Powers & Abilities
Before becoming Man-Bull, Taurens was already a tall, muscular man.
The serum almost triples Taurus’ body mass. It also increases the robustness, endurance and efficiency of his muscles, skeleton and other tissues – allegedly by a factor of 20.
However, that also means that he has to eat several times as much as an ordinary man. His diet must also include large amounts of proteins.
His entire skin is thick and callused. Between that and his muscles, he could ignore Daredevil’s punches and center-of-mass .45 ACP impacts. However, energy attacks such as the Black Widow (Natalia Romanova)’s sting proved more effective.
He could also deploy strength that seemed around the top of the “Class 5” range. That allowed him to demolish cars with a single horns-first charge, and break most material (and people) with his punches. He could also dig using his horns (by shaking his head), but that seemed to be as efficient as using a spade.
To Daredevil, Man-Bull was an indestructible tank. His only hope of victory against Taurens was to trick him into knocking himself out, presumably after a poorly-controlled charge.
The Cat (Greer Nelson)’s mild superhuman strength was much more effective against Man-Bull. Provided that she put all her weight behind her blows, or use weapons of opportunity. And Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter)’s strength was sufficient to take Taurens down.
Why does it herds so much ? Because it’s real.
Man-Bull has an unclear, possibly psionic ability to influence bovines. He cannot communicate with them, but if he focuses a bit they’ll tend to follow his lead and act friendly.
Since these are herd animals, influencing one will likely have the rest follow. However, if Man-Bull’s influence ceases the steers will be disoriented and may panic.
On the other hoof, Man-Bull generally operates in large cities. Where one doesn’t run across that many steers.
All the children were killers / They couldn’t get no relief
Early on, Man-Bull often operated with a handful of fellow thugs-for-hire.
These guys were actually pretty good. They had experience, they liked violence, they could operate a notable range of weapons, they were loyal, they followed orders… There usually will be two or three of them.
If expecting a real fight they’ll have .38 revolvers, though they might have more specialised weapons if required.
Frex, the one called “Itch” once used a scoped, modified .30-06 rifle. It had a penetrator head to go through the armoured glass of Taurens’ prison cell, and the rest of the projectile was a detachable capsule of serum and injector. The total projectile was a good 3″.
They will also frequently drive a lorry. This allows Man-Bull to hide in the back for transportation, since he doesn’t fit in a car.
William “Bull Taurus” Taurens began his criminal career as a young teenager. Arrested circa age 13 for petty theft, he kept returning to prison. Charges came to include grand larceny, arson, manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.
During his first appearance he made a specific reference to the Big A, a horse show in Georgia (in the American Deep South). So he might have grown up there.
Horn-head vs. horn-head
In 1971, a renegade scientist going by “the Professor” recruited “Bull Taurus” and his friends “Itch” and “Freak-Face”. They were to kidnap subjects for a mutation experiment. ”The Professor” was working for the mysterious Mister Kline.
Roving around in a Jeep, the brutes attacked a young couple. However, Daredevil (Matt Murdock) repulsed the attackers. Since there were no test subjects, Taurens had to receive the injection himself. It did enhance him, but also unexpectedly endowed him with monstrous minotaur-like features.
(These side effects came as a complete surprise, even for the Professor. Thus, Taurens had agreed he’d test the procedure without expecting such severe effects. It seems likely that his genetics present an x-factor that mutated him.)
Furious, Bull’s buddies managed to kidnap a distracted Daredevil. They took him to the mutated Taurus so their friend could have his revenge. Daredevil escaped, but for a while Taurus thought that he had killed the red-clad vigilante.
Taurus’ friends also captured the couple Taurus had originally targeted. But Daredevil returned, rescued them, and narrowly defeated the Man-Bull. Once knocked unconscious, Taurens returned to his human form. He was then arrested by the NYPD.
C’est une maison bleue, adossée à la colline
Taurens became obsessed by revenge against Daredevil. But originally, he was willing to wait for his parole to start. He had his friends help the Professor hide from the police, so the renegade scientist could provide more doses of serum.
