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Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - with thugs in mountains

Brain Wave

(1940s material, part #2)


Sequence

This is the second half of this profile.

So you should read first, heh ?

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History (part 2)

The Brain Wave managed to catch a projecting beam with his smock, breaking his fall.

He escaped, and started plotting his revenge.

  • He stole the minutes of the JSA’s meetings, written by Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), to learn about their weaknesses.
  • He developed a shrinking ray that could make people eight inches tall. He then replaced the lights in the JSA’s meeting room with this ray, and shrunk them all when they had a meeting.

The entire Society was now powerless !

Size’s not everything

The triumphant BW came to collect the helpless JSAers. He kept them in bird cages as he instructed his mob allies to carry out a huge crime wave.

However, Hawkman had birds seize the cages. While still tiny, the Society was free to oppose Brain Wave’s schemes.

  1. Hawkman foiled a theft. A gift of toy soldiers had been sent to the target manor, but the “figures” were shrunken thugs in uniform. At night, they unshrunk to rob.
  2. Sandman foiled a jewellery store robbery. The robbers were getting their instructions from a strange tree festooned with dollar bills, and their instructions were written in minuscule characters on the bills.
  3. The Spectre foiled a bank heist. The two thugs committing it had been issued a gun invented by BW, which shot spider-like giant adhesive webs.
  4. Another bank heist, where fake plumbers coming in for repairs pumped sleep gas into the entire building through the pipes.
  5. A blackmail attempt using fake newspapers to convince the target that the police were powerless to stop the murderers.
  6. Robbing a small town by giving a free, fake circus show that the entire bored population attended. Sleep gas was diffused under the big top, freeing the fake carnies to pillage.
  7. Several specially-trained thugs faked having accidents to be taken to the hospital. Once inside at night, they produced hidden guns to steal the hospital’s radium.
  8. Replacing multimillionaire S. Graves with a specially trained impersonator.

Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt then magically undid the effects of the shrinking ray. The Society beelined for the Brain Wave’s ocean-side tower.

King was about to blow the Society up, using mines hidden under the sole access road. But the Thunderbolt magically moved the mines under the tower.

The explosion razed it, seemingly killing the Brain Wave.

Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - injustice society cutting map knives

History (part 3)

BW resurfaced in 1946. He was disguised as “Forest Malone”, a noted researcher in dreams-exploration technology.

“Malone” convinced the JSA to participate in his experiments. But his actual goal was to drive them all mad.

Dreams of madness

Each Society member was plunged in a surreal, nonsensical, themed world – often with a tinge of horror.

It seems unlikely that the tech BW employed was actually dream-exploration stuff, like the one deployed by the Sandman (Dr. Garrett Sanford). It likely was just a cover to implant hypnotic, delirium-inducing suggestions based on his reading of the minutes of the JSA’s meetings.

However, Johnny Thunder’s mind could only come up with a simple, predictable dream world. Being in his element, he acted heroically and wasn’t driven mad at all. He and his Thunderbolt could therefore defend then cure the delirious Society.

The Brain Wave was arrested, and apparently spent a year in prison.

Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - glass box green lantern

Cry for Injustice

In 1947, BW was one of the officers of the Injustice Society of the World (ISW). This mob was very much an anti-JSA, mimicking its heroic counterparts.

His colleagues were :

The Brain Wave developed and co-developed weapons for the Society. Such as :

  • The “metal projector”, which could teleport in steel cages to entrap their foes.
  • The “heavy ray”, making objects and persons it illuminated 60 times heavier.
  • The “mirage thrower”, which could take a picture of a geographical feature (such as a small town or a road) and project it elsewhere with perfect realism.
  • A glass box BW could lay in, which returned any force hitting it with twice the strength.

Societies at war

The ISW organised a massive jailbreak. Thousands of freed criminals agreed to serve them, and the ISW armed and organised them as a paramilitary force.

