John Doran of Stormwatch PHD (Wildstorm Comics)

Officer John Doran


Officer Doran of the NYPD was the leader in Wildstorm Comics’ 2007 series, Stormwatch PHD. I’m not sure that the series was commercially successful, but it was interesting.

The premise was a crew of mostly non-powered experts designing, testing and refining ways to stop dangerous superhumans. It can work quite well in the context of a tabletop RPG campaign.


  • Real Name: Officer John Doran.
  • Marital Status: Married.
  • Known Relatives: Wife (name unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: NYPD ; StormWatch PHD.
  • Base Of Operations: 18th Precinct House, New York City (in the real world this is the Midtown North Precinct for Manhattan, at 306 West 54th Street, and covers notorious places such as the Diamond District, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Theatre District, Restaurant Row, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Plaza. This is likely also true in the WildStorm Universe.)
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 185 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Doran is a highly professional and dedicated police officer. He has remarkable charisma, drive and personal integrity. Other officers will reflexively follow his lead even in desperate circumstances, even though he does not seem to have any special rank.

He seems to be an excellent shot, even with weapons that are normally reserved to tactical officers.

Doran is in excellent shape and obviously works out a lot.


Beyond tactical weaponry, Doran demonstrated knowledge of advanced rescue techniques. He instructed Fahrenheit in blowing/melting them free from a collapsed building. This makes one suspects that he was a member of the Emergency Service Unit. However, this is never stated in the source material.

In game terms this is represented by his Expertise in Special Weapons And Tactics, and his Expertise in ESU work. The latter covers firefighting and hazardous rescue training, HAZMAT training, SCUBA training, and special training in interacting with disturbed persons.

ESU training also accounts for his broad emergency medical care and vehicular skills.

Tactical instinct

Doran’s chief asset is his excellent tactical acumen under pressure. He is exceptionally good at coming up with effective plans and manoeuvres even against overwhelming force and extreme stress.

He thinks super-quickly on his feet (in DC Heroes terms INT, Init) and has an extraordinary amount of Hero Points  for an ordinary cop. Even smart superhumans are often impressed by how perceptive Doran is.

Officer Doran is also a superb deductive thinker and investigator.



While serving with Manhattan’s 18th precinct, Officer Doran was close by when a catastrophe struck.

A group of superhuman villains had been assembled by the daemonite Lord Defile to discuss the possibility of an alliance. But two NYPD patrol officer stumbled on the abandoned theatre they were having their meeting in.

The confrontation rapidly escalated, resulting in the death of dozens of police officers and bystanders right in the middle of Manhattan. StormWatch teams were teleported in soon after the alarm was sounded, but the event still resulted in hundreds of death. It was one of the worst massacres ever in New York City.

Officer engaging posthuman threat

Although he was just one more grotesquely outgunned boy in blue at the scene, Doran proved quite effective. After the Cooler took out StormWatch’s Fahrenheit, Doran attempted to apprehend her. But she froze off his handgun using her cold powers. Thinking quickly, Doran moved so that the next ice blast of the dazzled supervillain hit a broken lamppost, electrocuting her.

As the officer brought Fahrenheit to the makeshift triage center, the posthuman Pagliacci came in to slaughter the wounded and the medical personnel. Doran engaged him using a nearby riot gun. But he soon discovered the psychopath’s speed and agility made him practically impossible to him, even with buckshot.

As Pagliacci prepared to skewer Doran, the cop reasoned he was fairly certain where Pagliacci would be in the next second. He shot off the ceiling a heavy suspended lights array. It crashed on the both of them, but Doran rolled away in the nick of time while Pagliacci was caught flat-footed.

Post-Human Division

Those actions caught the attention of StormWatch senior officer Jackson King (aka Battalion), who interviewed Doran. King hoped that others could be trained to act as the officer had. And he knew that he needed a solid relationship with the NYPD for his upcoming StormWatch PHD unit.

Therefore, Battalion negotiated for Doran to be promoted as liaison and field commander of the PHD as soon as it would be assembled. Soon, Doran was the commander of this small, specialised unit. It researched and experimented with means for human law enforcement forces to deal with posthuman criminals and their superpowers.

During the first missions of the PHD, Doran’s wife, who had been sick and undergoing hospital tests for months, was diagnosed with cancer. But she eventually managed to recover from this ordeal after months of treatment.

The StormWatch PHD experiment was generally successful. In particular the team survived terrible odds on several occasions.

