21 min read


Context

Marvel’s New Universe was a 1986-89 attempt at creating a brand new setting with more verisimilitudeMaking a story feel credible.. It was meant to be almost exactly like our world, but with the sudden introduction of super-powers having a major, highly disruptive impact.

Hazzard was at the fringe of the setting, operating in scenes were super-powers had yet to make said impact. It was essentially a late 1970s/early 1980s hard man story, mixing Cold War mercenary stories (mostly in the Third World) and the American fear of urban decay back then. This article discusses this genre.

Mark Hazzard is thus an ex-military “have gun, will travel” gritty type in a harsh world.

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Background

  • Real Name: Colonel Marcus E. Hazzard (ret.).
  • Known Relatives: Leonard (father, deceased), Margaret (mother), Joan (ex-wife), Scotty (son).
  • Group Affiliation: Former US Army Ranger, former member of the US military’s SOG, former “colonel” of his mercenary crew.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 6’4” (1.93m). Weight: 240 lbs. (109 Kg.) Age: 42.
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Reddish light brown.

Powers and Abilities

Hazzard is a large, strong man and an exceptional soldier. He has remarkable endurance and an exceptional killer instinct.

He is fascinated by, and knowledgeable about, subjects such as military history, tactics, knives and firearms.

He competently handles a wide variety of modern weapons.

Hazzard has a strong, chilling presence. He can intimidate people just by being there – and he knows it.

He is also a well-trained boxer and karateka.

Beyond his “tough even for a Special Forces vet with three tours” profile, Hazzard is remarkably observant. In DC Heroes RPG terms, his INT score of 06 is genuinely superior in his world.

Soundtrack

For atmosphere, a classic with the right ambience.

Hazzard’s “shop”

Hazzard’s primary mercenary contacts (his “shop” (crew) and some related allies) included the following :

The Sergeant-Major

Given his beret, I guess he’s a former Royal Marine. After his service, he ended up with the famous Wild Geese  mercenary unit in Africa.

But he eventually drifted out given the unsatisfying nature of the work, the issues with getting paid, and the casualties.

Hazzard recruited him a few years after Sergeant-Major Peel got married and settled into civilian life. The deal was that he would be a military instruction specialist and not a rifleman. Ever since his marriage he’s had to suffer through “Mrs. Peel  ” jokes.

Lincoln “Stryker” Griffin

Griffin enlisted during the Việt Nam invasion. He became a Navy SEAL without a clear idea of why he had decided to sign up.

Becoming overconfident, he was spotted by a Vietnamese guard during a night-time sabotage mission. This resulted in the destruction of his insertion boat. He managed to flee overland, and was saved by Hazzard who was on a one-man patrol to check for survivors.

Griffin became a sky marshall and then a cop. But things didn’t really work out.

He became a merc, taking contracts from the CIA with his unit but growing to distrust the Agency. He often worked with or against Hazzard, and later worked a lot with the Sergeant-Major.

After the death of Hazzard, Griffin spent months training and stiffening the courageous freedom-loving fighters of the Taliban. He also led a raid into USSR from Afghanistan with his local allies to score propaganda points. He wasn’t expecting to survive this operation.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - sergeant-major and stryker

The Sergeant-Major and Stryker.

Mal Rossi

This New Zealander was in Việt Nam with the Australian Army Training Team Việt Nam, teaching demolitions to the RVN  .

Rossi was caught in the Tet offensive  and eventually shot in the leg. But he and Hazzard banded up, got out of town, managed to acquire a radio, and got some evac.

After the war Rossi worked as an explosives expert within the mining industry. Yet he couldn’t adapt back to civilian life and developed a major drinking problem. Hazzard helped him beat his addiction so he could work as their explosive ordnance specialist.

Mal, furious that his sister was dating a New York City biker, once enlisted Hazzard and the Priestess and told them that she had been kidnapped by bikers.

