Posts tagged ‘Larry Jordan’

Detective 137 – The Joker’s rebus crimes, and Air Wave ends

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A really awful cover for Detective 137 (July 1948), and the story inside is not much better, despite Dick Sprang art.

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The Joker decides to start sending rebus-type clues to his latest crimes.  The story begins with a nice cut-away of Wayne Manor, the cave and everything, which is copied from an issue of Batman.

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The rebus crimes story follows the same pattern as so many of the stories.  The one panel that stuck out for me was the one in which the Joker creates a rebus using a train of live circus animals.

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Air Wave`s series comes to an end with a really low-key adventure.  Larry Jordan helps a young lad buy a bicycle so that he can earn money delivering papers, but the houses along his route start getting burgled.

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Air Wave is devastated when he sees the boy break in to a house, but in fact its a thief in disguise, framing the delivery boy.

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This is the final appearance of Larry Jordan, and Air Wave, for decades.  The character of Air Wave would be revived in the late 70s, by Larry`s son Hal, in the pages of Green Lantern.  Larry Jordan himself , as well as Static, would not appear until the 80s, in a DC Comics Presents.

Detective 109 – The Joker builds a house, and Air Wave tells people how to vote

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Detective 109 (March 1946) has the Joker build a trap-laden house as his headquarters.

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The Joker kidnaps Robin, then leaves notes for Batman, leading him to the house.

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The traps are not as Joker-themed, or even dynamic, as one might expect/hope.  The staircase is the best, visually.

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For me, the big problem lies in that dumb bag Robin is trussed up in for the bulk of the story.  It looks silly, as opposed to threatening.  Not the best Joker outing anyway.

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Air Wave gets involved in politics in this story.  I think D.A.s are elected in the US (maybe only in some states), so it’s odd that Larry Jordan is running in the election in question.

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Instead, it’s the city’s mayoral campaign, and Jim Johnson is trying to run against the wealth, power and corruption of Boss Rainey.

Air Wave provides his own broadcasting abilities to Johnson, allowing him to speak to everyone in the district, but Rainey hears, and has his radio station jam the broadcast.

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So Air Wave uses his powers to broadcast directly into the voting booths!  He is ordering people to vote a certain way, while they are IN THE BOOTH.  That’s sooooo illegal.

And sure, Rainey’s men had him bound up at this point, and he was also asking the police to come and free him, but that’s beside the point.

Incidentally, neither Rainey’s men, nor the police, show any interest in unmasking Air Wave, even though the opportunity is there, when he is all tied up.

Detective 102 – The Joker steals a house, and Air Wave meets dancing mice

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I may have decided to skip the run of the mill tales, but as Detective 102 (Aug. 45) shows, I am including all the tales with the recurring villains, no matter how stupid.

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And that’s what this story is, no matter how much Dick Sprang’s art does to lift it.  The Joker lures a wealthy man away from his home, and then steals it.  The entire house.  Which apparently had no foundation, or connection to sewers or the water supply.

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Anyway, Batman gets on the Joker’s case, tracks him down, falls into a trap, escapes, wins, and brings the guy’s house back.

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The Air Wave story in this issue is quite odd.  There is a prisoner who communicates with a tame mouse, and a jailbreak that Larry Jordan gets wind of, so he returns to the prison that night as Air Wave.

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It gets kind of weird with the introduction of a performer with dancing mice, but that part of the story doesn’t really go anywhere.  Static shows up, but doesn’t do a lot.

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The art and writing on the Air Wave series are not the things I find grab me.  It’s the colouring.  It’s done so differently than any other series.  Makes me wish there were better tales being coloured.

Detective 93 – Batman goes sight-seeing, and Air Wave joins the mob

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Detective 93 (Nov. 44) has another interweaving plot, like “Destiny’s Auction.”  Bill Finger and Dick Sprang tell the story of a variety of people taking a sight-seeing bus tour of Gotham, who get trapped when a fleeing bandit hijacks the bus.

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A struggling actress and aspiring playwright find love, and inspiration, and two young boys who wants excitement get to help Batman and Robin take down the bad guys.

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Larry Jordan gets frustrated at the difficulty he is having obtaining a conviction against a mob boss, so he goes undercover, with his Air Wave equipment, to get proof.  That’s gotta be stretching the law.

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It’s funny, the story plays out as if something super hi tech is being used, but in fact it’s just a tracer in a clock.  In 1944, that was super hi tech.

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Static returns in this story, after killing and eating his rival, Mickey the cat.

Detective 89 – Batman exposes the Cavalier, Air Wave gets a cat, and the Crimson Avenger ends

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The Cavalier makes his third appearance in Detective 89, with Dick Sprang art.

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The story begins as we discover that the Cavalier is really Mortimer Drake, a wealthy Gothamite, who is a member of the same exclusive club as Bruce Wayne.  One of the club’s other members, Professor Hellstrom, talks about a new typewriter he has invented.  That night, the Cavalier attempts to steal it, though others do as well, and the Batman and Cavalier briefly work together to defeat the other thieves.

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Batman realizes that the Cavalier must be a member of the club.  Drake unwittingly confirms this by writing up a glowing bio of the Cavalier in the club’s “who’s who.”

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Scoping out the members, Bruce spots a chemical dye on Mortimer Drake’s hand, and then, as they fight, exposes his identity.  The Cavalier manages to escape again, and returns to the pages of Batman in a couple of months.

The notion of having one of Batman’s villains come from the same background, or belong to the same social circle, will be used again with a number of Batman villains over the years: Cat-Man, Black Mask and Hush, among others.

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Air Wave’s sidekick parrot Static had appeared in a number of stories, but was never an “always there” sidekick, like Robin or Sandy.  This story ignores his existence completely, as Larry Jordan winds up with a cat as his sidekick.  This guy loves animals.

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Air Wave is pursuing a crew of thieves, who seem to follow a mysterious man, Mickey.  Air Wave does some clever broadcasting with his equipment, sending the thieves voices through all sorts of metal objects to scare and disorient them.

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Mickey turns out to be a trained cat the hoods use in their thefts, but Air Wave first transfers his voice through the cat’s collar, confusing the thieves, and then sends electricity into the cat, which surprisingly does not kill the animal, but does take down the bad guys.

At the end of the story, Air Wave continues to send his voice through the cat’s collar, pretending they are having a conversation.  Larry needs a human friend.

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The Crimson Avenger’s series comes to an end with this issue.  he and Wing take on the Ghost Gang, who put pictures of empty interiors of banks in the windows of the banks they are robbing, to divert attention.  They make the mistake of sending challenging letters, bragging of their crimes to come, to the newspaper, which puts Lee on their trail.

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Although his series ends at this point, the Crimson Avenger and Wing continue to appear as members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics.

Detective 83 – Alfred takes a vacation, Spy ends, and Air Wave intercepts a flying bomb

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The Batman and Robin story in Detective 83 (Jan. 44) has a more complex plot than usual, dealing with a gang that hit a person with a car, take him to a fake hospital, and hypnotize the victim into robbing their own company.

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The issue is better known for it’s subplot dealing with Alfred, but it also features one of the earliest depictions of the Batcave, appearing somewhat as we think of it now.

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Alfred decides he is not of much use to Bruce and Dick being so overweight and out of shape, so he heads off to a health resort.

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Meanwhile, Batman gets knocked out and hypnotized by the gang, while Robin is held captive.  They are being trailed by a mysterious man.

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The man turns out to be Alfred, who manages to save the day.  He is now tall, thin, with a bit more hair and a moustache, but still good for a pratfall.

The previous Alfred would return occasionally, mostly in stories set in alternate realities, such as his appearance in Zero Hour.

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Spy comes to an end with this issue.  Bart investigates a native tribe.  Considering the way this series has been going for the past couple of years, with everyone from wrestlers to monkeys turning out to be Nazi agents, one almost expects the revelation that the natives are as well.

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The story also includes a preposterous scene in which Bart avoids being attacked by a mama bear by picking up and throwing her cub to another person.  Sorry, Bart, do that and you get eaten.

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So what becomes of Bart Regan, Spy, after this?  His character never appeared again.  I could send Bart off to the front lines, or behind them, at this point.  But he has Sally back home, and a nest of kids by now I’m sure, so I think Bart gets promoted at this point, reaching the higher levels of power in the O.S.S., and likely helps found the C.I.A. after the war.

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The Air Wave story in this issue introduces us to Larry Jordan’s nephew, Buddy.  He has a remote controlled airplane, which must have been very expensive, and totally cool, in 1943.

