Barry O`Neil`s long running series moves from2 page stories in More Fun Comics to four to six page stories in New Adventure Comics with issue 31, October 1938, which also happens to be part 30 of the serial he is involved in.
Yes, part 30. Barry has spent his entire run so far battling the Yellow Peril, as personified by Fang Gow. I`m not really going to attempt an in-depth summary of the story so far. Suffice it to say Barry`s adventures have spanned Asia and Europe, and brought him romance in the form of ever-kidnapped Jean, and friendship with he father, the French Inspector Le Grand.
Fang Gow is finally defeated and left for dead in Adventure Comics 37, though the reader gets to see that he is still alive, though needing major surgery.
Barry heads back to Paris with Le Grand and Jean, and issue 38 jumps to six months later, when one of Le Grand’s military friends has apparently committed suicide. Barry takes only two issues to deduce that the man was murdered at the orders of spymaster Count Duniff, who he tracks down and kills.
Issues 40 – 43 see Barry head to Tunisia to stop a plot by another spy, Krull, to destroy the French fleet.
Fang Gow returns in issue 44, now perfectly healthy but being held in a French prison. How he got there from an operating table in Port Said is never explained. He escapes from prison, devises a formula for turning humans into wax, and launches a scheme to smuggle French criminals into the US by turning them into wax and shipping them as pieces of art. Barry discovers and dispatches this plan in one issue, and kills Fang Gow at the end, though in issue 45 Fang Gow is dug up from his grave and revived by his men, and then kidnaps Jean, for old times sake.
Barry O`Neil‘s series continues, but now is all one-issue tales. Fang Gow remains the major villain, almost the only villain, but never approaches the degree of menace that he was during the longer serials. Far from it, he becomes almost a ridiculous figure, as in story after story Barry and Le Grand quickly end his plots and plans.
With issue 47, Barry and Le Grand are recruited to French Intelligence, and clearly excel at it, as in the very next issue they are called the “ace spy-smashing team of French Intelligence.” Of course, their missions are always related to Fang Gow, who is apparently a bigger threat to France than Nazi Germany.
Fang Gow’s plans range from messing up the food rationing system, to mind controlling Jean to kill Barry, to devising a formula that will shrink people. He falls for a ridiculous ploy, being “hired” by undercover French Intelligence operatives to kill Barry, as a plot to capture Fang Gow. Why they simply don’t take him into custody when they meet with him is beyond me. We meet Fang Gow’s daughter in issue 53, though she is never given a name.
With issue 55 Barry and Le Grand relocate to French Guyana. The reason is not given, but the fall of France to the Nazis in the spring of 1940 is clearly behind it. Curiously, Jean does not come with them. She does not appear again, nor is she ever mentioned. It’s hard to believe Le Grand would have casually abandoned his daughter to the Nazi occupation, so I fear that Jean must have been killed suring it.
Fang Gow heads to French Guyana as well, creating giants, using a special sub to sink allied ships, and plotting to free all the prisoners from Devil’s Island. This last plot backfires big time, as Fang Gow winds up imprisoned there himself.
In issue 58, Barry and Le Grand sail to England with Fang Gow in custody. Fang Gow plots to kill himself, then be revived by a sea burial, but this backfired on him as well when his coffin hits an undersea mine and explodes, finally putting an end to this menace. Barry comments that he “will miss him,” and as overdone as his appearances became, once Fang Gow is gone, the series loses its purpose.
In 59 Barry and Le Grand sail to the US, and solver murder and diamond theft on the way, then in Adventure Comics 60, March 1941, Barry learns that a wealthy uncle died leaving him everything, including the deciding votes on unifying the New York subway system. Barry escapes death at the hands of those who want to keep the subways private, and his long run ends with the formation of the public subway system.
Barry was now extremely wealthy, and on the board of the new subway, so I expect he settled down in New York City at this point.
Barry O’Neil lasted longer than any other series that began in New Fun #1, but ended as a pale shadow of what it was.