"I've got something to tell you... I'm sorry dad, but I'll never let you down again. I'll save them all, just like you would have. You always told me that we had a duty to others, that you do what was right because it is the right thing to do and I understand that now. You were a hero and I won't let that end with you. Now, it's my turn. I'll remember you every step of the way. I didn't choose to have these powers, but I can choose what I do with them. And, Dad, I choose to be better!"
Part-time student, part-time intern. Full-time superhero. Richard Reilly lived an ordinary life until the fateful day that he visited his father's lab. An explosion rocked the building and, in the chaos, he was bitten by an escaped genetically modified beetle and bestowed an array of incredible insectoid gifts. In the aftermath, his dad was blamed for the explosion and locked away. Using his gifts, he waged a one-man investigation to find the real culprit - that was until his actions endangered others. He finally understood his father's belief in moral responsibility, and realised he had an obligation to use his gifts responsibly all his own. From that moment on, he dedicated his life to the service of others and became Beetle-Man, the crime-fighting vigilante.
Ritchie Reilly was born 19 years ago to Roman and Mary Reilly, his father a scientist and his mother working at a bank.
Ritchie wasn't their first child, he had an old sister, Sarah, a role model he'd always looked up to growing up. Well-off but never rich, his parents always strove to teach their children the value of hard work and integrity, often espousing homilies and lectures when they got into trouble. Sarah took to them quite well, even growing up to study philosophy and becoming involved in social activism. With Ritchie, it seemed as though it would take a while to sink in.
That isn't to say Ritchie was a bad child. In fact, it was quite the contrary, Ritchie was a good natured kid, never intentionally spiteful or cruel, but at the same time easy to upset under the right circumstances. Inheriting his father's genius, he grew up to be quite the academically gifted child throughout his adolescence. As a result, he never managed to become as popular as his sister, who effortlessly managed to flit between social circles in a way that Ritchie never could. Still, he did manage to strike up a few close friendships, particularly with one of his sister's friends - Stacy Warren - and a fellow nerd Lee Michaels.
Ritchie's life changed forever when he dad invited him to see his lab. On the eve of a grand project unveiling, a 16 year-old Ritchie Reilly was able to see first hand the leaps in mutagenic science that his father had been responsible for over the years. The missed birthdays and milestones feeling small in comparison. It was awe inspiring, to say the least. And then, without warning, an explosion rocked the building, knocking the young boy unconscious. When he awoke a few minutes later, the building was in chaos. And in that chaos, no one noticed a single mutagenic research sample, the beetle B-862, escaping its enclosure and crawling towards Ritchie. Eager to escape, he was oblivious as it crawled onto his leg. Oblivious, that was, until it bit him on the hand.
The genetic code of the Beetle had been altered and so, when the enzymes in its body made contact with Ritchie's bloodstream, a mutagenic reaction occurred. Ritchie was gifted with the proportional abilities of several different species of beetle. He gained superhuman strength, agility, stamina and even the ability to stick to virtually any surface. However after that fateful day in the lab, Bolton Industries, the owner of the laboratory, was eager for a scapegoat to blame the explosion on. They settled on Ritchie's own father, the lead scientist in the facility. His father was arrested and sentenced to a life in prison. Determined to find the truth behind the accident in the laboratory, Ritchie and his sister launched investigations.
Ritchie donned a homemade costume to conceal his identity, using his powers to track, fight and interrogate whoever he could find connected to the sentencing of his father from police, to judges, to criminals, slowly but surely unravelling the threads as he followed his hunches with an unparalleled tenacity. Eventually, he tracked down the man he believed to be responsible for the bombing and confronted him. A fight broke out, and then another explosion in an underfunded tenement block. Ritchie was faced with a choice, catch the man responsible for his father's imprisonment, or save lives. In that moment, he remembered why he was investigating in the first place: for his father. The man he was, the reasons he dedicated his life to science. And in that moment, the choice was made for him - it was his duty to help others. The principles his father had tried to impart echoing in his head: "When you have the power to help someone, it's not just a 'good idea' to do it, it's a responsibility to do so."
