James Buchanan Barnes (Bucky)

Captain America: The First AvengerFor the main character of Captain America: The Winter Soldier we’ll spend two different pages, like we did with Chris Genovese/D’Amico for Kick-AssSebastian Stan will return in the movie as James “Bucky” BarnesSteve Rogers‘ best friend from the times of the war. In Captain America: The First Avenger Bucky acted as some sort of big brother to Steve, protecting him from bullies; he then became a hero during the war, was kidnapped by Nazis, and freed by his friend, who had become Captain America. He then apparently dies during a mission. His file is seen in The Avengers, but, oddly enough, he’s reported as “Missing In Action”, maybe implying that S.H.I.E.L.D. knows he’s still alive… Anyway, in the comics Bucky has never acted as Steve Rogers’ big brother, quite the opposite, considering that he appears much younger in his first issues, in a relationship similar to the Batman & Robin one. Let’s see together.

Surely James Buchanan Barnes was born in a patriotic family: named after the 15th President of the United States of America, he was the son of private George M. Barnes, soldier in the US Army, and his wife Winifred, nurse. Born in 1925 in ShelbybilleIndiana, he soon became an orphan: Winifred died of some illness when he was still a child, and George was killed in a parachuting incident in Camp Lehigh while training (thus starting in the boy a paralizing fear of heights). Rebecca, his younger sister, was sent to boarding school, but young James, already just as a patriot as his father was, managed to convince the officers of Camp Lehigh to let him stay there as a ward of the state. Only twelve years old, he soon buckycomics1became the mascot of the other soldiers, but, when he was sixteen, he had become some sort of a delinquent, often starting brawls in the camp. Major Samson decided to have some discipline taught to the boy, and sent him to Britain, where he was trained by William Essart Fairbairn and Colonel Rex Applegate to become a perfect, capable and reliable soldier. Back to the US, Barnes met a young and naive private, Steve Rogers, and he befriended him. One night, entering Rogers’ tent, James found him changing into his masked identity, Captain America, the hero the boy had been reading about on newspapers since his first appearance. Swearing to keep his secret, James accompanied Captain America in his first mission against the Red Skull, a Nazi mastermind, and freed many war prisoners with the hero. James decided to become Steve’s sidekick, and underwent an intensive training to be worthy of the position. When he was ready, he asked permission to the officers in charge, who saw in him the perfect American response to the Nazi Hitler Youth: James would have soon been known in the entire world as Bucky, Captain America’s brave sidekick.

Actually, it was later revealed that all the incidental stumbling upon Rogers and his secret identity was part of a plan conceived by Samson and some other officers to fool both the public opinion and Captain America with a friendly origin story for their agent. Bucky was meant to be Cap’s sidekick not only to present a true American boy to the Germans, but also to accomplish the missions too morally questionable to be assigned to a living symbol like Captain America. In a way or the other, Bucky and Cap became true friends while fighting the Nazis all over the world, and they faced many fearful villains, such as Master Man, the assassin Rathcone, scientist Arnim Zola and many others. The duo became part of the American super team known as The Invaders, and Bucky alone founded the Sentinels buckycomics2of Liberty, a fan club for endorsing patriotism and supporting the American policy during the war; the military saw potential in the Sentinels and turned them into the Young Allies, a group formed by the young sidekicks of the greatest American superheroes (the teenager team also succeeded where the adults failed, and beat the crap out of Adolf HitlerBenito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo while they were on a reunion all together). Fighting at the side of heroes such as the Human TorchSub-MarinerNick Fury and the Howling Commandos, Bucky grew up quite fast, and the secret missions he received from the high ranks accelerated the process. In the last days of the war, when Bucky was by now a war hero who dreamt about becoming rich and famous once peace came back, Baron Zemo launched a final attack to the Allies, during which his Humanoid defeated and abducted both Cap and Bucky. The two woke up on a secret island, with the Baron using an experimental drone he had stolen to attack America: the two heroes freed themselves, and got on a plane trying to stop the drone from reaching New York City. Despite his fear of heights, Bucky jumped on the drone, trying to disarm the bomb on it, and Cap followed him: time wasn’t on their side, and they only managed to change the bomb’s course. Bucky threw his friend and comrade off the drone, into the Arctic Sea below, but wasn’t unable to jump himself since his arm was trapped into the drone’s mechanism. The bomb exploded, and Bucky was believed to have died a hero’s death.

