Amalak

This week’s episode of Supergirl saw our heroine facing a number of threats visiting Earth, and at least one of them came directly (more or less) from the comicbooks. In Distant Sun, an ugly alien who seems to be a rip-off from the old Power Rangers series wreaks havoc in National City, shooting a laser beam from his eye-patch; when Supergirl incapacitates him, it turns out he’s a bounty hunter, and the Girl of Steel has an insane bounty placed on her head by an unknown third party. The alien is referred to by J’onn J’onzz as an “Amalak“…and the name is nothing new to the readers, albeit not for a race, but for a person (much like they did with Hellgrammite in Season 1). The ugly alien portrayed by Glenn Ennis is not so ugly in the comics, but he surely has a grudge against Kryptonians, and his eye-patch in the show is justified by him being a pirate. Let’s see together (multiple versions ahead).

Amalak was born on an unspecified planet, very distant from Earth. His world was a peaceful and safe environment for all of its inhabitants, until some unexpected catastrophe happened: some visitors from Krypton arrived on the planet, and through unknown means they ended up causing a cataclism that killed the entire population, leaving only Amalak alive. The alien destroyers came back to their planet, leaving Amalak to mourn the dead. Grieving and boiling in rage, Amalak sworn to exact his vengeance on all Kryptonians, erasing their race just as they did with his own…but a short time after the “incident” Krypton itself was destroyed along with all its inhabitants. Apparently, Amalak had been denied his vengeance…but soon he discovered that some survivors were scattered through the galaxy, so he still had a purpose: he could inflict the final blow to the Kryptonian people by killing the last of them. Amalak became a bounty hunter, and collected a number of Kryptonite fragments to forge an arsenal for himself, as well as many weapons powered by the radiations of a red sun. He eventually traced two Kryptonians on a remote planet: Kal El and Kara Zor-El, who had become the heroic Superman and Supergirl. His first efforts failed, as the Kryptonians had become extremely powerful under Earth’s yellow sun, and they always found a way to counter his anti-Kryptonian weapons. A solution came when Amalak opened a portal to the Phantom Zone, the prison where Krypton locked its most dangerous enemies, trying to find an ally who hated Kryptonians as much as he did…but all he found was Nam-Ek, a Kryptonian scientist driven mad by solitude, who had gained powers from an illegal experiment of his. Overjoyed by meeting another person, Nam-Ek immediately took a liking in Amalak, something that the bounty hunter used to his own advantage: he renamed his new “friend” the Antibiotic Man, erasing his Kryptonian heritage, and instructed him on using his healing powers on him during the incoming battle with Superman, so that the Man of Steel would have been incapable of hurting him. Maybe, vengeance was finally at hand…

This version of Amalak apparently died when he stabbed himself with one of his own weapons, but even if he survived, he was later wiped out from existence along with his entire dimension, Earth-One. When a new universe was born, New Earth, Amalak was reborn, but his story was not as different from before as he would have liked. He was born on planet Rinoti, and he was a great warrior, a loyal soldier to his people. One day, he came back to Rinoti after a mission with his squadron, only to find the entire planet burnt to ashes, with no survivor, being man, woman or child. The souls of the dead appeared to him, and told him that the Kryptonian Empire had sent one of their greatest warlords, Admiral Zod, to conquer their planet, and that his militia had destroyed everything to make Rinoti a new potential colony for Krypton. Distraught with pain and anger, Amalak swore he would have destroyed Krypton and everything Kryptonian, and he would have not known rest until he killed every last Kryptonian in the universe. He reorganised his squadron into a band of space pirates, and left the planet to start his mission, gathering all around the universe an arsenal of anti-Kryptonian weapons. When Krypton exploded, leaving but a few survivors to live its legacy, Amalak used his advanced tech to track all the living Kryptonians, hunting them down and killing them mercilessly. Guided and empowered by the spirits of Rinoti, Amalak even found two of the officers who had perpetrated the attack on his planet, Karsta Wor-Ul and Ro-Kul, who now lived as pirates and brigands. Amalak attacked them and killed Ro-Kul, while Karsta managed to escape. Obviously, the avenger kept looking for her, and tracked her down to planet Earth, where she had hidden disguised as a local…but there was some other surprise waiting for him, as other Kryptonians lived on Earth as worshipped heroes: Superman, Supergirl, Power Girl, even a dog, Krypto. As he soon would have found out, also the very son of Admiral Zod, Lor-Zod, was living on the planet, raised by Superman. Finally, his vengeance could be truly complete.

