By Jim Shepherd
The first mention of Baronkhan in a Lee Falk Phantom adventure appeared in the 1982 daily story, Tale of Rex. Baronkhan was described as a place ‘far to the east, in the Misty Mountains’, the largest, richest, mostly tyrannical realm, where slavery still existed under the rule of the tyrant Prince Baronkhan and his evil Prime Minister Badur.
Tale of Rex last appeared in Frew edition number 1219 published in January, 1999 and should still be fresh in the minds of enthusiasts.
However, for those who came in late, in that story, the Phantom discovers the identity of Rex’s mother (Lisandra) and manages to force his way into the ageing Prince Baronkhan’s stronghold where he explains to the Prince that Rex is, in fact, the Prince’s grandson.
From that moment, things move rapidly. The Prince agrees to abolish slavery, has Prime Minister Badur jailed for an earlier attempt to murder Rex and is finally reunited with Rex. The Phantom agrees to continue to protect Rex until he attains the legal age.
Lee Falk concocted a wonder plot in Tale of Rex and it was obvious he had plans to continue the theme.
The next mention of Baronkhan appeared in the 1983 daily story, Visit to Baronkhan which last appeared in Frew number 1187 in January 1998. In that story, Rex, now described as Prince Rex, visits his grandfather, narrowly escapes death at the hands of the evil Count Semon and grows closer to an ageing and dying Prince Baronkhan.
In 1986, Baronkhan again becomes the focus of another Lee Falk daily adventure, Ruler of Baronkhan which is showcased in Frew number 1228.
With Rex now the ruler of Baronkhan, it was obvious that Lee would continue to build on his wonderful plot, but it took until 1989 before we revisit the fabled place! This took place in the daily adventure, Rex: Prince of Baronkhan published early in 1990 in Frew number 948A.
In that story, Prince Rex is described as the richest, most powerful teenager on earth. He is semi-permanently based at Baronkhan but is bored with his duties and homesick for the Skull Cave and his foster family. He runs afoul of Duke Shambad, his nearest neighbor, who has bankrupted himself and his own country.
After a number of adventures and plenty of near misses, Rex survives more threats to his life. And then, another character is introduced!
Enter Princess Alicia, niece of the dreaded Duke Shambad and the real ruler of Shambad. Both Rex and Alicia are described as being 12 years of age, but when they meet it is love at first sight!
Lee Falk must have had great plans to develop this young romance, because in 1992, he wrote the story, Prince Rex and Princess Alicia. All adventures and various close shaves aside, Rex and Alicia grow closer and at the end of the story, Rex actually pecks Alicia on the cheek.
Lee Falk wrote only one more story about Rex and Baronkhan. His Prince Rex – Kidnapped appeared in 19996 and was published by Frew in number 1167 in 1997. In that story, Rex leaves Baronkhan to receive higher education in the United States and is kidnapped by Count Morry’s turncoat bodyguards.
He is eventually eventually rescued by the Phantom and Diana and at the end of the story heads off with his foster parents to return to Baronkhan, and Alicia.
Sometime, years in the future, Lee would doubtless have Rex and Alicia marry.
Whether he sketched out such a scenario we will probably never know. But it is intriguing to ponder that almost certain happening.
Let your imagination take over!