Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Detective Comics #23

Speed Saunders investigates a murder committed with a sharpened ski-stick that can be thrown like a javelin. Speed reveals that it has a range of 50', so a javelin would too.

Larry Steele, Private Detective, is hit with a blackjack and knocked out for 20 minutes, after which he wakes up.

The Crimson Avenger runs afoul of zombies in this issue; zombies made by science instead of magic. The science zombies are called "mechanical men" and "zombis", and are driven around by two hoodlums who work for a mad scientist. The scientist has a "giant" king cobra that the zombis are worship (though why they would worship the snake if they were mindless eludes me), but it's not really that giant -- large, maybe. It's also worth noting that they can be fooled by disguises, as The Crimson disguises himself as a zombie and successfully moves among them (definitely calls for a save vs. plot, that trick).

The Crimson also hides in shadows and the zombis are unable to spot him.

Bruce Nelson goes back to his alma mater of Princely University, clearly a stand-in for Princeton. He stops a murder from happening with a blowgun.

Speaking of stand-ins, Jerry Siegel likes to kill off stand-ins for famous people. In Spy, a senator is murdered (no indication as to which, but there's only 100 of them), and then a famous aviator who sure seems to be Charles Lindbergh is killed. The murderer is a mad scientist who has his hunchbacked assistant swap out buttons on the victims' clothes with buttons containing a radio receiver. The receiver buttons trigger heart attacks in the victims, apparently over long distances. the whole set-up is a pretty dangerous trophy item to put into the Heroes' hands.

The assistant, Rutsky, is quite capable. He climbs a tree with cat-like grace, sneaks up on a trained spy like Bart Regan, and almost throttles Bart to death with his bare hands. Maybe assistant should be a mobster type!

To find out where Dr. LaForge is, Bart just has to call the local newspaper office and talk to someone in the research department. The paper has on file what country Dr. LaForge is visiting from and where he's staying. Newspapers sure used to have generous budgets for research departments!

Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise, has to shoot the head off a cobra to save someone. I'm as yet unsure if I need to distinguish between varieties of poisonous snakes, stat-wise, in 2nd edition, other than perhaps the large/huge/giant distinctions.

Slam Bradley and Shorty explore the distant future of 2 billion AD with the help of a scientist with a time machine (specifically a "time-flier" -- it looks like a plane, but it moves through time instead of space).  The time machine seems to work an awful lot like Wells' The Time Machine, down to history playing out at super-fast speed through a view screen.  Something else to point out is that time machines must be remarkably easy to make; in comic books, a single professor working alone is often responsible for creating them.

It's perhaps easier to send your time-traveling Heroes to the ridiculously distant future so it doesn't have to even resemble the present world anymore. But there's a danger of too powerful hi-tech trophies winding up in the Heroes' hands in any future scenario, as well as the temptation to find out knowledge of the future the Heroes can exploit to their advantage.

The future is sure different in some ways, with a metal sun in the sky shedding green light, and a mysterious body orbiting the artificial sun. Cities surrounded by a screen of death rays. There's still jungles in the future, and wild leopards in them, but if the time-flier hasn't moved through space, then the jungle is at the same latitude as New York City. Anticipating global warming...?

Shades of Gamma World, the future is ruled by humans, living with uplifted/mutant bird-men and uplifted/mutant plant-men!  They live on a monarchical society once again, answering to a prince. The weapons of the future consist of odder fare than Laser guns. They use pipes that can paralyze others with sound, or living missiles -- plants that can dodge in mid-air and spray poison gas.

(Issue read at Read Comics)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Famous Funnies #54

Here's a fun item to throw into a hideout -- a bucket with a glass bottom. What's it for? For seeing underwater, of course, as any eagle scout can apparently tell you.

