Nico Minoru (Marvel)
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Nico controls the power of the Staff of One which emerges from her body after she is cut or hurt. With the staff, Nico can conjure powerful spells. In the crossover event Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways, series author Zeb Wells established that Nico does not need to speak English words to cast spells; Nico cast a teleportation spell using a Latin phrase supplied to her by the Vision.
Only Nico can summon the Staff, but anyone can cast spells with it. When not in use, the Staff retreats into her body, which Nico describes as "feel[ing] like I have something in my eye, but instead of my eye, it's... it's my soul." To summon the Staff, Nico must shed blood and then recite the incantation "When blood is shed, let the Staff of One emerge." Early in volume one, Nico would cut herself to release the Staff, often using Chase's switchblade. As the series progressed, Nico found alternative ways to make herself bleed, including brushing her gums for extended periods of time and having Old Lace bite her arm. During her monthly menstrual cycle, Nico does not need to cut herself to evoke the Staff.
The Staff always emerges from the center of her chest, and passes through any clothing she is wearing without damaging it or Nico. However the Staff will damage anyone or anything directly in its way when ejected from Nico's body. For example, the Staff emerges after the vampire Topher begins to drain Nico's blood and pierces directly through the center of his chest.
There are two demonstrated limitations to the Staff of One's power. First, Nico cannot cast the same spell twice or the spell will "misfire" and a random effect will occur. For example, the second time she tried to cast a "Fumigation" spell, the Staff teleported Nico and Karolina miles outside of Los Angeles. The sole demonstrated exception to this limitation is former runaway Alex Wilder. Alex used the Staff to cast a spell off-panel which bound Karolina's parents in power-dampening chains, and then used the same spell later on Karolina. The reason for this exception is unrevealed.
The second limitation of the Staff of One is that it cannot be used to bring people back from the dead. Nico discovered this limitation when she tried to resurrect her former lover Alex Wilder off-panel, between Runaways vol. 1 #17 and Runaways vol. 2 #2. Nico revealed this attempted resurrection to explain why she could not magically revive the deceased future version of Gertrude Yorkes.
During their parents' annual "fundraiser," Nico and her friends Alex Wilder, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, Gertrude Yorkes, and Molly Hayes discover that their parents are members of an archetypal supervillain cabal called The Pride; Nico's parents are the dark magicians of the crime ring. She runs away from home with the other five kids and begins a life in hiding at Chase’s dilapidated mansion hideout called “the Hostel.” In an altercation with her parents, Nico accidentally acquires her mother’s Staff of One and slowly begins to tap her abilities as a sorceress. She expresses feelings for Alex Wilder during their original getaway, but is hesitant to start a romance. She impulsively agrees to date Alex after he saves her from a vampire attack some time later. This pattern of clinging to people during stressful and/or intense situations follows Nico throughout the entire first volume and continues into the second volume. However, Nico proves her loyalty to the runaways when Alex betrays the group and offers her a seat in the new world promised by the Pride's Biblical benefactors, the Gibborim. She refuses Alex's offer and helps usher her friends to safety as the Gibborim slaughter Alex and the Pride; soon afterwards, the gang is apprehended by Captain America and split among different foster homes. However, the group organizes a mass escape from their homes to begin life as full-time vigilantes; Nico is generally accepted as de facto team leader. The second volume of Runaways finds Nico taking the leadership position with ease, proving that she has the intelligence and courage to make difficult decisions. After being warned of a future threat named Victor Mancha, Nico and the runaways find and abduct Victor to question him. After Victor witnesses his mother's murder and the rending of his "father," the android villain Ultron, Nico invites Victor to become part of the team, much to the chagrin of some members, most notably Chase. Nico reassures them that she is willing to "rip [Victor's] damn heart out" if necessary.
Despite Nico's resolve to remain single after Alex's betrayal, Karolina attempts to kiss Nico, revealing herself as a homosexual. Although Nico refuses the advance, she is emotionally distraught when Karolina leaves with Xavin to be part of a peaceweaving marriage, displaying her affection yet again in a stressful situation. Nico also kisses Chase after he negotiates their way out of a potentially fatal situation with an interdimensional drug-dealer; this causes a falling out between Nico and Chase's girlfriend Gert, almost dissolving the team from the inside. Gert's untimely death sends Nico into the arms of Victor Mancha, with whom she begins a physical relationship. When Victor asks Nico be his girlfriend, she tells him that between her tendency to seek physical affection as a coping mechanism, her insecurities regarding that tendency, and her survivor's guilt regarding Gert's death, she could not be a steady girlfriend. Nico confronts these insecurities in a dream involving her deceased parents berating Nico for acting like a "slut." She kills her parents in the dream, a symbol of overcoming her insecurities, but awakens bound in a chair at the mercy of Chase, who managed to steal the Staff of One. He reveals his plan to sacrifice himself to the Gibborim in exchange for Gert’s resurrection. Nico interprets this exchange as a cry for help and leads the runaways to intervene Chase's self-sacrifice. The Gibborim do not consume Chase, but instead try to take Nico, revealing that Nico's soul is innocent, thus suitable for the Gibborim's consumption. After defeating the Gibborim, Nico starts a romance with Victor, but soon thereafter leads the runaways in a cross-country escape from Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. superhuman registration forces.
Briefly used the code name Sister Grimm
First Appearance: Runaways (2003) #1
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Masters of Evil (Marvel)
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"We got just enough time to hop out of state till we figure out what we're gonna--ninja."
"Try not to die."
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