Friday, September 17, 2010

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Two – “Monsters of Mongo”

“Monsters of Mongo” was the second installment of Alex Raymond’s FLASH GORDON Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally printed between April 15 and November 18, 1934, “Monsters of Mongo” picked up the storyline where the first installment, “Flash Gordon on the Planet Mongo” left off with an unconscious Flash being rescued from Princess Aura by the Lion Men.

Alex Raymond really begins to hit his stride in portraying the diversity of life on Mongo in this second installment. Prince Thun and Dale Arden are prisoners of Ming’s soldiers. Thun’s father, King Jugrid has retaliated by destroying the kingdom of the Shark Men. Ming’s soldiers have, in turn, annihilated much of the Lion Men’s fleet.

Jugrid orders Aura’s execution. Flash fights to save her life and the two are rescued by Prince Barin. It is in Barin’s kingdom that Flash is at last reunited with Dr. Zarkov. Flash and Zarkov soon form an alliance with Barin and Aura as the unlikely quartet determine to overthrow Emperor Ming.

Of course, Aura being Ming’s daughter quickly betrays our heroes. The sequence culminates in one of the strip’s iconic images as Barin and Flash power the Electric Mole to burrow their way underground and crash through the floor of Ming’s palace just before he can wed Dale.

The influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ AT THE EARTH’S CORE is heavily felt in the Electric Mole sequence, but it is Burroughs’ JOHN CARTER stories that have the greater influence in Raymond’s sophisticated approach in revealing Mongo’s green god, Tao as a hoax.


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