The Ghost of Bailey Briggs
In Issue 3 a man named Bailey Briggs is murdered. Dr Strange is able to interact with the man’s ghost and seeks the services of Goodman, Liber, Kurtzberg & Holliway to allow the spirit to testify at his own murder trial.
Their challenge is that the law doesn’t yet recognise ghosts. In a court of law a dead man has no rights. In order to challenge this Jennifer Walters has to prove that death doesn’t mean the end in the Marvel Universe.
Dying and coming back to life is not a phenomena restricted to the super community. During the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ half of the Earth’s population were killed and subsequently resurrected.
It is far less common for a normal person to come back to life but it isn’t unheard of. This knowledge would fundamentally alter how ordinary folk view death in the Marvel Universe. There would always be remote chance that those who die might return.
Winning their argument and allowing the ghost of Bailey Briggs take the stand would also confirm the existence of ghosts for many people. This could be frightening knowledge, especially since you could no longer dismiss spooky sounds at night as just an over-active imagination. There really might be a restless spirit haunting your home.
Although it was eventually revealed that Bailey Briggs perjured himself the precedent would allow other ghosts to appear in court. This could lead to adventures where PCs might have to protect a ghost witness from ghost hunters or prevent them from moving to the afterlife before the trial.
The ghost witness might not be willing to appear in court, forcing the PCs to persuade them. If a murder happened in a haunted house could the PCs convince the ghosts who witnessed the crime to take the stand? What would they want in return?
Since ghosts are now legally recognised would the spirits push for more rights? This could lead to ghost civil right movements and the establishment of communities of spirits. This would make for an engaging on-going plot line in a campaign, especially if the PCs are focused on the supernatural.
If nothing else it raises the possibilities of having ghost NPCs in a campaign. What if the apartment block where the characters lived was home to a ghost? He needn’t be a threat, just a quirky neighbour who can pass through walls and remembers the 18th century really well.
It is demonstrated that Dr Strange can create a prison for ghosts, the Cage of Cyttorak. This allows for a situation in which spirits can be brought to justice and incarcerated. Now dying is no longer a way to escape justice.
Mercenary or bounty hunter PCs could be hired to capture evil ghosts, maybe bringing them to a specially designed prison. There is also nothing stopping a supernatural villain from holding innocent souls, maybe someone who was close to the PCs. This would require them to free the ghosts.
The Case of Spider-Man V The Daily Bugle
In issue 4 She-Hulk helps Spider-Man take the Daily Bugle to court for libel. This addresses one of the longest running elements of the Marvel Universe, Jameson constantly accusing Spider-Man of being a menace with very little evidence.
Witness after witness testifies that time after time Jameson would blame Spider-Man for disasters or accuse him of being villains like Sandman, Electro or Mysterio. Of course in the comics this is meant to be funny and help keep the status quo of Spider-Man being feared or viewed with suspicion by the public.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t address comic conventions within your adventures. This story does that well, examining just what Jameson’s motivations are. While he does genuinely believe Spider-Man represents a danger to the public, in some way encouraging the creation of villains, there is also the suggestion that his crusade increases sales of the Daily Bugle.
Spider-Man doesn’t escape unscathed from this examination. Not only does he continue to harass Jameson, typically by webbing him to his chair, but as Peter Parker he encourages the editor by providing him with photos.
It could be argued that Parkers actions were born out of necessity. It has often been shown that he has struggled, frequently it is the income from the Daily Bugle that allowed him to survive.
Essentially Peter isn’t motivated by pride or the desire to be loved. He is Spider-Man due to responsibility. As long as the Daily Bugle’s campaign against him doesn’t threaten his life or hamper his effort to save others there is no real harm being doing.
An adventure could be built around what happens when things go too far. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the Daily Bugle. Another newspaper might try to use the same tactics but go to an extreme that makes the public actively hate him or cause those who he tries to save risk their lives to get away from him.
What if the Daily Bugle knew that a story against Spider-Man was false? Would Jameson allow the story to be investigated to clear the vigilantes name? I like to believe that he would, since Jameson is basically a good but misguided man. I think he’d rather prove that Spider-Man was guilty rather than ignore the fact he was innocent.
The court case is almost disrupted by Scorpion, who wants revenge against Jameson. She-Hulk is able to convince him that Jameson will suffer more from financial loss that if Scorpion attacks him and causes a mistrial.
Spider-Man admits that in the all the years he has been a costumed hero he has never seen someone argue their way out of a fight. This is a good demonstration that the Marvel Heroic system doesn’t always have to be about inflicting physical stress and trauma.
An opponent can be defeated through emotional and mental stress, delivered through well chosen words and persuasion. Players should be encouraged to roleplay this, explaining just what argument they are using against an opponent.
This apartment block is owned by Goodman, Liber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, with many of their lawyers and staff living there. This includes She-Hulk, Augustus Pugliese, Ditto and Awesome Andy.
Since some of the staff has special needs or abilities that would make it difficult to get a lease it is convenient to have them under the same roof. This would make the building a very interesting setting for an adventure or a place for characters to live.
It isn’t a stretch to imagine that some of the apartments have been modified to suit the needs of the tenants, in much the same way as the conference rooms at the law firm are. This would allow an non-human staff to live comfortably away from their natural environment.
The Excelsior is a good place for unusual social situations, whether it be a party, helping a neighbour or dealing with pests. The mix of characters makes sure that something interesting is always happening.
It would also add colour to plots that involve murder, burglary or home invasion. Anyone who enters the apartment to commit a crime is going to be very surprised by who lives there.
The unusual qualities of the occupants could make them targets. This could be because of their species or because they are lawyers, who may have impacted someone negatively.
In which case the PCs would have to protect the occupants. This could be from an attacker or from a bomb placed in the building. Even sabotaging the environment of an apartment could threaten the life of the occupant.