Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Twenty-One – “Triumph in Tropica”

“Triumph in Tropica” was the twenty-first installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally published between February 13 and August 13, 1944, “Triumph in Tropica” marked the transition from Alex Raymond to Austin Briggs as artist for the strip.

The storyline picks up where the preceding installment, “Battle for Tropica” left off with Flash and Dale entering the capitol with Tartara and her son, Timor. The cowardly Timor turns Flash and Dale in to the secret police. A gunfight ensues ending in Timor’s death. Flash, Dale, and Tartara manage to elude the police with the aid of Trico, the beggar who poses as a half-blind cripple.

Trico hides the fugitive in his home and when the secret police arrive, searching all the houses in the neighborhood, he serves them poisoned brandy. Flash and Trico disguise themselves in the uniform of the secret police and, along with Tartara and Dale, they follow Trico to Tropica’s hidden criminal underworld from a secret passage built beneath his home. Tartara is reluctant to trust the lowlife criminals. Gypsa, an exotic dancer who is the most desired woman in Tropica’s underworld, performs a wild Saraband dance with Flash. The revelry abruptly finishes when Brazor interrupts with a special broadcast announcing that Desira will be executed for treason the next day.

Flash spurns Gypsa’s advances leading her to secretly swear to even the score with him. Meantime, Flash and Trico drive a stolen police car packed with explosives into the munitions dump, diving for safety just before impact. In the chaos surrounding the explosion, Flash and Trico enter the Tropican Broadcasting building and inform the program director that the secret police have an emergency broadcast concerning the explosion. As Flash goes live on the air, he reveals his identity and tells Brazor he cannot halt the March of Freedom and demands the usurper abdicate. Enraged, Brazor orders the radio station surrounded.


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