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Elemental Man (DC Comics) (Batman enemy)

Elemental Man

(John Dolan)


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

Context

This bloke is an obscure, generic villain. He was seen but once in a 1961 Batman story.

There isn’t much to say about him. But if you feel like bringing back a forgotten baddie, he works.


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Background

  • Real Name: John Dolan.
  • Other Aliases: The Villain of 100 Elements.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base of Operations: Gotham City.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown.


Powers & Abilities

Dolan can turn into elements. Such as iron, sodium or aluminium.

He appears to turn into a statue made of that element. So becoming gold will make him look like the Molten Man (Mark Raxton).

(The cover states he’s the “villain of 100 elements”, but that makes no sense. For starters, only 94 were known back then.)

This clothing changes to match. And we observe that becoming a man of lead doesn’t collapse the floor. If all his tissues turned into lead he’d be about 850kg, which is close to a US ton.

From these two facts we can imagine that the effect is a sort of field affecting material about an inch from his skin, plus parts of his organism. Rather than him becoming a solid-yet-animated block of matter.


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Random table

Normally, Dolan turns into a new element at random, every minute or so.

(Well, not quite at random. It seems more likely to “roll” elements in the third to sixth line. Stuff that most people would recognise. Whether he can become transuranics is unrevealed.)

As the Elemental Man, he was equipped with a belt. Touch controls allowed him to pick an element (or none) at will.


History

John Dolan was Professor Higgins’s lab assistant.

Higgins was one of the many Gotham scientist friends of Batman (Bruce Wayne) back then. He had been working on an element converter machine.

Elemental Man (DC Comics) (Batman enemy) iron form wall bursting

However, there was a tiny fault. This resulted in Dolan being exposed to radiation from the machine for weeks. When he realised this, he started changing at random. Higgins built a belt to stabilise his state, so he could be treated.

But Dolan had gone criminally insane. He fled and, as was the style of the day, hired gunmen and started stealing stuff.

Context notes

Batman stories are among the few super-hero comics that survived the 1950s. But sales weren’t all that.

When a new style of superhero comics emerged during the late 1950s, DC decided to have Batman hop on that bandwagon. It was led by their characters such as the Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), the Challengers of the Unknown, etc.. These all had a pulps  sci-fi feel.

Mad scientists and strange powers thus became a fixture of his adventures. Along with space aliens, men who quit the human race, guys with atomic vision, etc..

For years tensions would remain between the different takes on the Batman concept.

We need to set a bat-trap, chum !

The newly-christened Elemental Man was too powerful for Batman or Higgins. So they and Robin came up with a plan.

Elemental Man (DC Comics) (Batman enemy) blinding diamond form

Batman received a weak version of the powers. This was done by spending energy drained during one attempt to stop Dolan. Wayne pretended to go criminally insane, and sided with the Elemental Man instead of Robin.

When Batman took the Elemental Man’s hand to help him up a ladder, the trap was sprung. The power-draining machine that had previously failed was used on Batman. This drained his charge, then Dolan’s through the medium of Wayne’s body.

The Elemental Man was never seen again.

Rule 63

During the mid-1980s, Kobra (Jeffrey Burr) researched this generation of forgotten, sci-fi Batman villains. He also found ways to reconstitute their powers.

A member of his Strike Force Kobra, Elemental Woman, thus had Dolan’s powers.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Stock megalomaniacal criminal baddie. He steals cash and element-themed valuables, such as gold or radium or diamonds.


Quotes

“Even a king needs a royal guard ! You can help carry away loot ! Little by little, our group shall expand — until the underworld will bow before me ! Eventually, every criminal in the world will bow before me — the Elemental Man !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Elemental Man

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Wealth: 005
Init: 012 HP: 020

Powers:
Molecular Chameleon: 11, Self-Manipulation: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Molecular Chameleon needs no material to copy.
  • Molecular Chameleon cannot do Dispersal or Fluid Form – only STR/BODY.
  • Molecular Chameleon switches to a semi-random element every 2d10 Phases.
  • Self-Manipulation is limited to emulating the physical properties of the element he’s currently, uh, chameleoning.

Skills:
Scientist: 02, Vehicles (Land): 03

Advantages:
Familiarity (Physics, Chemistry).

Connections:
Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Criminal megalomania.

Equipment:
BELT [BODY 01. It allows the Elemental Man to select his element (or none) at a touch. This essentially removes his Limitation whilst it’s on.]


These days it’s all in the mind

Applications of his Powers in the story :

  1. STR 11 BODY 11 by turning… like unto a thing of iron ! That’s straight Molecular Chameleon, mate.
  2. Self-Manipulation to do Fog: 06 by turning into sodium and dipping a foot into a pool of water.
  3. Self-Manipulation to do Systemic antidote (Radiation only): 06 by turning into lead.
  4. Self-Manipulation to do Flash: 06 by turning into diamond (and looking much like the Diamondhead or Prism). This has a “free” Area of Effect (1 AP), but requires being lit by an external light source with at least as many APs as the Flash to be produced.
  5. Self-Manipulation to do Fluid form: 06 by turning into mercury.

Design notes

I’m assuming he’s doing Flailing Attacks against Batman. To oversimplify, AV 08 EV 05.

This way Elemental Man can at once effortlessly smash through walls, consistently hit 1961 Batman, but not hurt Batman that badly.

Everybody back then could get an Underworld Connection. Just walk into a connected dive (which anybody can find), act impressive, get hat-and-bad-suit-wearing gunmen as followers. That’s it.


Molecular design notes

I’m not a big fan of Molecular Chameleon.

  • Everything is at the same AP levels, which can quickly become weird.
  • It only emulates three things (STR/BODY, Dispersal, Fluid form) instead of what you’d expect it to do. And the pricing matches this triple emulation.
  • Emulating the chemical and physical properties of stuff thus requires another Power, in a somewhat kludgy manner.

Normally I’d just skip Molecular Chameleon, give him STR 11/BODY 11 and add a Power Loss Vulnerability lowering his score when he’s not made of iron. But heh, it’s not *that* much cleaner or simpler.

Plus, people do expect Molecular Chameleon here.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Det #294.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 6th of May, 2020.

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