James Barnes is a teenager who’s been forced to grow up much sooner than normal, by personal tragedies, by war, by his superior officers’ schemes. He only found real friendship with Captain America, who’s become his mentor and the older brother he never had. An extremely proficient soldier despite his young age, Bucky is an expert marksman and martial artist, and he’s able to use virtually any weapon in the US Army’s arsenal; he’s also a master tactician and an intel expert. His bulletproof costume protects him in battle, while his skills make him a formidable ally and a fearsome enemy, despite being still a kid. With more violence kept inside than meets the eye, Bucky is a loyal friend to Cap, but also the pragmatical and ruthless soldier his mentor will never be.

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Alexander Goodwin Pierce

Alexander PierceToday, let’s see together one of the new entries in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Academy-winner actor and director Robert Redford, who plays a S.H.I.E.L.D. head, Alexander Pierce. The portrayal of the character, in the movie, seems to be at least ambiguous, and it’s not excluded (quite the opposite) that he’ll have some villainous role in the plot. However, this is not Pierce’s first live action appearance, since he was portrayed, in a much younger version, by Neil Roberts, in the tv movie Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In here, he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. rookie who accompanied Nick Fury and Countess De Fontaine in a mission against Viper and her Hydra. So, is he young or old? Let’s see together who Alex Pierce is in the comics.

Alexander Goodwin Pierce was born in Long IslandNew York, from an unknown family. As a young adult, Pierce entered S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, and majored in Civilian Surveilance, proving to be one of the best future agents of his generation. He then served in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Accounting Department, where he was noticed by the director himself, Nick Fury. Fury recognized in the young man a great talent as an operative and as a spy, and, most of all, an idealism that matched his own: Pierce strongly believed in S.H.I.E.L.D., and was sure to be protecting the world while serving in the organization. Seeing a younger self in Pierce, Fury took him away from the Accounting Department, and assigned him to an undercover mission in SohoManhattan. Pierce became a sleeper agent under the alias of Anthony Duranti, spying on the reborn terrorist association Hydra and decoding their dispatches, reporting directly to Fury. In that alexanderpiercecomics1period, Madame Hydra, the supreme head of the Nazi terrorists, succeeded in one of her best plans, allying herself with Arnim Zola: they created the Deltites, artificial duplicates of human beings, and used them to substitute key figures in S.H.I.E.L.D. one after the other, until Fury got completely surrounded. The Deltites discredited Fury to the eyes of the S.H.I.E.L.D. commission and to the public opinion, presenting him as a deranged old man who had lost sense of reality and had become a menace for the whole world. Under the threat of arrest, Fury became a fugitive, and collected a small number of agents he considered faithful to him and to his S.H.I.E.L.D., among these Alex Pierce, who became his right-hand man. Together, Fury and Pierce started attacking some S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities in order to collect informations about what happened to his once-faithful men, and in this operations Pierce acted as a contact between the rogue director and Tony Stark, who was trying to help.

