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Mystery Tales No. 40

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Mysterytales
Mystery Tales #40 cover seen in "Cabin Fever"


Mystery Tales was a series of comic books published by Atlas Comics (now known as Marvel) from March 1952 to August 1957. It ran for 54 issues. Issue 40 was featured on Lost during the episode "Cabin Fever", while one of the short stories within the issue, March Has 32 Days, was also referenced in the Lost ARG Dharma Initiative Recruiting Project.

Short stories in the issue

  • "The Hidden Land!" (four pages)
  • "A Warning Voice!" (four pages)
  • "The Travelers" (two pages)
  • "Crossroads of Destiny!" (four pages) — features Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) and Italian navigator Christopher Columbus (1451–1506)
  • "Sammy's Secret!" (three pages)
  • "The Silent Stranger" (four pages)
  • "March Has 32 Days" (four pages)
  • "The Travelers" (two-page written short story)


References in Lost

Issue 40, cover dated April 1956 with the cover teaser "What was the secret of the mysterious 'HIDDEN LAND!'", was one of Richard's items presented to John Locke as a test in "Cabin Fever". Ultimately the five-year-old Locke did not choose the comic book as an item that already belonged to him.

In the Lost ARG, Dharma Initiative Recruiting Project, the HTML source code of the first email from Octagon Global Recruiting contains the hidden comment "March has 32 days".

March Has 32 Days

March32
The first page of March Has 32 Days from Mystery Tales #40

The short story, referenced in the Lost ARG, has perhaps the most interesting comparisons with the show's narrative. The story is of John Billings, who fails to inspect a bridge on March 31 in order to say goodbye to his wife, Lisa, at the airport before she leaves on a flight to an unspecified location. Later that day the bridge collapses, and although no one is hurt, John feels guilty. John wishes he could live that day over again, although he laments that he would just wind up making the same decision again, anyway. Without explanation, he blacks out and wakes up to find that the date is still March 31. John is determined to inspect the bridge this time, but he is persuaded otherwise by a colleague who insists that the bridge has already been inspected and is safe. On his way to the airport, John realizes he's doing just what he feared he would, and drives to the bridge instead. There, he finds a structural flaw, and prevents the bridge's collapse. While John dismisses the experience as a dream, astronomers note with confusion that they have determined that this year, March had 32 days, "and we'll never know why!"

MarchP2
The numbers 42 and 8 appear on the second page of the 1956 story.

Connections to Lost

  • John Billings says goodbye to his wife at the airport at 11:15 AM, the same time that Sun had planned to make an excuse to leave Jin at the airport in Australia. ("House of the Rising Sun")
  • At the airport, the numbers 42 and 8 appear first on a list of flights posted on the wall. (The Numbers)
  • John Billings's trip through time parallels Desmond Hume's flashback in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" in which he re-lives the day of his break up with Penny, and laments that he thinks he's made a mistake, and that he thinks he's made it before, and then tries to change the past after vacillating. ("Flashes Before Your Eyes")
  • The unexplained changes in the way time passes in the story and in the rest of the world observed by the astronomers parallels the time distortion effect on the Island. (Time)
  • in "Whatever Happened, Happened", Hurley and Miles debate the question of whether or not going back in time would allow a time-traveler to change the outcome of events, just as John Billings struggles with the question of whether he'd be able to do anything differently if he had the chance to go back in time. ("Whatever Happened, Happened")

Trivia

General

The episode "Whatever Happened, Happened", which explores the central question of the story "March Has 32 Days," was first broadcast on April 1, 2009 (i.e., March 32).

John Billings

John Billings, the protagonist of the story, is also the name of a very well-known Australian doctor who developed a natural contraception method known as the Billings Ovulation Method. Dr. Billings's death on April 1, 2007 was significant enough to warrant a 500-word obituary in The New York Times.

There are many parallels between the real Dr. John Billings, the John Billings of the comic book story, and Lost, including the fact that Dr. Billings is Australian, that he is best known for his research regarding pregnancy, and that he died on April 1 (i.e., March 32).

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Mystery Tales No. 40/Theories
  • What is the significance of the comic book?
  • Why was "March has 32 days" embedded in the Octagon Global Recruiting email?

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