Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Law & Order: Comic Book Unit

Last night's episode of Law & Order began with a man who was murdered, apparently by someone who stole his collection of rare Golden Age comic books. That the victim was locked in a dog cage and run through with a sword, well, I suppose that was their not-so-subtle jab at comic book fans being odd.

The detectives visited a comic book shop and a discussion of the missing books began. Green Lantern #6 was mentioned, as was All-Flash. But then, presumably to drive home that these were not million-dollar copies of Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27, they mentioned Johnny Thunder, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Gay Ghost. The latter resulted in a raised eyebrow from one the detectives, but it was explained that the term had a different meaning in the 1940s. "He was cheerful." (In the 1970s, when DC reprinted one of the stories, the character was rechristened the Grim Ghost.)

As the comic book readers among you know, neither Johnny Thunder nor Doctor Mid-Nite nor the Gay Ghost had their own magazines. The first JT, he of the magic Thunderbolt that was summoned any time he said "Cei-U" (pronounced "say you," so he said a lot more often than he planned), was a back-up feature in Flash Comics through much of the Golden Age.
A cowboy hero of the same name debuted at the end of the 1940s and starred in All-American Comics and All-American Western. The only time there was a comic book titled Johnny Thunder was in the 1970s and it featured reprints of the cowboy's adventures.
Doctor Mid-Nite, the blind crimefighter with an owl as a sidekick, prowled the night in All-American Comics and was a member of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics.
The Ghost appeared as a back-up in Sensation Comics and never had his own title.

The missing comic book collection turned out to be part of a larger scheme. The victim had intended to hide his money from his wife by claiming to have lost a fortune by investing in a less-than-collectible assortment of comics. Other than another comment about the Gay Ghost, it did not come back into play until the courtroom scene at the end.
During questioning, the D.A. holds up a comic book (in a Mylar Snug) as one of the books in the collection. Rather than using an actual Golden Age book, it was a dummy titled Team Action.
Team Action?! Really? If you're going to go to the trouble of making a fake book, why not at least continue the thread and have a fake issue of The Gay Ghost?

One final note on the episode: As soon as I saw that comic books were involved in the plot, I expected to see that the writer was long-time L&O and comics scribe Gerry Conway.
'Twas not the case, however. If it had been Gerry, it's a safe bet all the comic books mentioned would have been real.

No comments:

Post a Comment