Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Major Victory

Major Victory was one of several patriotic superheroes to emerge from the studio and comic book packaging operation of Harry "A" Chesler, during a time when Phil Sturm was the lead editor. We here at NUELOW Games think of the Chesler output from 1940 through late 1941/early 1942 as the Golden Age for his Golden Age of Comics activity, and Major Victory is among the last of the characters from that period that we will be bringing to modern readers in one of our titles.

Drawn by Charles Sultan, and written by an unknown writer, Major Victory was featured in the first three issues of Dynamic Comics, along with other great Chesler superheroes, such as the original Dynamic Boy and Dynamic Man, and Lady Satan in her spy-killing incarnation. He was one of several patriotic superheroes created by the studio, a soldier who was returned to life by Father Patriot as the embodiment of the American fighting spirit after dying in an attempt to stop a terrorist attack on an American military base.

The splash page from the second Major Victory story.
Art by Charles Sultan
Like the best of Chesler's output, the Major Victory stories featured solid artwork, fast-paced stories that were more than a little macabre, and a whole lot of fun. Sadly, like all of Chesler's greatest creations, the Major's career was also very short. There were the three stories published in Dynamic Comics 1-3 during 1941, which were then reprinted in Major Victory Comics 1-3 in 1942. Curiously, the Major's shirt and pants were colored yellow in the reprints, breaking the red-white-and-blue motif of his costume. Why this bizarre decision was made one can't even being to guess at.

Exactly where Major Victory will appear in the line-up of NUELOW Games publications remains to be decided, but he is certainly a candidate for an issue of Complete Golden Age Oddballs.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Little Giant

In 1940, Professor Rednow injected Rusty, a scrawny orphaned waif, with a serum that gave him superhuman strength and endurance. Since the boy didn't die from being an unwitting human test subject to a bit of mad science, Rednow adopted the kid, further outfitted him with a high-tech outfit that let him ignore gravity to leap long distances in a single bound. He took to punching criminals and rescuing girls in distress for two issues of "O.K. Comics" before fading into oblivion. (My guess as to his final fate? Rednow decided to subject Rusty to another mad science experiment... one that didn't end quite so successfully. I think in the annals of coldblooded scientists, Rednow has got to be one of the coldest.)

Rusty becomes the Little Giant,
through the wonders of child endangerment
By the way, does Little Giant's origin sound familiar to you--a weakling who gains superhuman strength and endurance after being injected with a vial full of weird science? To me, it sounds just like Captain America's origin story. I wonder what the Fanboy Brigade would make of the fact that the first issue of O.K. Comics was on newsstands some nine months before Captain America made his debut?

(It actually sounds like any number of superhero origins from that period, to be honest. Super-serums or lightning bolts seem to be the most common sources of superhuman powers in the early 1940s.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

K is for Kismet

Kismet, the Man of Fate, is, as far as I can tell, the first Muslim superhero. It's too bad he didn't catch on and become an international phenomenon. If he had, maybe the public face of Islam wouldn't be frothing-in-the-beard murderers. Kismet may fight evil, but violence is a last resort and he never harms innocent people. In fact, Kismet even tries to avoid harming the guilty, instead often letting their own actions lead to their doom. While fighting the evil of the Nazis, Kismet tries to be an examplar of someone who follows the "religion of peace"

"Kismet,Man of Fate" was a feature in all four issues of Bomber Comics--a slightly unfortunate title in retrospect, given the "Lions of Islam" that have emerged in the real world in recent decade--a title that came and went with its publisher, Eliot, in 1944. Other than being able to be a force for righteousness and freedom in the name of Allah, Kismet seemed to have an ability to predict what he enemies were going to do, with an ability to dodge their attacks as they are being launched, or to engineer events so his foes take each other out. He also rocks the shirtless-with-a-cape look like no one else. And he even looks good in a fez.

Kismet is the lead feature in the next issue of  Complete Golden Age Oddballs. Look for this space for an announcement of the publication date. Meanwhile, here's an add-on to NUELOW's superpower system for OGL d20 that reprents Kismet's uncanny ability to predict where fate will strike next.

Minor Power: Foresight
You have the ability to see fraction

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jeep and Peep

If you were around and reading comics in 1945, you may have come across Jeep Comics on the newsstands. But if you blinked, you would have missed the series... along with the publishers that released them (R.B. Leffingwell & Company and Spotlight Comics).

The stars of the three published issues of Jeep Comics were Jeep and Peep, a pair of crime-fighters and explorers of the unknown and mysterious who traveled about in a flying, jet-powered Jeep. Jeep, so nick-named because he loved Jeeps so much that he let the Army give him one instead of his discharge pay, wore a red cape everywhere he went, while teen-aged Peep dressed normally... although he probably wore powered sugar everywhere, as one story dealt with how he was getting too fat and out of shape to fight crime.

Yes... "Jeep and Peep" was a series ahead of its time. I have no doubt it would be very, VERY popular today in some circles, because it carries messages about childhood obesity and the importance of exercising, as well as of energy and natural conservation. Jeep's flying Jeep is powered by an amazing, fuel efficient jet engine he has created... it only takes two drops of lighter fluid for Jeep and Peep to fly a distance of a hundred miles or more.

