Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Sam O'Shea Project

Like the Clyde Beatty Project, this post will supplement an article in the next issue of The Trophy Case zine, vol. 2 no. 5.
#1 -- December 1938 – (“Phantom” in Feature Book #20) – Sam O’Shea is vacationing from college in Qatar when he spies pearl pirates and jumps right in to thwart them. While fighting the pirates in their lair, Sam finds a magic crystal that transports him back in time (710 xp in Fighter).
#2 -- January 1939 – (“Magic Crystal of History” feature in More Fun Comics #39) – Sam finds himself in Qatar in 1588, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. After one month of adjusting to his new life, the magic expires and Sam is returned to the present (730 xp in
Fighter) .
#3 -- February 1939 – (“Salesman Sam” feature in The Funnies #29) – Sam tries to readjust to life in the present, getting a door-to-door salesman job to help make ends meet, but still craves adventure (740 xp in Fighter).
#4 -- March 1939 – (“Slim and Tubby” feature in Feature Funnies #18) – With graduation approaching, Sam helps a guy nicknamed “Tubby” on his research paper and Tubby becomes his sidekick (860 xp in Fighter)
#5 -- April 1939 – (“Apple Mary and Dennie” feature in Crackajack Funnies #10) – Emboldened by his lack of chances after they graduate, Sam asks out Mary Dennie, who says yes and becomes his girlfriend (1,000 xp in Fighter)
#6 -- May 1939 – (“Abbie and Slats” feature in Comics on Parade #14) – Tubby makes a joke about too-serious cop O’Kelly and winds up with a huge fine. Sam and Mary manage to smooth things over with O’Kelly and convince him to drop the charge (1,250 xp in Fighter).
#7 -- June 1939 – (“Pete the Tramp” feature in Ace Comics #27) – Sam, Mary, and Tubby try to protect Pete the Tramp from O’Kelly, even if it means being late for their graduation ceremony (1,560 xp in Fighter).
#8 -- July 1939 – (“Archie O’ Toole” feature in Feature Comics #22) – Mary gets a job at the local orphanage, where Archie O’Toole, a boy convinced he’s really a king, leads a protest. Sam comes in to help Mary diplomatically restore peace (1,680 xp in Fighter).
#9 -- August 1939 – (“Chuck Dawson” feature in Action Comics #15) – Sam has to use fighting skills he hasn’t needed for a long time when “Killer” Keefe develops an interest in Mary (1,840 xp in Fighter).
#10 -- September 1939 – (“Sandman” feature in Adventure Comics #42) – When the Sandman goes looking to protect old service buddies from a murderer, he encounters Sam because Sam’s father “Happy” recently died (from natural causes, it turns out, unrelated to the murders). Sam
aides the Sandman in catching the killer, “Teeter” Sneed, and becomes interested in becoming a vigilante. (2,000 xp in Fighter – 2nd level!)
#11 -- October 1939 – (“Mortimer Mum” feature in Feature Comics #24) – Tubby, whose real name is Mortimer, decides to play detective and find out who in his community helped the Sandman last month and stumbles onto Sam’s secret, which Tubby agrees to keep silent about (2.110 xp in Fighter).
#12 -- November 1939 – (“Ray Powers, Eagle Scout” feature in Famous Funnies #64) – Sam, a longtime Eagle Scout himself, becomes a den leader for cub scouts while trying to decide how best to go about becoming a hero (2,150 xp in Fighter).
#13 -- December 1939 – (“Charlie Chan” feature in Feature Comics #26) – Sam tries to apprentice himself to Charlie Chan when the famous detective comes to town and does succeed in helping the detective (2,210 xp in Fighter).
#14 -- January 1940 – (“Tarzan” feature in Crackajack Funnies #19) – Sam and Tubby are asked to accompany a group of Eagle Scouts on safari to Africa. A gorilla attack separates Sam and Tubby from the scouts, but Sam and Tubby eventually find the scouts, being protected by a
