If you ever find yourself bored at work and looking to kill a couple of hours, there are far less entertaining things with which you could occupy your time than reading through a bunch of the “Paul Is Dead” clues.
For those of you who aren’t aware and are electing to waste your time with the ISB today, here’s the short version: Rumor has it that in 1966, Paul McCartney left a late recording session with the rest of the Beatles and, on his way home, stopped to give a lift to a girl who was walking through the rain. Once they’re back on the road, she realizes he’s Paul McCartney and flips out, which causes him to get into a pretty massive car accident, which ends with the car exploding and Paul getting decapitated. Pretty grisly stuff, right?
Well, here’s the weird part: Rather than letting this somewhat major setback derail the success of the Beatles, the other members of the band decided that a better idea would be to cover up the accident and replace Paul with a lookalike named–wait for it–Billy Shears. But, just so people wouldn’t be completely surprised when the news inevitably came out, they went ahead and hid clues for their devoted fans in their album art, lyrics and solo projects. But, since we’re forty-two years past it at this point, I think it’s safe to say that they could’ve been a little more obvious.
You can find out more about it–including all of the clues–at Officially Pronounced Dead, and seriously? It took me two hours to write up that summary because I got caught up in reading about the album art again. It’s addictive.
As for whether it’s true, well, while it’s nice to think that there’s no way that the same guy who wrote “Eleanor Rigby” could later go on to form Wings, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly just an exercise in how you can start from a conclusion and work backwards to find signs that lead to it (see also: Nostradamus). Besides, I know for a fact that Paul isn’t dead. And how do I know this?
Because Batman himself solved this case back in 1970 with Batman #222’s Dead–Until Proven Alive!
With a script by Frank Robbins and art by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, this one comes at you from the height of the Paul-Is-Dead craze–before it eventually died down and was then resurrected when people realized that the Internet was pretty much a worldwide network of conspiracy theorists–and while I know it’s already been covered elsewhere at least once, it’s worth getting into again for the opening scene alone:
That, my friends, is Robin slowing down a record and playing it backwards to listen for hidden messages, and while that is awesome, I dream of a world where this story came out fifteen years later and involved the Boy Wonder and a copy of British Steel. Seriously, guys: Batman taking on the PMRC would be fantastic.
But back to the record at hand: With the revelation of another “clue” on the latest record by The Oliver Twists that points to the death and replacement of one of their members, Saul Cartwright, Robin decides that he’s going to get to the bottom of this once and for all. Lucky for him, then, that the Twists are on their way to a gig in Gotham City at that very moment and–even more coincidentally–that Bruce Wayne is a major shareholder in their record label.
Needless to say, this is a pretty handy turn of events, and Bruce is able to convince and/or strongarm the band into crashing at Wayne Manor during their stay in Gotham. Thus, we are finally introduced to the Twist in question. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Saul Cartwright:
You know, just looking at this picture here, I’m not sure if Saul’s dead… but he’s definitely a Dracula.
Anyway, once Saul and the rest of his crüe arrive at Wayne Manor and explain the situation…
…Bruce and Dick decide that the best course of action here would be to ruthlessly investigate Saul, because, you know, there was nothing else going on that would benefit from the application of their crimefighting skills. Turns out June’s a pretty slow month for thematic crime. Who knew?
Thus, the game is afoot, and after bugging the chandelier fails to give them a good sample of Saul’s voice–because they only have recordings of him singing to compare them to–Robin settles on stealing his “mini-recorder” while he’s asleep and using it to check things out.
So, to review: In order to essentially satisfy his own curiosity, Robin is going to put on a mask, break into Saul’s room, steal one of his valued possessions and use it for his own purposes. I doubt I’m going to win any prizes for hospitality or anything–I won’t even let anyone else have Player 1 when my friends come over for Smash Bros.–but at least I’ve never committed B&E on a houseguest.
Incidentally, this being 1970, the “mini-recorder” in question is about the size of a phone book and looks to weigh about six pounds, as Robin finds out when his adventure into burglary goes awry:
With Robin bludgeoned so hard that it knocks the color out of his costume and casually tossed down the stairs, I think it’s safe to say that this plan meets with a solid failure, as does their second attempt, which involves faking Alfred’s birthday to get him to sing.
So clearly, the time for subtlety has passed, and this can only be settled in the way all questions are answered on the ISB:
Yes, when a late-night visit to a recording studio–which our heroes plan on busting into so they can do more stealing–turns out to be a setup, DG and the Bat hand out some harsh justice to a gang of freelance thugs, then run the recording of the phone call reserving the studio by another recording of Saul to prove that he’s the one that arranged the hit.
But, here’s the thing: It wasn’t Saul at all, but the ersatz John Lennon who arranged the hit! And after Robin lays him out like a Sunday picnic…
…we finally start to get some answers:
Yes, in a shocking Oliver Plot Twist, Saul’s the only one who isn’t dead, having planted the “clues” himself to throw suspicion off his three ringers. But alas, Chumley got too greedy, and instead of imagining no possessions, he decided to ensure the income would keep flowing.
But, with Batman chiding the group for their dishonesty–which has the handy side-effect of diverting attention from the fact that he’s hanging out in Bruce Wayne’s house and sending his sidekick to ransack their rooms–they decide to come clean with the fans, throw Chumley in jail, and try their hands at a new act.
And out of all the craziness in the issue, that’s the bit that really sticks out.
I mean really: A fight between “John” and “Paul” that leads to the breakup of the band? Only in comics, folks.