And so, Beetle-Man was born. Ritchie redesigned his costume from the ground up, crafting out an identity as a hero. No longer searching solely for his own justice, he instead sought to help anyone he could.
Beetle-Man made his first appearance on the scene in dramatic fashion. When a car ran out of control in the middle of a busy parade, it seemed like casualties were inevitable. And they would've been, had Ritchie not been in the crowd. Changing into his costume, he caught the car in his hands as it flew through the air, in front of a crowd of stunned onlookers. There was a new hero in town.
Life is Complicated
Beetle-Man's heroics continued for several weeks, driving a media frenzy which permeated every aspect of Ritchie's life, from the gossip of his classmates, to the news when he got him, to the questions his dad asked when he visited in prison - news was scarce and Beetle-Man seemed to be all Roman heard about in his isolation. His father was stuck in prison. Sacrificing the chance to capture that bomber had dried up all the leads that Ritchie had in exposing the frame-job that landed his father in jail. Jail was hard on Roman, and visits from family only seemed to make it harder. One day, when Ritchie visited his father, an argument broke out. Tired of the lack of freedom, and the heartbreak of seeing his family leave every single time, Roman had them struck off from his visitation list, effectively isolating himself; telling his son to stay away.
Angry and hurt, Beetle-Man took his rage out on criminals, encountering the career criminal, Dynamo, for the first time. His friends noticing a change in him, as he developed a short fuse, and a tendency towards brooding and melancholy, all whilst they could do nothing to help. Meanwhile, Roman's grip on his sanity continued to slip, isolation wearing him down further until a mysterious benefactor offered him a chance for early release, for someone else to suffer in prison in his place on one condition: He volunteer to test his own mutagenic formulas on himself. He accepted, and the supervillain known as Hyde was born. The formula he had injected into himself was a purer form of the substance that the beetle which had bitten Ritchie had been exposed to. As a result, the mutations that Dr Reilly's body went through were rampant and uncontrolled and without the focus of a singular animal species, his mutations triggered a variety of atavistic responses, turning him into the ultimate adapting creature, spontaneously generating features from any number of species to further his survival.
The monster went on a rampage, breaking free from prison and carving a trail of destruction across the city until he caught the attention of Beetle-Man. Still heart-broken, Beetle-Man launched into a vicious assault against the monster, a pitched battle ensuing on both sides which nearly claimed the life of Beetle-Man. Driven by anger and hurt, Ritchie held nothing back, delivering a no-holds barred beatdown to the monster culminating with a final, decisive blow. He had killed the monster. And then, to his horror, the monster transformed, revealing the broken form of his father, dead at his feet.
Beetle-Man ran home, terrified. He swore never to be Beetle-Man again. When news broke that Roman Reilly had been killed, murdered by Beetle-Man, his family was distraught, his mother heartbroken and his sister filled with righteous rage, swearing to find out the true identity of Beetle-Man. Ritchie, meanwhile, was torn up by the guilt of knowing he had killed his father, that he had given into his anger and murdered the man he looked up to.
After the funeral, Ritchie tried to lead an ordinary life. He tried to focus back on his schoolwork, his social life and friends which he had ignored in favour of heroics and ultimately put the craziness of the past few weeks of his life behind him. But it all felt hollow, and everywhere he looked, he saw people in danger, he remembered how it felt to be a hero and, most importantly, he remembered his father's lessons to him. Unable to ignore the suffering he had the power to stop, he donned the Beetle-Man costume once more, visiting his father's grave and swearing to uphold his beliefs, his legacy and become a true hero.
A few months after the death of his father and Ritchie had begun to adjust to his new life as a superhero. Well, as well as any teenager could. His grades had started to slip and his social life becoming even more non-existent. When questioned about it, he blamed it on lingering depression from his father's death, something which likely wasn't far from the truth. He was throwing himself into his self-imposed duties as a coping mechanism. And so, when he went to a city parade with some friends in an uncharacteristic move to socialise, it was quite unfortunate that it ended up being attacked by a supervillain. The villain, draped in a trenchcoat and spoke with a thick Russian accent, but his most defining feature was the eight arachnid-like appendages which protruded from his body. The villain sowed chaos throughout the parade, heading for a private box where the city's wealthiest and most powerful were enjoying the parade like a man on a mission.
