Dusty Doyle, Circus Cyclone
Created by Emile C. Schumacher and Unknown Artist
Appears in Miracle Comics #1-2 (1940)
In discussing Duty Doyle, Circus Cyclone, it’s important to remember that this is not a story about a person. This is a story about a person’s unrelentingly suspicious series of convenient opportunities.
Dusty Doyle shows up at a nameless circus in the middle of nowhere, dressed in a full suit and looking for a job as an acrobat. He’s given a free ticket for watering the elephants, as the circus already has a trapeze act -- but not for long! No sooner does Dusty voice his disappointment at missing out on his dream gig than a terrible scream rings out -- the male half of the trapeze act has plummeted to his death! Well, lucky Dusty!
While the owner promptly offers Dusty the job previously held by a man who fell to his gory death right in front of Dusty’s affectless eyes, not everything immediately goes Dusty’s way. The surviving half of the trapeze act quits -- “No more chances for me!” she declares -- leaving Dusty without a partner. “Sorry son,” consoles the owner, unaware that Dusty’s mildest whims become gory plot points.
Pondering the question of where to find a partner, Dusty deliberates upon a stone bridge. To his surprise, from the river below, he hears the cries of the suicidal Elaine. He rescues her only to discover that she is jobless, despondent, and soaking wet. Over a warm fire, Elaine is convinced to become Dusty’s partner at the circus -- his suicidal, untrained partner who has nothing to live for. This ought to be good.
Elaine actually turns out to be an exceptional acrobat -- in fact, it’s sort-of implied that anybody could just walk in off the street and pick up a circus job. It’s so easy, in fact, that Dusty also has time to become a crimefighting detective -- he discovers that the owner of a rival circus has been using a mirror to reflect light into the eyes of the acrobats and is responsible for the death of Dusty’s predecessor.
There’s an argument to be made that Dusty and his unsettling proclivity of having his every wish promptly fulfilled is responsible for the previous trapeze artist’s death, of course. That death and so miuch more...
In his second adventure, Dusty confronts abusive animal trainer Hank Wilkins about his cruel treatment of the elephants. In the fashion of the terrible contrivance of Dusty’s circus career, this short confrontation leads to terrible consequences. Dusty strikes Hank, who takes his frustration out by beating an elephant, which then stumbles into and breaks the gorilla’s cage, which frees that hairy monster who then abducts Elaine and removes her to the trapeze ledge.
Up to this point, every misfortune has given Dusty an opportunity to show off and play hero. What benefit is it to Dusty to have his partner kidnapped by a monkey? Well, it allowed him to demonstrate his skill at the gaucho bolos (cha cha cha), which he learned on the Argentinean pampas (cha cha cha)! This is the first time that we learn of any backstory for Dusty, and I’m not surprised that it involves chucking stuff at animals.
Rigging a weapon out of his jacket and some iron bolts, Dusty climbs to the opposite ledge, swings towards the ape and launches his Argentinean pampas gaucho bolos (cha cha cha!) with unerring accuracy. With the gorilla tied to the tentpole, Elaine is easily rescued, and the roustabouts are given the almost impossible task of retrieving a furious gorilla from the top of a tall pole where it’s tied at the neck with its arms free. On the other hand, Dusty posits “The roustabouts can capture the gorilla without trouble.” Who knows, it does seem like everything Dusty says comes true, so maybe it will be a simple task. Or maybe one of the roustabouts will die and Dusty can take his job, anything is possible in the consequence-intensive world of Dusty Doyle, Circus Cyclone!
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