In today’s episode, I.I.I. has insured a guy’s life for ten million credits! But when the policy holder dies, Mr. Emory thinks the deceased isn’t really deceased! Can Bert Brandon prove that this Jexus of Nazaron VII is still alive and save the company from financial ruin?
That’s not the real story and I am so, so sorry.
No, in today’s episode, an explosive man is making trouble for I.I.I. and that explosive man is…Bert Brandon. WHAAAA?
We open with Bert in Mr. Emory’s office. Instead of getting chewed out or getting assigned some crazy mission to make sure someone doesn’t get paid, Emory is sending Bert on an all-expenses-paid trip to Geminius! But first, Bert just needs to listen to this sales talk about time share condominiums.
No, first, Bert needs to get new glasses.
If you think this isn’t going to come up later, then we need to send you back to Silver Age 101.
Bert gets to Geminius and of course, since he’s such a diligent worker, he decides that, instead of taking in a little Geminiusian sand and surf, he’s going to tour various Triple-I-insured locations around the planet.
The first stop is a space cargo company, which has an impeccable record. But as Bert takes a look at one of the cargo ships…
Bert assumes this is just an accident, but the next day he’s visiting a new type of power plant when blammo, the tower it sits on explodes as well!
Having just witnessed two explosions at places insured by I.I.I., Bert decides to calm his nerves a bit with a trip to the Geminius Zoo — which is insured by I.I.I. However, when he tries to enter this only zoo on the entire planet, he is stopped and called names!
Naturally, Bert sneaks into the zoo that night and while nothing explodes, the bars to all the cages break apart and animals go running everywhere. They’re all rounded up without any loss of life that they’re willing to tell us about, but Bert’s not so lucky. He loses his job. Mr. Emory just straight up fires him via Spacegram.
To make matters worse, word has gotten around of Bert’s luck, and a spate of hoodoophobia prevents him from even leaving the planet. Hiding under the name of Bert Braffle, he takes a job at a supermarket just to make ends meet.
and a moment later, the worpleberries explode, revealing “Bert Braffle” to be Bert Brandon, Undercover Hoodoo. But two other things are revealed. First, a piece of a bomb is found in the worfleberry debris. So this wasn’t just a particularly unstable batch of fruit. Second…and make sure you’re ready for this…Bert’s new glasses, having been broken in the explosion, have hollow frames with electronics inside!
Hoodoo? Doodoo! There’s nefariousness afoot, and Bert is going to find it and clear his name. He does a little research and finds out that each place that suffered an explosion — the cargo company, the power plant, the zoo, the basket of worpleberries — all were owned and insured by financier Niles Kronos! And not only do the Geminiusian police suspect Kronos is mixed up in shady deals, Bert recognizes him as the actual doctor who gave him the new glasses back on Earth!
The second part of the puzzle, which really didn’t need any more parts, is when Bert finds the guy on Geminius who made the glasses frames for Kronos. Most police would be pretty satisfied with the fact that they have means, motive, opportunity, multiple witnesses, and so forth, but no, Bert and the cops bust into Kronos’ apartment.
Now they even have the actual bombs, found in the suspect’s own home. Surely this will be enough to arrest this guy, so the next step is to call a press conference.
That night Bert gets a visitor in his hotel room. It’s Kronos, all right, and armed with a gun! He wants to know what evidence Bert has on him. But before Bert can say, “Uh…pretty much everything?”, Kronos decides to spill the beans on himself.
Suddenly the gun explodes in Kronos’ hand! Ha! Bert planted one of the bombs in it! The cops bust in and, armed with a confession of dubious legality, finally arrest this guy.
Emory hires Bert back and give him a bonus — some new, non-booby-trapped spectacles!
And folks, that’s it for Interplanetary Insurance, Incorporated. Ten episodes, ten cases, and ZERO space dollars paid out to anyone!
Strangely, this series not only ended abruptly after ten stories, but also languished in obscurity, forgotten even by Grant Morrison, James Robinson, or Geoff Johns. I can’t imagine why, and I hope that this attention I’ve given to insurance-hero Bert Brandon will encourage someone to bring him back. Maybe he could try and prove Dick Grayson shouldn’t be collecting a check for Bruce Wayne’s life insurance, or maybe Superman wants to insure New Krypton against blowing the hell up. Heck, a bunch of superheroes recently came back from the dead in Blackest Night…I’m sure Bert would like to talk to their next of kin about this change of living status.
Thanks for joining me in clearing the cobwebs away from this surprisingly ignored bit of funnybookery. I’m going to take some time off and then I’ll be back on a new day with a new feature. Until then, I leave you with this:
“The Explosive Man!”
Mystery in Space #25 (April-May 1955)
Writer: Sid Gerson
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Carmine Infantino
Editor: Julius Schwartz