Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Aerial Espionage, Part 3: I Thought You Were Rather Dumb

When we last left Speed, the timbers of the burning, exploded house were falling all around in the basement, where he lay trapped by his bonds.

But, in the interests of time, Speed willed away his bonds in between panels, or just silhouetted out of them.

Escaping through the house is impossible because Speed says so.

One must not let soot besmirch the Face of Judgement.

So he escapes through the cellar window, which you'd kind of think would have been his first instinct anyway.

What do you mean "how am I to chase them?"
Use the Speedmobile. Your car is parked outside, you JUST told Kelvey that while you were tied up. Did they evaporate it? Did that, too, happen off panel?

For some reason we mere readers are not privy to, Speed's Speedmobile is not available to him, even though he drove there in it.  But, you know, I'm okay with that, because it gives us this, one of the most perfect Speed Saunders panels of all time.

I really want Old Speed Saunders to start showing up in random modern stories and doing things like this. Not as a way of contributing to any story, mind you.  Just as comfort food for my soul.

An authority figure approaches Speed out of the blue; Speed takes command of him by identifying himself and begins giving him absurd orders with zero further explanation.  It's sublime.

It's like Speed is practicing for a beat poetry competition.

"Watch for spies along the road." Yeah, you can recognize spies because they are the ones carrying goldfish.  The mad god Saunders continues his reign of absurdity at the railroad station as he exercises authority over a train conductor WHO CANNOT POSSIBLY KNOW HIM.

I mean, he's not even wearing the white fedora.

The mad god is, well, mad now and Major Kelvey's larger typeface won't save him from Speed's power of performative utterance as Speed prepares to STATE his way to victory:


Through force of will and impending deadlines, Speed generates another safeybelted authority figure to take charge of Major Kelvey, because that's not the kind of thing you can leave to train conductors, snazzy though their uniforms may be.

I don't really know what "parcel post" is, but I know it exists on a lower level of reality.

Speed descends to the lower level of reality that is "Parcel Post" where he finds the escaping goldfish along with their accomplice:  THE COLONEL!

Apparently, his name was "Jacks", although this is the first time we learn it.

Okay, sit back in your chair and prepare for THE SPEED-EXPLANATION.

Don't worry; nothing you do will help it make any sense.

If Fred Guardineer had drawn this, all fish would have little black marks on them. Everything would.

Spend some time thinking about how hard it would be to paint coded message on goldfish; now, continue and watch as Speed summons a police car from the ether.

"And all you had to do was train the goldfish to stay in the right order. Why, with several characters per fish, you would only need several hundred fish to send a coherent message. I'm surprised the boys at IBM haven't started using them in their differential engines."

Once Speed explains it all to you, don't just you feel stupid?

"I was going to tell you so at the time, but I didn't know your name."

It ends, as it so often does: with us learning that Speed was just guessing, but it turned out okay because naturally...

he was right.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Aerial Espionage, Part 2: A Queer Egg

Naturally, we have no idea who that bespectacled officer was who wandered away from away from Speed Saunders because Speed never asks what anybody's name is.

Queer Egg. Goldfish lover; expert shot; Army major.
I'm certain I've seen this guy on Grindr.

Harrumph. Okay, FINE, Mr. Speed Saunders; make a liar out of me, see if I care. Major Kelvey, with his unusual Grindr profile, becomes a person of interest to Speed Saunders (and a lot of other guys within a 3 mile radius of Magellan Field, I'm sure).  

I love how Speed's hunches mystify even Speed, as if his thoughts and emotions were detached entities all their own: 
"He seems to interest me."

Speed is revving up to tesser Colonel Safetybelt through the fifth dimension where Major Kelvey can't notice them tailing him, when suddenly--

"Then use the copies. Holy carp, Lieutenant, do I have to do all the thinking around here?" 
"I'm sorry, sir, you're right; I don't know why everyone says you're dumb."

Speed, hot on the trail of a queer egg, has no time for stolen plans, and so leaves Colonel Safetybelt, hurtling away through the Sea of Yellow in his Crimson Speedmobile, Crimson Speedmobile, Crimson Speedmobile.

Take a moment to consider just how striking a man in white fedora, shirt, and tie in purple suit would be.  No wonder everyone recognizes Speed Saunders.

Oh, I get it now.  Speed's theory is that the bomb was "released" from outside of the plane; specifically, that the bomb supports were shot off by someone with a telescopic rifle as the plane flew by at, you know, the speed that planes fly.  That's... well, I'm not going to comment on the likelihood of that.  That should be left to someone who's both an expert on military bombing AND an expert long-range sharpshooter and the odds of someone like THAT reading this post are... oh, wait, they are 100%. Okay, you know who are, so comment.  Personally, I'm still preoccupied with trying to figure out why a colonel flew an armed bomber to transport a civilian on a short hop for an anti-espionage investigation.

While we wait for that, we join Speed at Major Kelvey's swinging bachelor pad.

I mean, we haven't been TOLD the man's a bachelor, but, really now.
It seems like a safe bet.

Saunders and Kelvey bond over goldfish, of which Speed is a great aficionado.

Examine these fish carefully! They contain the traditional Speed Saunders clues that you have NO MATHEMATICAL CHANCE of discerning and I want you to fully enjoy the frustration.

