Welcome back, Jolly Whackos, to The Mighty Crusaders Number Four! In this episode, Gary Lactus puts page three of The Mighty Crusaders Number Four under the electron microscope and peers into the quantum universes living in each line, punctuation mark and ear of this life-changing, explosive stick of dyna-mind!!!

Transcript and pictorial reference below for true students of greatness.

Hi. This is Gary Lactus. Welcome back, Jolly Whackos to The Mighty Crusaders number four number two. I received a total of six positive responses from the first episode. It turns out that six compliments is enough to maintain my enthusiasm enough to write and produce this second episode. Not just that, but I have addressed some of the correspondences I received regarding The Mighty Crusaders Number Four number one in an exclusive bonus premium executive Patreon-only business class podcast, The Mighty Crusaders Number Four Supplemental. Join the SILENCE! patreon and become a member of C-Unit by going to patreon.com/silence and pledging a single unit of currency (or more if you’re feeling like a kind soul slash massive show off), and gain access to a generous helping of Channel SILENCE! related content ki yippee and Yahoo yes sir!

In our first episode, we looked at the front cover, the Cloverine advertisement on the inside cover, and the first page of the comic itself where we saw an incongruous folk singer host and our five heroes, confused at seeing an image of their own heads looking a little bit miffed in a large, spherical trouble prediction device called the starolater. In comics, this first “splash page” is designed to tantalize the reader, often showing a scene from the action about to unfold within the pages of the four-colour fancy flapping about in the trembling hands of the now excited reader. The Mighty Crusaders Number Four cleverly subverts this convention by giving the reader no particular reason to keep reading. Why should I care that these ultra-heroes are going to get annoyed at some point? There MUST be a reason. It is that mystery that makes us turn the page and turn the page we shall…

Page two of Too Many Superheroes is an imperfect grid of six panels. At the top of the first panel, a caption reads,
“JUST SO YOU WON’T THINK OUR ULTRA-HEROES HAVEN’T GOT FASCINATING PRIVATE LIVES, WE’LL BRIEFLY GLANCE A SHORT WHILE AGO INTO THE PAST…” Okay, let’s unpack that rich, flavoursome bit of writing. The voice of this caption is concerned for the reader, seeking to protect us against any doubts we may have about the depth of these characters, these super heroes, sorry, ULTRA-heroes. The protagonists lead interesting lives both as costumed adventurers and, crucially, as people. But the masterstroke of this sentence is its second half, “we’ll briefly glance a short while ago into the past” which quite frankly honestly elevates up tautology from awkward and clumsy mistake to something other and different, ultimately betterly superior.

Below this astonishing caption we see an office where a man in a green suit is showing a male police officer an open presentation box. They are close to each other and the police officer stands with his arms behind his back in a way that would usually cause a chest to puff out proudly, yet there is a slight casual slouch to his posture and an almost unimpressed smile of politeness on his face. Both men have strong-looking ears. The green suited man says,
“You DESERVE this medal for outstanding bravery, patrolman Kip Burland!” from our research we have already learnt that Kip Burland is the Black Hood but who is this middle aged emerald clad man? In America, medals for police officers are handed out by city, county and state officials. There’s little or no indication of what position or rank of government official we’re dealing with here. One possible clue is the badge or pin on the lapel of this jade jacketed justice-affiliate. The stylings of comic book art, driven by the limitations of time, talent and print technology, do not allow us to see what this lapel pin is, it being nothing more than a small circle on a lapel. It seems most likely to be a presidential service badge or a small American flag pin. Further research reveals nothing of any use with regards to discerning the identity of this man but I did turn up an interesting discussion from 2014 on a website called gentlemansgazette.com about lapel pins, prompted by the then President of the United states of America, Barack Obama’s wearing of an American flag lapel pin at a formal engagement

Charles M writes,

“Lapel pins have always seemed to me a bit self-aggrandizing or, as was suggested here, politically expedient, especially with semi-formal wear.

A boutonniere of special recognition is another matter altogether at the event at which one is being recognized, especially if the sponsors have taken care to assure it being appropriate to the occasion.

I suppose we could always revert to the Victorian use of a fob on the center chain of the double albert in one’s waistcoat.”

Bob writes

“The lapel pin is the least of his sartorial mishaps, formal or otherwise. Why an American President, living the life of the ultra-wealthy is permitted to so badly botch the fundamentals of men’s formal dress is perplexing. As pointed out in past blogs The President routinely shows up at formal affairs looking more like an inexperienced prom king than a president, an appearance only reinforced by his pathetic attempts at dancing. One would think America’s first couple could be bothered to learn at least a simple waltz before their inaugural ball.”

