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Sequence

This profile is the second half of a chronological series.

So it’s meant to be read after the .

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Background

  • Real Name: Katrina Luisa van Horn.
  • Other Aliases: “Wilma” (thin cover ID), Amazon.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Masters of Evil (Crimson Cowl versions), Thunderbolts, the Hood’s gang.
  • Base of Operations: Mobile. For several years Burton Canyon, CO.
  • Height: 7′ (2.13 m). Weight: 282 lbs. (128 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Auburn (sometimes red, or even the hue of orange used to denote light red hair in super-hero comics).

Powers & Abilities

Ms. van Horn no longer is disabled and scarred. Furthermore, she now has a high level of superhuman strength.

Clearly, something major happened. It might even be an entirely new body. But one notes that her facial features are roughly the same – the Fixer (Norbert Ebersol) readily recognised her from their shared Silvermane’s Hydra days.

Her strength seems to be about “Class 65”, though her durability trails a bit behind that. Her endurance is also superhuman – she can swim for hundreds of miles.

Her hand-to-hand fighting skills remain strong. They now seem better-balanced, though still slanted toward the offence.

Man-Killer could take Mach-1 (Abner Jenkins) out with one punch, though he was caught flat-footed. She also had little problem crushing thick metallic walls aboard the V-Battalion’s flying base, the Vanguard.

Skills

She acquired basic skill in disguise, acting and changing her voice – though her height and physique put clear limits on that.

She can also maintain a credible but unspecified American accent.

And she seems to be a fair bartender.

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) muscles rush

Soundtrack

Something suitable to evoke 1997/98, mmm… Oh, right.

Shawn Colvin has a long career and did a lot of interesting, fine things. She only ever had one big hit, though. But said tune, “Sunny came home” was a perfect folk song with a country music vibe and subtly murderous lyrics.

History

Man-Killer spent 16 years in comic book limboWhen a character still exists, but hasn’t appeared in comics for years.

Some big things clearly happened in her life, as she resurfaced with a seemingly remade body.

But what happened is still a mystery. Even though I’d really like to have the name of that doctor. If applicable.

Since she acquired some disguise and acting skills, it is possible that she spent years in hiding.

Return of the Masters of Evil

In 1997, the Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer) assembled a new, large version of the Masters of Evil. Man-Killer was among her mercenaries.

Man-Killer usually worked with Hammer’s core enforcers — Flying Tiger, Cyclone (Pierre Fresson), Klaw (Ulysses Klaw), and Tiger Shark (Todd Arliss). One gets the impression that she was that team’s field leader when the Cowl wasn’t around.

The Cowl later expanded this team, but most of the additional recruits were C- or D-listers. Furthermore, a vendetta developed between the Masters and the Thunderbolts.

The two teams were on fairly even terms during their clashes. But during their last battle — to stop the Cowl’s grandiose weather-control-based blackmail scheme — the Masters fared badly. The Thunderbolts had been intensively training with Hawkeye (Clint Barton), and now fought in a far more cohesive manner.

Considering this, and that this brawl wasn’t achieving anything anyway, Man-Killer discreetly left – along with Cyclone.

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) Masters of Evil and Crimson Cowl

Tall glasses

As “Wilma”, van Horn was recruited as a bartender in the small town of Burton Canyon, presumably in Colorado. It seems likely that it was a cover identity, and job, she had previously used to let heat pass.

“Wilma” worked for several months at the Downslope sports bar ‘n’ grill. However, Atlas (Erik Josten) randomly began patronising this establishment. He recognised Man-Killer almost right away, and she eventually recognised him.

However, as a veteran criminal, Josten felt a kinship with her. He couldn’t bring himself to denounce van Horn. He became a regular, and they were on good terms.

In 2000, Wonder Man (Simon Williams) attacked Atlas at the Downslope. Erik and “Wilma” realised that they knew each other’s identity. Furious that her cover was wrecked, Man-Killer refused to help and left.

