Circus of Mankind

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Circus of Mankind Writer(s): Clayton Kinnelon Greiman
Artist(s): Ozzy Longoria
Publishers: On the web.
Price: Twisted

The creators claim that this comic exists as a web comic because it is too controversial for any publishers to handle. A dramatic claim and one that does arouse reader interest, after all there is a long and proud tradition of controversial comics , so why should this one be any different?

The background to the story is as follows; the United States has dropped a bomb that has the Continent-wide effect of branding anyone genetically predisposed to super powers with a '666' on their foreheads. The strongest heroes and villains are hunted down and exterminated, while the weakest are placed in travelling concentrations camps. Each 'circus', led by a super-powered turncoat, travels to varying military bases, where the soldiers rape, maim, and degrade those branded with the 'mark of the beast'. This is the tale of the Circus of Mankind.

The opening page certainly makes it clear that this is a political and hard hitting comic with a crucified Christ superimposed over the fluttering stars and stripes. The symbolism is hardly subtle but it does clearly establish the comic’s intentions. As much of what follows is heavily allegorical this blatant and strident use of symbolism early on is not inappropriate. This is a hard hitting critique of contemporary USA but I would dispute the claim that it is too hot to be handled by a publisher. I feel that it would be far more effective in hard copy format as on the screen it does appear as a series of scanned pages created for hard publication rather than an entity created specifically to be read on a computer.

The fact that it is totally black and white reinforces this feeling. I wonder why the creators decided not to use carefully chosen colour since the cost of colour is not an issue on the web whereas it is when publishing traditional comics.

The art work though is great. The care taken with page design and overall effect is commendable. The introductory page has numerous frames but from then on the creators seem to be content with creating a feeling of space by having pages that often consist of one or two frames. The variation is font size can be a little disconcerting at times but overall visually this web comic works well.

Initially this is a tale of human debasement, using the vehicle of the circus freak show to make a point about man’s inhumanity to anyone who is different or weak and able to be abused by a bully. In this case the bully is a Fagan come Rasputin figure, the circus master. This debasement is cruel and stark.

About Page 10 though, just as I was feeling that I knew what was going on, things go a little crazy with the arrival of a super hero character called the ‘Spirit of America’ and the Son of God pops in as well. The two of them slug it out. A conflict that inspires one of the weakest lines I have read in a comic for some time, namely, “Put Jesus down.” Then again just as I was thinking that this overt symbolism was just getting farcical the story twists again.

Now I can’t say too much from here on in as it would destroy it for any reader but rest assured the twist is effective and leads to the very unsettling conclusion.

I was all ready to dismiss this as a heavy handed allegorical political rant but that was what the creators wanted me to think, they sucked me in to make the final twist effective and unsettling.

In a Word: Twisted.

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