GRAPHIC NOVELS

Flash Gordon. Vol. 4: The Storm Queen of Valkir

Austin Briggs (illus.). Titan. 2015. 224p. ISBN 9781782762867. GRAPHIC NOVELS
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OrangeReviewStarMuch of the great appeal and influence of the classic Flash Gordon newspaper strip, begun in 1934, is owing to the masterful, dynamic illustration of its founding artist, Alex Raymond. Unusually, the strip has recently been collected in two simultaneous, competing reprint series, from Titan and IDW (a review of Titan's Volume 1 [LJ 1/13; see ow.ly/VAEJu] compares them). The IDW series ends shortly after Raymond left the strip in 1944, yet Titan continues forward here with the remaining 1944–48 work of Raymond's successor Briggs, most of it never before reprinted. The tyrant Ming has been overthrown, but Flash and his companions, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov, battle Ming's cruel son Kang and continue their adventures through the planet Mongo's many exotic civilizations. Briggs's work is less lush and polished than Raymond's, and his human figure renderings, though fine, can't match Raymond's stellar example. The writing has declined as well, with repetitive situations and preposterously revealing character names (the evil Evila, the traitor Traito). Yet the stories still provide pulpy fun.
VERDICT For collections in which classic comic strips or previous Flash Gordon volumes are popular.

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