group of lost Boer warriors (2,380 xp in Fighter).
#15 -- February 1940 – (“The Gay Thirties” feature in Famous Funnies #67) – Sam is still on safari in the Congo. He has the magic crystal with him, that he’s always carried, and is staring into it while daydreaming about the past when it activates again. This time, Sam is transported to 1931 to observe the Pende Revolt against the French Colonialists, but doesn’t get to stay long enough to make a difference (2,400 xp in Fighter).
#16 -- March 1940 – (“Camilla” feature in Jungle Comics #30) – Sam returned to the present only to find Tubby and the Eagle Scouts captured again.  He tracks them to a hidden empire ruled by the She-like Camilla.  Her fancy for Sam allows him to safely sneak out Tubby and the others to freedom (2,560 xp in Fighter).
#17 – April 1940 – (“Masked Pilot” feature in Popular Comics #50) –Sam, et al. are on their way back to the States by plane, but the plane is actually being piloted by foreign spies taking them to
Mexico.  Sam leads an uprising onboard and takes over the plane, then is forced to land it (2,740 xp in Fighter).
#18 – May 1940 – (“Danny Dash, Globe Trotter” feature in War Comics #2) – The plane landed in Mexico, where Sam, et al. are stranded on the night that the “gray hordes from the center of the Earth” rise up to raid (orcs?) (2,900 xp in Fighter).
#19 – June 1940 – (“Planet Patrol” feature in Silver Streak Comics #5) – Sam has become a local leader in the defense of Mexico against the gray hordes.  From captured hordelings, Sam learns that they have come to the surface expecting to meet allies there.  The allies show up from space – The Toad Men of Titan (lizard men?) (3,060 xp in Fighter).
#20 – July 1940 – (“Flying Trio” feature in Crash Comics Adventures #3) – Sam decides it’s time to get Tubby and the boys out of Mexico, so he commandeers a 1912 Bristol Coanda monoplane and flies them all back home (and keeps the plane) (4,010 xp – 3rd level Fighter!).
#21 – August 1940 – (“Dr. Dekkar” feature in Prize Comics #6) – After being a terrible boyfriend for 11 months, Sam goes looking for Mary and finds Dr. Dekkar has turned her into a tiger-woman in his first step in creating a race of animal-men.  Sam saves Mary (4,160 xp in
#22 – September 1940 – (“Babe Bunting” feature in Famous Funnies #73) – While Mary is slowly losing her tiger-like abilities, she takes an interest in playing baseball and disguises herself as a man to play.  Sam realizes he had lost interest in pursuing Mary during his
adventures, but is impressed enough to fall for her all over again (4,180 xp in Fighter).
#23 – October 1940 – (“Blast Bennett” feature in Weird Comics #7) – Sam and Mary start dating again as soon as Mary’s facial hair goes away (though she still has a 9” tail!).  The fakir Karnak comes to town on Halloween, falls for Mary, and tries to claim her as his bride.  Sam intervenes (4,360 xp in Fighter).
#24 – November 1940 – (“Lone Eagle” feature in Thrilling Comics #10) – Sam and Mary go flying around the country in his Bristol Coanda.  In Virginia, a robber named Rossi tries to steal the plane from them.  Sam intervenes (4,440 xp in Fighter).
#25 – December 1940 – (“Wizard” feature in Shield-Wizard Comics #2) – After a long dormancy, the magic crystal reactivates, transporting Sam to 1812 Colonial America.  This time, he is able to hold Mary’s hand and bring her along.  They both intervene, on the side of the Colonialists (4,660 xp in Fighter).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Newest Comic Books

