Saturday, May 13, 2017

Marvel Mystery Comics #2 - pt. 1

Oops!  I goofed with Buck Rogers, starting with reviewing volume 1. Upon further research at, the Buck Rogers strips reprinted in Famous Funnies started in 1933 -- that would make them the strips from volume 3 in the reprint series!

While I get that sorted out, let's move ahead to the second issue ever from Timely Comics. Despite the Angel starring on the cover, the first feature is the Human Torch. It isn't a particularly good story (I wrote a whole rant about it once here), but there is a lot of content to it we can discuss through Hideouts & Hoodlums. Follow along if you have your own copy of this book...

The Torch seems to demonstrate the power of Resist Fire when he tries to aid a race car driver caught in a fiery wreck. We see the android race's "too hot to handle" ability being applied to flavor text, and we see him using his wrecking things ability to melt handcuffs when a police officer tries to arrest him.

The Torch willingly goes to jail, which is convenient because he meets a convict in jail who has information valuable to dealing with the plot for him. It is unlikely that players will let their Heroes get arrested, so it would be wise for the Editor to float the plot hook character to whatever location the Hero(es) wind up in.

Incendiary bullets are really powerful in this story, or race cars are supposed to be really volatile. A couple of hits from an incendiary bullet, and a race car just goes up in flames!

Once the Torch knows who to go after, he wrecks (melts) his way through the bars of his cell, and an Imperviousness power is probably buffing him to keep him safe from the machine gun fire being shot at him by an overzealous policeman. When he sets the floor of the police station on fire, I'm not sure if I should consider that flavor text, or if he's using some new power like Start Fires as a distraction. Remember, if the Torch's player wants to set floors on fire just because it would look cool, or because it fits his character, then that is flavor text. If he's doing it for some game mechanic advantage, like to evade pursuers, then the player can't just describe what he wants; he has to burn (aha - pun) a power.

When the Torch takes out the tire of a police car following him, he's using the android's wreck at range ability.  Wrecking a tire is not as hard as wrecking a whole car -- I would treat it as wrecking a door, but make the player roll to hit the tire separately (AC 7 or better, probably depending on how fast the car is moving). He leaps over the cars in the street because, hey, this is 1939, and superheroes still leap instead of fly (and I gave androids the leaping ability for just this reason, though it isn't called leaping).

The Torch can melt a plane, and small planes wreck as if robots.  The pilot uses unusual slang in his thoughts as he runs away, thinking "that fire-man looks hungry!"  I'm guessing the pilot did not think the Human Torch mistook him for food, but "looks hungry" meant "looks like he's out to get me" or something like that back in 1939.

The Torch stops the pilot from fleeing with a small ring of fire around him. One could conjecture this is a creative use of flavor text with the Hold Person power.

When a fire truck arrives on the scene, the narrator says The Torch "leaves in a burst of speed." The fireman says "he's flying thru space," but it still looks like The Torch is leaping.

There's a curious trap for The Torch. The hook for the trap is fine -- mobster's moll (vamp) pretends to be leading him to the hideout, but the entrance is trapped and she knows it. But the activation of the trap requires The Torch to open roll-doors (I've only seen them called sliding doors before this) with enough forward momentum to fall inside. You would think a push door would guarantee more forward momentum. Regardless, the floor is lower inside the garage entrance (for some reason), allowing him to fall into a vat of water. And no race has more obvious disadvantages than the android race.

Now, apparently the Human Torch is extremely vulnerable to his disadvantages -- water doesn't just rob him of his flame temporarily, he seems to go completely inert in it, since the water vat is open on top and someone could normally just climb out of it. I would not place such a crippling weakness on a H&H Hero, though.

A completely thrown-away plot point is that the abandoned lime mine The Torch is left in is supposedly haunted. It also doesn't make sense that there's a boiling lime pit in an abandoned mine, unless the mobsters somehow heated it before dumping the Torch in there.

(Story read through Marvel Unlimited.)

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