This is from Skyroads, and I've done this too. Your players want to know exactly how many gold coins are in that sack, but you cut corners preparing for the game and only worked out what the dollar value of the whole contents are. Who has time to go check the price of gold in 1940, divide the total dollar sum by it, and get a number of coins? So you tell them, "it's a sack of 50,000 bucks in gold" and, if they ask for details, you add "don't worry about it..."

From the gag filler Life's Like That, here's something I thought was funny.

This is from War on Crime.  It seems that hoodlums always have a chance of identifying "dicks" -- or good guys in general, on sight. A 1 in 6 chance, perhaps?

I am not a fan of Jitter, a pretty humorless gag strip, but this page has some mini-history lessons for us -- specifically what a street-cleaning wagon looked like in the 1930s, and the fact that gas stations also had water hoses.

It's rare that the entire hideout turns out to be one big trap, but in this case the entrance is rigged so that, if someone pulls out some of the support stones, the entrance slides shut and traps you inside.

There's two interesting things to point out from this page of Dickie Dare.  One is the clue, mysterious words written on a piece of paper, meaningless without context, which turns out to be the last name of a villain to be met later (and will be recognized then as foreshadowing).  Two -- and this has come up before -- is that every hideout should have more than one entrance, even if you need a crowbar to break into the secondary entrance.

This is from The Adventures of Patsy.  Animals won't cross a line of fire unless they make a morale save. This might apply to ordinary hoodlums as well, since the line of fire could do 1-6 points of damage to the crosser.

Seaweed Sam is back because of the iron robot he encounters this month. It's far stronger than the version found in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, though maybe it could use an upgrade -- give it the Raise Elephant power?

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Star Ranger Funnies v. 2 #1

You wouldn't think someone would give these things much thought, but I have long wondered, if hillbillies were a mobster type, how to stat them differently. Apparently, hillbillies would have a big bonus to save vs. poison.

Strong drink has strange effects on people in comic book campaigns that are light in mood. In this instance, moonshine can make people save vs. science or jump right out of their clothes.

This is actually sound combat strategy (provided no one can shoot you while you're knocking the bee hives down the hill).

And just when I was thinking that everyone should have a chance to track, here comes the Frontier Mysteryman, the Ermine, making a case for tracking being a special skill.  Or maybe everyone should have a chance to cover their tracks, and then only a special tracker can still track covered tracks...?

This is so subtle that I almost missed it. We start the page in broad daylight. The sheriff is measured for a coffin and -- the implication is -- he punches the guy out cold. The guy is seen later, at night, coming around. Now, this is clearly a joke page, but it's still the first evidence I've seen of Hideouts & Hoodlums getting healing right from the start; that healing is very slow and takes hours to get a hit point back.

(Scans courtesy of Comic Book Plus)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Crackajack Funnies #8

Sure, it's fun to play an alien superhero who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but the challenge of getting into an upper story window without any super-leaping ability can be fun too. This is one of the reasons the Fighter class is still relevant in a campaign with Magic-Users and Superheroes.

If a Fighter like Dan Dunn wants to cross over to that window, he's going to have to find a ladder long enough to bridge the street, push it over to the window sill, and then balance across the ladder until he reaches the window.

Dan is quite confident that he's hidden the dictaphone well. There's no game mechanic for hiding it well, though -- it all depends on the luck of the searchers.

One of the many balancing acts of the Editor is to make hideouts challenging, but not so challenging that the players just decide to flood the place and be done with it. It's also a good idea not to tempt them by placing large bodies of water so that they would drain into the hideout.

This will not be the last portable time machine in comics. I don't recommend time machines be this portable or easy to use -- time travel could be a campaign wrecker in all but the most capable Editors' hands.

That said, the idea of going back in time and finding talking, intelligent dinosaurs, is intriguing...

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Action Comics #8

Superman vs. Zod, Superman vs. Doomsday...the age of sensationalism is still many decades away. This month we get...Superman vs. Gimpy! Gimpy might not be able to go toe-to-toe with even the toned-down Superman of the early days, but he's an evil villain through-and-through -- willing to shoot young boys in cold-blood who can testify against him.

