Flash Gordon is back. He’s kind of how you remember him, except for the fact he’s barely in this issue. When he does make an appearance, he is mostly reactive. Maybe there’s little room for character dominance just yet, as we need Zarkov to make off with him into outer space, but it feels like we should get some concept of who this titular hero is and why we should love him.
The opening three pages of this book personify exactly what is going to work and fail with this comic. We start with Ming the Merciless, who’s characterized as a cosmic playboy who spends his time trashing planets and ignoring his harem. It’s an interesting take and certainly gains your attention quickly. It’s unfortunate this set up for the villain is layered over such obtrusive art. It’s cliché to slam Alex Ross and it must be said it’s not obvious he’s the fault here. The pencil work of Daniel Indro over Ross’ layouts is effective, if perhaps a little too bejeweled. The colors then romp in and simply slay the scene. Slamet Mujiono works hard to replicate the shiny Ross style we all know and, in doing so, makes these pages a hot mess. Your eyes do not know where to land and the overall tone becomes hyperbolic and farcical.
You can’t say you don’t get enough story in this first issue. The kinetic flow means plenty of things happen and most of them progress the plot forward decisively. Some might see plot holes, while others will see speed holes for things to happen. The origin concept of Flash Gordon is condensed, which is most likely a smart play as they don’t want to play with that. The tweak comes in the final pages, and it is an interesting turn to take. This reveal will take the series down an exciting yet dangerous path. It’s a gamble, which is the only way great comics can be made.
The pulp sci-fi tone is well metered across the issue. Concepts of intergalactic travel and whole planet death are brushed over enough that we accept them and allow the characters to react quickly. This isn’t an introspective title, at least not yet. This new Flash Gordon wants to thrill your socks off and deliver the old timey vibe.
If you like Flash Gordon, be it the two-fisted strip character or the campy 80s icon, this comic will hold some value for you, especially at an introductory lure of $1. The action on display is breezy and fun. It’s a shame the art can’t stand up steady on both legs as it shudders across pages, working well in some aspects and boring holes into your head with others. The hook at the end of this issue should be enough to lure most people back for the next issue and that’s Dynamite’s best choice. There’s only room left to progress forward and tell something new and interesting. Here’s hoping they succeed.