COMIC BOOK REVIEW: KING: FLASH GORDON #1 / AUTHOR: BEN ACKER, BEN BLACKER / ARTIST: LEE FERGUSON, DARWYN COLE / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 28TH
Okay, we all know it’s impossible to talk about Flash Gordon without bursting into that cheesy 1980s Queen song, so let’s get that part out of the way first and then move on.
“Flash! AA-aah! Saviour of the Universe! Flash! AA-aah! He’ll save every one of us!”
And that’s enough of that.
Flash Gordon is one of those old reliable superheroes you can always depend upon, a blonde-and-buffed but slightly boy-scout athlete from planet Earth who set out with his scientist friend Dr Hans Zarkov and beautiful reporter Dale Arden to save their home planet from the vicious despot Ming the Merciless. In creator Alex Raymond’s hands, the original Flash Gordon comic strips were gems of graphic science fiction, exquisitely drawn and packed with gung-ho extra-terrestrial adventure. After Raymond’s passing, many other writers and artists got their pens and pencils on Flash with varying results – indeed, every generation seems to have had at least one version of Flash Gordon to call their own - but no matter how flawed some of those results were, the characters of Flash and his friends have always endured.
Worryingly, the front cover of King: Flash Gordon #1 suggests this might be the incarnation that buries him. The oddly ballet-dancery-looking and out of proportion Flash imagined by artist Darwyn Cooke doesn’t bode well for what’s inside. But thankfully the interior story art, by Lee Ferguson, almost readdresses the balance even though his updated reimaginings of the characters we know so well are hit-and-miss affairs – Zarkov looks great but Flash has a pretty-but-dumb-country-hick thing about him, and Dale, with an impressive pony tail, is cute but unrecognisable.
The supporting characters are a similarly mixed bag. There’s a generic beautiful Princess who looks like she’s stolen She-Ra’s tiara, and a bunch of green skinned aliens that resemble undernourished cousins of The Mekon from Dan Dare. And there’s not nearly enough Ming, although in the rare moments he appears he does look reassuringly Ming-like. Let’s face it, it would be sacrilege for any artist to mess with Ming.
Like the art, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker‘s writing flip-flops all over the place too. This is a slight story, some nonsense about hijacking Ming’s communication system and replacing all the pictures of Ming’s enemies with Ming’s own face. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and, given how Raymond’s Flash Gordon was all about inter-Mongo power-politics and uniting warring kingdoms to fight against the baldy bad-ass’ tyranny, it’s a bit sad. This new reboot needs a rethink. Bringing back Prince Barin and Brian Blessed-with-wings would be a good start. And Princess Aurora… this definitely needs a dose of Princess Aurora…
SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG
Find your local STARBURST stockist HERE, or buy direct from us HERE. For our digital edition (available to read on your iOS, Android, Amazon, Windows 8, Samsung and/or Huawei device - all for just £1.99), visit MAGZTER DIGITAL NEWSSTAND.
CLICK TO BUY!MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: