Flash Gordon #1 (Comics Review)
Last year Dynamite Entertainment launched a new team book, Kings Watch, a mini-series that focused on three of the most famous pulp characters ever: The Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. These are all characters that used to feature in various comic strips in newspapers all over the world (the Phantom is still printed in some Indian newspapers I believe), and growing up, I used to love reading about all of their adventures. The Defenders cartoons were also excellent from what I remember and having read the first two issues of Jeff Parker’s Kings Watch, I can definitely say that he captures that essence and fun aspect of the original material quite well.
With Kings Watch now done, Jeff Parker and Dynamite have now launched Flash Gordon, a sequel ongoing series that deals with Flash Gordon himself in the wake of whatever has happened in Kings Watch (I haven’t read the recent three issues unfortunately), and despite my hesitation about not being familiar with the story, I can say that the debut issue exceeded expectations and is a damn good read. And the art, by Evan Shaner, Jordie Bellaire and Simon Bowland, is also quite excellent, helping complete the overall experience.
As I said, I was hoping that when I got into this issue I wouldn’t need to know what has already happened in the Kings Watch mini-series. I was hoping that the debut issue of this new series would stand on its own, and this is exactly what happens. Knowing the events of Kings Watch may be beneficial to readers, to help understand the particular straits that Flash Gordon, Dr. Zarkov and reporter Dale Arden find themselves in, but none of it is essential. Reading through the entire issue, I was totally fine and never felt like I was missing out on the story. Being already somewhat familiar with Defenders lore helps, although that was ages ago, I must say.
This issue finds the trio of characters trying to find a way back to Earth from Mongo. They go through several portals in Mongo’s Valley of Mortals, but none of them lead to Earth. Instead, the trio find themselves in one inhospitable world after another, and all of them colonised and ruled by Mongo’s ruler, Emperor Ming the Merciless. Last year I read a graphic novel that explored Ming’s origins and how he became Emperor, and it was an interesting read for the lore aspects, even if the writing wasn’t so good. Keeping that in mind, and what is revealed in this issue, it is no stretch to imagine that Ming is not happy about Flash being on Mongo and doing all he can to stop the Terran from living a moment more.
Jeff Parker tells a fast-moving story here that quickly introduces all the different characters and then launches into the meat of the story. He takes us through Mongo and many different worlds, each different from the last, and he shows how good Flash is at what he does: being a pilot and an adventurer. He also captures the characters of Zarkov and Dale Arden pretty much perfectly, from how they are introduced in this issue and how they are shown in Kings Watch as well. I think that overall this issue benefits from its connection to Kings Watch and it certainly was one heck of a read. This is non-stop action through and through as we get treated to all sorts of alien locales and monsters, each of which gives the characters some kind of a challenge to overcome before they move on to the next.
On art duties we have Evan Shaner doing the pencils, Evan Shaner doing the illustrations, Jordie Bellaire doing the colours and Simon Bowland doing the letters. That wonderful cover you see up top is the main cover for this debut issue and was done by Gabriel Hardman, who is one of my favourite artists actually and did the covers for Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Legacy II as well. The interiors in this issue border on perfection. Whether we talk about Evan Shaner’s brilliant characterwork, or Jordie Bellaire’s warm and varied colour palettes or we talk about Simon Bowland’s lettering, there are a ton of things to like about this issue. The best visuals here are the alien vistas and the monsters.
Honestly, this issue exceeded my expectations in all respects and I can’t wait to read the sequel issue.
Posted on April 11, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged Action-Adventure, Comic Strip, Comics, Comics Review, Dr. Zarkov, Dynamite Entertainment, Emperor Ming, Evan Shaner, Flash Gordon, Gabriel Hardman, Jeff Parker, Jordie Bellaire, Ming the Merciless, Pulp SF, Review, Review Central, Science Fiction, Simon Bowland, Swashbuckling Heroes, The Defenders, The Defenders of The Earth. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.