improved Critical (Firearms) 1, Ranged Attack 2.

Other Advantages:

Contacts, Equipment 7.

Skills:

Athletics 1 (+4), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+6), Deception 1 (+2), Expertise (Hitman) 6 (+8), Expertise (Soldier) 6 (+8), Insight 1 (+2), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 1 (+2), Ranged combat (Firearms) 4 (+8), Technology 2 (+4) (Limited 2 to Operating, Demolitions), Treatment 2 (+4) (Limited 2 to Revive and Stabilise), Vehicles 2 (+4) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles).

Equipment:

See the DCH stats for guns notes.

Offence:

Initiative +1
Unarmed +6, Close, Damage 3.
Firearms +8, by type.

Defence:

Dodge 05
Fortitude 06
Parry 06
Toughness 02*/04
Will 01

* Without Defensive Roll.

Complications:

  • Hitman Cormorant is a professional assassin, and in Gotham City to boot.
  • Chauvinist pig Wells is violently misoginistic.
  • Brittle Cormorant seems psychologically damaged. He’s a casual killer, and may prove weirdly brittle under stress.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 07, Dodge/Toughness PL 05, Parry/Toughness PL 05, Fort/Will PL 04.
  • Points total 70. Abilities 28, Defences 12, Skills 13, Powers 00, Devices 00, Advantages 17. Equiv. PL 5.


Design Notes

Strength and Parry were likely one Rank lower during his first appearance, since he wasn’t drawn as beefy. I guess he pumped iron whilst in prison.

Attack/Effect PL assumes a stock assault rifle or sniper rifle.


Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batgirl comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 17th of December, 2018.