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Grizzly (Marvel Comics) (Spider-Man character)

Grizzly

(Maxwell Markham)


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

Context

The Grizzly is a minor Spider-Man villain, who first appeared in 1974 and looks like it. He is, of course, firmly in the tradition of animal-themed foes for Spidey (which may or may not have a mystical explanation).

He is been used in many different ways, from comedy to drama. This makes him a versatile character, which is good. Based on his appearances in comics, he can be used :

  • As a random thug (tough guy in a costume).
  • As a comedy character (loser in a stupid fur suit).
  • As a classic-but-quite-obscure Spider-Man villain.
  • As a villain attempting to reform.
  • As a really campy would-be-hero.
  • As a fully characterised NPC.

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Background

  • Real Name: Maxwell Markham.
  • Former Aliases: Crazy Max.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Son (name unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Manhattan Professional Wrestling Federation, former henchman of the Jackal, former leader of the Spider-Man Revenge Squad, former partner of the Gibbon, former member of the Thunderbolts (Osborn’s Bastards version).
  • Base Of Operations: Lower West Side in NYC.
  • Height: 6’9” (8’10” in costume). Weight: 290 lbs. (600 lbs. in costume).
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond (occasionally dyed brown or red).


Powers and Abilities

The Grizzly is originally a very strong and tall, fairly skilled professional wrestler. He can be a surprisingly dangerous fighter, but that really depends on his morale and whether he’s resumed training. Accordingly, for most of his appearances he really wasn’t much of a threat. His combat performance has ranged from respectable to dismal.

Exoskeleton

Markham was equipped with an exoskeleton covered by a fur suit, which confers to him superhuman strength greater than Spider-Man’s (“Class 30” or so).


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The Grizzly exo is good at taking blows thanks to the fur and armature, but bullets, blades, ripping attacks and the like are another story entirely. Markham in the Grizzly suit could easily take Spider-Man’s punches, but even handgun fire could be dangerous.

The exoskeleton was wrecked and apparently could never be rebuilt, with Markham simply wearing a fur suit in many of his appearances. That was all he could afford to have repaired.

Powers

Later on, Markham apparently received enhanced strength (“Class 15” or so) and durability, as well as clawed hands. In 2014 he was seen using his claws to quickly climb sheer surfaces.


History

During the early 1960s Max Markham was a pro wrestler in Manhattan. He was a shooter , reputed for being far more violent than the other men in the ring back then.

The Grizzly (Maxwell Markham) posing

Appalled by this cruel spectacle, J.J. Jameson denounced Markham in the Daily Bugle. This led to a Manhattan Pro Wrestling Federation inquiry that sacked Markham. Other wrestlers despised Markham’s brutality, and no one spoke in his favour.

Markham stated that he was actually a very accomplished wrestler, and could have become a major star had Jameson not broken his career. He did win a citywide title against one Kid Crisco, but Markham stated that Crisco had thrown the fight and that he did not consider his title to be valid. What happened is unrevealed, but that may hint of mob involvement that further contributed to the commission ousting him.

Bearish prospects

The wrestler became an impoverished, out-of-shape has-been. However years later, in 1974, the Jackal (Miles Warren) recruited and equipped him as a super-villain – the Grizzly.

The Grizzly’s job was to capture news photographer Peter Parker so he would lead them to Spider-Man. Markham stormed the Daily Bugle’s offices and defenestrated the hated Jameson to draw Parker in. It sort of worked, as Spidey saved the acrimonious publisher. But he then faked defeat to discover Markham’s base and employer.

The Grizzly (Maxwell Markham) vs. Spider-Man

Meanwhile, Markham returned to his old gym to gain revenge against other wrestlers. Spider-Man intervened again and, having deduced that the huge man was wearing a strength-enhancing exoskeleton, tore Markham’s costume to shreds with his webbing.

Defeat and grudge match

The ex-wrestler spent about 10 to 12 years in prison. Though he made a half-hearted attempt at reform it did not stick. The police gave him back his Grizzly suit as he left since it was plainly unrepairable.

