Welcome to the exciting world of The Future! I’m your host, Dave Lartigue, and I’ll be taking you on an exciting and educational journey into the time to come! Sit back, pull up a cosmo chair, pour a space drink, and enjoy!
It’s the 22nd Century! In this far-off era, televisions screens are huge, vases are huge, and clowns…clowns are huge!
Morrow, the guy on the left, has secretly filmed Tark because he has an incredible plan for making millions of space dollars! See, a year ago a spaceship crashed, presumably killing everyone on board, including galaxy-famous clown hyperstar Zeppi-Zo. With Zeppi-Zo dead and the cosmos aching to fill this clown-shaped hole in its entertainment life, Morrow’s scheme is to…
…have Tark impersonate Zeppi-Zo instead of simply give the world a new talented clown. Okay.
Turns out, this will be easy to do because Tark has amnesia! Morrow and Fenton won’t have to convince him to go along with their ridiculous impersonation scheme because they’ll simply tell Tark he is Zeppi-Zo. They’ll dupe him along with everyone else!
The next day the two con men confront Tark and inform him of his “true” past identity. Their story is that he, Zeppi-Zo, was thrown clear of the crash alive, but with his memory clouded! They assure him that although his amnesia has robbed him of knowledge of his previous act, with their help he can return to his former glory.
Time goes by and Tark works and works on perfecting all aspects of his Zeppi-Zo act, until finally he’s ready to be unveiled to the public.
The plan works! All of Zeppi-Zo’s friends are fooled, and soon space-grams are coming in from all over the solar system with agents and managers looking to book “Zeppi-Zo” for appearances! But those space-grams are hard to read through the dollar signs in Morrow’s and Fenton’s eyes, since Tark’s contract with them gives them complete control over all his money! I guess his amnesia also took away his knowledge of fair representation.
So he looks the part, but can he perform as well as the famed lampooner? Sure enough:
It looks like everything’s coming up big squirting roses for our protagonists! Nothing could possibly go wrong! Except…
Oh no! A dame-shaped monkey wrench has been thrown into the works! How will the two fakesters deal with this complication? The only logical way they can: by telling Tark that the whole thing is a hoax, he’s not actually a famous talented clown, and ripping up the contract. They then make tracks for the nearest one-way rocket out of town, fearing the law will be hot on their heels.
The Widow Zo meets up with Tark and the sight of her jogs his memory back into place, revealing the astonishing and I assure you completely unexpected truth:
Tark really is Zeppi-Zo! It turns out their completely unnecessary hoax was completely unnecessary all along!
Mystery in Space #101 (DC, August 1965)
Penciler: Lee Elias
Inker: Lee Elias
Editor: Jack Schiff