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seneschal

Cat-Man and the Kitten

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Cat-Man

Crash Comics, 1940 - Cat-Man Comics, 1946

Like Mowgli, Tarzan, Pecos Bill and the Black Condor, David Merryweather was orphaned in the wild and adopted and raised by beasts.  In this case it was the jungles of Burma and the foster mom was a tiger.  Merryweather's tropical upbringing enabled him to develop the strength, agility and heightened senses of a great jungle cat as well as the proverbial feline nine lives.  Because, of course it did.  Given this childhood, he adapted surprisingly well to human civilization when brought to the United States as a young man.  David was grieved, however, to discover that men preyed upon each other like the animals he had left behind.  To combat this evil he initially became a private detective but quickly donned cowl, cape and leotard to deal with wrongdoers more decisively and directly.  As the mysterious Cat-Man he battled gangsters, spies and saboteurs, even jungle tribesmen from Back Home.  Fortunately he elected to turn his captured foes over to the police rather than simply eating them.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Merryweather hastened to enlist in the U.S. Army as any virile, patriotic American male would do and over the course of the war rose to the rank of captain.  In addition to patriotism, however, he needed a steady job with a regular income.  As Cat-Man he had busted an unscrupulous man who had forced his orphaned, athletic 11-year-old niece to commit burglaries.  Merryweather felt responsible for young Katie Conn since he had put her only remaining relative behind bars.  Because there was both a Great Depression and a World War on, the State had permitted him to adopt the girl, although she addressed him as "Uncle Dave" rather than as "Dad."  Now he had to support her.

Lieutenant Merryweather was assigned to stateside duties, and Conn lived with him on base.  She complicated both his and Cat-Man's lives immeasurably.  In addition to being a skilled gymnast, Katie was bright, inquisitive, and cunning.  She quickly figured out what her adoptive father did in his spare time and insisted on tagging along, first in her school clothes and later in an imitative costume she'd sewn herself.  Eventually Merryweather was forced to allow her to become his sidekick, the Kitten.  Conn was sneaky, resourceful, and too smart to tackle adult crooks with brute force alone.  She helped Cat-Man thwart Japanese agents as well as German mad scientist Dr. Macabre.

Despite his serious demeanor, Merryweather demonstrates concern and compassion for the soldiers under his command.  He clearly loves his daughter but manages to resist parental overprotectiveness when the pair find themselves in a tight spot.  He's trained her well and expects his lessons to stick.  As Cat-Man he is gleefully brutal when bashing bad guys.  So far he has managed not to kill any of them.

Cat-Man went through several costume changes before settling on a light orange long-sleeved leotard set off by cowl, cape, trunks, boots and gloves of a more reddish orange.  The cowl features wide, cat-like ears.  His legs are bare.  Merryweather seems slimmer and more wiry in his military uniform than he does in his Cat-Man outfit, which perhaps includes fake muscles on the torso.

STR 23

CON 14

SIZ 14

INT 17

POW 14

DEX 22

APP 12

Move:  10

Hit Points:  14 (28 CON+SIZ)

Damage Bonus:  +1d6

Armor:  2 (kinetic, tiger tough)

Attacks:  Brawl 71%, 1d3+1d6+2; Grapple 71%, 1d3+1d6+2; Heavy Pistol 61%, 1d10+2

Skills:  Animal Affinity (Big Cats) 50%, Climb 81%, Dodge 89%, Hide 51%, Jump 66%, Knowledge (Law) 46%, Listen 66%, Persuade 56%, Research 66%, Sense 56%, Spot 66%, Stealth 53%, Track 54%

Powers:

Super Characteristic -- +12 STR (12), +6 SIZ (6), +6 DEX (18)

Armor (2)

Defense, -60% vs. enemy attacks (11)

Super Senses -- Night Vision (3), Enhanced Hearing (3), Enhanced Smell/Taste (3)

Unarmed Combat, 1 level, +2 AP to limbs when blocking/parrying blows (20)

Regeneration, 3 levels, costs 1 energy per HP healed, 3 total (9)

Extra Energy, +50 points (5)

Leap, 4 levels, +4 meters vertical or +8 meters horizontal leap (4)

Failings -- Dependent (Katie Conn)+3; Feral Under Stress +1

Notes:  Cat-Man had 92 power points based on randomly rolled characteristics plus 4 more for Failings, total 96.  He had the standard 500 skill points plus 170 personal skill points (INTx10).

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Coming!

