Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blogging Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon, Part Thirteen

“Space Circus” by Dan Barry was serialized by King Features Syndicate from September 5 to October 29, 1955. “Space Circus” is significant for being the first time in the Dan Barry strips where Flash’s past adventures on Mongo are now an integral part of the storyline. One wonders if reader response prompted King Features to request a change of direction from what would be considered a reboot today to a direct sequel to the original storyline of the early 1930s. “Space Circus” gets underway with Flash abducted by a flying saucer while out driving on a desert road late one night. Abduction by UFO was a relatively new concept in the 1950s, but one that was spreading rapidly as a fear that many shared during the Cold War era. The aliens are from the planet Mesmo and are depicted as Asian caricatures. While a number of the inhabitants of Mongo were Asian in appearance, they were traditionally portrayed as exotic and not as demeaning cartoonish representations. While there were certainly many more offensive Yellow Peril figures in comics of the era, the Mesmans are a far cry from the seductive and imposing inhabitants of Mongo as Alex Raymond portrayed them. Flash soon finds himself sold as a slave in the middle of a metropolitan city on Mesmo. He is purchased by The Great Barno, owner of the Interplanetary Spectacle. Flash finds communication with the telepathic, but seemingly mute Mesmans impossible. He is brutally punished during his training as a trapeze artist. At night in his cell, Flash befriends his fellow circus performers: Hukko, a captive Hawkman from Mongo; Dr. Manimo, a four-armed Anterran physicist; Groz, a captive from the tree kingdom of Primeva; and Hugar the strong man. The camaraderie between the captives helps make circus life bearable until the fateful night they are involved in an accidental train crash that derails the circus train and sends hurling off a bridge into the lagoon far below. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.

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