"Didn’t you hear his skull break?"

§ June 28th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on "Didn’t you hear his skull break?"

Public Enemies #2 (May-June 1948)

So let’s dip back into the innocent comic book adventures of yesteryear, and take a look at what the children were reading. Today’s reading selection:

Remember, it’s all true, since names have been changed to protect the guilty. The story starts with Jeff telling his girlfriend Gail that, if they’re going to elope after their high school graduation, they’ll “have to pull that job tonight…game?” The job in question? Robbing a hotel clerk:

Well, the clerk puts up a fight…well, not much of a fight, actually all he does is say “you’re just a little girl!” Gail doesn’t care much for that, and shoots him anyway. She rifles through his desk, and finds only a couple hundred dollars. Suddenly, the bellboy rushes in:

Even though Gail is the only person in sight, and thus a suspect, the bellboy doesn’t stop her from leaving on the basis of her somewhat flimsy story. She dashes out to the car, where boyfriend Jeff was bravely waiting, and she tells him that she just had to kill a man. “I hope that bell boy forgets my face,” she says foreshadowingly. Jeff tells her not to worry, as they’ll be splitting this town after the sure-thing con job he’s got planned for tomorrow.

The next morning, Jeff sensitively inquires as to Gail’s well-being:

Gail then presents to Jeff copies of her graduation picture…”my mother had several taken of me,” again said foreshadowingly.

That night, Jeff and Gail, though presumably still underage, go to the Club 51 bar. A drunk fellow sitting at a table says a few lecherous words to Gail, and is punched out by Jeff for his troubles. Gail is aghast! She thinks Jeff is ruining the plan, but he says that punching that guy is actually necessary to the angle he’s working, which leads us to wonder just how much of the plan Jeff has let Gail in on. Or, more likely, it just implies that Jeff is making it up as it goes along.

Anyway, Jeff tells Gail to fake that she’s mad at him for starting a fight…and their fake argument results in Jeff making a big show out of abandoning her at the bar. “Here are the keys to your old man’s car…I’m leaving right now…alone!” “But I can’t drive!” wails Gail.

One of the bar patrons overhears this Oscar-winning exchange, and offers to take Gail home, to which she obviously agrees. Once in the car, and having driven some distance, Jeff pops up out the back seat and slugs the man over the head. Dragging the body out of the car, Gail and Jeff share this loving exchange:

The victim had eight hundred dollars on his person, and thus the apparent plan of killing a random barfly and finding a ton of money in his wallet is successful! “California here we come!” shouts Jeff, since California has no legal system or extradition laws or anything.

After this huge windfall, they decide to skip graduation altogether and head to Gail’s house to pick up her clothes…only to be met there by a gaggle of policemen! “You’re under arrest for murder,” exclaims the lead cop, a charge Gail decries as “ridiculous.” However, all that foreshadowing earlier in the story was not for naught:

As you can see, Gail immediately rats out Jeff, and Jeff returns the favor:

After a brief trial, Gail is sentenced to doing twenty years in the pokey. We don’t know what happened to Jeff, and neither does Gail, until a year later when a helpful and knowledgable prison guard gives her the “shocking” (har har) news:

And there you go…another all true case from the Public Enemies crime files, where the important moral lesson of criminals always paying for their transgressions comes after several pages of showing us just how glamourous and fun crime is.

Comments are closed.