Howbeit, in 1973 Bull learned that Daredevil have moved to San Francisco. Taurens interpreted this as DD fleeing New York as Man-Bull’s prison release date was approaching. He decided to escape after all, and go after DD.
(Presumably, leaving New York City would have broken the terms of his parole anyway.)
The Professor was ordered to produce another dose of the serum. Gang member Itch then used a modified rifle to shoot the capsule into Taurens’ prison cell. Promptly injecting himself, Man-Bull mutated anew and easily escaped.
He, his friends and the Professor drove across the country. They then rigged a car to race driverless and uncontrolled across the city. As they hoped, Daredevil responded. They now knew roughly where he was, and confirmed it was the real Daredevil.
(This scene likely was a reference to a famous sequence in 1969 movie Bullitt.)
Still trying to draw him out, they ambushed the Black Widow (Natalia Romanova). Man-Bull blatantly underestimated her and didn’t fare well. However, the Widow had to break contact since she needed to evacuate a wounded Ivan Petrovitch.
Man-Bull and his buddies then attacked a jewelry store. This ambush did draw Daredevil and the Black Widow in. Shortly after the fight began, Daredevil was felled by a sniper. Enraged, the Widow forced the Man-Bull and his men to retreat so she could take Daredevil to a hospital.
Man-Bull soon launched another plan. A mutagenic serum brewed by the Professor was injected into the municipal water system. The gang assumed that it was a blackmail scheme, but the increasingly unstable Taurens then lashed out. He did not want to force San Franciscans to buy the antidote – he wanted them all to suffer like he had suffered.
In a fit of paranoia, Man-Bull lashed out at his loyal ally Itch and seemingly killed him. The Black Widow couldn’t stop him this time, and the unravelling Taurens even turned against the Professor.
Man-Bull seemed about to kill the Professor when a barely recovered Daredevil came in. DD managed to wrap a big rope around Taurens, then sent him into the water with a body throw. The rope was attached to a big anchor, and Man-Bull sunk to the bottom of the Bay.
The Professor was arrested by the SFPD, but was apparently able to make bail.
Come on, oh baby don’t you wanna go
Nearly drowning shocked Taurens back to human form. This allowed him to get free of the rope and swim away. He then waited until he could ambush the Professor, beating him and taking his entire cache of serum.
Fleeing police heat, “Bull Taurus” came to Chicago. However, he soon got into trouble by hassling two young women at a cheap dinner. One of the lasses, Greer Nelson, had to get physical to stop Taurens from touching her. When other patrons realised that Taurens was about to attack Nelson and her friend, they ganged up on him and beat him bloody.
Humiliated, Taurens injected himself with the serum and went on a revenge rampage. After demolishing the dinner, he overran a police cruiser and the Cat (Greer Nelson). The Cat reengaged, but as the fight reached the stockyards Man-Bull triggered a stampede.
The herd caused a lot of damage before the Cat stopped Man-Bull. After she knocked him out, the cattle panicked. Taurens was thus trampled as he reverted to human form.
However, the police and EMTs reached him in time to save his life.
Convention… of fear !
Since Iron Man was spotted in San Diego, they invaded the comic book convention there to draw him in. But that didn’t work at all, especially after they ran into the mysterious Black Lama (King Jerald). They were easily defeated and arrested.
However, three months later the Man-Bull was in New York City. Perhaps there was no charge to pin on him but having started a brawl in public.
Howbeit, he couldn’t change back to human form anymore. And he could tell that, as he was stuck in taurine form, his intelligence was degrading.
These vagabond hooves, they are longing to stray
Back in the Big Apple, Taurens attacked a jewelry exchange to rob it. But the aged owner fainted when confronted, and eventually died of cardiac arrest. The NYPD managed to arrest Man-Bull using heavy weaponry.
Though the death clearly wasn’t premeditated, the jury was frightened by Taurens’ appearance. They deemed him guilty of murder in the first degree. Man-Bull burst free – his lawyer Matthew Murdock had convinced him to play along so far, but that clearly wasn’t working.
