DC Comics’ Nekron is a major Green Lantern villain. He’s an ancient, cosmic lord of the undead (and thus my boss, I guess) and master of the Black Lantern corps.
However, we are going to discuss the *other* Nekron here.
Look, that happens.
DC’s original, lesser-known Nekron only appeared in one Justice League of America story, back in 1976. He’s a space alien, and he certainly is a JLA-level opponent.
- Real Name: Unrevealed, possibly Nekron.
- Other Aliases: The Fear Parasite.
- Marital Status: Unrevealed, seemingly single (if even applicable).
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: See below. Weight: See below.
- Eyes: Unrevealed. Hair: N.A..
Powers & Abilities
The space alien Nekron feeds off fear, and is harmed by the presence of courage. He derives the most nourishment from what he calls “d-fear”, a fear of imminent death.
Though the presence of courage is painful, it doesn’t seem immediately threatening either. For all we know the pain isn’t that severe, and it’s just that Nekron is unused to/hates being in pain.
He could overdose on sufficiently intense fear of death from a sufficiently powerful mind. But Nekron’s own equipment will not produce such a dangerous degree of fear. And a “sufficiently powerful mind” was the pre-Crisis Superman — the Man of Tomorrow.
It’s a gas gas gas
His main weapon is a sphere that shoots a stream or cloud of gas. This smoke can induce a vision of death into a target’s mind, provided that they are currently facing danger. The person will have a flash vision of themselves dying from the nearby peril.
This is 100% realistic, and exceptionally shocking. Even the greatest super-heroes could be completely demoralised by this, giving up on the never-ending battle. They became mired in selfish self-preservation, and refused to take any risk.
This can be countered by external events and influence… for a time. Mind/emotion control from a third party could also override this fear as if this were a normal feeling.
The effects did vanish when Nekron was defeated, though.
The jet of gas is extremely fast and precise. And it is easily missed in the confusion of a super-battlefield.
Lord of fear
Nekron’s normal form is insect-sized. The Atom (Ray Palmer) could trap Nekron by shoving the eye of a needle onto him, as a mancatcher.
When fed, Nekron is a huge, vaguely draconic (but wingless) creature. It has superhuman reflexes, and can engage even the fastest and most accurate heroes. He also has “Class 100” strength, seeming stronger than contemporary Wonder Woman.
And this isn’t his peak potential. When he overdosed on fear, Nekron briefly became 20 metres tall or so.
How long it takes for Nekron to reach his 1976 size and might is unknown. But it likely takes decades — if not millenia — and feeding off the genocide of entire planets.
Apparently, feeding off superhumans is dramatically more effective than feeding on normal persons. There’s also a strong implication that Nekron had never encountered superhumans before, so his home dimension may have none.
(However, in a Silver Age DC Universe, “super” can also mean “Kryptonian-class ”. Which sense is used in this story isn’t 100% clear. One also wonders why he had such powerful weapons if he never encountered superhumans. Speaking of weapons…)
Bring a gun
Nekron also uses particularly powerful armament :
- A starfighter which *may* be capable of intergalactic travel. It also has a space video phone, and many sensors so he could observe Earth. It could be remotely-controlled, with Nekron riding atop like a surfer. There also were turrets/mounting points for his gas-projecting sphere, and for the blaster below.
- Some sort of space insta-translator, presumably.
- A blaster firing a huge, cliff-shattering beam.
- A transmutation beam, which could turn rock into gold.
- A device on his belt shooting a beam capable of knocking Superman out for a while. It likely has limited ammunition and range, otherwise Nekron wouldn’t carry a blaster.
- A concealed pistol shooting a Kryptonite ray. It was a last-resort weapon, likely with limited ammunition and range.
- A huge red security robot, though the JLA made short work of it. But it seemed to have Kryptonite eyebeams, presumably with the same limitations as the concealed pistol.
- Tech that could make the Sun shoot a solar flare long enough to hit a spot on Earth, and reportedly destroy a large city. Though it was drawn more like a fiery comet, then a mile-long tongue of fire.
More about that flare
This “solar prominence” thing was… odd. Nekron could make it immaterial or material at will. It also was markedly cooler than expected, and was stopped by a huge waterspout.
