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.


John C said...

Ah, but Sergeant Guayabera-Safetybelt isn't merely going to use the facilities. He's obviously doing that "and I'm walking downstairs to get there" mime move. He's clearly the one installing...corduroy-upholstered loveseats in the planes, too. It pisses off the colonel, too, especially after his "I could totally be the saboteur, Speed. You don't know. Even I don't know" speech. So now, Colonel Safetybelt needs to take solace in how he was at least villainous enough to disrupt what I assume wasn't a tesseract, but the Who's Who in the DCU photographer setting up his background.

They took the picture anyway, and to this day, the most elusive page is Bob Greenberger's origin story for U.S. Ma.

Bryan L said...

I am perturbed by Speed's utter lack of office hours. Apparently Ace Investigators wander the streets until they are accosted by random individuals who require their "unusual detective ability?" Do you get a paycheck for that? And I'm not quite sure -- is Speed a member of the local police force?

And I'm pretty sure that everyone on board a "government bombing plane" (is that for governments to bomb things or to bomb governments?) will feel a "bump" when a very large bomb is released.

Where is the "government bombing plane's" crew? They had live ammunition loaded into a mounted machine gun but there was no one else on the plane?

Every Speed storyline is like a poorly programmed holodeck adventure on Star Trek.

Scipio said...

Slightly... "Chaotica".