I'm not sure what's going here, except that Jeep and Peep are driving on air!

Any book we release collecting the "Jeep and Peep" series will be a cherished item by anyone who wants to stop global warming, or who believed in Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. In fact, I will probably send comp copies to environmental groups around the globe; maybe I can get it made required reading!

At any rate, "Jeep and Peep" are perfect candidates for the Complete Golden Age Oddballs series... and I suspect that you'll be able to see all the flying Jeep action collected for the first time in place sooner rather than later!

And just because I'll be writing these stats eventually anyway, here are Jeep and Peep ala ROLF!

JEEP (Male)
Brawn 18, Body 15, Brains 7
  Traits: Driver, Inventor, Honorable
  Battle Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dodge, Double-Strike, Murderous Mitts, Strike Pose
  Important Things Worn/Wielded: Super-Cape (Armor, absorbs up to 2 points of damage).

PEEP (Male)
Brawn 13, Body 9, Brains 5
  Traits: Comic Relief, Driver, Improv Master
  Battle Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Deflect, Disarm, Walking Disaster Area
  Important Things Worn/Wielded: Cheeseburger (Small One-shot Ranged Weapon, or tasty snack. Deals 1 point of damage).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Invisibility

A while back, we introduced a new super power system for use with OGL Modern and other d20 System RPGs. It uses the feats and talent trees system rather than layering another set of mechanics or adding more classes to an already complex system.

Since I couldn't find an obscure superhero that I felt like adding to the NUELOW Games stable, I am instead adding the Invisibility Talent Tree to the d20 Supers system. (You can see the foundation of the system by clicking here.)

This is a bit off-the-cuff, so it will probably be revised before it finds its way into an actual product. If you want to offer input, it will be considered and appreciated.

You have an unnaturally developed ability to move stealthly.
   Benefit: You gain a +4 bonus to Move Silently skill checks.

You can become hard to see or totally invisible at will. The invisibility can be activated by a thought, and remains in effect until he wills himself visible again, or loses consciousness. The characters clothes and carried objects become invisible as well.
   Prerequisite: At least one Minor Power Feat.
   Shadowy: By taking a standard attack action, you turn partially invisible. You gain a +2 bonus to all Hide checks. This bonus increases to +6 if you are in a dark area or it is night.
   Invisible: By taking a standard attack attack action, you turn invisible. All attacks made against you suffer a -6 penalty. You can still be seen by creatures that can see invisible objects, and you can be sensed by equipment that detects body heat or movement. Likewise, if you step in a puddle, are submerged in water, stand in heavy rain, or if someone fills the air with dust or flour that clings to you, you essentially become visible
   Prerequisite: Shadowy
   Insubstantial: As Invisible, except the character becomes vapourous and become immune to damage from all damage sources except those that compress or displace air, such as extreme heat and cold. The character suffers normal damage from such attacks.
   Prerequisite: Invisible

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'Science Sleuths #5' now available!

The fifth issue of Science Sleuths is now on sale at DriveThruComics, DriveThruRPG, and RPGNow. It features stories starring Jill Trent and Rocketman, but you can also get to know the King of Darkness in two stories that are being collected in one place for the first time ever. As a special treat, this issue also features write-ups of Jill Trent and the King of Darkness in the Heroes and Hoodlums RPG system... a game specifically designed for playing Golden Age comic book characters.

Click here to see previews of Science Sleuths #5, or to buy and download your own copy.

H is for the Hand

Some comic book heroes are left on the ash-heap of discarded pop culture for good reason. One of these is the mysterious, supernatural crime-fighting entity known only as the Hand. Where he (it?) came by that name is obvious.

Talk to the Hand. Art  and Writing by Bill Flinton & Bill O'Connor
I love the Golden Age of Comics, because the "rules" of what made for good story telling in the medium were still being established. All sorts of fun and crazy stories were being thrown out there for public approval, and many of the flash-in-the-pans that only appeared a few times were crazier and more fun than most/

And then there are ones like the Hand. What's more amazing than someone thinking this was a good idea is that the Hand appeared twice during 1941, in issues 12 and 13 of Harvey's Speed Comics. The same team of Bill Flinton and Bill O'Connor delivered both of the Hand's crime-smashing adventures, so they probably came up with the strip... and maybe they had pictures of the editor's mother performing unnatural acts on a water buffalo.

I suppose the Hand is remarkable because it is such a strange notion for a comic book hero. L.L. Hundal, the main editor here at NUELOW Games earmarked the two Hand stories for a future issue of Complete Golden Age Oddballs. I think she may have to get around me first, but if enough of you out there wants to give her a hand by showing support for her idea that the Hand needs to be added to the line-up or NUELOW Heroes & Villains, I may have to give in. You won't even need to acquire pictures of my mother performing unnatural acts with a water buffalo. It doesn't take much to get me to agree to something... if people want to see the Hand, I'll give them the Hand.