Panels from "Hilarious Harold" in World's Finest Comics #31 (November-December 1947), script by Joe Samachson (?), pencils and inks by William F. White
Because much like a circus elephant or the Psycho-Pirate, Zatara never forgets...to completely escalate his payback beyond all human reason.
So, okay. Looks like Harold had that one comin', and once they managed to get Harold's ear out of the shark's gullet, everybody had a good larf over the whole thing and Zatara gave them all tickets to his latest show at the Metropolis Metropolitan. The shark got to sit right next to Harold!
However, if we know Zatara (and boy, do we know Zatara!), that ain't gonna be the end of it. No no no no.
Now, I'm not excusing Harold's behavior, but hey, the left-handed monkey wrench is the oldest joke in the book. So that office boy shoulda known that monkey wrenches only come in right-handed models. The noive of him! Still, it's all in good fun, even if everyone loathes the boss and spits in his coffee cup when he's out of his office. But, as I'm sure we're all asking, has Zatara finished being a jerk in this story? No. No, he has not.
You'd think that Happy Harold would have learned his lesson by now, but nooooooo. You do realize that the next practical joke you play will be met with Zatara killing you, right, Harold?
Then Zatara arrives with a giant noose so Harold can put himself out of his misery. Oh, no, wait...it's actually a giant skyhook. Say, what's that thing attached to? A giant turtle, maybe? But what's the turtle hanging from? Why, another, larger turtle. And what is that turtle hanging from? Awwww, you can't fool me. It's turtles all the way up.
Then Zatara sets Harold on fire and drowns him. Then, as the night began to fall, a hungry lion paid a call. He looked Harold right in the eye, and asked him if he'd like to die. Harold said, "What is this thing? Some kind of album by Carole King?" So the lion ate Harold.
What have we learned from this? That Zatara doesn't like practical jokes and he can be a real jerk about them. We all know that when Zatanna was a teenager, she played a practical joke on her dad by swapping his coffee beans for Folger's Crystals. In revenge Zatara set Zatanna up on a blind date with John Constantine. Man, that's stone cold.
So let that be a lesson to you, kids! No practical jokes! And now, to fulfill Stuffed Animal Comics Bloggers Local No. 321's new union law that all posts must have some sort of education content at the end, here's the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise to warn all of you about practical jokes. Take it away, Kirk and Spock and Mister Sulu! ("Oh, yes!")
And that's one to grow on!