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Eel (Marvel Comics) (Leopold Stryke) crouched

Eel

(Leopold Stryke)


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

Context

This C-list Marvel villain was active during the 1960s and 1970s.

He was first seen in 1963 as a foe of the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), who back then headlined his own features.

The Eel is a good pick to fill the roster of a minor villains assemblage in stories set during those decades.


Background

  • Real Name: Leopold Stryke.
  • Other Aliases: “The Living Bomb”.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Jordan Dixon (a.k.a. The Viper, brother, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Fellowship of Fear, Serpent Squad, Celestial Mind Control movement. Hireling of Egghead, the Cowled Commander, the Enforcer. Briefly an associate of the Nefaria Maggia family.
  • Base of Operations: New York City area.
  • Height: 5’8″ Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Brown.


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Powers & Abilities

Mr. Stryke is knowledgeable about marine biology, though he doesn’t seem to have formal qualifications in this domain. He’s a skilled caretaker for many sorts of sea life, with a rare level of expertise.

He’s also skilled at building and maintaining large aquariums, which involves a set of complex skills. His forte among those is electrical work.

All this, and he’s also :

  • A skilled acrobat, climber and swimmer.
  • A trained helicopter pilot.
  • A decent hand-to-hand fighter and wrestler.
  • An okay firearms operator.

This loosely suggests that the Eel may have served in the military.

Costumes

Here I’ll assign arbitrary Mark numbers. For clarity.

Mk1 (1963, violet and purple)

  • A layer of non-flammable grease on the outside. Grappling or grabbing the Eel is extremely difficult. However, enough friction (such as prolonged wrestling) will rub the grease away. And as long as there is grease, it’s also difficult for the Eel to hold people.
  • The costume is electrified. This is a painful shock that can daze even an athletic adult. The shock can also be focused in one direction using a projector on the chest, which extends the range by a few metres.
  • The eyes are protected by a thin transparent layer over the eyeholes.

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Mk2 (1964, true blue and violet)

  • The short-range electric blast can now be used to brick electrical systems (such as burglar alarms). It can also be shot from the gloves, without fiddling with the chest projector.
  • The grease now includes asbestos. It extinguishes flame on contact. Asbestos had many strange properties in early Human Torch stories.

Mk3 (1964, violet and blue)

This version wasn’t seen for long. It was greased to escape from holds, and could shoot lightning from the gloves.

Secondary sources  mention that the Eel costume has electrical insulation. The Mk3 is a natural step for this feature to appear.

Mk4 (1965, two-tone green)

  • This costume doesn’t have electrical systems. One suspects that it was a fallback outfit.
  • However, the grease seems slipperier. It even deflected blows by making them glance off. Daredevil countered this by throwing a bucketful of sand onto the Eel.
  • Our game stats assume it’s still fireproofed, but not as much as with the Mk2.

This is also the point where the Eel starts being depicted as an acrobat.

Mk5 (1966, greyish purple and light blue)

  • The grease has been replaced by a silicon coating.
  • The electrical systems are back. The costume can now :
    • Glow for illumination.
    • Glow fiercely enough to dazzle a nearby person.
    • Emit a bodywide shock (this smashed an ice block encasing him).
    • Emit electrical blasts from one or both palms.

It seems possible that Nefaria scientists helped with the upgrades.

Mk6 (1970s/classic costume)

The best-known one. It’s true blue and eggplant, with the jagged motifs on the sides of the limbs and mask. One variant came in heather (dark grey/purple) and light blue.

It seems similar to the Mk5, but :

  • The electrical blasts seem more powerful.
  • The silicon coating is proven to be slick enough to escape even from Luke Cage’s grip. Back then, Cage had “Class 5” strength. Whether previous iterations of the suit could do that is unknown.
  • The bodywide shock can be done with direct current, which will tetanise muscles. This can lock a person grabbing Eel in position, while they continue to receive shocks.

Helicopter

During his first public outings, the Eel had a customised light helicopter. It had :

  • Hydraulic rams that could somehow punch through walls. This created a breach for the Eel to invade a building.
  • Armour that could withstand light gunfire.
  • An autopilot that could keep the helo hovering in place with but negligible drift. This later evolved into full remote control.
  • A four-metres ramp. This is normally the landing gear, but motors can move it in front of the cockpit so it becomes an assault ladder. It can also serve as a pontoon, to land on water.
  • A 12-metres rope ladder on the side.
  • Gun ports in the cockpit.
  • Loudspeakers.
  • Twin tail rotors (??).

It vaguely resembles a modified OH-6 Cayuse . Which might work if this model was built a bit earlier in the Marvel Universe than in the real world.