After some vicious fighting, Hazzard discovered the truth and clashed with Rossi. Mal realised that he had been wrong and apologised.

Louis “Treetop” Barrington

Once an elite helicopter pilot in Việt Nam, running Special Forces insertion and extraction for MACV  out of Đà Nẵng.

His first contact with Hazzard was inauspicious. Treetop flew out once he started taking fire, with only part of Hazzard’s team on board. As a consequence, he was beaten up by Hazzard when he made his second slick to get the rest of the team.

Yet they eventually became friends. Treetop frequently taxied Hazzard and his teams in and out during the war.

After the war Treetop became a freelance pilot. He made a bundle working with dubious parties. But he became bored and was happy when Hazzard hired him.

However, the pilot increasingly insisted on running the show. This led to a new clash when Hazzard realised the nature of an unsavoury mission Treetop had agreed to. Hazzard was forced to shoot Treetop in the legs before the pilot would try to stop him from killing the client.

When Hazzard was captured in Iran Treetop, who had come to realise he had made wrong choices in the type of missions he accepted and that Hazzard had been right, volunteered to join the effort. However, he still was confined to a wheelchair.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - stryker treetop priestess mal rossi planning

Stryker, Treetop, Priestess and Mal Rossi.

The Priestess

She has her own writeup. The Priestess was Hazzard’s most faithful ally.

Others

Occasional associates included :

  • Ritter. An ex-Air Force combat pilot who became an important asset for Hazzard after he burned his bridges with Treetop. Ritter was executed in Iran.
  • The Doc. A Vietnamese female combat medic and soldier.

Beyond those contacts, Hazzard accumulated numerous markers with mercenary and military outfits. He had a generally solid reputation. Neither is a game item (like, say, a Connection) – it simply is something he developed during his work.

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The world of Merc

Hazzard’s life occurred in the New Universe, in a Gritty genre.

The New Universe, with accidental exceptions, was “real world with superhumans appearing in it”. It was not intended to follow superhero comic book narrative conventions.

Hazzard’s genre was heavily grounded in late-1970s and early-1980s gritty action movies, such as The Wild Geese, The Guns of Navarone clones, the early Bronson Death Wish vigilante movies, The Deer Hunter or The Octagon.

It also employed the 1980s American mythology about big cities being lawless pits of decadence, violence, crime and sin.

The feeling of Hazzard’s world is that of a lawless, violent place. Civilisation is at best a veneer. Brutal, armed incidents occur anywhere and for any reason.

Corruption is everywhere. The foreign governments Hazzard gets involved with are often absurd, caricature banana republics.

The Cold War is shaping everything. It is generally held in the stories that the Americans are the good guys and their opposite number the bad, but Hazzard is starting to doubt that.

Other aspects

The police and justice are inefficient, politicised and lumbering administrations. They stay clear of tough urban areas.

Thus, Hazzard knew that he could trigger a small war with explosives, automatic weapons and a score of men dead in a bad New York City neighbourhood. The police would take a long while to arrive, and wouldn’t really investigate.

Likewise, Hazzard’s enemies thought nothing about sending three goons in bad suits, crappy sunglasses and wielding cheap pistols at a school baseball match to kill a mercenary.

The vast majority of the soldiers, hitmen, etc. that Hazzard fights have the stats given in the “stock soldier” WORG article for militia. They usually lack training, discipline or acumen. They’ll often react emotionally, panicking and making stupid mistakes.

In this mediocre world a talented professional such as Hazzard looks like an indestructible death machine. Yet his game stats are not humongous by action hero standards. In DC Heroes RPG terms Hazzard’s greatest assets are his Initiative and calm. Though his decent OV also helps.

Mark Hazzard with a grenade launcher - Merc Marvel Comics - New Universe

History

Mark Hazzard was raised by a demanding father. This man wanted his son to be the best at just about everything. He never accepted anything less. Nothing Mark did was ever good enough.

