Mastodon

16 min read


In the African veldt, the hyena is a scavenger… always trailing the true predators, always a shadow sinking in shadows… stirring the night with its manic laugh… This hyena is a different kind of scavenger… who preys upon a different kind of predator…

Context

The original Hyena (Summer Day) is a somewhat obscure DC Comics character.

She first appeared in the original, short run of Firestorm, in 1978. In fact she appeared right as the book was lost to the DC Implosion  – she’s lucky that way.

But the book sold well, and its cast soon returned. Firestorm was bringing a Spider-Man (Peter Parker) vibe to the DCU with a youthful, more socially realistic protagonist. Though co-creator Gerry Conway  — a noted Spider-Man writer — wrote Firestorm not as a Peter Parker type, but as a Flash Thompson type.

As a side effect, the Hyena does have a certain Spidey villain vibe.

Sequence

We have two takes on the Hyena. These were done without coordination, to have two independent views on her stats and the like.

Both these entries depict the Summer Day of Earth-1 then New Earth. That is, before the New 52 omnishambles. So neither covers the version of Summer Day seen after 2010, on Prime Earth.

The original take is there.

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Background

  • Real Name: Summer Day.
  • Known Relatives: Bert Day (father), Helen Day (mother), Doreen Day (sister).
  • Group Affiliation: Not really.
  • Base of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 5’7″ (1.70m) (6’4″ (1.93m) as the Hyena).
  • Weight: 123 lbs. (56 Kg.) (395 lbs. (179 Kg.) as the Hyena).
  • Eyes: Blue (Brown as the Hyena). Hair: Brown with red highlights.

Powers & Abilities

The Hyena is a large, bestial humanoid with :

  • Enhanced strength. Early encounters convey the impression that she’s about “Class 5” – the same as the classic Firestorm (Raymond/Stein).
  • However, she’s a markedly better fighter. When in melee against the Hyena, Firestorm’s early track record is getting beaten like a drum.
  • Great agility and acrobatic ability. The Hyena particularly excels at dodging ranged attacks for as long as it takes to close in – and at landing safely from a great height. She seems about as good as Daredevil (Matt Murdock), but with the benefits of much greater strength.
  • Superhuman leaping ability. The Hyena can jump to a height of a few metres.
  • Sharp fangs, though she doesn’t normally use those because of the Comic Code Authority.

Her condition is a magical curse. There is no medical cure, nor a biochemical agent that can be isolated. She can infect others with her bite or her claws, but the exact workings are unknown.

She has superior, but not superhuman endurance. One hour of quick running will leave her exhausted.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - Who's Who art

Snikt

The Hyena also has sharp claws, which she does use. However, the 1970s Firestorm series couldn’t show severe injury or — especially — killing cops. So it’s all bloodless combat, with the captions dancing around the fact that the art can’t really show the story.

Ms. Day also built vibro-claws. These are diamond-edged claws “vibrating at ultrasonic frequency”. These seem retractile, and extend to fit over her actual claws.

The vibro-claws could trivially swipe through a lamppost. But my sense is that they have a short battery life – probably less than a minute. That would explain why the Hyena only produced them as her master blow.

This — and Ms. Day having the tech skills to build ’em — is only seen once, and never mentioned again. It likely was retconnedMaking changes to a character or story after the fact out.

Summer

In her human form, Summer Day seems proficient at a number of sports, including baseball and horse riding.

She also received NYPD Police Academy training, but was mediocre at it.

In the Peace Corps she likely received paramedical training. Plus classes in an unspecified African language – probably Swahili.

Decay

From the mid-1980s onward, the threat that poses the Hyena is markedly diminished.

Early on she obviously was superior to Firestorm. Then Firestorm became more skilled, experienced and powerful, but the Hyena remained a clear threat.

This all vanishes when she returns in 1986.

The simplest No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole is that the “treatments” at Pleasant Hollow (see her History section) left her permanently diminished, physically and mentally.

Soundtrack

1978 music that fits the character, comin’ up.

History (part 1)

Summer Day was born to the sort of parents who’d name their daughter “Summer Day”.

Her father, a police officer, was deeply disappointed not to have a son. The Days’ resentment increased almost 10 years later when their second child was another daughter, Doreen.

Summer spent her childhood and youth trying to please her father, and to claim the role of the son he never had. She did lots of sports, including steeplechase horse racing, and strove to earn every cup she could.