All in all, this suggests that it was just a garden-variety cloud of solar plasma. And thus more about inspiring fear than actually being able to nuke millions.
On the other space appendage, the Guardians of the Universe asserted that Nekron had destroyed entire planets before. So his ship might have complex systems for solar flare control, from quasi-gaseous terror weapon to mega-temperature planet-killer.
He seems more powerful than others of his species. Or perhaps they all killed each other to feed off their fear, leaving Nekron the last survivor.
He went on to ravage entire planets to feed off their fear, accumulating weapons on his way.
He eventually invaded the DC Universe, and from there eventually reached the Milky Way galaxy.
But we only have 48 hours to save the Earth !
In 1976, Nekron covertly struck at the Justice League.
Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Black Canary (Dinah Drake-Lance), Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Elongated Man all experienced a vision of their death during a random fight. This forced them to retreat and completely demoralised them.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) resisted Nekron’s power. But the alien knew of GL’s not-so-secret weaknesses. He took Jordan out by transmuting collapsing stone into gold, burying him before he could finish recharging his ring.
However, Wonder Woman (Diana of Themyscira) had just rejoined the team. Nekron didn’t know about her, as she had been away during his observation period.
She rallied them to save tourists, even though the reluctant and avoidant JLA were outmatched. Still, Nekron did retreat, as what remained of the Leaguers’ courage was sufficient to hurt him.
The alien then located the Flash (Barry Allen). He also subjected the speedster to a death vision while Allen fought Captain Cold.
Midway City must die !
Back in his ship, Nekron launched a solar flare at Midway City. He warned Hawkman in particular not to stop it, under pain of death.
As the bulk of the Justice League still refused to face danger, Wonder Woman had to use her magic lasso to compel the Winged Wonder.
That didn’t suffice. But the Red Tornado then disguised himself as Hawkman, and sacrificed himself to stop the flare. His heroic sacrifice remotivated the JLA, and under Wonder Woman’s leadership they came up with a plan.
One part of it was sending Superman and the Flash to recover Green Lantern and his battery. Though Nekron had left a robot guard behind, the three heroes overcame it.
Paris must die !
The other leg of the plan had WW and the rest confront Nekron in Paris. The Leaguers linked using Wonder Woman’s lasso, allowing them to ignore Nekron’s gas. In the fray, Green Arrow and Batman made trick shots, taking away Nekron’s weapons belt.
The third and last part of the plan then came together. Green Lantern’s ring was used to amplify Aquaman (Arthur Curry)’s telepathy. Superman subjected himself to this hypnosis to experience an abject fear of death.
Black Canary then used the satellite’s teleporter to snatch Nekron, bringing him aboard.
Weakened and disoriented by having been subjected to so much courage, Nekron craved feeding off Superman’s fear. He shot his hidden Kryptonite gun at Supes, further amplifying the Man of Tomorrow’s fear of death.
But this proved too much for Nekron. He overdosed, losing all of his power and size and becoming comatose.
The Atom then stored the tiny Nekron into suspended animation to keep him imprisoned. And that’s all she wrote.
At full size, Nekron seems to be about 3.5m tall. However, this is because he’s hunched forward, sometimes using his hands as extra feet. Were he to stand like most Humans, he’d likely be twice that height.
As often in comics, his apparent bulk varies. Though it is possible he was slightly increasing in size as the story progressed.
Nekron is making big time cosmic menace speeches, with a thunderous but halting voice.
He doesn’t seem to have any sense of dissimulation or misdirection. What he states is always completely true, and he will openly rant about how he feeds on fear, how courage weakens him, or anything that’s on his mind.
Said mind is a one-track model. Nearly everything he says, does or thinks is about feeding and d-fear.
It is difficult to interpret the bit with the “solar prominence”. Nekron states that only Hawkman can stop it, but at the cost of his life. Maybe the device is magical, and needs to be given rules like that to function. Or maybe Nekron *cannot* lie. In this hypothesis, he made that threat for terror purposes, and once Hawkman showed up Nekron couldn’t renege.
“LOOK — ON — ME — TERRAN ! KNOW — THE — FEARSOME — POWER — THAT — IS — NEKRON ! LORD — OF — FEAR !”
