Much like with last week’s Uncanny, I had no idea this book was a mini-series, so I’m kind of annoyed that it’s almost over. Dynamite need to be more up-front about what kind of books they are publishing. At least we’re going to have that Flash Gordon series from Parker afterwards. Is that going to be ongoing? Who knows! This was another very enjoyable issue of what has been a great series, Parker really has done an excellent job at rebooting these classic names, and Marc Laming’s art has just gotten better and better.
The issue begins with a pretty kick-ass villain monlogue from Ming The Merciless, as he broadcasts his evil plans for the Earth across the globe and we see that this threat truly is global, with China, London and (I think) Russia under attack as well as America. The King’s Watch are hearing this too, but they are stranded in the middle of Africa, how can they help? Luckily, Zarkov’s plane was close enough to the portal to avoid being fried, and can fly, but it’s nearly out of fuel. The Phantom says that he has plenty of rocket fuel, so they head to his Skull Cave, which is awesome. I have seen the Billy Zane Phantom movie, but I don’t remember much of it, what I do remember is how cool the Skull Cave, and that returns here. It puts the Bat-Cave to shame. I mean, a giant penny? That’s dumb.
Also inside the Skull Cave is a stone globe called the k’la tidon, which is apparently a companion to the King’s Watch. Mandrake lights a fire under it, and the heroes are able to see what’s going on across the globe, including the location of Ming’s portals. They see that the most immediate threat is in London, so they head off there. A lot of crazy action happens in this issue, but Parker makes sure to not forget character and characterisation, we see Flash Gordon, who is, after all, just a human, struggle in the presence of superhumans like Phantom and Mandrake, and there’s even a romance blossoming between Lothar and Karma.
In London, an army of Beast Men are running riot, killing people left and right, but the King’s Watch soon arrive and put a stop to it, using a combination of their various powers, or just Flash’s impetuousness. Eventually, they buy enough time for Lothar to arrive with a weapon that Zarkov has cobbled together that is able to blast the Beast Army and make them disappear. It’s not clear whether they’ve just been sent back to Mongo or are dead, but does it matter? This is war! From the remaining Beast Man, we discover that they are just the tip of Ming’s invasion, and the next few pages skip through quite few battles, showing the King’s Watch really turn the tide. I think it would have been better to have this mini be 6 issues and devote a whole issue to these conflicts, because now this war does feel brief, but I suppose it would have been repetitive.
The issue ends with Ming hearing about the heroes who have been holding his forces at bay, and sending Cobra and his cult to finish them off. The next issue should be big, there’s a lot for Parker to pay off and also the Flash Gordon series to set up, I’m excited.
As I said, Laming’s art is better than ever here, as he manages to depict the ridiculous of Rhino-Men riding giant lizards in a realistic way which gets across the impact of Ming’s invasion perfectly. His art has positioned these characters firmly in a real, modern world, and that’s made this series feel fresh, and not just an act of nostalgia.