Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Action Comics #17

I have a surprising lack of information about this issue.

In Superman's adventure, Superman's "commanding voice" could be some use of a power, or it could mean that he gets a bonus to encounter reaction rolls because of his high Charisma score. Since Charisma always does this, I don't see the need to duplicate it with a power.

Superman demonstrates Resist Fire and Push Ocean Liner as powers in this story. We also see he can leap while using the Raise Car power at the same time. At another point, though, he listens in to a phone conversation via an extension phone because, presumedly, he didn't prepare the Super-Senses power for that day. At another point the narrator claims that Superman is using "super-hearing", but he's only eavesdropping from outside a window, and I'd allow a skill check for that.

Superman, still dressed as Clark Kent, gets mad and lifts a man over his head in this story. More evidence that I was wrong to require superheroes to be in costume to use their powers.

Ultra-Humanite demands $5 million in extortion money in this story, possibly the highest monetary sum featured in a comic book to date. Ultra -- as he's referred to in this story -- uses an acid gun, a transparent metal wall, and an image projector against Superman.

In Pep Morgan's story, one of the reasons Pep is able to defeat Pedro is because Pedro's gun jams. There is now a chance of this happening in 2nd edition Hideouts & Hoodlums.

In Clip Carson's adventure, he's on safari in India when he kills a tiger, rescues a plot hook character (one of those "old friends" you've never seen before, but ties into a character's backstory), and investigates a cult. Next installment we're likely to see cultists actually show up -- just like they are as a mobster type in 2nd edition H&H.

Tex Thompson is a high-Charisma Hero too, as evidenced by his growing number of supporting cast members. In addition to regular SCMs Bob Daley and Gargantua T. Potts, Tex picks up a temporary SCM, Ali-Baba, while adventuring in Turkey. We also see the return of The Gorrah, which appears to be a bogeyman (a new mobster that will be in the Mobster Manual when it's done). The Gorrah demonstrates his hypnosis ability. Tex displays a knack for disguises, but The Gorrah seems to easily see through it (even though it's better than most comic book disguises). The Gorrah's hideout is well-trapped: an electric eye at the entrance alerts The Gorrah in his main chamber, then The Gorrah has television cameras set up to show him the hallways, and he can raise inverted portcullises from the floor to trap intruders.

In Zatara's story, we learn that Zatara takes a yearly cruise to Europe. En route, he picks up two temporary SCMs, "old friends" John and Beth Jordan on the cruise ship. Also on board is someone out to get one of them, as they are "attacked" by a thrown net. For some reason, Zatara is worried enough about this that he burns a high-level spell to polymorph the net into gold coins (or maybe he thought the other passengers looked poor...or was looking to destabilize the gold market in Europe...).

Somehow, the three of them wind up in the Lost City of Ophir, where the ancient queen Setap is kept alive by Potions of Immortality (they keep her alive, but over time the leave her old and frail). Somehow, Beth has "purer" Ophir blood than all the people of Ophir around her, so she wants Beth's fresh blood for more potions. Then, as if we didn't already guess from this that Setap is evil, she shows them the poison gas she plans to use to kill every non-Ophir citizen in the world. She also gives away her connection to Atlantis, which will become relevant in the next story.

When Zatara tries to intervene, he is temporarily stopped when Setap throws a blinding fluid into Zatara's eyes. This is, coincidentally, very effective on Zatara because he needs to make eye contact for his spells. The deathtrap she placed him in is being slowly lowered by rope into a roaring firepit, but the heat causes him to sweat and the sweat clears his eyes of the blinding fluid in time (save vs. plot successful?).

Zatara uses Phantasmal Image to steal into the city past the guards (they are distracted), and he casts Dispel Magic to reverse the magical blood transfusion that turns Setap young and Beth old. As flavor text, Zatara summons the Flame of Life from the Temple of Atlantis and it reverts them to their true ages.

Setap and Ophir are clearly stolen from Tarzan's Queen La of the Lost City of Opar.

(Superman story read in Superman: Action Comics Archives v. 1, select pages also read at the Babbling about DC Comics blog, and then summaries of the rest read at DC Wikia and Mike's Amazing World of Comics.)

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