From there, other mobs allied with this force. The situation came to resemble open warfare, as the ISW’s forces could frontally engage police and Federal forces.

The Society’s forces also stormed more prisons to recruit, and received special weapons and assets from the ISW’s senior members.

The Brain Wave styled himself as “commander Brain Wave of the fourth criminal army”.

He led a raid to steal vast amounts of “uthorium” from a mining town, and in so doing nearly destroyed a US Army armoured column. Green Lantern (Alan Scott) but narrowly saved it.

Scott was seemingly killed by King. But he survived, and resurfaced while the ISW was putting a captured JSA on a mock trial.

Wonder Woman took out most of the ISW higher-ups, including the Brain Wave.

Description

In most panels, King had naked legs under his green robes. So I guess he just runs around in his tighty whities and his smock.

He also seemed comfortable bare-footed when in his tower, but will wear sandals outside of it.

When seen in his civvies King was wearing a coat that fit him terribly, as his shoulders were too narrow.

As an Injustice Society member he was wearing trousers and shoes under his smock.

The height of madness

The vitals given in the Background block represent the way BW is drawn during these appearances, rather than his official DC values.

It’s a crude average, as his stature and physique change from story to story.

However, these changes are fairly coherent. He gets shorter and shorter, his body gets increasingly goblin-like, and his head keeps being bigger and rounder. So it’s reasonable to assume that it’s a continuing mutation.

Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - injustice society meeting table

Personality

A cruel, petty, evil nerd.

He’s out for money and power, but there’s also a sense that he just likes committing crimes.

BW loves being in charge and proving his superiority over those who seek to stop him.

There’s a vague sense that Mr. King was fond of the stereotypical 1910s country boy lifestyle of his youth. Ragged coveralls, bare-footed, a faithful and friendly doggo, eating fish he caught using a cobbled-together pole, knowing the local land and its resources, all that good stuff.

We later learn that his tower on Sharktooth Bay was close to where he grew up. So he likely was attached to the area.

Quotes

“I attacked their minds with hypnotic suggestions ! I have overcome not their bodies, but their brains ! I have made them mad — with fantastic phobias !”

“One by one the Justice Society falls before the might of the Injustice Society – even as the forces of law and order fall ! Come ! We have work to do !”

Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - steel cage prisoners break

DC Heroes RPG

Brain Wave (1940s)

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03
Int: 06 Wil: 09 Min: 07
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 07
Init: 014 HP: 040

Powers:

Air animation: 02, Eye of the cat: 06, Power Reserve: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Air Animations cannot score any RAPs against anybody who realises that they are illusions.
  • Air Animation also have 00 APs of Chameleon and 00 APs of Split.
  • Eye of the cat only works on BW’s Air Animation, but it also provides audio (and possibly other senses).
  • Power Reserve can be assigned to Skills, but cannot take any of them past 09 APs.
  • If Power Reserve is assigned to Skills, Brain Wave can also use one AP of Power Reserve to having the Genius Advantage, and/or one AP to having a Scholar – usually in a research or technological area.
  • Power Reserve can be assigned to Eye of the cat.
  • Power Reserve can be assigned to individual Air Animations AP scores – such as one Animation’s BODY. It cannot boost a given score past 03 APs, *after* Split penalties have been applied. The exceptions are Chameleon and Split, which can be upped all the way to 06.
  • Reallocating Power Reserve from Skills to Powers, and vice versa, seems to be lengthy work. Reallocating APs within one of either domain also seems to take time and study.

Skills:

Artist (Actor): 03, Charisma: 06, Gadgetry: 06, Scientist: 06

Advantages:

Expertise (1940s minutes of the Justice Society, Psychiatry), Familiarity (Books popular with 1910s geeky boys, Disguise, Fishing).

Connections:

Underworld (High).

Drawbacks:

Creepy Appearance, SPR (BW seems to be severely nearsighted, it’s likely he can’t see zilch if deprived of his glasses).

