Thursday, July 14, 2016

New York World's Fair #1

It's June 1939 and the New York World's Fair is making the rounds in a lot of comic books, but none made especially for the fair like this issue was.

Superman visits the World's Fair. Being mid-1939, Clark Kent is still a Cleveland, Ohio reporter writing for the Daily Star, but he's a veteran correspondent on three continents already.

Superman demonstrates his leaping ability in this story, uses the powers Hold Train, Raise Building, Raise Car (to uproot a tree), Race the Bullet, and Outrun Train in that order.

"Chuck Warner Goes to the New York World's Fair" is interesting in where it focuses, not on famous landmarks from the fair, but the less known presence of track and field events at the fair. Unless I hear a lot more interest soon in the sports genre of early comic books, though, I don't plan on including any new game mechanics for racing or high jumping. These can all be lumped into a static skill roll, where you have a 1 or 2 in 6 chance of doing slightly better than the person you're competing against.

"Hanko Goes to the World's Fair" is a tall tale story that has Hanko's horse tightrope walking from the ground to the top of the Trylon and then he and his horse falling safely from the top of it. This reminds me of Dell's Pecos Bill strip, another tall tale hero I ignored when I went through those issues -- though maybe I shouldn't have? There's nothing in the description I just gave that couldn't be explained away by superhero powers. And a cowboy costume could be a distinctive superhero uniform in modern times. So maybe tall tale cowboys are actually early examples of the superhero class, if not the genre?

I've not been keeping track of how many times I've seen a hoodlum slip out of a hold by slipping out of his coat, like one does in the Scoop Scanlon adventure here. As common as it is, maybe it should be a special move for slick hoodlums?

Slam Bradley and Shorty Morgan visit the World's Fair and get a poison dart thrown at them for their trouble. Heroes will not be allowed to use poison, but there needs to be clear rules for villains' use of poison. Poison will often be potentially lethal -- like the save or die variety -- though death does not need to occur right away. And there will be ways of countering poison (magic, antivenom, sucking out the poison,...).

Someone tries to pick Shorty's pocket too. Picking pockets is a static skill (those skills will not be totally static in 2nd edition, they will just improve slowly). If it fails, roll surprise normally. If the would-be thief failed but still has surprise, the attempt was not noticed. Otherwise, the attempt is noticed.

Slam finds a secret compartment in a fireplace. Even though he knows where to search, he doesn't know what he's looking for, so he has to roll to find the secret compartment (like searching for a secret door). Though, since the fireplace is such a small area, I would also be okay with giving him a +1 or even a +2 situational modifier on his roll.

The Sandman's debut adventure I wrote about previously here.  I'll add some notes here, though.

It doesn't really matter if you want to say your brand new hero is a millionaire or a billionaire -- you'll still have the same starting money and all the rest of your money will be tied up in investments, long-term bonds, or somewhere else where you can't touch it during game play.

The Sandman is said to be an inventor in this story, but his raygun is only a plot hook, not something he ever uses. I'm comfortable with skipping giving him levels in Scientist.

There's no game mechanic right now for Sandman's "queer intuition of danger". I would treat that as a failed surprise roll by the other side, had anyone been actually trying to attack him. Instead, he just seems to sense something amiss is about to happen.

Sandman uses his gas gun several times, but we never see it affect more than two at a time.

The Zatara adventure presents some interesting posers. When Zatara and Tong are falling and Zatara catches them with a "magic stair-case" -- what the heck is that? A Mass Fly spell? Or am I literally to take this as a Create Stairs spell? No, maybe it is Mass Fly, because he uses that spell for sure a few pages later.

Zatara uses some sort of illusion spell to make it appear that he drinks a punch bowl full of liquor. He casts a Mass Reduce Persons spell that shrinks three people at a time down to six inches tall.

Zatara casts a spell on himself that renders him heavier than lead so he can't be knocked off his feet. Instead of doing the same thing for Tong, he turns Tong to stone. I bet Tong said "Gee, thanks a lot, boss!" all sarcastic after that one.

Zatara appears to conjure a private train, but maybe that's just a coincidence that it shows up when it does.

Zatara casts a spell that makes a soldier go "up in smoke". Disintegrate? He also casts Bestow Curse, so that anything a man puts on becomes rags.

He uses his now-familiar spell that polymorphs weapons.

He casts a Mass Telekinesis spell to move two people into the air.

He casts Enlarge on himself, supposedly until he's a mile tall, but I'm not buying that, Zatana! I bet you're 25' tall and just exaggerating a whole lot.

(Read in DC Rarities Archives)

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