And that was when Beetle-Man intervened, springing into action to intercept the villain and engage him in a superpowered brawl. It did not go well. Despite getting some good hits in, his youthful overconfidence got the better of him. When one of the villain's arms caught him in their powerful grip, he was done for. Beaten and broken, he was cast aside but not before he learned the villain's name: Professor Portia. His efforts hadn't been for nothing, their brawl had given SWAT enough time to mobilise, rapidly forcing a retreat of the arachnid antagonist. Ritchie was also forced to flee, the police seeking to arrest him, skulking home defeated.
Unbeknownst to Ritchie, Professor Portia was a highly sought after mercenary the world over, regarded for his intellect and efficiency. And this time, he had been hired to make an example Maxwell Bolton, the late Roman Reilly's former employer.
The defeat weighed on Ritchie, forced to cover up the various bruises he had sustained, lying to his friends and family as he grappled with whether he was meant to be a hero at all. He focused on his personal life for the first time in months, putting heroics to the wayside. He even managed to work up the courage to ask out the girl he liked, Liza Beckett. But when news broke that the villain had attacked once more, he couldn't help but spring into action. On the roof of the headquarters of Bolton Industries, he faced down the mercenary in front of cameras that the villain had prepared to broadcast Maxwell Bolton's untimely demise. The two fought once more. However, their fight was cut short when the villain dropped Bolton from the side of the building, forcing Beetle-Man to end the fight in order to save the day.
The next day felt easier on the young hero. That high of success carrying him through the day. After school, lazing around Lee Michaels, he toyed with revealing his identity. The thought of how exciting it'd be to share that part of his life with his best friend playing on his mind as they killed time at a fast food restaurant. That thought was cut short, however, when an emergency news broadcast cut into his pleasant evening. Professor Portia hadn't taken kindly to being foiled twice, and had resolved to take Beetle-Man off the board, permanently. Holding a school bus hostage on a bridge, as cliché as it was, Professor Portia challenged the hero to reveal himself.
And so Ritchie was forced to do battle once more, and miss the date he had organised. This time with more lives hanging in the balance. He tangled with the arachnid villain, and like before the sheer number of appendages the villain could leverage almost took the young hero's life. Trapped, with one of the limbs around his neck, another ready to deliver a fatal electric shock, Beetle-Man paused. He scrambled his brain, he had been fighting like a bruiser, not the intelligent kid he was. And, in an instant, he had figured it out. The circuitry within the arms was the key. Channelling an entire capsule of his venom into one of his launchers, he fired a venom blast into a patch of exposed wiring wrenched loose earlier in the battle. It caused a chain reaction, the villain subdued by his own technology.
In the aftermath, Ritchie realised just how dangerous his life was. With villains willing to threaten innocent lives to get to him, he was haunted by what they'd do to those that knew him. He couldn't reveal his secret. That being said, no one ever said he had to live the life of a hermit. Realising how much he had been neglecting his personal life, he called Stacy to apologise, desperate to get another chance at that date.
Still, the question sat at the back of his mind, just who did want Maxwell Bolton dead... and why?
Life continued as normal for Ritchie, heroics mixed with school work mixed with social life. It was exhausting, but it worked, Ritchie had even managed to go on a handful of dates with Liza. But whilst life had been going well with Ritchie, it had been going downhill for his mother. Ever since the imprisonment and subsequent death of Roman, finances had become increasingly hard to manage, and now they had fallen behind on mortgage repayments. One night, when sneaking back in from an evening of heroics, Ritchie discovered the letters from the bank. Wracked with guilt, he decided to do something about it, applying for a new job at a local coffee shop in order to help contribute to the bills.
