I. Love. Flash. Gordon.
When we got the request to review Titan Book‘s Flash Gordon:The Tyrant of Mongo, I jumped at the opportunity. I was introduced to Flash through the movie serials, which I saw during a sci-fi film course in college, and haven’t been able to get him out of my head since.
For anyone unfamiliar, Flash Gordon (not to be confused with The Flash) is one of America’s earliest superheroes, and he spread through the country like wildfire. He was one newspaper syndicate’s answer to another’s creation; that of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Olympic athlete Buster Crabbe would eventually play both on the silver screen, and neither have really faded from our popular culture since their creation in the 1930’s.
Titant Books splits up Flash‘s comic strips into three volumes; 1934-37 (On the Planet Mongo), 1937-41 (The Tyrant of Mongo) and 1941-46 (The Fall of Ming). For some reason, Titan decided to send us the second out of the three volumes, but even without the other two I can tell you something: these books are magnificent.
The introduction to The Tyrant of Mongo places the comic strip within a larger cultural context, including how the series revolutionized merchandising, the importance of Alex Raymond as a comics artist (37-41 is often considered his “artistic peak”), and how Flash found his way to the big screen. It also gives my boy Buster Crabbe a shout out. Sidebar: I would do awful things to bring that man back to life. It then catches readers up on what they might have missed, if they didn’t read the first volume.
From there on out, the entire book is restored versions of the original Flash Gordon Sunday comics. In addition to the page number, the pages have the original publication date of each strip at the bottom, just in case you wanted to keep track. Each strip has been blown up so that it fills an 11″ x 10″ page, and the restorations are genuinely beautiful.
I have watched Flash Gordon serials converted to DVD and listened to Flash radio shows through a Radio Play app on my Kindle, but it’s wonderful to see how lovingly artist Peter Maresca has restored the very original Flash stories for a modern audience. This book is fantastically constructed from start to finish. It pays proper homage to Alex Raymond’s original art, and does Flash proud.
Buy your own copy of The Tyrant of Mongo at the Titan Books site today!