Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Suicide Club, Part 2: Death or Wealth!

Self-unmade millionaire John Wayne, having been temporarily rescued from suicide by a vulture who hangs around casinos looking for desperate, losing gamblers, joins the wildly inappropriately jovial Suicide Club.

"AH HAHA we all used to be rich but now we are all broke and so darned thrilled about it we don our tuxedoes to come here every night to celebrate the fact! WELCOME!"

Club President Edward Grigas--don't try to figure out how one becomes president of the Suicide Club-- kinda-sorta explains the principles of the Suicide Club.

But not in too much detail because it doesn't make a lot of sense.

When I first read this, my reaction was that the concept of a "Suicide Club" was clearly a writerly concoction. It's exactly the kind of dumb idea that Golden Age stories are often built around.  You know how it was... While riding up the elevator to the offices of Exciting Comics, the writer tries to come up with a hook for the story he has to write by noon and thinks "what if there were an office building... for CRIME!?"  Then, whether that makes any sense or not, he tortures a Rube Goldberg plot into being around the central story conceit and simply forces it to work till his typewriter groans with the improbability of it all, then shoves it at the artist on his way out the door for a three-martini lunch with his secretary.

I'm well justified in that assumption, but I'm completely wrong.  As the Shield will helpfully explain later, the writer didn't make up the idea of Suicide Clubs; they have been (are?) are real thing, although they make no more sense in real life than in Pep Comics.

Coming this Fall on the Japanese Gameshow Network!"

Naturally, there is some sort of goofy selection process involved, because it wouldn't be comics without some sort of goofy selection process.  Being in a primitive era when the Planetary Chance Machine hasn't yet been invented and lacking a box of chocolates, the Suicide Club makes do with a deck of cards (which fits their whole gambling theme anyway).

Golden Age Drama Poses

Through no coincidence at all, two of the men we were introduced to already are chosen to kill themselves.

I remind you: the Club meets NIGHTLY, so just ponder that.

And now, let the suicides begin!

I honestly admire how efficient Golden Age writers can be in their storytelling sometimes. When they want to.

This, of course, is the part when the Shield and Dusty, the Boy Detective, enter the story, having spied Hendrich's odd behavior from afar and, through quick action, managed to save him from his hideous self-planned doom.


Just kidding!  This is the Golden Age; MUST get a couple of horrific deaths in before the hero appears, you know.  I mean, some kid paid a dime for this book, after all, gotta give him his money's worth. So, at the same time, the other Suicide Club member is trying to off himself, too.

Why they let him do this is entirely unclear, except that they are slaves of plot.

Naturally, like the other guy, he has to do so in a way tied to his former wealth and prestige, because otherwise there is no comic book irony and while death without irony is okay, I guess, it's just not FUN, and after all, this cost a whole dime.

Based on the perspective in that second panel, I'd guess he's heading to see Doll man in Escher City.
It's all so BYZANTINE. The Hangman would kill ALL of them, for FREE.

Oh, NOW it gets REAL...


John C said...

I suspect that Phillips convinces his former employees to help him by virtue of the fact that "Jim figures out how to secretly add a private car to a train and sneak onto it without a ticket" was too many panels, whereas this only takes a small panel. Either that, or Phillips is the Golden Age Jim Phelps, and the company was his Mission: Implausible team.

By contrast, there has to be a story in how the Suicide Club all wears the same blue tuxedo. It looks like a handful of them are in black, but that's only the one panel, so I assume it must've been shadows. Is Grigas secretly in the pocket of Big Prom?

But now I just can't wait to find out that Joe and Dusty aren't anywhere near the train, just chasing down a tire truck to show off their ration card...

Bryan L said...

But I thought in suicide clubs one person is selected to die and the other has to kill that person and make it look accidental ...

*clicks link*

Oh, okay. So I'm not wrong, but the Shield's writer does not follow convention. Presumably reasons will become evident. Or not. It's the Shield, after all.