Saturday, August 8, 2020

NERO WOLFE Comic Strip: The FINAL Sunday Adventure Solved by YOU!

Last week, I posted these first seven weeks of Wolfe's last comic strip adventure. The story is unfinished, and there was presumably ran at least one more week, but that final strip still eludes me. 

So I asked YOUR help to finish the story, by emailing me your ideas for the ending. My thanks to all those who answered the call. I'll let you read the story once again, and present everyone's submissions - including my own - down below. See you there!

Jan. 5, 1958

Jan. 12, 1958

Jan. 19, 1958

Jan. 26, 1958

Feb. 2, 1958

Feb. 9, 1958

Feb. 16, 1958

Okay, you've seen the build-up. Now, here's what our esteemed panel of experts came up with, from short to long, with my own humble effort riding drag . . . 


Doug Levin:

A giant lobster descends from outer space and eats all of the characters. THE END


El Vox:

Inpector Cramer and police arrive behind the gunman with weapons drawn. Wolfe tells him about the news lady and how she ratted him out. Wolfe also informs him that crime doesn't pay.


The Right Reverend Cap'n Bob Napier:

This will be short and sweet. Hannah is Mr. Big. She's the only character involved with the dope ring that isn't Wolfe, Archie, or the homicide squad. Mike the cop could be dirty, but I don't think he had the means to front a dope ring. 


Bruce Taylor:

Not all that much to work with here.....................but, in the final panel it will be revealed:

1. Headline Hanna is a man AND the head of the bad guys...

2. Wolfe, of course, figured all this out weeks ago and had Inspector Kramer and the police at the drop site...

3. "Hanna" tries to escape and is stopped by Archie...

4. They all return to W 34th Street for a fine meal with Wolfe complaining about the lack of a specific spice in the entree and Archie upset because they are out of milk.



Art Scott, The Emperor of the Universe:


As the man with the gun walked through the door, pointing an automatic at Wolfe and Archie, Archie blurted, “Rowcliff?”, and Wolfe added an emphatic, “Pfui!”. Keeping them covered, Lieutenant George Rowcliff of Homicide South launched into a classic Master Villain Before-I-Kill-You diatribe. He had grown increasingly bitter toward the NYPD, apparently stuck in his current job with no hope of advancement, since Inspector Cramer was so well established in the top job at Homicide (“…as long as he has Nero Wolfe in his pocket to solve the tough ones”). So, he decided to become a bent cop and make serious money at it. He had a buddy in Narcotics who liked to gossip about their activities and thus he had inside info on where police were setting traps and planning raids. He put together a heroin smuggling and distribution network, but was careful to keep his identity a secret from his minions. “Poppyseed” Burns was one of his mules, who somehow found out the boss’s identity. Burns decided to get out, but Rowcliff got wind of his plan to defect and ordered his execution.

While Rowcliff was going on with his oration, working himself up to pulling the trigger, Wolfe had, with subtle facial cues and hand gestures, signaled Archie to “distract him.” As Rowcliff was winding up, Archie began quietly mimicking him, repeating his words in a whiny voice and beginning to stutter. At that point, Rowcliff turned beet red, started to stutter himself, and turned toward Archie. At that moment, Wolfe reached into his coat pocket, pulled out his favorite beer bottle opener, and threw it at Rowcliff’s head. Whereupon Archie dove at the dazed Rowcliff, knocked the gun out of his hand, and delivered a crunching and very satisfactory knockout punch to the jaw.

Wrapping things up with Inspector Cramer afterwards, Cramer had one question: “Why the hell were you carrying around your bottle opener?” Wolfe replied, “For the last 15 months I have had case after case where I had to leave my home and flit around like a hummingbird. It’s preposterous how peripatetic my activities have been; I might have been the cartoon character Dazzle Dan. Since I was forced to take my refreshment willy-nilly, on the fly as it were, I could at least carry with me the bottle opener I customarily use at my desk. I have my routines and talismans*, as you know, Mr. Cramer. It’s just as well that I had my favorite tool with me, since it is gold and therefore heavy, and it made an excellent missile.”

[Footnote: * The correct plural, not “talismen”; I checked, in Webster’s 2nd, not – God forbid – Webster’s 3rd .]



Admittedly, this is NOT one of the better Sunday storylines. There seems to be no mystery about who committed the murder, no question that the victim is truly dead, and found no clues giving Wolfe anything to hang a solution on. But bearing in mind that the writer here, Ed Herron, was NOT Rex Stout, I figured the ending didn't have to be great. So my guess is it was merely adequate . . . .

As the mystery man (who has just made his appearance) threatens our heroes with a gun, Hannah the newsstand lady pulls a gat and shoots him dead. As she awaits praise for saving their lives, Wolfe yanks off her wig, exposing her as a man. "The true leader of this drug-running gang was you," he tells her, "and when you saw it falling apart, you chose to pin the blame on your associate. But he suspected just such a double-cross, and placed a dummy behind the curtain." As Hannah prepares to answer with bullets, Archie smacks him/her on the chin and wrestles the gun away. Wolfe asks Archie to call Inspector Cramer, and the two make their final bow in the Sunday funnies.


So that's the crop. Which do you like best? Me, I'm going with Art or Bruce. Hopefully that final strip will turn up someday, and we'll see what Ed Herron did with it. 

Next Saturday: "Born'd on a mountain top in Tennessee." Geez, who could that be?


Clark said...

I dunno. If the mastermind is Hannah, why is she complaining about shadows and mysterious characters in the January 26th strip? She's alone, so she isn't trying to fool anyone with her allusions. And why would her "associate" be behind a curtain when she talks to him? If she's behind it all, she'd already know who he is. I think I'm going to have to go with the giant lobster theory.

Evan Lewis said...

You're absolutely right. Giant lobsters it is.

Cap'n Bob said...

Is West 34th St. Bruce's typo or yours?

Evan Lewis said...

That would be telling.

Sumit said...

Thanks a lot for these rare comics. I was searching for this strip for a long time. Any chance of getting the Perry Mason strip by Earle Stanley Gardner?