Meanwhile a low-level crook, Harrison O'Hirn, had managed to take control of the A.P.E. battle armour, beginning a crime spree across the city that the police seemed powerless to stop. Beetle-Man intervened, only to suffer a horrible defeat at the hands of the impossibly strong warsuit. He fled home, passing out in his bed. The next day, he was confronted by his mother, who had received a call from Ritchie's would-be boss informing her of the interview. The two argued, with Mary admitting that she felt helpless to raise two kids by herself, and terrified that something could happen to them. She forbade him from taking the job, threatening to ground him if he pursued it further. Unfortunately for Ritchie, his day didn't improve. Thanks to the beating he'd sustained at the hands of the newly dubbed Prime-Ape he had missed another date with Liza. He visited Stacy for advice on how to mend the relationship, she suggested he be honest about whatever was taking up his time.
With O'Hirn still on the loose, and Ritchie still nursing severe injuries, he had to think smart about how to take him down. He reached out to Sarah, who had started to take investigative journalism seriously ever since she had set her eyes on taking down Beetle-Man. Together, they started to investigate the A.P.E. Warsuit, eventually uncovering its design blueprints. When questioned why he needed it, Ritchie was forced to lie to protect his secret. She saw through it. Even if she didn't know the truth, she was hurt that her brother had lied to her. Armed with knowledge of the Warsuit's inner workings, Ritchie was able to formulate a specially designed dose of venom to short-circuit the machine. He only had to get close enough to use it.
Prime-Ape and Beetle-Man battled once more. This time, Ritchie managed to pry open the armour plating on the suit's back, blasting his venom into the circuitry and defeating the villain. The day was saved, and with only one missed call from Ritchie's girlfriend.
Ritchie returned home to find his mother waiting for him. Expecting another argument, Ritchie tried starting with an apology only to be interrupted. His mother apologised instead, for letting her fears and pride get the better of her. In the end, she thought long and hard and realised that Ritchie was 16, on the cusp of becoming his own man. It wasn't her place to control whether or not he had a job. And besides, a little help with the bills wouldn't go amiss. The two hugged, with Ritchie reassuring her that she will always be needed.
Sarah, meanwhile, sat alone in her bedroom. A conspiracy board full of notes about Bolton Industries, Roman Reilly and Beetle-Man strung up. And now, in the centre, a simple question "What is Ritchie hiding?"
POWERS & ABILITIES
"Look, I can't fly because I was bitten by a ground beetle, please stop asking me!"
- Super-beetle physiology: Richard developed the proportional abilities of a beetle after being bitten by the test subject B-862, a genetically modified Ground Beetle designed to display as many desirable traits as possible. As a result, he developed abilities such as:
- Wall-crawling: Exposure to the venom of the mutated beetle changed the way in which Richard's body interacts with other molecules, he likens it to a sort of Van der Waals force. The result of which is his ability to adhere to almost any surface with any part of his body, though the majority of the effect seems concentrated on his hands and feet. The amount of force required to forcibly separate him from a surface he chooses to adhere to has yet to be discovered.
- Superhuman strength: Beetle-Man also possesses superhuman strength. Much like the average beetle, he is capable of lifting at least 300x his own weight if necessary. He has been shown to be capable of lifting and throwing cars overhead, and wielding improvised weapons out of wrecking balls with remarkable ease. As a result, he has to pull his punches around foes with less durability than him, lest he risk causing severe injury or even death. A side effect of his superhuman strength extends to his legs, where he is capable of leaping up 60 feet into the air.
- Superhuman speed: Whilst in no way comparable to true speedsters, Richard's enhanced musculature enables him to run at speeds which vastly outpace even the greatest human athletes, capable of keeping pace with a car travelling at roughly 80MPH.
- Superhuman stamina: Perhaps a mechanism to help his body cope with the strain of being able to perform far beyond mortal limits, Beetle-Man's body has adapted to produce less fatigue toxins over time, as a result he is able to exert himself at optimum levels for far longer before exhaustion starts to set in. Under ideal conditions, Beetle-Man can perform at his peak for several hours before the build-up of fatigue toxins starts to impair his physical activity.