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The airplane gets stolen, and Air Wave makes the most of his suit’s abilities to monitor and send broadcasts, tracking the plane, discovering that it is bring fitted with a bomb, and messing up the bad guy’s plans.

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Detective 68 – Two-Face – part 2, evil Japanese in Boy Commandos, Air Wave gets promoted, and Slam Bradley reads Shakespeare

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The saga of Two-Face continues in this Finger/Kane/Robinson collaboration from Detective 68 (Oct. 42).  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of the story from issue 66, as if there had never been an issue 67.

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A policeman bursts in, interrupting Batman as he tries to talk Two-Face back to sanity.  Harvey flees, and continues his crime spree.  In this story, he goes after people who use doubles, such as a reclusive millionaire who uses a double to handle social functions.

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Harvey takes a break from this to attempt to re-unite with Gilda.  He pretends that his face has been cured, but is simply using make-up, and when it begins to run he goes berserk and attacks the make-up artist, whose son then seeks vengeance on Harvey as well.

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So it becomes quite a complicated story by the time it reaches an end, and Harvey is apprehended by Batman.  The saga is not quite done, though, and there is a third, and final, chapter to this within a year.

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A very anti-Japanese piece of propaganda in the Boy Commandos tale from this issue.  Simon and Kirby open the story at sea, as the Boy Commandos and Rip Carter survive their ship being bombed by Japanese fighters.

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The boys rescue a Japanese pilot, and together they all land on a Pacific island with really clued out natives. The pilot and the Boys then become rivals for the loyalty of the natives.

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While the pilot uses science to convince the natives he has magic powers, the Boys decide to put on a show instead.

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Broadway is not for them, and the natives side with the Japanese, until Rip shows up leading a rescue/assault.

The story closes with the edifying moral – the only good jap is a dead jap.  No grey areas here.

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Air Wave gets a promotion in this story.  While a mere two issues ago Larry Jordan became an assistant D.A., as of this story he is the District Attorney himself!  Quite the rapid rise for a clerk.

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For what must be his first case in his new position, he prosecutes an old childhood friend for murder.

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Only after he has obtained a conviction does Larry get into his Air Wave outfit, round up his parrot sidekick Static, and set out to find information that will clear his friend.

Although on the surface it would appear that Larry should have done this before bringing charges against the guy, on reflection we can see that Air Wave had a more elaborate plan in mind, proving to everyone that he is above corruption as a D.A. and willing to send his friend to prison.  Shame that an innocent man had to sit in prison while the scheme was in play.

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The Slam Bradley story in this issue, with art by Howard Sherman, has the hero and Shorty stumble across hoods using notes in margins of books to pass each other messages.  Their larger scheme is to rob a diamond exchange next to the book store.

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The reason I have included this story is that the criminals use, among other things, a Shakespeare play to write their notes in.  Many Slam Bradley stories from this period have him quoting Shakespeare.

This might seem like an unusual habit for a tough guy hero like Slam Bradley, but in fact it simply shows the influence of Raymond Chandler, whose tough guy hero, Phillip Marlowe, often quoted Shakespeare as well.

 

 

 

Detective 66 – Two-Face debuts, the Boy Commandos in Egypt, and Air Wave gets framed

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Two-Face makes his debut a Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson story in Detective 66 (Aug. 42).

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The story jumps right into his origin.  Harvey Kent (not Dent) is a crusading District Attorney, prosecuting Boss Moroni.  Moroni throws acid into his face while on the witness stand.  Harvey has a devoted fiancee, Gilda.

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Despite Gilda’s attempts to help him, Harvey runs off, scars a two-headed coin, and cuts his wardrobe to pieces as he becomes Two-Face.

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Two-Face decides everything with a flip of the coin.  In this story, and only this story, he also decides what to do with the take from his robberies with the coin, giving them to those in need when the coin comes up good.  Of course, giving away stolen money just means those that took it accepted stolen goods, and were all hauled off to prison, so that idea was quietly dropped.

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The story belongs almost entirely to Harvey, Batman and Robin only show up at the end.  It’s a great scene, as Two-Face is robbing a movie theatre, using a film clip of himself to command the audience, while at the same time he and Batman are fighting on the stage in front of the screen.

