The final page of the illustrated Trotsky anecdote from Deutscher’s famous biography. There’s really no punchline. I guess Deutscher was trying to give the idea of future doom while giving rational reasons for Trotsky’s “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”-reaction to Stalin’s grumpy appearance. He writes:
The rough growl with which he had met Trotsky came as if from the depth of the Russian log cabin. (The Prophet Armed, Oxford University Press 1954, p. 210)
The anecdote may also be a bit difficult to decipher without insight into the split between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks within the Russian Social Democrat Party in the pre-revolutionary decades. Trotsky and Lenin didn’t spare each other in debates, and Stalin would use these remarks later to prove Trotsky’s disloyalty. Obviously this comic gives the impression of Stalin as a man of (violent) action, while Trotsky … I guess my answer to Deutscher’s mystery (why did Trotsky save this scene for so long in his memories, yet why didn’t he retell it earlier?) is that Comrade Lev Davidovich was too busy doing his thing too, you know, revolution and all that, that he didn’t spend much thought on the people whose toes he stepped on.
But I’m not even half-way through the first volume of Deutscher’s trilogy, so I might be surprised. And when other interesting scenes crop up, perhaps more comics will happen, too!