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Jack Kirby's Sonny Sumo (DC Comics) face closeup

Sonny Sumo


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

Context

Sonny Sumo is a minor but memorable part of Jack “the King” Kirby’s Fourth World mythology. He had a handful of appearances in Kirby’s short lived The Forever People comic, in 1971.

Unexpectedly, Grant Morrison would much rather use a version of Sonny Sumo in the 2008 Final Crisis epic


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Other Aliases: Super-Sumo-san ; the Banzai Express ; the most incredible man on Earth.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’8” Weight: 300 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Bald


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Powers and Abilities

Sonny Sumo is a real badass. Not only is he a world-class master of numerous fighting techniques, but he possesses vast superhuman strength and endurance. Sonny was seen ripping thick metal walls apart with his bare hands. Or rather his bare hand, since he was holding a Mother Box in the other.

His mastery of the martial extends to ancient, mysterious techniques of chi  focusing. Sumo can thus do things like temporarily closing his wounds through sheer will. Or demolishing heavy armour plates with his bare hands. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he has lots of Hero Points .

So yes, his Hero Points total is unusually high for a character with so few appearances. But when Jack “the King” Kirby keeps telling you that the character is the most incredible man on Earth and has enormous willpower, you say “yes Sir !” and amp the HPs.


History

In 1971, Sonny Sumo was in America with his agent, Harry Sharp. A match had been organised against Sagutai. Sagutai was a huge, armoured, incredibly fast and lethal combat robot with many hidden weapons. But it takes more than wounds to keep the Banzai Express down. While Sonny was seriously wounded, he soon reduced Sagutai into a heap of metal.

The gladiator retired to his room and requested medical help. But within, he found a strange object started emitting soothing pinging noises and thoughts. Intrigued, Sonny picked it up and it healed his wounds.


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A Mother Box needs help

The object, a Mother Box, had teleported to Sonny after the Forever People had been captured by DeSaad. The Box established a mind link with Sonny, asking for help. The noble warrior immediately agreed.

The Mother Box teleported Sumo to a nearby amusement park run by DeSaad. This place used illusions to have the customers unknowingly torture prisoners — including the Forever People. Following Mother Box’s telepathic instructions, the bald gladiator easily freed the People. Together, they defeated all parademons and forced DeSaad to flee.

However, Darkseid had come to visit his underling. He wanted to see the Forever People and their Mother Box. Darkseid used the Omega Effect to get rid of his opponents, but chose to banish them into the past rather than disintegrate them.

Love of the common people

Sonny Sumo was sent many hundreds of years in the past, in ancient Japan. There he became a wise man, an athlete, a fighter and a farmer. He had found an era befitting his temper and heroism. He lived among the poor, who loved him.

This folk hero handed over the Mother Box to a major temple. He told the priest that in the far future, the Forever People would come to reclaim the Box. This came true in 1972. The Forever People managed to return from their various chronal banishments, then tracked the Box to modern Japan.

Sonny Sumo died a happy man in ancient Japan. Unlike the Forever People, he had not sought to escape his banishment.

Sonny, thank you for the truth you’ve let me see

Another Sonny Sumo later took the original’s place on modern DC Earth. This man was a refugee from a parallel Earth which seemed darker, more corrupt, and more violent.

This man simply slipped into his counterpart’s life by pretending to be the original, returning from temporal banishment. He also had a sort of Mother Box, which in his world was called a Motherboxxx. This is likely how he had come to the DC Earth.

Sonny Sumo wills away his wounds

While broodier than his counterpart, this Sumo resumed the original’s career as a gladiator. He continued to develop the Sonny Sumo legend and being a highly-reputed celebrity in Japan. During the Final Crisis, he was recruited to help against Anti-Life by Shilo Norman, aka Mister Miracle.

With the help of the Super-Young Team, they joined forces with the resistance led by Checkmate. They thus fought against the forces of Darkseid.

During this fight Mr. Miracle realised that Sonny Sumo was not the original, and Sumo reluctantly explained the truth.


Description

Sonny is a mountain of muscles, bigger and taller than even Big Bear of the Forever People.

Though he’s called “Sumo” he’s not built like a sumotori, but rather like a pro wrestler.


Personality

Sonny openly sees himself as a great and noble warrior in a world that no longer has any room for those. He presents as a real samurai like those in the legends. And, well, that’s a fair description of him from what we’ve seen.

This being 1971, Sonny possesses Ancient Oriental Wisdom®. He has been known to speak in poetic, harmonious ways.

The Sonny Sumo of the 2000s was far broodier. He was more aggressive in presenting himself as a mercenary and showbiz person, wanting to convey that he wasn’t a hero.

