Sunday, March 13, 2016

Detective Comics #22

The Crimson Avenger makes a very rare cover appearance here.

So far, in my experience running Hideouts & Hoodlums, not too many players put any effort into concealing their other identities. And while it's true that maintaining a secret identity can be a liability during an adventure, it at least seems like it could be a fun thing to roleplay about during downtime.

Since Slam Bradley's adventure is "The Return of Fui Onyui", this might be a good time to talk about racism in Golden Age comic books again. I like to think that I'm pretty good at understanding historical racism in context and not be offended by it -- but even I can't stand the insult names many Chinese characters got. Maybe if you think of them as codenames, intentionally chosen by Chinese agents out of a sense of irony, it could be palatable.

The other way to combat the racist elements, while not leaving them entirely out of your game, is to make sure there is equal representation of good guys to bad from each minority group. This Slam Bradley story does that, teaming Slam up with good guy Yat Sin to battle Fui Onyui.

One more point to consider here is that Fui Onyui is a returning villain -- the first ever in a non-serialized comic book adventure. When Jerry Siegel referenced a story from 21 issues earlier, it was a huge leap of faith that his readership extended back that far -- but in doing so he invented comic book continuity.

I have almost never used returning villains, so far, in H&H (and my one exception only occurred in a sub-plot). For one thing, H&H players I've gamed with tend to be brutal dispensers of justice and leave little room for returning villains. But further than that... while familiar characters are fun to see in comic books, I fear there is a lessening of dramatic impact every time you see a villain return, when the Heroes already know they can beat him because they have before. I'll be testing this theory in my Justice Society campaign later, when they start running into recurring villains, like Brain Wave...

Slam buys a three-cent newspaper and drives a red convertible 100 MPH to try to find out if Shorty is okay. He has a make-up kit in his apartment, which is in an eight-story building.

Slam busts a locked door in with just his shoulder. Do fighters need a chance to wreck things, limited to doors only?

Slam is attacked by assassins, which may become a mobster type. Assassins seem to prefer attacking from the rear and have a chance to sneak up on people stealthily from behind.

Fui Onyui uses a chemical that induces suspended animation ("the living death") in Shorty.

Incidentally, the dentist office behind Slam at the beginning of this story is a Dr. Siegel.

Larry Steele is on one of those adventures where he has to seek shelter in a spooky old house from a storm -- but with the further incentive that the road ahead of him is washed out, so he can't reach his destination. The house has no electricity and the owner sees by candlelight. There are bats living upstairs and this one dark staircase ends at a pit trap. There is a laboratory with two entrances and volatile chemicals inside that can blow up the whole room (but not the whole house). A mad scientist and three madmen (new mobster type?) lurk in the house, though after an hour the madmen turn on the scientist and kill him. In the cellar is a locked cell with the scientist's pretty niece locked in it.

In The Crimson Avenger, Lee Travis deals with the issue of protecting secret identities and hits on what seems like a pretty good idea: offer a $5,000 reward for information on your own secret identity so that, if anyone is getting close to learning who you are, they might come forward. Of course, you're also incentivizing people to try to figure it out, so there's trade-offs there. When everyone thinks the D.A. has information on The Crimson, the mob shows up to lay claim to it.

Bruce Nelson solves a murder mystery where the murder weapon is poisoned throat spray. Instead of a random onset time, this poison always takes effect during the same time during a play.

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