Eel (Marvel Comics) (Leopold Stryke) helicopter

In 1964, there were further systems :

  1. Smoke dischargers. These can keep the helo hidden within a dense cloud for several minutes.
  2. A one-shot water cannon on the front.
  3. One-shot laughing gas dischargers in the rear.

The helicopter was apparently found and confiscated in 1965.

To my regret, nobody ever called it the eelicopter.

Other gear

During his first public outing, the Eel used the freshly stolen “aqua-attractor gun”. This pistol could draw large masses of liquid water from clouds, or even from the ground. The Torch destroyed it.

In 1973, the Eel was issued a lightning rifle by Cobra (Klaus Voorhees). The “Eel cannon” could blast a man-sized breach through a typical cottage’s outer walls.


Soundtrack

Something to evoke 1963… Mmm, all that comes spontaneously to mind is jazz. And it’s not stuff that would scream “1963” to most.

Heh, why not Dionne Warwick  ? It’s more of a chronological marker. And it was #5 on the R&B charts of the days. These had previously been the “race records” charts, but it was changed in 1949 to have White people buy them too.

Available for download on Amazon .


History

Leopold Stryke worked at the Ocean View public aquarium complex, built on a reserved New York beach.

He apparently had a lot of authority on the day-to-day running of these facilities. He was able to modify parts of the building in secret.

Unfortunately, his goal in life wasn’t to educate the public about the sea. It was to become a dreaded criminal menace. He developed the costumed identity of the Eel, with a greased and electrified costume.

His first forays as the Eel were discreet and successful. He then sunk these earnings into a special helicopter. And a secret helo hangar with remote-operated camouflaged doors, built in the Ocean View complex.

(He must have been a *huge* Whirlybirds  fan.)

Running up that Eel

The Eel raided the labs of one Professor Lawson. However, one of the devices he stole was essentially a miniature atomic bomb. It would detonate at some random point. A major manhunt was thus launched to find the Eel.

Stryke abandoned the bomb in a forest. But the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) then intercepted him. Storm narrowly won. He then stretched his powers to their limit to funnel the heat and blast from the bomb upward.

The Eel left prison in 1964, on good behaviour. The aquarium even hired him back, since he was too difficult to replace.

But the Eel promptly stole a rare stamps collection in town. He then tried to steal a big ruby. This was a trap set by the Torch, but Stryke escaped.

Johnny Storm then visited the aquarium. The Eel panicked, wrongly thinking this was part of a plan to trap him. Though the Eel nearly killed the Torch, he was vanquished and captured.

What’s the time, it’s time to get Eel

Stryke’s hidden helicopter still hadn’t been found. In prison, he cobbled together a remote control, summoned his vehicle, and escaped.

Eel (Marvel Comics) (Leopold Stryke) vs Captain America

Days later, he used his helo to free Electro (Maxwell Dillon) from prison and offer an alliance.

They went for a themed high-profile blackmailing scheme. Both having electrical powers, they threatened to wreck New York City’s power stations unless paid millions. But Spider-Man (Peter Parker) defeated them using a gadget built to stop the Vulture (Adrian Toomes).

However, the enthusiastic but inexperienced intervention of Bluebird (Sally Avril) allowed the charged ne’er-do-wells to escape. Electro then dissolved their partnership.

License to Eel

In 1965, Mister Fear (Zoltan Drago) used his fear gas to force the Eel and Ox (Raymond Bloch) to become his henchmen. They repulsed Daredevil (Matt Murdoch) several times, but were eventually defeated.

This marked a turning point. With this “Fellowship of Fear”, the Eel started his career as a jobber  with minor teams of costumed villains.

The Eel was then among the throngs of super-villains hit by Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom)’s emotion manipulator. These attacked the Storm/Richards marriage.

The villains were defeated by an army of heroes, and Reed Richards used a time displacer to undo these events.

X-Eel on Main Street

The next team, in 1966, was assembled by Count Nefaria for his grandiose scheme against the White House. It sported a roster most heteroclite :

The team performed well against the X-Men, and struck a notable blow against mutant/human relations. But the plot was ultimately defeated when Professor X entered the fray.

Nefaria’s henchmen, who had been plotting to betray him, ended up fleeing.

The Eel is on, on the street

Egghead (Elihas Starr) then went for his own big-time blackmail scheme. Beyond the Eel, he recruited :

They deployed a nuclear missile aimed at Manhattan. This was done in Canada, under the notion that Canada had next to no super-heroes who might respond. But the earliest version of Alpha Flight responded. Though they lacked experience, they defeated the scheme.

Run to the Eels

The next known employer was the Cowled Commander (Roger Muldoon), in 1973. He hired the old Nefaria team, minus the Unicorn, plus the Viper — Jordan Dixon, Leopold Stryke’s brother.

