Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Silver Age Marvel Super Heroes Campaign

Around 1997, I had prepared a lot of material (mainly rules revisions) for a Marvel Super Heroes campaign I called The Silver Age Campaign. Set in Chicago during Marvel Comics' “silver age” -- 1967 specifically – and being a huge fan of Marvel's silver age comics myself, I had high expectations for this campaign...none of which survived the apathy of my four younger friends and our first three sessions. Having just barely missed the '60s myself, I have always viewed that time as a missed opportunity and a time full of amazing happenings and a wonderful spirit. My friends, more divorced from the '60s than I, saw it as a time to mock with derision.

To be fair, I had expected too much from them at the start. Centering the first plot around Vietnam War protests took one of the most divisive moments of the '60s and pushed it right in their faces. If I could do it all over again, I would start them off with a more traditional superheroes vs. supervillains story and then slowly work the time period in on them. Ah, but I was so eager...

The heroes were Winged Archer, sort of a cross between Angel and Hawkeye; Daemon, a weaker Martian Manhunter who uses fire instead of being afraid of it; Prodigy, a psychic; and Swashbuckler, pretty self-evident.

My schedule of plots was as follows:
1) Peace Lover's (new villain, emotion control) demonstrations lead to riots.
2) A doomsday cult worshiping Galactus is manipulated by the Miracle Man.
3) The Circus of Crime decides to make some quick bucks with mundane crimes.
4) Dr. Prometheus (new villain, chimp mad scientist – before Big Bang Comics did it!) starts a hi-tech crime spree.
5) AIM's line of computers come with parts not in the brochure.
6) Dr. Octopus is asked by AIM to deal with the heroes.
7) Puppet Master makes the heroes attack the Fantastic Four.
8) Peace Lover leads demonstrations against the heroes.
9) Radioactive Man tours the Midwest (guest-starring “The Man with the Power” from John Byrne's future run on the FF).
10) Firebug (new villain, similar to Daemon only a mutant instead of an alien) sets Chicago ablaze.
11) Dr. Prometheus starts a gang war with the Giovanni family (The Giovannis were the Chicago branch of the Maggia in my Wimpy Tales campaign).
12) The Wizard and the Sorceress (new villain, female mad scientist) have a reunion.
13) Egghead sends Destroyer and Hijacker to get a microfilm Rick Jones doesn't know he has.
14) Coyote (new villain, the Indian trickster god) comes to Chicago to make trouble.
15) Jack Frost (new villain using Blizzard's old name) intends to hold Chicago for ransom against winter.
16) The Space Men (from Untold Tales of Spider-Man) hope to trick the heroes into revealing AIM's secret base for them. John Jameson guest-stars.
17) Quickster (new villain, like a cross between Quicksilver and the Riddler) goes on crime spree.
18) Heroes in Michigan (Johnny Quick and Dr. Mid-Nite – some of DC's more obscure heroes work there) need help against the Black Pilgrim (new villain, mystic villain).
19) The last Incan priest abducts the heroes, intending to sacrifice them to Zzutak.

Other villains intended to be used: Madame X, Sub-Mariner, Mad Thinker, Paste-Pot Pete/Trapster, Baron Mordo, Eel (recurring), Porcupine (recurring), Plant Man (recurring), Cobra, Electro, Mr. Hyde, Vanisher (recurring), Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, Beetle, Mastermind (recurring), Unicorn, Melter, Purple Man.

Other heroes intended to be used: Invisible Girl, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, Goliath/Yellowjacket, Wasp, Iron Man, X-Men, Daredevil, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow.

Silver Age Campaign Journal (summarizing the actual campaign)

May 17, 1967. Wednesday.

Brian Chalice (Prodigy) was interrupted twice from his painting. The first time, he consoled his maid who was concerned about her son's wild ways. The second time, he got a phone call from his agent who wanted him to meet Peace Lover.

Damian Khalas (Daemon) put in his time at the fire station. After some horsing around, his friend Gary told the tale of the haunted handprint on the firehouse window.

Steven Barnes (Swashbuckler) was behind in his construction work, but being union, was not too concerned about it. He was concerned enough to save his coworker, Harold Price, from a badly-installed elevator.

Brian met with Peace Lover at the Sheraton Hotel and was introduced to three artists. While Brian was impressed with none of their work, he was quite taken with Bridget Riley, one of the artists, and agreed to sponsor her work. A while later, he learned of a peace rally begun by Peace Lover and his followers in Grant Park and went to investigate.

Damian, having a knack for poker, walked away from the game at the firehouse early with $20. He wandered the city, looking for trouble. He encountered three Hispanic youths whom he scared out of committing arson. Later, he was drawn to the commotion of the peace rally and slipped in amongst the protesters.

Sam Morris (Winged Archer) was having a typical day in the antiquarian business when a routine purchase turned into a bidding contest with his rival, Gus Munsey. The encounter ended in a stalemate, with neither acquiring the 16th century tinderbox.

Brian managed to find Bridget at the protest, but could not convince her to leave. Instead, she convinced him to speak to Peace Lover. In his private trailer, Peace Lover delivered a hypnotic oration that compelled Brian to agree to finance the demonstration. Upon leaving the trailer, the two ran into Damian, who was confused by a great many things around him. Peace Lover evaded his questions and devised a diversion for the police so Brian and Bridget could sneak out of the park unobserved.

Damian saw the diversion, protesters throwing things at the police, and decided to stop it with a demonstration of his powers. When the police became interested, however, in him, Damian shape-shifted in order to escape.

Steven, who had been observing the protest from nearby Buckingham Fountain, observed the shape-shifting and confronted Damian. Unable to disprove what Steven saw, Damian decided to reveal his entire background. At Damian's boarding house, he also demonstrated his fire generation, as well as his lack of control when he set his coffeetable on fire. Steven suggested that they could help each other, and left promising to be in touch.

Meanwhile, Sam had closed up his shop, put on his costume, and decided to debut as the Winged Archer. He patrolled the north side on wing and found a home ablaze. Firefighters were already at work, and police at the scene tried to question Winged Archer. He tried to fly in the house, but was scared off by the flames. Finally, he convinced a fireman to give him his hose so he could spray the roof. With the fire out, Archer left his name, and flew off into the night.

Brian brought Bridget to his penthouse. He slept on the couch.

Steven returned to the rally at the same time that Archer first arrived. Thinking Steven looked suspicious, Archer shadowed him, but Steven spotted him and led him to a rooftop to confront him. The two circled each other with weapons drawn, exchanged pointed questions, and then parted.

May 18, 1967. Thursday.

When Brian woke up, his mind was free of Peace Lover's influence. Nevertheless, he gave Bridget $1,000 to buy supplies for the protest. Then, he snuck back into Grant Park and into Peace Lover's empty trailer. Brian had brought the costume with him which he planned to wear as a superhero, and put it on. However, before finding much evidence of wrong-doing, Peace Lover and a tough-looking stranger entered. The stranger drew a revolver from a shoulder holster, and a fierce struggle ensued. Brian was grazed in the shoulder before he sent the stranger flying out the doorway. Meanwhile, Peace Lover had fled out a window and gathered a huge mob of protesters. Brian managed to telekinetically lift Peace Lover out of the crowd. Before he could learn more, Peace Lover convinced the police to arrest him for drug possession. Instead of remaining to answer questions, Brian fled on foot.

1 comment:

rserio said...

Wow, you have good notes. I have only vague recollections of the session. It was fun to read about though, and it did jog my memory a bit. It's too bad the campaign didn't last; that was quite an ambitious schedule you had worked out.