COMIC BOOK REVIEW: KINGS WATCH – VOLUME 1 / AUTHOR: JEFF PARKER / ARTIST: MARC LAMING / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 9TH
Superheroes are currently in vogue and it’s unsurprising that many old-school hero franchises are having the dust blown off them and are being relaunched and remarketed. The sweet spot of course, would be a team of heroes with plenty of nostalgia attached to them. Kings Watch ticks this box quite firmly by being a book that puts The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar and Flash Gordon into one story. Any child of the eighties will remember these characters from TV show Defenders of the Earth and if you’re a real fan, you’re probably humming the theme song right now.
The set-up is a sprawling, globe-trotting sort of affair. We have Flash and Professor Zarkov working together on an experimental rocket-ship on one side of the world, with The Phantom and Lothar dealing with what appears to be an invasion of monsters in Africa. Meanwhile, Mandrake is hunting down the Cult of the Cobra. On top of all that, spunky reporter Dale Arden is investigating dangerous phenomena all over the world as the weather goes crazy.
Parker uses the traditional action adventure technique of throwing threat after threat at the heroes, rapidly expanding the world as he does so. All the villains you’d expect to see are here and though old school fans will see a lot of it coming a mile away, it’s still thoroughly entertaining, with just enough shocks to keep the fans happy.
Mark Laming’s artwork is pretty top-notch here. He goes to town with the alien worlds, cool looking rocket-ships, exotic animals and other cool things that you would expect from a story like this. The world of Kings Watch is filled with interesting things and Laming makes sure that each new scene is fresh and different. Character design is thoughtful and clever, with Flash looking every inch the wealthy athlete and The Phantom looking more like a rugged jungle hero rather than a dude in fetish gear. Overall, a nice little journey into nostalgia that happens to update an old franchise for a new audience, and with any luck this will do well enough to justify Flash and chums returning to the silver screen.