We continue to look at Thriller, the out-of-continuity experimental comic that DC Comics produced in the early-mid 1980’s. Thriller #6 has a publishing date of May 1984 (a two month gap from the previous issue). Thriller is one of the more dense and oblique mainstream comics I have read, so this series is really me journalling my own attempts to understand it.
Read all about #5 here.
Salvo points a gun at someone off panel and says “Draw!” with a torn picture of Kane Creole in the background.
Kane Creole–Thriller’s Elvis Presley lookalike–is in prison, singing and snapping to himself. He is let out of prison and taken to meet Emil Peterson, the producer of “A-One and A-Two” (the move we saw advertised in the last issue.
By the way, the title “Down Time Part Six” is there on the bricks where Kane marks off his days in prison.
In a two spread of conversation over 20+ panels, we see Kane being taken to a car by Emil and Bud, who is apparently the film’s writer or director. He’s adapted Kane’s book, except for the last chapter where Kane murders his promoters. Because there was no rational motivation for the killings, they don’t exist artistically, says Bud.
This Kane is not the original. Indeed they say his life is meaningful because he’s the only man to ever successfully relive another man’s career. The original Creole is dead, by implication of what they are talking about. This Kane is coming out to do publicity for the movie based on his life.
This Kane is also not the one who was robbing the bank in the previous issue. That guy has been hired by the film studio to do publicity, which in this case involves pretending to rob another bank.
However, there is yet another Kane on hand who is shocked to hear this. This is Proxy, who sits in the front seat of the car disguised as Kane, and who has been hired as the lead actor for the movie. He is introduced as being part of a committee on crimefighting set up Edward Thriller.
Proxy is upset because Angeline Thriller foresaw the robbery, but not the fact that it was a stun, so the Seven Seconds are staking out the bank. Concerned, he seems to respond by climbing out the window of the moving car.
Phew! Like I said, all that happens in two pages!
Proxy jumps out of the car and steals a pencil from a blind salesman. Back in the car, Bud and Emil are surprised to realize that their Kane has also disappeared. Proxy tries to call someone, but nobody answers. I’m not sure what that has to do with the pencil he a moment ago.
A splashpage with all of the credits: “Robert Loren Fleming, Writer. Trevor Von Eeden, penciller. Dick Giordano, Inker. Tom Ziuko, Colorist. Phil Felix, Letterer. Alan Gold, Editor.”
A crowd is cheering for Kane Creole, whom a poster promises will appear “Live and in person”. A shadowy figure watches from high flagpole…presumably Salvo or one of the Kanes, I’m guessing? The title is on the page twice–once in a regular text box “A-One and A-Two”, but then also inserted as part of the marquis on the building wall, except here it says, “Thriller #6: “A-One and A-Two”
At the bank, various allies of Thriller are staking things out all over the place, all signalling each other. We see Dan, on line at the bank, gesture to White Satin, who winks at Marietta Salvotini. Marietta gives the thumbs up to Crackerjack, who is outside. He gestures to Edward Thriller on the street, who throws a lit match against Data’s car. Data raises his fist out the sunroof, and Salvo (presumably the shadowy guy from Page 5), pulls out his gun.
Salvo firres a flare into the air, which is seen by Proxy (still looking like Kane), who laments that he only has seven seconds to act, bu the’s almost hit by a car. He saves himself by a fancy jump.
Meanwhile, Kane from prison is being mugged by someone with a knife, but he also saves himself with a fancy jump.
Kane the bank robber enters the bank, and pulls out his guitar with a fancy jump.
All of these fancy jumps are shown simultaneously, basically.
Man, this is a visually dense comic so far!
Bank Robber Kane announces himself in the bank, and we see that the teller is Marjorie Wilkins again! She says, “You have got to be kidding me…”
Marietta approaches Kane and attempts to hypnotize him to sleep. He almost succumbs but recovers at the last moment, dodging White Satin’s attempt to zap him with her powers. She touches Marietta instead!
Marietta falls over, vomiting. White Satin freaks out, “Tony’s going to kill me!” Dan says “No, he’ll just give you a flesh wound,” and then starts mocking Salvo’s catch phrase.
