Friday, February 3, 2012

Superman's Mega-dungeon of Doom! The Little Known Underworld Dungeon Near Metropolis

In 1943 this was one of the best of the cartoons that Famous Stuidos released! I recently ran across this cartoon while doing research for my inner world game on Saturday. The plot is pretty cool -
   A local scientist, Dr. Henderson, comes to the Daily Planet with a proposition for Perry White. Several decades earlier, Dr. Henderson's father discovered a series of caverns that he named the "Henderson caves." The elder Dr. Henderson explored the caves for several years before he mysteriously disappeared in them. Now, the younger Dr. Henderson would like to go back into the caverns. He would like the Daily Planet to fund the expedition, and he would like Clark Kent and Lois Lane to come along and report on everything they find. Mr. White agrees.
Several days later, Clark, Lois and Dr. Henderson are at the entrance to the Henderson caves, ready to go spelunking. The caverns are part of a river system, so the only way into the caverns is by boat. Lois and Dr. Henderson take the first boat, and Clark follows later. Inside the cave, Lois and Dr. Henderson row into a large grotto. They dock on the side of the river, but once they step out, the boat drifts off down the river. A sack of dynamite in the boat is accidentally ignited and causes an explosion that Clark, who is just entering the caverns, can hear outside. Sensing danger, Clark paddles faster.
Dr. Henderson and Lois have been captured by a race of "Hawk Men," living in the caverns. The explosion blasted open a hole in their cave, giving them a passage to the surface. Dr. Henderson and Lois are brought before the chief Hawk Man. They see a statue of Dr. Henderson's father above the chief's throne. Neither of them understands why the Hawk Men have a statue like that or where they got it. The chief signals to the others, and Lois and Dr. Henderson are tied to a stone slab.
As Clark enters the cave, he sees Lois and Dr. Henderson being lowered into a giant pot of a bubbling, gold-colored liquid. Seeing the liquid, Lois looks back at the statue of the elder Dr. Henderson, and, suddenly, realizes where it came from. The Hawk Men had coated him in metal! Now they were about to do the same thing to Lois and the younger Dr. Henderson. Clark quickly changes into Superman, but before he can save Lois and Dr. Henderson, he must first fight his way through an army of Hawk Men. Once he's finished with the Hawk Men, he saves Lois and Dr. Henderson and wastes no time getting them out of the cave. The Hawk Men chase after them, but Superman uses more dynamite to cover the entrance to their cave with rubble.
Back at the Daily Planet, Mr. White is impressed by Clark and Lois's findings, but he feels no one would believe the story. He burns the report and the photographs taken in the caverns.
Hawkman humanoid hybrid 4 hit points Chaotic 20% chance of mutant powers 
They're some pretty cool stuff about this cartoon. I'll name them off from my notes really quick. 
  1. The  "Henderson caves." are right near Metropolis & are easily accessible. They're hardy explored & might provide a supers game with some really cool weird monsters. 
  2. The hawkmen have a strange Lovecraftian vibe going. I'm not sure why but who knows what else they've got going on. Perhaps they worship a Great Old One 
  3. These guys are DC cannon even if its only fannnon. They're powerful enough to give the 40s supes a bit of a pause. They'd make excellent minions for a mastermind & great encounter  for a mid level supers group. 
  4. The   "Henderson caves."  remain unexplored & this is a prime opportunity to populate it with all of the Gygaxian gusto you can muster for the ecology! The perfect center piece to bridge a supers game with your Dungeons & Dragons party! 
  5. The  "Henderson caves."  might lead deep down to a tunnel that leads to PELLUCIDAR  ! 
  6. This is a perfect way to introduce your supers team to drow as a set of villains. The  "Henderson caves." make a great jump off point for a group to explore something as extensive as the Undermountain or such. 
  7.  What the hell is up with Perry White? Why burn the story of the century? Why indeed? Hmm perhaps this isn't the first such story to cross the desk of Perry? 
  8. This is the first brush that the 1940s "bad ass" Super Man has with the inner world but it won't be his last. These hawkmen are pretty diabolical & given that we only see the tiniest fraction of the "Henderson Caves" well there's plenty to be designed for a working Dungeon Master 
  9. Could the Henderson Caves have led to "Middle Earth"? I was going to do this weird twisted lead in from the Henderson Caves to the Middle Earth of Super Friends Fame.  Then I came across this post from  Timothy Brannan. I really can't compete with this entry Here
     Well maybe I can because I think that secretly Perry White is part of a secret society hiding certain facts about the true nature of the inner world from the general populace of Earth. The Kingdom of  
    Malhavoc is pretty much your average Middle Earth cave system below the Upper World. Is it near the "Henderson Caves" well it was in my supers game eons ago. 
    10. There's a ton of stuff that can be done with "Henderson's Caves" They pretty much are a blank slate. Go to town with it! The Underground World is in the Public Domain.
    Added Bonus 

    -Malhavoc- Lawfully Evil 6th level Wizard
    4th level Bad Ass 

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