The Kitten

Crash Comics, 1940

Katie Conn is an agile, precocious 11-year-old girl devoted to her foster father and eager for adventure.  She doesn't rush into situations, however, but carefully studies them first before acting.  Katie has blonde curls, wide blue eyes, and a plump dimpled smile, the better to gull adult criminals with.  She's been known to ambush spies from behind and chloroform them with supplies borrowed from a medical kit.  Conn threatens to become a calculating bombshell when she grows up; the boys are in trouble and Cat-Man had better have plenty of aspirin handy for all the headaches she's going to give him, starting about four years from now.

The Kitten possesses no overt super powers.  Her abilities are the product of her traumatic upbringing.  Her circus aerialist parents were teaching her the family business before their death in a car crash.  Her uncle took her in only to use her in his criminal schemes, forcing her to commit thefts and burglaries.  She's now the unofficial mascot of a military intelligence base, being raised by a guy who sneaks out at night dressed as a cat to beat up gangsters.  Even as a minor, Katie Conn is already more dangerous than many mature adventurers.

Cat-Man doesn't usually team up with other superheroes but the Kitten is his link to them.  She is best friends with Mickey Matthews, sidekick of the Deacon -- a would-be gangster turned crime-fighter who masquerades as a clergyman.  Together, Conn and Matthews have joined other sidekicks to thwart thugs who have escaped the notice of their mentors.

STR 10

CON 13

SIZ 9

INT 14

POW 11

DEX 16

APP 10

Move:  10

Hit Points:  11 (22 CON+SIZ)

Damage Bonus:  +0

Armor:  None

Attacks:  Brawl 55%, 1d3+0; Grapple 55%, 1d3+0

Skills:  Climb 70%, Dodge 50%, Fast Talk 35%, Hide 45%, Jump 55%, Listen 55%, Perform (Gymnastics) 55%, Spot 55%, Stealth 45%

Powers:

Super Characteristic -- +6 DEX (18), +2 APP (2)

Defense, -30% to be hit by enemy attack (6)

Notes:  As a minor, the Kitten began with -280 professional skill points and -7 characteristics points.  That left her with 220 skill points plus 140 personal skill points (INTx10), total 360.  She got 26 power points (2x greatest unmodified characteristic).

Edited by seneschal
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Ouch!  Cat-Man and the Kitten don't typically slay their opponents, although the bad guys' actions may result in their own deaths.  Fisticuffs are the order of the day.  Hit-Girl and her mentor go out armed, expecting to off some criminal scum.  On the other hand, the Kitten is no stranger to violence, and she wouldn't confront Hit-Girl without first thoroughly studying her from the shadows.  And she is used to fending off weapon-wielding foes with her bare hands.  Both kids know how to fight dirty.  Tough call.  Katie Conn has morals.  Mindy McCready is amoral.  She'd try to murder the Kitten by default.  Conn would attempt to incapacitate Hit-Girl without killing her.

Your Kick-Ass reference is apt.  Like Big Daddy, many popular Forties superheroes had no supernatural abilities.  They were simply tough, athletic guys (and gals) in a mask who were willing to take on the criminal element with their fists and perhaps an automatic pistol.  A surprising number of them were frustrated off-duty policemen.

Edited by seneschal
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The Deacon

Cat-Man Comics No. 1, 1941

We never learn the Deacon's real identity.  All we know is that he was a mouthy young thug with dreams of becoming a big-time mob boss -- until he balked at committing murder and found himself hunted by his former companions.  Wounded, he took refuge in abandoned Marshland Church and attempted to disguise himself by replacing his blood-stained clothing with the dusty vestments he found there.  The ruse failed.  However, his foes were distracted by the arrival of Mickey Matthews, a boy who liked to play in the old church and its grounds.  Summoning his remaining strength, the would-be gangster knocked out the killers with a few well-placed punches.

Both the boy and the policemen who hauled off the hit men mistook the young man for the church's new caretaker.  He did a lot of thinking about his career choices during his recovery, meanwhile making friends with the curious Mickey.  Adopting the persona of "the Deacon," he decided to battle crime instead of performing it, using Marshland Church as his headquarters.  After all, no one would suspect a soft-voiced clergyman of being an. avenging detective, would they?

Instead of mask and cape, the Deacon hides his identity with a slightly out-of-style brown suit and fedora worn over a minister's black shirt and clerical collar.  He's carefully practiced his speech and walk to appear 10-15 years older than he really is.  His religious garb and manner usually get him casual respect and cooperation from authorities and suspects, at least until he and Mickey start snooping.  The Deacon isn't given to brilliant deductions.  He's from the "let's poke around until the villains notice and try to stop us" school of detective work.  Since he usually gets his man, the cops haven't bothered to probe his denominational bona fides.

Though we don't know his history, the Deacon has to have undergone professional boxing training.  He can drop almost any human opponent with two punches.  He strikes with precision and he strikes hard.  He knows how to use a pistol but doesn't carry one.  He's a good enough actor and make-up artist to maintain an extended masquerade as a middle-aged man of the cloth even though he's never been to seminary.  The Deacon's burglary skills are just good enough to get him into compromising situations, usually immediately after he's discovered an important clue.  Which is why he needs Mickey to watch his back.

Mickey Mathews follows the Deacon around the way Dennis the Menace pursues Mr. Wilson.  He's a clever, observant kid of 9 or 10 -- not a Boy Wonder in terms of combat ability but surprisingly tough in light of all the hazards he's faced at the Deacon's side.  (And just where are the boy's parents while all this is going on?)

STR 16

CON 18

SIZ 14

INT 13

POW 9

DEX 10

APP 15

Move:  10

Hit Points:  16 (32 CON+SIZ)

Damage Bonus:  +1d6

Armor:  None

Attacks:  Brawl 75%, 1d3+db+2; Grapple 75%, 1d3+db+2

Skills:  Disguise 66%, Dodge 65%, Drive 40%, Fine Manipulation 50%, First Aid 40%, Insight 50%, Listen 70%, Martial Arts (Boxing) 62%, Perform (Acting) 70%, Perform (Oratory) 50%, Persuade 60%, Spot 70%, Stealth 55%

Powers:

Super Characteristic -- +4 DEX (12), +10 STR (10), +10 CON (10), +2 SIZ (2)

Super Skills -- +20% each to Disguise and Acting (4)

Unarmed Combat, 1 level, +2 AP to limbs for parrying blows (20)

Defense, -65% vs enemy attacks

Failings:  None

Notes:  The Deacon had 500 professional skill points plus 130 personal skill points (INTx10), total 630.  I randomly rolled really low stats, giving him only 70 power points based on unmodified characteristics.  Thirty-four of these were-spent getting him off crutches and a respirator.  I left his POW at 9 since the Deacon tends to be unlucky.  He also doesn't have Etiquette skill.  If he ever has to engage with real clergymen he may get himself in trouble.

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I'm loving these write ups!

A bit of a non-sequitur but if you've ever seen the RPG Mystery Men (based on D&D) the author uses public domain supers from the early 40s as example builds (at least in its first edition).
I've not played the game, but really like that retro approach... and the relatively 'street level' heroes it focuses on.

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Part of the reason I haven't posted more write-ups is that, in game mechanics terms, many of the early mystery men are similar if not identical -- detectives with a gat and a hard fist.  Take away the jumpsuit, cape or domino mask and they could easily swap places with Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.  Some had a technological gimmick, an unusual origin story, or a unique (but not superhuman) talent that set them apart from the crowd.  But they tended to be very much cut from the same cloth.  The differences are in the story telling and presentation, something the numbers on a character sheet don't always reflect.

 

Edited by seneschal

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Miss Victory

Captain Fearless Comics, 1941 - Captain Aero Comics 1946

Does she or doesn't she?  No, we're not talking about whether Miss Victory colors her gorgeous blonde tresses but whether the patriotic pugilist possesses actual super powers.  While she appears to have "leveled up" late in her career, for most of her adventures it is hard to tell.  Super strength?  She routinely trashes six to eight beefy male goons at once, without the aid of a kid sidekick.  She leaps to the top of 8-foot-tall walls.  But she doesn't break down steel doors and hoist cars overhead.  (She says "ouch" when she breaks down wooden doors).  Invulnerability?  She's so agile and acrobatic that no one can lay a glove on her, and bullets directed her way always miss.  Flight?  Well, late in the game she suddenly got her pilot's license but usually she drives her personal roadster to crime scenes.

Joan Wayne, stenographer at the U.S. Department of Commerce, uses her office position to keep tabs on Nazi spies and saboteurs attempting to steal secrets and influence legislation in Washington, D.C.  She's on a name basis with high-level bureaucrats and humble clerical staffers, able to gather clues and rumors from both without generating suspicion.  Used to their comings and goings, Wayne can spot people who seem out of place pretty quickly.

