Flash Gordon #1 Review

Flash Gordon has had more facelifts than an ageing starlet. The sci-fi character was created by Alex Raymond in 1934 as a newspaper strip hero to compete with Buck Rogers. However, good old Flash has fared much better. Most would be familiar with the character from the awesome 1980 film (sing it with me, “FLASH! AHAAA!), the late 80s Defenders of the Earth cartoon, or last year’s poorly received TV series. However, far too many people confuse the character with DC Comics’ Scarlet Speedster, much to the chagrin of fanboys everywhere.

Ardden Entertainment is the newest publisher in the comic book biz, with Flash Gordon being their sole release. After a #0 issue launched at the New York Comic-Con, we have the official debut of the blond adventurer’s latest re-imagining.

It begins much in the same way as MI:2, except without the catchy theme music. Flash is climbing a cliff, when his solitude is shattered by a phone call ordering him back to campus, where he earns his living as a teacher. Seeing the rugged heartthrob as a professor may be too far fetched for some, but thankfully, the university scenes are swift, as Flash shouts at his boss, and meets his long time “friend”, CIA agent Dale Arden. There’s some fisticuffs, gun pointing and witty remarks, before Flash is recruited for the CIA once more and told that his old friend scientist Hans Zarkov has gone rogue and is building a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Flash doesn’t believe it, but seems to be the only one who knows where Zarkov is hiding, so it’s off to Africa for the team. All doesn’t go smoothly though, as the pair face a betrayal and a mid-air collision, leaving the issue on a cliff-hanger, showing evidence of its comic strip origins.

I wasn’t expecting much with this title. A new publisher, with new creators and a franchise that has been re-invented more times than Madonna’s wardrobe does not bode well. I’m glad I was wrong. Writer Brendan Deneen and artist Paul Green are a formidable duo who know each other’s strengths. Deneen’s script keeps things moving at a frantic pace, yet it never seems rushed. Having legendary comic book scribe J.M DeMatteis (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Editor is also a great addition to Ardden. Green’s artwork is simple, yet certainly not simplistic. With few lines he manages to give the characters a real fluidity, and the colours are perfectly suited to each scene. With manga inspired pencils reminiscent of J. Scott Campbell or Joe Madureira, it’s a very pretty book, with a sense of dynamism and beauty.

Once the team leave earth and meet Ming, things will heat up even further I’m sure as the cast grows and alien environments and creatures start to appear, as can be previewed here. For those with fond memories of Flash Gordon this update should be welcome, and for those who’ve never experienced his swashbuckling antics, this is a great place to start.