Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jumbo Comics #5

Welcome to 1939!  We start the year off returning to Fiction House already and their premier title, Jumbo Comics. What can we learn from this issue that we can apply to Hideouts & Hoodlums?

In Hawks of the Seas, Will Eisner was reinventing the pacing of comic book stories. Here we see one of, if not the, first use of a cutaway scene within a page to something else going on that the reader needs to see, but the main character has no knowledge of.

These intermissions are a useful narrative tool, but a H&H Editor will have to think hard about whether to use them in a campaign. Will the players benefit from understanding the Editor's story better, without using their player knowledge to their advantage? It takes a mature group of players to be able to play that way.

Further, this issue marks the first time we've really had a good sense of where Hawks of the Seas takes place. It always seemed to be the West Indies, but now we can narrow it down to the Bahamas.

Dr. Snyde here kills one of his own henchmen with a single blow, which should be impossible in H&H -- he would be unconscious and need a second blow to kill him. Of course, perhaps a second blow occurs between panels. Or maybe the "not yet dead at zero hp" rule needs to be amended so it does not apply to non-Heroes. Or, maybe this needs to be a special rule where master criminals can kill their own henchmen automatically.

It seems clear that Budah is meant to be a djinn, which means that djinn cannot be hit by normal weapons (or at least Budah can't).

It's interesting that the trap can be deactivated and escaped just by touching sections of the wall.  It seems particularly odd since people trapped in a flooding room would naturally be touching the walls, either trying to find a way out or try to climb out. I would allow two search rolls in this case, one for each spot (opening the door without turning off the water first could make for a very wet hideout!).

I've previously discussed what to call the type of thing that Zula is. He was called a bogeyman previously by another character, but in this issue the narrator specifically calls him a monsterman.

There is a lot of visual detail here for describing the dressing in a mad scientist's laboratory.

The robot here is said to be 30' tall, but it seems even the narrator is exaggerating, because it only appears to be twice as tall as Zula. Since the robot can shoot lightning, I would suggest it is a huge version of a copper robot, as detailed in Book II: Mobsters and Trophies).

Though scientists suspected the moon was barren and lifeless in 1939, it couldn't prove this was true yet. That left a lot of leeway for making the moon anything you wanted it to be. If you want there to be valleys filled with cream cheese and giant lettuce plants, or just wind, water, and trees like on Earth, then you can do that in a Golden Age campaign.

This is clearly not Will Eisner, but I wonder if it inspired his strip, Espionage, for Quality?  ZX-5 acts a lot like Black X here, and his exchange with the unnamed highness reminds me of the chemistry between Black X and Madam Doom.

For H&H purposes, I want to point out the battle of bluffs going on here. In certain editions of certain games, one would resolve this with rolling dice, higher bluff roll wins. I am glad H&H isn't like that. I am much more interested in seeing how a player responds to a bluff, and how well he or she can bluff back. I would probably still roll an encounter reaction roll, but try to factor that in to a reasonable response to the bluff in that situation.

Here we seem to have examples -- albeit racist ones -- of bloodthirsty hoodlums (which first appeared in The Trophy Case, but also snuck into one earlier printing of Book II).  Ali Pasha also seems to be demonstrating psionics; it looks a lot like Mass Domination.  Am I going to have to include psionics in 2nd edition?

 Lastly, this is from Wilton of the West, and we get to see that old chestnut -- the "shoot your own arrow" trick. Lucky dice rolling, or flavor text? This would be up to the Editor. Is it important to the story that Wilton split his arrow to impress the other guests? Then his player could be asked to roll to attack the target (with the same AC to hit the bulls-eye as it was the first time).  If not, then this is just something to do while waiting for the encounter at the end of the page and can be hand-waved as successful.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

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