As I said a few posts back, I first encountered the Liberty Legion in an adventure for TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG that was published in Dragon magazine #104. Although the adventure was pretty good, I was surprised by how low-powered the Legion was by “modern” standards. Even the other “big” WWII-era supers team, the Invaders (watch this space soon!) far outclassed the Liberty Legion in power level. Nonetheless, I sought out all the appearances (up until then, anyway) of the Liberty Legion in Marvel Premiere, Marvel Spotlight and The Invaders, and I became a fan.
Painting and converting the team for Forgotten Heroes has been a blast. As promised, true believers, I present some background and the SMF gaming statistics for the Liberty Legion!
With a couple of minor exceptions, these profiles and builds are based only on what I knew about the Legion as presented in the Dragon adventure. In other words, more “current” versions of these characters probably exist (see Carrion Crow’s explanation as to why Thin Man uses knives nowadays in the comments section of this post), but these are the versions I am familiar with (and would use if I was gaming with the Legion).
First up: Miss America. Madeline Joyce got struck by lightning while visiting a lighthouse. When she woke up, she found out her “powers” had awakened. After the War she and Whizzer got married and had a son, Nuklo. That didn’t turn out so well.
Red Raven’s parents were killed when their plane crashed into a floating city of Inhumans called the Bird People. (Don’t you hate when people just park their floating cities anywhere? You’d think Red’s parents would notice something as big as a city before they crashed into it, but perhaps they were the worst pilots in the world.) The Bird People raised him and gave him a bird costume. Then he joined the Liberty Legion. After the war, he placed himself and the Bird People in suspended animation. He woke up, fought the X-Men, went insane and committed suicide when he discovered the Bird People were all dead due to a malfunction in the life support. Ahhh, happy endings.
Patriot was a reporter for the Daily Bugle who quit his job to put on a costume and root out Nazi agents working in America. He had no super powers other than a good right hook. As his name suggests, he was quite patriotic and made stirring radio broadcasts to bolster the war effort. He was a founding member of the Liberty Legion. After the second Captain America fell in battle, Patriot took up the mantle.
Whizzer got bitten by a cobra when he was a boy. A mongoose killed the cobra (of course). Then, for no sound medical reason, his scientist father injected Whizzer with some of the mongoose’s blood, which inexplicably gave Whizzer his super speed. Then his father died. He and Miss America joined the All-Winner’s squad and got married after the war.
Under Jack Frost’s background in the TSR adventure, it simply says: “Jack Frost’s personal history at this time is unknown to anyone.” Works for me. Anyway, his powers basically make him a much less cool (pardon the pun) version of Iceman.
Thin Man discovered a lost city in the Himalayas where people can flatten themselves as thin as paper. Why they do this is not really explained, but they gave him a chemical that let him do the same and also made him age so slowly he’s effectively immortal. Somewhere along the line he picked up a special plane that only he can pilot safely (presumably because the controls require flattening and stretching of the appendages in order to operate).
Blue Diamond, along with Pink Heart, Yellow Moon, Orange Star, Green Clover and (later) Purple Horseshoe, formed the ill-fated super team the Lucky Charms. Blue Diamond was the only survivor when a homicidal cannibalistic leprechaun slaughtered and ate the remaining members of his team. Actually, his true origin is almost as stupid as that. He was a normal guy standing next to a huge diamond when it suddenly exploded, embedding millions of diamond shards in his skin. This gave him super strength and durability, rather than shredding him to bits (which is the much more likely outcome when the human body is bombarded with diamond shards).
Like Patriot, Spirit of ’76 has no super powers and got his start fighting Nazi espionage at home. Unlike Patriot, Spirit of ’76 is a complete douchebag in a really stupid costume. Early in the war, he went to England and joined the Crusaders to fight the Nazis. He is an awkward and constant reminder of the American War of Independence (from the British), he has no super powers, and he wears a really stupid costume. How Union Jack didn’t constantly kick his ass is a mystery to me. He eventually becomes the second Captain America when the original Cap disappears (after being frozen in a block of ice).
Bucky needs no introduction. He’s Captain America’s sidekick! At least until he “died in an explosion” only to resurface as the Winter Soldier decades later.
Finally, Union Jack is Lord James Falsworth, a peer of the realm and brother to bloodsucking vampire Lord John Falsworth (Baron Blood). He was active during WWI, then resurfaced in WWII, offering his home to the Invaders to use as a base during the war. His brother threw a giant rock on him, effectively ending his career as Union Jack. Luckily, his son eventually took over. Union Jack is just a badass. He has no super powers, but packs a Webley. And his costume is cool.
Here are my Super Mission Force builds:
Miss America (Wild Card) Minor: Leaping, Super Strength, Enhanced Senses, Iron Will
(I really had to work to make a version of Miss America that (just barely) doesn’t suck. Her ONLY power in the TSR game was that she could levitate for up to 2 hours and she can make “controlled leaps”. She’s not even particularly good at fighting. In other words, Wonder Woman she ain’t. She should probably be a Street-Level archetype, but I pored over her pre-Marvel bio and found some minor, vague mentions of other powers possibly retconned out by the time she joined the Legion. It mentioned super strength, and the ability to “project X-Ray energy.” I guess this could be power blasts or enhanced senses. I chose the latter.)
Red Raven (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Flight, Power Blasts, Reflection
Red Raven’s powers all come from his suit. He can shoot frikkin’ lasers out of his wings and use them as a shield.
Patriot (Brawler): Major: Scrapper, Minor: Clever, Melee Specialist
Patriot has no powers. He’s just good at hitting things.
Whizzer (Speedster): Major: Speed, Minor: Melee Specialist, Super Agility
Whizzer is really good at using his speed powers to their maximum potential in combat.
Jack Frost (Blaster) Major: Power Blasts, Minor: Armor, Entangle, Flight
Jack is a poor man’s Iceman. He can use his ice powers to travel on slides as a form of Flight.
Thin Man (Super) Major: Metamorph:Elasticity, Minor: Resistance, Savant, Immortal
A “super” archetype only because of game mechanics (i.e. power slots). Thin Man isn’t really that impressive.
Blue Diamond (Brick) Major: Super-Strength, Minor: Armor, Resistance
Blue Diamond is a tank, pure and simple.
Spirit of ’76 (Brawler) Major: Scrapper, Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist
About the only thing good about Spirit of ’76’s costume is that he has a bulletproof cape. This is unfortunate, as it protects him from getting shot.
Bucky (Brawler) Major: Scrapper, Minor: Power Blasts, Grenades
I thought about making Bucky a Wild Card or even a Street Level archetype, but then I remembered he was a soldier who was trained by Captain America.
Union Jack (Brawler) Major: Scrapper, Minor: Power Blasts, Melee Specialist.
Another non-powered ass-kicker, only British this time.
In the comics, the Liberty Legion often faced off against low-powered goons and tons of henchmen. This was ideal, as most members were also low-powered. This works for roleplaying games like the old TSR Marvel game, but in Super Mission Force the heroes can easily dispense with hordes of henchmen. They’re actually more powerful in SMF because the henchmen rules favor the heroes. Also, there are a lot of Brawlers in the Liberty Legion, and Scrapper is one of the best powers in the game (IMO). This means the Legion would probably do fairly well in Super Mission Force combat.
Black Tree Design is having a 50% off sale on WWII miniatures until July 4th and I’m tempted to splurge and buy a bunch or Wehrmacht. The only thing that’s stopping me is that I don’t game WWII, so I would only be buying them as henchmen for this team to face off against. I think some of the mechs and walkers from Dust Tactics and AT-43 might work as opposition, too…guess we’ll see if I take the plunge or not!