As Taurens was trying to find a discreet way out of NYC, he was hired by the Matador (Manuel Elongato). The plan was to steal a famous bull statue made of solid gold, and weighing tonnes. Since it was worth millions, Taurens thought he’d be able to retire as an hermit using the cash.
Daredevil intervened, forcing Man-Bull to drop the statue. During the fight, the increasingly depressive and paranoid Man-Bull realised that the Matador was probably just manipulating him. He returned to their rendez-vous, grabbed Elongato and leapt into the Brooklyn Bay, hoping to drown the Matador then swim away.
However, Man-Bull was recaptured by the NYPD within days. The armament, tactics and training to deploy against him were by now established.
The fable of the bull and the owl
In 1977, the Owl (Leland Owlsley) had a commando break Taurens out of prison, despite Daredevil’s intervention. The Owl wanted Man-Bull to work as his bodyguard, but Taurens was too wary of purported allies tricking him.
At this point the Owl’s base was attacked by rival mobsters. Out of reluctant gratitude, Man-Bull helped repel the attackers. He then agreed to work for the Owl after Owlsley showed him his crippled legs.
The Owl wanted a scientist kidnapped. Professor Kerwin had been working on animal-based mutagenic serums similar to the one that the Owl had been taking to gain super-powers. Since the Owl’s serum was what crippled his legs, Owlsley hoped that the researcher could understand how to reverse the damage.
But the paranoid Man-Bull decided that he, too, could benefit from Professor Kerwin’s expertise. He thus betrayed the Owl shortly after kidnapping Kerwin, wanting to force the scientist to return him to human form.
Daredevil intervened, which forced the Owl to flee, and managed to take Man-Bull down. Shocked, Kerwin stated that he would have been entirely willing to study their condition without coercion.
Whether a cure was attempted is unrevealed – but in any case, Taurens remained trapped in taurine form. His mentality also continued to degrade.
He spent ten years in prison – primarily the Vaults.
Early during his sentence, he managed to escape during a mass breakout. Taurens made it all the way to Denver, staying slightly ahead of pursuing officers in Guardsman power armour . But he was defeated by Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) and reincarcerated.
Sometimes the Man-Bull’s skin and body hair are brownish, sometimes they are purplish-grey. This seems to depend on the exact formulation of a dose of serum.
Daredevil made fun of Man-Bull for being dumb. But in his earliest appearances, Taurens didn’t seem particularly thick or ignorant. Since he apparently received little formal education, he might even be an above-average learner. And it seems that him dropping out of school was due to an undiagnosed dyslexia .
Honestly, I suspect that Daredevil was calling him ignorant because of Tauren’s likely Georgia accent . 1970s Daredevil was something of a dick, I’m sorry to report.
Taurens demonstrated ample courage, and a macho code of honour. When he failed to kidnap test subjects, he willingly underwent the experimental procedure because that was the agreed-upon price of failure. There was a clear “man of his word” vibe. But of course, one shouldn’t forget that he’s an habitual criminal and was entirely willing to subject an innocent couple to ghastly experiments.
The serum’s unintended side effects then made him furious and obsessed with revenge.
Taurens had a crude social Darwinist philosophy, where survival of the strongest and aggressive action were all that mattered. Curiously, this also means that he won’t kill an opponent that doesn’t look physically powerful – such as a badly wounded man, or almost any woman. Presumably, that would hurt his standing in his imaginary ladder of strength.
The Professor’s serum degraded Taurens’ mind. It was relatively subtle at first, but after several days under the second injection it became more marked. A lifetime of resentment over being treated like dirt was amplified, and he came to crave revenge for everything, against *everyone*.
The turning point is the San Francisco poisoning plot, where a sudden burst of paranoia makes Man-Bull turn against loyal allies.
Though he could bring this under control… most of the time… being stuck in Man-Bull form ruined everything. His reasoning ability clearly degraded, his elocution became crude and slurred, his ability to handle frustration hit rock-bottom, and he was aware that he was diminished.
Knowing that he had became dumb, he also became unusually wary about allies. Taurens was aware that it was now easy to play him. However, his bouts of paranoia are somewhat random. Sometimes he’ll be trusting or perhaps even briefly naïve, and then for no clear reason he’ll expect betrayal even if that makes no sense.