Amalak is a somewhat tragic figure, a man who’s lost everything and whose sole reason for living now is obtaining vengeance for his slain people. Being him a bounty hunter or a space pirate, Amalak possesses a true arsenal of anti-Kryptonian weapons, ranging from Kryptonite blades and darts to red-solar explosives aimed to take away the powers of a Kryptonian under a yellow sun; he’s also a master hand-to-hand combatant, a skilled tactician and a capable leader, and he has at disposal a number of futuristic gadgets such as the Brain Ripper, a device he uses to read the memories of other people. A tireless hunter who won’t stop until he’s seen the end of Krypton, Amalak fights with all the righteousness of an avenger and the wherewithal of a man who’s nothing left to lose.

Zhou Cheng

Let’s continue with the Iron Fist characters, and go to episode 8. In The Blessing of Many FracturesDanny travels to China along with Colleen and Claire to investigate Madame Gao‘s involvement in the murder of his parents. In the city of Anzhou, the trio reaches the factory Gao produces her drug in, and Danny fights with the guardian of the place: Zhou Cheng, portrayed by Lewis Tan. Zhou Cheng claims to be the “sacred protector of The Hand“, thus being some sort of dark mirror of Danny, and he proves to be a formidable martial artist, expert in the Drunken Fist style. He also points out to Danny that he’s not exactly living up to his oath as the Iron Fist, thus igniting quite a fury in him… In the comics, Zhou Cheng is an antagonist who appeared (and disappeared) quite recently, and who has some deep ties with Ch’i-Lin, the one that in the show he claims to be his master. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Zhou Cheng’s early life, actually not even exactly when he was born, considering that he was much older than he looked like. He was born somewhere in China and, when he became adult, something happened that changed his life forever: whether willingly, by accident or because of a psionic attack, Zhou Cheng was visited by the Ch’i-Lin, a mystic beast residing in the long-lost 8th Celestial City, now home of exiled beasts that had been haunting the other seven Capitals for eons. The Ch’i-Lin had but one obsession: to end the cycle of rebirth of his nemesis, the immortal dragon Shou-Lao, by consuming his egg, but he couldn’t escape from the 8th City, so he needed a host to move in other dimensions. Needless to say, Zhou Cheng was the perfect candidate: mind-controlled by the beast, he became C’hi-Lin’s avatar on Earth (and beyond), fighting his master’s war against Shou-Lao and the ones who protected him, the residents of the mystical city of K’un-Lun. The city, like the others, had one of the Immortal Weapons protecting it, so Zhou Cheng had to kill him (or her) to get to the treasure he sought; Ch’i-Lin, however, instructed him to attack the Iron Fist only when he (or she) had reached the thirty-third year of age, so that he could harvest a fully developed chi from their heart and use their dead bodies to create a portal to K’un-Lun. Made resilient by the Ch’i-Lin, Zhou Cheng hunted down the Iron Fists for seventy-five years, killing them as they turned thirty-three, but he always failed to consume the dragon egg, stopped by Lei-Kung the Thunderer and the other warriors from K’un-Lun; every time, however, he got closer to his objective. The only Iron Fist who ever escaped him was the disgraced Orson Randall who, using heroine, killed what remained of his own spirit, making himself undetectable to Zhou Cheng and his master.

