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Mirage (Marvel Comics) robbery

Mirage

(Desmond Charne)


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

Context

*This* Mirage is a Spider-Man villain, first seen in 1976. That was during Len Wein ’s notable writing run.

He has remained a minor jobber . And an easy-to-use one, even though his abilities are based on illusions.

And as it turns out, his biography ended up… weird.


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Background

  • Real Name: Desmond Charne.
  • Former Aliases: Once impersonated Captain America (Steve Rogers).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Led his own crew. Later the Hood’s Deadly Dozen, and the Owl’s Sinister Sixteen. His reanimate was associated with the New U Corporation.
  • Base of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Unrevealed.


Powers & Abilities

Early on, Desmond Charne is a surprisingly strong man, with solid brawling skills. He’s not a master of the martial arts, but he hits hard and true. “Like a mule”, according to Spider-Man (Peter Parker), who is more willing to resort to clichés than I am.

He’s also agile, and generally in good shape.

He has some charisma and intelligence to him. But his sense of how good these assets are is blatantly overblown.

Charne is a superior holography technician, who designed and built his own super-suit. A sort of lesser version of Mysterio.


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Look my eyes are just holograms

Said super-suit is reinforced. The cowl, in particular, is essentially armoured by all the circuitry used to control and project holograms.

Said holograms are full-bore, lifelike illusions. Early on, Mirage had two main tricks :

  • Completely change the appearance of his clothes. That effect extended to his henchmen, whose costumes presumably had circuitry allowing for that. It seems likely, but not certain, that :
    • It doesn’t transform voice.
    • Disguises have to be programmed.
    • It can only alter general body shape and dimensions to a small extent.
  • Make himself invisible, and project an audiovisual illusion some distance away. In practice, it looks like he’s intangible and can short-range teleport. Hitting him is impossible, even for a superhuman fighter with abnormal senses such as Spider-Man.

(Mirage is sometimes depicted as having multiple holographic doubles up simultaneously, à la Mirror Image D&D spell. Say, in the back of the 1987 Web of Spider-Man Annual. But that’s not what he actually did in his 1976 appearance. For that you want Timeshadow.)

During that heist, he and his men were also equipped with semi-auto handguns shooting tranq darts.

Use your illusion I

After his 2009 resurrection, Charne could project illusory disguises onto himself and other persons – whether they wore Mirage costumes or not. He could also alter the appearance of held weaponry, helmets and the like.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) disguise and henchmen

There likely was no need to program anything, and there was more leeway as to changes in apparent body dimension. Perhaps it was now possible to slightly alter voices as well

Mirage’s illusory double also became even more credible. Apparently, it’s now closer to ubiquity, not unlike the Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox). One assumes that Charne can only maintain one or two such “hologram clones”.

He doesn’t seem to go invisible anymore.

He seems to still be using technological projectors, though. With the precedent of Megatak, one might hypothesise that it’s some sort of demonic techno-magical improvements. But we don’t know, really.

Nihilism isn’t an ethos

From 2009 onward, Mirage is hit hard by super-villain decay . He goes from overconfident Silver Age -ish villain to squalid loser that readers can feel superior to.

The “hologram clone” power can be a way out of that. Perhaps the original Mirage is still like the Len Wein version, whereas his holoclones are like the version in Remender/Spencer one. We can all have both ! Yay ! Party !

It also helps explain why he doesn’t use the sure-is-useful “holoclones” ability back in 2009. Perhaps Charne discreetly deserted the Deadly Dozen and left a holoclone behind. As it sure seemed that the resurectees were about to be cannon fodder.

Use your illusion II

In 2021, Mirage received upgraded illusion-casting equipment – possibly from Madame Masque.

It could make an entire warehouse appear ordinary and deserted. But when Mirage lifted the illusion, it was a high-tech base full of soldiers.


History (part 1)

Desmond Charne spent years studying visual electronics. He eventually developed his own device.

Reportedly, he had been in a good relationship with one Amy when Fin Fang Foom attacked New York City. The Avengers handled this kaiju , and Iron Man (Tony Stark) got Amy out of Foom’s King Kong-like grip.

However, the young woman became obsessed by Iron Man and his lousy pick-up lines. She eventually dumped Desmond, who took it badly.