“Talk, mister — just pure TALK ! When you come up against me, you gotta do BETTER than yak. You gotta PRODUCE !”
“The world has room for only two kindsa people — the ones who live, an’ the ones who die ! You gotta be strong to make it, honey — you’ll be stepped on if you ain’t strong !”
“Runnin’ won’t help ya, smart-boy ! And when I do, I’ll crush the blamed life outta ya ! Ya hear me, smart-boy ? I’ll CRUSH YA !”
DC Universe History
A man-bull is inevitable in most super-hero contexts, really. Just throw him in and people might not even notice.
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 05||Str: 08||Bod: 06||Motivation: Mercenary|
|Int: 04||Wil: 03||Min: 04||Occupation: Professional criminal|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 03||Spi: 04||Wealth: 003|
|Init: 013||HP: 050|
Animal control: 02, Growth: 02, Skin Armour: 02
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Animal control is limited to making bovines act friendly toward him.
- Growth is Always On and Already Factored In.
- Skin Armour APs are doubled against Martial Artist (EV).
Vehicles (Land): 03
Misc. (can use his horns as a sort of spade).
- MPR (Man-Bull is hunchbacked, which limits his movements – such as raising his head, or reaching his own back with his hands).
- MPR (seems to need to eat about 4x as much).
- MIA (underestimating people who do not look super-muscular, is treated as a SIA if he wants to LDD the RAPs of a physical attacks from a woman).
- MIA toward Revenge (later becomes a SIA).
- Minor Rage.
- Strange Appearance.
- Partial Attack Vulnerability (- 1CS RV vs. Duping Manoeuvres).
- Misc: one gets the impression that Man-Bull is dyslexic.
The listed scores are for Man-Bull before he gets stuck in mutated form.
Once the mutation starts damaging his mental abilities, his INT and WIL drop to 03 and 02, respectively (lower the Initiative accordingly). He also gains :
- A MIA toward Paranoia (though the episodes are random).
- The equivalent of a Minor Psychological Instability (randomly losing his focus and irrationally deciding to switch to an entirely different project).
The Man-Bull has significantly more HPs than one would expect for such a minor villain. However, his uses of these are haphazard, irrational. They represent bursts of rage where he suddenly strike much faster, and to greater effect, than his baseline.
Since he pumps a lot of HPs into these, they have a tendency to end the fight in one blow – at least against street-level opponents.
Man-Bull should use but a moderate amount of HPs in most occasions, to LDD a bit. Play this as if he had 15 or so HPs to his name. But a dramatically appropriate moment, he’ll suddenly pump the AV and EV of a big enraged charge. Ideally, this’ll catch the opposition flat-footed as they didn’t expect him to have that many HPs – modelling what happens in the comics.
More random bursts of rage are simply modelled by him rolling a double.
The difference in efficacy between the blow of Daredevil (STR 04) and the Cat (STR 06) was pronounced. The heavy handed thing with Skin Armour being more efficient against Martial Artist (EV) is there to help explain what happened, but doesn’t fully model the difference.
Man-Bull was played as a jobber in The Cat Vol. 1 #04, and seen as ridiculous. In DC Heroes RPG terms that would mean markedly fewer Hero Points for Taurens during this appearance. Perhaps 10, or even none. That’s a stark difference in performance from the 50 he had in early Daredevil appearances.
And if he had HPs, he clearly didn’t spend any on LDD, as he couldn’t accept that the slight Cat was able to hurt him. Add in some lousy dice rolls, and it works out.
If you want a less fuzzy approach, the data set is clear :
- Physical attacks with a base EV of 04 are nigh-useless against him.
- Physical attacks with a base EV of 05 can work, *if* aimed at a weak point.
- Physical attacks with a base EV of 06 or more work fine against him.
All the children were killers / They couldn’t get no relief
During his early appearances, Man-Bull’s criminal friends use the “Professional Henchperson” stats in our Thugs & Criminals article.
One of them has undocumented auto mechanics skill, and Itch had 4 APs of Weaponry (Firearms).
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Writeup completed on the 8th of June, 2018.