“BEING — EMANATES — GREATER — COURAGE — THAN — ANY — NEKRON — HAS — YET — ENCOUNTERED ! MUST — BE — ELIMINATED !”
“FALL — TO — YOUR — DEATHS — TERRANS ! AND — SHRIEK — IN — THE — EXQUISITE — TERROR — THAT — FEEDS — NEKRON !”
DC Universe History
Nekron was never seen again.
It is thus possible that he never existed — or at least never reached the DC Universe — in the post-Crisis continuities. Out of universe, that would also make sense, to avoid confusion with the more famous Nekron.
OTOH, between the name and the thematic ties with the Yellow Lanterns, there’s likely something that could be done. Perhaps he’s an Ochre Lantern from a parallel universe where the dimensional spectrum is different.
Marvel Universe History
Nekron is reminiscent of the Fear Eaters .
In fact he could be Kkallakku’s brother or some such. Perhaps the Ancient One banished him to a small dimension, from which he eventually escaped to invade the DCU.
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 12||Str: 21||Bod: 16||Motivation: Power|
|Int: 10||Wil: 10||Min: 02||Occupation: Genocidal conqueror|
|Inf: 08||Aur: 06||Spi: 02||Wealth: 018|
|Init: 036||HP: 025|
Enhanced initiative: 06, Growth: 08, Life sense: 03
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Growth is considered Always On and Already Factored In.
- Life Sense is Discerning in its ability to sense fear and courage.
Vehicles (Space): 05, Weaponry (Firearms, exotic)*: 12
Area Knowledge (DC Universe, his home dimension), Familiarity (Green Lantern Corps, JLA, and perhaps other major potential opponents).
MIF of being exposed to courage for too long, SID of lying.
- ONE-CREATURE STARSHIP [STR 10 BODY 12, Dimension travel (Travel): 04, Flight: 40, Life Support (Full), Radio communications: 22, Remote sensing: 22]. The STARSHIP likely has protective Powers (Nekron didn’t hesitate to risk it in battle), is implied to be bigger on the inside than the outside, and likely has further sensory powers.
- TRANSLATOR [Comprehend languages: 22]. This hypothetical device likely was concealed within one of his hidden body pouches.
- Blaster [BODY 06, Energy blast: 15, Ammo: 12].
- Transmuter beam [BODY 06, Transmutation: 08, Ammo: 06. One suspects that Transmutation can only turn unliving solids into unliving solids.]
- Belt beam [BODY 04, Energy blast: 25, Range: 04, Ammo: 03, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
- Concealed Kryptonite pistol [BODY 02, Energy blast: 05, Ammo: 04, Bonus: the energy is Kryptonite-based].
- Guard robot [DEX 12 STR 12 BODY 13, Snare (No Range): 25, Stretching: 02]. Snare represents the robot’s pincers. The robot apparently had an equivalent of the Concealed Kryptonite Pistol built-in into its head, but only could use it once Superman was held in a pincer. It technically had Growth, but its spindly construction meant it had no game effect.
Gas dispenser [BODY 16, Broadcast Empath: 16, Fog: 04, Range: 06, Bonus: Broadcast Empath is its own AV, Limitation: Broadcast Empath is limited to a specific form of fear of death, Broadcast Empath has no Range (but can use the listed Range)].
If Broadcast Empath earns RAPs, it launches a Power Loss Subplot, whose duration isn’t limited by RAPs. During these Subplot, Hero Points expenditures are quadrupled (e.g., it takes a full four Hero Points to have the impact one Hero Point would normally have). More about that –and other possible P&L — in the notes.
This is a pre-Crisis character on a post-Crisis scale.
We’re also assuming a DEX of 10 for Superman.
See the FAQs for these sorts of things.
The stats are also for his 1976 state. Since there’s no information, I’m not trying to model his growth/empowerment process. His “base” form seemed to have Shrinking: 13 or so, if you want to invent a function.
His Wealth is also entirely arbitrary. And the SID is very tentative.
Moar Design Notes
No Appearance Drawback – it just doesn’t matter in his case.
I had the vague sense that feeding off fear made him nigh-immortal. But this is poorly supported so it’s not in the stats.