Once out Markham became a pathetic barfly, showing his Grizzly scrapbook to bum drinks from sloshed patrons in dives. In 1989, he somehow rounded up enough money to pay the Tinkerer to fix the seemingly unrepairable Grizzly suit – but his goal was simply a rematch against Spider-Man.

Peter Parker being his only lead, he tracked him down and found him in on an Amtrak train. Though he mishandled the situation at first, Parker realised that Markham was solely acting out of wounded pride and let himself be defeated. This restored the Grizzly’s self-esteem.

Ursine of the times

Despite this boost, Markham floundered back into crime over the years. Aware that he couldn’t beat Spider-Man (which may mean that he realised that Spidey threw the fight), he assembled a dime store team as the Spider-Man Revenge Squad. His recruits were the Kangaroo (Brian Hibbs), the Gibbon (Marty Blank) and the Spot (Johnathan Ohnn).

The Grizzly (Maxwell Markham) on a train roof

The team didn’t work at all. Hibbs and Ohnn wanted to commit robberies instead – which Markham and Blank were reluctant to do. During an attack on a bank, the team fell apart. The Grizzly and the Gibbon turned on their colleagues, stopping them with Spider-Man’s help and returning the money.

Markham and Blank decided to turn a leaf, and in 1998 they became a duo of New York City super-heroes as “the gargantuan Grizzly and his partner Gibbon, the boy monkey”

We could be heroes

This Dynamic Duo was patterned after the Adam West version of the Batman show. The Gibbon even turned the Grizzly’s old sedan into a “Bearmobile”. Unfortunately, the Bearmobile was soon lost in the East River, and the furry duo couldn’t afford having it recovered.

They nevertheless attempted to stop a bank robbery by the White Rabbit (Lorina Dodson), but were promptly captured and held hostage.

The Rabbit threatened to execute the would-be heroes. But her eccentric demands, surreal hideouts, and the impassioned pleas of the campy crimefighters for the Mayor not to give in to the blackmail were a big hit with New Yorkers.

Parker intervened as “the Bombastic Bag Man” since he couldn’t be Spider-Man at that point. The three crimefighters overcame the White Rabbit’s absurd death traps and her gang. The Grizzly and the Gibbon were then offered deals for producing novelties and toys in their likeness, since the incident had been considered hilarious by the locals.

More than I can bear

This success was short-lived. The Grizzly eventually gave up his attempts at being a super-hero. He became a fixture of New York City super-villain bars, and apparently had a son during this general era. He eventually was imprisoned again, but took anger management classes and did everything he could to reform.

When he left the authorities returned his suit. But this time all mechanisms had been removed and it was just a fur suit. Despite his attempts, Markham failed and had to return to crime, becoming a pal of the Rhino – who introduced him to the Tinkerer’s new network of hideouts.

The Grizzly (Maxwell Markham) smashes doors open

The Tinkerer agreed to build a Grizzly suit in return for favours, but Markham no longer wanted to be involved in violent crimes. As a result his income was very low. During most operations he couldn’t afford to actually use his exo due to maintenance costs. He worked with exceedingly minor villains, and nobody with an OHOTMU  entry would speak to him at villains bars.

The Grizzly was arrested while attempting to stop a new heist by the White Rabbit. S.H.I.E.L.D. released him after they discovered that he had indeed prevented a crime. Markham’s confused explanation improbably gave S.H.I.E.L.D. their first clues about the Lucia von Bardas plot of 2005, a.k.a. the “Secret Wars”.

Plantigrade on the slope

In 2006 the Grizzly somehow hired the Consultant, an expert in rebranding D-list supervillains. Sacrificing his son’s college fund, Markham paid for treatments making him super-strong and durable, and outfitting him with fangs and claws. The Consultant also provided him with a much more modern costume, and a morale boost.

The refurbished Grizzly became an enforcer for the Owl (Leland Owlsley), but was wounded by Underworld (Jackie Dio) and had his fangs broken.

