Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Thirteen – “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo”

“The Ice Kingdom of Mongo” was the thirteenth installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally published between March 12, 1939 and April 7, 1940, the epic-length “Ice Kingdom of Mongo” was the first story whose continuity lasted more than a year. “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo” picks up the storyline where the twelfth installment, “The Tyrant of Mongo” left off with Flash, Dale, Zarkov and Ronal rocketing their way to explore the frozen North. The freezing temperatures (100 below zero) cause their rocket ship to crash. While Zarkov and Ronal use heat guns to carve a shelter in the glacier, Flash goes off to hunt an ice bear for dinner unaware that a snow dragon is stalking him. Flash slays the snow dragon, but his shoulder is badly injured in the process. Ingeniously, he severs the dragon’s broad tail to use as a makeshift sled to transport the ice bear’s corpse and himself back to the glacier.

The four of them are quickly apprehended by Queen Fria of Frigia and her troops who are patrolling the area on skis. Taken captive, the group is set upon by a snow serpent. Flash saves the Queen from the monstrous beast and earns a place driving her snowbird-drawn chariot on the ride back to her palace. This earns him the enmity of Count Malo who turns off the heat to Flash’s bedchamber while he sleeps that night knowing that the freezing temperatures could kill him. Flash’s life is saved only by Zarkov’s timely arrival and superior medical knowledge. Determined to succeed, Count Malo disguises himself as Flash’s doctor and attempts to murder him in his hospital bed. Flash’s life is spared thanks to Dale’s intervention. Malo escapes with his identity still hidden from Flash and Dale.

His third attempt on Flash’s life occurs while a recovering Flash is getting some much-needed exercise in the pool with Dale. Count Malo again tampers with the heating mechanism causing the pool to instantly freeze. Flash and Dale barely manage to escape alive. While hunting snow oxen with the Queen’s hunting party, Flash saves Malo’s life from a ravenous ice worm. Ashamed of his actions, Count Malo confesses to his crimes and is stunned when Flash forgives him without demanding retribution. Of course, Malo’s comeuppance is close at hand as the hunting party fall prey to a tribe of primitive giants. Flash and Fria escape from their clutches, but Dale and Ronal are taken as slaves. While setting out to rescue them, Flash and the Queen come upon the frozen corpse of Count Malo which the giants have left behind as a grim warning.


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