Flash Gordon – Volume 4

Flash Gordon – Volume 4

Flash Gordon – Volume 4

by Alex Raymond

Checker Book Publishing Group

I’ve learned a lot by re-reading these 1938-era color Sunday strips about Flash Gordon, America’s favorite spaceman. Big, hunky guys with more principles than brains end up recapturing the same super villains over and over. Great super villains don’t make great jailers, and Flash is slipperier than Bin Laden. Hot women like Dale Arden can be bitchy whiners. And while Planet Mongo perfected the combination Rocket/Submarine, they never got the idea of a small, light sidearm like a Luger or Baretta.

Checker Books reprints these high quality strips in clean but subdued color, with a short editor’s introduction and not much else. “The Tyrant of Mongo” and “Ice Kingdom of Mongo” date from the depths of the Depression, and show the sort of “Can Do” attitude we took into the war against a suspiciously similar set of Asiatic looking enemies. Storylines flit about, but of course we were never meant to read these strips in one sitting. Rather, they are episodic adventures to dip into once a week – a panel to pick up continuity, resolution of last weeks cliff hanger, then a giant leap of story into another seemingly insoluble problem. Both episodes are about as defocused as their titles indicate, but there’s a subtly chaste sexuality that keeps you turning the pages. My favorite was the Ice Kingdom series, with Dale and Princess Fria strutting around in short skirts and transparent snow suits. Flash is routinely brought near death, and occasionally both women work to “nurse him back to health”, the lucky dog.

These are quality books, and the wildly swerving storylines are not so much charming as educational – this is how to tell story with spectacle rather than situation, and stereotype rather than character. Don’t scoff; this is how the big bucks films, from Star Wars to X-Men, work. Learn from the master, grasshopper.

Checker Books: www.checkerbpg.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Pickathon 2016
    Pickathon 2016

    Pendarvis Farms transforms for three extraordinary days into the fun and psychedelic fest of your wildest indie music loving dreams, Pickathon. Alexa Harris was there to experience the joys of farm life for the weekend.

  • Money Chicha
    Money Chicha

    Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul). Review by James Mann.

  • Micronotz reissues
    Micronotz reissues

    Mortal Micronotz, Smash, Live, The Beast that Devoured Itself, 40 Fingers (Bar/None). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Big Eyes
    Big Eyes

    Stake My Claim (Don Giovanni Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Various Artists
    Various Artists

    Money Maker (Studio One). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Pawns

    A triple bill of underground Goth, led by NYC’s Pawns, transforms Uncle Lou’s into a time machine. Jen Cray did not wear eye makeup, but she did wear a black shirt to the show.

  • Bossacucanova

    The Best of Bossacucanova (Six Degrees Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Ranch Ghost
    Ranch Ghost

    Lookin’ (Rough Beast Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • The Scientists
    The Scientists

    A Place Called Bad (The Numero Group). Review by James Mann.

  • Hard Proof
    Hard Proof

    Public Hi Fi Sessions 3 (Public Hi Fi Records. ). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives