After thoroughly humiliating Queen Qroze, Ming has sent a clear message to the other races of Mongo. And though his father may not be too impressed with his son’s actions, Ming does not appear fazed or deterred. It seems only to steady his resolve and reinforce his ambitions to shape Mongo into what he wants. Others seem to have taken notice of this and offer their aid, as a younger, pre-mask wearing Klytus is introduced, who has a new weapon for the Prince of Mongo. Ming also shows off more of his hands on approach when, after meeting a beautiful slave girl who is to be sacrificed in the lottery, he dives into the water and takes the fight directly to the Shark Men.
As good as the first issue was, Beatty made sure to up the ante here. This isn’t a “descending into evil” story, because Ming is who he is and Beatty fully embraces this, which makes for a more ruthless tale. We witness the events that are leading up to Ming receiving his moniker of “Merciless,” and even though there is a bit of predictability in the story, Beatty finds several ways to slip in some satisfying surprises along the way. Everything he’s put into this issue and the previous one is quickly solidifying Ming as an even better villain, since we actually have a cool origin tale. Much of what is taking place will have you hating him and cheering for him at the same time. That, to me, is the sign of a good villain.
One thing that has always been a strength of the Flash Gordon mythos is the exotic look of Mongo and its inhabitants. None of this is lost in the pages of Merciless, as Adrian brings some pretty strong visuals to this story. From the brutal mutilation of Queen Qroze to the confrontation with the Shark Men, you’re totally immersed in the world this story takes place in. If I had one complaint it would be that the gold color becomes a bit overwhelming at times when the story takes place in the palace. Other than that minor issue, the story moves well, and now we know why Klytus wears the mask. It’s little things like this that add to the story for those longtime fans.
There was a bit of hesitation on my part when this series was announced, only because of what was already built up in my mind about how great a villain Ming is. Now that he’s being fleshed out a bit more and Beatty is showing us how he achieved his title, I couldn’t be happier with what has taken place so far. A good hero is nothing without a great villain, and that is exactly what this creative team is proving about Ming.