DETECTIVE COMICS #245: The Phantom Fire Alarms
With a title like that, I was all strapped in for this thing to involve anything from ghosts to people pretending to be ghosts to fire alarms that people pretending to be ghosts were pulling to scare people away from buildings they were trying to rob. The title however, was not actually that straight forward.
In a hideout, some gangsters (always with the gangsters!) are discussing the problems they are having trying to crime it up with that dang detective John Jones foiling them constantly. As they stew over this dilemma, the door bursts open! It is another gangster, and he has such news for the boss, Lance Faber.
This goon had been riding the same bus as John, when some idiot smoking on the bus just throws down a lit cigarette and starts a fire, like “oops. I’m a turd.”
Before he can get what is the tiniest of fires out, John is practically passed out in his bus seat, mumbling that FIRE IS THE ENEMY OF ALL MARTIANS AND IT LEAVES HIM HELPLESS.
After recounting this tale to Lance, the gangsters wonder. Is it possible? Could John Jones be a Martian? I mean, that’s what he SAID when he appeared to be in some sort of half-conscious state, which is when the things people say are most reliable. OCCAM’S RAZOR. HE MUST BE A MARTIAN.
They decide to test this fire thing the next day, by hanging out outside police headquarters. The fuck? Aren’t you guys like, wanted criminals? I thought you were laying low? As John approaches they start a small fire, and he collapses. I guess at some point, they blink because John has vanished and they find him on the other side of a wall. They determine he must’ve gone through it and this PROVES BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that he is a Martian. Because that’s something everyone knows about Martians, is that they can walk through stuff.
Later as John is walking around, apparently his favorite hobby, he sees a man trapped in a burning building. With no one else around, John risks the fire and runs in to help. But much to his surprise, the fire doesn’t seem to be affecting him!
Little did he know, the fire wasn’t real! It was all…really overly elaborate special effects done by the gangsters, using dry ice and heaters and wow, this is just bonkers.
The next day, they pull a similar stunt in the basement of John’s building, where he again puts out the “fire” and feels no affects from it.
John is the happiest he has been in just the longest time. It is actually a tiny bit depressing knowing that this is just a stupid elaborate prank. In fact, it would be depressing, if the prank wasn’t just so very very stupid. John contemplates what could be behind his sudden transformation.
A new planet? What? I don’t get, John, how your powers and weakness all apparently come from space. I need a diagram or something because it just is not processing in my brain.
Then he sees another of the gangsters lighting a cigarette and again is not scared because the match is…”a piece of cardboard painted with luminous paint to give it a glow.” Okay guys, you got him fooled, reel it in a bit.
I do have to wonder though. Usually John is encountering fires at what seems to be a rate of one per CONSTANTLY. How has he suddenly not managed to come across a real flame in this time? Did everyone at the police station stop smoking? I HIGHLY doubt that.
The rest of gangsters are asking Lance what they’ll do now that John thinks flames can’t hurt him. Isn’t it obvious, gangsters? We’re going to lure him to the 4th of July fireworks display! And then the fireworks will kill him! WE ARE BRILLIANT CRIMINALS!
That night at the fireworks display, Lance runs out and yells, “JONES!” John, recognizing yet another of the city’s notorious criminals, takes off after him, unafraid of the large fireworks display he is heading towards. Suddenly though, the flames begin to weaken him.
Oh no! What the fuck! I thought this was over! The gangsters start shooting fireworks at him or something. It’s honestly hard sometimes to tell in these old comics exactly what is going on. John crawls his way to some giant pinwheel that is not on fire and uses his Martian Lung Power to blow it over on top of the goons, trapping them all.
The other cops coming running up and arrest the crooks, who suddenly decide that obviously this whole “John is a Martian” thing is crazy, and he must’ve been tricking them the whole time just to lure them out of hiding, even though to trick them John would have to have been aware of their attempts to trick him and would probably have just known where they were and could’ve arrested them then, yes? I don’t know! I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU, COMIC BOOK.
Honestly though, overall this issue seems less crazy and outrageous than so many of the preceding issues. Maybe I’m just becoming immune to the craziness…maybe…oh god the issue is an elaborate prank to make me think I am better. That, much like the fire could no longer hurt John, the craziness of this comic can no longer hurt me!
Oh wait, I am flipping through the coming stories.
No this shit is still crazy.
Yes, I agree, next issue, a sassy lady friend is just what this comic needed.