Because of stories like this, that focus on the redemption of children, Hideouts & Hoodlums has a mobster type called half-pints.

This adventure is an early precedent for the Race the Bullet power, as well as the precedent for the Extend Missile Range powers being usable on living targets (as missiles).

Superman's confrontation with the National Guard at the end of this story is evidence that the early Superman stories show him best categorized as Chaotic, Alignment-wise.

In Chuck Dawson's adventure, he falls and takes no damage when he lands in a pile of leaves. Falling damage can be very dangerous to Heroes, but Editors should be prepared to hand-wave that damage on any easy excuse -- if the Heroes are going to need those hit points for the upcoming challenges. One of the challenges of refereeing a RPG is keeping hit points low enough to maintain suspense, but not so low that the Heroes are sure to lose.

The Pep Morgan feature focuses on a ski jump competition. If it doesn't really matter to the story who wins an in-game athletic contest, the Editor could judge by who has the higher ability scores, hand-waving any further game mechanics and describe who wins using flavor text. If it sort of matters, but not really, the Editor could resolve who wins with a save vs. plot (whoever makes it by the larger number wins, if they both make their saves). If it's really important, so that the story revolves around it, H&H doesn't really help you much. The Editor can pretty easily improvise a mechanic, though, if he can work out what a good minimum distance is, a suitable random range the Hero can roll for to add, and then add the number from a relevant ability score to get the distance.

Tex Thompson and Bob check into a hotel run by ape-men! There are plenty of ape-men in comics and many different explanations for how they would exist. In this case, they are brain transplants between men and apes. Although gibbon men have been in H&H since Supplement I: National, a larger and more powerful intelligent ape has been missing from the game so far. Mind transfer machines have been in the game since Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, however.

Scoop Scanlon and Rusty are given a hot tip by a G-Man -- even Rusty comments on how unusual that is. En route to investigate, they get a flat. Scoop can tell just by looking at the tire that the hole in it came from a bullet (skill check for that?). Someone is sniping at their car from concealment, at range, with a silenced rifle. Thank goodness the sniper's not aiming at them or it would be over for Scoop and Rusty! While searching for the sniper, they find a dying man who knows them. The story doesn't tell us, but we're left to assume it's the G-Man. He tells them where to go next in the story.

While trying to save two more people, Scoop and Rusty have to go into a burning house and Rusty passes out first from smoke inhalation. Was it from hit points of damage, though, or a missed saving throw vs. poison? Both account for the variable of Rusty going down while Scoop is still conscious, but Rusty is soon revived by a bucket of water. Is this more evidence of rapid recovery of the first hit point from being down to zero hit points, or of a short duration for unconsciousness after a botched save vs. poison?

Later, Scoop points a machine gun at some hoodlums farming marijuana. They don't surrender at first, but some do after Scoop mows down some of the others. Now, if I had someone pointing a machine gun at me, I'd probably surrender. But that's why we use morale saves instead of the Editor always making a judgement call on when bad guys would surrender -- because there are other factors, and points of view, that can be better accommodated by random chance.

Heroes in comics could be pretty stupid sometimes. Zatara knows the pilots he's rescued were acting suspicious, but he still lets the maharaja's son go up in their plane with them. Editors cannot assume that players will make mistakes that dumb, as most would see that plot development coming a mile away. So, for every major decision the Editor anticipates the Heroes having to make, he should be prepared for at least two contingencies of how they might respond to it.

Zatara, for his part, demonstrates his Spirit Form spell again, Phantasmal Force, Invisibility, Enlargement, and also a new spell that would be called Rain Bullets (maybe a 3rd level spell, a slightly weaker version of Ice Storm, that really does rain bullets down for 4-24 damage, but Heroes in the area of effect would get to save vs. missiles to dodge it entirely).

