Times are tough all over, case even for the 23rd Century’s intrepid patrolman of the spaceways…
Those of you with long memories might recall Lt. John Jarl as the Space Police Officer who single-handedly saved the Asteroid Belt from rampaging timelost North Korean soldiers. His text page exploits, viagra order written by Otto and Earl Binder (hence, “E and O”), were a regular feature in Captain Marvel Adventures from the mid-1940s through the title’s demise in late 1953. Though the overwheming majority of the stories were pedestrian in tenor — written so CMA could meet the USPS’s qualifications for second-class bulk postage — there are occasional nuggets of (unintended) entertainment to be found within them.
Lt. Jarl’s abrupt termination from the Space Police has nothing to do with a falling Space Stock Market or Neptunian outsourcing, and everything to do with Jon’s unique attitude towards proper Space Police procedure. What begins as a simple prisoner transport mission…
…becomes an unequivocal demonstration of Jarl’s intellectual limitations when the notorious Planet Pete (no relation to Planet Rock) coldcocks the gullible and easily distracted lieutenant and makes a clean getaway in Jarl’s patrol ship.
While Jarl certainly is stupider than a bag of moon-rocks, one must also consider that all humanity’s knowlege regarding puerile ruses — along with the complete works of both Shakespeare and Nicolette Larson — was lost during the Great Disaster of 2017. The Space Police Chief, who has suffered many a Uranian ulcer while trying to explain Jarl’s loose laser-cannon antics to the Space Commissioner, refuses to look at the bigger picture and asks Jon to turn in his neutronium badge and disintegrator pistol.
Jon doesn’t take the termination well, and descends into a space-a-holic daze…
…but manages to retain enough presence of mind to sign on with the Saturn Mines Corporation. Jarl’s hard labor sojurn in Callisto’s “Frozen Pit of Hell” is brief, however, as the ex-cop’s willingness to rough up union organizers and rat out shirkers (“Those pinkos in Hab-Pod 4 are bitching about unsafe working conditions again. I’d halve their oxygen rations if I were you.”) puts him in good graces with the management.
Jarl is given a raise and a plum assignment as the pilot of the armored fast transport vessel which carries the mine’s haul of gems to the corporate headquarters on Earth. The job is a straighforward milk run, as the supercharged craft is more than capable of outrunning any other vessel, civilian or otherwise.
Jarl being Jarl, though, he still manages to screw things up when he pulls to the shoulder of the spacelane at the behest of an unexpected Space Police cruiser. The cruiser turns out to be Jarl’s (“Gee, those call letters seem really familiar. Oh, well, I’ll worry about that later.”) and the “officer” none other than Planet Pete. The wily space-bandit has been putting Jarl’s stolen ship and spare uniform to good use facilitating an unparalleled inner-system crime spree, and revels in the irony of scamming the former patrolman a second time.
The fires of indignity kickstart Jarl’s normally slow-grinding mental gears into action, enabling him to come up with a transparent yet effective ruse of his own…
Planet Pete is subdued, and the trumphant Jon makes plans to exploit the Space Police Force’s scandalously lenient reinstatement policy. (“The important fact is that you made good, Lieutenant, not all the innocent civilians Planet Pete robbed and murdered with the police property he swiped from you.”)
“But, Officer Jarl, I really need to pee!”
“Hmmm. Okay, Pete, I’ll take off the cuffs — but no funny business.”
“Space-Scouts’ honor! Hey…do you think it’s possible to cave in a space cop’s skull with one of these space-coffee mugs? Hypothetically speaking, of course. Look! A shooting star!”
Recommended Listening: Lionsclub – Fireball XL-5 (from TV and Movie Themes, Ska and Rocksteady Style, 2003) – In which the theme of an old British Supermarionation show is reimagined as Jamaican bluebeat by a German ska band. Welcome to the Global Village, cats and kittens. I hope you survive the experience.