Sonny Sumo drinks in a Japanese bar

He also made it sure that people understood that he was dangerous, a dreaded killer only kept in check by his greed, and not a good person.

However, in a crisis it became clear that Sonny was the same sort of person than the pre-Crisis Sonny Sumo. His life experience on a darker, grimmer world had influenced his attitude but not his spirit. Once the faeces intersect with the ventilator, Sumo-San is a heroic, indomitable fighter defending the common man against the forces of evil.


Quotes

“What is this I have fallen heir to ? I don’t remember seeing it in this room before ! […] But inside it, the ancient winds of trouble blow – calling out my name — for help !”

“A mission worthy of a samurai !”

(2008 Sonny Sumo, when challenged to a fight) “I fight for money. Talk to my manager — maybe you’ll get a chance to face me in the ring… where there are rules that prevent me from killing you. Take my advice, friend.”

(2008 Sonny Sumo, calling his agents) “You heard me right. Cancel my fight with Killotron tonight. I’m on a mission from the gods.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Sonny Sumo – the most incredible man on Earth !

Dex: 08 Str: 14 Bod: 08 Motivation: Noble warrior
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 09 Occupation: Gladiator
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 09 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 026 HP: 075

Skills:
Martial artist: 10, Weaponry (Melee): 10

Advantages:
Iron nerves, Language (Japanese), Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Japan), Schtick (Wounds Rejection), Misc.: Sonny Sumo holds a form of the Anti-Life Equation in his subconscious (see below).

Connections:
Harry Sharp (his agent – Low).

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance (large size and sumotori-like features).

Equipment:
Sonny Sumo has been known to fight with a long steel bar, which he uses as a bo staff [BODY 10, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 15), Descriptor: Bludgeoning]. No, it won’t last long since the BODY is too low for Sumo’s strength.

The 2000s Sonny Sumo has an expensive keitai .


Sonny Sumo — the Banzai Express !

Sonny can focus the power of the mind into a ritual which he calls “wound rejection”. When he concentrates on it (which usually involves kneeling and staring at the ground), all of his wounds are seemingly erased. Even badly burned skin will be repaired.

This is temporary, though. The wounds will eventually return and necessitate medical treatment.

In game terms, Sonny Sumo can perform a Desperation Recovery for but 10 HPs, no matter what the Genre. And while he’s seen concentrating, kneeling, etc. it somehow all amounts to one Automatic Action.


Mind over matter

There are various alternative approaches to model the wound rejections thing. And given the lack of data about what Sonny does exactly, they are all credible approaches. Such alternatives include:

  • Straight Mind over Matter.
  • Damage Transference with No Risk of Injury, No Time Limit, an additional Bonus that it’s Usable on Self, and Limitations that it’s not Usable on Others and that the APs healed eventually return.
  • Invulnerability or Regeneration with the Fatiguing limitation, but setting a time delay on Fatiguing damage.

During this discussion, further explanation was provided about the Desperation Recovery approach:
“My take is that DR, which can be performed by anybody with enough HPs, is not some sort of Regeneration-like ability repairing damaged tissue. Though I guess it could always be explained as ’it was not as bad as it looked‘.

“One just manages to ignore the wounds due to willpower, adrenaline, etc.. Which is coherent with the numerous examples of people in comics doing DR, then collapsing in pain and exhaustion when it’s safe to do so.”

“So IMO Sonny does textbook DR, which is shoving the RAPs away and going back into the fray, not a superhuman healing power. In his case it’s a bit confusing because it looks like superhuman healing. But at the end of the scene the healing doesn’t quite stick, so it’s the exact same thing as simply ignoring terrible wounds through sheer willpower.”


loneliness + alienation + fear + despair…

Like some other humans (such as “Million Dollars” Bates or the Pied Piper), Sonny Sumo unknowingly holds the formula of the Anti-Life Equation in his subconscious. Sufficiently advanced means of mind probing could read and transcribe the Equation from him.

Holding the formula also allows Sonny Sumo to communicate with and use Mother Boxes and Motherboxxxes (and presumably Father Boxes) without effort.

It seems that he Equation also allows Sonny to use a Mother Box’s Omni-Power without paying the usual HPs fee. That works as long as the intended effect has to do with the suppression of free will. The known examples have been Control, and Sleep.

When used, such Powers also had a free Bonus. Anybody who heard Sonny’s voice, even through electronic retransmission, was affected by the Power being emulated.


Design Notes

Note that the original Sumo-san’s appearance (his only one for 37 years) featured but a handful of facts to narrow down AP ranges. The bulk of the stats has to be speculative, and remains a bit conservative.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe / Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.

Helper(s): Vincent Bartilucci, Roy Cowan, Kal El el Vigilante.

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