Sunday, August 10, 2008

Detective Comics #234 (8/56)

"Warden Powers suspects a prison break is being planned at his penitentiary, Jones! We're going to plant you there as an undercover agent to locate the ringleader." John Jones agreed to Saunders' assignment, with the caveat he'd need a disguise. He also called Lt. Saunders "Chief," which confused me. So did his going to a police disguise artist to be made over as an aging diamond thief, instead of just shifting his shape. What didn't confuse me was his flinching noticeably as Saunders (or is it Harding?) lighting a cigar in his presence. That was totally to set up the Martian weakness to fire that will pop up later.

Jones entered the state prison as "Willy Hands," who played tough egg with the turnkey tasked with delivering him to the Warden. Once alone, "Jones, I'm convinced 'Big Mike' Kent who tried to break out once before is behind this! But there must be other leaders-- that's what we've got to find out." J'Onzz invisibly and intangibly entered "Big Mike's" cell to eavesdrop, where he learned there were two other leaders in the plot. Stuck in the laundry, "Willy Hands" spied "Big Mike" plotting a courtyard meeting with one of the two leaders with his Martian X-Ray Vision, but couldn't hear or read the lips of either man when the time came. "Willy Hands" was so distracted in his voyeurism that he missed a laundry basket coming down a shoot, nailing him in the back and knocking his disguise loose. A con recognized the cop that put him away, and informed "Big Mike."

Sensitive Martian hearing detected the crain-full of lumber that nearly fell on "Willy Hands." The errant barrel at the license plate plant was even more noticeable as it rolled at him, forcing him into the press. Good thing he was unharmed by becoming "transparent." Then of course there was the explosion that set fire to the... what? Oh wait, the fire weakness mention hasn't been payed off yet...

With the attempts on Jones' life having failed, "Big Mike" went a different route by framing another convict as the third break-plotter. "By making my arm invisible, I'll be able to take the plans from his pocket unseen!" Jones and Warden Powers segregated the three men from general population, but not before an inmate razzing "Big Mike" had a bar of soap chucked at him. The framed convict plead his innocence, and when he lit his cigar-- what? Still no? Okay, Jones noted in the con's prison record that he was color blind, but the plans he carried called for a move to be made at the signal of a red light.

Jones deduced that the prisoner "Big Mike" had launched the soap at was really his confederate, and sure enough, the real plans were found inside the soap bar-- which caught on fire! It didn't? So the mention of the fire weakness was totally superfluous, as it never once has any bearing on the rest of the story? What a powerful, effective misdirection! Kudos for...

"The Martian Convict," written by Jack Miller and drawn by Joe Certa. No kudos for the unreferenced garish “pop art” coloring by Frank Lee Delano. Original colored art can be found here.

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