After waiting for decades for another chance, Zhou Cheng finally detected the new Iron Fist, Danny Rand, who lived in New York City…and had just turned thirty-three. The first attack didn’t go exactly as planned, as Iron Fist had more capable friends and allies than expected: despite overpowering Danny, Zhou Cheng was repelled by the combined efforts of his best friends, Luke Cage, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. Retreated for the moment, Zhou Cheng found out that Danny Rand had a dojo in Harlem, the Thunder Dojo, so he attacked his students to lure the Iron Fist out. The plan succeeded, but once again Zhou Cheng was caught off-guard, as Iron Fist arrived accompanied by the other Immortal Weapons: facing at once Iron Fist, Fat Cobra, the Tiger’s Beautiful DaughterDog Brother, the Bride of Nine Spiders and the Prince of Orphans, even the Ch’i-Lin had to admit his inferiority, and Zhou Cheng retreated once again. Understanding that a direct approach would have led him nowhere, Zhou Cheng changed his tactics, and decided to attack Danny from every possible angle. He seduced his enemy’s secretary, Nadine, and used her ambitions to convince her to help him in taking over Rand Corporation. Taking away everything that was important to Rand, starting from his family company, was a good way to isolate him and make him vulnerable, but once again Zhou Cheng rushed things a little bit: along with Nadine, he poisoned Danny’s tea at a meeting, but once again he was saved by Luke Cage and Misty Knight. Sick of this tiring game of cat and mouse Zhou Cheng, after revealing to a pregnant Nadine his true identity in the worst way possible, challenged Iron Fist to a duel to the death, face to face. Bound by his honor, Iron Fist accepted…but he had understood that Zhou Cheng’s unbeatable technique came from his ability to read his chi: Iron Fist sealed his chi, and faced the monster’s avatar as a simple human being. Unable to forsee Iron Fist’s moves, Zhou Cheng was overpowered by his enemy, and eventually decapitated by him, ending a hunt long almost a century.

Zhou Cheng is a tireless and determined hunter, a single-minded predator who lives to serve his master, Ch’i-Lin (who’s actually controlling him, so it’s hard to tell how much of Cheng really belongs to his character). As the avatar of the Ch’i-Lin, he’s immortal and nearly invulnerable, a formidable warrior master of any known martial art, capable of detecting his target’s chi so that he can locate him everywhere and predict his movements during combat; he’s also able to absorb chi from other living beings and use it for a variety of purposes. A terrific fighter who serves an ancient evil, Zhou Cheng will never stop, not until his master achieves his vengeance on Shou-Lao and his servants…

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

I usually write of comics-based movies and tv series only, and I’m pretty strict about it. But if there’s an ecception I can make, it’s her: Lara Croft, better known as Tomb Raider. This is not only because Lara has become one of the most relevant figures in pop culture since her first appearance in 1996, but mainly because she’s become the following year a prominent character in the Top Cow universe, and one of its main heroines for a while. In this case, a videogame character obtained in the comics even more personality and backstory than she had in the original medium, and became a prominent figure at the side of Top Cow’s most known and popular superheroes, officially entering the roster (much like Conan the Barbarian did with Marvel Comics). So, just for this once, trying to ignore Angelina Jolie‘s awful version seen in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and in the slightly better sequel The Craddle of Life, and focusing on the first promo pic from the upcoming reboot starring Alicia Vikander, let’s take a look at a heroine who didn’t debut in comicbooks, but became an integral part of them nonetheless.

Lara Croft was born in LondonEngland, the only daughter of wealthy nobleman Lord Henshingly Croft and his wife, Lady Andrea. She lived most of her childhood in the Croft manor in Wimbledon, and she never attended school until she was eleven years old, having private teachers at home; she then attended Wimbledon Private School and, later, Gordonstoun, and incredibly expensive and prestigious boarding school. It was during one of her classes here that Lara found her purpose in life: by attending the lecture of a famous archaeologist, Werner Von Croy, she simply fell in love with the discipline, and she started studying to become just like him. In the meanwhile, she also became a very active and capable gymnast, showing quite a natural talent for rock climbing. Von Croy became quite intrigued by this student of his, and albeit she was only seventeen, he invited her to accompany him in an expedition; with her parents’ permission, Lara left for her first adventure…that ended in tragedy, as Von Croy, upon entering a long-buried tomb, accidentally activated an ancient trap which (apparently) killed him and forced young Lara to abandon her mentor not to perish as well. The came back home, and her parents moved her to another school in Switzerland. As she grew up, Lara progressively abandoned her passion, as her parents paved for her a life in the English high society, even arranging a marriage with the young and wealthy Roger, heir of the Earldom of Farrington. Lara finished school when she was twenty-one, and she embarked on a plane to Asia with her parents and her husband-to-be to celebrate the wedding, but the plane crashed on the Himalayas, in an accident caused by the treacherous butler Hartford Compton that killed Lord Henshingly, Lady Andrea and the Earl of Farrington. Alone on the snowy mountains, Lara Croft had to exploit all her skills…and she found out she had many more than she realised. She survived two weeks in the frozen landscape, and when she reached the village of Tokakeriby, she was a person reborn.

