Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Death Sled, Part 1: The Thudding Sickening Thump

Who can save us from the deadly heat wave tightening its fatal grip over a fearful nation?  Not Mr. Freeze or Captain Cold or even Minister Blizzard, but rather the same person who can save us from everything:  

With his pal, "The Death Sled".  Not to be confused with "Death Bed: the Bed that Eats."  But it's really hard to confuse ANYTHING with "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats."

We join Speed doing one of the things he does best: speeding somewhere.

Speed Fact: Speed's tesseract powers function fully only in urban environments.

But where Saunders go, trouble follows. Well, more accurately, it literally runs to meet him.  

No, really, you'd be amazed how often people just run right up to the Speedmobile screaming for help. Must be Speed's kind face.

Some half-crazed cos-player from a "We Are Robin" convention besets Speeds, apparently from both sides of his car.

"Well, yes, of course something terrible has happened: I'm here."

Since dealing with terrible things is pretty much Speed's hobby (that, and his goldfish), his holiday's off to a swinging start.  Miss Mittens explains the calamity.

In Florida are the Dells.
In Florida are the Dells.
All except dead Tommy, oh,
in Florida are the Dells.

Naturally, Speed takes command of this situation, as he does all others.

Speed Fact: Before WWII, only detectives were allowed to call doctors.

Next, the grim Golden Age death scene, with some oozing blood to soothe Speed's murder-mystery-hungry soul.

But, really; what kind of idiot SLEDS to a "We Are Robin" convention?!
Is he some relative of Kite-Man?

Note that what you and I would surely call "sledding" might still at this point be called "sleigh riding" because Tommy's sled had runners.  Regardless, Speed lovingly examines the corpse with the care and attention you'd give a volume on Oriental Lore and Antiquities.

You mean, other than the fact that almost anyone could just roll off a sled before they fatally hit a tree?

Then--as far as I can tell--Speed clearly sees someone else's tracks leading to and away from the body.  That's... a pretty good clue, Speed.

And when Speed wonders aloud, reality hears, and shifts to adjust accordingly.

Then another clue.

You don't know that, Speed. 
The fact that his family left him there while they went to Florida could be significant; maybe he's under stress. Maybe he's cutting himself like Ellie Nash on DeGrassi. You don't know his life, and people like you wouldn't understand.

Meanwhile, Miss Mittens, having spun her yarn about Tommy, continues to unravel, which perfectly complements Speed's woolgathering.


This next scene is interesting for reasons beyond the story; it's a sign of the steady apotheosis of Speed Saunders. Note that in the beginning of the story he introduces himself as "a detective from New York". But in this next panel that is already broadened to "investigator Saunders" as if "Investigator" were a title, which it totally isn't.

Oh, a BRAIN concussion? Those are the WORST kind.

I wish Speed Saunders stories weren't so darned RAPID sometimes.  I'm sure that if this snooty butler had the chance he might have rejoined something like, "How fortunate, at least, that Master Tommy struck the tree with fatal force sufficient to spontaneously generate an ace investigator on the spot." Cuz you know that's what Alfred would say.

So, Miss Mittens' name is apparently "Miss Evarts". I mean, she doesn't introduce herself or anything, but Speed already knows who everyone is, so we find out her name when he announces it while trying to shove his face into the phone in an attempt to travel over the telephone wires like the Atom.


Apparently, it works and he squeezes not only his face, but the rest of him, and Miss Evarts, through the phone to appear in the constable's office.  There's very little Speed Saunders cannot do if he really sets his face to it.

Speed Fact: In the Golden Age whenever you just happen upon a corpse still oozing blood from a fresh wound, it might summon Speed Saunders. It's kind of a Beetlejuice thing.

Poor Constable Safetybelt.  Even with the limitations of Golden Age art style, you can see his strain to understand.  "So,  the thump... was thudding. And that made it sickening. Or was it sickening already because it was a thump?  When you say it was thudDING, does that mean it thudDED more than once, like thuDUDUDUD? Or would that be thumpumpump? And the fact that the thump was REPEATED made it 'thudding' and ALSO, then, sickening? Is that it?! Please tell me that's it, because we don't get a lot of crime here and I'm really having a lot of trouble processing this..."

Speed and Miss Evarts take Constable Safetybelt back to the crime scene, because, well, mostly so that Speed can stare at the corpse some more.

"And, believe me, I have crashed enough bodies, dead and alive, on sleighs headfirst into trees to know.  It's kind of my hobby. That, and Oriental lore, and my goldfish."



John C said...

Based on what Tommy drew in blood with the back of his head as he died, I assume that the poor lad was killed with an antique urn...or a pistol...or maybe it's a puppy. Although, you know what could have tied his hands to the sleigh? A safetybelt. J'accuse!

CobraMisfit said...

"a thuding sickening thump" is my new-favorite phrase and I plan to use it in every social situation I possibly can going forward.

Scipio said...

It's the name of my next quartet.