It's 1943 and the world is still at war and we're still digging through that issue of "Blue Beetle" from last time, trying to find a story cruder and less coherent, yet still deemed worthy of wasting valuable wartime paper resources. And I think we found one, and boy is it a wreck!
Two figures, some seagulls, a beach, a wrecked freighter... how romantic. Slightly less romantic is the staccato bursts of narration opening our tale with the breathless urgency of a Walter Winchell (look him up kids). And is that a "2" there, not a weirdly deformed seagull?
Why not open your comic book story by breaking all the rules of perspective, composition, anatomy, storytelling, and the one about not driving on the beach? Because children and adults will be confused for decades, that's why.
I guess these are our characters? Blonde guy is either doing the "Mamma Mia That's A Spicy Meatball" gesture, or stretching invisible gum out of his mouth using his deformed hand to show the world that he's not handicapped, he's handi-CAPABLE, while Dark Haired Guy ponders the mysteries of the universe. I guess those two women are part of this conversation? Clipboard Man takes down every word. And above them all, looming ominously in the top right corner, some kind of hovering object. Maybe it's a space ship. Who knows?
The verb tenses in the captions are really starting to bug me, in that every panel is a self-contained endless loop of action. The two girls are driving along and will forever be driving along. Every time you look at this panel they'll be driving along, condemned eternally to drive and toss crossword puzzles - crossword puzzles in newspapers that also contained the short lived Blue Beetle newspaper strip, a few of which were drawn by Jack Kirby. Save that paper Pat!
The two boys hop in their rowboat to investigate that sunken ship while also pondering exactly what sort of cataclysmic gravitational disturbances are warping space itself around them, judging by the horrifingly clashing perspectives in this panel. Isn't this what H.P. Lovecraft was always ranting about - I mean, besides ranting about swarthy foreigners and the dangers of their foreign ways?
Two guys on one boat, talking. Two identical guys on another boat, talking. Are they the same two people? Two different people? Is the world full of clones now? Why are the captions just sentence fragments now? I'm confused!
Buddy, this is a job for the Coast Guard, a competent small craft builder, a reconstructive surgeon, and a reasonably proficient comic book draftsman. Maybe we really just need that last one.
Again, captions trapping us all in eternal torment, leavened only by the friendly snout of the wreck, poking his little wrecked bow into the scene as if to say "hello there!"
Suddenly firey action! Torpedoes! Explosions! Flaming death! Coast Guard to the rescue! But first, let's stop and pick up these two guys in their rowboat.
Ahh, the return of my favorite panel that always works (to make the artist's job a little easier, that's how it works), the silhouette panel.
That wreck is some kind of a disguised submarine filled with machine guns, and the other wreck is this comic book story, awkwardly jamming exposition into these two panels to explain why these two fit, able-bodied young men aren't in the service.
And here's the part where the artist says "I don't have reference for the interior of a submarine or what actual Naval officers look like, but I do have somebody else's drawing of a Marine." And then he says "Look, do you need these pages by 3pm? Then quit bothering me."
There's a real energy happening in this story as the crude artwork slams up against the more competent swipes, as the childish sketch of the disguised submarine surfaces in an ocean that seems to be flowing downhill, near a ship that used to be a Coast Guard cutter and now is some kind of freighter. It's like being trapped at a wedding listening to a drunk uncle repeat moon landing conspiracy theories while being interrupted by your nephews who keep asking if they can leave the hall to go sit in the car and play video games.
Turns out the submarine is manned by at least two squads of Imperial Japanese Army soldiers in full battle gear. Hey, that's the reference the artist had to swipe from and so that's what we're going with. Meanwhile, the intrepid old men of the Coast Guard are shooting magic beams out of the palms of their hands. Seriously, I have no clue what's supposed to be going on in that panel, things are dissolving into random ink lines devoid of purpose or meaning, deconstructing not only the comic book medium but perhaps reality itself. Are you still reading this? We MAY have a chance to survive.
Nothing lightens up a disaster at sea like a comically caricatured Asian and/or a few cliff divers jumping into the ocean. Wheeee!
We can learn many things from this sequence. First off, don't litter, it might signal the Japanese. Secondly, the writer got all the way to the end of this story before he remembered he needed to insert a panel where we find out who was signalling the Japanese. Thirdly, and most importantly, we see that when confronted with a wholly original scene for which no previous visual reference exists, we find the artist cannot conjure up even the slightest bit of talent or competence.
and we SMASH CUT from Pat facing the electric chair SMASH CUT to the Coast Guard cutter destroying the submarine SMASH CUT back to our two heroes in their giant car. Once again they are driving along the highway. Forever driving down that highway. Settle down. The story is over. Tiger. Whale steak. The end.
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