DC Serial Romance Story - Alex Toth's "20 Miles to Heartbreak" Part Three
Thanks for joining me today for the third installment of the Alex Toth/Vince Colletta rendered classic -- "20 Miles to Heartbreak!" Though the scans today come from the 1977 reprinting,* this particular episode first appeared in Secret Hearts #142 (March 1970). As you may remember, the second episode ended with quite the cliff-hanger involving a mysterious stranger showing up to the house of injured Melanie and her diabolical mother. It's been a while though, so be sure to catch up with part one here, and part two here!
Monica is greeted with a seriously chilly reception from mother. Not only does she refuse to look at her first born, the girls' mother goes on to accuse Monica of acting like "a cheap dimestore girl." Ouch!
During the awkward visit, the maid summons Mrs. Winters and her husband Roger.** Before leaving the sisters alone, Mrs. Winters is sure to remind Monica that she has gone to the devil. After the parting of the actual devil, the two sisters hug and weep in each other's arms. Monica wishes she could be in her mother's favor again, but reminds herself that "a mother's hate can be even stronger than mother's love!" Monica is out of the loop, so Melanie gets her up to speed on the latest occurrences, including her "alleged" abduction by Juan. Monica promises to help free Juan from jail and make the town bigots answer for their wrongs. Before Monica leaves, Melanie stops her to tell her the real reason she was running away in the first place -- her undying love for their stepfather, Roger. Monica just reassures her that she is going through a phase, and will soon grow out of it.
After their visit, Monica goes to visit Roger's brother, John. He is an attorney and Monica is there to ask him to help talk her mother out of taking Juan Ricco to court for the false abduction allegations. But John says it is too late -- he has already been hired by Mr. and Mrs. Winters as Melanie's lawyer against Juan. Monica is furious that John doesn't care about the pursuit of justice.
Monica then accuses John of being just as prejudiced as the rest of the town. He is quick to assault her character by bringing up the conditions of her leaving town years earlier -- and for that, he gets a swift slap across the face. And because for no other reason than this is a romance comic, her slap is met with his lips. But Monica is not impressed and leaves his office with a slam of the door.
The trial starts the next day. One of the primary witnesses is told to step down by lawyer John after her weak testimony -- she did not see anything that concretely indicates that Juan hurt Melanie in any way. Mrs. Winters is furious, but he tells her that they are there to see that justice is served. It looks like Monica's visit had some impact on John after all!
After hours of listening to various allegations and testimonies, the judge decides that Juan is not guilty and drops the charges against him. Melanie gives Juan a congratulatory hug and at the same time, Melanie's fiancé -- Bill, stomps off. The episode ends with Monica making her way to leave the courtroom and John beckoning her to stay for a moment.
What will happen next?! Will we finally find out why Monica was run out of town in the first place? What in the world could John want to tell her? What happens to Melanie and newly innocent Juan? Answers to all this and more -- next time, my friends!
*Scans for this installment are from the reprint issue, Young Love #124 (March 1977)
** For some unexplained reason, a few surnames of characters are altered in this issue from the previous two -- Mr. and Mrs. Bryan (the mother and stepfather) are changed to Mr. and Mrs. Winters, and Juan Perez becomes Juan Ricco. My only explanation is that either a time crunch affected the scriptwriter's memory, or that this third installment was written by someone other than Barbara Friedlander. Small mistakes, but no doubt the most observant of readers caught them!