Flash Gordon #1
By Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner & Jordie Bellaire
Did somebody just smack me across the face with the Flash Gordon stick? That was one explosive first issue! This initial installment of Dynamite’s revamped run felt like a pure dose of hyperactivity. While a bit more clarification would’ve been appreciated, this was actually a really fun read.
First off, this book is just oozing with pulpy science fiction wildness. Jeff Parker starts the first issue with a seemingly tame, mild beginning set one year previous. These pages had some great humor that was delivered quite well. While a lot of this section was seemingly innocuous, the jump to the present leaps out of nowhere without any warning or buildup! It was jarring at first, especially given the particularly frantic pace of the following sequence. However, Flash Gordon #1 offers a multi-faceted glimpse of pure pulp sci-fi. Crazy spaceships, alien warriors, interdimensional travel, bizarre creatures, and astonishing locales, this book throws everything at you in a fast-paced blur. The protagonists jump from place to place through wormholes as they evade their pursuers. They wind up on a fantastic forested planet and immediately play quite a ruse on their hosts. While it is full of action and excitement, there is relatively little framing for the story. What the heck is going on?! As previously mentioned, more explanation would have been beneficial. This book was still definitely a fun read though! The opening sequence gave some slight insight into Flash and his companions, and how they obtained the material that allowed them to travel through wormholes, so it’s likely that we can expect more explanation in the future.
Evan Shaner’s illustrations in this first installment are just spot-on for this type of book. The overall tone of the visuals has a distinctly pulp sensibility. There is a subtle minimalism that keeps things feeling old school, while there is no slack given to the detail. Every panel feels very dynamic and the overall flow of the visuals is great. Furthermore, the images just appear quite “full” without being bogged down in an overabundance of detail. The creativity is also terrific; all of the different planets, creatures and environments that the characters pass give the book a real sense of fantasy. As always, Jordie Bellaire is a colorist extraordinaire, always showing readers how amazing she is at adapting her style to suit the tone of the book. Flash Gordon is another case in point, as all of the coloring helps enhance the classic look of the artwork. Everything still looks very lush and vibrant throughout the whole book. There are some really excellent subtle details added by the coloring that really bring this issue to life.
While the overall story of this first installment left something to be desired, it can’t be argued that it was a thrilling ride. This book has all the makings of a great pulp sci-fi series, particularly regarding the artwork. A lot of the dialogue really fits this dynamic as well. The frantic opening was quite a jolt, but it looks like the story has settled down on firm ground for a bit. We’ll have to wait until next month to see how this plays out!