During an underworld wake, Markham was among those whom the Punisher poisoned and attempted to burn, but pretty much everyone survived.

The Grizzly (Maxwell Markham) and Gorilla-Man

Markham as an ATF agent.

In 2008, a maddened Alyosha Kravinoff captured the Grizzly and many other animal-themed villains. Driven berserk by drugs, the Grizzly fought the Man-Bull, though the Punisher put an end to Kravinoff’s sick menagerie.

Freed, the Grizzly soon tried to rob a bank. However he was stopped by Spider-Man and Stephen Colbert  (who, after all, knows all about the threat bears pose to America) and returned to prison.

Osborn’s enforcers

In 2009, Markham got uncharacteristically lucky. Norman Osborn took over the gargantuan security apparat of the US, and part of his strategy was recruiting minor villains in prisons to bolster Federal field teams.

Markham thus became an ATF officer, wearing a pimptastic bear-themed fur coat over his government-issue jumpsuit.

Like most Osborn-era villain, he also doubled as a Hood enforcer, though in this capacity he wore his old costume. As a Hood agent the Grizzly was twice caught in explosions set by the Punisher, but survived both times.

Fast and furry ursa

Grizzly was also involved in the war between Osborn and the Agents of Atlas. This peaked when Osborn sent him along with his Thunderbolts (Scourge, Mister X, Paladin, Ghost, Ant-Man, Headsman) to raid an Atlas factory, but Grizzly was easily defeated by Namora.

Still, the T-Bolts forced the Agents to retreat to recuperate from exposure to toxic chemicals. Grizzly was still with the Thunderbolts when Osborn sent them to raid Asgard and steal the Spear of Odin, as part of his war against the Norse gods.

Grizzly and Gibbon's themed car

Though few Asgardians were on site, a rag-tag team of Avengers intervened against the Thunderbolts. Remarkably, Grizzly held his own against USAgent and then Stature. However, Ant-Man and Paladin turned against the team, and Ant-Man ruptured Markham’s ear drum. This made Grizzly an easy prey for Stature and Quicksilver.

Meanwhile another battle was taking place just outside of Asgard, which Osborn’s forces lost – triggering the end of his dark reign.

After the fall

The Grizzly and his colleagues were arrested by the US military. But Markham was let out almost immediately, presumably thanks to Osborn loyalists.

Within weeks, Grizzly was in Las Vegas to raid a casino but ran into a pair of power-armoured security guards – the House and Wildcard (actually Jack “Weasel” Hammer and Deadpool). The three decided to work together in secret to rob the casinos, but Deadpool triple-crossed Grizzly and locked him in casino vault. Grizzly was imprisoned at the Raft.

He and others briefly escaped when Avengers students bungled an attempt at killing Norman Osborn in his cell, but Hazmat (Jennifer Takeda) forced him to go back to his cell by threatening to give him cancer.

By 2014 Grizzly was out and returned to New York City, but an encounter with Spider-Man (Dr. Otto Octavius) terrified him. Thinking that Spider-Man was now an unstoppable killer vigilante, the Grizzly stuck to the shadows, living in hiding and performing mere muggings to feed himself.


Description

See illustration.


Personality

A brutal man with a huge ego, who has been living for decades in the shadow of his broken career. He still dreams that he could have been a contender and a star, but everybody has forgotten about him. His attempts at recapturing his glory and fearsomeness are pathetic and desperate. He’s obviously in need of counselling and therapy to let go of his past.

The Grizzly is chiefly a mercenary, but will be interested in ways to become more fearsome. Still, beyond power and money, what he wants is to be the champ. He wants to win back his self-respect by winning fights, or even just by giving a good account of himself as a super-villainous fighter. He seems the see the world as a wrestling ring performance.

The Grizzly swears like a sailor, and is obviously not very educated. His ability to plan ahead and decide on beneficial strategies is disastrous. He’s also quite determined, and the combination of the two makes him liable to paint himself into a corner by doggedly pursing plans that don’t make sense.

