Review: Flash Gordon #1

by

A-Ah! Savior of the Universe

01picon.jpg

Even though we review a rather large number of titles from the big two, that doesn’t mean we never dip our big toe into the waters of other publishers.  In fact, one of the nicer joys of reading a small press title is the discovery of something new and unique that is a lot of fun to read.  In the case of Flash Gordon #1 from Ardden Entertainment, the reader is presented with something that is not only old, but new.  But does that make it good?

FLASH1_COVERA.jpgGo ahead and get it out of your system now.

He’s for everyone of us
Stand for everyone of us
He save with a mighty hand
Every man every woman
Every chill-he’s a mighty
Flash!

Yes, this is an updated telling of Flash Gordon, the original sci-fi hero from 1934, in a way that should appeal to a modern audience.  Fortunately, writer Brendan Deneen didn’t go the route a certain Science Fiction Channel did with its lousy adaptation, but instead, made sure this 2008 series pays homage to the original source material while making some sight adjustments here and there.

The characters of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov are all present in the first issue, as they should be if you are telling a Flash (a-ah) Gordon tale.  Flash has been updated from handsome polo player and Yale grad, to former member of the CIA, university instructor, and all around man of action.  Dale is still still deeply entrenched with the CIA, and has been ordered to reenlist Flash to help take down Dr. Zarkov, who supposedly has built a weapon of mass destruction and is planning to sell it to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately for Dale and Flash, the CIA they thought they were working for is just a front for a sub-branch of the CIA created and funded by The General, who wants all the power for himself (naturally).  By the time the deception is revealed, Dale and Flash have already lead a team of The General’s henchmen to the island where Dr. Zarkov is putting the final touches on his device.  Surprisingly, it’s not a WMD, but a test to find alternate energy sources.

As an homage to the original series, Zarkov’s device looks exactly like the spaceship used in the early movie serials. Likewise, Flash sports a red shirt and goggles, Dale is extremely sexy, and in order to escape from their new enemy, the trio board the ship and end up flying into the very alternate energy source Zarkov was testing, which puts them in another part of the galaxy.

The story is pretty straightforward, and the plot is believable enough without going overboard into the world of the ridiculous.  Yes, there are some moments that come as no surprise (the heavy handed co-agent of Arden’s is really working for The General), and a few deviations from the original source material, but enough time has passed, and memories of the cheesy ’80’s movie have moved on from everyone’s mind that this telling works really well.  And, it is superior in every way to that suck-wad of a television series from a few years ago, earning the book high marks for that reason alone.

FLASH1_COVERB.jpgWhen I first saw the cover art (I went for Cover B featuring the stunning Dale Arden), I immediately had to do a double take to see if it really wasn’t J. Scott Campbell.  Artist Paul Green’s style is very much reminiscent of the work Campbell did on Danger Girl; it’s slightly more stylized, with more angles and narrower features on the characters, but it works, and is a style that I particularly like.

The one detractor for the art is the computer coloring. At times it looks really good, with reds popping from the page, and other times, the rendered images look like someone spent too much time trying to goof a still photograph and make it look like a comic book panel.

The first issue is all set-up as the characters get from Earth to Mongo, but I don’t know what direction Deneen will take once they land on the planet, so I can’t say if this is the start of a series that will last for year.  I can say that I enjoyed the first issue enough that I will pick up at least the next two to see what happens next.  I’m giving Flash (a-ah) Gordon #1 3.5 out of 5 Stars.  Had the coloring been a little better, and had the first issuevillain not been so plainly revealed, it would have scored higher.

35stars.jpg

Check out these preview pages for the first issue.  Ardden Entertainment has said the second and third isuses should be on the stands shortly.

FLASH1_COVERA.jpgFLASH1_COVERB.jpgFLASH1_PAGE7.jpgFLASH1_PAGE8.jpgFLASH1_PAGE9.jpgFLASH1_PAGE10.jpgFLASH1_PAGE11.jpgFLASH1_PAGE12.jpg

Ardden has also stated that the first two issues have pre-sold roughly 26,000 copies (combined).