I remember hearing the old radio programs played on cassette tapes. I remember the old black and white television shows rerun on my grandma’s TV. But, mostly I remember the colorful movie with the soundtrack by Queen. As much a part of my past as it can be for your present, Dynamite Entertainment brings back the action with Flash Gordon #1 this week from the creative team of Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner.
Alex “Flash” Gordon was a football player and daredevil rich kid who had no other ambition than just having fun. Dale Arden is a science reporter. Doctor Hans Zarkov is a brilliant, if slightly crazy, scientist trying to save the world. This unlikely team of characters may just end up being the last best hope for the survival of Earth.
In the beginning of the story, we are shown Dale Arden covering the mothballing of the last space shuttle and the seeming dismantling of the American space program. She states that she is a sci reporter. There is some witty banter between her and a scientist, but this is more to set the scene that America has given up on space for the time being.
Flash Gordon is presented bungee jumping and then releasing from his harness to dive into the depths of a rushing river. He surfaces and is slapped by a woman who is on the phone with his father. Put on speaker, Flash is basically told by his father that he needs to do something with his life.
Jumping ahead one year, a lot has changed for Dale and Flash. In company of Dr. Zarkov, the three are flying through alien terrain being pursued by hostile forces. Things are very chaotic and there are a lot of questions, but the creative team did a great job of interspersing dialogue to catch us up with what is going on. Bottom line is that these three people came from Earth through some portal, which Zarkov opened using a special crystal that he won in a drinking game. The portal is now closed and they have no idea how to get back.
The landscapes are really amazing. I loved the art in these scenes as Flash piloted the space plane in and out of strange portals. The action scenes are clean and fun and express the spirit that I would expect from a reboot of the Flash Gordon franchise. There are so many worlds and adventures to choose from and this book was a great way to introduce many of them, even if only for a couple of scenes.
The big bad guy, ruler of all Mongo and anything else he sets his sights on, is Ming, the Merciless. Evil alien warlord with a scary fu manchu, Ming is most interested in either capturing this mysterious plane or destroying it so that he can get on with his next project, enslaving Earth. For some reason the humans are not all on board with this plan.
Flash and the crew fly through another portal to a world called Arboria, which is covered by a huge forest. After landing the plane in a tree with branches as big as a runway, they make their way to a tree cave. Hoping to find some safety and shelter, Flash, Dale, and Zarkov enter the cave only to be met by a giant caterpillar looking creature. Prince Barin and the blue-skinned men of Arboria come to their rescue, but before they can questions them, Dale speaks up and demands they help them as they are historians for Ming. Sneaky lady.
All in all, a really great homage to the classic story. The art and writing are really fun and the story flows very smoothly. I would recommend this for adventure and sci-fi fans and as a great way to be introduced to Flash Gordon. Definitely pick this up from Dynamite Entertainment and then come back next month for the further adventures of Flash Gordon.
My Rating: 4/5