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Man-Ape (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther character)

Man-Ape

(M'Baku) (Part 1.2)


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

Context

This is the second half of our Man-Ape (M’Baku) article.

It is thus 100% intended to be read after the , which explains all the things.


Soundtrack

Let’s have a 1977 political afrobeat classic, because I’m not young anymore.

 

Available for download on Amazon .


History

(This starts *right* where the History section of the previous entry ended.)

Interim years

M’Baku later had a handful of “face in the crowd” appearances.

He was one of the random villains mind-controlled by Dr. Doom into attacking the 1990 trial of the Fantastic Four. Like the others, he attacked as little better than a sleepwalker. When the trance broke all attackers were confused and had no idea about what they were doing here.

Released, he visited the landmark 1993 A.I.M. weapons expo which pretty much every costumed mercenary attended.

In 1999 he was one of the 25 supervillains working for the Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer). But he was ambushed by a group of Thunderbolts and clubbed unconscious without much of a chance to defend himself.


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Queen Divine Justice

M’Baku finally got his chance to go back to Wakanda. In 2001 the renegade Dora Milaje Nakia (a.k.a. Malice) had her contacts smuggle Man-Ape in-country. Nakia sent M’Baku to kill Chanté Brown as she was flown to Wakanda after having been made a Dora Milaje.

The furry mercenary Jabari was successful. He snuck into the aircraft carrying Brown, hijacked it, gunned down the escort fighters and took Ms. Brown to the Crystal Forest, a place not covered by royal surveillance.

M’Baku was planning to tear the American kid to bits to feed the sacred gorillas. However the faithful N’Gamo came running to tell his boss that the brat was the prophesied peacebringer. Taken aback, M’Baku and other Jabari warriors realised that Brown was actually Ce’athauna daughter of Damola. They made ritual allegiance to her.

Not knowing anything about the strange Africans around her and not speaking the language, Chanté took the hip-hop style name Queen Divine Justice. This was a loose translation of her full Jabari name, which she had trouble pronouncing. She was then taken to the Crystal Forest’s central stronghold, and assigned English-speaking Jabari handmaidens.

The Wakandan superhuman Vibraxas, who was Brown’s lover but did not know that she was Asira Davin, misunderstood the situation. He launched a daring one-man rescue in the Crystal Forest – only to be slapped unconscious by the unimpressed M’Baku.


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The Asira Davin prophecy

The arrival of Ce’athauna Asira Davin on tribal land was a game-changer. Now wanting to prepare for her reign, M’Baku negotiated a permanent truce with T’Challa. He also secured authorisations making it legal for Jabari tribespersons to live in the Crystal Forest.

However, T’Challa then revealed that Chanté Brown was a Dora Milaje. He demanded obedience as the tribes were now tied through Brown’s symbolic marriage to the King.

Angered, M’Baku accused T’Challa of having been behind the murder of Chief Damola and his wife. Protocol allowed the priest to defend his accusations, and M’Baku chose trial by combat.

However, two things went awry.

  1. The young Jabari-American Queen forbade M’Baku from killing the King even in a duel.
  2. The Black Panther declared that his champion would be Peter Henry Gyrich of the US State Department .

Grossly physically outmatched, Gyrich instead used his legal and bureaucratic skills to point out that a duel wasn’t an allowable form of petition under these specific circumstances. He supported his case by citing Wakandan oral traditions, international diplomatic treaties and US law.

A duel after all

Things seemed headed toward negotiation, but the goal of the Panther was just to stall for time. He eventually agreed to meet Man-Ape in combat.

It was now M’Baku’s turn to produce an ace from his sleeve. During the fight, he revealed that he held the body of the real T’Challa, which had been found in suspended animation within the Crystal Forest.

Man-Ape (M'Baku) vs. Black Panther and Queen Divine Justice

What happened during the next few hours is unrevealed. The T’Challa in suspended animation was revealed to T’Challa’s future self dying from an aneurysm. M’Baku ended up in a Wakandan prison.

It is possible that the Panther fought and defeated Man-Ape. But since he never managed that before it may not be a good assumption. Perhaps Queen Divine Justice ordered M’Baku to surrender to stop the brutal duel.

Brown and Vibraxas soon raided the Wakandan penitentiary holding Man-Ape and freed him. Chanté Brown considered that M’Baku had committed no crime, and didn’t want to hear about political prisoners. She had M’Baku make a series of promises, including an oath not to harm the Black Panther.

However, the Man-Ape respected the letter but not the spirit of his oath. He soon confronted the Black Panther and destroyed T’Challa’s suspended future self, condemning the king to die at some unknown point in the future.

War and reconciliation

As a result, a new war briefly erupted between the Jabari and the rest of Wakanda. The armies had been facing each other when T’Challa attacked. A recent wound (which would produce the aneurysm evidenced by his future self) had him hallucinating. He thus thought that Queen Divine Justice was his foe Magneto, and badly clawed her.

The wounded Asira Davin beseeched him to stop. The shamed and diminished T’Challa accepted her petition to let her people go free.