This included his choice of girlfriend (and future wife), whom Mark had met at the prom.

The Hazzard men were traditionally military officers. At home, the atmosphere was icy. Mark addressed his father formally and called him “sir”.

The younger Hazzard was accepted at West Point  and performed admirably, becoming a cadet officer. However he was not the valedictorian, which led to a conflict with his father.

Fed up with all of this, Mark left West Point. He married his girlfriend and then reenlisted with the Army as a corporal.

Sent me off to a foreign land, to go and kill the yellow man

During the American involvement in the Việt Nam conflict, Hazzard further demonstrated his remarkable aptitude for soldiering. He was a particularly active SOG  operative. Despite his bulk he also worked as a tunnel rat  .

Hazzard once was captured by the VC and held in a bamboo cage. An interrogator slashed his face open with a deft machete stroke. Though he did not lose an eye, Mark was left with an obvious facial scar.

Hazzard did three tours in Việt Nam, making Colonel. Some time later, to Mark’s open relief, his father died. His reaction led to his mother throwing him out of her house and likely disowning him.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - Uzi automatic fire

Went down to see my V.A. man he said “Son, don’t you understand?”

Furthermore, Hazzard couldn’t find a civilian job. His financial situation became critical after his son Scotty was born.

To pay the bills Mark went back to the job he loved, becoming a merc and eventually a merc commander.

However, his marriage disintegrated since he never was home. And he was too much like his own father during his stays in the US.

Eventually his wife Joan gave him an ultimatum to choose between her and his work. It ended up in a divorce and Joan’s remarriage to a stockbroker named Gordon.

Hazzard and his shop continued taking contracts throughout the world. But Hazzard had some ethical standards about the contracts he would accept.

Merc

Joan’s new husband came to resent how fascinated Joan and Scotty were with the dangerous, far tougher Hazzard. Realising he could never compare favourably with the absent soldier of fortune, Gordon succumbed to jealousy.

He asked a connected client of his, attorney Henri Graymalkin, about arranging a hit on Hazzard whilst he was stateside. This assassination would exploit his uncharacteristic attendance to a baseball game in which his son was playing.

But the three amateur hitmen were out of their league, and Hazzard killed them.

Hazzard continued his adventures. He :

  • Clashed with Palestinian terrorists (and was in part manipulated by the Mossad).
  • Rejected offers from the CIA despite these being the kind of offer one cannot refuse.
  • Warred with a biker club in New York after Mal Rossi misled him and the Priestess into thinking his sister had been kidnapped.
  • Ended up as a bodyguard for a Central European politician.

After discovering that the politician was secretly a Nazi war criminal, Hazzard violently clashed with his shop.

  • He shot Treetop (who had taken the contract) in the legs.
  • Hazard then went berserk and killed the client’s goons.
  • But the police came in before Hazzard would shoot his former employer.

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More contracts

Hazzard’s next job was to free a rebel paramilitary commander in Latin America. Though his allies could barely pay them, Hazzard and his shop had extensively worked with this particular faction several years before. They thus considered them comrades-in-arms.

Hazzard and several allies (including the Sergeant-Major, the Doc and eventually Ritter) closed the difficult mission. They led the imprisoned man’s soldiers in his stead.

Despite the betrayal of his second-in-command, Hazzard’s side prevailed. Shop member the Doc decided to stay with the guerrillas.

However, by that time, rumours had spread about Hazzard going rogue on his client in Europe. That made it difficult for him to find work for a while. But this eventually went away, perhaps as the truth about said client being a Nazi spread.

During that time he was hired by a rogue Catholic cult with paramilitary and underworld operations.

Hazzard did the job. But thanks to contacts in Lebanon, he learned the truth about his employers. As a result Hazzard had them arrested by the carabinieri  , escorted by a Vatican observer.

