The Folding Circle

Roll Call: The Left Hand (Diego Casseas), Midnight's Fire (his legal surname is Chord), Bloodstrike (Eric Conroy), Smiling Tiger (his last name might be Mack), and Silk Fever (Min Li Ng).
Other Aliases: Smiling Tiger is also "The Tiger Who Smiles At The Kill." Min Li Ng was originally called "Theary" while going by the code-name Firewall, and the whole group were known as the Children of the Pact.
First Appearances: Ladies first... "Theary" first showed her face in New Warriors 7 and her Firewall outfit in issue 8, later becoming Min Li Ng and Silk Fever when the group fully assembled in Warriors 21. Midnight's Fire debuted in New Warriors 2, the Left Hand popped up in issue 16, Bloodstrike in number 17 and Smiling Tiger in issue 19. Whew! Any questions?

Yeah, What's Their Problem? It pretty much comes down to greed with misconceptions about honor on Fire's part thrown in, but Diego Casseas would tell you that they were meant for something more profound and complex. He was part of the American Army unit that discovered the Temple of the Dragon's Breadth deep in Vietnam-era Cambodia, thus becoming part of a prophecy called the Pact. Decades later, a power-hungry Casseas gathered the "hybrid mystic/mutant" children of his old army buddies into the Folding Circle, promising them the truth about their mysterious pasts while planning to usurp the mystic might that an Asian mystic named Tai had been planning to usurp for herself. Trust me, it's a lot easier to read about than to explain...
Abilities: The Left Hand studied enough magic to absorb his daughter's Darkforce abilities through his (all together now) left hand, through which he blasts people to smoking husks and teleports himself and others over untold distances. Midnight's Fire is a ruthless hand-to-hand combatant with way above-average agility, senses, speed, strength, an acid-resistant body and sharp weapons on occasion. Bloodstrike is your typical super-strong tough guy, albeit with mystic markings and such. Smiling Tiger growls, runs, jumps and slashes people with the metal claws on his armor. Silk Fever is almost constantly ablaze even when she's not flying or bothering to "ignite the oxygen molecules all around" (meaning she shoots fire). Alas, none of these guys can fly an Avenger's Quinjet worth spit.
Favorite Quote: "Very Barnabas Collins. Just tell me you have a dental plan and I'm all yours..." (Bloodstrike, impressed by the Left Hand's speech, instantly forgives Lefty for ending his previous high-paying yet untaxed career.)
Heroes They Keep Running Into: After forcefully recruiting Night Thrasher (Dwayne Michael Taylor), the Circle travelled to the Dragon's Breadth temple to find an annoyed Tai waiting, then they fought Thrash's friends: the New Warriors, Rage and Darkhawk. It was learned that the Warriors were meant to substitute for the Children of the Pact as sacrifices to a bottomless interdimensional breach called the Well of All Things. But after Tai's plans literally went down the hole (along with her and Diego Casseas), the rest of the Circle fled. They eventually wound up part of the night-life in Madripoor before Midnight's Fire's schemes brought Thrasher and Fire's sister Silhouette over to set him straight.
People Who Think They're Not So Bad: Taylor, Silhouette and Midnight's Fire busted New York street gangs together before Sil was crippled, for which Fire blamed Taylor. Fire became the Concrete Dragons' gang-lord, creating even more animosity between the three. Before Casseas recruited them, Min Li Ng worked for the radical environmental group Project: Earth while Eric Conroy was an enforcer for the late Mr. Kellington in Chicago. The gang has since been chummy with one of Madripoor's most prominent "entrepreneurs", Tyger Tyger.
Most Despicable Act: All the Circle's members have committed murder, although most of the victims were felons or ninjas (hey, we all know felons and ninjas are the same thing -- editor Jeanne) and it was even self-defense once or twice. Not, however, when Midnight's Fire killed three cops who found his gang's high-tech weapons. Or, for that matter, when "Theary" incinerated a Brazilian hotel clerk. Don't forget that Casseas gained his powers by ripping them out of his comatose daughter, or that Smiling Tiger played "scratching post" with plenty of human beings to boot...

by Ray Schaff

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