Miss Victory doesn't have an origin story, although it was suggested long after her adventures commenced that the F.B.I. may have planted her in the office pool.  She is an Ohio girl who has snagged a well-paying government job, since she can afford a car and nice clothes.  She seems like a regular person, having friends and a social life that have nothing to do with crime-fighting, being willing to take time off for actual vacations that aren't a cover for "the mission."  It's not her fault that she runs into spies wherever she goes.  Despite her good looks Wayne doesn't date or have a boyfriend, although she does flip her hair and flirt shamelessly with the cops or M.P.s who run to the scene where she's just clobbered a passel of thugs.  Then she flees.  She's an independent young woman having a good time.

Miss Victory isn't an angry, angsty hero.  She hands foreign spies alive to the authorities to be interrogated.  She's less forgiving with American traitors.  On her initial outing she tossed a collaborator out a high-rise office window and bragged about it later to his German handlers.  On the whole, though, she's not particularly bloodthirsty.

At the office Wayne wears wire-rim glasses and appropriate dresses.  Off duty she sometimes loses the glasses and dresses up a bit.  As Miss Victory she literally lets down her hair.  She wears a blue long-sleeved blouse with white collar, a thin white belt and white Zorro-style mask, red gloves and wrestling boots, red shorts (which grew progressively shorter), and a cape.  Victory apparently has more than one hero costume.  Her cape can be red, blue or double-sided.  Her top is usually plain but sometimes has a large white "V" that emphasizes her curves.  In her first appearance it had a large white star but Captain America must have complained.

STR 45

CON 12

SIZ 14

INT 13

POW 14

DEX 18

APP16

Move:  10

Hit Points:  13 (26 CON+SIZ)

Damage Bonus:  +3d6

Armor:  15 AP (kinetic, heat, sound)

Attacks:  Brawl 58%, 1d3+db; Grapple 58%, 1d3+db

Skills:  Bargain 42%, Climb 70%, Dodge 69%. Drive 53%, Etiquette 42%, Jump 58%, Knowledge (Accounting) 42%, Knowledge (Law) 42%, Knowledge (Stenography) 50%, Language (English) 65%, Listen 58%, Persuade 42%, Pilot (Airplane) 38%, Research 58%, Spot 58%, Status 48%, Technical Skill (Typing) 37%

Powers --

Super Characteristic:  +36 STR (36), +1 APP (1), +3 DEX (9)

Armor:  15 AP (kinetic, heat, sound), (45)

Leap, +1 meter vertical, +2 meters horizontal (1)

Failings:  None

Notes:  Miss Victory had 92 power points based on her unmodified characteristics and 630 skill points (including +130 INTx10).

Edited by seneschal
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I'd like to do Dan Garret, the original Blue Beetle, but the more I learn about him the tougher the job becomes.  He was created by Fox Features Syndicate but Holyoke, who published these other characters, got ahold of him for a while when Fox used its best-selling title as collateral for a failed business deal.  Holyoke published some of the Beetle's best stories but there never was any consistency in the writing and illustration.

Garret was a rookie policeman who acted as an armored vigilante in his spare time.  The impenetrable costume and the Blue Beetle's assorted gadgets were invented by Dr. Franz, a pharmacist/good-guy mad scientist whose drug store was on Garret's patrol beat.  When Dan was shot up by gangsters while on duty, Franz used an experimental vitamin formula to save his life.  The stuff not only healed Garret, it gave him super powers.  And there begins the trouble.

The Blue Beetle's abilities shifted around as often as his gloves changed from red to yellow.  The 1940 radio serial indicated that the drug had permanently boosted Garret's strength, stamina and dexterity, but not outrageously so.  In this version he was like The Phantom or Captain America, tough but not able to burst through walls like Superman.  And he needed a car to get around.  Holyoke's comics, however, indicated that the Blue Beetle needed a new vitamin dose every time he hit the streets.  And he could leap away and bounce up tenement walls like Spider-Man (who wasn't around yet).  In Fox's books the Beetle occasionally was as strong as The Man of Tomorrow and could fly or swim at tremendous speeds, depending on the needs of the tale at hand.  Even Dr. Franz changed.  Sometimes he was there, sometimes he wasn't.  In one issue, he'd be a gaunt bearded fellow with a shock of unruly white hair.  In the next he'd be plump with a cherubic shaven face and the white hair short and slicked back. Only his glasses and white coat ( indicating "scientist") stayed the same.

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