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‘The Complete Flash Gordon Library – On the Planet Mongo (Vol. 1)’ Review


Flash Gordon V1Before Star Wars, before Battlestar Galactica, before Star Trek or Babylon 5, there was Flash Gordon.  And, if you love any of those works, you owe it to yourself to check out an early inspiration for those by checking out the first volume of another landmark series, the new collection from Titan Books, The Complete Flash Gordon Library – On the Planet Mongo.

Originally created in 1934 by Alex Raymond as competition to the popular series Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon quickly rose to prominence as one of the pre-eminent Sunday strips.  

Since its initial inception, Flash Gordon has inspired generations of writers and filmmakers.  George Lucas cites it as an inspiration for Star Wars.  Ray Bradbury credits it as the source of his true education.  Influences of the series have echoed though decades of popular entertainment.  And now, Titan has gathered the Sunday strips together in a new compendium, covering 1934-1937.

From the very opening strip where a newspaper headline breathlessly announces the “World Coming to End” as a mysterious planet hurtles towards Earth, the series catapults a reader headlong into the adventures of Flash Gordon (Yale graduate and world-renowned polo player) and his traveling companion, Dale Arden, as they survive a plane crash and are abducted by the crazed genius Dr. Zarkhov onto his private rocket and sent on a shrieking crash course with the onrushing planet.

All in the first strip.

Flash Gordon never claimed to be subtle, and it’s quick transfer to the screen in three serials during the late ’30s starring Buster Crabb was inevitable.  Luckily, the weekly serial format of the comic translated well to screen.  It managed to capture the sense of non-stop adventure and wonder of the weekly strip.  But, those whose only introduction to Flash came from the Universal serial or the 1980s camp classic version are missing out on the richness of Alex Raymond’s vast world.

Journeying into Raymond’s Flash Gordon is a wild ride through the different worlds of Mongo, where Flash finds himself fighting Octoclaws, Hawk Men, Lizard Men, evil Queens, and the Red Monkey Men of Mongo, all the while trying to thwart the cruel plans of the Emperor, Ming the Merciless.  

Recaptured in the glorious, four-color tones that evoke the sense of old newsprint, Titan has managed to retain the look and feel of what it must have been like to read the series as it unfolded from week to week, where Raymond managed to cram non-stop action and adventure into a single page of panels and stlll get a reader to return each week.  This lovingly-presented volume should appeal to both new readers and those who might have even read it when it first came out 75 years ago.





Tony Caballero, Fanbase Press Contributor



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