The sole heir of her parents’ fortune, Lara Croft made her way back to England, where she officially gave up her life as a socialite and resumed her old passion for archaeology, bringing her cultural and physical preparation to a peak. Her family officially disowned her for entertaining herself in such vulgar activities such as climbing mountains, crossing deserts and digging up ancient tombs, but she had finally found her own dimension, a place in which she could truly be herself. In a few years, Lara Croft was one of the most famous and respected archaeologists in the world, and she earned the name “Tomb Raider” for all the long-lost treasures she had retrieved and the remote locations she had explored. This kind of activity, far from being safe, brought her into contact with forces beyond human comprehension, as many of the artifacts and treasures she found possessed untold mystical powers, and introduced her to a world of magic far wider than what she believed possible: the biblical Ark of the Covenant, the lost continent of Atlantis, the mythical Excalibur, the Tomb Raider faced all these mysteries and even more, always coming out alive of impossible situations and donating to museums some finds that were believed to be stuff of legends before she discovered them; some of them she was forced to destroy since they were still incredibly dangerous after millennia, such as the Chinese Dagger of Xian, which gave its bearer the powers of a dragon, some others she kept in her own private collection, either to guard them or as tokens from her adventures. This meddling with the supernatural brought Lara to cross paths with other individuals who walked those paths, in particular with Sara Pezzini, a detective from New York City who was the current wielder of the Witchblade, an ancient artifact that gave her incredible powers: the two women became the best of friends, and shared many adventures. During one of these, the Witchblade attached itself to Lara, and used her to defeat the time-traveler Weave and destroy one of his machines, making the bond between the two friends even stronger, albeit Lara had to die and be resurrected to tell the story. And this wasn’t even the wierdest thing that ever happened to Lara Croft in her many adventures…

Lara Croft is a brilliant and brave woman, a tenacious adventurer who always pushes herself to her limits. A loyal friend, she’s however quite a loner, having learnt from past treasons that it’s better to work alone. As the Tomb Raider, she’s an extremely cultured archaeologist, and a formidable athlete and gymnast, a master in several martial arts, an excellent marksman and a skilled pilot for a variety of vehicles. Extremely resourceful and incredibly determined, Lara Croft lives for the adventure and for the thrill of the discovery, and presents as gifts to the world the hidden treasures lost in time…always trying her best to enjoy her journey.

