Triple-I Sunday: Duel in the Stars!

MY PROMISE TO YOU: You will learn something this episode!

But before that happens, let’s see what’s up with Bert Brandon, ace insurance agent, this week! Bert’s boss, William Emory, has called him into the office to give him his new assignment.

Bert has to go stop this duel from taking place or else I.I.I. will, as usual, be ruined. You would think that getting yourself shot on purpose wouldn’t count for insurance purposes, but hey, this is Boss Emory’s company, not mine.

The source of the duel is, naturally, a woman. Gollol, the actor, and Kawak, the athlete, are both in love with the fair Meleni, and are going to decide who gets to marry her by shooting at each other with — bazookas! That’s the weapon they’ve chosen for this affaire d’honneur!

Bert talks to the two men to try and make them see reason, but they’re settled in their plan. Only then does he decide that maybe the “prize” might have some opinion here.

So they hop in Bert’s space speedster and something happens but I’m not going to tell you about it just yet, because that would give everything away, since I assume you’re smarter than Sid Gerson thought the kids reading this were.

So after hanging out with Meleni a bit, Bert invites her two beaus up to his hotel room to try and talk some sense into them. He reminds them that Meleni has sworn she won’t marry either survivor, and this causes them to call off their duel with each other. Unfortunately…

Bert wanders around the lobby muttering about his fate and whistling, which drives the bystanders nutty. They hate it! Which brings us to the event from the car — Bert tried putting on the radio, and Meleni had a fit. What’s up with the Medusans and their aversion to music, passing exposition guy?

Bert sends off a spacegram requesting a special bazooka and a derby hat. On the morning of the duel, which is taking place in a huge stadium, Bert’s weapon arrives, but it looks a little off to his opponents, who cry foul, claiming it’s not actually a bazooka. The “judge” of the duel, Mr. Crime, is called to settle the issue.

What is the judge talking about? Here’s the part where you learn something! Yes, before the bubble gum, before the anti-tank weapon, before the slang term for women’s breasts, a bazooka was a musical instrument, albeit a sort of pathetic one. It was used to comic effect by radio and film comedian Bob Burns. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t know that.

You can see where this is headed. As soon as the judge counts three, Bert starts blowing into this thing and the Medusans all freak out, including the two guys aiming breasts — er, anti-tank weapons — at him.

Bert is declared the winner of the duel (probably just to get him to stop playing) and the two losers go off to see who Meleni will now choose. Bert tags along to see which one will emerge victorious. To the surprise of everyone except everyone, she chooses…Bert! Oh no!

Now, Bert thought Meleni was a bit of all right earlier, but he’s not ready to be hitched yet, so he figures out how to get out of this as well. He offers to woo her in the Earth fashion, which means, later that night…

Bert quits playing the wacky instrument and the only sounds in the Medusan night are crickets, rustling leaves, and the faint sounds of people in the distance shooting each other with anti-tank weapons.

Next week: The Explosive Man!

“Duel in the Stars!”
Mystery in Space #24 (February-March 1955)
Writer: Sid Gerson
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Carmine Infantino
Editor: Julius Schwartz

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8 Responses to Triple-I Sunday: Duel in the Stars!

  1. Andrew Weiss says:

    Kawak went on to join the emulation scene, where he created a program that could play games based on Capcom’s CPS-2 board.

    (If you get that joke, congrats! You’re as tragic as I am!)

  2. Sniffnoy says:

    …wait, so what was the thing you didn’t tell us about?

  3. Dave says:

    Sniffnoy: The bit with Bert putting on the radio and her recoiling from the music.

  4. David Thiel says:

    What with the Mr. Crime comic strip you linked to, I feel as if I’ve learned *two* things this morning! Kudos!

    Props to Carmine Infantino for his depiction of Bert’s crooked musical notes. Looks like they’re plummeting to the ground, crushing parked cars across the surface of Medusa.

    Nothing wrong with the joke you came up with for panel four, but I can’t believe you avoided the obvious set-up line: “Medusans can’t stand the sound of music!” “And they didn’t much care for ‘The Song of Norway,’ either!” (Or is that too obscure?)

  5. Sniffnoy says:

    Oh, OK. I only just noticed you did mention after all; I processed it as something separate. I figured it was probably something like that, but had to wonder seeing as the story doesn’t seem to actually make much of a mystery out of that anyway.

  6. David Thiel says:

    I just assumed that Bert showed Meleni a little of the old “insurance adjustment,” if you know what I mean.

  7. Michael Rebain says:

    I actually know all about Bob Burns and his original bazooka. You know how? Because I read about it in a Julius Schwartz edited comic book in the 1960s when he mentioned it in a letter column response! Can’t recall what title or issue, or even why he was referencing it, but that’s the kind of thing I remember 40+ years later. And PS to David Thiel: Song of Norway is not nearly as obscure as you could have gone.