Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Detective Comics #23

Speed Saunders investigates a murder committed with a sharpened ski-stick that can be thrown like a javelin. Speed reveals that it has a range of 50', so a javelin would too.

Larry Steele, Private Detective, is hit with a blackjack and knocked out for 20 minutes, after which he wakes up.

The Crimson Avenger runs afoul of zombies in this issue; zombies made by science instead of magic. The science zombies are called "mechanical men" and "zombis", and are driven around by two hoodlums who work for a mad scientist. The scientist has a "giant" king cobra that the zombis are worship (though why they would worship the snake if they were mindless eludes me), but it's not really that giant -- large, maybe. It's also worth noting that they can be fooled by disguises, as The Crimson disguises himself as a zombie and successfully moves among them (definitely calls for a save vs. plot, that trick).

The Crimson also hides in shadows and the zombis are unable to spot him.

Bruce Nelson goes back to his alma mater of Princely University, clearly a stand-in for Princeton. He stops a murder from happening with a blowgun.

Speaking of stand-ins, Jerry Siegel likes to kill off stand-ins for famous people. In Spy, a senator is murdered (no indication as to which, but there's only 100 of them), and then a famous aviator who sure seems to be Charles Lindbergh is killed. The murderer is a mad scientist who has his hunchbacked assistant swap out buttons on the victims' clothes with buttons containing a radio receiver. The receiver buttons trigger heart attacks in the victims, apparently over long distances. the whole set-up is a pretty dangerous trophy item to put into the Heroes' hands.

The assistant, Rutsky, is quite capable. He climbs a tree with cat-like grace, sneaks up on a trained spy like Bart Regan, and almost throttles Bart to death with his bare hands. Maybe assistant should be a mobster type!

To find out where Dr. LaForge is, Bart just has to call the local newspaper office and talk to someone in the research department. The paper has on file what country Dr. LaForge is visiting from and where he's staying. Newspapers sure used to have generous budgets for research departments!

Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise, has to shoot the head off a cobra to save someone. I'm as yet unsure if I need to distinguish between varieties of poisonous snakes, stat-wise, in 2nd edition, other than perhaps the large/huge/giant distinctions.

Slam Bradley and Shorty explore the distant future of 2 billion AD with the help of a scientist with a time machine (specifically a "time-flier" -- it looks like a plane, but it moves through time instead of space).  The time machine seems to work an awful lot like Wells' The Time Machine, down to history playing out at super-fast speed through a view screen.  Something else to point out is that time machines must be remarkably easy to make; in comic books, a single professor working alone is often responsible for creating them.

It's perhaps easier to send your time-traveling Heroes to the ridiculously distant future so it doesn't have to even resemble the present world anymore. But there's a danger of too powerful hi-tech trophies winding up in the Heroes' hands in any future scenario, as well as the temptation to find out knowledge of the future the Heroes can exploit to their advantage.

The future is sure different in some ways, with a metal sun in the sky shedding green light, and a mysterious body orbiting the artificial sun. Cities surrounded by a screen of death rays. There's still jungles in the future, and wild leopards in them, but if the time-flier hasn't moved through space, then the jungle is at the same latitude as New York City. Anticipating global warming...?

Shades of Gamma World, the future is ruled by humans, living with uplifted/mutant bird-men and uplifted/mutant plant-men!  They live on a monarchical society once again, answering to a prince. The weapons of the future consist of odder fare than Laser guns. They use pipes that can paralyze others with sound, or living missiles -- plants that can dodge in mid-air and spray poison gas.

(Issue read at Read Comics)

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