Finally, the information they collected in a communications station in Philadelphia, actually leaked intelligence dropped in by Madame Hydra, led them to Hong Kong. However, this was clearly a trap, and Madame Hydra was waiting for them with an army of Hydra agents. The situation would have been catastrophic if not for Pierce, who, with an act of pure bravery and stupidity, charged the terrorists with a suicidal front attack, breaking their formation. The act proved successful, and not only Fury and Pierce managed to flee, but they also kidnapped Madame Hydra…who fell in love with the young agent, impressed by his bravado. The two agents were reached on the Himalayas, and taken to the S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite, where they got imprisoned. Madame Hydra’s infatuation with Pierce proved to be strong, as she helped him and Fury escape from their cells, and destroy the satellite along with all the Deltites (all but one, Red, who escaped and hid herself on Earth). Back on the surface, S.H.I.E.L.D. was officially dismantled, Fury disappeared once again, Madame Hydra (who now called herself Viper) was arrested, and Pierce became the custodian of the abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. alexanderpiercecomics2Central. While there, the agent kept receiving love letters from Viper, letters that slowly consumed his mental health, making him believe to be a cold-blooded killer disguised as a hero. Pierce joined Fury once again when, after the attack of the Death’s Head Commando, he joined Countess De Fontaine and Al MacKenzie in their search for the ex director. The trio found him, and convinced him to be the leader of a new S.H.I.E.L.D.; after defeating the Death’s Heads, Pierce became an officer of the new organization, always in Fury’s consideration. That until Viper escaped prison, kidnapped him, and, using the already existent conditioning from her letters, brainwashed him and forced him to join her in the new Hydra led by Yellow Claw. Wanting to settle debts, Fury freed him from the mind control, and Pierce was finally reintegrated as one of Fury’s most trusted officers.

Alexander Goodwin Pierce is an extremely well-trained agent, a master marksman and martial artist and a good strategist. He feels a deep and total loyalty towards director Fury, who reciprocated his trust more than once, to the point of making him the field commander of Team Black, formed by the most dangerous recruits of the Secret Warriors, like the telepath Ellis Love or the powerhouse Ahmed Noor. Pierce’s only and major weakness is an emotivity hardly kept under control, a deep and secret rage that brings him to reckless and crazy actions on the field, and exposes him to the influence of mind manipulators such as Viper.

Natalia Alianovna Romanova (Black Widow)

blackwidowfilmThe first trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally out, and we got our first look at some of the characters in the movie. Let’s start with one of our old acquaintances: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Scarlett Johansson. Natasha made her debut in Iron Man 2, where she “infiltrated” Stark Industries as Tony Stark‘s personal secretary, collecting intel for her boss, Nick Fury; she then actively took a role in defeating Whiplash. She then appeared as a fully operational S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in The Avengers, where she became part of the team and helped fighting Loki and his Chitauri army. In The Winter Soldier, she’ll act as Captain America‘s ally and partner, fighting a menace putting at risk S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Let’s see together who the Black Widow is in the comics.

Little is known about Natalia Alianovna Romanova‘s early life: she was born in 1928 in Stalingrad, daughter of an unnamed Russian soldier who was said to be relative to the czar’s family. When the Nazis invaded Russia, Natalia’s house was set on fire with all the occupants inside, but the kid’s mother threw her daughter from a window, in the arms of a soldier friend, Ivan Petrovitch Bezukhov, who raised her as she was his own daughter. When she was still very young, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker kidnapped her, wanting to sell her to the mystical ninja sect The Hand, since they were looking for a child to be trained as their Master Assassin. In Madripoor, Von Strucker’s plans were thwarted by the unlikely alliance of Ivan, James Howlett (a Canadian soldier who would have later blackwidowcomics1become Wolverine) and Captain America, who brought the child back to Russia and defeated the Hand. Growing under Ivan’s tutelage, Natalia became an amazing athlete, making herself known in all USSR. Wanting to ensure her a glorious future in the mothercountry, Ivan brought her to Department X, a secret Russian facility collecting young orphans. There, Natasha became part of the Black Widow Project, aimed to create the perfect spy for the upcoming Cold War. Trained to physical and mental perfection in the Red Room Academy, Natalia’s already amazing athletic abilities reached the human peak, and she became a master hand-to-hand combatant, a brilliant strategist, and overall a spy with no equal, imposing herself as the Project’s greatest succcess (they also gave her false memories about a happy past as a ballerina to ensure her loyalty). She also underwent bio-technological experimentations, that gave her an unusually long and youthful lifespan. Out of the Department, she had a marriage arranged with another KGB operative, Alexi Shostakov, who would have become the Russian response to Captain America, Red Guardian. She entered KGB, and her training was perfectioned even more under the guide of the Winter Soldier, a cyber-enanced veteran who made her become the greatest spy ever lived, and became her lover for a while. Nicknamed “Black Widow” by the Soldier, Natalia was finally ready for the field.

