Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Comics Magazine #1

We're now up to May 1936 and this was the very first comic book from Centaur Publishing. And yet, some of the contents of this first issue also look familiar, as several properties that had been freelanced to National (DC) found new (or temporarily new) homes at Centaur.

Chikko Chakko is not the sort of strip that's going to show up here a lot. No, it's not included here as an example of early comic book racism, but for that rooster.

One of the first new mobsters invented wholly for Hideouts & Hoodlums was the giant carnivorous rooster. I had long thought this creature would have no precedence in comic books, but I thought it was funny and wanted one.  Now, this rooster is not giant and not necessarily carnivorous -- but, man, is it one tough little rooster!  Pecking a hole in a tire? I'd have to give this little fierce rooster at least 1/3 a Hit Die, and maybe have it peck for 1-3 points of damage!

The history of Doctor Occult and how he briefly became Dr. Mystic for Centaur is a story told in other places (perhaps most notably in the book  SUPERMEN: THE FIRST WAVE OF COMIC BOOK HEROES; 1936-1941, reviewed in The Trophy Case v. 1 no. 3).  What I'm interested in here is the magic.

Because this is only the first known adventure of Dr. Mystic -- second, if you consider him to be the same character as Dr. Occult.  If we keep with the notion that all published characters are actually H&H Heroes, earning Experience Points during each published story and slowly advancing in level, then Dr. Mystic should still be low level Magic-User -- probably 1st level -- and still casting 1st level spells.

That makes it pretty unlikely that Dr. Mystic and Zator can grow to such colossal size as to dwarf skyscrapers. Yes, the next edition should have an Enlargement spell, but I would not make it this powerful.

What else could be going on here?  Well, perhaps neither Magic-User has actually grown at all; perhaps they are using illusions to lure each other out.  They would be illusions on a grand scale, covering a much larger area of effect than I am comfortable allowing low-level spells to cover, but it still a possibility.  When they actually confront each other, face-to-face, in panels 4 and 5, there is no longer any background to suggest scale.

That brings us to the question of how they are journeying through the spirit world to reach India from the United States. Some sort of teleport spell?  Again, more powerful than I would feel comfortable allowing low-level Magic-Users to have.

Perhaps a magic trophy, then? Some, oh, perhaps oil that can be rubbed on more than one person and allow them to enter an ethereal state?

There is only one mention of an Ethereal Plane in all of H&H -- the seldom-used (never-used?) psionics section of Supplement III: Better Quality.  This page certainly looks like how I imagine the Ethereal Plane. The monsters that follow and cannot touch Dr. Mystic and Zator must be able to see into the ethereal, but are not on that plane to interact with them -- at least not until Koth brings the monsters there.

Another possibility is that these are examples of some new mobster-type.  Nether creatures?  Gaseous beings that cannot harm you unless you touch them first?

On the lighter side, Captain Bill of the Rangers is the source for the Foil Tracking stunt given to the Cowboy class in Supplement III.

No, your computer isn't messing up -- this is how bad the coloring was on some pages of the early Centaur comics. If you squint and look past the colors, there are some ideas worth sharing here.

One is the idea of a homing horse -- the trope is that if you're injured, your horse always knows to go back home and, in this case, you can pin a note to it telling everyone where you are.  I'm not sure if horses have really been known to do this and, more importantly, I don't know if it should be treated as a new mobster or a Cowboy stunt.

Another possible Cowboy stunt would be Know the West. Using it, you could encounter a note that says you have to find a place called Antelope Gap and, using your stunt, you would happen to know exactly where that's at.

T'aint So! is a joke strip not meant to be taken literally as a story, so I'm hesitant to include it here, but a monstrous rattlesnake the size of a mountain range would make a really tough encounter in a high-level H&H game! Okay, that's a bit extreme, but a 30' long giant rattlesnake would still be tough and, I figure, about 5+2 Hit Dice.

Skipper Ham Shanks is a poor man's Popeye, but here he runs into a half man, half beast.  A half-man was offered as a Player Hero race in The Trophy Case v. 2 no. 4.  I never had a good example of one from comic books at the time -- this is my first!

We previously saw this character, but just called The Professor.  Here, Prof. Nertz demonstrates a hi-tech trophy, the Pill of Growth.  Or perhaps it's a specialized Pill of Poultry Growth that is more effective against chickens.  Maybe this is the source for all giant carnivorous roosters.  Or maybe that entry should be for giant poultry in general?

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus at

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