Imprisoned in Iran

Hazzard later associated with an old ally, “Stryker” Griffin. Griffin had been extensively working in Afghanistan (along with the Sergeant-Major) with local partisans.

The op was to fly in a large weapons shipment that included Stinger missiles. Hazzard and his pilot Ritter would run a convincing decoy flight so the far more discreet actual shipment could go through.

While the operation was well-planned, Hazzard’s decoy flight was captured by Iranian forces.

Though the shipping documents were for once correct (the plane was indeed carrying crates of farm implements), Hazzard and Ritter were locked in the infamous Bandar Abbas prison and tortured.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - with a flat cap

بندر عباس

Hazzard’s allies, led by Stryker, organised a major operation to storm Bandar Abbas. But as they assembled and planned, Ritter was executed to make an example.

Hazzard’s old shop reunited. This included :

  • Treetop and Rossi.
  • The Priestess and two of her martial arts specialists.
  • The Sergeant-Major persuaded members of his old shop, the famous Wild Geese, to join.
  • Ritter had even called in a big marker with the Royal Air Force before his death.

The strike was successful. They reached Hazzard, who despite his weakened state had slain the man sent to kill him when the explosions started.

Hazzard insisted that they find and kill the officer who had ordered Ritter’s execution. But despite this complication everybody got out.

(As cultural context for younger readers, it is important to remember that Operation: Eagle Claw  occurred but a few years before this story was written.)

Endgame

Hazzard investigated who had leaked information about the decoy flight to the Iranians. The trail led to Graymalkin, who had extensive underworld and political contacts.

After Hazzard killed off his security, Graymalkin confirmed that his stockbroker was the one who had requested Hazzard’s death.

Hazzard went straight to his ex-wife’s new home to confront her new husband. But Gordon unexpectedly produced a holdout pistol and shot Hazzard several times. Hazzard killed him with his bare hands before collapsing.

Taken to the hospital and repeatedly operated upon, Hazzard eventually stabilised. However, his EEG was completely flat.

His friends and colleagues joined Joan and Scotty at the hospital. It was Scotty who eventually told the doctor to turn off his father’s life support rig.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - strike team on beach near a fire

Post-1987 appearances

A 2006 short story featured Hazzard being hired by the wife of a South American dictator. She wanted Hazzard to serve divorce papers, which had previously been impossible. Hazzard stormed a high-rise from a helicopter, wounding the guards and serving the papers.

During this story, he was a more cinematic character than during his period appearances.

A version of Hazzard was seen in the Battleworld merged reality in 2015. He was one of the leaders of the province of Nutopia, a reality fragment resembling the New Universe.

This version of Hazzard nearly killed a version of Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond), basically an evil Batman. But Richmond survived and slew Hazzard.

Description

A muscular, tough, balding 40-something with a stony air and body language.

He chain-smokes cigarettes. To the point of occasionally lighting the new one with the butt of the last one.

Hazzard wears a soft, flat cap while in his civvies. He seems to really like that hat. This type of headgear was a popular symbol of streetwise tough guy-ism back in the 1980s. Think AC/DC’s Brian Johnson  .

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - with Mal Rossi night helicopter

With Mal Rossi.

Personality

Hazzard is a cold, stony-faced soldier. He is addicted to war and treats everything else casually. He’s distant from his family, being convinced he’d only be able to repeat the mistakes of his father.

His behaviour out of the job is generally strong and silent – but with an underlying threatening, even cruel vibe. On the job he’s a highly professional, fearless badass.

Yet, Hazzard will unhesitatingly risk his life and his pay in order to protect children and teenagers. His colleagues resent that but, to a degree, also respect this stance.

That he can clear such a low bar shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning that Hazzard is a good guy. The first few pages of the series show him lying to and manipulating a young woman into having sex with him.

(Mind, most of Hazzard’s male contemporaries would have hailed that as a demonstration of manly cunning and competence. The 1980s were shite.)

