TRUE CRIME COMICS #3 (1947)
JACK COLE

WHO? but Jack Cole get away with such a bravura display of showmanship and excess in a tableau like this!? WHO? wouldn't want to read the "true" story of Benny Dickson, the killer whose body was tattooed by bullets to read: RAT! WHO? wrote the equally lurid and bizarre copy to this granddaddy of all Crime Comic covers? Who CARES? This is, simply put, one of the toughest, most ferocious pictures ever put on the cover of any comic book, bar none. The police are apparently shooting Dickson in the back (he is not carrying a weapon) no less than 44 times, while his moll returns fire in a bizarre sexual role-reversal. She is appropriately clad in red (mirroring the color of the logo) while the snarling action is framed in front of a eye-popping yellow background. Emblematic of the change in attitude toward crime in the 40's, the goodwill which famous outlaws like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde enjoyed during the 20's and early 30's had long since been used up; and while the publishers titillated readers with Crime series like this, they still adhered to the FBI motto: crime does not pay, and RATS will get it in the end.

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