Tarot is a mutant and mystic, an often-resurrected member of the Hellions. This is the Joint Venture Universe version of the character.
Mysticism & mutation
Throughout the ages of man, there has always been a mysterious, inextricable link between magic and genetic mutation. En Sabah Nur and Selene Gallio, two of the most powerful, dangerous mutants to ever walk the planet, were also adept practitioners of sorcery. The Neyaphem are a specific strain of mutants with demonic features, and the eldest among them, Azazel, is himself a gifted sorcerer. The X-Men Magik and the Scarlet Witch use both mutant powers and magic to great effect in battle. Even Storm, the X-Men's current leader, descends from a long line of powerful magic-users, including two Sorcerers Supreme, Ashake and her mother Aisha.
But nowhere is the line between magic and mutation blurrier than in the case of Marie-Ange Colbert.
A Cursed Line
Marie-Ange's story starts with her grandmother, Claire Colbert, the original World War II-era Black Widow (not to be confused with the Russian Black Widows of the Cold War and beyond). After her transformation into "Satan's huntress" , the surviving members of her family went into hiding in the US and France, and were not heard from for a full generation. Thus, the names and identities of Marie-Ange Colbert's parents remains a mystery to everyone but her.
What is known is that from a very young age, Marie was put through the French foster care system (though, oddly enough, her Colbert surname remained unchanged). She was continually bounced around from home to home as strange things continued to happen around her. Unlike most mutants, Marie-Ange's mutant power to bring pictures, photographs, and works of art into reality manifested itself in early childhood. With most people believing her powers to be magical in nature, she eventually gained the unfortunate nickname of "La Sorciére," and was shunned as a witch nearly everywhere she went, though most were too frightened of her to actually attack her.
Despite all odds, Marie-Ange managed to reach the legal age of emancipation, and was met by representatives of a mysterious law firm only referring to theselves as "LLL." These representatives, remarkable only in their unassuming appearance, presented Marie with a Tarot deck and a letter, addressed to her by her grandmother, Claire Colbert, the original Black Widow...a grandmother Marie-Ange herself had never met.
In this message, Claire informed Marie-Ange that she had foreseen her birth and the difficulties she would face in her youth. She said it was her will that her granddaughter take this deck and learn to use it, not only or divination, but to battle and triumph over the adversity she would doubtless face, as Claire herself had faced adversity. Most chillingly, Claire's missive recounted, in vivid, graphic detail, the events that had led to her becoming the Black Widow. That story would haunt Marie-Ange for the rest of her days.
Marie-Ange had many questions after reading this note, but the law firm's representatives had vanished, and left Marie-Ange alone again. However, having been named the Black Widow's heir, and the only publically acknowledged member of the Colbert family line, entitled Marie-Ange to a small fortune, the money her grandmother had made as a member of the Invaders, and an even greater sum acquired through "unknown means". While she was not "high society" levels of wealthy, Marie-Ange had enough to live a life of her choosing, free of the influences of her past...or so she thought.
After a few brief years of relative peace, attending a prestigious art college to become an artist in her own right, Marie-Ange made the grave mistake of going public - not with her heritage, but with her art, posting paintings, drawings, and digital art she had created onto a public gallery website where anyone could find it...and her. Having made no real effort to hide herself (why should she?), Marie-Ange was confronted in her apartment by agents of a mysterious organization called the Hellfire Club, who wanted to exploit her power for themselves. Their Red King in particular, a terrifying, demonically-featured man named Azazel, seemed to take an interest in her that, when Marie-Ange discovered it, chilled her to her very bones.
Frantic, she brought every painting in her place, every piece of art she had ever done, to life, and sent the creatures contained within after the men who wanted to abduct her. While they dealt with her painted servants, Marie-Ange fled, vanishing into the streets of Montmartre as if she'd never been...or so she'd hoped. Azazel, being a teleporter, swiftly caught up with her, and she was forced to confront him with the only pieces of art she had left - her grandmother Claire Voyaunt's Tarot cards.