During one of her first missions in America, in the 60s, she met again James Howlett, who now called himself Logan, and seemed to have no memory of his past at all. Since he was hunted by Hydra assassins, the Widow saved him to settle her past debt, without reminding Logan their past together. Natasha was then assigned with the mission of supporting Boris Turgenov, the second Crimson Dynamo, in the killing of the first Dynamo, Anton Vanko, who had betrayed their country. Their attempt was foiled more than once by American superhero Iron Man, who also exposed Natasha, infiltrated in Stark Industries. In her long-lasting battle with Iron Man, Black Widow seeked the help of a formidable young archer, Clint blackwidowcomics2Barton, aka Hawkeye, who fell in love with her and agreed to help her killing the hero. The two of them almost succeeded once, but the Widow got injured, and Hawkeye preferred to bring her to safety than eliminating Iron Man. During this period, Natalia started reciprocating Clint’s feeling, and also questioning herself about her loyalty towards the Soviet Union. After many failures, Natalia fell in the target of her former masters, and, when they learnt about her potential betrayal, they shot her down, sending her to hospital. When she came back to her senses, she took Clint and went to the Avengers asking for protection. Hawkeye became a member of the team, but Natasha was kidnapped by KGB and brainwashed into attacking Clint and the other Avengers. She hired Power Man and Swordsman, and started to battle the heroes, but the trio was defeated, and Hawkeye helped her to get free of the mind control. From that moment, Natasha tried to amend, helping the Avengers with some missions, like when she battled with them the racist Sons of the Serpent, without joining the team, since she didn’t embrace their “no killing” rule. She gained true membership only after a battle with the Ultroids, despite Hawkeye covered the fact that the battle was won only when Black Widow threatened to kill their leader Ifax. Her talents, also the ones that made her unsuitable for the Avengers, attracted Nick Fury, who offered her a place in S.H.I.E.L.D., where she became one of the top agents.

Natasha Romanoff is a brilliant woman, with intelligence and physical capabilities at peak human condition. The experimentations she went through grant her an elongated life span, that makes her look youthful despite being more than eighty years old. She’s an expert marksman, martial artist, an incredible athlete and acrobat, a master of any espionage and infiltration techniques to the point of being considered the best spy ever lived. Her costume is incredibly resiliant, and allows her to cling on to any surface; she moves via her Widow’s Line, a grappling hook with a retractable line that increases her mobility; her Widow’s Gauntlets are her main weapon, charged with various munitions that vary from narcotics to tasers. Ruthless, cold-hearted, extremely loyal to her friends and relentless with her enemies, Black Widow is the fruit of her time and her political environment, a killing machine who tries to rediscover her humanity in a world that didn’t change that much in the latest decades to allow her a complete redemption.

Hogun

hogunfilmFinally, with the poster of Thor: The Dark World we got our first glimpse at the last member of the Warriors ThreeHogun the Grim, played by Tadanobu Asano. In the first Thor, Hogun accompanied the God of Thunder in his unofficial mission to Jotunheim along with his companions Warriors and Lady Sif, and later helped him fight the Destroyer on Earth. In this second movie, he’ll always act as a friend and an ally against the Dark Elves, but how big a role he’ll have remains to be seen. Anyway, let’s see together who Hogun is in the comics.