Bakuto

Let’s see now Iron Fist episode 7, and meet one of the recurring antagonists. In Felling Tree with Roots, Colleen Wing is visited by an old friend who just came back to town: that’s Bakuto, portrayed by Ramon Rodriguez. In the show, he turns out to be much more than a casual old friend, as he’s the leader of a faction of The Hand, who has quite an interest in Colleen’s new boyfriend, Danny Rand, and who tries to manipulate him in going against the faction ruled by Madame Gao. In the comics, Bakuto is a less than secondary foe, who only appeared in a couple of issues: he’s indeed a Hand leader, and he steps on a hero’s toes, albeit Iron Fist is not his target. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Bakuto’s early life, apart from the fact that he was recruited when he was still a boy by the shadowy organization known as The Hand, a secret sect of ninjas that served the mythical Beast and aimed to control the entire world. Bakuto made quite some career in The Hand, rising within the ranks until he became the right-hand man of Izanagi, his mentor, friend and Daimyo (a regional governor). Izanagi was one of the Five Fingers of the Hand, the rulers that controlled the branches all over the world: he was assigned South America, while Takashi ruled in Japan, Makoto controlled Eurasia and Yukata reigned in Africa; the fifth Finger was a normally vacant position, as his/her residence was in North America, a place in which many mystical forces gathered, but where The Hand was opposed by powerful foes. Above them all there was the Shōgun, supreme leader of The Hand, who controlled each and every one of them…or so it was supposed to be, as every Daimyo was pretty much independent from each other. Bakuto was a man of his generation, who didn’t respect The Hand’s traditions and who let himself be contaminated by the modern world, to the point that he started using guns and firearms instead of the usual swords, bows and traditional Japanese weapons. He also didn’t like the chain of command as much as the other warriors, something that Izanagi underestimated. When Elektra, the current Shōgun, died (actually, she had been replaced by Pagon, a Skrull), the Daimyos met to chose a replacement, and for the first time in centuries they chose a gaijin, an American, as the new Shōgun, a warrior of proven worth who had actually opposed and defeated The Hand many times: Matt Murdock, Daredevil. This was the last drop for Bakuto, who believed that the old Daimyos had lost their minds: he organized a rebellion, and supported by a group of men loyal to him who embraced his vision he killed Izanagi, taking his place as Daimyo of South America. Then, as the very first act as Daimyo, he denied his support to the new Shōgun, refusing to accept a gaijin as a leader, and dragging The Hand into a chrisis.

Bakuto’s opposition forced Murdock to call for a summit in The Hand’s historical headquarters, Jigoku-Chu Castle, where all the Daimyos (including the most recently appointed one, Angela “White Tiger” Del Toro from North America) gathered to discuss the problem. Bakuto immediately offended all the others with his attitude and his disrespect for traditions and his elders, and publicly denounced Daredevil for his activities, since he was making The Hand a force for good in New York. It was clear, however, that the other Daimyos were against Bakuto, as they supported the new Shōgun…but this wasn’t something that could make the young man lose his confidence. The Daimyo, however, was stepping in a plan much wider than what he could see, and this became clear the night of the banquet, when he started allucinating about the ghost of his dead master Izanagi and some demons hunting for him. Bakuto was brought back to his quarters, where Daredevil, who wanted to earn his trust, met him that same night. The Daimyo, however, was still allucinating, and not smelling any poison, the hero realised he had been targeted by magic. Plus, some warriors of The Hand broke in, with the clear intent of killing the delirious Bakuto. The two rivals teamed up and repelled the attack, and Daredevil even directly saved Bakuto’s life…but when the Daimyo came back to his senses, he believed that Murdock had staged the entire attack in a complex charade aimed to earn his gratitude and make him support his leadership. Obviously, he didn’t avoid to speak out his suspicions in presence of the other Daimyos, thus rekindling the fire of division within The Hand. Believing the others to be blind to Murdock’s true nature, he resolved to take more incisive measures. He sent his best men to kill Daredevil while he was brooding alone on a roof, while he sat comfortable with his two lieutenants drinking tea. His (premature) celebration was cut short as White Tiger appeared: working for the other three Daimyos, she snapped the neck of the two lieutenants, and she easily overpowered Bakuto in a katana duel, later stabbing him with a tanto; when Daredevil appeared, it seemed that, following his failed attempt to Murdock’s life, Bakuto had executed his men and taken his own life in seppuku. If his life and death had had no honor at all, the fake story told about him granted him some, at least.

Bakuto is an arrogant and ambitious man, a modernist who seeks to modernize The Hand with contaminations from the contemporary world. With no loyalty whatsoever, Bakuto is able to betray anyone, even his own master and mentor Izanagi, whom he even denied the ritual suicide to when defeated. As a Hand Daimyo, Bakuto is a skilled warrior and martial artist, able to use traditional weapons such as the katana or the kusarigama, who however prefers a much more modern Uzi Pistol. Little more than a glorified Yakuza gangster, Bakuto is a disgrace to The Hand’s ancient traditions, a man who walks a solitary path that leads him to play with forces he doesn’t even come close to understand.