She joined the NYPD police academy after graduating from high school, as her dad wanted. But she washed out. Her father’s reaction — silent, judgemental contempt — crushed her.

(Ms. Day is 25 when she appears in 1978. This means she joined the Academy circa 1971. This was very early for a woman – see the Lady Cop character profile for more historical context. However, the story doesn’t mention this.)

She’s coming in, 12:30 flight

Summer joined the Peace Corps to get away as far as she could. She was part of a vaccination campaign in Kenya.

Six months in, she found a wounded man in the veldtA type of open African grassland.. As she tried to help he bit her, turned into a half-hyena creature, and attacked again. The camp guide gunned the monster down, and Summer was evacuated to a hospital in Nairobi.

But the damage had been done – the bite had turned her into a yainathrope (or “were-hyena”, if you must).

She did not realise this at first. She seemed to recover from her wounds, and returned to the US.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - earliest no background

Earliest appearance.

She goes to college, scavenges knowledge

In 1978 Summer was a college student, and made ends meet as a teaching assistant.

She also became active as the Hyena after an argument with her father.

Since she attacked criminals to scavenge their loot, she was at first thought to be a costumed vigilante. But she savagely attacked police officers who thanked her, likely killing several cops and criminals as she flew off her handle.

This later escalated into a fight with Firestorm. Though the Hyena clearly dominated the fight, Firestorm won by weakening a power line tower behind her. The metallic structure crashed ‘pon the Hyena, and she was hit by the snapping live cables.

This resulted in the Hyena being briefly captured by the Shine mob, whose loot she had been stealing. But the Hyena revived – and acrobatically escaped before they could gun her down.

The curse

The Hyena soon ran into the villain Multiplex (Danton Black). Since he too was an enemy of Firestorm, they allied… with unrevealed consequences.

(That’s because the book was cancelled at that point, due to the DC Implosion. Years later, Multiplex greets Hyena with a “at least we meet”. This suggests that the few panels depicting Multiplex and the Hyena allying were retconned out).

(However, Firestorm soon returned as a back-of-the-book short feature in The Flash. These continued the Hyena story).

Summer was active at nights as the Hyena for months, prowling through New York City. This era is undocumented.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - acrobatic dodging sequence

Phoenix

Summer Day’s mental and physical health clearly degraded — possibly from lack of sleep — and her family had her committed to a hospital in Arizona. Specifically a medical centre in Phoenix, reputed as an addiction treatment practice.

(Which suggests that the Day parents drew wrong conclusions about their daughter’s condition.)

No doctor in AZ believed her explanations about the were-hyena curse. And she continued to manifest as the Hyena, killing small prey in the desert.

Nevertheless, Summer managed to bring the change under more control.

Doreen

Summer returned home in New York.

She turned into the Hyena again. But that was to save her sister Doreen, and Doreen’s boyfriend Ron, from a street gang. She then fought off cops and fled.

However, Ron Raymond was secretly one-half of Firestorm. His powers allowed him to follow the Hyena’s trail to the Day home.

Ron sneaked in to investigate and even took Summer’s diary, but the Hyena attacked and very nearly killed him.

Dear diary

Increasingly unstable, Summer turned into the Hyena during a fever. She manhandled her sister, but Firestorm intervened.

Though the main result was the Hyena almost strangling Firestorm to death, she fled when the Day parents came in. The family then discovered her diary.

Firestorm gave chase. But at Professor Stein’s urging, he now used subterfuge. Firestorm saved the life of a police officer by turning his NYPD uniform into an ice cream vendor outfit.

He then created stone statues. This was but a crude likeness of the Day family, but in the shadows and with exhaustion the Hyena thought it actually was her parents and Doreen.

Hearing Firestorm’s imitation of her father claiming to love her, Summer passed out.

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History (part 2)

(Firestorm regained his own book in 1982, titled The Fury Of Firestorm. Even though he wasn’t particularly furious).

The Day family attempted to support Summer. Therapy seemed the best medical option, and apparently helped stabilise Ms. Day after a new hospitalisation in Arizona.

In Phoenix she met Dr. Jivan Shi. The embittered Shi coveted the Hyena powers to have his vengeance, and easily seduced the vulnerable Day.

Once Summer accidentally changed and infected Shi, the physician arranged for her to be declared cured. He also increased her medication to keep her fatigued and out of his hair.

There were now two Hyenas.

