Comics Review: "Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo"
- by Ninja Ross, 16 December 2012
Hello, Trash Mutant fans! I have been a bit ill lately so this review is a lot later than I planned. But shut up, here it is! Quiet your faces and read my review of the second volume in the Complete Flash Gordon Library – “The Tyrant of Mongo”! Not so long ago, I reviewed the first Complete Flash Gordon Library Vol. 1 and it was pretty darn awesome. It had great story telling that wasn’t ruined by the page limitations of a newspaper comic strip and incredible art that rivals many of the comic book greats. Volume 2 continues this trend and actually improves.
While Alex Raymond’s storytelling skills are developing as the story goes on, it’s his art that goes through the biggest transformation. While it has always been of great quality, the level of detail and creativity seems to double in volume two.
Due to Raymond’s realistic style and use of real life references, the incredible environments and creatures littered throughout the book look just as real as Earthlings Gordon, Zarkov and Dale.
The story continues the fight with Ming the Merciless that started in volume one when the trio of earthlings crash landed on Mongo. Ming became obsessed with Dale Arden while his daughter developed a bit of a crush on Flash Gordon.
After escaping from the love crazy duo, Flash and Dale join Zarkov and explore this crazy planet while avoiding the planets many threats (including Ming’s minions) and helping out a few of the different types of people on the planet.
Now they’re helping rebels fight Ming, who is known as Ming the Merciless for a reason. He’s merciless, in case you didn’t quite catch that. He’s not a nice guy. He oppresses people. Actually, a cynical person might say that Ming represents Raymond’s views on China and communism but I really like the book so I’m not going to make that assumption. Besides, plenty of people have already done that. But it doesn’t help that he looks like this:
This volume sees Ming sending out more minions and getting increasingly frustrated when they fail (especially when one is sent back with a poem written on his belly, signed by Flash).
They also fight many other enemies such as people with freeze rays, trolls and devious yokels who look strangely like Chinese stereotypes. I won’t lie, I laughed pretty hard when I saw that last one.
But let’s not forget that this is the late 1930s and early 1940s. The fashion was pretty terrible in the pulp sci-fi comics back then, am I right? Look at this; they’re wearing condoms:
Also, you don’t get as many innuendos and fanny jokes that I love so much. That’s always a shame.
But besides the hugely enjoyable, better than great, story and art, this book also comes with a fantastic introduction by Doug Murray which continues to explore the history of Flash Gordon, how it affected society and how it became such an iconic part of pop culture.
Also, there’s a picture of Alex Raymond drawing a nude model.
Many people know about Flash Gordon, the different spin offs, series’, films and comic books that have spawned since the originals but now you have the chance to fill your book shelves with the original source material and I encourage you to do just that. Don’t worry; it’s not crappy old stuff. I hate crappy old stuff, too, but this is one of those rare comics that stand the test of time. I mean, except for the condom suits. Nobody wears those in public anymore.
You can buy "The Complete Flash Gordon Library: The Tyrant of Mongo (Vol. 2)" right here, at the Titan Books website!