(My impression is that it was mostly a miscommunication about van Horn thinking that Josten had an unrequited romantic interest in her. Which he sort of did, being clueless).

(Katrina may have further misjudged Erik’s feelings as they were both constantly lying to protect their secret ID. And neither is known for their deft communication skills).

Life of crimson

In 2002, Crimson Cowl (Justine Hammer) assembled a new team of Masters of Evil. The two returning operatives from the late 1990s roster were Man-Killer and Cyclone.

Here again, Man-Killer seemed to lead in the field in the Cowl’s absence – or perhaps co-lead along with Machinesmith (Sam Saxon). The other operatives were Cardinal (Don Clendenon), Cyclone and Gypsy Moth (Sybil Dvorak).

This team got in a brief fight with a team of criminals led by Hawkeye (Clint Barton). But Barton explained to van Horn and team that all former and current Hammer employees had been implanted with a doomsday weapon.

Man-Killer immediately agreed to work with Hawkeye so the implants could be removed. Her colleagues followed suit.

Katrina van Horn… Thunderbolt!

Most members of the two teams merged into a new version of the Thunderbolts.

For security, Hawkeye had the more infamous criminals change their costume and code name for the duration. Van Horn now went by Amazon, and her costume now looked more Ancient Spartan by way of American Gladiators.

This team narrowly prevailed against the Crimson Cowl and her remaining Masters. But it nearly disintegrated when they learned that Hawkeye had been working with S.H.I.E.L.D. all along.

Van Horn decided to leave, but Dvorak restrained her and convinced her to stick around. Amazon therefore defeated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent the Kid (E.B. Farrell).

Vanguard

Hawkeye and his Thunderbolts then agreed to help the V-Battalion and S.H.I.E.L.D.. Since the impending accidental detonation of the V-Battalion’s mobile base’s engines would be powerful enough to badly damage Earth.

During the desperate operation, Amazon used her strength to anchor the team. This prevented them from being sucked into a dimensional anomaly, and allowed for preventing the explosion.

Though she had an opportunity to join the Thunderbolts as Amazon, van Horn couldn’t do it. She just left on her own the following night.

(It is possible that, a few hours before she left, she was part of a massive but futile assault against a cosmically-empowered Thanos of Titan. But this could be a continuity glitch).

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) uppercut punch Mach 1

We don’t talk about the fight club

Man-Killer then appeared in two issues of the “Fight Club Thunderbolts” era. This sudden, edgy, squalid pivot of the book was ill-received, and it was cancelled after a few issues.

Whether the events of this brief era are in continuity is unclear. Given the character discontinuities (say, around the Armadillo – or Man-Killer being suddenly back to having to wear a medicalised exo), I consider that it can’t have taken place in Reality-616.

(This isn’t the official Marvel stance. Frex, these events are listed in OHOTMU A to Z character profiles).

Titanomachy

In 2006, Baron Helmut Zemo assembled a group of Thunderbolts, who had worked with sundry versions of the team. Beyond Man-Killer, there was :

Zemo and his Thunderbolts attempted to kill Genis-Vell, who was posing a cosmic-level threat. However, the actual team of Thunderbolts, led by Songbird (Melissa Gold), opposed this.

During the subsequent fight, Man-Killer fought Atlas. She had been given a charge of Pym particles, allowing her to match Josten’s size.

However, the ionically-powered Atlas could push his stature way further than Man-Killer’s Giant-Man-like enhancement could. He stomped her.

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) bartender Wilma sports bar

The Hood reigns

By 2009, like the majority of super-criminals operating in the US, Man-Killer had ties with the Hood (Parker Robbins)’s enormous mob.

The Hood had connections with Norman Osborn, who had recently taken over the US’ national security apparat. Which meant that his super-thugs could be funnelled into government-backed law-enforcement super-teams, the Initiative.

