There's nothing quite like a comic book for delivering vicarious revenge thrills to children, nerds, and others powerless to affect their own destinies. The Lee-Ditko mystery comics of the early 60s honed the dishing out of comeuppances to a fine art in a series of stories that threw the laws of believability and logic out the window in favor of Stickin' It To The Man. Let's take a look at some of those charmingly poetic judicial pronouncements in a feature we like to call... JUST DESSERTS.
First up is a surprisingly revealing look at how cartoonists see themselves - as godlike beings able to crush and destroy with the mere flick of a pen!
Sexual harrassment through threat of comics? That's a new one. Mentioning comic books usually PREVENTS dates. And what's a proper punishment for our ink-slinging villian?
Why, it's the fourth-wall breaking tactic of the giant hand coming down to erase our protagonist! Remember when this happened to Daffy Duck? Never gets old.
Meanwhile in outer space, another evil guy with a little moustache speeds towards his appointment with irony!
So, let's see... evil guy, outer space, trapping outer space birds, spaceship shaped like an egg... where do you think they're going with this?
I TOLD the rental agency I SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED a NON-egg shaped spaceship, just to prevent this kind of ironical comeuppance!
Meanwhile in Eastern Europe...
Greedy swindler who buys artwork cheap and sells it at inflated prices to suckers - and has a little moustache - concocts a devious scheme to acquire a priceless painting from a gypsy in Bessarabia! I wonder if a mysterious ironic gypsy curse will come into play here. Hmmm.
Okay, so the Gypsy traps Moustache Man in the painting, fine, that's Twilight Zone style justice. But the joke's on the gypsy, who has totally ruined both the theme and the composition of his once-priceless painting! Who wants oils of Scared Moustache Guy In Eastern European Village? Not even the Night Gallery would touch this one. Classic Ditko pen work in this strip, though, gotta love that.
MEANWHILE, on the streets of America...
Childhood stickball games are interrupted by a crazy speed demon, who - AGAIN - decorates his upper lip with a little moustache. I am beginning to sense a pattern here.
GEE I WISH I WAS DRIVING SOMEWHERE AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND NEVER STOPPING EVER THAT WOULD BE SWEET! I SURE HOPE MY WISH DOES NOT COME TRUE AND TURN OUT TO BE ACTUALLY HORRIBLE!
And now Speed Racer here is eternally cursed to forever drive around and around and around the rings of Saturn! Now, assuming the rings of Saturn are flat and paved, which they aren't, and assuming that you could drive a car in the vacuum of space or the radiation-saturated magnetosphere of Saturn, which you cannot, and assuming that he's driving on Saturn's "G" ring, which is roughly 600,000 miles in circumference, and assuming that he drives 90 miles an hour without stopping ever, why, he could go completely around the ring in only 278 days. Plenty of time to keep your moustache trimmed.
Meanwhile in the Joe Sinnott universe, there are no moustaches to be found!
Our hero here loves to catch them butterflies in nets, that is, when he isn't flying spaceships to Kralton in the tenth galaxy. I wonder what will happen to this guy over on Kralton. I bet he'll be caught on a line by a giant alien fish! Or captured by alien dogs who put him in the people pound! Will he be stacked categorically according to subject by giant alien librarians? Or given a backing board and a Mylar snug by anal-retentive alien human being collectors?
Suddenly the space pilot hears a strange buzzing sounds! It's the irony-meter blowing a fuse. In a universe of endless space and time anything is possible - except this story ending on anything but a cheesy role-reversal gimmick. And with the buzzing sounds of man-hunting butterflies ringing in our ears, we take our leave of these stories of ironical just desserts, all courtesy various issues of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Joe Sinnott, who, ironically, were NEVER printed, folded, stapled, distributed, and bought by 10 year olds with allowance money.
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