Tullk Ul-Zyn

With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 approaching, more and more teasers and trailers have been hitting our screens recently, and in one of them there’s a new character we can spot in the middle of the crowd. When the Ravagers are hunting for Rocket, one of them baldly steps forward, holding two guns and giving an ultimatum to the furred Guardian of the Galaxy (stepping in one of his traps): that’s Tullk, portrayed by Tommy Flanagan. As for now, the one thing we know of him is that he’s a Ravager who joins Taserface in his rebellion against Yondu and who’s later hired by the Dominion to hunt down the Guardians. In the comics, Tullk is quite a piece of garbage, but he doesn’t have any relation to the Ravagers, and he’s connected to the bad guy from the previous movie instead. Let’s see together.

Little is known about Tullk Ul-Zyn, an alien of unknown origin. Weak, fat, short and clumsy, Tullk was surely no warrior, but he didn’t lack anything in terms of wits. He became a galactic bounty hunter, compensating with his remarkable ability to gain information what he lacked in physical prowess. He travelled the galaxies aboard his ship, the Torricane, and he had several planetary bases scattered around the universe, so that he always had a place to use as a shelter in case things got messy…and houses he could inhabit while gathering precious data. Once, while he was on planet Bwokk, he was visited by quite a troublesome client, the disgraced Ronan, who had been stripped of his title of Accuser and banished by the Kree Empire following the allegedly false testimony provided by Tana Nile, a Rigellian he was now looking for. The moment Ronan arrived on Bwokk, Tullk knew he meant trouble: a powerful warlord, Metz of the Qa-Kabar, was supposed to marry the daughter of a rival warlord, Homma, to bring peace between the two factions, but he had killed her right before the wedding ceremony. Ronan, always the Accuser despite his current disgrace, forced Metz to a trial by combat and killed him in his perceived justice. Tullk ironically complimented him for his deed, as he made him notice that, according to Bwokk’s laws, Metz was in his right in killing Homma, as he had caught her cheating on him, and that now that he was dead many other warlords would have started a neverending war to take his place. Ronan didn’t care of it, as the justice he sought was an absolute; rather, he asked Tullk informations about Tana Nile’s location, info that the bounty hunter obviously had. Tullk told Ronan that the Rigellian had left the planet three rotations before, and he even had a copy of her flight plan…a copy that he was willing to give to the Accuser, for a price. Ronan agreed to give him a disc containing the current deployment of the Kree Sentries on the imperial borders, and obtained what he wanted in exchange. Then, the two parted ways.

Tullk was actually playing a three-players-game: he was in contact with Tana Nile as well, as she had stayed with him for some time, knowing far too well that Tullk would have sold the information regarding her movements to Ronan; then, he himself knew that Ronan would have warned the Kree to change the dispositions of the Sentries, since he was about to sell the disc he had received by him to enemies of the Empire; last, he was soon contacted by Tana Nile herself, who instructed him to tell Ronan she was on Godthab Omega, in a settlement named Abyss, where her ally and protector, Gamora, was hoping to ambush the Accuser. Tullk, threatened by Ronan, by Tana Nile and by the rebels as well, managed to move among everybody’s interests while making sure to gain a profit from it, but he realised he was becoming too old for this risky chess game, and seriously considered retirement after the last parts of this complicated deal: first, he contacted Ronan and directed him to Gamora’s trap, then the only thing that remained to do was selling the disc with the data about the Sentries to the (unnamed) third party. He flew with the Torricane to the meeting point…but upon reaching it, he immediately realised something was amiss: he found the remains of a lot of ships, most of them Kree ones, and they had clearly been destroyed by a powerful force. Not wanting to have anything to do with it, Tullk abandoned his cargo and made preparations for leaving…but then something landed on his ship: it was an insectoid from the Negative Zone, quite an unwelcomed guest. Before he even finished threatening the bug, Tullk saw that thousands and thousands more were coming: the Annihilation Wave led by Annihilus had reached this dimension, ready to consume everything in its wake. Tullk opened a channel, trying to send a message to Ronan and to tell him that the insectoids had invaded Kree space: he was still calling for help when the Wave penetrated into his ship and started to eat him alive.