(Superman story read in Superman: the Action Comic Archives vol. 1; some pages of Scoop Scanlon read at the Babbling about DC Comics blog, summaries of the rest read here)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Keen Detective Funnies v. 2 #1

This is from Thurston Hunt and, as unlikely as it seems from how everyone's just standing around here (or as unlikely as an action hero named Thurston), something exciting just happened. His captured informant opened a phony wristwatch that contained a poison pill. Poison pills are already in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies, but a phone wristwatch would be a new trophy item.

As if Thurston Hunt wasn't an odd enough name, this is Geo Poe (or Powell, as he's called in the last panel).

How experience point distribution originally worked in Hideouts & Hoodlums was that everyone involved in a fight got the same XP award. I later changed this to a total that has to be shared between all participants just to avoid scenes like this, where the Hero cowardly charges in with 20 supporting cast members in tow!

No, Geo didn't shoot the house with really explosive bullets; he was targeting a box of TNT inside. What this panel does is serve as a reminder, to Editors, that hideouts had better have more than one way in or out, because you never know when your players will want to bury the way in under rubble.

(Deja vu -- I already shared this page here!)

This is from a complete story called "Snatch-Racket" and this page contains some good advice for H&H players. Asking the Editor questions about what suspects are wearing, or how they are dressed, might net you some clues. Also, when approaching a hideout that consists of a modern-style house, remember that there are many ways of getting inside other than the front door.

From the same story, more evidence that hit point recovery should only take "minutes" -- or at least the first hit point after being at zero.

This is Rocky Baird, who we haven't seen in awhile.  Rocky just got lucky -- his chance of a wandering encounter on this joy ride was probably 1 in 6, unless the biker patrol happened to be a set encounter.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Funny Picture Stories v. 3 #1

These Centaur titles were largely reprinting material from not that long ago by 1939, but so much of it is largely forgettable that I can't be sure if I've read something before, sometimes.  This is supposedly the second part of a Fury of the Foreign Legion serial, but I sure don't remember part 1.

In a pre-Pearl Harbor story, if Heroes really want to get involved in foreign wars, joining the French Foreign Legion might be the way to go. Indeed, one could conceivably run a Fighters-only campaign set in Africa with the Foreign Legion. This page-long scene would be handy reference material for such a campaign.

This is from a complete story called "The Amateur Murderer" and it's a slight tale of murder undone by entirely circumstantial evidence, but is worth sharing here because of the curious item called a "time torpedo".  Modern search engines seem to have trouble uncovering any real item called a time torpedo -- and this is surely not a time torpedo such as will later appear in Doctor Who stories. Rather, it seems to just be a firecracker with a slow, 3-minute fuse, or some other sort of timing device on it that can be set to go off after 30 minutes. I'm not sure such a device really existed, but it seems plausible enough that it could be a trophy item.

This is from a complete story called "Mountain Murder". It's a pretty decent fight scene, but note how each combatant seems to get in two attacks before his opponent gets in two more licks. This seems like evidence I was on the right track with allowing two attacks per turn in unarmed combat.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Funnies #28

In Alley Oop this month, the cavemen go from trapping dinosaurs for their zoo to meeting woolly mammoths. Woolly mammoths were statted all the way back in Book II: Mobsters & Trophies!

When in foreign countries, be careful about how much you're offered in payment. Ten thousand francs, circa 1939, came to about $250 American.

This is a clever set-up for a wandering encounter. The driver cuts off the mark, takes him to the nearest house, and subtly questions him about how rich he is, if he's armed, and then the hoodlums jump him.

It looks like Mama fumbled and fell down the stairs, but that can't be because Hideouts & Hoodlums has no fumble game mechanic.  Instead, she missed and Captain Easy used a trip attack on her that sent her down the stairs.

Yeah, I don't need much of an excuse to share Captain Easy pages...