Eel (Marvel Comics) (Leopold Stryke) Viper brother

(This team is sometimes called the Crime Wave in secondary sources.)

They combined their powers for a crime wave through New York City. They clashed with Captain America (Steve Rogers) and the Falcon (Sam Wilson).

Though they didn’t perform badly, it was because they were carried by Plantman. The Commander and his goons were swiftly defeated once Plantman was taken out.

Sexual Eeling

The brothers soon broke free from prison. The Cobra (Klaus Voorhees) had slipped them spare costumes, and recruited them to become his Serpent Squad.

But it was the brothers who convinced him to attack Captain America and the Falcon in revenge. And Eel who convinced the other two to go with frontal attacks.

(Why a guy named the Eel was in the *Serpent* Squad remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the not-written-by-Chris-Claremont Marvel Universe.)

The Squad had to retreat after their first attack, even though the Eel badly burned Captain America’s hands when Cap grabbed him. However, the second attempt also failed, and the Squad was captured.

Jordan’s dead

The Squad was still jailed at the Virginia State Pen in 1975. When the Viper was transferred away, he was secretly murdered by the former Madame Hydra (Ophelia Sarkissian).

Sarkissian also sent her henchwoman Princess Python (Zelda Dubois) to free the Eel and the Cobra.

The four formed a new Serpent Squad under Sarkissian. She took the Viper identity. Ms. Sarkissian told the Eel that his brother had been killed by cops, and that she was taking the name in his honour.

The Crown

This new Squad captured Hugh Jones, the Roxxon Oil CEO, despite the efforts of Nomad (Steve Rogers). A fantastic attempt to raise the sunken continent of Lemuria ensued.

But this time, Nomad stopped them. Eel and most of his colleagues were arrested by Roxxon security men.

Stryke presumably escaped, as he was free by 1976.

However, his morale had taken a bad hit after the death of his brother, and his long series of defeats. He and his depressive friend the Porcupine grew interested in the Celestial Mind Control movement.

Celestial Mind Control

This cult-like movement could supposedly teach the secrets of self-confidence. Stryke and Gentry applied, along with a reluctant Plantman.

Plantman soon left. Stryke and Gentry stayed long enough for the secret master of the CMC — the alien Nebulon — to brainwash them.

Nebulon deployed the disposable duo to delay the Defenders. They ran a successful ambush using Porcupine’s sleep gas quills. But ultimately they were far outmuscled.

The CMC was eventually ended by the Defenders. Nebulon left Earth. The Eel was arrested in unclear circumstances, and jailed for a month or two.

Morituri te salutant

A few months later, Leo Stryke was in California. His parole officer had strongarmed him in applying as a marine life expert for a Hollywood contract.

He got the job, advising the makers of a special episode of the cheesy Stuntmaster TV show.

Frustrated by his lack of money, the Eel also took a lucrative contract from the Enforcer (Charles Delazny, Jr.). He stole a disintegration machine prototype. However, another mercenary was on the case – the Gladiator (Melvin Potter).

The Gladiator tracked down the Eel. When he realised that Stryke no longer had the prize, Potter murdered him.

(The Eel no longer had the device since the Enforcer had taken it whilst the Eel was unconscious. Which, unbeknownst to the Gladiator, meant that the contract was now closed.)


Description

The back of the 1970s costume is mostly eggplant, and the front mostly blue. That’s unusual in comic book costumes.


Personality

The Eel was on a specific power trip fantasy. He would dress up as a super-villain, have strange powers, and be an unstoppable, dreaded, cunning thief and menace.

It’s a kink, I guess.

He had the usual bombastic, articulate Stan Lee lines – but without the megalomania option.

He loved to boast about his costume’s capabilities, and tried hard to project the image of a masterful foe.

Part of it was not striking women. And I suspect that his moustache was an attempt at Flynn-like swagger.

It didn’t really stick, though. Stryke never had the “it” charisma he so craved.

Decay

Over time, the frustrated Eel became more violent, more ruthless, more selfish and more likely to kill.

His bitterness followed the curve of his dwindling finances and mounting jail time.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Eel (Stryke)

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 004
Init: 012 HP: 025

Skills:
Accuracy (Grappling/wrestling): 06, Acrobatics: 05, Gadgetry: 04, Vehicles (Air, Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Expertise (Electrical engineering, Marine biology, Sea life habitats/aquariums).

Connections:
Underworld (Low), Porcupine (Alexander Gentry, Low).

Drawbacks:
By 1973, a Minor Rage.

Equipment:

Mk1 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 02 (cap is 07), Grappling immunity: 04, Lightning: 03, Lightning being: 03, Limitations:

  • Grappling Immunity is lowered by 1 AP for every Phase of Grappling or Wrestling (or being immersed in water). This can be Recovered by applying more grease.
  • Grappling Immunity also lowers the Eel’s Wrestling/Grappling AV by 1 CS as long as it has APs left.
  • Lightning has a Range of but 00.
  • Both Lightning Powers are Bashing Combat.