The Queen and Vibraxas soon eloped, leaving M’Baku to handle the regency. Many more Jabari tribals came to live in the snow-covered Crystal Forest. M’Baku kept things as he liked them – traditional, austere and low-tech.

M’Baku made an appearance during the marriage of King T’Challa with Ororo Munroe, in 2006.

He mistakenly thought that he had not been invited, and was angry that the King was marrying a non-Jabari, non-Wakandan woman. He had come for a super-villainous rampage. But officials cleared the matter by determining he was on the guests list after all.

M’Baku, being presumably unaccustomed to strong liquor, got drunk on scotch whiskey during the ceremony. He ended up brawling with Spider-Man (Peter Parker) after the American made an ill-considered remark about gorillas not being considered cool anymore.

(This was a meta remark about 1960s comic books having often featured gorillas.)

Another interim era

M’Baku later had one of those Heroes for Hire vol. 2 appearances that… doesn’t make sense on numerous levels and is best left ignored.

Man-Ape (M'Baku) (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther) during a war in Wakanda

In 2009, Man-Ape was reportedly killed in Wakanda by Morlun the Totem-Slayer. The Jabari diplomat who claimed this made other misleading comments, though. Therefore, this was assumed to be a ruse by the highly authoritative and much-celebrated writeups.org researchers. This stunningly insightful take was inevitably proved vibrantly right three years later. Toldja.

In 2012, M’Baku was again working as a mercenary. He was hired by Misty Knight as part of a strange crew – Crossfire (William Cross), Speed Demon (James Sanders) and the female Silt-Man (formerly Lady Stilt-Man). Upon learning that Knight was his employer, M’Baku switched sides to work for her enemy the Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave).

However, he and his colleagues then discovered that it was a revenge scheme by the Puppet Master (Phillip Masters). They then realized that a *third* mind-controller called Headhunter was involved. Mentally battered by all the mental influence powers flying around and feeling used, the Man-Ape and most of his colleagues left.


Description

As with other very large comic book characters his size varies. Sometimes he’s just a big guy, sometimes he’s a giant who can hold the entire torso of Queen Divine Justice (a petite 16-year old) in his fist.

M’Baku sometimes poses like a gorilla (i.e., semi-crouched with much of his weight resting on his knuckles). This seems to be a ritual stance used in ceremonies in his role as the high priest of the Gorilla God.

During the 1980s, he started shaving his head.

During the 2000s, he started wearing some kind of metal gloves on his hands and his feet, the later making him look more ape-like. In DC Heroes terms it’s entirely possible those ’shoes’ give him the Prehensile Feet Advantage (through cybernetics). But the Man-Ape’s dislike for technology make that somewhat improbable.


Personality

M’Baku is an important player in Wakanda, and tends to behave regally. When fighting he’s intense and aggressive. He makes bombastic, elaborate threats in combat, pressing the attack verbally as well as physically.

Man-Ape (M'Baku) talking to Spider-Man

M’Baku borders on overconfidence. Even beyond what one would expect from a guy who’s 355 lbs. of solid muscle and can bench-press trucks.

One of his main character traits is traditionalism. He just wants things to continue as has been the way of his people for centuries. This conservatism leads him to underestimate some factors. Such as the role women can play or the power of technology.

Other traits

He’s very proud of being Jabari. His ability to tolerate insults about his people (or even African skin tones in general) is mediocre at best, no matter how hard he tries to be pragmatic and diplomatic.

During his mercenary days, the Man-Ape learned to put a sock on his pride and accept orders, but even then he kept his peculiar sense of honour. Though he routinely uses treachery and ruses to win the day, he considers receiving help from others to be a dishonour and will become angry if another intervenes in “his” fight.

He tolerates this behaviour from the occasionally overeager N’Gamo, but he may very well become violent against anybody else shaming him in this way.

Likewise, he keeps his word to the letter, but will not hesitate to game the wording of such oaths. He seems to be more concerned with the letter than with the spirit of traditions, but he would never stray from said letter. M’Baku is a devious legalist.

Fundamentalist

As part of his traditionalist views, M’Baku is a racist. He does not consider African-Americans (and presumably other descendants of deported slaves, such as darker-skinned Brazilians) to be ’real‘ Black people, but mongrels. Likewise he does not consider city dwellers to be a ’real‘ Africans, though as of this writing it’s about 40% of the continent’s population.

Man-Ape (M'Baku) addresses White Gorilla priestesses and warriors (Marvel Comics)

White Gorilla priestesses and warriors.

Generally, anybody who doesn’t live in M’Baku idealised image of XIXth century Eastern-Central African tribal lifestyles is not “pure”. When M’Baku holds the reins of power, things take a sharp turn toward the low-tech, the patriarchal and the pastoral.

Queen Divine Justice, being a young American, has plenty of values and attitudes that M’Baku considers debased and corrupt. Yet he’s not very good at hiding how much he likes her. Despite his villainy, M’Baku protects and nurtures Asira Davin as if she were his own daughter. And this is on top of her being Queen of everything he cherishes.