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Feature Funnies #16

Forgive the graininess and (this pun) quality, but I wanted to share at least a portion of this page of Joe Palooka so I could share this idea of a "sandbox" setting for Hideouts & Hoodlums.  For those not up on all their gaming terminology, a "sandbox" setting is an open setting prepared in advance for a campaign. The adventures are keyed to set locations or set events and are only encountered if the players choose to go that way. The whole sandbox is open to play.

Now, I am on record as hating the term "sandbox", but the idea itself still intrigues me. What would a sandbox setting for H&H be like?  Well, I imagine it could be a city-based campaign -- sort of a modern-day version of Citystate of the Invincible Overlord, with a high chance of certain types of encounters on certain streets.  So, if you want down this one street like Joe Palooka did, it would be a good place for running into wandering hoodlums.

The Gallant Knight fell in a pit trap with a slight twist, a secret door in the side that lets a "great" black panther into the pit. Great is a superlative that doesn't have any game mechanic value in H&H, but perhaps it could be considered a large panther (5 HD?).

Code breakers in real life require a lot of intelligence and skill. In comic books, as this installment of The Clock Strikes reminds us, the only ability you may need is being good at unscrambling words. Of course, this is a lot easier a code to spring on your players without making them hate you too much.

I haven't got to post a map in awhile. While Low Lake seems an intriguingly named local (why is it so low?), the real mystery seems to be why so many roads converge in such a lonely stretch of woods.

I would have to say, if I were the Editor running this game, that the Clock's player is being awfully reckless and doesn't care if his Hero lives or dies. While I should probably have a good long talk with him about why he's so unhappy with the campaign after this session, in this instance I would forget about trying to computate how many dice of damage to roll based on the speed of the cars, minus the amount of dice the cars would absorb, and just have all occupants save vs. science to jump out in time or die.

In this installment of Espionage is the debut of Black X's manservant, Batu. As I discussed in Supplement IV: Captains, Magicians, and Incredible Men, Batu is a good candidate for having psionics, and definitely the first non-Magic-User psionic in comic books.

I've shown pit traps before that combine with flooding traps, but they usually imply some complex plumbing going on behind the scenes to flood the pit. Here we see the au natural option of dumping your foes into a subterranean cavern that floods with tide water. Of course, then the time of day makes a big difference in how dangerous this trap is.

I'll spare you the whole story, as it's not very good, but the set-up here is the old chestnut of the voice in the statue talking to the gullible natives and making them give over their treasure. The wrinkle here is that there's actually a bit of a hideout here -- a concealed cave that connects to a cabin, with a tunnel that leads under the cabin and back to the big hollow totem, which has a secret door entrance in it.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jumbo Comics #5

Welcome to 1939!  We start the year off returning to Fiction House already and their premier title, Jumbo Comics. What can we learn from this issue that we can apply to Hideouts & Hoodlums?

In Hawks of the Seas, Will Eisner was reinventing the pacing of comic book stories. Here we see one of, if not the, first use of a cutaway scene within a page to something else going on that the reader needs to see, but the main character has no knowledge of.

These intermissions are a useful narrative tool, but a H&H Editor will have to think hard about whether to use them in a campaign. Will the players benefit from understanding the Editor's story better, without using their player knowledge to their advantage? It takes a mature group of players to be able to play that way.

Further, this issue marks the first time we've really had a good sense of where Hawks of the Seas takes place. It always seemed to be the West Indies, but now we can narrow it down to the Bahamas.

Dr. Snyde here kills one of his own henchmen with a single blow, which should be impossible in H&H -- he would be unconscious and need a second blow to kill him. Of course, perhaps a second blow occurs between panels. Or maybe the "not yet dead at zero hp" rule needs to be amended so it does not apply to non-Heroes. Or, maybe this needs to be a special rule where master criminals can kill their own henchmen automatically.

It seems clear that Budah is meant to be a djinn, which means that djinn cannot be hit by normal weapons (or at least Budah can't).

It's interesting that the trap can be deactivated and escaped just by touching sections of the wall.  It seems particularly odd since people trapped in a flooding room would naturally be touching the walls, either trying to find a way out or try to climb out. I would allow two search rolls in this case, one for each spot (opening the door without turning off the water first could make for a very wet hideout!).

