Gosh, thanks, Mister Holmes, for taking time out of your busy crime-fighting, snake-squashing day to help me with this post.
Yes, folks, today's subject is the ever-popular locked room mystery: a mysterious set of circumstances in which something impossible happens in a room in which it could not have possibly have happened! (Hence, "impossible.") It could be as complicated as a murder or as simple as who ate all the Oreos...altho' in that last case, that's usually me. Sorry!
Take, for instance, the problem of The Mysterious Room with the Destroyer Armor. Ah, yes, a most baffling case. (puffs on my bubble pipe) I remember, it was back in the Spring of 1968, altho' it seems like it was only yesterday that I was re-reading Essential Thor volume 3 and pondering one of my most baffling cases...
The Mighty Thor (who will not be appearing in this mystery, so cross him off your suspect list right now) has brought the defeated Destroyer armor to a New York City police precinct on the back lot of a Warner Brothers crime film starring Edward G. Robinson. Ah, if only it were an episode of the longest-running police procedural TV series on the air, Cop Rock, and then we could break for a little song right about now.
Suddenly...SANTA! Or, maybe just some generic mysterious bearded stranger who arrives and announces himself in mysterious proclamations with a voice of thunder. Well, that's good enough identification for the New York Police Department, why don't you go right in and play around with the evidence to a crime case, pal? And people wonder why supervillains are so prolific in New York City. Sheesh.
However, in that sort of coinkidink which only happens in comics books purely for sheer suspense and drama, the sergeant on duty learns that...that guy's not the expert from the museum! What gave you your first clue, flatfoot?
However, Santa's gone! He, and the Destroyer Armor, have disappeared without a trace from the room, and they didn't exit from the door they came in. Hotchy motchy! What the Sam Scratch is goin' on here?!? Oh, yeah, it's a locked room mystery. I forgot. (blush)
What's more, there's no window! No skylight! No trap door! No transporter pad! No lights, no phones, no motorcars! That guy is gone like Ambrose Bierce! (Look it up, kids.) Policemen rub their chins and pull their guns in bafflement! It's a mystery, all right! And police Lieutenant T.J. Hooker doesn't like mysteries...they give him a bellyache! (Also: chili peppers burn his gut.)
So, do you know whodunit? Or, more to the point, howdunit? You've seen all the hints! You have all the clues! If you were a member of the NYPD, Precinct 616, how would you solve this? ("Covering it up so I don't have to do the paperwork" is not an acceptable answer!)
Let's walk through the crime scene together, dear reader! First: carefully examine the mysterious visitor to the police station!
Hey, when you arrange the panels like that, it's almost like it's a newspaper comic strip, huh? Pretty cool! I'd certainly like to see a newspaper strip like this. And I think it would look...something like this! (Except shrunken down much, much smaller.)
Ahem. Well, anyway, check the color version above. Notice that Mr. Mysterious's coat loses its stripes between panels one and two and regains them in between two and three! What does this tell us? Why, it tells us that Vince Colletta is a lazy inker!
Well, there ya go. That solves the Case of the Disappearing Ink Lines! Oh, wait, we were working on another case, right? Huh. Well, let's put Colletta in the suspect file under crimes against Kirby and proceed with the case.
So, here you go: a mysterious man in a green suit. Well, who else do we know who's mysterious and wears green? That's right, Marvel-Maniacs...
Kang the Conquerer! Time-Traveller Extraordinaire! Quite possible Doctor Doom or Reed Richard's dad or maybe both and I think at one point he may have actually been Cosmic Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes! In any case, who else could have devised such a devious deed? But how...how did Kang manage the fiendish felony? How?
Well, let's take a look at the crime scene, both before...
Wait a minute...that's not the same room! The door now has a window and the table behind it has disappeared! That can only mean one thing...
Kang has traveled back in time and changed the blueprints of the police station so they've entered the wrong room!
Here's the proof: here's the original blueprints of the police station:
...and here's what the blueprints looked like after Kang went back in time to change them!
So there you go: an easily-solvable locked room mystery in which the solution, while challenging, is right in front of your face. So there you go...yet another case solved. What do you think of our police work, Thor?
Aw, geez, some people are never satisfied with the ending of a mystery story.
Play us off, Cop Rock!