- Superhuman durability: Beetles are renowned for their hardened skin and carapaces, so it stands to reason that Beetle-Man was endowed with a form of enhanced durability. His body has grown resistant to most forms of injury, shown to be capable of withstanding impact forces that would kill a normal man, such as being thrown from the top of a building, or taking blows from superhumanly strong opponents. His pain tolerance is also increased, demonstrated by his ability to continue fighting even after sustaining gunshot wounds.
- Superhuman agility: Beetle-Man's agility, balance and bodily coordination have all been enhanced to levels beyond the finest Olympic athlete. His body is exceptionally flexible and limber, despite his enhanced strength. His agility functions on a mostly instinctual level, and without practice he is capable of acrobatic demonstrations which vastly overshadow the combined efforts of circus aerialists and acrobats.
- Superhuman equilibrium: A subtle offshoot from his agility, Beetle-Man is able to instinctively balance on virtually any object, his body adjusting automatically to shifts in circumstance granting him perfect equilibrium in virtual any position.
- Superhuman reflexes: Beetle-Man's reflexes are enhanced in line with his superior acrobatic prowess. His reaction speed is theorised to be between 20-40 times faster than the average human, granting him the ability to dodge virtually any attack, even gunfire if he is sufficiently aware of it.
- Enhanced Senses: In tandem with Beetle-Man's reflexes, he benefits from enhanced senses, able to feel vibrations around him and hear ordinarily imperceptible auditory input among other things. These two abilities in tandem with his reflexes provide a sort of danger sense for Beetle-Man, who is able to pinpoint the direction a threat is coming from by way of his sensory processing and react faster than any human could possibly do so. With focus, he can even smell a potential threat before it acts, similar to an anti-predator adaptation found in beetles.
- Healing Factor: Whilst not as dramatic as other heroes, Beetle-Man benefits from a regenerative healing factor which enables him to heal otherwise severe wounds rapidly. What once took hours to heal takes minutes, and what took days takes hours, and so on.
Internet & Computing Expert: Not only did he manage to create his own Heads-up Display in his mask through piggybacking a variety of operating systems and forcing them together, but he has also managed the website of his part-time job - a small local coffee shop called Squire's. His approach to web design and social media enabled them to face the difficulties arising from being an independent shop in a busy city.
Expert Barista: The jury is out on this one, though Richard insists on his talent as a coffee connoisseur. His coffee-art leaves little to be desired, but the taste of the coffee he manages to make is certainly better than average. At least according to his friends.
Insecticides: A byproduct of his mutations, Beetle-Man has inherited an insect's vulnerability to insecticides, leaving him more vulnerable to them than the average human. Prolonged exposure to them renders him violently ill, a weakness that one of his enemies, the Exterminator, takes great advantage of.
Sensory Overstimulation: As a result of having supremely honed senses loud noises, powerful smells and an overabundance of sensory information can overload him. In extreme circumstances, this can leave him immobilised, in great pain or disoriented. And, in quite the inverse, his advanced senses can also be fooled by those that are aware of how to do so.
Over-protective: Beetle-Man has suffered betrayal and loss more than most since he gained his powers. As a result, he is fiercely protective of those close to him, to the point of blind rage or foolishness when they are endangered. The villain that manages to endanger those close to him can almost always bait him into an obvious trap.
Guilt: Beetle-Man carries a guilt-shaped chip on his shoulder. This sense of guilt and responsibility has only grown over the years with every loss, first his sister, than his father and then countless more in the years that followed. Guilt, especially misplaced guilt, can often be easily exploited.
"Making a gravity defying cloak with leftover tech is nothing, someone needs to invent self-cleaning spandex... This never happens to the Freedom Phalanx!"
