Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Amazing Mystery Funnies #2

About a year before the publication of the Sub-Mariner, we have this first work by Bill Everett -- Skyrocket Steele. Steele is Everett's answer to Buck Rogers, a character well-represented in comic books up to this point in 1938, though we haven't been able to look at those adventures because of copyright issues.

Anyone wanting to use Hideouts & Hoodlums to run a Buck Rogers-like, or Skyrocket Steele-like, campaign could certainly do so. In many ways, the technology found in these future stories only mimics the technology of the times, but with some "flavor text" changes -- phones have built-in television screens, but still are not mobile, cars still transport you around, but they float above the ground and are called "skysters".  Even trips to other worlds is really just travel between locations with a bit more flavor text than usual to it.

Other equipment is just mundane things with new names -- a range-scope instead of a telescope, or G-2 camera instead of just a camera. Only the Kodacon seems different, with its crystal ball-like appearance, but what it shows is nothing more than a series of networked cameras could have broadcast.

We haven't seen Brailey of the Tropics in awhile (actually, this is a reprinted story from Funny Picture Stories #1), but here he demonstrates that just about anything should trigger a morale save, even a flaming broom...

...but, eventually, even a generous Editor must put his foot down. You want to ride an elephant into combat? Okay, maybe if you roll a successful save vs. plot, the elephant lets you ride it. What, you want it to attack for you now too? Come on, who's the Hero in this story, you or the elephant?

This is another reprint, an adventure of Speed Rush, Ace of the Private Sleuths, from Detective Picture Stories #2. He's a busy man on this page,

a) using his keen senses to spot the Morse code the window washer is using (2 in 6 chance to notice?),

b) dodging kerosene splashed at his eyes (I wouldn't let this do damage, but require a save vs. missiles to avoid being temporarily blinded -- plus the chance of being set on fire the following turn!),

c) performing a disarming attack, followed by a grappling attack (the later intended to do damage rather than establish a hold), and

d) an Editor might be justified in asking for an encounter reaction roll to convince the jeweler to take a $300,000 jewel out of his safe and run off with a private detective's that it's safe to do so.

Now, I don't know how Speed manages to snap his bonds here. A player with a Fighter is going to need some excuse to justify this, like a sharp object he could use to weaken his bonds with, or some such. I also would not allow, as a H&H character, for a thrown sack of cement to do damage to one opponent, and blind a second opponent in the same throw. There will just be times when we must choose not to emulate the comic books because it does not pass this fairness test: would the players be okay with this being used against them?

There's another one of those disarming shots.

And, incidentally, this J.M. Wilcox is really impressing me here with his dynamic panels and page layouts!

Well, it turns out that Speed's player came up with a rationale for being able to break his bonds after all!

Sometimes you might be tempted to offer a new type of lure to your players than financial reward. A possible cure for cancer -- who wouldn't go after that? Now, if your Heroes successfully retrieve can play in an alternate timeline where cancer was cured in the 1930s, but other possibilities are that the possible cure winds up not working, or yields some results that will help create a cure decades from your campaign.

This is a reprinted story from Funny Picture Stories #4, and was one of Will Eisner's earliest stories in print. How exciting a comic book anthology featuring original stories by Will Everett, J.M. Wilcox, and Will Eisner would have been had Centaur only been able to afford it!

It's interesting, looking at reprints now, to find what stuff I missed the first time around that I read these for this blog.  For instance, how is Fatts shooting that machine gun without help?  Doesn't a machine gun need a second man to feed the ammo? I would actually rule that a 1st-level Fighter cannot run a machine gun alone, but a Superhero or a higher level Fighter can (this at least keeps machine guns out of the hands of most of your 1st level Heroes!).

When I last discussed this story in Western Picture Stories #1, I was convinced that H&H did not need parrying rules. Now I'm not so sure and would be open to more evidence from both sides.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

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