We'd reached the point where the Joe "The Shield" Higgins and Dusty, the Boy Detective, enter the story of the Suicide Club by happening upon the runaway railway car that one its members, Jim Phillips, is using as a suicide vehicle.
|Fun Fact: Dusty has no last name. At all. Ever.|
I suppose if absolutely necessary on school forms he puts "Dusty Theboy Detective", but Dusty never actually goes to school anyway.
Dusty, being a boy detective, notices a single runaway train-car going the wrong way on the adjacent tracks. The Shield attempts to intervene, because there is little the Shield loves more than interrupting the smooth progress of vehicular transports, be they aeroplanes, steamers, packards, locomotives, or department store escalators.
|Speaking of hitting a curve, I defy you to make any sense out of the Shield's trajectory here.|
Using radial lines of exertion, he arrests the train's motion.
|The Shield is ENORMOUSLY disappointed to have saved only one person. |
"Jeez, if I'd known, I wouldn't have bothered; it's my day off, you know."
Ever the boy detective, Dusty hastens to determine whether everything is under control, as if he could do anything about it, if it weren't.
|"Well, yes, it's UNDER CONTROL, Dusty, if you consider my jumping out of the car and wasting a perfectly good S-curve and 17 exertion lines to stop a runaway train-car for ONLY ONE PERSON to be 'under control'."|
Like a teeny tiny Sir Walter Raleigh, Dusty offers his kerchief to Jim Phillips.
|We know who Dusty models himself after, and it ain't the Shield.|
Jim Phillips (who is still trying to commit suicide) declines a ride from the duo. This confounds them because, gosh, who wouldn't want to accept a ride from these two:
So, decidedly incurious, they leave the guy who was riding alone in a private railway car to his doom just standing on the railroad tracks.
|"I really should getting around to giving you a codename some day, kid. Maybe a surname, too."|
But, then Dusty makes the most dramatic attempted kerchief retrieval since the night the Cavalier dropped his own after leaping out of Killer Moth's bedroom, right before Captain Stingaree got home:
|And when you only have one name, monograms are serious business.|
Now, I could make a joke about how ridiculously gay it is that the Shield gave Dusty a monogrammed handkerchief, since that's probably the second gayest comic book panel I've ever seen, but I already shot my wad with the Cavalier joke so I have to move on.
|"That's dangerous!" says the untrained orphan who's not even a circus aerialist but spends all his time with an indestructible superhero who runs headlong into hails of bullets.|
Dusty has no quarrels with practitioners of voluntary self-euthanasia, BUT NOT WHILE YOU'VE GOT HIS MONOGRAMMED HANDKERCHIEF YOU DON'T, MISTER!
|Let me tell you, the dry cleaner looks at you askance when you drop off a monogrammed handkerchief that's covered in human guts and been run over by a train. Particularly if you're underage. My mother used to have to do it for me.|
Desperate to save his handkerchief in the vain hope that he might some day get a second initial to add to it, Dusty tackles Phillips off the trestle and, as the captions say, they tumble in the river below.
|Called him a 'sap' he did; no stronger epithet in the Golden Age.|
Fortunately, it works out okay
|OH NO |
NOT GWEN STACY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By "okay" I mean Dusty gets his hanky back; Phillips is dead from the fall. Dusty, of course, is unharmed, the impact no doubt absorbed by his preternaturally developed adolescent thighs. Unfortunately, with Phillips' neck broken, they are left with no clues about the Sui--
Okay, that's is just NOT how broken necks work. At all. Sigh; where IS Dr. Scott when I need him?
So the Shield and Dusty decide to leave a separated railroad car sitting on a train track? I'm no railroad engineer, but a childhood occasionally involving HO scale model trains suggests to me that this may be a bad idea. "Anyway, somebody'll probably be along soon to pick him up ..." Hopefully before the 3:15 to Escher City comes along and 400 people die.
Hey, man; they gotta go pick up their new tires.
Zombie-Phillips missed a perfectly good opportunity to refer to his "baagghain."
Also, the colorist missed a (bigger) opportunity to say "no, the Shield is not wearing a mask covering the majority of his face that doesn't attach to a v-neck shirt;" because that is one of the worst versions of the (often fluid) suit that I've seen. Imagine if Timely had told the courts, "no, Captain America's shield isn't a ripoff of MLJ's Shield. Does Cap's shield have a v-neck?" History might have been entirely different.
The train car, though, reminds me of something that I realized when I did (or started and gave up on; I forget) a read-through of the then-available Shield stories: Joe is rarely "strong" in a sense that we would generally accept today; when his powers aren't crapping out on him like his replacement's jalopy, he's more "sturdy and invulnerable." Like, he's mostly just good at getting in the way of stuff and not getting crushed, which is important, but not very good for setting up action, unless he serpentines his way across the backs of gnats to reach Ground Zero.
Besides no last name, by the way, Dusty also doesn't have much of a future. In the Silver Age revival, there's a time travel mess, and Dusty and the new Shield just sort of...awkwardly stare at each other, wondering what it all means. Though I personally think there was a typo, and he ended up in the future in an obscure Harvey strip that's like the Legion of Super-Heroes on heavy sedatives.
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