Dan charges Kane, but Kane dodges him by firing a rope out of his guitar (!!) and ascending to the ceiling.
Kane climbs a staircase and is attacked by Crackerjack. Kane dives out a window, and Crackerjack lets go to save himself.
Kane uses his guitar-rope thing to nab a flagpole, but a helicopter suddenly shows up and cuts the line. Kane manages to rope the chopper instead, and climbs up to find himself face to face with Beaker Parrish.
Kane falls, but uses his rope device to nab another flagpole, saving himself. He lands amongst a throng of rabid fans. He manages to get away and run down an alley, only to find himself being chased by Data and his car, who is quite gleeful to be terrorizing the man.
Kane manages to duck under the car as it races over and past him. He uses his rope to attach to a big banner of himself, and fly upwards. He then comes down, pulling the banner over Data’s car.
Page 16 is illustrated sideways, and so particularly confusing.
It’s around here that I’m like, what is going on here? Is this going to be the whole issue?
Proxy (still as Kane) finally arrives, hopeing that White Satin is not injured for some reason. He passes Bank Robber Kane, and ends up falling afoul of the screaming throng of fans.
Bank Robber Kane wonders who Proxy Kane is, and almost doesn’t notice Dan approaching from behind him. He does, though, and shoots him with his guitar gun (presumably still firing a mild sedative). Dan is knocked backwards right into a giant pane of glass that some guys are carrying across the street! Maybe that wasn’t a cliche back then?
Incidentally, Bank Robber Kane mentions Postman and Peterson related to the movie. Peterson is the producer, so presumably the other creative guy is “Bud Postman”, the writer or director.
Bank Robber Kane runs off to look for his doppelganger, when Angeline Thriller appears to him in the shards of broken glass, demanding he give up. Kane runs away, freaking out.
Unfortunately, he runs straight into Salvo, who blows his guitar gun into shards, and yells out his catchphrase (“Only flesh wounds! Only out-patients!”)
Realizing that Tony won’t kill him, Bank Robber Kane charges him. Tony feels he has no choice but to shoot Kane’s belt off, causing his pants to fall down, causing him to trip and knock himself unconscious.
It turns out that Prisoner Kane is there as well. Salvo hands over Bank Robber Kane to him, complimenting him as he does so, and calling Prisoner Kane the other ones father.
Prisoner Kane is in confession with Beaker Parrish. They talk about the other Kane, and they are both clones of the original. Kane talks about his promoters, who wanted the success of Kane Creole. He went along with it but when he got too old, they wouldn’t drop it. Beaker says then they cloned him, and made the second Kane, and that’s why Kane murdered them. But Kane says that’s not it. He says, “It wasn’t until then that I knew I really was Kane Creole, not just an imitator. I had to murder them. They robbed my grave.”
The story ends abruptly there, as if that’s supposed to make sense, but it’s not clear to me. Is this actually the original Kane brought back to life? That’s what he seems to say, but with no explanation of how. If he just means that he’s a clone, then why does he call himself the real Kane Creole, and what happened that led him to actually discover something at that moment?
Whatever. Robert Loren Fleming only had one more issue that he wrote before he left the book over creative difficulties. I can’t help but to think if the guy knew his time on the book would be as short as it was, maybe this is not the sort of story he’d have focused on.
Oh well, the last panel promises something about Quo, who was there before Salvo.
The letter page–Filler– responds to numerous comments about the book, both positive and confused. Of note, one writer indicates he thinks Data is meant to be homosexual, and Robert Loren Fleming confirms that is the case, but that he didn’t know it until then–I assume he’s not serious about that last partm but who knows? In another response, Fleming mentions the father-daughter relationship between Moses Lusk and Molly Lusk…but I cant remember any such connection being made before. Indeed, I only remember Moses even being mentioned just once, back in Issue #2.
Finally, there’s a bit of a discussion about the “Go Back” sign from Issue #3. Fleming confirms that it was indeed there during Gardner Grove’s escape, but it wasn’t seen because the camera was off. It’s meant to be just a regular one-way sign, and Gardner turned around because he saw the road was one way. It’s not my preferred interpretation of that sequence (although it’s close), but it was what the writer said, so there you go.
Read on to #7 (soon!)