Part VI, Chapters 1–6

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Last Updated on March 16, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1248

Chapter One 

It is now the early 1950s and Sammy, Rosa and their son, Tommy, are living in a nice house in Bloomtown, bought with the last of Sammy’s Empire Comics money. Sammy has made a series of poor investments, including a flat for his mother in which she soon died and which he sold at a loss. Rosa draws romance comics, and Sammy edits other artist’s comics. 

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Tommy is now twelve and beginning to be handsome. He is very tall and has taken to wearing an eyepatch, a habit that both Sammy and Rosa dislike. Sammy asks Tommy to promise him he isn’t planning to sneak into the city rather than going to school. Sammy is beginning to feel disconnected from his son; he is unable to handle him any more. He tells Tommy that he will walk him to school.

Chapter Two 

A group of men who work in the comic business, including Julie Glovsky, are discussing a book which has just been published about the negative impact of comics on children. They also discuss a letter in the paper from a man who calls himself the Escapist and has threatened to jump off the Empire State Building. They wonder whether it might be Joe.

They go on to discuss Sammy. Sammy has tried other things, such as advertising, and aspires to be an “epic novelist,” but ultimately he has returned to the comics business to work for the publisher Gold Star.

When Sammy arrives at Gold Star, his colleagues ask if he’s seen the news and whether he believes the self-proclaimed Escapist might be Joe. Sammy says it can’t be true. He remarks that whoever it is will need a costume. He takes Julie with him up to his office, where he has a box in which Bacon’s Escapist costume was once stored. However, in the box there is only a calling card from “the League of the Golden Key.” Sammy has seen such cards before and knows it must be from Joe.

Chapter Three 

A detective named Lieber arrives to speak to Sammy about Joe. Sammy explains that his mother received a letter to say that Joe was leaving Guantanamo Bay for Virginia, but when the ship arrived, Joe was not on it—he had escaped. Sammy tells the detective that all of Joe’s family is dead and that he was trained as an escape artist in Europe.

Sammy’s father-in-law, Longman Harkoo, arrives. He says, “He’s afraid you'll be angry with him,” and Sammy thinks Longman is talking about Joe and suspects that he has seen Joe recently. However, Longman is actually talking about Tommy, whom he has brought with him. Tommy escaped his homeroom, which Sammy escorted him to, and went to his grandfather’s house.

Chapter Four 

Several hundred people are gathered around the Empire State Building, hoping to see the jumper. Joe’s name has been mentioned widely by this point. By five-thirty, however, when nobody has appeared, Lieber says he is beginning to think it is a hoax. He asks Sammy (who is present with Tommy) whether anyone knows the story about how much money Kavalier and Clay were “cheated” out of by Anapol. Anapol, who has just shown up to see the event, resents this. He says it is character assassination that people have been talking about this without proper knowledge of the contracts involved.

Lieber winks at Tommy and is surprised to see him turn pale. He thinks this indicates guilt and says to Tommy that he hears he’s been skipping school. Sammy says that Tommy has been forging letters from his mother to excuse his absences, and the detective asks to see an example.

Having seen the example, Lieber explains that typewriters have “fingerprints” of their own and that this letter matches the one sent to the Herald-Tribune from the supposed Escapist. The hoax was orchestrated by Tommy.

Sammy realizes he is disappointed that Joe hasn’t really come back, but Tommy interjects that Joe has, insisting that he is...

(The entire section contains 1248 words.)

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Part V, Chapters 1–7


Part VI, Chapters 7–13