Tullk Ul-Zyn is a smart and calculating alien, an experienced scoundrel who manipulates without difficulties all his clients, obtaining from each one of them the maximum profit he can. A seasoned bounty hunter, not being in his youth anymore he now prefers to deal with informations rather than with actual bounty hunting, and he has quite a gift in learning everything even slightly precious to somebody and selling said info to third parties. A man who has seen everything in the universe, there’s nothing able to take Tullk by surprise…not in this universe, at least…

Scythe

Let’s continue with the Iron Fist breakdown, this time with episode 6, Immortal Emerges from Cave. In here, Iron Fist participates to the Da Jue Zhan, the tournament held by The Hand in which he has to face Madame Gao‘s best warriors. One of them is simply known as Scythe, portrayed by David Sakurai, a man who mocks his adversary for claiming to “be a weapon”, while in clear lack of one (he’ll have reasons to change his mind, obviously). In the comics, Scythe is undoubtedly an enemy of Iron Fist, but he’s never been a member of The Hand, or any faction of it; rather, he’s a mercenary who works as an assassin for hire for other villains, and goes after the hero just for money. He’s not exactly a prominent foe, appearing in three issues only. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Scythe, not even his true name. He was most probably American, albeit nothing is known of his birthplace, and it’s likely that he spent some time in Japan as well. As an adult, he received an intensive training in martial arts, and he became extremely accomplished in the use of the kusarigama, a chained scythe with a steel ball at one end. Wanting to use his skills to make profit, the man adopted the name “Scythe” and entered the market as a mercenary and an assassin for hire, accepting contracts to kill people swiftly and stealthy if need be. With time, he apparently made quite a career for himself, albeit not enough to make him accept only high-priced contracts. Despite travelling for work, his base of operations was New York City, as in recent years it had become a flourishing market for masked mercenaries like him, as there were many criminals around willingo to dispose of rivals and enemies without getting their hands dirty, and some occasional bounties kept him occupied. Still trying to make a name for himself among the many rivals, Scythe accepted a weird bounty hunt: there was a new hero in the city, a martial artist named Iron Fist, who had apparently stepped on the wrong guys’ toes; a wealthy businessman, Harold Meachum, had just decided he had had enough of him, and put a bounty on the vigilante worthy 10,000$. It was unusual to put a bounty on a man without a name, but if the payment was a safe one (and Meachum had plenty of money), that was enough for Scythe to try: as well as many other thugs and assassins in New York, he started hunting for Iron Fist, eager to enter the big league of the priced criminals.

Finding Iron Fist proved to be pretty easy, as Scythe limited himself to following other assassins who had been hunting for him, waiting for the moment they actually found him. When they did, instead of attacking along with the others, Scythe kept a distance, studying his enemy while he made short work of a number of assailants. When Iron Fist had finished with the others, as soon as he let his guard down after the fight, Scythe attacked him, hitting him in the head with the steel ball. Taking advantage of the surprise, Scythe reached his target and used the chain of his weapon to strangle him, bringing him on his knees in a matter of seconds. Having witnessed Iron Fist’s skills, Scythe wanted to end it as quickly as possible and, after tying him to a fence, he tried to stab him through the bars. As fast as he had been, Scythe couldn’t however match Iron Fist’s reflexes, and the martial artist soon regained control of himself and destroyed the fence, knocking the assassin down. This first failure only made Scythe more determined than before, and he attacked once again, this time going at Iron Fist’s chest directly with his blade…but the hero caught the kusarigama in midhair, and used his chi to vaporize the steel, leaving the killer unarmed. Impressed by the display of supernatural power he had just witnessed, Scythe dropped what was left of his weapon and surrendered, hoping in his enemy’s mercy. Iron Fist questioned him about who was sending killer after killer after him, and Scythe immediately confessed, making the name of Meachum. Then, still terrified, he fainted. Maybe, there was some safer job around for a guy like him, surely safer than fighting against unbeatable Human Weapons

Scythe is a ruthless mercenary, a man who kills for money and who always aims for the highest profit; still a rookie in the world of costumed assassins, he tries to make a name for himself, but ends up biting on more than he can chew. He’s a very skilled martial artist, expert in the use of the traditional Japanese weapon known as kusarigama, and he’s also a skilled hand-to-hand combatant. With no loyalty nor honor, Scythe proves to be quite a coward when facing a force superior to his own, a boastful amateur not yet ready to play with the big kids.

