Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have a Weirdo Wednesday Hallowe’en!

Our final Weirdo Wednesday entry of 2007 features a story written by Big Blue’s co-creator, Jerry Siegel; penciled by the Action Ace’s best penciler, Curt Swan; and inked by a great scribe, George Klein.

Yes, it’s “The Voyage of the Mary Celeste II!” from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #75, cover-dated March, 1964.

After Mr. Action writes a hit feature article about the mystery of the abandoned Mary Celeste, found adrift in the Azores December 15, 1872, he’s contacted by a rich industrialist, Jeff Conway. “The Mary Celeste mystery has always fascinated me,” Conway tells the reporter, “and so, I built this duplicate ship! It’s an expensive hobby, which I can well afford!”

Yes, it’s a full-scale replica of the famous ship, but also loaded with sonar and radio. Conway’s dream is to sail the replica along the same course as the original, just to see what will happen!

But Conway hasn’t been able to scare up (ha ha) a crew amongst the superstitious seamen of Metropolis Harbor. So it’s up to Conway’s appointed skipper, “Captain” James Bartholomew Olsen, to find a crew. Five seadogs volunteer, and the voyage sets out just fine, until …

Jimmy finds out that his five brave sailors are on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and were maneuvered aboard the ship by Conway, whose shipping concern doesn’t mind a little smuggling (human and otherwise) on the side. And when the lugs make it to the nearest foreign shore, then it’ll be lights out – for good -- for Mrs. Olsen’s favorite son. They take his signal watch and set him to swabbing the decks.

Their plan is to hide in a secret compartment belowdecks so that it’ll seem that they, too, have fallen victim to the Mary Celeste’s curse.

But resourceful Jimmy turns the tables, grabs a gun, and orders the quintet topside, just as the ship crosses the last known coordinates of the original Mary Celeste. Then … a giant sea monster rises from the deeps and snatches the criminals with green scaly tentacles. Superman arrives, just in time, to rescue Jimmy from the gruesome creature.

The only thing that makes this story less than delicious is Superman’s inane word balloon, “No, no! Mustn’t touch! Leave Jimmy alone” I mean, really. Five other men have just drowned at this critter’s tentacles, and Superman talks to it like he’s scolding a three-year-old?

Still, Jimmy theorizes that this critter must have been aroused nine decades before by the original Mary Celeste’s passing, and was reawakened by her sister ship. Of course, how a sailing ship could make enough racket to awaken a creature that lived in a fissure at the bottom of the sea – I just can’t “sea” it!

Still, when I was seven, this tale made a deep impression. I remembered it for years, because of my anti-authoritarian interest in unexplained things – UFOs, sea serpents, Bigfoot, Atlantis, and strange disappearances.

It took twenty years or more before I discovered this story again, tracking it down in this here comic book.

Thanks for sharing some Weirdo Wednesdays with me. And, on this All Hallows’ Eve, remember what the butcher told me when he sold me the empty hot dog:

“Happy Hollow Weenie!”

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