Unlike most people in Asgard, Hogun wasn’t born an Aesir or a Valir, the true Asgardians. He’s the only known descendant of a proud and ancient people that lived in a solitary land, later conquered by the sorcerer Mongul of the Mystic Mountain. Hogun escaped his homeland when he was still a child, and reached Asgard alone. At first, he earned his living as a stone carver, proving himself a honest man and a hard-worker, and he gained the name Hogun the Bright Heart. Soon, he got interested in weapons, and he became a collector of them. He also learnt how to use them, training alone to become a skilled warrior. He however knew he hadn’t the spirit or the true skills of a real fighter, and kept his talents secret…at least, when he wasn’t using them in a bar fight (something common, since his curious clothes often gained the attention and mockery of the Asgardians). Once, in a tavern, Hogun witnessed a boastful quarrel between two famous warriors, Volstagg the Valiant and Fandral the Dashing, who were trying to decide who, among them, was the best fighter of Asgard. Soon, the contendants started a challenge, and they dared each other to pet the savage wolf Fenris, chained in a forgotten forest. Entertained by the two men’s boasts, Hogun offered himself as a judge between them, and chose to accompany them inhoguncomics1 their unlikely quest. Little or less is known of their trip: it was full of dangers and enemies, and the fight with the deadly Fenris was just the last lethal challenge they had to face. Despite being both defeated, Volstagg and Fandral had become friends, and Hogun with them: the Warriors Three were born. When he came back to Asgard, Hogun was a changed man: he, who was once known as the Bright Heart for his happy and cheerful character, soon gained the new name Hogun the Grim, a dark and pessimist man who seldomly smiled at all. He had also fully embraced his nature as a warrior, and, a master of many weapons, he chose his favorite mace, Hridgandr, as his weapon of choice.

In a few time, the Warriors Three became renowned in all the Nine Realms as fierce enemies and adversaries to be carefully dealt with. Taciturn and often short-tempered, Hogun became the voice of the reason for the trio, a rational voice between the joyful boasts of Volstagg and the light-hearted impertinence of Fandral. When the Oversword of Asgard was cracked, the Warriors Three, as defenders of the realm, were summoned to search for the power that had broken it: in this occasion, the trio met Thor, Asgardian prince and God of Thunder, who became their friend and long-time ally. From that moment on, the trio often became a quartet, sometimes a quintet when the female warrior Lady Sif joined them. Despite his serious and grim demeanor, Hogun won the love hoguncomics2and loyalty of his friends, to the point they decided to help him in his most personal and dangerous task ever. The last warrior of his homeland, Saguta, was in fact tortured by Mogul for years, and finally murdered by the sorcerer. Hogun assisted to the killing, since now Mogul was mocking him for being the last one remaining: the sorcerer wanted a new pet to play with, now that Saguta was dead. Thirsty of vengeance, Hogun accepted Mogul’s challenge, and decided to travel to Zanadu, his city-palace, to slain him. Volstagg, Fandral and Thor refused to leave him alone, and accompanied him in a quest that would have proven suicidal if faced alone: many monsters, powerful warriors and magicians awaited for them, such as Ogur the One-Eyed, the Forty Demon RidersShezada and many others, servants of Mogul with the task of killing Hogun’s friends and to bring him to the sorcerer. Finally, thanks to the help of the thief Alibar (a former servant of Mogul), Hogun reached his enemy, and, after a fierce duel, he killed him, obtaining his vengeance. Free from this curse, Hogun came back to Asgard, swearing to defend it with his life.

Hogun was once a cheerful stone carver, but he’s now a grim and serious warrior, who seldomly speaks at all. Easily one of the best warriors in Asgard, Hogun possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, senses and reflexes, an elongated life span and accelerated healing. An expert of any kind of weapons, an excellent archer and a horserider, Hogun mostly uses his faithful mace, a weapon he can destroy an entire mountain with. Wise and calm, Hogun is the stone of balance in the Warriors Three, the only one who worries about making plans before rushing into action.

Jean Loring

Jean LoringTime for the third and final character introduced in Arrow episode Broken Dolls: we’re speaking of Jean Loring, portrayed by Teryl Rothery. In the show, she’s the lawyer and friend of Moira Queen, and she’s desperately trying to save her client from death penalty, requested by the District Attorney Adam Donner. In the comics, she’s more or less the same character, but for one detail: her familiarity with the superheroes world, especially from the moment she married one of them. Anyway, let’s see together who Jean Loring is in the comics.

