Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Marvel Mystery Comics #4 - pt. 2

We return to the Sub-Mariner as he makes war on Germany, not unlike what you see on this cover.

Namor says normal mermen can't live outside of water for more than five hours. I hesitate to include that in their H&H stats because it seems unique to Antarctic mermen. Of course, Namor also says his conscience can't abide 38 Americans being held prisoner, after just ordering his men to kill lots and lots of Germans, so maybe being out of water too long affects his thinking (which is actually a similar conclusion to what John Byrne proposed in his 1990s' Namor series).

Namor's quest for the missing Americans means taking a two-week leave of absence from his own navy as he searches the North Sea ship by ship (if the Emperor wasn't in his hip pocket, Namor would probably be facing dereliction of duty charges).

Namor's trunks are described as "woolen" in this story, defying the Silver Age practice of drawing them with scales.

The admiral of Namor's fleet is named Naka. Somehow, Namor contacts Naka telepathically. He never displays this ability again.

So anyway, the scenario is that Namor has found the Americans on a freighter guarded by two submarines and needs to get them all safely out of the North Sea. Namor could probably just smash both submarines on his own, but for some reason he frees the Americans first and lets them capture one of the two subs and attack the other, while Namor stays busy breaking the chains that hold the freighter and telepathically contacting Naka -- stuff he could have been doing either before or after.

Players may be tempted to take fewer personal risks and leave supporting cast in charge of side missions -- and it's their right to do so. Such side missions should not be guaranteed success, however, or players will always rely on them.

In the Masked Raider's story, the Raider is on his way to help old prospector Luke. Luke is distracted by one outlaw in front of him while two other outlaws sneak up behind him. When Luke loses the surprise turn to them he surrenders...but why? We've seen plenty of examples of bad guys coming up behind Heroes with guns, only to have their guns swatted away after a fast pivot. But...what if that was only available to Heroes? What if facing was only an issue for non-Heroes, and they automatically lose initiative when facing the wrong way...?

The new feature in this issue is Electro, the Marvel of the Age. No, not the Spider-Man villain -- this is a robot. Dr. Zog can control Electro long distance with his thought transfer helmet.

Previously, size was always relevant with robots, with larger robots being more powerful, but Electro is man-sized and super-powerful because it has levels in the superhero class. We observe it not only wrecking things, but using the Outrun Train power to hit 100 MPH. Since robots aren't a playable race, but androids are, I would probably build Electro as that.

I find it interesting that, when Zog wants to recruit men of good character to help him in his campaign as operatives, he doesn't pick them out himself -- he contracts an employment agency to find them. This could be something other Heroes might try.

Zog gives each of his operatives a wireless telephone apparatus -- basically a tiny cellphone.

Electro's first mission is to rescue a kidnapped child actress being held for ransom in a deserted roadhouse. While you'd imagine most deserted buildings used as hideouts to be run-down or ominous-looking, this one -- The Purple Slipper -- appears only recently closed down and still has a huge, gaudy cut-out of a shoe up on the roof.  The roadhouse is one-story, with a smaller extension of the building on one side.

Dick Gardner, Zog's Operative #3, is a rare hero who checks keyholes. Curiously, Dick tries to save the girl himself without summoning Electro, only calling for help once he's captured. If Dick is a Hero character being played, then this could be an example of a greedy player wanting all the trophies for himself (he wouldn't have to worry about splitting XP in first edition, when it wasn't divided between Heroes). If Dick is Supporting Cast, then this could be a good example of SCM's being unreliable help sometimes.

When Electro shows up at the Purple Slipper, the robot crashes through a window rather than a wall. Which makes sense -- it would have been more dramatic to come in through the wall, unless he failed his wrecking things roll against the harder obstacle.

Bullets don't faze Electro, but this is probably the Nigh-Invulnerable Skin power if Electro is an android superhero (androids don't have an Armor Class as good as robots do). That would make two powers observed, so Electro would be a 2nd level superhero (since superheroes start getting powers at 1st level in 2nd edition).

Ferret, Mystery Detective, is the first Hero to make Greenwich Village his home. He's a well-known author and private investigator -- and players are free to choose occupations like that at the time of Hero creation.  Ferret is friends with the police commissioner, which a player can also choose in 2nd ed. because humans get a free SCM at the start of the game (to balance against the other character races).

(Issue read at Marvel Unlimited.)

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