On vacation to Evansville, Megan and I blew $11 on the dollar bins at our favorite Indiana comic book store, Comic Quest.  The 10 best were these:

1. Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #5 (2003).  My only issue of this spin-off anthology, Alan Moore still had his usual creative energy and the unusually positive attitude he reserved only for Tom Strong, in the lead story.  One of the back-up features is by the comic master Sergio Aragones.  Alan Weiss turned in some bizarrely sub-par (for him, way ahead of lots of other artists) art for the third feature.

2.  Silver Surfer #1 (1987).  Despite my deep respect for Steve Englehart as a writer, I had avoided most of the early issues of this title because of the Marshall Rogers artwork.  I'm still no fan, but the writing was worth it, all these years later.  Sadly, this issue is mildew damaged, so after it's scanned it will get tossed.

3.  The Wild Wild West #4 (1989).  I had the first issue before, now I have the end of the story and am just missing the middle.  Millennium was one of the best small presses circa 1990 and it's a shame they disappeared as soon as they did.

4.  Way of the Rat #3 (2002).  My third favorite Crossgen title. It's smart, funny, and pretty with great Jeff Johnson art, but with all the splash pages and double splash pages, the story moved agonizingly slow for a martial arts action story.

5.  Way of the Rat #2 (2002).  Sadly, I only realized after I bought this that I already own a copy in one of Crossgen's reprint anthologies.

6.  X-Men and Alpha Flight #2 (1985).  Chris Claremont's take on writing Alpha Flight was spot-on and makes me wish he had taken over for Byrne instead of Bill Mantlo back in the day (as good as Mantlo was, he just didn't have a good grasp of Alpha Flight).  Oh, and there's some X-Men in it too.

7.  What's New?  The Collected Adventures of Phil and Dixie #1 (1991).  Marked down from $5.95 to a buck, with no mildew damage?  What a find!  Phil Foglio's early work from Dragon magazine is still a treat, though I chuckled more than guffawed re-reading them.  Plus, a bonus "origin story" for Phil and Dixie.

8.  Terra Obscura Volume Two #1 (2004).  Alan Moore's positive attitude towards his ABC heroes is slipping, but there is still some fun here, mostly thanks to the villainous Clock who is most free of metatext.

9.  The World Below #1 (1999).  Nice-looking and imaginative, yet surprisingly somehow blase tale about uninteresting explorers in a Pellucidar-like underworld populated by weird stuff instead of people.

10.  Wulf the Barbarian #1 (1975).  An Atlas Comic in a dollar bin?  Literally worth reading for its historical value alone, this Conan rip-off offers little but the early work of Larry Hama and Klaus Janson, neither creator yet at their creative peak.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rpol H&H Campaign - pt. 34

[Continuing from here and concluding the first scenario of the first online Hideouts & Hoodlums campaign.]

Dice headed out.  He scanned the surrounding area to check if anything useful had been dropped by the cultists or anybody else in the chaos, hoping to at least salvage a little bit of a profit from this whole fiasco.  He wasn’t going out of his way to search, though; the priority was to get out of the danger zone.

About three minutes later he stopped short.  "Hey, what did he mean 'not human'?"

In separate groups, Gandor the Great, the Daoist, Alpha-Woman, and eventually even Dice Morgan carried their fallen comrades a safe distance from the temple.  So, it was from a safe distance that they observed the terrific explosion as the top floor of the temple went up in a huge fireball.  Dice, who did not find any loot while running through Roostertown, felt cheated of the chance to loot the temple later.

Within the next five minutes, the last of the shooting died away and only smoke rose from Roostertown and the Temple of the Rooster God.  Just then, the man Alpha-Woman carried regained consciousness and weakly identified himself as Agent Rudy Malefor, one of the three missing FBI agents they had came here to rescue. 

A minute after that, an autogyro rose above the ruins of the temple and flew away, heading east.

Soon thereafter, Captain Liberty, the Mountain Man, and Silver Scorpion all regained consciousness too.  Within the next half-hour, the two groups discovered each other's presence in the forest and the heroes were all reunited, except for Sewer Rat.

Morale was low amongst the heroes, with many seeing their narrow escape as little better than failure.  Gandor the Great stepped away from the gathering of heroes, turned and faced them. "So, we only saved one man out of three and lost a man in the process,” he said to everyone.  “And most of us only survived by the skin of our teeth.  But didn't we all get into this business knowing the risks?  We'll recover from this mission, wiser, more experienced, and ready to do better next time.  And I think we should all seriously consider working together from now on.  Individually, we each could have stayed a bit player on the stage of crime fighting, but I've seen a lot of potential in all of you and know that we can have a huge role in crime fighting if we stick together.  What do you say?  Should we try this again as a team?  As a tribute to Sewer Rat, if nothing else?"

Just then, Sewer Rat turned up, wearing his furry wet suit and weird-looking rat mask again.  He looked more disheveled than ever and was limping, like most of them were.  "Boy, it was hard finding my stuff in the wreckage," he said, "but I managed!"

Everyone shared stories about what happened to them on their adventure after people were separated, but the Daoist interrupted the Mountain Man and Silver Scorpion as they were in the middle of describing their last battle.  "Excuse me," he said, "but we stiw’ need to contact the FBI."

Some strategies were discussed, but eventually the plan decided on was to return to Highland Township and see where a radio might have been hidden that allowed the cultists in town to contact the temple so quickly after their initial arrival.  The tricky part was marching back to town faster than the returning villagers, while being careful to circle around them too.  No one wanted to do it, as everyone was in terrible shape and most everyone needed hospitalization soon too, but there seemed to be little other choice after Sewer Rat explained the condition of the temple after the big explosion.  Everyone was going to be abandoning Roostertown for the real town now.

