Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tales of Suspense

If I'm about to start a campaign I like to dig back into some of the things that inspire it. For DD that might be Howard, Leiber, Tolkien, some newer writers, and maybe a viewing of the LOTR movies or some Conan or Sword and the Sorcerer. For the Greek campaign I kicked it off with Clash of the Titans and re-reading some of the myths. For Star Wars there is the obvious material. For Champions, DC, Marvel, M&M, ICONS, BASH, etc. I think comic books are the true original source. I know some people try to run super campaigns even though the only inspirational material they see is the occasional summer movie but to me that's a pretty limited set of material, even after the last 11 years of annual super-releases. The animated series for these things are more plentiful and often more true to the comics and I think they're a fine way to go and I've done that, but I want more. So I've been going back to the beginning on some source material and I decided to start with old school Iron Man.

Iron Man makes his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39

This is his origin story and it's very similar to the first part of the movie if you swap out Middle East for Southeast Asia. I originally read this years ago in a big hardback full-color compilation from the local library called "Origins of Marvel Heroes" and I thought it was pretty cool then. Seeing it up on the big screen was a particular thrill for me as IM has long been my favorite. For a very long time the only comic long boxes in my house were Iron Man, eventually covering from about issue #100 up to about #300 or so when I got busy with other things. This drew me into the Avengers and West Coast so I was always more about that branch of the Marvel family than the X-branch, but I was at least aware of them too.

Anyway, back to this book: It's very simple and it's a very linear story. Injured > Captured > Building> Breaking Out> Free. The villain is "Wong Chu" who is a martial arts expert and local warlord. We don't learn much about him other than that - he is clearly there to be defeated - and by the end he's presumably dead when Iron Man detonates the ammo dump Wong Chu just ran into.

Things you could steal: Not a lot since it's an origin story and a fairly well-known one at that. You could use the tail-kicking warlord with soldiers who is taking over a small country as part of an adventure, but for an international run it seems pretty limited. Maybe reset it in Mexico and make him a drug lord who's stirring up trouble. I think a Wolverine or Batman type character dropped into this scenario could have a ton of fun. Give the warlord some mental defenses if you have a mentalist so that one die roll doesn;t cure your whole scenario. Better yet, give him a rival warlord who moves in if the original one goes peaceful and double the trouble.

Armor: The Gray Armor, the Mark I of all Mark I's. It looks clunkier than the one in the movie if that's possible, but this is where it all began.

One other note - these early Tales have a few extra stories added in after the Iron Man material and some of them are kind of cool. They are all modern to futuristic in setting and very much in the Twilight Zone school of science fiction where there is a big twist at the end. There's not much you would use in a campaign sense, but they did push the old-school science fiction button for me.

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