Who is Shi and what is he to you

Though Summer was clearly feeling better, Doreen occasionally had nightmares about her sister – but sought to overcome these.

As Summer returned to New York so did Dr. Shi, who was transferred to a NYC hospital. He kept her dosed with sedatives, frequently leaving her drowsy and confused.

There eventually was a new hyena attack. Uncharacteristically, Ronnie Raymond quickly realised that the Hyena he fought couldn’t be Ms. Day. He repelled the new Hyena.

But the monster later ambushed him while he was Ronnie, and infected him with a claw swipe.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - scavengers have claws

Hyenastorm

Now a yainathrope, Firestorm was hospitalised. Summer told him what had happened with Dr. Shi.

But at this point, she still thought that she was a good man and that infecting him was all her fault. Unable to cope with the stress, she reverted to being the Hyena.

The three yainathropes fought atop the World Trade Center. In part because the now much more aggressive Firestorm didn’t realise that Summer was trying to help him. In the commotion, Dr. Shi fled.

Firestorm and Summer then allied to find Jivan. The physician nearly killed Firestorm, forcing Summer to attack him – and to realise that he had used her. This saved Firestorm’s life.

As the two Hyenas were savagely fighting, Firestorm took them both out by creating a drum of knockout gas. The two Hyenas were kept sedated, as the search for a cure allegedly resumed.

Pleasant Hollow

Summer was transferred upstate, to the Pleasant Hollow Convalescent Home.

She was in the maximum security unit, and did not appear to receive any treatment. She was just kept in a dungeon, chained to the wall.

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Hyena was glimpsed as part of Luthor and Brainiac’s villainous army. She was taken out when the conductive Gold of the Metal Men snared her while being hit by Lightning Lord (Mekt Ranzz).

Multiple association

In 1986, Multiplex worked to create a force of Firestorm foes. He recruited Slipknot (Christopher Weiss), then the Hyena, then Mindboggler (Leah Wasserman). Bolt (Larry Bolatinsky) joined soon after.

Though Multiplex got her out of Pleasant Hollow, the Hyena was mostly passive and incoherent. While clearly less dangerous than before, she seemed to have almost been brainwashed.

Firestorm attempted to stop them in Pittsburgh, and was soundly defeated. The gang also defeated Blue Devil (Daniel Cassidy). However, the heroes recovered. Hyena was then ambushed by Felicity Smoak and Ed Raymond — Firestorm’s father — who used Slipknot’s ropes to capture her.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - transformation leaping

History (part 3)

Past that point, Summer Day was only spotted (oh oh) a handful of times.

1995

The Hyena was among the many villains who attended a meeting with hell lord Neron, hoping to infernally enhance her power in return for a Faustian gift.

2001

The Hyena was part of the army of villainesses assembled by Circe.

These took over New York City. Ms. Day can be glimpsed along Elemental Woman and Godiva II, after defeating Tasmanian Devil.

Wonder Woman then led an army of heroines that defeated Circe’s task force. During the battle the Hyena engaged Vixen, but didn’t seem to do well.

2005

The Hyena was among the many members of the Society.

  • She and Multiplex reconnoitred for an attacked against the Teen Titans, looking to improve their rep among the Society. But Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) bushwhacked them, taking the Hyena out by surprise.
  • She was part of a force that captured the Secret Six, though she wasn’t seen doing much. She also was among those trying to prevent the Six from escaping, but was easily taken down by Scandal Savage.

The Six chose to kill one of their defeated opponents to send a message to the masters of the Society. Deadshot therefore gunned down the mostly unconscious Hyena.

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Description

The Hyena’s furrier form has little visible female characteristics. In that she resembles actual female spotted hyenas, who present many male characteristics – including a pseudo-penis.

Her voice is also deep enough to pass as male.

As you might expect, she has a chilling, mad laugh. The more bestial her behaviour and the more she loses it, the more frequent and crazier her laugh gets.

Under the fur

There’s a remark (Firestorm Vol. 1 #5) that implies that the Hyena only weighs as much as Summer despite her stature.

This was ignored in Who’s Who in the DC Universe, where she got a height-appropriate mass. I guess you could go either way if that somehow features in your game/story.

Likewise, she’s sometimes drawn as taller as her younger sister, and sometimes as about the same height.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - wrestling fruitcake

Personality

The Hyena is a half-woman, half-beast tortured creature. Although fully sapientCapable of intelligent reasoning., she’s driven by animalistic instincts rather than rationality.

