Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flash Gordon and friends return in Kings Watch




Remember Defenders of the Earth?

It's okay if you don't.  It was a short-lived cartoon in the mid to late 1980s featuring Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and The Phantom.  And of course...their teenage progeny.  The combination of me being older than the show's target audience, the "get 'em, teen gang!" angle, and the really awful stories kept me from being a regular viewer, but I always loved the idea of getting these classic 1930s characters together in a sort of supergroup.

Now, Dynamite Comics is publishing a comic book mini series called Kings Watch that will gather the same characters together...minus the teenie boppers.

You may be apprehensive.  Maybe you've seen that lackluster movie version of The Phantom starring Billy Zane or the campy but not without appeal film adaptation of Flash Gordon.  Worse yet, maybe you subjected yourself to the Flash Gordon series done by the SyFy Channel a few years back (shudder).  If so, take heart.  Marc Laming and Jeff Parker, the creators of this comic book have pledged to keep these characters and the subsequent storyline true to the 1930s style and origins.

The plot is being kept rather quiet.  We've seen neither bordereau nor precis.  We do know it will feature catastrophe on a worldwide scale (natch), nightmares, monsters, and strange phenomena in the skies.  No word yet if the orchestrator of the crisis is Ming the Merciless, but here's to hoping.  You can check out a few preview pages here at Comic Book Resources.

What I like best about these three characters, aside from their purity and nostalgia for "better times," is that they had to confront problems with regular human strength and intelligence.  Sure Mandrake could work magic (after a fashion) and each of them had their own specialties, but when it came down to brass tacks, they were reliant on ingenuity and their fists.  So I'll definitely be checking this comic out in a few weeks.

Also, if you want a version of Flash Gordon that is surprisingly entertaining, I'd recommend tracking down the Filmmation cartoon from the late 70s.



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