Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just Plain Crazy Comics: "Checking the Checker"

I only put it in quotes because it's only part of the title-the full title should probably be "Nightmare and Sleepy in Checking the Checker," but that's too freaking long for a self-respecting blog post title.

This story comes from Clue Comics #1, and features Nightmare and Sleepy, who appear in some of the most mind-numbingly dumb and completely insane comic book stories ever printed. (A few GAMotD that have featured them are here and here.)

Be warned-not only are there a lot of images (I think my only article with more was The Life and Death of Robot John), but they're pretty low-quality.

Anyway, let's get going. Here's our villain: The Checker.

Not exactly an intimidating specimen, is he? Indeed, he'd be worthy of the Snell's Riddler Award if there was such a thing.

The story opens in Perfect Town, a reputedly very pretty and "ultra modern" city.

Yes, an ultra modern city in the heart of America that has an annual sports carnival. That explains entirely how they can get away with calling it Perfect Town. What a great place.

We meet our protagonists riding a bus into town. Note that this is their first adventure ever, and thus they are not yet Nightmare and Sleepy.

This is about as likable as they ever get.

Anyway, on with the story. Perfect Town's mayor likes to play checkers, and is going somewhere to play checkers. (Checkers? Hmm...)


The Checker has checked in. (Ha ha ha ow.) And he's going to check out, with a big check in the mail-What's that? ... Okay, I'll stop. (It's not fair-they got to make all the awful puns they wanted back then!)

Then, at the fight, an oxymoron occurs: A blaring sound causes a deathly silence to fall.

Bob White (seriously, that's the guy who becomes Nightmare's name), who is wrestling in the arena in a three-piece suit (!), expresses surprise.

Then, despite seeming to have trouble with his opponent before, he instantly defeats him with a headbutt.

And it's true. Bob is anxious to end this fight...

Because he's broke.

Our heroes, folks.

But the kid wants to go to a party first, and Bob concedes.

Oh, no! Not the fire house! Do the heroes change their minds?

They see that it's missing, but it takes another radio broadcast to get them to change their plans.

That's right, now they're skipping out on the party and headed straight outta town. They get on a bus.

Now, here's something that's got me baffled:

Is the Checker talking about a guy named Boye, or about his "boys" and forgot to say "the" in front of "boys" like a normal person? (Also, why does he talk about kidnapping buildings? Holding them hostage makes grammatical sense, but not kidnapping, for crying out loud!)

Now, the Checker is checking out his hostages.

Notice he ends a sentence with two hyphens. The fiend, mauling grammar like that. (And yes, that is the end of his sentence.)

And don't think he can be fooled about how much money people made-he's made a list, and he's checking to see what people made. Double-checking, if necessary.

The fact that he hit an old man upsets Bob and Terry, who happen to be on the very same bus that the Checker checked out. So, they... pull off their jackets to reveal the costumes they were wearing.

Uh... Unless they made costumes more durable back in the day, I'm going to have to call you on that and say that no, the skull would be pretty useless as a crash helmet.

The Checker runs rampant, unchecked, UNTIL!

Holy cheese, those dopey costumes actually kind of work when you do that. Sadly, this awesome feature never shows up in any other Nightmare and Sleepy story. (Also, chance was not taking a strange twist, narrator. His costume was clearly designed to do that, so there's nothing strange about it at all.)

Unfortunately for the heroes, there's a convenient trap door right under their feet, and they and a bunch of the hostages get dumped into a sewer main. Fortunately for them, I don't think the writer had any idea what a sewer main was like inside, and the newly christened Nightmare is able to punch a hole in some kind of seal and help all of them escape.

Seriously, that's what happens.

And then comes another weird moment:

Hm, did we miss something?


Nope. Nightmare just gave him a (really lame) nickname completely on the spot.

They head to the mayor's office, asking the secretary if they can see him, but are told he's out. Note that the place where the Checker is playing checkers with the mayor is in the same building-something's up.

So they decide to go check in with the police instead.

And then they head to the mailbox where the ransom money is being sent to the Checker.

Then there's some lame action, and they meet up with the Checker, who had tried to checkmate them with a trap.

They're murdering your men? No, no, they're beating the tar out of your men. If they were murdering them, it would involve their deaths.

Or did you mean that metaphorically?

Never mind.

Anyway, they follow the Checker, and find...

...that the secretary has his hands in the cookie jar a secret control panel.

They beat him up, and then bad panel composition causes Nightmare's foot to float mysteriously over the controls. (Seriously speaking, this story's panels are a horrible mess-notice all the messy edges. Normally, I crop panels off to put them up on the site, but these would have taken hours, and this was taking long enough already...) Meanwhile, the Checker has apparently checkmated the mayor (figuratively speaking)...

He gets what he wants, sort of...

This is a pretty typical example of how fighting works in Nightmare and Sleepy-no cause and effect at all, only effects. How in the heck did the Checker end up on top of Nightmare with a knife in his hand?

Fortunately, Sleepy hits him with the checkers board.

And then we find out that the Checker is...

...Boy, what extensive foreshadowing, huh? You could almost have guessed that there were elevators everywhere under the city, I suppose...

Incidentally, Nightmare and Sleepy lead this wandering lifestyle continuously, and end up in many different bizarre towns (and even more bizarre situations). This particular adventure is considerably less weird than some of the later ones.

-Signing off.

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