I am happy that I discovered the Gentleman’s Gazette and look forward to reading more such informative articles and comments about things that really matter and in no way did I wonder what the fuck these people are doing with their lives and consider whether an apocalypse actually might not be such a bad thing.

I have tried to find out more about the “medal for outstanding bravery” here. There are many medals which can be awarded to police individuals in America and there many different awards available within different police departments. Included in this long list is a safe driving medal which is a bit like winning the great British bake off for not shitting on a cake.

But all this talk of awarding medals could well be pointless. Kip Burland’s hands are behind his back, not reaching to accept the trinket of congratulation. The green man may be simply showing Kip his own nice medal, saying “You DESERVE this medal for outstanding bravery, patrolman Kip Burland!” before snapping the presentation box shut and popping it back in his pocket. Kip’s posture could well signify that his boss does this all the time and Patrolman Kip Burland no longer falls for this dickhead’s pranks.

Moving on to the second panel, the two men are now standing farther apart, Kip’s back to us, almost as if he’s backing out of the room, keen to get away from this smiling superior. The green man says,

“Singlehandedly subduing a burgler-gang entitles you to a day off! Relax… Take it easy…”

To which Kip replies,
“Thanks again”

Here we get a glimpse of just what a great cop Kip Burland is. A whole burglar-gang subdued! I say burglar-gang like that because there’s a hyphen between burglar and gang for apparently no reason whatsoever. Bugulagang. Buggalagang. Although, in that same sentence, the usually hyphenated “Single-handedly” is presented as one word, “singlehandedly”. The only conclusion we can reach is that this comic is committed to stimulating the reader on every conceivable level to the point where even hyphens are having adventures within the confines of a single word balloon. And yes, actually, that is the only conclusion, if you think it’s bad writing and lazy editing then you’re definitely wrong. A jolly whacko would do such a thing.

We don’t see Kip holding a medal and the green man has moved behind his desk. None of this disproves the dickhead boss theory, by the way. He may have put the medal back in a drawer. Either way, Kip Burland has a day off and I suspect he won’t “relax… Take it easy”.

There is something very strange about this panel which, much like the black star on page one (see The Mighty Crusaders Number Four number one, Jolly Whackos) reveals itself only on close reading. In the background of panel one of this page, we see the window of the office and a blank wall which continues towards the right of the panel for two or three feet before reaching the corner of the room. Here in panel two, the wall extends for over six feet before reaching the corner. Suddenly in the expanded space there’s a large bureau with framed photos of what look like female family members atop it. In the corner, a hat stand with a hat and overcoat hanging from it has also appeared. How can this be?! What does it mean? We can only imagine. Well we can’t just only imagine, we can ask a friend what they think or we can fall to our knees screaming “Why?! Why does Kip Burland’s green suited superior have an office of shifting geometry?!” Some might say, “this is clearly the work of a rushed artist drawing whatever looks vaguely suitable to fill the composition of the frame regardless of any considerations regarding the continuity of events I mean it’s not like the cover of this comic makes much sense and we’ve already seen a contextless bit of machinery projecting a bubble with some annoyed heads in it, why should we expect any deeper meaning than none at all?” To which I would respond, “no. I have made up my mind that this is the greatest comic ever made and there is definitely a reason why these drawers and hat stand have appeared in this mighty morphing ultra office and just because you can’t see the answer doesn’t mean it’s not there even though I’ve literally been looking at this panel for about three weeks now and still can’t grasp any meaning I guess I’ll never truly think like a jolly whacko”

And off Patrolman Kip Burland goes, presumably through an umbrella door in the ceiling which is now a carpeted mirror wall or something into the third pulse-plummeting panel with a caption reading, “But when Kip is alone…”
The image depicts Kip removing his police uniform to reveal the iconic yellow and black costume of the Black Hood. Artist Paul Reinman generally draws strong ears, chunky and large. He may be the premier ear artist of his generation, I don’t know, I have no idea how to check that.

