Mon
Dec 17 2012 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941 by Alex Raymond and Don Moore

Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941 by Alex Raymond and Don MooreHe took on a high-tech empire decades before Luke Skywalker and his friends challenged Darth Vader and his Emperor. He was leading bands of freemen in guerrilla operations years before Frank Herbert recorded the adventures of Paul Atreides in his classic science fiction novel Dune. Of course, I’m talking about that fictional character whose adventures are the subject of one of the catchiest Queen songs ever: Flash Gordon.

Flash made his debut in newspaper comic strips in 1934 and would go on to become one of the most influential science fiction heroes of all time. His four-color adventures and the movie serials based on them would inspire the creation of landmark science fiction franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars. The reason Flash’s adventures had such a monumental impact on popular culture was because of the creators involved: the artist Alex Raymond and the strip’s writer Don Moore. Recently fans in the U.S. have been given a chance to rediscover or become acquainted with Raymond and Moore’s Flash Gordon work thanks to a beautiful series of library edition hardcovers.

The latest collected edition in the series Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo Sundays 1937-1941 collects Moore and Raymond’s Sunday strips which detail Flash’s epic adventures across the planet Mongo and his quest to bring down the empire of Ming, the titular tyrant. The book opens with an informative essay by comics writer and Flash Gordon historian Doug Murray, and then you get your first glimpse of a lavish and beautiful world...

That world, the planet Mongo, is a fully fleshed one, and in The Tyrant of Mongo, readers are given a whirlwind and thrilling tour of it. You visit tree cities, high-tech metropolises, underground dungeons and tunnels, and even ice caves. As you experience these locales with Flash Gordon and his friends, Dale Arden and Hans Zarkov, you really start to get a sense of how influential Raymond’s work was on science fiction and popular culture. It’s like watching the birth of the modern day science fiction franchise.

In the collected edition’s first story “The Beast Men of Mongo” you’re taken to a vast tree city which clearly influenced later arboreal civilizations like the Ewoks’ of Return of the Jedi. There would, of course, be no icy planet of Hoth if George Lucas and the production staff of the Empire Strikes Back had not read the book’s fourth story, “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo.” The locales aren’t the only influential elements though.

Flash himself is a blond-haired man in top physical shape taking on a fascist empire with muscles, courage, cunning, and sense of decency. That’s a good way to describe another famous four-color hero.

Co-created by the legendary artist Jack Kirby, Captain America made his debut in 1941. Kirby was a huge fan of Raymond’s work and you can tell from the way he drew his characters and the technology they would occasionally wield. Raymond’s influence is very apparent in the works of other legendary comic artists like Will Eisner, and Bob Kane, the creator of Batman. So comic book super heroes also owe a debt to Flash Gordon and the work of Alex Raymond.

Raymond’s fantastic imagination and art is the star of The Tyrant of Mongo, but that doesn’t mean the writing is lacking. Don Moore’s five stories in the book are all epic and exciting tales. When you read them together you forget that the stories were told on a weekly page by page basis over several months. They read as grand space operas and each one feeds into the next. So there’s a fun serial feel to the stories, but there’s also plenty of payoff.

The Tyrant of Mongo really does feel like the exploits of one decent and heroic man trying to make a difference on a corrupt planet. Character relationships mature and develop over months and years, and you’re given a sense of just how much Flash Gordon’s heroism means to people. As Flash travels across Mongo, his legend travels with him. When the downtrodden, outlaw, and helpless citizens of the planet meet Flash, they’re ready to do whatever they can to help him out. It’s truly epic and inspiring.

Since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were fans of Flash, it’s no surprise that four years later they, too, would introduce the world to another hero waging a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American Way: Superman.

If you’re someone who only knows Flash Gordon because of the campy classic 1980 film starring Sam Jones and Max von Sydow, you really need to do yourself a favor and pick up The Tyrant of Mongo. Not only will you get classic adventure stories, but you’ll also be given a glimpse at the origins of pop culture’s most important and influential science fiction and adventure franchises.

This sweepstakes has ended.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo: The Complete Flash Gordon Library 1937-1941, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/12/fresh-meat-flash-gordon-the-tyrant-of-mongo-complete-library-sundays-1937-1941-by-alex-raymond-and-don-moore beginning at 09:30a.m. Eastern Time (ET) December 17, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 09:29 a.m. ET on December 24, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at http://www.criminalelement.com/page/official-rules-flash-gordon-the-tyrant-of-mongo-comments-contest. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

 


Dave Richards covers all things Marvel Comics for the Eisner Award-winning website Comic Book Resources and his book reviews and other musings can be found at his blog Pop Culture Vulture.