Little or nothing is known about Jean Loring’s past before becoming a lawyer: born in Ivy Town, she studied Law, and she started dating brilliant physicist Ray Palmer, who became her boyfriend. She started her activity as a lawyer more or less the same time her boyfriend became the superhero known as The Atom, of course without knowing anything about it. The new superhero often asked her help as an informant or for some legal issues, but she never suspected that Ray and Atom were one and the same. Her relation with The Atom became quite complicated the moment the sub-atomic race known as Jimberen, understanding the two shared some kind of bond, kidnapped the woman, and kept her in their realm, driving her insane. The Atom and Hawkman came to the rescue, and saved Jean from the Jimberen, but her mental state was compromised, and she regained her sanity only years after, when Jest-Master, a deranged alien who wanted to test if planet Thanagar (home of Hawkman) was jeanloringcomics1worthy surviving, used his madness-inducing weapons on her, bringing her back as a result. Unfortunately, adventures weren’t over for Jean, who was once again abducted, this time by evil genius T.O. Morrow. To save her, Atom went on sub-atomic level along with Wonder Woman, Flash and Supergirl, and battled Morrow until she released Jean. During the fight, The Atom finally revealed Jean he was in reality Ray Palmer, much to the girl’s shock. Back to the “normal size” world, Jean was quite shaken, but her love and admiration for Ray only grew after knowing about his secret life as a superhero. The two got engaged, and, after many other adventures shared together, they finally got married. Unofficially, Jean became the superheroes’ lawyer, always ready to defend Ray and the other members of the Justice League of America in case of need. Happiness, however, wasn’t at reach for them.

After some years of marriage, Jean got more and more intolerant towards the elements of Ray’s personality that at first made her fall in love with him: his devotion to science and research as Ray, and his commitment to the Justice League as The Atom, made her feel quite lonely, and she started questioning her love for her husband. One day, almost without realizing it, Jean started an affair with a colleague, Paul Hoben, another lawyer from her firm. She clearly kept it secret from Ray, but it’s hard to hide something from a man who can shrink to minimal size, and her husband finally caught her kissing Paul in her car. The two had a quarrel and confronted each other, and Ray asked her to clarify her feelings to herself, and left her. He went to Brazil for some research, but, after an accident, he was presumed dead. After the news, Jean came back to Paul, but, during their renewed affair, she became sure that Ray was still alive, and went to Brazil herself. She was right, since Ray, as Atom, had shrinked to sub-atomic size and had jeanloringcomics2started to live with the peaceful tribe of the Morlaidhian, seeking a happier life. He had also started an affair on his own with the local ruler, Princess Laethwen. Now with an affair each, and unable to reconcile their lives, Jean and Ray divorced. Soon after, Jean got married once again to Paul (with Ray’s blessings), and the two knew some moments of happiness. They opened an office in Calvin City, but working together proved their relationship more than expected, and Jean ended up facing a second divorce. Back to Ivy Town, Jean had already made a name for herself as a famous lawyer, and she became a senior partner at the well-known firm Grabemann, Loring & Ross. Now out of the criminal law business, she only made exceptions for superheroes, in memory of the time spent with one of the funders of the Justice League of America.

Jean Loring is an intelligent and smart woman, a skilled attorney specialized in criminal law. Her forced adventures with the League have made her an emotionally fragile woman, who seeks support from the men around her, always trying to find in others the balance she doesn’t feel in herself anymore.

Cynthia Lance (Sin)

SinIn this week episode of Arrow we met three new character: the second one is CindySin for friends, portrayed by Bex Taylor-Klaus. In Broken Dolls, she’s a friend of the new, mysterious vigilante of Starling City, the vengeful woman known as The Canary. Following The Arrow‘s orders, Roy Harper follows Sin until she leads him to her friend, even if that proves to be not such a smart idea for the boy. Anyway, this portrayal of Sin differs much from her comicbook identity: first of all, she’s much older, she’s Caucasian instead of Asian, and she’s definitely not such a proficient martial artist. The only thing that seems unvaried is her relation with Black Canary. Looking forward to see the development. In the meanwhile, let’s see who Sin is in the comics.