She brashly acts on Summer’s neuroses, lashing out at what pointlessly hurt Ms. Day for her entire life.

That includes sons trying to please their father, cops, and people who help either category. She craves beating and killing ’em all.

Scavenger

Early on, the Hyena has a theme where she attacks criminals just after they stole something, and takes their loot. She’s a scavenger rather than a predator, see ?

But Summer later explained that she was trying to act for good, and the “scavenger” thing was a sort of compromise with her animalistic instincts.

Hyenas were still presented as “evil” back then, including in this story. This likely would not have been the case later on. Especially since much of the hyenas’ terrible reputation back then stemmed from their distinctive gender roles and characteristics.

Summer

As Summer, she acted increasingly private, brusque, neurotic and remote after she was bitten. She was still trying to act morally, but the hyena curse was strong.

On the other hand she’s a Bruce Springsteen fan, so there’s that.

Her bedroom is that of a little girl. Summer tends to be in denial of her life ever since she realised how her parents saw her, and to cling to childhood things.

She tended to enjoy the same things as her kid sister, and to see Doreen as her sole source of emotional support. Her sister was in fact her only friend.

With her rotten luck, Summer came to consider that she was just cursed in general, and destroyed any good thing she came into contact with.

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - speaking about the hospital abuse

Quotes

“Call me the Hyena, hothead ! I heard you calling for the cops — and now I want you dead !”

“You wanted to summon the police ! You wanted to help them ! Hahahahahahha ! That makes you as bad as they are ! Heeehahaha !”

DC Heroes RPG

Hyena

Dex: 09 Str: 08 Bod: 07
Int: 06 Wil: 04 Min: 04
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 04
Init: 024 HP: 050

Powers:

Claws: 10, Jumping: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

Jumping has the Catfall Bonus.

Skills:

Acrobatics: 10, Animal handling (Horses): 03, Detective (Police Procedure): 02, Medicine (First Aid): 02, Weapons (Firearms): 03

Advantages:

Familiarity (Baseball and perhaps other sports), Language (Some Swahili), Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:

None demonstrated.

Drawbacks:

Guilt, Serious Irrational Hatred of police, Minor Psychological Instability (Animal instincts), Minor Rage, Traumatic Flashbacks (Feeling accepted by her family), Misc.: as a severely sick person, Summer Day becomes treated as subhuman once her family seemingly abandons her at Pleasant Hollow.

Motivation:

Psycho.

Occupation:

College student.

Wealth:

003

Hyena - DC Comics - Firestorm enemy - nosy boys die

Design Notes

The stats for the Hyena are based on the revised stats by our contributor Sean, for the Raymond/Stein version of match-head.

Note that the stats all the way back in the DCH Second Edition’s Roster Book were for a different, later version of Firestorm. One with a higher BODY, for starters.

Some of the Skills in there are Summer’s. The Hyena prolly ain’t gonna use those, but technically she could.

Highballed Hero Points to represent her ferocity, and her ability to beat the crap out of Firestorm. Granted, he was a beginner at that point (with lower DEX and STR than in Sean’s stats), but their fights sure were one-sided.

Things become more even in 1983. Firestorm clearly has more HPs and now has the stats Sean gave him. Plus, Dr. Shi didn’t seem as adept as Summer.


Vibro-claws

If you wanna keep those, Summer likely has 3 APs of Gadgetry and the Stroke of Genius Advantage. Which also implies that she was an engineering student.

The unit would be something like [BODY 01, Enhance (Claws): 02 (cap is 14), Ammo: 04, R#04]. Some Sharpness is possible, but EV 12 is already plenty.


Jobber Hyena

In 1983, the Hyena seems to have fewer Hero Points. This aligns with her Guilt Drawback. She likely had 030 HPs by that point.

Later on she performs so badly that she might as well be Kanye West in a fur suit. So it’s hard to quantify.

DEX 05 STR 05 BODY 05 Claws: 10 Acrobatics: 06 are possible numbers, plus cap all her Mentals and Mysticals at 03 APs, lose all the Advantages (Initiative is now a mere 12). At this point she has maybe 10 HPs, tops.

Her Drawbacks also likely got worse, with the addition of Uncertainty and Unluck being clear possibilities. She basically useless, mate.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Pre-New-52 DC Comics.

Helper(s): WOOP WOOOP WOOP WOOOP WOOP ! Also, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 10th of October, 2022.