Read all posts by Dave Richards for Criminal Element.

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113 comments
Robert Junker
1. gnomicron
Love Flash Gordon. I've been thrilling to his adventures for years.
Todd Reynolds
3. yoichi10
It's surprising that in this age of huge franchises in pop culture that Flash Gordon hasn't been "rebooted" by a major studio. But, the Sam Jones/Max Von Sydow version is still a campy fun time!
Nora-Adrienne Deret
5. NoraA
I'm a long time fan of Flash Gordon. As a child I remember watching the tv show each week with new chapters of the story.

I own a few dvd's of the old series also. I'd love to win this book for my collection.
Jeffrey Tretin
6. jtretin
Sounds like fun - thanks for the giveaway
Susan Meek
7. smeek1958
WOW! I'd love to win this, I'm a big fan of the old comics. Plus, my birthday is coming up and this would be an awesome gift :)
Allison Broad
9. salt
It would make a great Christmas gift!
Joan Emerson
12. jemerson
Epic and inspiring . . . sounds like a great book!
Marissa Culp
15. MarissaCulp
I became hooked on Flash Gordon when a local TV station played the old serial episodes. Would love to own this collection!
Marie-Louise Molloy
16. Wezzie
Happy memories, love to add to my library!
Margie Coats
19. margiek13
This sounds like something that my husband would love to read. Great memories of a wonderful childhood also. Would love to win.
Joshua Atkins
21. atkinsj
Alex Raymond was one of the truly great comic creators. I'd love to win this collection!
Lisa Ahlstedt
22. Lisanne624
Would love to start at the beginning and read through all of them!
Bill Slankard
24. billslankard
There's no denying the artwork on the strips is beautiful. And back then the printed strips were of a size that the art could be appreciated. It would be very tough to have these strips appear on current comics pages.
27. Victor Gentile
I read that George Lucas originally intended to do a new Flash Gordon movie but could not get the rights so we got Star Wars instead. Flash Gordon is still the best of the best. Thanks for making this available
Victor Gentile
28. alivic
I read that George Lucas originally intended to do a new Flash Gordon
movie but could not get the rights so we got Star Wars instead. Flash
Gordon is still the best of the best. Thanks for making this available
daryia dinkins
30. daryia
Awesome now my kids will be able to read it now.
Allison Moyer
31. The Loopy Librarian
If I won this Flash Gordon set, I would be my teenaged son's hero! He would buy me a cape and call me Supermom! Thanks for this amazing giveaway!
Nancy Harrower
32. harrower
I have been in love with Flash Gordon since a child watching the TV shows! I'd love to win this set of books - but just in case I don't, I'm going to buy the set anway! (Then I can give this set to my son for Christmas!)
Lori Myers
33. trixie42
This would make an awesome gift for my dad! He loved Flash Gordon!
William Fee
36. WTBFee
This looks great. And like something I could never buy on my own...
37. jcurtin
One of the great strips by one of the greatest comics artists of all time.
lillian kowalewski
38. lilliandee61
love flash gordon!love the artwork also,great!
Cary Gordon
40. NotEd3k
My Dad introduced me to Flash Gordon years ago with the movie in the 80's. Now I'm a huge fan!
Ken Robinson
41. krob47
I love the battle between Flash and Ming.
Please accept my entry. Thank you.
Gregory Sparks
42. sparkplug54
A whole big book of the legendary Alex Raymond. Wow, what a prize.
Patricia
43. Patrekee
I have a grandson who is an aspiring graphic novelist. He'd love this!
Erin Hartshorn
46. ErinMH
Ooh, Flash Gordon! (I'm the only one with the cheesy '80s theme song in my head, right?)
Cindi Hoppes
48. CindiHoppes
Our sons would really enly this...
Thanks, Cindi
jchoppeshotmailcom
Louis Burklow
49. Nash62
I'm a long-time Flash Gordon fan and would love to have this volume.
50. BigRed
Been a long time Flash Gordon fan
Jack Curtin
51. jackc
Great collection. Whoever wins ought to be very pleased.
52. JAMES LYNAM
FLASH IS AWESOME. I LOVE WATCHING THE OLD SERIALS ON TAPE.
Chi Shannon
55. anastasiafall
Wow, this is amazing! Thanks for the chance :)
MaryC
56. maryc
Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
Joseph Whiteman
58. JoeNoir
It would really make my Christmas, and my year, if I won this beautiful item. Thank you so much for the chance to enter. Flash!
Joan Boose
59. joan.boose
Some fond memories would be a great gift. Thank you for offering me the chance.
