Monday, September 07, 2015

Number 1784: The Lone Wolf’s retirement plan

I am retired, and was able to retire because I had a plan. If you are interested in retiring someday, I urge you to find a plan that will fit your needs. There are many. However, whatever you consider, I guarantee that Amos P. Harmon’s retirement “plan” is not the right one to follow.

Amos has a real estate business. He hopes to move to California someday with his family. His plan is to get money by sticking up gas stations. He shoots people, too. It cinches his retirement from his real estate business will be spent at a new address, either the penitentiary or under a grave marker.

This is another story where the detective is more lucky than good. “The Lone Wolf of Crime” is from Gang Busters #19 (1950), and is illustrated by Ruben Moreira.

More of the talented Moreira. Just click on the thumbnail.


Daniel [] said...

One of the recurring themes that I noticed in Mary Worth was the wickedness of those in the business of real estate. I figured that the writer or a loved one had been burned in some transaction; maybe the transaction involved a gun.

From the first wave of censorship, the DC comics were mostly pretty tame, into the bronze age. There might be attempts to kill Batman, but it seemed that nobody died in-frame, unless it was in bed, at some old age (except for the poor, loyal robots that Superman routinely sent to their deaths).

So it's a bit startling to see that characters — even innocent characters — were killed in-frame in the DC crime comics. Granted that this is nothing like the brutality of the Gleason or MJL stuff. I presume that the more violent crime comics, and the way in which crime fiction was presented on the radio, made kinder, gentler crime comics unsellable.

Wertham insisted that all comic books were crime comic books. There was a sort of truth buried in that claim, but it's at best misleading; and the difference between stories in which one is assured that no one will die and those in which homicide is inevitable illustrates the distinction that he sought to deny.

Alicia American said...

I dont undarstend crinimal storys, they shuld just axe there Daddys 4 sum xtra ca$h yo OMG!

Happity Labor Day Pappity!
If u have red/blue 3D glasses, u can peep my sis Deb in 3D by tha Worlds Largerest BBQ: Yay! OMG Yay 4 Labor Day Yay! XOXOXOXOXO

Ryan Anthony said...

Lovely art, and the story was mostly solid. There were a couple of irksome bits. What made Harmon think he'd be able to retire off the proceeds of robbing gas stations? And his MO of waiting for rainstorms--that was just silly. Not the brightest bulb, eh?

Any indication why Moreira quit comics in '62, since he lived for 22 more years?

Pappy said...

Ryan, there doesn't seem to be much information as to why Moreira left comics. He died in '84, so there is a gap of years unaccounted for, after his retirement to Puerto Rico. I would like to think he kept drawing.

Pappy said...

And whattaya know, Alicia! It works, too! (I keep my 3-D glasses close by, for moments such as these.)

Pappy said...

Daniel, my dealings with realtors have always been on the up-and-up, so I can't claim to have any problems with them. But maybe (and I'm stretching here), people from New York, who aspired to retire to Florida, had problems with those infamous deals where unwary buyers were buying swampland sight unseen. When they got to their "new home" they found it ass-deep in alligators. That would give one a jaundiced view of the real estate industry.

Daniel [] said...

Gasoline stations used to be routine targets of robbery, with a fair amount of homicide, sometimes premeditated. I infer that they must often have had relatively a lot of cash on hand.

Pappy said...

Daniel, also filling stations had the advantage for stick-ups of being a drive-up, stop 'n' rob, like convenience stores today (with many also part of gas stations).

Count Otto Black said...

I must admit that I too am somewhat baffled by the logic of this strip. Surely the sole advantage of robbing gas stations is that they're in isolated places? Otherwise it's no better than robbing any small shop. In fact, worse, since the USA is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy gasoline.

Much is made of the fact that the villain is what we in the UK call an estate agent, and the entire point of crooked real estate deals is to sell property for far more than its worth. Every scam of this kind he pulls off ought to net him vastly more cash than he'll ever find in the till of a gas station, and if he's caught, the sentence for a crooked property deal has to be less than he'll get for armed robbery! In fact, given the large sums of money involved, wouldn't a perfectly legitimate property transaction usually earn a realtor far more than a shopkeeper makes in one day?

I think we ought to feel sorry for the Lone Wolf. He's so bad at selling real estate that he has to resort to fraud in order to make any money. But he's equally bad at that and still isn't making a profit, so he desperately turns to sticking up shops because otherwise he'll spend his declining years in miserable poverty. Alas, he makes a hash of that too, and dies.

The only sense I can make of this odd fable is that the writer wants to convey in a hopelessly hamfisted manner that all criminals are equally bad, and a relatively harmless huckster who finangles property deals has exactly the same mindset as a homicidal thug who'll rob you at gunpoint.

Pappy said...

Otto, you can see it as the comic book version of crime. Showing crooked real estate deals would be hard to illustrate as exciting, unlike showing a man with a gun. When the Lone Wolf was eventually caught, I believe he would have gotten a lesser sentence as a white collar criminal than an armed robber, even if he had stolen many more times the amount of money by cunning and trickery.

Despite the United States being a country full of firearms, the penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime are much greater than stealing by fraud. I figure the Lone Wolf liked the excitement of carrying a gun, and liked putting fear into his victims, rather than just taking their money by stealth and guile.

Lone Wolf also committed murder in the commission of his crimes, which in states with a death penalty would also earn him a cell on Death Row. I don't know of any criminal who stole by fraud (including men like Bernard Madoff, who committed the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history) who were given the death penalty, no matter how much they stole, or who they ruined.

Count Otto Black said...

OK, fair enough. Tell you what though. Several years ago, we in Scotland had an outbreak of armed gas station robberies (or as we say on this side of the pond, petrol station robberies) carried out by a guy wearing a Scarecrow mask as seen in "Batman Begins". So it's official - we've got Supervillains! They still caught him though. By the way, no vigilantes in bat costumes were involved - the regular police coped just fine.