Other traits

As a “super-hero”, Markham and Blank were running on campy Batman TV show memories from yesteryears. They even tried to emulate the corny, dramatic dialogue. While they were inept, their heart was in it. They seemed to actually be quoting somewhat mangled dialogue, trying to use words such as “nefarious” to sound more heroic. It was actually pretty fun.

Markham’s characterisation fluctuates considerably. Sometimes he’s a pathetic idiot, sometimes he’s a competent criminal enforcer. This personality section covers most of his appearances, but his personality in the comics has been all over the place.

A 2014 appearance had him explain that he often imagined that he was in the ring and performing for a hostile crowd. So perhaps the discrepancies can be explained by his being in-character as a lowbrow heel during some appearances.


Quotes

“Nothing can stop me ! Nothing ! So look out, New York… the Grizzly is back in town !”

“I’ll tear you apart for that, y‘hear ? I’ll shred you up like little scraps of tissue… and I’ve got the claws to do it with, too !”

“I’m better than any bum in the ring, you hear ? I’m the Grizzly — and the Grizzly is the toughest of them all !”

“Jameson ! If it hadn’t been for him, I could’a been somebody — I could’a been the champ —!”

The Tinkerer: “Just out of curiosity, Mr. Markham, what are your plans ? Some dramatic heist ? A bit of extortion ?”
Markham: “Nah. All I want is rematch. And this time, I’m gonna win.”

“You think this is a joke ? This is no joke, funny guy ! This is my life ! GRRRRRRR !” (tears out a large chunk of a railway car and uses it to hammer on another car)

(As a ’hero’) “Don’t do it ! Don’t give in t‘her nefarious demands ! We’ll get outta this, y‘hear ?”

(As a ’hero’) “We gotta get outta here ! Our two paltry lives don’t mean anything — but we’ve gotta protect the city we were born t’serve — or die tryin’ !”

“Spider-Man used to be a fun match. We’d work up a sweat. He’d win, whatever. I even had a tough time keepin’ a straight face. His jokes…”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Grizzly III (classic stats)

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Mercenary/Would-be-Champ
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Drifter, ex-wrestler
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 009 HP: 005

Powers:
Growth: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Growth is Always On and Already Factored In.

Skills:
Martial Artist (AV and Techniques): 06, Vehicles (Land): 03

Advantages:
Familiarity (1960s and 1970s pro wrestling).

Connections:
Gibbon (Low), Rhino (Low).

Drawbacks:
Public ID (but a weak, obscure one).

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [/STR/ 11 /BODY/ 10, Growth: 01, Drawback: Attack Vulnerability (-2 CS RV against piercing, cutting, shredding attacks), Note: Growth stacks with existing Growth, but a Character must have exactly one AP of Growth on to wear the COSTUME in the first place. This means two APs of Growth total, and thus one AP of penalty to his OV against Ranged Attacks and Perception Checks). The COSTUME has claws that facilitate Killing Combat.]
  • He briefly had the Bearmobile [STR 05 BODY 07, Running: 07, Flash (steady illumination only): 05, R#02].

Other eras

  • As a wrestler, Markham had a STR of 05.
  • In many appearances, the costume he wears doesn’t see to be the COSTUME above, but a fur suit.
  • Martial Artist is only available if the Grizzly’s morale is good enough for him to have been training. During most appearances, it is not available and his Initiative is one point lower.
  • After being enhanced by the Consultant, likely stats are STR 10, Claws: 11 and BODY 08 but the COSTUME has long since been wrecked. He eventually learned to use the Claws to climb surfaces he’s strong enough to sink his claws in (Athletics (Climbing): 05).

The five Hero Points are for most of his appearances, where he’s a joke. If he has his act together, he can have up to 30 HPs, allowing him to deliver nasty attacks – especially since he will have his high AV from Martial Artist, and knows enough to bolster it with HPs and thus hit even Spider-Man.

Examples of such peak performances included his first appearance, his 1989 return and his missions with the Thunderbolts. After the Consultant revamped him, he had up to 25 HPs but that soon went down.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe (mostly Spidey books).

Helper(s): Frank Murdock.

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