M’Baku follows Jabari protocol to the letter, of course. For instance, he always drop to his knees and prostrates when addressing his Queen.

Curiously, when he achieved many of his goals — becoming ruler of a practically independent Jabari tribe and living according to the old ways — he seemed almost bored and bitter. It’s almost as if he missed his more cosmopolitan and chaotic days and his clashes with T’Challa.


Quotes

“M’Baku shall never answer to the like of you, American.”

“Such golden words may serve you well in the outer world, puny one ! But in the jungle, they only waste precious moments — during which I can turn this uprooted tree into a deadly missile !”

Captain America: “Huh ? What does it take to make you go down ?”
M’Baku: “More force than you can muster, little man ! For, as the tsetse fly is to the thick-hided elephant… so are you to the Man-Ape !” (SWAT !) “Again you drop to your knees, masked one ! And this time, you shall never rise again !”

Man-Ape (M'Baku) vs. the Black Panther

“You may demand answers of M’Baku, fool… when the slinking Panther possesses the strength of the sacred White Gorilla !”

Queen Divine Justice: “So, you only want ‘pure’ Africans — that it ?”
Man-Ape: “Pure Wakandans, unsullied by bankrupt Western culture… or the evils of technology.”

“Yield, dog-king ! You have NEVER defeated M’Baku before ! Yield and live !”

“How generous of the dog-king to offer we wretched Jabari a ‘choice’ — between death and extinction ! You who preach tolerance and acceptance in all things political practice religious bigotry — denying us who worship the one, true god — the White Gorilla God !”

“I am M’Baku — the Man-Ape ! Chieftain of the White Gorilla clan ! Rightful ruler of the Wakandans ! There is nothing I cannot do !”


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M’Baku

Dex: 10 Str: 10 Bod: 08 Motivation: Power
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Political dissident
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 026 HP: 060

Powers:
Growth: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Growth is Always On and Already Factored In (-1)

Skills:
Acrobatics: 06, Martial artist*: 10, Thief (Security systems, Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Land, air): 04, Weaponry (Traditional Jabari weapons, thrown stuff)*: 08, Weaponry (Heavy): 04

Advantages:
Confidant (N’Gamo of the Gorilla God cult), Credentials (Jabari tribe, High), Language (Wakandan, Hausa, and a Jabari tribal language or dialect if one still exists), Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Manic Pace).

Connections:
Gorilla God cult (High), Mercenary scene (Low).

Drawbacks:

  • Power Loss (see below).
  • Partial Attack vulnerability (all attacks other than blunt weapons, short claws and unarmed blows, -1CS RV).
  • MPR (easily intoxicated by alcohol despite his mass and strength).
  • Authority figure (Jabari tribe).
  • Creepy Appearance (great size and enormous physique, memorable costume).
  • MIA toward under-estimating non-Jabari people and equipment.
  • Dependent (Ce’athauna Asira Davin).
  • SIA toward Obeying tribal rules and the authority of the Jabari Queen.
  • For years he had the Exile Drawback.

Gorilla Warfare – M’Baku’ Power Loss Drawback

If somebody takes a Dice Action against one of M’Baku’s opponents, Man-Ape suffers a 02 APs Power Loss to his DEX for the remainder of the fight.

This effect is less pronounced when it’s Man-Ape’s Confidant who intervenes. If N’Gamo takes a Dice Action against an opponent of Man-Ape, M’Baku only suffers from his Power Loss for the current Phase and the next.

If M’Baku is part of a large group (9 or more persons), his Power Loss Vulnerability worsens. He loses 2 APs of DEX plus his entire Martial Artist Skill as long as he’s affiliated with the group. Furthermore, all of his HPs expenditure are penalised by one Genre.

Such penalties make M’Baku uncharacteristically reluctant to spend his HPs, as he feels it would be a waste. In particular, he’ll only use his Manic Pace Schtick when duelling the Black Panther.


It’s good to be the king

M’Baku later became regent of the Jabari Wakandan tribals.

  • His occupation shifts to Ruler.
  • He acquires Low Credentials with the Wakandan central state.
  • His Wealth shoots up to 009.
  • He acquires a military Rank (the equivalent of a Commander, from what we can see from the Jabari’s military size and strength).
  • He loses the Exile Drawback.

His Jabari Credentials also become far more meaningful. These were more symbolic than anything while the tribals were disenfranchised.


Linguistic note

I’m not clear as to the Wakandan lingua franca. It seems to be a dialect of Hausa, in which case considering it to be Hausa would be simpler for game purposes. So for now I’ve stuck to the convention we used for Black Panther.

Maybe “Wakandan” is the tribal language of T’Challa’s people, and Hausa is used throughout Wakanda as a trade language between tribes ?

(The movie version uses Xhosa as a stand-in for the Wakandan language. It has nothing to do with Hausa. It was mostly used because it sounds cool and one of the actors happened to be fluent in Xhosa.)

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe – chiefly Avengers and Black Panther comics.

Helper(s): Paul Ewande, Adam Fuqua, Darci.

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We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .