DETECTIVE COMICS #247: The Impossible Messages

Let me just assuage your expectations for a second regarding these messages. They aren’t really that impossible. Just poorly conceived. And unfortunately our new friend, Diane Meade does not show up to fill the lady quota. No ladies in this comic!


At police headquarters, the uh, what is he this issue…the chief (he is really just ‘fat guy in charge’ to me) has informed John that some smugglers are managing to get their illegal cargo right past the coast guard. What’s this illicit cargo you wonder? What could it possibly be?


This is 1957 dollars too. How much fucking perfume must that be? Dear lord, I can’t even imagine how they can’t find these smugglers, given that they must be landing, at bare minimum, a jumbo jet’s worth of perfume somewhere near the harbor.

Down at the docks, John talks to an undercover police contact who says he can’t figure out how the smugglers are communicating with their shore contact, who is obviously keeping them informed of the coast guards’ movements. John turns invisible into his Martian form and searches around for clues, because I guess a detective poking around for clues would look out of place. He finds some fuses and decides that a fireworks place must be involved, of course.  Checking a phone book, he finds a fireworks manufacturer that is right on the waterfront (the root of all evil) and heads there.

EXCEPT oh goddammit, the place is full of FIRE. John makes a note to be careful because seriously, fire is right in the name. Also I love the fireworks testing area, where all the fireworks scientists are testing their new fireworks. It is wonderful.

Apparently John’s investigation of this place has been cleared with the manager and stuff, and all the workers have been told that he’s just some efficiency dude, here to check the efficiency. As he pokes around, he notices a guy paying far too much attention to a plane flying around outside. Obviously, the thing to do is to teleport himself to this plane.


So now while hanging out on the plane, he notices it has three stripes on the side. Right then, an American flag appears in fireworks! How exciting! But wait, it appears to be missing three stars!

Unless you actually count them, then it’s missing five stars, but WHO IS ACTUALLY COUNTING THEM? (me).

Anyway, the flag missing three stars is obviously connected to the plane with three stripes, and John watches the plane the next day which has four stripes and a the flag firework which has four stars missing.

So someone is shooting off an American flag firework…every single day? A giant overly elaborate firework that is up long enough to count the number of stars and determine how many are missing? And the guy has time to make a specific different flag every single day? It seems there would be an easier way to communicate just a NUMBER to someone with fireworks, than with elaborate subtraction techniques.

John talks to his undercover contact again. They determine the number being communicated is to tell the smugglers how many miles from a certain lighthouse to land.

The next day John goes back to the fireworks factory, where he says the contact about to launch the special flag firework with two stars missing, as today’s plane had two bars on it. However John has made his OWN special firework with FOUR stars missing, as he’s told the cops to wait for the smugglers four miles away from the lighthouse. Why he doesn’t just tell the cops to wait two miles away instead, I don’t know. Any excuse to make a giant elaborate flag firework I guess.

As he goes to stop the criminal though, the guy throws down a match and lights a huge fire around John because apparently at this fireworks factory, people just leave flammable powder freakin’ EVERYWHERE.  Surrounded by fire on all sides, John dematerializes and sinks into the ground to get away. Underground he travels to a nearby toy shop, where he apparently explains that he is a detective and needs two loaded water pistols right away, and the guy gets them for him. Then John thinks “it’s only seconds ago I left there…”

Those are some long ass seconds, John.

He teleports himself to where the flag firework is just appearing and uses the water pistols to shoot out two more of the stars. You know these messages ARE becoming more and more impossible with each passing frame.

The smugglers think four stars are missing and all end up in police custody. And thank god all that perfume hopefully got back to its rightful owners.

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