World’s end

The PHD was also seen in the alternate Armageddon future of the Wildstorm universe. But since this was but a possible future and Captain Atom intervened to modify its probabilistic weight, it is not terribly relevant to the characters.

A possible exception is John Doran, who actually time-travelled to that future and witnessed the devastation. He was told by PHD survivors that he had died fighting during the great upheaval in their past.


See illustrations.


Very professional, intense and dedicated. He’s a serious man and an excellent leader, with a great sense of psychology and of fairness. Even while his wife was fighting cancer, he managed to stay largely focused on his responsibilities whilst working.

While he’s an excellent leader, he’s more naive than the politically-savvy and manipulative Jackson King. But this also stems from his uncompromising, balls-to-the-wall, principles-driven personality.

Doran has also a very developed sense of police brotherhood. One of his key contributions was to drag his team into the same reasoning without really thinking about it. He made them gradually consider the NYPD as brothers-in-arms, and adopt Doran’s “cop killers don’t walk” ethos.

Apprehending cop killers was the sole case where he even accepted to relax his ethical standards a bit in the interest of efficiency. John let Dino Manolis torture a suspect to gain information so they could nail the Walking Ghost.

Doran is so duty-bound that he always, always insisted on doing his job to serve and protect even in the most trying and impossible circumstances. He’ll keep his calm and do what he thinks had to be done. He also tends to be self-effacing, ignoring compliments about his leadership and downplaying his achievements.


(About his fight against the Cooler) “I figured I had one more shot before she shook off the cobwebs, so I stepped in front of a lamppost someone had smashed in half. I knew water was a good conductor. Turns out it’s just as good frozen.”

(About his fight against Pagliacci) “Yeah, I figured that out. So instead of firing where he was, I thought about where he’d probably end up. It’s not rocket science.”

“All right, good. Dr. Shaw, I want a list of ways to exploit this vulnerability. Betty, see if you can rule out any supernatural element to his powers.”

“Do you know how many funerals I went to for cops this bastard killed ? I run this squad, not Jackson King, and I say we do our job.”

“I’ll tell you what’s going on. The bastards who murdered so many of us — they’ve invaded our house. They’re trying to take it over. But we’re gonna take it back.” (grabs and loads a riot gun as a ragtag band of cops ready their weapons)

(Bursting into a room full of supervillains and alien warlords) “NYPD. You’re all under arrest.”

“No, let me explain it to you. This is a crime scene. I’m a cop. And everyone here is a suspect.”

“And that’s our job, isn’t it ? Finding ways to take down post-humans, even though we’re mere mortals ourselves. I’m only going to say this once, Jackson. We take care of our own.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Officer Doran

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Uphold the Law
Int: 08 Wil: 06 Min: 05 Occupation: Police Officer
Inf: 06 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 020 HP: 035

Charisma (Interrogation): 06, Detective (legwork, police procedure): 04, Medicine (first aid): 04, Vehicles (land): 04, Weaponry (firearms, police weapons): 05

Area Knowledge (NYC’s 18th precinct), Credentials (NYPD, Low), Expertise (SWAT, ESU training), Iron Nerves, Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Sharp Eye.

NYPD (High), StormWatch (Low), Jackson King aka Battalion (Low), StormWatch PHD (High).

Dependent (his wife).


  • Glock 17 [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 17, R#02].
  • Belt radio [BODY 03, Radio communications: 05].
  • Hardened flashlight [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 04), Descriptor: Blunt, Flash: 03, Limitation : Flash only for illumination].
  • Backup pistol [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 08, R#02 – a compact 9mm pistol kept somewhere on the officer’s person, under his clothes]. Though Doran never produced this, it is extremely likely he has one.
  • Handcuffs (x3) [BODY 05].
  • If he has access to a weapon rack (at a precinct house, in a cruiser…) Doran will arm himself with Remington riot gun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06 (Diminishing), Range: 03, Ammo: 05, R#02, Advantage: Scattershot, Limitation : Projectile weapons has No Range – use the Range listed instead, Drawback: Very long reload time]. He seems to prefer those shortened, pistol-grip, stock-less variants to the full length shotguns.
  • He also used a Taser unit to non-lethally take out the possessed Black Betty.

Design Notes

The Charisma (Interrogation) is there for people using house rules about Unskilled use of the Charisma Subskills.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: StormWatch: PHD (2007).

Helper(s): The NYPD’s website , Darci.