GRAPHIC NOVELS

Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1934–37

Raymond, Alex & . Titan. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780857681546. $39.95. SUPERHEROES
COPY ISBN
The action-packed Flash Gordon newspaper strip launched in 1934 as a competitor to Buck Rogers, and eclipsed that strip in style and influence, largely because of the illustrative mastery that Raymond showcases in this first of three volumes collecting his run. The battles of stranded Earthlings Flash, his girlfriend Dale Arden, and super-scientist Dr. Zarkov against the tyrant Ming of Mongo take them from the floating city of the Hawkmen to the underwater domain of Queen Undina and other exotic locales, with Raymond displaying a strong flair for landscape, deco-esque machines and spaceships, and gorgeously rendered human figures. These strips have been collected numerous times, by publishers including Checker (LJ 3/15/05) and, in a current competing series, IDW. The $75 oversized IDW hardcovers present most strips slightly larger, with linework reproduction about equal to the Titan book, and also include Raymond's companion strip Jungle Jim. But the Titan book, with off-white pages and softer colors, more closely matches the look the strips would have had in newspapers.
VERDICT Whichever version is chosen, Flash Gordon is essential for fans of classic adventure comics.

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