Whilst disrobing, Kip shouts in his mind,
“A quickeroo switch to the Black Hood! Then I’m off to the Crusaders meeting! I can’t stand inactivity! I’ve always gotta go, go, go!!!”
A clever bit of internal dialogue here. The reader is assured that Kip Burland is in fact the Black Hood, who is a member of The Crusaders. The playful use of the word, “quickeroo” tells us that he enjoys his life, he is happy doing what he does. Or is he? The next sentence is very telling as we glimpse the turmoil within the man. He can’t stand inactivity and always has to go, go, go with three exclamation marks. Why can’t he simply love activity? Why does he go out of his way to negatively frame this as hating inactivity? Staying occupied is a common coping strategy, there are clearly issues he is avoiding. The need to stay busy all the time keeps one away from feeling, thinking, and acting on negative emotions. This ‘busyness’, in turn, increases anxiety, stress, and fatigue causing a person to feel burned out. What these issues are, we may find out, we may not, but I think Kip needs to check in with his emotions before he crashes. Suppressing unwanted feelings results in a buildup of emotions that can manifest into anger, frustration, resentment, isolation, and many other unhealthy mental states. This is a particularly dangerous state of affairs as let’s not forget, Kip is already a vigilante, operating outside of society’s rules. Who knows what could happen when he inevitably breaks. If ever there was a cop on the edge, Kip Burland aka Black Hood is it.

And that’s the first three panels of page two done. I feel like we’ve learnt a lot about The Black Hood, Ki yippee and Yahoo yes sir! Now it’s time to move on to panel four to see what these jolly whackos do with a different ultra hero. Probably the most mysterious and beguiling of this team of ultra heroes – the girl one.

A caption reads,
“Meanwhile, at a Hollywood presentations ceremony”
This is an odd turn of phrase. Why not “Hollywood awards ceremony” or “Hollywood award presentation”? Because this is The Mighty Crusaders Number Four and you cannot expect Jolly whacko Jerry Seigel to write like a normal person writing a normal comic. On first reading, one might think this awkward wording is a result of incompetence or indifference or both. Well, read on… The panel depicts a bespectacled man on a stage, holding an award. He is dwarfed by the image of a blonde woman projected behind him. He is talking. The words he is talking are these ones in this order,
“As her director, I accept this reward in behalf of Kim Brand for her brilliant performance in TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND YET TOMORROW! Kim couldn’t be with us because she is on vacation!”
Again, I am trying to convey the exclamation marks in my delivery. What a bad bit of writing, right? “I accept this reward in behalf” is completely wrong! “I accept this award on behalf” would be correct, right? Surely this is the work of a semi-literate writer with an editor who’s asleep at the wheel. Well, read on… Again….

The director talks of Kim Brand’s “brilliant performance in Tomorrow and tomorrow and yet tomorrow!” Now that’s a curious name for a film. I expect you think it’s a stupid name. I expect you think it’s the work of a jaded writer, combining words without thought, desperately trying to finish the bad job he’s doing, right? Wrong! The title “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Yet Tomorrow” is actually paraphrasing SHAKESPEARE! That’s right. Shakespeare. Why would someone who is bad at writing quote Shakespeare? Only good and clever writers refer to Shakespeare, and only the very best writers quote Shakespeare’s greatest novel, Macbeth. Macbeth’s soliloquy goes thusly,

“There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Ah, Shakespeare. It may sound like bollocks but actually, “In this soliloquy Macbeth is a man for whom life has ceased to have meaning. He starts with a statement of the futility of life and of time itself with images of time – tomorrow, yesterday, day, recorded time – using a rhythm that stretches time out, making it creep.” That’s what nosweatshakespear.com says anyway.

Could the use of “tomorrow and tomorrow” be a meta comment on the writer’s state of mind? Is he sat at his typewriter, writing The Mighty Crusaders number four, feeling bitter about what he missed out when his creation, Superman was taken from his youthful hands? Has it come to this? Sat here writing, “a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” That may be true had Jerry Seigel not been writing The Mighty Crusaders number four, the greatest comic ever written. No, it is more likely that this allusion to Shakespeare is a nod to the reader to let us know that Seigel is well clever and this comic is up there with the greatest writing ever. Given that, we can assume that the odd phrasing of the director is deliberate. It is clearly the somewhat broken English of a contemporary director from continental Europe such as Antonioni or Polanski. The themes of the passage from Hamlet invoked here may also hint at how Kim Brand feels about her acting career. Why would she be on vacation rather than accepting this reward in behalf of herself at this Hollywood presentations ceremony? Is she really on vacation? Let’s move on to panel five, shall we? Okay then.

We see Fly Girl, soaring through the air, a mountain in the background. The caption reads,

“But far from being wrung-out, Kim is flying toward the Star-olater in her alter-ego of Fly Girl!”

