Title text: Billy Joel briefly detained
In the United States and Canada, the term multiple-alarm fire are used to categorize the level of response to fires by local authorities, for instance how many units responded to the alarm. The range typically only goes through three levels: One-alarm fire, two-alarm fire, and three-alarm fire. The term may also be used to indicate a severe fire.
In the comic a newspaper front page is shown with its cover story reporting a fire at a level of 50,000-alarm fire, with a picture of a factory on fire. However this is not to indicate the severity of the fire but just because the fire is at an alarm factory with at least 50,000 alarms in it at the time of the fire. It is not noted that it is a fire-alarm factory, although that would make the most of the joke. It is, however, clear from the sound-waves in the image that several of the alarms have been set off, which could indicate that it was finished fire alarms that had been triggered by the fire. Though that need not to be 50,000 going off to make it a fire that burned 50,000 alarms. Also a fire could cause other types of alarms to go off due to heating and other defects caused by the fire. For instance car alarms (at least in the early days of such alarms) went off just because someone touched the cars).
Of course it could also be understood like the factory had 50,000 defective alarm units which all caught fire simultaneously (for instance during a large test). That would also make it 50,000 alarm fire.
The title text mentions the musician Billy Joel being detained briefly as a suspect for the fire. But he was quickly released, likely because he didn't start the fire, which is a reference to his song "We Didn't Start the Fire". In other words, Billy Joel's claim that he is not responsible for the fire at the alarm factory has been taken seriously enough for him to be released.
The incidence were Billy Joel got arrested for arson was earlier shown on a similar folded newspaper with only one line of text visible next to an image. This was in comic #4 of 821: Five-Minute Comics: Part 3.
This all fits together as the cover of the single is also a newspaper page with a picture of Billy Joel beneath a headline which is the title of the song. The column of text to the right of the picture is readable here. It is not easy to read it through as some of the text continues outside the image. (The text is a section of the lyrics for the song starting from "Richard Nixon" after the fourth chorus continuing in to the next chorus).
- [The comic shows the top part of the front page of folded a newspaper. There are several sections with unreadable text above the main headline, where the papers name, date of issue and other daily info would be. Centered below the large two line heading of the cover story there is a photo covering half of the pages width. In the photo a white factory, with one large and one smaller building, is on fire, with sound waves emanating to all sides. Large flames are coming out the top of both buildings and above them heavy black smoke make the sky black. Where there is no smoke the sky is white. A small black building to the right has not yet caught fire. On either side of the picture there are a column and below the picture there are two more columns. All four continues to the bottom of the visible part of the paper and consist of more unreadable text. These columns constitute the main body of text of the cover story. The only readable text on the paper is the headline which is:]
- 50,000-Alarm Fire
- at Alarm Factory
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