The Palan Arsons Project

DETECTIVE COMICS #239: Ordeal By Fire

This issue’s uh, “teaser panel” is of our heroic Detective Jones unable to pursue a criminal because a bunch of fucking kids are setting off fireworks like a bunch of little shits.

One kid has just lit some firecrackers and then throw them in to the air. It is the most dangerous use of explosives that I have maybe ever witnessed. They are just in an alley, lighting and throwing, lighting and throwing. I mean the one…it looks like he’s just holding a stick of dynamite. How I want J’onn to hurt them. Oh how.

This panel though, ends up being only in the absolutely loosest possible way connected to the rest of the story. But it, and the next FOUR panels all serve to remind us, yet again, that J’onn is weak to fire,  yet manages to encounter it far more than other person alive.

At th station, J’onn finds out that uuuuh the chief (I always have to check who he is talking to) is assigning him and some other guy to an arson case. AN ARSON CASE! OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRIBLE THING FOR J’ONN TO DEAL WITH.

Honestly it is surprising that there hasn’t already been about 10 arson cases for him to deal with. I kinda feel like the writer one day just went “Oh my god that’s right, ARSON is a crime.” And smacked himself on the forehead. Totally gonna put that in my comic about the martian detective that hates fire. Tooooootallly.

So our mostly fearless hero goes to the fire station where he’s gotta hang out for 24 hours and investigate what the chief suspects is an arson ring. J’onn just hopes he doesn’t have to go to any fires. But within an hour the alarms are going off and he is riding on the back of their firetruck, in his snappy suit/tie/hat combo. A fire has broken out at the movie set and the firefighters can’t get it under control. J’onn sneaks off to a nearby moon journey set where he puts on a lead-constructed robot suit and wears it while he puts out the fire. The rest of the firefighters are like “Gee willickers! A robot is putting out the fire! That’s crazy!” J’onn doesn’t reveal that it’s him in it though, he just runs off and changes somewhere.

Back at the firehouse, he is a worrisome mess when suddenly the alarms go off again. This time he’s got a fireman’s coat and hat to wear. I guess they thought maybe he looked a little silly riding on that firetruck in his suit. This fire is at some apartment building and no one can get the sprinkler system unjammed. J’onn uses the power of “mind over matter” to construct another uh, him and puts his coat and hat on it. He has the other him, made out of rags and cloth go into the fire and turn on the sprinklers. How this other him doesn’t catch fire or manages to turn a stuck valve or how this works AT ALL is never fully understood, but everyone is very happy that it worked!

Neither of these fires were arson either, just the usual ol’ big fire that breaks out in this crazy as fuck town. Finally J’onn, that other guy who was on the arson case (Burke), and the chief go to check out an oil tank that was on fire last week. J’onn believes himself to be safe, because the fire was last week. Oh how foolish he is!



J’onn is knocked away from his two pals and has to find  way to get the fire out. Thankfully a…jesus christ, a fireworks truck is just parked nearby.

Hey where’s a good place for my truck full of fireworks?

Eeeh, put ’em next to the oil tank. I see no reason why that should concern anyone.

J’onn uses some of the logic from There Will Be Blood, in that an explosion can smother a fire. It actually IS sound logic and actually works.

Except that in this case, uh, there’s two dudes he’s trying to fucking save right by the fire!

He makes a huge bundle of fireworks, but can’t get the fuse lit. Is it…is his hand too weak to strike a match? Because it’s not too weak two panels later to break open the glass on a neon sign. 

He finally gets the fireworks lit and uses them to smother the other fire, saving his friends.

And then, ha, turns out there wasn’t even an arson ring to begin with! But the firemen got him a cake with a bunch of candles.

I think J’onn just went home and wrote “fuck my life” in his diary.

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