- Beetle-Man's Costume: Beetle-Man's costume is a simple spandex costume coloured with a variety of blue and white hues. The deceptively simple design hides some advanced functionality, including:
- Mask Interfacing: An avid programmer, Beetle-Man constructed the mask of his suit to connect to a sophisticated heads-up display which keeps track of various gadget functionalities, including the current charge of his Beetle-launcher's venom blasts.
- Glider Cape: In lieu of his inability to fly, Beetle-Man designed a cloak patterned after beetle wings out of a material with gravity defying properties. The cape provides him with a limited gliding capability over short distances, or the ability to break his fall - both of which greatly enhance his traversal.
- Beetle-launchers: Despite their name, they do not shoot beetles. These wrist-mounted projectile launchers are a unique invention of Reilly's own design. Compact enough to slide onto his wrist with enough utility to serve a variety of functions. The launchers themselves operate off of twisting motions, the direction twisted deciding which function of the launcher is used. To date, he has two primary uses configured into his launchers:
- Grappling Hooks: Each wrist mount contains a compact yet highly durable grappling hook and capable which he uses to aid in his traversal across the city. The cables are not of his own design, but rather a material he appropriated from Bolton Industries when he first started out as Beetle-Man.
- Venom Blast: A marvel of Reilly's scientific ability, whereas his other inventions were helped by access to pre-existing technology, this was synthesised by his own mind. Dismayed at his own inability to generate venom, Reilly put his scientific mind to the test to create his own solution. As a result, Beetle-Man has created a substance which emulates the paralytic effects of the venom of certain Beetle subspecies, which he fires in a focused blast from his wrist launcher. Over the years, he has toyed with taking the venom blast a step further by introducing other venom types, such as the incendiary venom of the bombardier beetle.
Real Name: Roman Reilly
Powers/Abilities: Superhuman strength, durability and stamina. Mutagenic form.
Origin: Mutagenic serum
Background: Roman Reilly was an ordinary, if absent, father to his two children: Richard and Sarah. That all changed after an explosion at the lab in which he worked. Framed for a bombing he didn't commit, his sanity frayed. Despite almost daily visits by his family, helplessness set in. So, when he was offered a chance at freedom of only to test one of his old formulas, he jumped at the chance. He tested the formula and rapidly mutated into the monster known as Hyde rampaging across the city, even fighting the vigilante Beetle-Man, not knowing it was his own son. It all came to a head when, no longer holding back, Ritchie throw a punch that could've levelled a small building. It took down Hyde, at the cost of Roman Reilly's life. The incident shook Ritchie to his core, reinforcing the lessons he had to rapidly learn.
Real Name: Alexander Shultz
Powers/Abilities: Power Armour. Capabilities enhanced by generation of kinetic energy.
Origin: Power Armour
Background: Alexander Shultz started out as a petty criminal. In fact, he was one of the first criminals that Beetle-Man had the pleasure of fighting. His bail was paid by an elusive benefactor who supplied him with a set of advanced power armour in exchange for his loyalty. The power armour made him more than a match for the insectoid avenger, he even managed to defeat him in their first fight, caught in the midst of robbing a museum. It was only when Beetle-Man deduced the kinetic nature of his power armour that he was able to level the playing field and defeat him. Between periods in prison, Dynamo is now often found in the employ of more ambitious supervillains or crime lords, often acting as superpowered muscle.
Real Name: Harrison O'Hirn
Powers/Abilities: Superhuman strength and durability granted by a gorilla-themed mech-suit.
Origin: Power Armour
Background: Harrison O'Hirn always wanted to feel big and strong. A small, diminutive man, he'd grown up being ridiculed for his lack of height, which placed him barely above 5ft tall. One day, by some strange twist of fate, a prototype battle armour developed for the US military practically landed at his feet. The GORILLA battlesuit (US officials still refuse to comment on what the acronym stands for) granted him everything he desired, strength, prowess, power and it didn't take long before he was exacting vengeance on those who had earned his ire. This brought him into conflict with the wall-crawling warrior. The suit's movements were slow and clumsy, but even the slightest hit had the power to shatter concrete. Despite taking him down, it took Beetle-Man weeks to heal, even with his enhanced healing factor.
