Thursday, January 26, 2017

Action Comics #18

Before Superman even shows up in this month's story, we're treated to the a sleeping gas attack and the notion that holding a handkerchief over your nose and mouth is going to spare you from gas potent enough to fill an entire car and knock out its occupant/s. I would be inclined to give a bonus to save for taking a precaution like that -- +1 or +2 at most, but that still leaves a lot of room for a plan to go wrong.

From the blackmailed politician we learn that $10,000 is enough to corrupt a politician.

We see Superman's X-ray vision (the 3rd level power) in use for the first time.

Superman gets shot at with a bow and arrow for a change of pace this issue, and snatches the arrow out of mid-air. I don't have a power for that, because the important thing is that the arrow missed, and him catching it is really just flavor text.

Superman then decides to show off with the bow and arrow. Now, maybe Superman practiced with a bow and arrow in his youth, but it's pretty clear that he pulls off a spectacular hit on a small target. This was the impetus for the Bulls-Eye (2nd-level) power.

It's still unclear if Superman can fly at this point. He trails a car in the sky; one would presume that if he was jumping and landing behind the car, that someone might notice.

He also demonstrates Leap (at least Leap I), Nigh-Invulnerable Skin, Raise Elephant (because he raises trucks, heavier than cars), and wrecks a printing press (as if a generator).

A rival paper to the Daily Star is the Morning Herald. There actually was a Morning Cleveland Herald until 1868, though it's unclear if Jerry Siegel would have ever seen it.

Chuck Dawson, in his story, gives us a valuable lesson for players -- when a posse thinks you've killed the sheriff and is closing in on you, don't be afraid to run!

Clip Carson's story is an interesting lesson in hideout scale. Here, he finds himself in a cavernous hideout so large that, when reinforcements arrive, they show up riding elephants!

Tex Thompson's arch-nemesis, The Gorrah, returns, this time in Turkey, where Tex and friends are working for the Turkish Prime Minister (it was Refik Saydam in real life). The Gorrah has cyborg-like creatures working for him this time. It's difficult to imagine how to stat them; they look like they're half-robot, half-skeleton, probably with human brains controlling them, but lose all scariness because they're all wearing fezzes. The Gorrah tries hypnotism on Tex. It fails, but The Gorrah can't tell and Tex uses this to trick him. Hero magic-users will have the same problem when their victims make their saves. The Gorrah takes a poison pill, seemingly killing himself, at story's end.

The Three Aces may not be the bravest Heroes to ever headline a story in an anthology title. When threatened by hijackers, their solution is to stall for time until help arrives! Players may be interested in similar tactics, especially players who favor keeping their Heroes alive over having them do anything heroic. We learn some backstory about the Three Aces, that they had flown in the Spanish Civil War together back in 1937.

Zatara becomes the first Hero to visit Atlantis. He gains possession of a map to Atlantis when a former rival, Queen Setap of Ophir, shows up and wants his help with following it. We learn that the map starts them off in the Sargasso Sea (northern Atlantic) and that Atlantis is somewhere in the Atlantic, which does match up with where Marvel Comics would later put Atlantis in their comics (but is distinctly different from the Golden Age Sub-Mariner's Antarctic kingdom).

En route, Barnacle Will and some pirates attempt a mutiny, thinking the map leads to gold. Where it actually leads is a little confusing...from the page I've seen, it looks like Atlantis is at least partially un-sunken still, or perhaps they just land on a nearby island as a staging area. Whatever it is, the surface island is protected by "under-earth creatures" that look like goblins with tentacle arms. I'm unsure how to stat these creatures...but their use of nets as weapons reminds me of ratmen (a new mobster type from 2nd edition).

In the story, Zatara appears to use a spell called Create Bridge, but is perhaps just flavor text for the first level 2nd edition spell Poof!, which allows him to cross over short distances of water. He casts a spell on the under-earth creatures that ties their tentacles into knots...but I'm not clear what purpose that serves other than a distraction. If they really can't use their tentacles then, maybe this counts as Mass Paralysis (a 1st edition power, though, not a spell).

Lastly, Atlantis is guarded by Roor, a giant octopus. Here we meet our first mobster with magic resistance. Apparently, any mobster can have magic resistance, and this is very high resistance -- either 80% or more, or perhaps total immunity to damaging spells. The only spell that works is Phantasmal Image, tricking Roor into thinking sponges are people to eat.

(Superman story read in Action Comics Archives v. 1, select other pages were read at the Babbling About DC Comics blog, and the rest was read in summary at DC Wikia and Mike's Amazing World)

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