Temper

Hazzard isn’t as cold as he looks. He will often follow his emotions, positive or negative, when deciding upon his next move. Which also means that he nurses grudges. And due to his childhood, he absolutely hates looking like a failure.

Hazzard is uncomfortable with the moral ambiguities of his occupation. This generally manifests as growing unease as he goes along with the job. Then he breaks and suddenly plays hero, jury and executioner.

Once he has reached this breaking point Hazzard is extremely dangerous. It is when it becomes apparent he has more Hero PointsDC Heroes RPG concept expressing narrative importance/immunity. than most everybody he’s likely to encounter.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - besuited bodyguard attack

Rep

Hazzard has a strong reputation as a guy you can trust. This explains in parts his numerous markers.

This should not be misinterpreted as any sort of upstanding moral characteristic. It just means that Hazzard is a solid professional, will stand by his shop and rescues his men if they run into trouble.

That makes him a top-notch choice when it comes to people you’d want to share a foxhole with.

His charisma explains the rest. He’s not a good guy (he can even be a complete dick). And you can’t really trust him outside of a job. But people *want* to respect him.

Ironically enough given his dad issues, he comes across as a bit of a father figure, even for grown-ups.

Other traits

Hazzard occasionally has nightmares about his worst experiences in Việt Nam. This mostly occurs when the circumstances remind him of such episodes, such as being in jail.

The key character development at the beginning of the series was that Hazzard was becoming disillusioned. For too long the realities of his job had been clashing with his general, though murky and repressed, desire to do good in the world.

He responded to this by wanting to be more present and a better role-model for his son, and trying not to be like his own father had been.

Despite his “inexpressive, coldly professional Green Beret” nature, he was trying to be supportive, loving and to show to Scotty that violence was not something cool like in the movies. He hoped to break the Hazzard family tradition by allowing Scotty to be something other than a military officer.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - mercenary for dave

Quotes

“If I let you go, all you get is dead.”

“I’ve replaced one scuzzball dictator with another. I disappointed my kid for this.”

“Money isn’t everything. There’s some people we shouldn’t work for. No matter how much money they offer. Now get out of my face, Treetop. Now !”

“Finish them quickly ! Don’t give them time to team up !”

(To customs agents) “Just remember what you are paid for and who is paying you… and one more thing. Remember who *I* am !”

“Execute alpha. Now !”

DC Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).

Hazzard should probably be kept in the late 1970s and the 1980s to respect the vibe.

The New Universe was in a very low Genre, and thus he probably would not really have met any costumed hero. But he would almost certainly have fought along with Slade Wilson in Việt Nam.

The late 2000s, with the considerable efforts that went into having another US military quagmire and a recession, could be viable for a more modern DC version of Hazzard. But :

  • Paramilitary mercenary work has considerably changed since the mid-1980s.
  • The times were quite different.
  • Aspects of the Reagan-era worldview had become deprecated.

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - strong kick close combat

DC Heroes RPG

Mark Hazzard

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 05
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05
Init: 020 HP: 025

Skills:

Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Charisma (Intimidation): 05, Medicine (First aid): 04, Martial artist*: 05, Military science: 05, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, Knives, Thrown blades): 06

Advantages:

  • Area Knowledge (trouble spots of the world).
  • Expertise (Military tactics, Military history, Infantry weapons and small arms of the world, Parachuting (inc. HALO jumps), Military equipment and protocols).
  • Familiarity (Bodyguard work).
  • Iron Nerves.
  • Lightning Reflexes.
  • Misc.: Hazzard is trained to fire weapons from either hand without a penalty, though it’s not Ambidextrous or Paired Weapons in game terms.
  • Misc.: Hazzard is said to have a talent for languages, but his linguistic répertoire is unrevealed.
  • He formerly had Rank (from Corporal to Colonel within the US Army).

