Mister Abner Little
Mister Little first appeared in 1977, during Jack “the King” Kirby’s run on Black Panther. He’s a… very Kirby character.
As a collector of strange artefacts, he’s useful to have in role-playing games.
No, he likely won’t hire level 1 adventurers in a tavern for five gold pieces. But there are many ways super-heroes and super-mercenaries could be drawn in his business.
Mr. Little’s first name was likely picked as a reference to the 1934-1977 Lil’ Abner comic strip.
- Real Name: Abner Little.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: Occasionally allies with other Collectors (a.k.a. The Council of Antiquarians).
- Base of Operations: A network of hidden bases.
- Height: 3’9″ (1.14m). Weight: 60 lbs. (27 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
Powers & Abilities
Mister Little possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of History. His specialities are the history of strange artefacts, and the truth behind legends and myths. Say, whether King Solomon really existed.
He also seems to be fluent in many ancient, dead languages.
In a bad case of nominative determinism, Mister Little is afflicted with dwarfism. The bones of his legs are particularly short. Yet he’s not as slow as you’d expect when running.
To pay the bills
While this limits him physically, he still has field skills.
- He remains collected in a fight or crisis. However, this stamina will eventually run out.
- He is an excellent pilot with combat experience.
- He is a good shot with custom-made pistols.
- He has a good tactical mind.
- He’s particularly adept at map-reading.
- His small size makes it much easier to find cover.
- He’s a good planner.
Whereas other Collectors such as Princess Zanda rely on henchmen, Mister Little sees himself as more of an adventurer. But he still has an extensive network of informants, and can hire excellent specialists whenever needed.
De plane ! De plane !
Abner Little is immensely wealthy. This allows him to procure sophisticated bases and vehicles.
Mister Little only works with the best, most advanced equipment money can buy. And in the Marvel Universe, money gets you some incredible things.
His gear has included :
- A concealed armoured vest. Though any serious impact will knock the diminutive Little out, this thing seems impenetrable. He’ll thus not be actually wounded.
- A special eyepiece to examine exotic tech with.
- A robust helicopter with a supersonic jet mode (the acceleration occurs within maybe two seconds) and powerful missiles to destroy pursuers. It is customised so Mr. Little can operate its controls.
- A hidden volcano base, of course. It’s a must-have, the volcano base.
- A miniature dart pistol that injects “a chemical that diffuses the thought processes”.
- The multi-plane. This is roughly similar to the Boeing X-37 spaceplane . So it can rocket to low orbital heights, then cross continental distances at hypersonic speeds.
- A custom-made .38 revolver.
- In 1999, what *may* have been a S.H.I.E.L.D.-type plasma handgun.
History (part 1)
The mysterious, energetic figure of Mister Little is one of the Collectors. These billionaires are rivals in the rarefied scene of collecting rare, oft-magical ancient artefacts.
The Collectors do not pussyfoot around. They’ll routinely deploy mercenaries, war vehicles, heavy weaponry and the like to get their McGuffin.
This is a killing business, and they’re rich enough to be above the law. Only possession counts.
Contemporary Collectors included :
- Count Zorba, the scion of ancient aristocracy.
- Princess Zanda of Narobia, wealthy from its diamond mines.
- Colonel Pigman, who seemed British.
- Silas Mourner, a very old man with an equally old hat.
The tale of the panther and the frog
In 1977, Mr. Little wrote to the Black Panther (King T’Challa) to request assistance.
He sounded like a lunatic blabbering about King Solomon. Howbeit, Little had previously worked with T’Challa’s respected grandfather, Azzari the Wise. The Panther thus agreed to help.
He and Little soon were swept in amazing perils as the collector tried to confiscate a Brass Frog of King Solomon. He deemed it too dangerous for anyone else to possess.
The pair was :
- Bushwhacked by rival collector Princess Zanda.
- Able to invade the well-defended Tomb of King Solomon. Even against an Ogar.
- Able to use the Brass Frogs to banish the Six-Million Year Man back to the future.
- Saved by using the Flame Chariot to rush out of the tomb in the nick of time.
Somebody bring me some water
Mister Little then formed an unlikely alliance with other Collectors. The legendary Samurai City had been located. Princess Zanda forced the Black Panther to accompany Little in the field.
Her plan worked. The Panther’s skills, honour and charisma made it possible to get in, then out, alive.
However, Mister Little cracked. He tried to steal some water of immortality. This made things well harder, and what he stole was eventually lost anyway.
T’Challa was furious at the Collectors — including Little — for being untrammelled cocksplats. He left as soon as he could.