I've previously discussed what to call the type of thing that Zula is. He was called a bogeyman previously by another character, but in this issue the narrator specifically calls him a monsterman.

There is a lot of visual detail here for describing the dressing in a mad scientist's laboratory.

The robot here is said to be 30' tall, but it seems even the narrator is exaggerating, because it only appears to be twice as tall as Zula. Since the robot can shoot lightning, I would suggest it is a huge version of a copper robot, as detailed in Book II: Mobsters and Trophies).

Though scientists suspected the moon was barren and lifeless in 1939, it couldn't prove this was true yet. That left a lot of leeway for making the moon anything you wanted it to be. If you want there to be valleys filled with cream cheese and giant lettuce plants, or just wind, water, and trees like on Earth, then you can do that in a Golden Age campaign.

This is clearly not Will Eisner, but I wonder if it inspired his strip, Espionage, for Quality?  ZX-5 acts a lot like Black X here, and his exchange with the unnamed highness reminds me of the chemistry between Black X and Madam Doom.

For H&H purposes, I want to point out the battle of bluffs going on here. In certain editions of certain games, one would resolve this with rolling dice, higher bluff roll wins. I am glad H&H isn't like that. I am much more interested in seeing how a player responds to a bluff, and how well he or she can bluff back. I would probably still roll an encounter reaction roll, but try to factor that in to a reasonable response to the bluff in that situation.

Here we seem to have examples -- albeit racist ones -- of bloodthirsty hoodlums (which first appeared in The Trophy Case, but also snuck into one earlier printing of Book II).  Ali Pasha also seems to be demonstrating psionics; it looks a lot like Mass Domination.  Am I going to have to include psionics in 2nd edition?

 Lastly, this is from Wilton of the West, and we get to see that old chestnut -- the "shoot your own arrow" trick. Lucky dice rolling, or flavor text? This would be up to the Editor. Is it important to the story that Wilton split his arrow to impress the other guests? Then his player could be asked to roll to attack the target (with the same AC to hit the bulls-eye as it was the first time).  If not, then this is just something to do while waiting for the encounter at the end of the page and can be hand-waved as successful.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Adventure Comics #33

Last issue I'll be looking at from 1938!

In Anchors Aweigh, we're reminded that natives are often depicted as being expert trackers (though in the wilderness, not necessarily in urban environments), and should have some kind of bonus for doing that (or be treated like the explorer class for tracking).

Tom Brent's adventure apparently takes place in a real city in China, Ningbo. Tom pulls the ol' pull-the-rug-out trick on his attacker, which is so commonplace that it should probably only require a straight save vs. plot to avoid. Further, Tom shows remarkable ingenuity at searching bodies for treasure -- even looking inside somebody's glass eye for a missing diamond (and finding it there!).

This issue's Federal Men adventure is the first time in comic books that a starring character suffers amnesia. I suppose every comic book character gets amnesia eventually -- but I would hesitate to allow even a 1% chance per injury of player-Heroes suffering amnesia, as it is difficult to roleplay and disruptive to ongoing scenarios.

The Dale Daring adventure seems remarkable only in that the natives are armed with guns for a change, instead of primitive weapons.

(Summaries of this issue's stories read at DC Wikia)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Detective Comics #22

The Crimson Avenger makes a very rare cover appearance here.

So far, in my experience running Hideouts & Hoodlums, not too many players put any effort into concealing their other identities. And while it's true that maintaining a secret identity can be a liability during an adventure, it at least seems like it could be a fun thing to roleplay about during downtime.

Since Slam Bradley's adventure is "The Return of Fui Onyui", this might be a good time to talk about racism in Golden Age comic books again. I like to think that I'm pretty good at understanding historical racism in context and not be offended by it -- but even I can't stand the insult names many Chinese characters got. Maybe if you think of them as codenames, intentionally chosen by Chinese agents out of a sense of irony, it could be palatable.

