Comic Publishers

October 7, 2010

A Flash of Genius: Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Vol.1

Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Vol.1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Art By: Paul Norris, Frank Thorne, and others not credited at the time
Written By: Due to industry standards at the time, credits were not issued

Flash Gordon has taken on numerous incarnations over the years. Originating as a comic strip in 1934 by Alex Raymond, he spawned serials, movies, TV, and as one may imagine, a slew of comic books. Over the years, nearly every single company from Marvel down to DC took a shot at this timeless character, however his days in comic books started with Dell Comics. One could imagine the endless amounts of expansive coolness Flash Gordon could receive with comic books, now given a 40-some page format to rock out an adventure on versus the usual one page heroics, however even as the intro by Batton Lash admits, this was not the case. It was hard for others to create the illustrated detail Raymond mastered in the strip, given his level of training. Not by any means, though, does that mean these comics are bad. They are quite the opposite, and in fact are a great example of sci-fi story telling printed in comic books in their time. Now, if you go in expecting the book cover illustration quality of Raymond’s comic strip, you’re not going to get that. However, if you go in expecting the quality of story telling in writing and what was the standard for comic book interior illustration at the time, then you are off to the races with a set of great comics here.

Reprinted in these beautiful glossy pages from Dark Horse are Dell Four Color Comics Issues #173, 190, 204, 247, 424, and 512 (which are Flash Gordon’s appearances in that title), and Flash Gordon issue #2, all from Dell Comics. Art wise the cover art is a ton of fun on these, where the interior art, although nothing to write home about, is standard for its time and effectively tells the stories and looks fantastic in its bright colors. Writing wise I found it interesting that the early issues of Dell Four Color Comics use the story telling style similar to the strip, where word bubbles were hardly used, like the original strip the majority of the action is just told in narration boxes, effectively moving along these huge stories and entertaining us every step of the way. Starting with the later issues it switches formats to an all word bubble traditional comic book layout, still effective and never missing a moment.

My personal favorite out of this collection was Dell Four Color Comics issue #424, which tells a Flash Gordon tale of an adventure pre-Mongo (for non-fans of Flash, in his first adventure he launches into space and lands on the planet Mongo, starting his whole epic), where as a test pilot he lands on the moon and fights off some evil spies in the secret space race. Very cool twist and entry into the Flash Gordon universe. I also love the inside covers of these stories, which include cut outs to make things like your own Flash Gordon┬árocket-ship, or facts about space, once again making comics into something more than just what parents would consider “a comic” at the time.

Dark Horse has once again given us a stellar reproduction of classic material, with all the pages crisp, clear, colorful, and on glossy print. Like their other archive reprints, they give us a stellar quality we wouldn’t find anywhere else, making collectors and fans of this long out-of-print material, very, very happy. Buy it today!

Drew McCabe



  1. He’ll save every one of us!!!

  2. […] was wildly fond of. This second volume of Dark Horse’s reprints of Flash Gordon comics (click here for vol. 1) contains all 11 issues of King Comics’ (King Features Syndicates short lived […]

  3. […] Flash Gordon reprints, which I dig more and more with each volume. Check out our reviews of volume one, two, and three right […]

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