To Marie-Ange's surprise, the images within her Tarot cards did more than came to life; they were all possessed of considerable mystical abilities of their own. Some could fly, others had tremendous strength, others wielded fire, or lightning, or other fantastic powers. With the powers of these cards at her disposal, she held off and distracted Azazel long enough to escape him completely.
Emptying her bank accounts and deleting her Internet accounts, Marie-Ange disappeared, using the only other talent she possessed - mysticism and fortunetelling - to make a new life for herself deep in hiding.
In truth, she moved to Paris, hoping the size of the city and the poor reputation of fortunetelling as a profession, would give her a degree of relative anonymity. Periodically, just to ensure her safety, she would leave France altogether, stay in another country for a while, and then return under a different alias, but always as a fortuneteller, and always with her grandmother's cards at the ready. Now simply calling herself "Tarot", she only uses her powers as she sees fit, but sometimes will venture out into the city and, if she is feeling brave, intervene on behalf of other people who are being victimized as she herself was victimized.
Tarot is primarily considered a mutant, but with a unique bent on her powers that also ties her irrevocably with magic and mysticism.
Astral Constructs: Tarot's primary ability is the power to take images from illustrated media, be they paintings, drawings, photographs, or prints, and render them as three-dimensional energy constructs. She seems to be able to do this with any still image, but cannot bring things to life from electronic media, like a computer monitor or TV screen.
Widow's Deck: Marie-Ange chose the name Tarot for herself because of hr primary weapon of choice, a unique deck of Tarot cards created and enchanted by her grandmother, Claire Colbert, the first Black Widow. Thus, Tarot normally creates constructs from the Major and Minor Arcana of that specific deck.
Unlike most images Tarot brings to life, which can only move and act as normal people or creatures would, the beings conjured by the Widow's Deck possess powers of their own, each card in the Major or Minor Arcana having a unique power all its own. Among them are particular favorites of hers:
- Judgment: A massive angelic figure, robed and winged. Typically manifests as at least a 30-foot-tall colossus. Riding in his hands is Tarot's preferred method of transportation.
- Devil: A demonic, muscular, slavering beast, roughly 7 feet tall. with wings, claws, a pitchfork, and pyrokinesis. Tarot usually creates him to serve as a bodyguard or brute force enforcer.
- Death: A robed, hooded, skeletal figure wielding a scythe, much like the traditional Grim Reaper. Usually Death's very presence is enough to frighten Tarot's opponents, thanks to the aura of fear it emanates, but the scythe the construct wields is razor-sharp and deadly.
- High Priestess: A woman in resplendent white robes, with the power to heal wounds and cure illnesses.
- Empress: A cornucopia, embroidered with the image of a regal woman on a throne. It possesses the power to create an unlimited quantity of food.
- Moon: A crescent-shaped bow that fires arrows of silver light.
- Star: Creates illusions out of "starlight" than can appear completely realistic. Tarot often uses this when she has no other images on hand to bring to life.
- Sun: A shield emblazoned with the sun symbol on it, that can raise protective domes and generate light and heat.
Clairvoyance: Using her Tarot cards as well as several other divination practices, Marie-Ange is able to perceive past events, possible futures, and even things happening far away. with a startling level of accuracy.
Art: Though she no longer does it professionally, Marie-Ange Colbert is a gifted artist, equally fluent in the mediums of paint, ink, pencil, and digital art.
Powerless constructs: When using anything other than Claire Voyaunt's Tarot deck, Marie-Ange can bring images to life, and give them physical form, but nothing else. Even if the picture is of a wizard or a divine being, they will only be able to move and perform simple tasks that a normal human or animal (depending on the nature of the image's subject) would be able to do. This does include fighting, however, normal images Tarot has brought to life are not terribly formidable.
Limited duration: Tarot's constructs, even the ones summoned from the Widow's Deck, can only remain active for a limited time. She has never been able to maintain an image's existence for more than an hour, and even that leaves her severely weakened and drained. Additionally, constructs from the Widow's Deck need a "cooldown" or "recharge" time, of up to a minute for every second they were manifested.