Do not be surprised by this ridiculous reveal.
I ALREADY TOLD YOU again and again that Speed Saunders collected goldfish for a hobby but you thought I was kidding and didn't believe me.

Through reasoning opaque to us non-goldfish experts, Major Kelvey someone intuits that Speed has figured out that he's the spy!

"ANOTHER correct hunch? I really need to start keeping score!"

Kelvey promises to kill Speed immediately, which is what bad guys always do immediately before they don't kill someone.

"Also, I ordered 13 pizzas in your name and they should be here with 15 minutes,  less if they travel by silhouette."

So, Kelvey DOESN'T immediately kill Speed, but leaves him tied up in the basement. 

Sounds like a thudding sickening thump to me.

Did you know you can send goldfish by parcel post? It's 1941, all things are possible.

"But I bought them matching suitcases and everything, so you could travel together!"
"There's no time to get them registered as emotional support animals now!"

Speed now realizes that there's more than one spy and resolves to escape.  Maybe he'll just rip out a window like he did in Chinatown or hypnotize some snakes like in another story I didn't have the fortitude to show you.

Fortunately, the spies kept a cartoon bomb handy for just such an occasion.

When a villain says "and this will SURELY take care of the hero",  it usually means it most surely will not. Still, the situation is not looking good for Speed: the bomb does explode, the building is collapsing, and doing so atop Speed, who still hasn't extricated himself from his bonds. 

Speed, don't SAY things like that or you can CAUSE them to happen, do you not READ you own stories? 

Can this be the end of our hero, killed by a fellow goldfish fan?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Aerial Espionage, Part 1: Bombs away

It begins in Detective Comics #50, during The War. Fred Guardineer, sadly, is no long authoring Speed Saunders, resulting in some changes; Speed looks much less handsome and striking, his trademark mauve checked suit and red barcode tie are missing, and his speech is no longer quite as odd as before. But fear not, his hunches and his reasoning remain as odd as ever.

In these troubled times, Speed Saunders has no time to waste on literary trivialities like "story titles".

Still wearing his white hat of omni-authority, Speed is humbly beseeched on the street by a lesser authority figure: an Army colonel, who recognizes Speed, because everyone recognizes Speed Saunders.

"Well, since you were wise enough to address me by full name with deference, and are a mustachioed authority figure wearing a proper safety belt... yes, you may."

The Colonel, in these troubled times, needs Speed's help; who doesn't?

"And if I believe, it is now so."

For a moment I was excited because I thought we had a rare moment of OBSERVING Speed in the act of tesseracting himself and colonel somewhere, as indicated by the Dr. Manhattan glow, but in the next panel they are in a car, so I guess not, unless Speed tesseracted them INTO A MOVING CAR, which is odd and incomprehensible and therefore exactly the kind of thing Speed might do.

Well, "unusual" is as good a word as any, I suppose.

Colonel Safetybelt takes Speed to the hotbed of Suspicious Occurrences.

"Activity, eh? Could you be any more vague, Colonel? I really don't have time for all these details like the name of the airfield, or you."

Colonels generally don't fly their own planes but... this one does, as he describes the goings on.

"I see, how tedious; how many panels will this take?"

But they encounter a little bump along the way.

"It's a large flat area where planes land; but that's not important right now."

Colonel Panickpants freaks out at what was surely just an air pocket; even Speed, whose hat got tossed in the jostle, knows that can happen, especially when flying through clouds, so there's no reason to--


Okay, well, accidentally dropping a bomb on a hangar is definitely a cause for concern.  It's also pretty impressive.  I have some friends for whom a day when you hit a hangar with a bomb on PURPOSE was a pretty good one, let alone by accident.

Speed, however, has ZERO time for the FAA paperwork that blowing up a hangar would entail (to saying nothing of all the tedious NTSB dung-beetles in their faux-FBI windbreakers who would swarm over the debris whom he'd have to spend time bossing around).  Of course, neither the FAA nor NTSB exist yet, but Speed doesn't know that, since there are no libraries, not even branch ones, nearby, and they wouldn't contain any books with that information yet anyway.  So, he just shoots the bomb to save time.

And when Steve hopes he can do a thing it is as good as done.

This little mishap was a convenient Q.E.D. of the colonel's problem and is all Speed needs to start Speed-deducting.

.... Cuz the plane's not that big and you'd probably notice. You're pretty dumb for a colonel.

No matter how many times I read this next Speed-deduction, I can make no sense of it.  Does Speed think the bomb was released from... the OUTSIDE of the plane?  By a gremlin? By Yankee Doodle Pigeon? Or remote control?

I am convinced, however, that this is Speed tesseracting them to the airfield buildings instead of walking across the tarmac, and, boy, do I wish I had that power, especially in the winter.

In any case, once safely on the ground, the colonel introduces the other suspects, er, I mean, officers. 

"Even though I don't even know the colonel's name, let alone yours."

One of them obliges Speed's time schedule by immediately evincing suspicious behavior: WALKING AWAY FROM SPEED SAUNDERS.

"Hm, a man who has to go URINATE? I have a hunch I better keep an eye on this one."

I mean, who voluntarily walks away from Speed Saunders? All authority figures naturally gravitate toward him; only evil-doers would shy away from the Face of Judgement.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Black Condor Out-Of-Context Theater: "The Secret of the Hills" (Crack Comics #24)

They say things are more easily understood when they are in viewed in context.
I say that Black Condor is the exception.