Mostly, it can’t have been quick to destroy vast populations in his own dimension. But then again, maybe his dimension is tiny and he “only” killed thousands. Who knows.
No stats for the solar flare thing, since it… didn’t really make sense.
The one over Midway was blocked by the Red Tornado who, as per Mayfair stats, was using about 13 APs of Air Control to control his waterspout. However he likely spent the max amount of HPs when doing that.
In this story, Nekron’s fear effect affects some characters but not some others. When modelling this, we have two options :
- Consider that the persons affected got bad rolls, and the unaffected persons got good rolls.
- Consider that there’s a reason the unaffected person were unaffected. Which means that, if the same attack took place on the same persons, similar results would likely ensue as to whom resists.
The first approach is the simplest, and the one that requires the least amount of iffy material. So it’s the one used here.
If you prefer the second, then the unaffected characters (Diana of Themyscira and Hal Jordan) had a specific quality. So you could assume something along the lines of :
- The Power Ring Skill adds to the OV against Nekron’s gas.
- Divinely infused people (like Diana) get a +2CS OV/RV against Nekron’s gas.
- It seems likely that androids such as the Red Tornado are even more resistant toward it.
The Power Ring thing could be considered in any cases. Since the Guardians of the Universe were confident that Nekron couldn’t possibly affect a Green Lantern.
But of course, if it had worked, they simply would have gone “NO ! This is impossible !”. So this doesn’t necessarily mean much. 😺
Another alternative, since it’s a Subplot, is to consider that some Players can opt to disengage from it. If using that approach, then Nekron’s fear power doesn’t need any APs. It automatically works, or fails, as a Subplot.
Fear is the mind killer
DC Heroes’ Broadcast Empath Power doesn’t describe the mechanical impact of forced emotional states.
If a specific sort of gameplay impact is sought, it is often possible to use another Power instead, perhaps Combined. Such as a modified Flash. But not always. Here is one such case, where we have to be a bit creative.
The core effect being sought is to lock people out of using their Hero Points. Beyond simply role-playing demoralisation, it provides a strong mechanical incentive to act in a much less heroic, far more avoidant manner.
It also means that Nekron doesn’t have to have *tremendous* AP levels to take down Superman.
I shall (not) be that hero !
Now, there’s no mechanic for HP manipulation. But there’s a mechanic about HPs, namely Subplots. Here :
- It emphasises the temporary nature of the target’s condition for the player (though the characters do not know that). Especially if “pulling the plug” is possible. I encourage to always keep this option available, though the Player should have a credible explanation as to why Nekron’s power doesn’t affect their Character.
- It encourages role-playing the effects to the hilt, with a reward and a familiar framework.
- It balances things out with HP rewards. During the Nekron adventure the heroes were particularly impotent, but overcoming this makes them more formidable in the end.
I like “Hero Points expenses are shifted n Genres to the left/right” mechanics when it comes to manipulating HP expenditures. It reuses the core Column Shift mechanic, so it has strong DCH-ness to it. But here, I’m using a multiplier instead.
This is because the Genre Table wasn’t design with Column Shifts in mind. It works, but it can run into complications such as custom Genres. This isn’t normally a big deal, but here the effect is very strong and could magnify these issues. So a multiplier is safer.
Pain and suffering hit you for 22 damage
The pain from being exposed to courage apparently weakened Nekron. It’s nebulous, and impossible to quantify.
But since we’re already quantifying demoralisation using Hero Points, the same could be done for Nekron’s weakness. Facing sufficiently courageous and powerful opposition forces Nekron to spend HPs, which he normally never has to do. Thus making his weaker and concerned about his survival.
His low MIN and SPI score also reflect his worries whenever faced with vaguely effective opposition. Which also means that even modest telepathic, magical, etc. means of making him afraid would likely defeat him. That’s the sort of things that happens in Silver Age comics.
Likewise we only see him overdosing once, and near-fatally. Since we’re dealing with 1970s Superman, we’re likely dealing with a mind whose “power” is around 21 APs. Using Mayfair’s writeup that’s his WILL score, though writeups.org would likely use those APs as his MIN score – pick your poison.
Source of Character: Justice League of America Vol. 1 #128-129.
Writeup completed on the 28th of October, 2019.