Saturday, June 11, 2016

Detective Comics #27 - pt. 2

There was a time when Speed Saunders was top billing in Detective Comics, but now he just gets to come second after The Bat-Man. A beat cop who must know Speed summons him to the scene of a corpse found on the riverfront, tied up and strangled. Speed sees an unusual design on the man's collar that he takes to be a clue. Smartly, he heads to the public library to research it. Weirdly, the library is open to him, even though it appears to be nighttime. Did Speed just break into the library, because he couldn't wait until morning to look for clues? That sounds exactly like some players I've had...

Speed finds a weird trap in a man's house; behind a secret wall panel is a mannequin arm holding a gun, so that one only has to pull a string at the back of the arm to make the gun shoot. It seems overly elaborate at first, but it would allow someone to murder within the house without getting any powder burns on the killer's own hand.

Buck Marshall, Range Detective, does a first class job of searching for clues -- checking for how much blood leaked from each wound, checking the local soil against the soil on the dead man's clothes, checking the nearby horseshoe prints, considering the effects of the weather on dating the tracks, considering the direction of the shots, checking for loose hair, and considering the length of the stride to estimate a man's height -- all things a Hideouts & Hoodlums player can look for while investigating.

In Spy, the Chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee dies -- which is actually kind of a funny pun, because in 1939, the Chairman of the Commitee's name was Martin Dies.  Or is it the same Committee? Bart Regan says there were five members on the Committee, but there were actually seven members in 1939, a fact that should have been easily verifiable, and none of the actual member names are even close to the fake ones used in the story.

Here's another wrinkle -- though Bart Regan is often referred to as a spy, his actual credentials here show he works for the Secret Service. Or are those fake credentials? That could be a good trophy item...

Bart has an interesting encounter with a wandering encounter; when a gunman climbs through his hotel window, Bart is immediately incredulous. "How in heck could you have known so soon that I'm on your trail?" Bart wails at the unfairness of it. But the gunman turns out to be a hungry thief, unrelated to the case. I can just imagine an out-of-character exchange going on, between player and Editor, with the player complaining that the Editor was using knowledge of the player's actions unfairly, and the Editor backpedaling and changing the encounter.

Bart encounters an unusual murder weapon -- miniature "bombs" wrapped in cellulose and concealed in food. The cellulose dissolves and the bomb goes off on the inside, apparently for lethal damage (though it's hard to imagine a bomb that small doing much damage...). It's also hard to believe the enemy spymaster falls for the old "switch the bananas when you're not looking" trick - but I guess he missed his save vs. plot.

I learned a history lesson from The Crimson Avenger when he refers to a miniature camera as a "candid camera". And here I thought that phrase was invented for the TV show!

Again, The Crimson shows unusual abilities -- leaping a 6' fence, climbing the drainpipe of a building, and snapping rope bonds when tied up -- all too weak to be superpowers, but possibly Mysteryman stunts.

Bruce Nelson is investigating a Voodoo-related murder in New Orleans, and the author seems to have actually done some reading on the subject; the crosses and snakes at the murder scene seem like appropriate motifs. I wonder if the Creole words are authentic or just gibberish. Anyway, I always try to put some research into my scenarios like that.

Bruce encounters a harmless snake -- obviously not there to challenge him, but it did frighten him enough that he whipped out his gun and started shooting. He also finds the murder weapon -- devil smoke, a "green, gummy substance" that, if burned, produces a lethal cloud of smoke. Good for a deathtrap!

You don't have to learn languages in H&H, normally, but if the Editor did insist that your Hero had to learn a language, Cosmo the Phantom of Disguise learns Chinese in just 30 days. Cosmo, in disguise, gets a job in a Chinese shipping business. In the back of the shipping room, concealed behind boxes, is a secret door that opens onto a passage that leads below the wharf behind the building. Then a second secret door opens into the back of a fake coal barge.

And, lastly, Slam Bradley takes a trans-Atlantic clipper to Switzerland, which might have necessitated a save vs. plot to arrange. As I understand it, there were a lot of travel restrictions on traveling from the U.S. to Europe during the War.

(Issue read at

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