Real Name: Alexander Ivanov
Powers/Abilities: Nanobot prostheses approximating spider-legs. Gifted inventor and tactician
Background: Doctor Alexander Ivanov, a brilliant Russian scientist twisted by madness. Suffering from a mutation in his brain which causes it to function like a biocomputer, he became a Russian superpowered operative in exchange for funding to develop his projects. Modifying a 8-limbed harness he used for research he became one of Russia's prized superpowered operatives. That is, until his ego became too large for the shackles of subordination. He went rogue, taking the name Professor Portia (named for what he considered the most intelligent arachnid) and became a mercenary for the highest bidder, carving out a reputation the world over; so when he was hired to kill Beetle-Man, it was expected to be a done deal. It wasn't, and Ivanov's defeat by the hero left him obsessed with defeating his self proclaimed nemesis.
STATUS: AT LARGE
Real Name: ???
Powers/Abilities: Seemingly limitless resources and influence.
Occupation: Criminal kingpin
Background: Beetle-Man first learned of the individual known as Chessmaster by acciden a few months into his crime-fighting career, when he interrupted a tech-heist being committed by a group of superpowered mercenaries in his employ. Since then, Reilly has tried his hardest to organise a profile of the criminal mastermind, but his efforts have come up for naught. All he has been able to learn for certain is that this person, or group of people, has nigh unlimited resources and influence with which to run a criminal empire. On top of this, he appears to be sufficiently fearsome that none of the criminals Beetle-Man has managed to subdue have been willing to turn on him. Chessmaster has been an enigma for three years one that, even now, Beetle-Man is no closer to solving...
STATUS: AT LARGE
Real Name: Michael Baker
Powers/Abilities: Amorphous body of thousands of insect-themed machines, capable of performing a variety of functions.
Origin: Illegal experimentation
Background: Michael Baker was suffering from an inoperable cancer tumour when he disappeared from his hospital bed in the middle of the night. Written off as a suicide, the true story was much darker. Baker had actually been abducted by a cabal of unscrupulous scientists working under the Chessmaster's orders who was seeking a living weapon to fight Beetle-Man. They tested their newest technology - a means of digitising a person's consciousness - on the dying man, uploading his consciousness into a swarm of advanced insectoid machines, becoming a sentient swarm. Driven mad by the transformation, he turned to a life of crime, coming into conflict with Beetle-Man and inadvertently providing Chessmaster with his weapon.
- He's an unlicensed son of a gun! And not just in regards to his driving license!
- Subject to a very mixed set of media opinions, ranging from malicious malingering maggot to hero of the people!
- He's a Gen Z college student, try bribing him with one serotonin or something. You also might have seen him on campus at your local university™!
- His villains break out a lot, it's not his fault, he swears...
- He's been at this for a few years but still doesn't go out of his way to team up with others, but who knows, there could've been a good ol' World's Finest team-up somewhere in the past!
- His origin story made the news! Or rather, the bombing part did. Very tragic.
I'm a TV tropes addict, so here you can enjoy the list of tropes that I think relate to Beetle-Man. If only I put this much effort into writing a "Personality" section.
-  Alliterative Name: This was an intentional choice, I've been a sucker for it ever since I started reading comic books.
-  The Atoner: He's been carrying around the responsibility for his father's death since the beginning of his career. It's why he's so dedicated to what he does.
-  Badass Bookworm: Much like his primary inspiration, he's a certifiably Gifted intellect.
-  Chronic Hero Syndrome: You bet. All that guilt he carries around pretty much keeps him in the hero game, no matter how much he suffers for it.
-  Cursed with Awesome: Being Beetle-Man wreaks havoc on his personal life, leading to missed opportunities, falling grades and even failing relationships. The fact that his family blames his heroic identity for his father's death doesn't help.
-  Deadpan Snarker: He won't stop talking, and you'd best believe half of what he's saying is snarky beyond all reason.
