Sunday, December 31, 2006
Ears Karpik: The killer who believed in divide and conquer!
I suckered in on this story, believing it was based on a true person, and true story. As crime comics go, it's fairly typical. It came from Atlas Comics' Justice #16 from 1950, and details the harsh life of a criminal right up until his end. In most cases in a crime comic the end came in the form of death, which was their "he got his just desserts" theme. This is no exception.
The sucker punch came when I encountered an ending so preposterous, so unlikely that I said a mental "Wha-----?" and looked at the splash page again. It says "Based on a true story," but in the type under the bottom tier of panels it says that this "true-to-life story" is fictitious, and the usual legal boilerplate that would keep them from being sued in case some real guy named Ears Karpik should get offended.
The art is serviceable, with no artist identified by atlastales.com.
What I like about the story is the criminal dialogue, which crackles along with slang like "playing chicky" (being a lookout) or "listeners" (for ears). Where it falls short is in its last two pages, when it tries for the surprise ending, and the unintended surprise turns out to be how far a plot can be stretched before it breaks apart.