60. stanley177
Would love the chance to explore all the lands of Mongo!
malcolm womack
61. adamburt
I can't believe that there have been over sixty comments, and no one has yet said ... GORDON'S ALIVE!
derek
62. tvc15
So cool! I would really, really like to win this.
63. kellison94544
Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon work has always been a favorite of mine. This book will be a great addition to my library.
Dave Lesinski
64. fcsdave
Flash Gordon is a classic. Does anyone else remember the Filmation Saturday morning cartoon? They kept the character style surprisingly true to the comic strip. That was a favorite show when I was a kid, well except for the second season when they added a goofy flying dragon. Thank you for the great giveaway.
Benno Kiewe
65. vball01
Always loved Flash Gordon and the rest of the gang.
Ronald Roseborough
67. Ronrose1
Don't be Merciless, enter me in a Flash.
Heather Martin
68. CrystalMirror
Flash hasn't been treated well in mainstream media. It's nice to see him getting the treatment he deserves.
Brenda Tucker
69. rango3
A great strip in book form - wonderful!
Angela Bartlett
70. bartlettpair
I can't wait! I have enjoyed Flash Gordon for years!
David Boyington
71. tardisguy
this looks great. I would love to win this. I have always been a fan of Flash Gordon.
Jaime Hypes
72. twistingthelens
This looks amazing. Flash Gordon brings back such great memories.
73. Ellen Bean
It would be interesting to see some original Flash Gordon.
georgiann
74. Georgiann
would love to win a copy for my son big super hero fan.
Al Sirois
76. alsirois
I love Alex Raymond. I'm an artist, and he had a big influence on me -- and more importantly, on my mentor. I think his FG work is among his best stuff.
Richard Phillips
81. JKrabbie
I have been a fan of Flash Gordon, since I had a chance to meet Buster Crabbe at a festival and was introduced to the character through the old film serials.
82. Auriette
My husband and I grew up watching the Flash Gordon serials on "Matinee at the Bijou." I bought him some of the individual volumes of the Alex Raymond strips, but I wasn't able to complete the collection. It's good to know all the strips are now available in one book. They're really beautiful!
Auriette Lindsey
83. Taminar
My husband and I grew up watching the Flash Gordon serials on "Matinee at the Bijou." I bought him some of the individual volumes of the Alex Raymond strips, but I wasn't able to complete the collection. It's good to know all the strips are now available in one book. They're really
beautiful! And now, my name should be in black.
ron grande
84. zedthewizard
i used to watch the old serials as a kid . . . great idea, great contest.
86. Regina m
Love Flash G. Would love to share with DH and DS.
JAMES LYNAM
87. jpl123456
FLASH IS MY HERO.
LOVE THE COMICS.
WATCH ALL THE SERIALS AGAIN & AGAIN.
teresa sopher
88. tas58
Sounds like a great book. Just read one about Superman's origins......
Robin Pasholk
91. arel1
Flash is an old friend, and I'd love to renew our friendship!
Laura Juarez
93. ljuarez88
This would really be an Totally Supertly Awesome prize to win and give to my boyfriend's 13 yr old son!!!
Joanne Mielczarski
94. jtmswim
This is a great gift for everyone who ever enjoyed Flash Gordon - bring it on!
Sherri Bailey
95. sherri19
Would so love to have this for my SO...thanks for the chance!
Anthony Malaschak
96. malazz
I love Flash Gordan. I grew up reading him. This is awesome!!
Debra Kidle
97. lubelle
I would enjoy reading this so much, thanks for the chance!
Michelle Walters
98. morganowl28
Great contest, thanks for the chance to win
kathy pease
99. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Richard Titanic
101. hity88
I grew up with Flash - what a great capture this would be for me.
102. dianeba53
I love and grew up with Flash Gordon
Mary DeBorde
103. emial75
Flash Gordon is my sci-fi hero!! I grew up reading his off world adventures and would LOVE to have this! Thank you for a very AWESOME giveaway
Tim Hughes
104. packerfantimmy
This would make a great Christmas gift......for me!
Daniel Morrell
105. godan
my bro is a big fan and would love it!
Tim Moss
109. Yupbucket
Hey! I loved the 1980 film! But I'd like to check this out too.
Kim Ellison
112. kellison94544
Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon work has always been a favorite of mine. This book will be a great addition to my library.
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