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The story ends with a genuine cliff-hanger.  Two-Face has Batman at gun point, but the coin lands on its edge.  The story continues, but not in the next issue.

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Simon and Kirby send the Boy Commandos to Egypt in this story.

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Just as the last story opened in the past, this one opens in the far future, as a mummy is brought back to life, and tells the story of his encounter with the Commandos during World War 2.

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It’s Egypt, so we are into desert, and tank warfare against the Germans, all stunningly illustrated by Kirby.

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Air Wave faces off against a gang that dress like Halloween ghosts, but are not racists or trying to be spooky.  So basically, they are just content to look stupid.

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They are pretty smart,in fact, and manage to frame Larry Jordan for murder, and he has to escape, and then prove his innocence as Air Wave.

The narration refers to Larry as an “assistant district attorney,” so he is moving up in the office.

Detective 64 – the execution of the Joker, the Boy Commandos debut, and Air Wave gets Static

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The Joker once again fails to get onto the cover with Detective 64 (June 1942).  Its a generic Batman and Robin picture, vaguely militaristic, with the airplane.  But I may just be reading that into it, as this is the first issue to be written after the attack on Pearl Harbour.

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson send the Joker to the electric chair in this tale.  The Joker turns himself in, and confesses to all his past crimes.  He gets sentenced to death, and executed.

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And that’s just the beginning of the story!  His men take his corpse and revive it, and he begins another spree.

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The Joker at least puts up a front, pretending to be honest.  Batman tries to have him executed again, but the sentence was carried out, and the Joker is no longer wanted for his past crimes.

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Of course Batman exposes him, and there is a battle, and the Joker appears to die.  We clearly see that he did survive.  The Joker appearing to die at the end is almost mandatory by this point.

But a real change did happen.  From this point on, the Joker does not kill, he is just a thief.   All the way until the 70s.

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The Boy Commandos debut, a Joe Simon and Jack Kirby series with no connection at all to the concept of “Detective.”  But is was great, so who cares?

With little in the way of explanation, Rip Carter, from the US army, has assembled a group of orphaned children and leads them into battle during World War 2.  Pierre Chavard, from France, Jan Haasen, from the Netherlands, Alfy Twidgett from England, as well as the stand-out character, Brooklyn.

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The main character in this first story is actually someone else entirely, a burned out Frenchman, Leon La Farge, who gets his spirits and fight back from the Boys, and becomes a major resistance fighter.

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The war scenes are vivid, but while the Commandos are involved, they are not focussed on.

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As the opening narration informs us, Batman, Green Arrow and the Crimson Avenger all have sidekicks, so clearly Air Wave needs one as well.

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And like all the other heroes, he gets a talking parrot as a sidekick.  Hmm, no, that’s not right.  The parrot is of use in this story, as it helps Air Wave prove his innocence after being framed for murder.

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Larry names the parrot Static, which is a great name for a sidekick for Air Wave, but not so great for the parrot of a law clerk.

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Detective 62 – the Joker goes vaudeville, Air Wave vs Mr. Mystery, and Slam Bradley goes to the fair

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson put together a tale in Detective 62 (April 1942) that likely was more fun when it came out.

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An aging comedian has died, and left clues to his fortune to a number of his comedian friends.  The way they are all introduced, in the long panel, indicates that they must have been based on real comics of the time, now forgotten.

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The Joker starts killing off the comedians and stealing their clues.  The Bat Signal, still new, gets a prominent place in the page it’s used on.

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The Joker has the opportunity to unmask Batman in this story, but chooses not to, so that the game will go on.  That same scene will play out many time over the decades.  This is also one of the last stories with a murderous Joker, until the 1970s.

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The splash page to the Air Wave story in this issue appears to be at least partly done after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, with the “America at War”  blurb along the side.  But I have no idea what to make of Uncle Sam pouring out a bag of money.  Neither the image nor the statement have anything at all to do with the story.

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Instead, Air Wave contends with Mr. Mystery, a gang leader who turns out to be the one-legged mayor of the city Larry Jordan lives in!

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Some very nice Howard Sherman art as Slam Bradley and Shorty head to a fair run by an old friend, who is being forced to use unionized clowns.

Yes, unionized clowns are the root of this story.

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As one might expect, the union bosses are all gangsters, but the clowns themselves turn out to be criminals as well.

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