Mr. Charne felt that being a masterful super-villain bad boy might restore his luck in love. He designed the Mirage identity.

(The FFF attack is a retcon.)

Gone bad

Charne pretended that becoming a super-villain had always been the goal of his technological studies. His role model was Spider-Man, who was then widely thought to be a crook.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) fights Spider-Man 1/2

(Presumably, Mr. Charne felt that a broken heart as an origin story didn’t match his would-be-master-villain projected image.)

In 1976, he attacked a hotel in Laverne, NY. Several large marriages were taking place there, and Mirage and his hirelings robbed everybody at gunpoint. But he unexpectedly ran into Spider-Man.

At first Mirage dominated the fight, leading him to the conclusion that Spidey’s rep was overblown.

But, realising that he couldn’t hit Mirage, Parker changed tactics. He had a ginormous chandelier crash down. Though he couldn’t see Mirage, Parker caught Charne within the area of effect.

Here’s the Thing

In 1978, Mirage was free – though he had been hiding for months. Hearing that the Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm) was hospitalised, Charne and his men entered the hospital disguised as ambulance drivers.

They wanted to kidnap the incapacitated Grimm – and auction him off.

However, they ran into Daredevil (Matt Murdock). DD’s senses ignored Mirage’s illusions, and promptly took down Charne and crew.

Mirage likely had a minor super-villain career from there, avoiding super-heroes. *Perhaps* he continued attacking marriages as it was low-risk. And out of bitterness that he never married Amy.

Scourged

During the mid-1980s, Scourge of the Underworld hitmen murdered a number of minor supervillains – often obscure has-beens. There eventually was an attempt at organising and striking back.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) fights Spider-Man 2/2

Mirage attended this meeting, held in an underworld “Bar With No Name”.

However, it had been infiltrated by a Scourge. The killer suddenly gunned down those present – including Desmond Charne.

Investigating, Captain America (Steve Rogers) soon used the Mirage costume. He pretended to be Charne, and laid a trap for the Scourge.

Post-mortem

The usual, really :

  • Glimpsed in an otherdimensional afterlife by the She-Hulk (Jennifer Walter), who was briefly clinically deceased.
  • Had tissues used by Arnim Zola to produce a weak clone – a “husk”. Zola’s husks were all slain by Deadpool.
  • Briefly appeared in alternate reality flashbacks.

History (part 2)

In 2009, the Hood (Parker Robbins) resurrected many of the Scourge of the Underworld victims, using Dormammu demon magic. He then ordered them to kill the Punisher (Frank Castle), falsely telling them that Castle had been the Scourge.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) henchmen tackle Spider-Man

Through some of the deadliest resurrectees soon splintered off, Mirage stuck with the bulk of the group.

He attempted to gain ascendance over those jobbers lower in the pecking order. But he ran into strong competition, as both Letha (Hellen Feliciano) and Lascivious (Davida DeVito) now had emotion control powers.

Though the pair gained control, they still went with Mirage’s plan. Presumably, nobody had a better idea to offer.

The ploy was to use Mirage’s illusions powers to disguise themselves as the Avengers, and confront the Punisher as such.

Assemble !

However, most of the resurrectees had issues adapting to the time lapse. Mirage therefore unthinkingly went with the Avengers’ look and roster as they existed when he died.

(The Deadly Dozen are specifically stated to have died during the 1980s. Sliding time, schleifing time.)

Immediately realising that it was a trick, the Punisher had no issue fighting back with lethal force – and markedly superior tactics.

With Mirage’s credibility shot, other resurrectees took over.

Dead again

Charne continued to work for the Hood, along with most of his fellow Deadly Dozen resurrectees.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) resurrected with other Scourge undeads

But the Punisher found him again at a porn shop, and was unimpressed by Mirage’s illusion of being Venom.

However, before Charne could talk, he was shot in the back of the head by assassin Tanya Adrian.

His helmet protected him, but he very nearly died – and spent three months in a coma.

Shaken

The experience left Mr. Charne shaken, depressed and feeling like a non-entity. He started attending Super Villains Anonymous meetings, in an effort to put his past behind him.

