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'Flash Gordon: Tyrant of Mongo' the 'Avatar' of the 1930s [Review]

I've been a fan of old comic strip art since I was in high school. I studied copies of Dick Tracy and other strips, but my all-time favorite are by Alex Raymond.

Above Image: "Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-41" cover

Maybe you're only familiar with Flash Gordon from the campy 70s movie, with a Queen soundtrack and starring Play-Girl model Sam J. Jones. Or maybe you watched the horrendous 2007 Sci-Fi channel television series. If so, then you're in for a surprise.

For those not familiar, the comic strip follows the adventures of "Flash" Gordon, a handsome man who is both an expert polo player and Yale college graduate. When the Earth is bombarded by meteors, the mad Dr. Zarkov builds a rocket ship to follow their source into outer space. After Flash and Dale Arden's plane crashes near the launch site, he kidnaps them and the three travel to the planet Mongo. The meteors are weapons devised by the evil ruler Ming the Merciless.

The new book Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-41 is a great way to get introduced to the series or relive the characters.

Here's the description from Amazon: "Continuing the comprehensive library of the greatest science fiction hero of all time, this gorgeous collection of library editions feature all-new restorations that will preserve these legendary adventures for generations to come.

"Featuring strips from world-famous writer-artist Alex Raymond, restored in their original format, complete and uncut! This volume continues the seminal adventures of pulp hero Flash Gordon, an ordinary man trapped on an alien world, and his ongoing battles with the deadly and heartless Ming the Merciless.

"The Tyrant of Mongo offers readers a series of new, swashbuckling Flash Gordon adventures, including:
The Fall of Ming
Ice Kingdom of Mongo
Beast Men of Mongo"

It's a hardcover book of 176 thick pages of beautiful artwork. The book has an introduction giving a brief history of Alex Raymond and the popularity of Flash Gordon from the 1930s to 1940 written by historian Doug Murray.

You'd think comic strips from the 1930s would be corny and hackneyed, but you'd be wrong. The stories are as gripping and exciting as they were decades ago.

I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to produce a movie from these strips. It would easily compete with Avatar with it's sweeping visuals and imaginative creatures. While director James Cameron had teams of designers helping him with his vision, Raymond had enough imagination to create whole worlds filled with amazing creatures. From the tall tree palaces of Arboria to the barren Mongo Desert, the book i a travelogue of science-fiction.

The sweeping stories are compelling. The digitally restored and remastered artwork is spectacular and Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-41 is a book worth owning.

Book provided by publisher Random House. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or it's contents. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Do you like Flash Gordon? Have you read any of he strips or remember him from somewhere else?
[Image Source: Amazon]

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  1. I haven't read any of those old type comic strips. I did read the original Superman and Batman comics which weren't as cheesy as I thought they'd be.

    Anyway, the 1980 movie has probably poisoned the Flash Gordon well forever. Flash!

  2. I've seen some of the old strips, although yes, the 1980's film does stick in my brain the strongest. (And I've always been surprised by how many people remember that campy film with affection. Yes, somewhere I still have my Queen 45 record of "Flash." What can I say?)

  3. I had an interest in Flash Gordon when I was a kid, but nothing too serious. DC's Adam Strange appears to be very similar. And of course John Carter. That movie rocked, by the way.

  4. Adam Strange was very similar Tony. It's probably not a coincidence.

  5. I have loved Flash Gordon since I was a kid, and I still do. The entire concept is really awesome, and I think todays sci/fi only copy's what has already been done. All the amazing story's was fantastically drawn by one of the really great artists of our time. They were inspiring and thought provoking for me at the time, and to some degree still is.

  6. It set the standard for all science fiction! One day we might get close to this.


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