Something to evoke 1977… Sure, there was Randy Newman’s hit Short people but heh, not a fan.
Let’s go with some Fleetwood Mac instead. They and Star Wars are the two most 1977 things. And through an effort of will, I shall not pick The Chain again.
History (part 2)
At some point, the Collectors renamed themselves the “Council of Antiquarians”. They also became more willing to work together.
In 1999, Mr. Little sought to hire Tony Stark for a recovery project. Though Stark turned him down, Little did obtain his services. He bought a museum as his front, tricking Stark into accepting.
Little’s teams had been uncovering the Temple of Balthakk, in Nunavut . The archaeologists had correctly deduced it was where the mystical Brazier of Balthakk was kept. They even noted linguistic similarities with the Temple of Cyttorak, in Korea.
The dig was attacked by Count Zorba and Princess Zanda. Howbeit, Iron Man’s presence forced them to immediately abandon the direct approach.
Everything went south when contractor Sam McGee became Inferno, the Avatar of Balthakk. As other avatars of the Octessence rose, even the Avengers found themselves outgunned.
Furthermore, Count Zorba became the avatar of Farallah, as Carnivore.
Whether Mister Little could get anything out of the Temple of Balthakk after this disaster is unrevealed.
Happy Pants hour
In 2002, a retro future version of the Black Panther (T’Challa) was active. It’s complicated.
This version, nicknamed the “happy pants” Black Panther, hired Mister Little. The job was to find the deposed, exiled Princess Zanda. Then all three could team up to again locate the Brass Frogs of King Solomon.
Panther also brought along his buddies Nightshade (Tilda Johnson) and Everett K. Ross of the US State Dept. .
Full tilt frogs
This odd crew stormed Kiber Island. The Panther’s link to the Frogs led to a battle with echoes of past enemies – Kiber the Cruel and his men, the Six-Million Year Man, the “grim and silent warrior”, etc..
But they secured one of the two Frogs. Examining it, Mister Little pieced together how they now worked.
The Black Panther engaged in a (figurative) game of five-dimensional chess to defeat the intelligence conspiracy Xcon. These had used the Frogs to replace the POTUS and the Canadian PM with catspaws.
T’Challa worked with Wolverine (James Howlett) and Alpha Flight to secure Jean Chrétien . Meanwhile Junta and Queen Divine Justice assisted Bill Clinton .
Mr. Little used his superior knowledge of the Frogs to banish Xcon’s impostors. However, he was detained for a time by US intelligence.
Stray cat strut
In 2012, the Council of Antiquarians hired Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) to steal a Satan Claw.
The prize was of little interest – what they wanted was to assess her skills. The Council even alerted the security while she was in mid-job. But the Cat nevertheless did impeccable work.
The Council needed the best expert. They suspected that there existed a third Frog within the African micronation of Z’gambo. Though the mission was successful, the Council was then apparently murdered by the Prince of Orphans (John Aman).
(As Gareth noted in our Prince of Orphans profile, the continuity in this story is… strange. We’re not sure of how to reconcile it with the Marvel Universe. Furthermore, most of the Council members didn’t look like themselves.)
I’ve assumed vitals between those of actors Hervé Villechaize and Kenny Baker. Mister Little appeared the same month as Tattoo, Villechaize’s famous Fantasy Island character. And four months before Baker puppeting R2D2 from within.
Mister Little hates not being dressed up. He’ll always wear a suit, a tie, a monocle and a hat.
In difficult weather, he’ll reluctantly switch to specially-made jumpsuits. For, say, insulation against cold.
Mister Little is something of a stand-in for Jack-Kirby-the-storyteller. He’s remarkably energetic, intense and dramatic. Everything is urgent, everything is cosmic, everything is a matter of life and death, everything is full of mythic wonders and secrets and menaces go go go go !!!
Abner Little is also noted for his over-the-top, articulate, c’mon-you-just-made-that-up astronomically-themed exclamations. See the quotes for numerous examples.
He’s usually articulate and collected. However, the longer he’s in the field and subjected to pain, cold, fatigue… the whinier and more irresponsible he gets.
Nine tenth of the law
Mister Little would like to be a responsible, high-minded adventurer.
But like the other Collectors he has a fever, and no cowbell will ever suffice. He *must* own all the cool, rare, exceptional secret things. With an intensity a temperamental six-month old would envy.
Yes, this belongs to a museum. *His private* museum.
If he’s sufficiently stressed and tired, Mister Little will take stupid, irrational action to get his hands on the McGuffin. He struts around like a pro and has genuine skills, but he can only walk the walk for so long.