This didn’t hold. In 2011 or 2012, Mirage and Death Adder (Roland Burroughs) henched for a bit for the Owl (Leland Owlsley).

During that span, Charne contacted senior journalist Joe Robertson. He became a source about the happenings in New York City’s super-underworld.

His actual goal was to get an opinion column – a feature where an active super-villain would share his point of view. But Robertson wasn’t really interested. And the Owl fired Charne for a while, suspecting that he was a press informant.

Sinister Sixteen

In 2014, he joined a small army of super-criminals working for the Owl (Leland Owlsley), the “Sinister 16”.

Mirage (Marvel Comics) self-cloning power superior foes

(These events take place in the The Superior Foes of Spider-Man LS. I’m never quite certain it’s in continuity – many details are off.)

The 16 were led in the field by Boomerang (Fred Myers). Mirage wrongly thought that Boomerang, who vaguely pretended to be reformed, would keep things reasonable and controlled.

Yeah, right

During a raid against a rival mob, Mirage was briefly captured and impersonated by the Chameleon (Dmitri Serdyakov).

But this was part of the secret plot planned along with Boomerang. The captured Mirage was a solid hologram ; the real Mirage was getting away with the main loot.

In exchange, Boomerang promised he would have Mirage join his Sinister Six team. Which Charne considered to be the big time.

However, the Chameleon captured Mirage while disguised as an EMT at the scene. Charne then went through another round of interrogation when the Chameleon unexpectedly allied with the Owl. But he never mentioned his secret alliance with Boomerang.

However, Myers was always planning to betray Charne. After getting the loot, he casually and unexpectedly pushed him off a roof. Mirage fell to his death.


History (part 3)

In 2016, the Jackal (Ben Reilly) built the New U corporation. This complex project involved using Miles Warren’s cloning technology for medical purposes.

Behind the altruistic, lives-saving façade, the unstable Reilly’s project got weird. In particular, he “resurrected” deceased Spider-foes and allies using cloning and memories transfer. So that nobody had ever died on Spider-Man’s watch.

Mirage was among them. Well, a clone of Mirage. Likely a separate “fork ” arcing back to his 1986 death.

Sabotage

For a while, the reborn clones lived in secret on the New U compound in San Francisco. And had a lot of internecine brawls.

Unbeknownst to them, these “reanimates” were Guinea pigs in an effort to combat the clone degeneration that plagued the Warren tech.

However, a Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) reanimate turned against Reily. He accelerated clone degradation for all. But that also turned all clones into virulent, contagious disease carriers.

Mirage and the other reanimates perished. But Peter Parker and Dr. Anna Maria Marconi stopped the propagation of the disease in time.


History (part 4)

In 2018, Mirage was seen in Mephisto’s domain. Specifically an infernal casino that arose in Las Vegas.

Its presence was a side effect of Dr. Strange (Stephen Strange) magically repairing the city, and resurrecting those slain during a huge Hydra attack.

This spirit likely was the Desmond Charne slain by Boomerang in 2014. What he was doing there is unclear, since he had died in New York City. Presumably, he had gotten there from another section of Mephisto’s infernal realm.

Another possibility is :

  1. Charne didn’t die in 2014. It was a holoclone.
  2. He moved to Las Vegas, and was slain there during the battle.
  3. He was among those resurrected by Dr. Strange, but beelined for the hell casino as soon as he saw it.

A third hypothesis is : fnord .

In any case, it seems likely that Mirage was now back to life.

Later on

Mirage was soon seen at one of New York City’s Bar With No Name, socialising and having beers.

He continued to meet with Joe Robertson from time to time. But, as it became clear he’d never get his column in return for the information he was providing, he started souring on the journalist.

Grave matters

In 2021, Robertson insisted that they meet again. His son Randy had been seeing Janice Lincoln — a.k.a. Tombstone’s daughter, a.k.a. Beetle — and both youths had been kidnapped.

Charne didn’t want to provide info anymore. But Robertson had Tombstone interrogate him. Mirage pretended to yield, but he actually was working for the kidnappers – the mob led by Madame Masque (Giuletta Nefaria) and Crime-Master V.