Maria Bonita Rodriguez

Now, back to Iron Fist episode 4 for the next character appearing in the series. In Eight Diagram Dragon PalmDanny Rand tries to get acknowledged with his company and its activities, and he introduces himself during a board meeting interrupting Ward Meachum who was speaking about leishmaniosis. Among the board members, there’s one white-haired woman who, like the others, looks at him puzzled, and who comes back later in the series: that’s Maria Rodriguez, portrayed by Elise Santora. In the comics, Maria Rodriguez is a very different character, not related to Iron Fist (albeit she has some connections with Colleen Wing), and very close to one of the weirdest supervillains ever. Let’s see together.

Maria Bonita was born in San AntonioTexas, from an unknown family. A beautiful woman, she was courted by many, but only one man managed to win her heart eventually: Antonio Rodriguez, the beautiful and damned kind. Bonita and Antonio passionately fell in love with each other, and they eventually got married…however, this didn’t make Antonio change his way of life, and he continued with his petty criminal activities even after their marriage. The woman loved her husband for who he was, and as far as we know she didn’t oppose Antonio’s life choices, not even when he ended up in jail following one of his deeds. While her husband was serving his time, however, Maria’s health started failing her for unknown reasons. She didn’t tell anything to Antonio not to worry him, but when he finally came back home, he found her lying on the floor, senseless. The situation couldn’t be ignored anymore, and Antonio brought his wife to every doctor and physician he knew, but nobody was even able to understand what kind of illness was killing Maria. All hope seemed to be lost…until another doctor, some Karlin Malus, presented himself to the couple, claiming he could heal Maria…for a price. Desperate, Antonio was ready to accept any offer, and Malus told him that he would have cured his wife only if he let himself be experimented on by him; the man accepted, and the scientist mixed his DNA with animal one, turning him into the Armadillo, a monstrous and super-strong hybrid. Malus, however, still blackmailed Antonio, telling him he would have cured Maria only if he did his bidding as long as he told him to: not wanting to lose the woman he loved, the Armadillo became Malus’ henchman.

Luckily enough, during one of Antonio’s missions for Malus he met and fought Captain America, who forced him to tell him his story, and took pity in him. Cap defeated Armadillo, but didn’t hand him over to the authorities, and followed him to Malus’ lab, where he defeated the scientist as well and forced him to keep his promise and heal Maria Bonita. Finally, the woman was cured from her terminal disease, and she could come back to a normal life with her husband…well, her now gigantic and monstrous husband. Antonio, however, seemed to have learnt his lesson, as he was trying to do something good with his life and joined the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, the WWA for superhumans, so that he could earn some honest money. At a certain point, however, Armadillo fell under Doctor Doom‘s mind control, and attacked the Fantastic Four: defeated by the combined efforts of The Thing, the Human Torch and She-Thing, he came back to jail, this time at the Vault…and Maria grew pretty tired of it. Her husband was being a model prisoner, waiting for parole, but Maria Bonita was already with her mind somewhere else: another man, a guy named Ramon, had entered her life, and he had brought back all the romanticism and passion that a giant-armadillo of a husband couldn’t give her anymore. She started an affair with him, and she would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for a guy who saw her and later informed the Armadillo of everything. The Armadillo went into a rampage, and swore to kill his unfaithful wife, the one he had given up his humanity for: he escaped from the Vault, and attacked anyone in his sight, including his manager Lenny J. Feitler and Captain America. Arrested once again, he nearly joined a mass-escape from the Vault, but Vagabond talked him out of his revenge plans. Apparently, Maria Bonita had been born under a very lucky star, despite all.

Maria Bonita Rodriguez is a passionate woman, full of life and romantic. A loving wife, she is grateful to her husband for saving her life…but she also misses their old life, made impossible by Antonio’s transformation into Armadillo; chasing her old romance (and being quite vain), Maria looks for another man to fill the empty space left by her husband…quite underestimating the consequences of cheating on a supervillain with super-strength and sharp claws.