Barnum!: In Secret Service to the USA Paperback – Jan 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Who knew that amid the bearded lady, the wolf boy and the human fly at Barnum and Bailey's circus, there was also a secret agent? After P.T. Barnum saves President Grover Cleveland's life, he becomes the president's newest agent to help thwart an attempt to destroy the Union. Aided by Span the human fly, diminutive powerhouse Colonel Dyna-Mite, Hypnosia the mesmerist, Plastino the rubber man, Primeva the animal mistress and Siamese twins Chang and Eng, Barnum hopes to defeat the evil Nikola Tesla. The traveling sideshow may be America's last hope. Barnum's set-up is the perfect guise to gather information from across the United States and keep tabs on Tesla and his diabolical plans. Circus folk are often depicted as criminals and other undesirables, but in this tale writers Chaykin and Tischman delightfully turn the tables and put the freaks on the same side as the law where they can use their skills of deception and illusion to gain information against Tesla. Also fitting are the illustrations, akin to old Civil War posters or hand-drawn pictures. Henrichon fills each page with a classic art style that is a nod to history. Whereas Chaykin and Tischman have an ear for 19th-century dialogue, Henrichon has a hand in believable renderings of not just the characters, but their dress and environment. This handsome edition will delight enthusiasts of the circus, comics or American history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, I was disappointed that the plot provided poor development and relied heavily on deus ex machina rather than real bravado, deep characterization or clever writing. Much of the story seemed cheesy and hackneyed to me, relying on cheap jokes, pithy, uninteresting dialogue and "surprise! we're not who we say we are!"-type plot twists. Even the Barnum character was not engaging, Chaykin relying, it seems to me, on the mystique engendered by circus personnel in the American consciousness to write the book for him, rather than diving in and getting to the heart of his heroes. Little of this story made sense (and it *should* make sense; anyone can write nonsensica, meanderingl plots), and overall I was left with a feeling that I could have spent my money better elsewhere, or that a much better story could have been made of all this. As for the art, it was passable, but I was unimpressed.
If your sense of history is lacking or your taste in comics isn't refined--or you're under the age of, let's say, 20--this book might meet your needs, but it's not really intended for adults who have a smattering of taste or who've experience comics that are much better. It's a poor man's LXG--and, as to that, if I were a poor man, I would probably save my money rather than throw it away on the plodding narrative of Barnum!: In Secret Service to the USA. It's too late for me, but you can save yourselves the time and money by taking a pass on this one.