Motivation:

Power.

Occupation:

Criminal mastermind.

Wealth:

009

Brain Wave - 1940s DC Comics - JSA - huge illusion projector

Brainventions (part #1)

The shrinking ray can be modelled via the Diminution Power, of course. But it’s way simpler to state the effects.

  • All EVs were reduced to zero.
  • Character Interaction could still be performed with normal EVs, *if* the diminished Character can establish clear communication despite their size.
  • The effects cannot be resisted. But it’s possible it would have faded over time.
  • The Thunderbolt had little problem with Neutralising it, so the effect might have something like 9 or 10 APs for Neutralization purposes.

Likewise, the “Forest Malone” “dream machine” could be treated as Hypnosis with Sharpness and other complicated fiddly bits. But in practice :

  • It’ll make anybody mad, even if they got enormous Mental Attributes like Alan Scott does. Though it’s important to note that the victims willingly subjected themselves to the effect.
  • Madness won’t occur if you can come up with a good rationale for it not to. Such as Johnny Thunder being a simple, unimaginative, self-centred man.
  • The victim will be identifying themselves as some object or concept such as a thermometer, a star system or a laughing stock.
  • Here again the Thunderbolt had little issue with Neutralising the effect. There’s also an implication that a minor electroshock would have dispelled the effect.

Brainventions (part #2)

The “metal projector” is the ISW invention that is clearly credited to him. Matter Manipulation: 09, limited to creating permanent steel cages, is a simple if spectacularly points-inefficient to handle it.

BW also likely played a key role in the “mirage thrower” tech, since it’s illusions stuff. It can film a scene, then the projector (which looks like five-metres tall searchlight) can project that scene over several square miles.

The illusions seem fully immersive. Sherman tank crews thought they were driving along a dusty mountain road when they were actually atop a frozen lake. The illusion only broke, very locally, when the ice gave way under one tank.

The cunning BW also used the thrower to project an illusion of a nearby town in the next valley, then switch it off. He claimed that he had just had utterly disintegrated the town.


Design notes

Obvs the stats differ from those in Mayfair’s World at War. These were focused on his material published during the 1970s and 1980s, whereas here we’re all about the earliest, 1940s material.

Still, I used those as a starting point, for coherence’s sake. But within the WORG design paradigm – e.g., his numbers reflect the Actions he conducts in the stories, rather than the niche he’s meant to occupy.

It’s all PR, man

Is the whole Power Reserve thing overengineered ? Yep.

You could easily consider that he just switched his M.O. from animations to being Sivana Lite, no further explanation needed. So he’d have both sets of abilities, and just happen to use one, the end.

The modelling here instead provides a framework where it makes sense for him to have switched his M.O.. Because I like it when things make sense.

It also could be used if you want a 1940s Brain Wave who pivots a third, or fourth time toward another set of abilities. Say, telepathy or something. Within this context it’s OK, BW’s thing is to focus his mutant brain into special applications.

The main point of such a pivot is to prevent the Brain Wave from being turned into Sivana Lite. They look almost identical and do basically the same things, which just drained away everything that was interesting about BW.

Having him pivot back to mental powers restores some originality.

All in the mind

There’s a panel where the Atom accidentally passes through two Air Animations. They appeared right in front of him and he didn’t have time to register their presence, so his mind couldn’t consider them as material.

I’m treating that as an edge case for mental illusions in general, rather than something to cover with specific game notation. It presumably was a GM’s call, with the Atom not quite getting a roll to disbelieve. But rather a roll not to have time to believe.

Strong enough

I suspect that BW actually has a STR of 01. Especially in his 1947 appearance where he’s drawn even smaller.

But as discussed in the human STR article, there’s a reluctance to go that low unless a 02 just wouldn’t work. So let’s play it conservatively with a 02.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: 1940s All-Star Comics (All-American).

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 9th of August, 2022.