Bang! Kim Brand is Fly Girl! Award winning actor AND super hero? If your mind isn’t blown then, well, that means you’ve been paying attention because we covered that in The Mighty Crusaders Number Four number one. Clearly the life of a superhero outshines even that of glamorous reward winning actress. Fly girl is posed here with all the dynamism of a playmobil figure. Legs straight, arms up with some lines to convey her movement through the air in a way her hair doesn’t. Kim Brand aka Fly Girl’s hair remains static, covering her presumably strong, chunky Paul Reinman ears. I haven’t been able to find Fly Girl’s top airborne speed but I think it’s fair to assume it must be fast enough to best other readily available forms of transport such as the automobile. For Fly Girl’s unshielded hair to hold its shape whilst traveling at any reasonable speed, she must be in possession of a truly incredible hair lacquer, the strength of which has thus far eluded science. Like her top speed, nothing has been written about this much-overlooked aspect of Fly Girl. I like to imagine that this miracle substance must have been created by some sort of super-science ultra-chemist. But who?! Maybe we’ll find out, maybe we’ll be left to dream of miracle hair products. What we definitely know is that we’re moving on to the sixth and final panel of this second ultra-page of The Mighty Crusaders number four.

A handsome, strong-eared, blonde man in blue suit and gray overcoat, holding some papers and a leather briefcase is swiftly moving away from a confused looking strong-eared man in a green suit. Green suits were clearly popular in 1966 as this is the second character to sport one on this page alone! In the background we see chairs facing a wall with an American flag and a courtroom dock. At the top, a caption reads,

“And in a courtroom where attorney-at-law Thomas Troy has won a case…”

The green suited man thinks,
“He saves my life… Then rushes off before I can even thank him! How busy can you get??”

Thomas Troy shouts in his mind,
“Must change to Fly Man and whiz to join my chums!”

We have already learned that Thomas Troy, attorney at law is Fly Man but even if you didn’t, this panel gives you that all important piece of ultra-information plus a whole lot more. His legal skills have just saved a man’s life which let’s us know that Thomas Troy operates in a state which carries the death penalty for serious crimes. This narrows the location down to… HOLY SHIT! I’ve just looked up how many of the 50 US states currently carry the death penalty. It’s 27! Flipping heck pardon my French! I would need to do more research to see if that number was any different in 1966 but I’m in a state of shock. I can see that in 1966, support for the death penalty was at an all-time low but it can’t be markedly different. I can’t imagine that whatever giant, lumbering system in charge did anything with this information other than mull it over for a few decades before deciding it’ll probably all blow over whilst people getting processed by that same giant, lumbering system get their lives terminated. Oh no, hang on this is interesting.

There were no executions in the United States between 1967 and 1977. In 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down capital punishment statutes in Furman v. Georgia, reducing all pending death sentences to life imprisonment at the time.[13] Subsequently, a majority of states enacted new death penalty statutes, and the court affirmed the legality of capital punishment in the 1976 case Gregg v. Georgia. Since then, more than 8,700 defendants have been sentenced to death;[14] of these, more than 1,550 have been executed.

So the very year after this comic where Thomas Troy saved a man’s life in this panel from The Mighty Crusaders number four, the death sentence was suspended. Coincidence? There’s no such thing. This is one great comic. No, this is one ULTRA comic!

In order to find another single panel that conveys this much information you’d have to read literally some other comics.

And so we come to the end of page two of the Mighty Crusaders number four, and with the end of page two of The Mighty Crusaders number four we teach the end of this The Mighty Crusaders number four number two. I hope you’ll join me, your ultra pal Gary Lactus next time. And if you can’t wait for more The Mighty Crusaders Number Four then why not join the SILENCE! Channel’s patreon to gain access to The Mighty Crusaders Number Four Supplemental where I address your questions and comments regarding the Mighty Crusaders number four podcast. But the Mighty Crusaders number four Supplemental can’t exist with you, so send your correspondence to [email protected] then go to patreon.com/silence and become a member for an ultra low fee to hear how I respond. That’s [email protected] then patreon.com/silence. The rest is all ultra gravy.

But for now, this jolly whacko hopes to be with you again as ultra soon as possible as I get to ulta work on reading the third page of The Mighty Crusaders number four. In fact, I’m going to start RIGHT NOW! I CAN’T STAND INACTIVITY! Ki yippee and Yahoo yes sir!

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