Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Nine – “The Tusk Men of Mongo”

“The Tusk Men of Mongo” was the ninth installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally printed between February 7 and April 18, 1937, “The Tusk Men of Mongo” picks up the storyline where the eighth installment, “The Forest Kingdom of Mongo” left off with Flash and Dale unknowingly venturing into Tusk Men territory. The Tusk Men are a Neanderthal-like race of blue-skinned men with prehensile tails. They live in tribes and have fashioned crude tools such as axes. One of their scouts spies Flash and Dale and despite Flash carrying a makeshift spear, they are quickly overwhelmed by five of the Tusk Men.

Flash and Dale are bound and led many miles away to a vast network of caves where the Tusk Men dwell. There, we learn that the Tusk Men can speak a simple form of English as well as their own bestial language, and that they are cannibals who have captured Flash and Dale to devour them. The tribe is ruled by One-Tusk who claims Dale for his mate. Dale pleads for Flash’s life is to be spared to no avail. Just as he is about to be pitched into the flames, Flash breaks free of his bonds and fights against his captors. The Tusk Men greatly outnumber him and the Earth man is quickly recaptured. Death appears unavoidable.

A predatory tigron (a tiger with a single horn on its head) attacks One-Tusk just as Flash is about to be burned alive. Taking advantage of the distraction caused by the tigron’s attack, Flash rescues One-Tusk by lassoing the tigron and throwing it into the flames. His actions win him a reprieve. One-Tusk offers Flash the chance to hunt with the tribe. If Flash is successful in providing for the tribe’s feast, his life will be spared. If he fails, Flash will be eaten instead.


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