It’s a good thing he’s so well-equipped and can strike alliances with powerful parties. Otherwise he’d have died a long time ago.
During the 2000s, Mister Little switched his improbable exclamations from an astronomical theme to a zoological theme.
He’s a fan of veteran talk show host Sally Jesse Raphael (Sally Lowenthal). He probably has been following her since the early 1980s.
When not written by Kirby (or Priest doing a Kirby homage), Little is more underhanded and more pedestrian. He’s more like an obsessive, eccentric billionaire.
He tends to call younger people “jackanapes” if they displease him. Which they usually do.
“By all the devils in the pit ! We’ve been joined by some infamous company !”
“Stars and comets !”
“There is *nothing* that Mister Little is not prepared for ! We need speed for this job ! And I’ve got it ! Behind this steel door is the one vehicle that can get us to the area where the time-unit we seek is buried ! Behold, my fellow adventurers — the Multi-Plane ! A supersonic wonder !”
“A disintegrator !! Great galaxies !!”
“No ! I’m never wrong ! It is imperative that we maintain this *precise* altitude ! I know that it seems suicidal ! But steel your nerves to this task !”
“Sizzling meteors !”
“Solar storms and fires ! We’ve found the crypt ! It’s King Solomon’s tomb ! With its display of wonders !”
“Flashing comets ! This was too close for comfort !”
Samurai: “So you know that we have survived the centuries !”
Mister Little: “Yes ! We KNOW ! We also know that the samurai code forbids the slaying of unarmed opponents !”
“Moaning mesochruastic mastodons, you’re slow !”
“Suffering snake-bitten sasquatches !”
Mr. Little: “Pedantic posturing pelicans, boy ! Enough of your foolishness — we’ve got a job to do !”
E.K. Ross: “Have you… considered therapy ?”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
I feel it’d be best to hook him back to Kirby’s DC material such as the Challengers of the Unknown, or the Fourth World material.
Preferred approaches include having him hire Big Barda as a bodyguard, or team up with a time-displaced OMAC (Buddy Blank).
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 02||Str: 01||Bod: 02|
|Int: 05||Wil: 06||Min: 03|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 04|
|Init: 010||HP: 020|
Acrobatics (Dodging): 03, Evasion (Ranged): 04, Gadgetry (Identify gadget): 04, Military science (Cartography): 05, Occultism (Identify artefact, Occult lore): 04, Thief (Concealment): 03, Vehicles (SEAL): 05, Weaponry (Firearms, exotic): 05
Expertise (The Brass Frogs of King Solomon), Languages (A number of dead languages), Scholar (World history having to do with artefacts).
Dr. “Java” Mann (a brilliant archaeologist, Low), the Council of Antiquarians (Low at best). His informants network amounts to Street (Low), Underworld (Low), Mercenaries (Low), Intelligence world (Low), Business world (Low).
Creepy Appearance, MIA toward Collecting artefacts, MPR (Dwarfism), Misc.: body mass is 1 AP.
- CONCEALED VEST [BODY 06, Enhance (Kinetic and Energy RV): 03 (cap is 08), Invulnerability: 05, Limitations: Coverage is Long Coat, Invulnerability rolls take two minutes]. The Coverage would normally be “vest”, but Mr. Little has tiny limbs.
- Eye-piece [BODY 02, Microscopic vision: 05, Thermal vision: 01, Ultra-vision: 01, X-Ray vision: 04]. A multi-mode tool to closely examine objects. It’s larger than a typical jeweller’s eyepiece.
- Holdout dart pistol [BODY 02, Numb: 18, Ammo: 06, Miniaturisation: 02, Range: 01, R#2, Limitation: Numb has no Range, use the listed Range instead. While Numb rolls RAPs normally, these are applied against DEX -> INT -> WIL. Numb can be resisted by Systemic Antidote.]
- Custom revolver [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 06, Long Reload].
- 2 APs ABCD Omni-Gadget. Mister Little is ready for anything, you see.
- JET COPTER [STR 07 BODY 08, Flight: 07, Radar sense: 19, R#2] w/AFTERBURNER [Flight: 11. There presumably is an hour or so of fuel for it] w/MISSILES [BODY 02, EV 15 (Area of effect 1 AP), Range: 08, R#03, Grenade drawback, Limitation : Low resolution]. This represents a pair of missiles fired from the back of the helo.
- MULTI-PLANE [STR 08 BODY 09, Flight: 19, Radar sense: 25]. One suspects this thing requires horrendous amounts maintenance after every flight.
Amusingly, the jet copter was still operational in 2002.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Helper(s): Morgan Champion.
Writeup completed on the 19th of December, 2019.