In the 1930s, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon comic strip set a high standard for science fiction adventure comics. Writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner are great stewards of Raymond’s legacy; their work on the first issue of Dynamite’s Flash Gordon comic updates the strip’s classic trio (Flash, Dale Arden, and Dr. Zarkov) for a modern world.
On Earth, Flash is an athletic rich kid that disappoints his father by performing crazy stunts for his Internet following. Dale is a smart science reporter working in a society that doesn’t care about science. Dr. Zarkov is a brilliant scientist dismissed as a drunken eccentric. The three heroes are misfits on Earth, and it is only when they travel to Mongo that they find their calling as heroes.
The comic begins where the Dynamite miniseries Kings Watch ended (although readers will not need to read that series to understand what is going on), with the protagonists having just saved Earth from the tyrant Ming, but unable to return home to Earth. The first issue does a fantastic job of showcasing the new, modern take on the world of Mongo; settings like Frigia and Arboria are no longer regions on the planet Mongo, but other planets connected to Mongo by wormholes, or “portals”. Parker and Shaner are great at giving each character a distinct personality: the athletic and impulsive Flash, the smart and beautiful Dale, and the cynical but brilliant Zarkov.
Shaner’s art style is gorgeous, with crisp, classic art that honors Raymond’s style and captures the action and emotion that the story demands. Colorist Jordie Bellaire gives a lush look to Shaner’s art; in particular, I found the art for the world of Arboria breathtaking. Updating a classic for a modern audience can be challenging, but Parker and Shaner rise to that challenge, delivering an exciting and engaging science fiction adventure comic worth reading.