Silver Scorpion had been thinking about Gandor’s speech and finally responded to it. "Yes, what a great idea!" she enthused. "As a team we can tackle much bigger crimes than we could alone.  I, for one, was starting to get a bit tired of handling petty crooks anyway," she confided, "there is so much more to do!  Sure…maybe we didn't quite accomplish *everything* we tried with the Rooster Cult, but I say it wasn’t bad for a first try. We can only get better, am I right? Who's with us?" she asked, beaming proudly.

But enthusiasm was slow in coming from the rest as they spent the rest of the day on the long march back to Highland.  It was a horribly grueling, endurance-testing march that no one was hoping to ever repeat, but they all returned without incident that night and found the town hall abandoned.  Inside, after breaking in, they did find a radio and used it to contact the FBI.

Afterward, Dice scratched his head.  "So, did we win or what?  What happened to those two yahoos that didn't make it?"

"I think it was just one that made it out alive, the FBI agent we came back with,” the Mountain Man said.
"I’ve also been thinking about what Gandor said, that if we are to act together then some of us need to, in fact, act together. Our first attempt was, in part, stymied by foolish and selfish aggressiveness."  The Mountain Man looked somehow smaller after giving such a long speech, like the effort had weathered his features.

Silver Scorpion's eye narrow slightly at Mountain Man's phrase of 'foolish selfish aggressiveness'.  Since when was aggressiveness a sin, she wondered.  Heroes are simply those who take action!  But she kept her thoughts to herself.

It turned out, Sewer Rat had salvaged more than his own possessions in the wreckage of the temple.  He had, through sheer luck, found everyone’s personal possessions and acquired trophies that had been taken from them when they were captured.

The people of Highland Township returned in small groups, quietly and sheepishly.  The Heroes on watch duty that night as the group camped out in town hall observed lights slowly appearing in the once-abandoned homes closest to the main street.

By morning, the FBI were there in Highland Township and Agent Fletcher himself appeared at town hall to meet them.  “Great to see you all made it out alive!” he said, as if that had been in doubt when he sent them.  “And thank you for saving Rudy.  If not for you, he might have been killed when we moved in, if not sooner.”

Agent Malefor, who was still there, added, “It’s a shame we missed so many of the leaders and a real shame that we missed the Ultra-Humanite.  That fiend has been at the top of our most wanted list since he – I mean she – tried to wipe out Cleveland with a plague back in December.  And this is for you lot,” he said for the heroes’ benefit.  “I talked to Fletcher by radio last night about the IRS agents who supposedly showed up at the temple earlier.  He checked into it and the IRS was never involved in this.  Those guys in the jeeps had to have been working for the Ultra-Humanite, maybe as part of a backup plan she had all along in case the deal for the temple fell through.”

After noticing the hasty bandages binding some seriously nasty wounds on most of the Heroes, Fletcher said, “We can give you all lifts back to Duluth and get you checked into the hospital there.  We’ll look after your own vehicles until you’re released.  We’ll dock the cost of your care out of your pay for the mission, but we can also keep an eye on things there and make sure no one on staff gives away your secret identities, if you want to keep them.  Whether you want your names in the papers is up to you.  The FBI is going to let what happened in Highland be public knowledge."

None of them were particularly bothered about if their identities were made public.  After all, as Silver Scorpion later said, if this was going to be a full-time gig then they did not even need to keep their mundane identities anymore.  Or at least that last part was true for Silver.

Silver Scorpion did call her boss, Dirk, though, concerned that he would be worried sick about her.  She filled him in on the general details and explained the fact that she was recuperating in a hospital at the moment.

The rest of the first half of May was spent with everyone convalescing in St. Luke’s, Duluth’s premier hospital.  Everyone’s rooms were close by each other and their proximity allowed all the heroes to socialize with each other over the next two weeks, and comfort each other before and after surgery to have bullets removed and wounds sewed shut.  Agent Rudy Malefor was there too and became, officially, their FBI liaison.  It was Rudy who informed Dice that his criminal record had been wiped clean.  “Keep your nose clean,” he said, “and stay with this crowd.  It looks like they’ll be good for you.”