Mk2 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 02 (cap is 07), Flame immunity: 05, Grappling immunity: 05, Lightning: 05, Lightning being: 03, Misc.: The grease includes asbestos (to which the Human Torch has a Partial Power Loss), Limitations:

  • Grappling Immunity and Flame Immunity are lowered by 1 AP for every Phase of Grappling or Wrestling (or being immersed in water). This can be Recovered by applying more grease.
  • Grappling Immunity also lowers the Eel’s Wrestling/Grappling AV by 1 CS as long as it has APs left.
  • Lightning has a Range of but 00.
  • Partial Power Loss – Lightning’s EV is lowered by 1 CS when attacking a living being, or a non-electrically-powered object.

Mk3 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 02 (cap is 07), Grappling immunity: 06, Lightning: 06, Lightning immunity: 04, Limitations:

  • Grappling Immunity and Flame Immunity are lowered by 1 AP for every Phase of Grappling or Wrestling (or being immersed in water). This can be Recovered by applying more grease.
  • Grappling Immunity also lowers the Eel’s Wrestling/Grappling AV by 1 CS as long as it has APs left.

Mk4 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks and Unarmed RV): 02 (cap is 07), Grappling immunity: 07, Lightning immunity: 02, Limitations:

  • Grappling Immunity is lowered by 1 AP for every Phase of Grappling or Wrestling (or being immersed in water). This can be Recovered by applying more grease.
  • Grappling Immunity also lowers the Eel’s Wrestling/Grappling AV by 1 CS as long as it has APs left.
  • The Enhance (Unarmed RV) APs cannot be higher than the remaining APs of Grappling Immunity.

Mk5 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 02 (cap is 08), Flash: 06, Grappling immunity: 06, Lightning: 07, Lightning immunity: 05, Bonus: Lightning can also be emitted as a bodywide shock, with a Range of Touch but acting as its own AV.

Mk6 EEL COSTUME

BODY 03, Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 02 (cap is 08), Flash: 06, Grappling immunity: 07, Lightning: 08, Lightning immunity: 06, Snare: 10, Bonus:

  • Lightning has Multi-Attack 1.
  • Lightning can also be emitted as a bodywide shock, with a Range of Touch but acting as its own AV.
  • Snare has No Range, and can only be used on persons Wrestling/Grappling the Eel. It is its own AV. It doesn’t rely on bonds but on direct electrical current.

Other gear

HELICOPTER [STR 07 BODY (Hardened) 08, Flight: 06, Stretching: 01, Super-ventriloquism: 03, R#2, Limitations: Stretching has no defensive applications or fine manipulation – it represents the ram and the ladders ; Super-ventriloquism only to increase volume].

The additional systems had Fog: 05 (Ammo: 01 but lasts for minutes), Water Blast: 05 (Ammo: 01), and Fog: 04 Combined With Chemical Attack: 06 (Ammo: 01).

A remote controller [BODY 01, Radio communication: 14, Bonus: RC can convey remote control instructions, R#02] was later added.


Other other gear

The “aqua-attractor” boiled down to Water Blast: 06, but required that enough water to be present in the environment.

The 1973 lightning rifle likely had Lightning: 09, Ammo: 06 or so.


Design Notes

For his suit, I find Snare easier to model (in terms of OV/RV and RAPs) than Paralysis. Its outcomes are more predictable.

Some of the numbers for the suits are inferred, since the Eel doesn’t demonstrate every capability every time. Lightning Immunity in particular doesn’t appear in primary sources . Neither does the facial protection Enhance.

Wealth numbers have varied over his career. It started a 005 and ended a 003, more or less.

No Animal Handling Skill. Neither Subskill really matches his work — especially Riding ! An Expertise is a better fit.

More design notes

The Mk6 costume arguably has higher Lightning EV. But the two cases where it hits real hard seem to be :

  1. Hero Points spending (downing the Falcon in anger over seeing the Viper unconscious).
  2. A double, plus HPs (downing the Ghost Rider with one electrically-charged kick).

The Eel escapes from prison a lot. It’s not usually shown, but he routinely pops back up a few months after having been arrested (publication time).

You could thus make a case for escape artist Skill APs and prison break knowledge (Expertise ?). It would be pure inference, but it matches the “slippery” theme.

One scene gave me the vague impression he might have a mini-rebreather in a hidden pocket, for impromptu diving. It’s far too speculative, but it could be an idea for a game.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: 1960s/70s Marvel Comics (plus flashbacks).

Helper(s): Dan.

Writeup completed on the 27th of January, 2020.

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