Man-Killer was among a batch of such enforcers. They received additional training from the Taskmaster. The rest of the batch included the likes of Cutthroat (Daniel Leighton), Scorcher (Steven Hudak), Badd Axe, Ringer (Keith Kraft), Griffin (John Horton), etc..

The Hood collapses

But by this point, the entire fool machination was days away from crashing. Man-Killer and the rest were caught in a huge battle against the Avengers Resistance heroes on the Camp H.A.M.M.E.R. training grounds.

Enhanced by the Hood’s magic, they held their own for a while. Man-Killer seemed to do well against Rage (Elvin Haliday). But the Hood’s magic buffA way to make somebody more powerful – often a magic spell then vanished, and his enforcers found themselves outmuscled.

With her track record of running away just in time, it is conceivable that van Horn was among the few who escaped these omnishambles.

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The Call of Cyttorak

One caption implies that, during the 2010s, Man-Killer worked for Hydra.

In 2015, Man-Killer was in a dive in Colorado when she sensed the call of the mystical principality, Cyttorak. Cyttorak’s red gem (best-known as the source of the Juggernaut (Kain Marko)’s power) was back on Earth and looking for a bearer.

Beyond former bearers Kain Marko and Colossus (Piotr Rasputin), the summoned candidates were :

Warned by Colossus, the X-Men intervened. Man-Killer thus ran into Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) and Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner). She overcame them, presumably because they were fighting in cramped quarters.

Van Horn then ran into Kain Marko.

Though the depowered Marko didn’t seem to pose much threat, he had a sudden surge of super-strength. He punched Man-Killer out of the building, and out of the “contest”.

Back to the Masters

In 2017, Helmut Zemo assembled a new version of the Masters of Evil, commanded by Man-Killer.

By that point a new version of the Thunderbolts, commanded by Bucky (James Barnes) was also active – and protecting the Cosmic Cube Kobik.

Thunderbolts member Atlas (Erik Josten) mistakenly allowed Zemo to locate him. Man-Killer and her Masters teleported in, beating up Atlas then storming the Thunderbolts’ hidden base.

Atlas narrowly survived as Jolt (Hallie Takahama) returned to Earth-616 and evacuated him.

The Masters then beat the carp out of Bucky, their numbers and strength compensating for his skill and speed.

However, Kobik devastated most of the area with a cosmic energy storm. Man-Killer hung onto one of her enforcers, Whiplash (Anton Vanko), to avoid being caught in the blast.

But Whiplash kicked her off him to improve his own odds of survival, and Man-Killer was seemingly killed in the deluge of cosmic energies.

2022

A woman resembling Man-Killer was part of a large force of enforcers working for Justin Hammer.

This team, resembling the one that fought Iron Man (Tony Stark) on Hammer’s floating villa decades before, was scattered by Venom (Eddie Brock).

This Man-Killer seemed to work using the same exo that van Horn wore during the 1970s. It therefore seems likely that it was a different person using refurbished — or rebuilt — Man-Killer gear.

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) Amazon costume cover

Amazon costume.

Description

Man-Killer now is exceptionally tall. And has exceptional muscular development – particularly about her arms and shoulders.

She has four piercings on her right ear.

Her belt bears two large chain links, and her forearms each have three, featureless bracers – possibly made of thick leather. These, perhaps intentionally, evokes bits of fashion that were popular with queer women back then (belly chains and tough girl plain wrap bracelets).

In subsequent iterations of her costume, the bracers become more akin to boxing-style wraps around her forearms.

If you guessed she occasionally wore flannel shirts in her civvies, you get no points. Too easy. On occasion she’s added Xena, Indigo Girls  and Lilith Fair buttons, in case somebody SOMEHOW MISSED THE SUBTEXT.

Her exact hair style varies. But it’s usually short-ish, moussed upward and with a soft butch vibe. In 2017, she went with a mohawk.

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) mohawk and masters of evil 2017

Personality

Man-Killer is usually seen acting as a confident, experienced enforcer. She’s brash and headstrong, but that means she still commits too much on the offence.