Connections:

The members of his mercenary shop (Low), Priestess (High), Jacob Ram of MOSSAD (Low), Mercenary scene (Low), Det. Claire Burnett, NYPD (Low), Amahl (from an unspecified faith/faction in Lebanon, Low), Omni-Connection.

Drawbacks:

Creepy Appearance (Facial scar, presence), MIA toward Nicotine, MIF of looking like a failure, Dependents (ex-wife, son).

Motivation:

Mercenary.

Occupation:

Mercenary.

Wealth:

004

Equipment:

  • Sykes-Fairbank-style commando knife [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (Cap is 06), Descriptor: Piercing, Slashing].
  • Concealed Kevlar vest [BODY 04, Skin armour: 01, Limitation: Skin armour only vs. bullets, Drawback: Real Armour].
  • .45 handgun [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08].
  • When expecting close-quarter combat, Hazzard’s weapon of choice is a Mini-Uzi [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 05, Range: 04, Ammo: 06, R#02, Advantage: Autofire, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead] with two extra clips. He will occasionally pack two (and four clips), though he doesn’t really seem to have the Paired Weapons Schtick.
  • For heavier work, he’ll use his good ol’ M16 [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06, Ammo: 08, R#02, Advantage : Autofire] and some Grenades [BODY 03, EV 07 (Area of effect 1 AP), Grenade drawback, R#03].

Mark Hazzard Merc - Marvel Comics New Universe - union square midnight ambush

DC Adventures RPG

Mark Hazzard — Averaged PL6.8

STR STA AGL DEX
02 03 02 03
FGT INT AWE PRE
05 02 02 02

Combat Advantages:

All-Out Attack, Benefit 1 (Can use weapons with his off-hand without penalty), Chokehold, Close Attack 2, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Improved Aim, Ranged Attack 1.

Other Advantages:

Connected, Contacts, Equipment 6, Great Endurance, Increased Initiative, Leadership, Second Chance (Fear/Intimidation), Well-Informed.

Skills:

Athletics 4 (+6), Close combat (Knives) 1 (+8), Deception 2 (+4), Expertise (Experienced mercenary) 9 (+11), Expertise (Military) 9 (+11), Expertise (Security expert) 5 (+7), Insight 2 (+4), Intimidation 3 (+5), Perception 4 (+6), Persuasion 1 (+3), Ranged combat (Knives) 4 (+8), Ranged combat (Firearms) 5 (+9), Treatment 3 (+5) (Limited 2 (Limited to Revive and Stabilise)).

Equipment:

Commando knife Strength-based piercing Damage 1, Improved Critical 1 • 2 points
.45 handgun Ranged ballistic Damage 3 • 6 points
Concealed Kevlar vest Protection 2 (Limited 1 to ballistic), Subtle • 2 points
The rest of his pool will usually feature a M16A1 (assault rifle) or two micro-Uzis (machine pistols, Feature 1 for an extra machine pistol) depending upon circumstances.

Offence:

Initiative +6
Unarmed +7, Close, Damage 2
Knives +8, Close or thrown, Damage by type
Firearms +9, Ranged, Damage by type

Defence:

Dodge 08
Fortitude 07
Parry 07
Toughness 03*/05
Will 06

* Without Defensive Roll.

Complications:

  • Appearance Hazzard isn’t hard to recognize, due to his facial scar, bulk and presence.
  • Dependents Though he’s not much of a family man, his son and ex-wife have been used against him.
  • Chain smoker Hazzard goes through many packs a day.
  • Childhood conditioning Mark hates looking like a failure due to how he was raised. He will react unreasonably strongly to that.
  • It’s a harsh world out there Merc storylines emphasised a dysfunctional, merciless, crime-ridden world.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 7, Dodge/Toughness PL 7, Parry/Toughness PL 6, Fort/Will PL 7
  • Points total 105. Abilities 42, Defences 16, Skills 25, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 23. Equiv. PL 7.


Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: New Universe (Marvel).