-  Stepford Snarker: This is definitely a tie-in to the above, but the Snark is definitely a defence mechanism. Half the time he's nervous, or riddled with self-doubt, or downright miserable.
-  Dork Knight: You bet.
-  Guilt Complex: Definitely related to his Chronic Hero Syndrome, he carries around the guilt for his father's death and it informs pretty much all of his decisions.
-  Hero with Bad Publicity: Though it is his fault, he did start his crime fighting career harassing judges and cops.
-  Knight in Sour Armor: Beetle-Man has lost a lot since he got his powers. Whilst he believes that people can be better, he knows better than to expect anything from the people he saves. Heck, half the time they insult him.
-  Small Steps Hero: Much like one of his inspirations, he definitely believes in being a friendly neighbourhood hero. Like he learned from his father, his duty as a hero is to save lives, no matter what it takes.
-  Superpower Lottery: Who knew being bitten by illegally modified insects came with so many powers?
-  You Fight Like a Cow: You'd better believe that sometimes his words hit harder than his fists.
Here is a repository of various character sheets that have been made for Beetle-Man over the years. In case you're interested in any stats!
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
- Solo: D10
- Buddy: D8
- Team: D6
- Powers: My blessing, my responsibility!
- Neurotic Wisecracker
- Beetle-themed Brawler!
|Superhuman Strength D10||Superhuman Reflexes D10|
|Enhanced Senses D8||Enhanced Durability D8|
- Map the Danger: Spend 1 PP to add Enhanced Senses (or step up if already in your pool) and reroll all dice on a reaction.
- Second Wind: Before you make an action including a Everything a Beetle Can power, you may move your physical stress die to the doom pool and step up the Everything a Beetle Can power for this action.
- Multitasker: Use two or more Everything a Beetle Can powers in a single die pool at -1 step for each additional power used.
- Focus: In a pool including a Everything a Beetle Can power, replace two dice of equal steps with one die of +1 step.
- Impact Forces only: Enhanced Durability only works against Impact forces (bludgeoning, crashing, fists and so on).
- Guilty: Earn 1PP when you step up Emotional Stress resulting from feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
- Exhausted: Shutdown any Everything a Beetle can power and earn 1PP. Recover the power by activating an opportunity or during a transition scene.
|Swingline D8||Venom Blast D6|
|Underarm Glider D6|
- Paralytic Venom: Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting Venom-based complication on a target.
- All in on one guy!: Step up or double a Venom Blast die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.
- Out of Venom mix!: Shutdown Venom Blast and gain a PP. Recover by action against the Doom Pool or in a Transition scene.
- Gear: Shutdown all Beetle-launchers powers except Underarm Glider and gain a PP. Recover by action against the Doom Pool or in a Transition scene.
- Not to Be Used as a Propulsion Device: Underam Glider can only be used to glide on air currents; it cannot fly and is only useful in the presence of a strong-enough wind to lift the wearer's body.
- Acrobatic Master D10
- Combat Expert D8
- Psych Expert D8
- Science Expert D8
- Tech Expert D8
- Beetle-Man started life, and I suppose continues life, as an homage or expy of Spider-Man, specifically the Ultimate and Insomniac Games takes (With some Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen in there too). He was a tabletop character from a long running Cortex Dramatic (A game designed to emulate CW drama, like Smallville) campaign and even made a few appearances in Masks: A New Generation (He was the Janus playbook, naturally). His backstory is mostly unchanged, though I'm still translating some setting elements over. Paragon is quite different from his original Empire City.
- In college he plays sessions of Dungeons and Dragons with his friends in his spare time. If he weren't a Dungeon Master, he likes to think he'd probably play a Ranger (Which lines up perfectly with his grab bag of powers).
- Like most comic characters, he follows a floating timeline. Hence his apparent lack of an actual birthdate.
- His villains definitely follow the "revolving door" rule of criminality, when one goes in, another one manages to break out.
- Beetle-Man is routinely called out for having a rear that looks as though it were sculpted by the gods, like a certain DC hero.
- His secret identity is named after Dick Grayson and Ben Reilly!