Even before I discovered Superman and other comic book heroes, I used to look at the newspaper strips in the local daily, where I enjoyed the adventures of the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. Both were created by Lee Falk back in the 1930s, and while they’ve struggled to find a place in comic books, Dynamite is trying to turn that around.
They are joined by another famous feature of the funny pages, Flash Gordon. All three are currently owned by King Features, and have been established as part of the same universe.
In Kings Cross, Earth is struggling with the aftermath of an interworld war. Ming the Merciless of the planet Mongo attempted to invade, but was thwarted by Flash, Mandrake and the Phantom. Now, the planet struggles to adjust to the technological set-back created by an electro-magnetic pulse, only to face new perils.
Mandrake has discovered that a series of tremors and tidal waves all share a common origin point, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Together with Flash, Dale and Zarkov, they journey out to sea to investigate, only to discover an entire continent the size of Greenland has been transported from Mongo. Like all super-villains, Ming is harder to defeat than the heroes believed, and is behind this incursion.
I enjoy the nostalgic factor of uniting the King Features characters. However, some updates have occurred. Lothar, once Mandrake’s manservant, is now the current Phantom, and is assisted by a young female. Zarkov is a bit of a tippler, yet still a brilliant scientist. These changes seem somewhat organic and nature, and work well, in my opinion.
Flash, on the other hand, is still the much-admired hero to many he’s always been In fact, he has apparently adopted the futurist fashions found on Mongo, and is quick to wage into battle against enemy agents determined to rise to world power. His hand-to-hand combat with them seems carefully choreographed. Whether that’s the writer or the artist’s doing, I couldn’t say, but I like it.
The artwork is different than most comics. It’s not the dynamic drawing we see from comic book legends such as Neal Adams or Jim Lee. Instead, it has a bit of a cartoony, retro-feel. It’s similar to that of Darwyn Cooke, yet different; consistent without being an imitation.