Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flash Gordon-The Ice Monster


The things you find in used bookstores...Long before the idea of the graphic novel or trade paperback collection, publishers decided instead to reprint comics in standard paperback size. One of these is this collection, copyrighted around 1968 which collects three stories from a short lived comic book series published by King Features. And as the cover plays up, its Al Williamson providing the art work-at least for the first two stories.

The first one, untitled in the book but I guess "The Ice Monster" finds Flash and company returning to Mongo (after a rather lengthy section retelling the previous adventures) to get radium to continue Dr. Zarkov's experiments. Once there they venture to the frozen kingdom of Frigia where they discover a scientist who has invented a serum to allow people to live forever. But when a plot to poison the serum is hatched, Flash will have fight to save himself and Dale Arden.


The second story-"The Mole Machine" has Flash and Zarkov head to Earth's Core in Zarkov's new machine where the discover the land of Krenkelium. Here they find a paranoid king, his hot daughter (who as usual gets attached to our hero) and prehistoric monsters.
The final story-"The Death Trap of Mongo"-finds our heroes facing death at the hands of a vengeful nobleman and his advisor-scientist. I'll let you have three guesses who the advisor is.

The fun thing is looking back at the stories and how simple they are. No elaborate over-plotting or pointless subplots-just Flash Gordon saving the universe. The artwork of Williamson is also great, the best next to creator Alex Raymond. (A book collecting Williamson's Flash stories from the 60s, along with a two-issue Marvel series from the 90s and his adaptation of the 1980 movie was recently published). Also fun is the references to other sci-fi stories. In particular Edgar Rice Burroughs-the serum that extends life from the Carson Napier books to Krenkelium (named after fellow artist Roy Krenkel) and the setup being lifted from At The Earth's Core. They certainly don't make them like this anymore.

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