Little or less is known about Sin’s past. She was possibly an orphan, alone in the world, who had to learn to live by herself on the road. Since her very childhood, however, she demonstrated an extraordinary ability with martial arts, an unborn intuitive talent that allowed her to learn and mimic almost every movement she saw even just once. This talent didn’t go unnoticed, and the child was taken to a secret village in Asia, a place ruled by a martial artist simply known as The Mother. In here, the child was given her name, “Sin”, a mockery to humiliate her and make her lose her sense of self, so that she could have become a perfect warrior ready to sacrifice everything for her sisters or their cause. She underwent an intense training, aimed to make her the future Lady Shiva, the moment the current one would have met her demise. Sin’s life changed forever the moment she met the American superhero Blacksincomics1 Canary. The woman had travelled to Asia as part of a deal she had with the current Lady Shiva: the two women would have exchanged their lievs for a year, with Black Canary training with Mother and the other warrior women, and Shiva becoming part of the Birds of Prey. Canary was allowed to stay in the village to be trained by Mother, and she was renamed Tag (a local word for “sow”). While training, Tag met Sin, and the two of them bonded, often training together, and especially suffering together from Mother’s physical and mental tortures (aimed to forge the strength of the women, sure, but tortures nevertheless). With Canary, Sin felt to be loved for the first time in her life, and she grew fond of the woman, arriving to consider her the mother she had never known.

At last, Black Canary arrived to have enough of Mother, and decided to leave the village, and to take Sin with her. Clearly, the Mother tried to stop them, but the superheroine bested her in combat, earning freedom for herself and Sin as well. Back to Metropolis, Sin was welcomed by the other Birds of Prey, even if, on the child’s part, integration proved to be quite difficult at first (she kept calling the other women with monicker names like the one she was used to, for example nicknaming the Huntress “spinster”). Now considering Sin her daughter, Dinah decided to rename her Cynthia Lance. The relationship between Dinah and Cynthia kept growing, and when the White Canary kidnapped Sin in order to hurt Black Canary and to force her to fight Lady Shiva, the heroine decided she couldn’t have been both a superhero and a mother, and decided to dedicate herself to the second “job”. She left the Birds of Prey, and retired to private sincomics2life with Cynthia, who finally knew the warmth of a family. Sin slowly became a normal child, developing quite a passion for Pokémon and trading card games: the Lances were happy, but Dinah missed something. Following her nature, she joined the Justice League once again, thus spending less time with Sin. Left alone, the child was kidnapped by the League of Assassins, who believed her to be some sort of martial arts messiah because of her natural talent. The JLA moved to rescue the girl, and Green Arrow got to her first: in order to protect Sin, he faked her death, without telling Dinah about it, so that her pain would have convinced their enemies. The hero then brought Sin to a secret temple on the Himalayas, where the League would have never found her. He then told Black Canary about her daughter’s survival, so that the two could have stayed together from time to time. Finally safe, Sin was able to meet her foster mother again.

Despite being a child, Sin is an incredibly proficient martial artist, able to learn any move or technique merely observing it. Her gift is also her curse, since many martial artists in the world want to exploit this talent to their advantage. Simple and candid, Sin brings an incredibly destructive talent in a child’s soul, and she only asks for the love and affection any other normal child would receive in her place.

Barton Mathis (Dollmaker)

DollmakerThis week’s episode of Arrow introduced quite a creepy villain: Barton Mathis, also known as the Dollmaker, portrayed in the show by Michael Eklund. In Broken Dolls, Mathis is a serial killer who killed eight young girls, turning them into “dolls” with chemicals, before being arrested by detective Quentin Lance and closed up in Iron Heights Prison. Unfortunately, the earthquake allowed him to escape, and he started his “career” back where he left it, haunting Lance in his vengeance. Well, the comics’ character is pretty much similar to the show one, even if he’s, if possible, even creepier. He’s quite a young character, introduced only a couple of years ago, but he’s got anyway a story to be told. Let’s see together who the Dollmaker is in the comics.

There are a lot of sick families in the comicbook universe, but Barton Mathis’ one has got the numbers to be on the top step of the podium. Barton was born the son of Wesley Mathis, apparently a normal man who, from time to time, enjoyed going on hunting with his best friend Ray Quimby. When Barton was old enough to join the two men in their “hunting trips”, he found out the truth about his father: the preys were actually random people, set free in the woods and chased, hunted and killed, one after the other. Still a kid, Barton assisted to many murders. But this wasn’t all: Wesley and Ray skinned their victims, they cleaned them up, and finally they cooked them: even Barton joined them in their meals, becoming accostumed with the taste of human flesh. This nightmare went on for years, until Gotham City Police Department finally found a good trail in their hunt for the serial killers. Wesley Mathis was found and exposed, and, when he tried to resist arrest, a young cop named Jim Gordon shot him down, killing him right before his son’s eyes. Son of a dead killer, alone in the world, Barton was put in foster care. The boy wasn’t made for that dollmakercomics1life, simply put, and he didn’t want another family, he already had his father. More or less. He escaped just a year after, and disappeared. Before leaving Gotham, he exhumed his father’s body, and cut his face off, bringing it with himself. He made a mask out of Wesley’s face, and donned it as a memento, completely identifying himself as his father. In the years out of Gotham, he made a family for himself, with a lot of sons and daughters just as deranged as he was (actually, not everyone in the Family was a natural son or daughter, but it’s quite impossible to distinguish the relatives from the simple goons). He then studied medicine on his own, gaining quite a skill.

Finally, Barton was ready to come back to Gotham, this time under the identity of the Dollmaker, a killer for hire. For first, he sent one of his “sons” to the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime had other plans, and he killed the goon by ripping his troath off with a bite. Batman intervened too late, only in time to arrest the Joker and to bring him into Arkham Asylum. It was here, however, that the Dollmaker was waiting for Joker, his client. In the Clown’s cell, the two spoke for a long time, and the Joker clarified that he killed the Dollmaker’s son because he required the father’s expertise, distrusting the son’s one. Then the Dollmaker started the procedure he had been paid for: he surgically removed Joker’s face, letting the madman enjoy the pain and escape from the mental hospital, now an unrecognizable man. Out of Arkham, also the Dollmaker proceeded with his plan: to kill Batman and to sell his “dollified” body to the best bidder. He set up a trap for the Dark Knight, and he kidnapped Commissioner Gordon, making it look like an act of vengeance. Batman, investigating, arrived to Ray Quimby, but, when he reached him in Taylor Street Imports, he found the old serial killer dead. On place, dollmakercomics2Batman was attacked by the entire Family, and was momentarily subdued. The Dollmaker made his appearance, throwing to Batman Gordon’s lifeless body…that actually was a jigsaw of three different bodies swen together to look like the Commissioner. The hero managed to escape, but came back to Mercy Hospital as soon as he learnt that Gordon was kept there as a prisoner…only to fall into another trap, as the massive Bentley (another Family member) knocked him unconscious and positioned him into a gladiatoral cage, where the bidders could admire him and name their price. The Penguin was winning the auction, when Batman freed himself of his chains with a demagnetizer and knocked out both the Penguin’s goons and the Family. Only the Dollmaker managed to escape, along with his (natural) daughter Matilda. Batman tried to catch them at the last minute, but failed, leaving them at large.

Barton Mathis is a violent and dangerous individual, a deranged man with no regard at all for human life, who sees people just as material for his “art”. As the Dollmaker, he possesses quite a good knowledge of medicine and chemistry, that allows him to practice on the corpses of his victims to transform them into gruesome dolls. A monster, a cannibal, an organ dealer, and the undisputed leader of the deranged Dollmaker’s Family, Mathis is one of the most horrifying serial killers Gotham City has ever known.