Ever since being introduced to the world of Flash Gordon as a child, I’ve always had lingering questions regarding Ming’s past. How did he become the ruler of Mongo? What the hell was Mongo like before the Merciless one gained power? Were all the races always at each other’s throats? Well, what we have in this issue actually begins to answer those questions, and Beatty keeps Ming cool and merciless just the way he should be. It’s actually very refreshing to see that the Ming we are introduced to at the height of his power was as cold and calculating a man during his father’s reign. This behavior seems to be nurtured by his father very quietly but directly, as it’s obvious he is grooming Ming for his future role. Though, there is something in Beatty’s words on that first page that makes it seem as if there will be conflict later on, and the result will be bad for everyone except Ming.
The art of Ron Adrian carries this story quite well from beginning to end and looks great! From the character designs of the various races of Mongo to the action sequences, there’s some great visual storytelling going on here. The meetings between Prince Ming and Vultan’s mother, Queen Qroze, were great character defining moments that Adrian made even better. He shows actual fear in Prince Ming, along with the humility that came with their meeting, and that’s something we don’t get to see from this villain. There’s a fair amount of detail in the otherworldly locals that do justice to the environments. There’s not much in the designs that are Earthly, so it definitely gives Mongo a flavor all its own.
The creative team has set up the definitive origin of a truly classic villain, and has done it with style. Sure, we know that Ming eventually becomes the ruler of Mongo, but they seem intent on revealing his journey in a book that’s worth the time. With the recent release of Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist and this title, now is as good a time as any to get in on the ground floor of the Flash Gordon mythos.