The trap worked. However, Tombstone was unexpectedly backed by his daughter’s Syndicate underworld cadre (Electro (Francine Frye), Lady Octopus (Carolyn Trainer), Scorpia (Elaine Coll), Trapstr, White Rabbit (Lorina Dodson)).

One suspects that Mirage made himself scarce during the ensuing battle.


Description

His costume, as has often been remarked, looks memorably meh. Perhaps because it’s more of a canvas upon which to project disguises or invisibility.

Sometimes the part of his brow seems to be an opening, sometimes it’s coloured orange.


Personality

1976 Mirage tried hard to project a big time, dominant, confident, cunning, leading man trickster villain personality.

2009+ Mirage still tries to pretend he’s a sharp, manly, crafty master villain. That’s not credible. So he just keeps sinking into misogyny, resentment, loneliness and a pathetic craving for recognition and status.


Quotes

“That’s the *nature* of a mirage, wall-crawler… it’s never where it appears to be !”


DC Universe History

Mindboggler or Mirage (Kerry Astin) are good choices for rivals. Given Charne’s ego, he would see other illusionists as such.

Perhaps the two, complete with their own gangs and all, could have a showdown to see who is the best illusionist and criminal.

Otherwise, Mirage would likely be a late 1980s Blue Beetle villain.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Mirage (1976-1986)

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Robber
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Wealth: 004
Init: 014 HP: 035

Skills:
Gadgetry: 05, Martial Artist (EV): 05, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Stroke of Genius (Holographic projectors).

Connections:
Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Arrogance.

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [BODY 04, Damage capacity (Physical): 02, Invulnerability: 04, Enhance (RV): 01 (cap is 07), Limitations: Invulnerability and Enhance only protect the top and back of his skull].
  • HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTORS within the COSTUME [BODY 02, Illusion: 08, Invisibility: 05, Obscure: 12, Limitations: Obscure only to cloak his invisible form from Danger Sense and similar Powers, Limitations: Illusion can only :
    • Project a programmed illusion of clothing over a Mirage costume.
    • Project an image of the Mirage costume’s wearer, mirroring the actions of the wearer, within a 2 APs Range].
  • Tranq dart handgun [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 05, Range: 03, Ammo: 08, Limitations: Projectile weapons has No Range, use the listed Range instead ; Projectile weapons is always Bashing Combat].

The brute squad

The three thugs accompanying Mirage in 1976 seemed competent. They didn’t, as the French say, invent hot water. But they were strong, courageous and disciplined.

Use the stock beefy thugs stats, but add 5 Hero Points.


Design notes

For the COSTUME, I almost used the full helmet verbiage out of habit. But the body armour rules are intended for more realistic, equipment-oriented stories than the ones Mirage appears in. So I simplified.

The PROJECTORS are listed on a separate equipment line for ease of reading. But they should be listed as part of the COSTUME.

The Obscure because… well, it was weird that Spidey couldn’t simply sense the area the danger was from.


Mirage (2009-2014)

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Hireling
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 004
Init: 012 HP: 010

Skills:
Artist (Actor): 03, Gadgetry: 04, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 03

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Stroke of Genius (Holographic projectors).

Bonuses & Limitations:
Iron Nerves likely is limited to resisting Interrogation.

Connections:
Street (Low), Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Misogyny.

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [BODY 04, Invulnerability: 04, Enhance (RV): 01 (cap is 05), Limitations: Invulnerability and Enhance only protect the top and back of his skull].
  • HOLOGRAPHIC CLONE GENERATOR [BODY 02, Split: 02].

Design notes

His abilities — especially the “Multiple Man lite” thing that comes out of the left field and with plot holes — are hazy.

So, I just put some raw Split in there. The 02 being solely based on an explanatory, non-diegetic  panel where we see three of him. Otherwise, based on the stories, it’d be Split: 01.

Note that the Attributes AP loss could be a fine explanation for his degraded stats. It’s just a technical coincidence, of course, but it works if you want to use it.


Mirage (2021)

Stats *might* be a rough average between the 1970s one and the 2010s one. Possibly.

His new Illusion Power had at least 6 APs of Power, and could affect at least 18 APs of Volume. One assumes that the projected environment must be programmed, though.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci, George Miller.

Writeup completed on the 14th of August, 2021.