She’ll suddenly become much more hesitant if she has to fight a woman. She just hates hitting them, and she’ll therefore try to talk her way out of that and engage another opponent. Hitting a woman would presumably result in anxiety and low-key flashbacks.

When fighting for pay, Man-Killer is wary about the fight turning against her side. She’ll bail out once things have clearly gone sour.

There was a running theme that she lacked courage to take certain decisions. There’s no further data, it doesn’t fit that well with her previous characterisation, and it might be an uncharitable reading of a decision she once took to withdraw from an obviously lost battle.

So that suggests that we’re missing some background here. Perhaps another traumatic event ? Perhaps it was tied to whatever erased her disabilities and made her super-strong ?

Other traits

Man-Killer seems to have worked past the bulk of her trauma. She has no problem being relaxed and friendly around dudes – frex, when she’s tending a bar.

Though this seems, in part, to be part of her “Wilma” cover persona. And a 2015 caption still describes her as having “a heart filled with rage”… so we don’t really know.

During the late 1990s, while working at the Down Slope, Ms. van Horn came to consider foregoing her criminal ways, like the Thunderbolts had. And she liked being part of a heroic effort – particularly the part where team members are loyal toward each other.

However, she’s unable to take that step. There’s something in that that terrifies her, though she won’t explain what it is.

Earth-A

One She-Hulk story (She-Hulk v2 #21) offered the slightly tongue-in-cheek explanation that severe characterisation discontinuities were sometimes caused by otherdimensionalLocated in another reality tourists.

Thanks to the Interlocking Technologies firm on Earth-721 (aka “Earth-A”), impersonating one’s homologue on Earth-616 (aka “Marvel Earth”) is a vacation plan.

It could be used here to explain the differences between 1970s/1980s Man-Killer (who might be the same person as during the “fight club Thunderbolts” span) and the subsequent appearances covered here.

(Plus some weird discrepancies, such as Man-Killer having a poor opinion of European dark beers and wanting to return to the US. Like, *dudes*. She’s German.)

In the… unlikely hypothesis somebody cares enough.

DC Heroes RPG

Man-Killer

Dex: 05 Str: 14 Bod: 10
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04
Init: 018 HP: 035

Powers:

Swimming: 05

Skills:

Artist (Actress): 03, Martial Artist (AV): 07, Military Science (Demolition): 04, Vehicles (Land, Air): 04

Advantages:

Expertise (Competitive skiing lore), Familiarity (Bartending, US sports lore (the kind that’s on TV in a sports bar)), Language (German), Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:

Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:

Creepy Appearance (Height, shoulders, musculature), SID of hitting women, Partial Attack Vulnerability (- 1CS RV vs. Dupe Combat Manoeuvres), Misc.: Man-Killer’s Hero Points expenditure are penalised by one Genre if she has to hit a woman.

Motivation:

Mercenary.

Occupation:

Mercenary.

Wealth:

004

Equipment:

The PYM PARTICLES CHARGE she had gave her about Growth: 07. But the tiny forearm implant holding the charge presumably had to be recharged after each use (Ammo: 01).

Man-Killer (Marvel Comics) (van Horn) vs. Nightcrawler and X-Men

Design Notes

Man-Killer is hard to benchmark during this era. We can see her strength in action a few times, but fight scenes are too brief for reliable quantification.

Even the APs of Growth are hard to estimate, since she uses it in a nearly featureless open field. I just went with an eyeballed square-cube law estimate.

So, a lot of numbers are based on fleeting details and doing jazz hands. Plus some arbitrary stats continuity with the previous writeup. “Arbitrary” since there’s so little in common.

Furthermore, like with many post-Busiek Thunderbolts, her character arcs don’t… really take place. As with Blizzard (Donnie Gill) there’s a sense that the writer had something planned, but it’s never meaningfully rolled out.

So aside from pictures and compact plot summaries, there isn’t much to say or model.


Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 21th of August, 2022.