There are characters that are created that not only stand the test of time, but go on to influence other great works. Alex Raymond created such a character with Flash Gordon and the universe he lived in. Making his debut in the Sunday newspaper strips in 1934, Flash Gordon was propelled to greatness with the combined work of Alex Raymond and Don Moore. Raymond brought a quality of art not yet seen in those Sunday strips, along with some of the most unique and action filled stories he and Moore could come up with.
In this first volume, Titan not only reprints the Sunday strips from the years 1935 to 1937, but has also made them look amazing with the restoration. This is something of a feat considering the age of these stories and how they were printed back then. The only noticeable flaw (if you can call it that, again considering the time of these publications) is that the colors sometimes don’t line up with the artwork. It’s mostly subtle and is only a minor inconvenience when reading these stories. Which themselves are amazing considering that in just a few panels Raymond and Moore succeed with what some of today’s writers fail to accomplish in a regular twenty-two page comic book.
There is also an introduction by Alex Ross who gives some excellent background information on some of the events surrounding Alex Raymond’s creating of Flash Gordon, and the ensemble cast of characters in his world. From how it’s written you can tell that Ross is passionate about this project, and it makes this introduction very much worth reading before you dive into the adventures of Gordon, Dale, and Zarkov as they battle Ming the Merciless. He speaks of the impact of Raymond’s creation at a time when science fiction was brand new, and how his artwork blew people away. If you look at what people were doing before Raymond was on the scene, and then compare it to what he brought to the genre, you will surely see how his realistic approach in a comic strip was ahead of its time.
As far as presentation goes, this is one huge and good looking book. Much like Titan’s other library editions to have come out and impress fans over the years. There’s a reason why Flash Gordon has endured for so long and has inspired the likes of George Lucas and Ray Bradbury. Raymond created a world here that set the stage for much of what came after, and now Titan has done a great job restoring and collecting those stories for yet another generation to enjoy. So, it pretty much goes without saying that “The Complete Flash Gordon Library – On The Planet Mongo” deserves space on anyone’s shelf claiming to be a science fiction fan, a comic fan, or better yet, a Flash Gordon fan!