The other way to combat the racist elements, while not leaving them entirely out of your game, is to make sure there is equal representation of good guys to bad from each minority group. This Slam Bradley story does that, teaming Slam up with good guy Yat Sin to battle Fui Onyui.

One more point to consider here is that Fui Onyui is a returning villain -- the first ever in a non-serialized comic book adventure. When Jerry Siegel referenced a story from 21 issues earlier, it was a huge leap of faith that his readership extended back that far -- but in doing so he invented comic book continuity.

I have almost never used returning villains, so far, in H&H (and my one exception only occurred in a sub-plot). For one thing, H&H players I've gamed with tend to be brutal dispensers of justice and leave little room for returning villains. But further than that... while familiar characters are fun to see in comic books, I fear there is a lessening of dramatic impact every time you see a villain return, when the Heroes already know they can beat him because they have before. I'll be testing this theory in my Justice Society campaign later, when they start running into recurring villains, like Brain Wave...

Slam buys a three-cent newspaper and drives a red convertible 100 MPH to try to find out if Shorty is okay. He has a make-up kit in his apartment, which is in an eight-story building.

Slam busts a locked door in with just his shoulder. Do fighters need a chance to wreck things, limited to doors only?

Slam is attacked by assassins, which may become a mobster type. Assassins seem to prefer attacking from the rear and have a chance to sneak up on people stealthily from behind.

Fui Onyui uses a chemical that induces suspended animation ("the living death") in Shorty.

Incidentally, the dentist office behind Slam at the beginning of this story is a Dr. Siegel.

Larry Steele is on one of those adventures where he has to seek shelter in a spooky old house from a storm -- but with the further incentive that the road ahead of him is washed out, so he can't reach his destination. The house has no electricity and the owner sees by candlelight. There are bats living upstairs and this one dark staircase ends at a pit trap. There is a laboratory with two entrances and volatile chemicals inside that can blow up the whole room (but not the whole house). A mad scientist and three madmen (new mobster type?) lurk in the house, though after an hour the madmen turn on the scientist and kill him. In the cellar is a locked cell with the scientist's pretty niece locked in it.

In The Crimson Avenger, Lee Travis deals with the issue of protecting secret identities and hits on what seems like a pretty good idea: offer a $5,000 reward for information on your own secret identity so that, if anyone is getting close to learning who you are, they might come forward. Of course, you're also incentivizing people to try to figure it out, so there's trade-offs there. When everyone thinks the D.A. has information on The Crimson, the mob shows up to lay claim to it.

Bruce Nelson solves a murder mystery where the murder weapon is poisoned throat spray. Instead of a random onset time, this poison always takes effect during the same time during a play.

(Read at

Friday, March 11, 2016

Crackajack Funnies #7

That horrible Rico is using Jean as a living shield! Or is he? Jean is, interestingly, not in a direct line of fire between Rico and any of the shooters, yet they are hesitant to shoot at Rico. That's because of how dangerous it is to shoot into melee in Hideouts & Hoodlums; on a miss, there's always a chance of hitting a random other person.

If there's a ten to one shot of dropping from a fast-moving plane onto a fast-moving boat, then Hawks needs a 19 or 20 on his attack roll.

This is from Don Winslow. There's some implied violence here that's quite surprising -- the plane's propeller is being used to attack the sharks in the water. I guess this could be resolved as a simple attack, treating the plane as a weapon. The propeller might do...2-16 points of damage?

I don't think these are appropriate starting equipment items, but they could make for good low-powered trophies -- a flare gun and a collapsible rubber life raft (complete with bottle of pressured carbon dioxide).

I'm not sure how this torture device works. A light beam in the eyes apparently forces him to make a save vs. plot every 10-minute turn or tell a villain everything he wants to hear.

(Scans courtesy of Digital Comic Museum)