Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Flash Gordon: Vengeance of Ming GN
Deneen & Garcia
Flash Gordon is back on Earth and all seems to be going well for the hero that saved Mongo from Ming and plenty of other baddies. However, as the title states, not everything is rosy. Ming was missing for much of the previous arc, Invasion of the Red Sword, but he manages to come back with a, well, a Vengeance in this the penultimate act of Deneen’s modern day Flash Gordon masterpiece. This should not be missed.
The story is not what I was expecting. Flash and Dale are not together as you might have thought would have happened. Zarkov is back to living as a hermit and the special trio seems to have broken apart. While this going on, other races from Mongo start populating pockets of Earth. Some are friendly but not all. The twist here is that all of Flash’s hard work on Mongo seems to have been undone. The extent seems to be revealed in the book’s end. It’s clever and fairly shocking.
Deneen begins to connect the dots from his previous stories, most notably, The Secret History of Mongo arc. Ming has moved all of his chess pieces into place and he is striking at Earth when it seems to be least expecting it. The story is loaded with some good mystery to leave the reader confused as to what is really occurring as the story unfolds. The deception leads right into the fabulous, but mysterious ending.
One of the joys of Deneen’s writing is how he weaves his own story while picking up little tidbits that make Flash Gordon’s history so vast. For example, many people only know Flash Gordon from the 1980 film. Deneen makes great use of that by peppering direct lines from the film (or Queen’s soundtrack) once an arc or so. These kinds of Easter Eggs also call upon the original strips from the 1930s. Deneen knows how to cater to the hardcore fan and the ones that might be newer to the club.
Garcia continues to impress. This issue is slightly different because of the slower start to the story as he repositions the characters. The script doesn’t demand the same level of ramp up as the single issue and Garcia is up to the task as he gives off a nice slow burn kind of story that build up until the ultimate race to the finish. Still, his forte remains how he depicts Dale. She is strong, beautiful and smart with an attitude. He truly has a knack for capturing the essence of the character. The whole book builds to a magnificent conclusion and Garcia’s pencils nearly steals the show.
The arc is told in graphic novel format, which presents some pluses and minuses. One of the strengths of Deneen’s writing was the cliffhangers at the end of each single issue in the previous volumes. What Deneen does is create a solid build up to an amazing cliffhanger that leads us directly into the final act: King of the Impossible. My concern was muted.
The minus is the story is done just as it ramps up. Without the monthly format to pace the story I felt like I finished just as I settled in. Personally I would have liked more than the fifty pages of story, but I am fairly greedy.
The book, however, is packed with goodies in the back including an amazing layout of the characters used throughout the Flash Gordon series as well as Deneen’s reasoning behind their usage. Deneen left no character out of the mix by creating a very rich story while paying homage to Raymond’s creation, in more ways than one.
Action, thrills, excitement that is all wrapped around tremendous character building and terrific artwork that helps to make this story (and all in this series) something that is not to be missed. This is the “Empire Strikes Back” if you will of Deneen’s Flash Gordon work, except Flash doesn’t end up in carbonite. Or does he? Find room in your budget to pick this up. You are witnessing an instant classic in the making. Will he save every one of us?
4.5 out of 5 geek goggles