Read Flash Gordon The Complete Daily Strips 1951-1953 by Dan Barry Free Online
Book Title: Flash Gordon The Complete Daily Strips 1951-1953|
The author of the book: Dan Barry
Edition: Kitchen Sink Pr (Nrt)
Date of issue: February 1st 1988
ISBN 13: 9780878160358
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 38.33 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 6.7
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In 1951, FLASH GORDON had been a Sunday-only comic strip for most of its run. A previous daily version ended in 1944, and now, King Features decided to try again. They hired artist Dan Barry, who, at first, both wrote and drew the new FLASH GORDON daily feature. In 1952, famed EC Comics creator/editor Harvey Kurtzman assumed the writing chores. This book begins with Barry’s first strips, sans Kurtzman, and then presents the entire Barry/Kurtzman run. A concluding essay by Dave Schreiner provides context to the work.
Schreiner notes that Dan Barry disliked the “science fantasy” approach of Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond and opted for a more realistic science-based approach. Mongo and its exotic denizens – including main heavy Ming the Merciless – aren’t even mentioned. Hans Zarkov has similarly disappeared. From the famed Alex Raymond run, only Flash and Dale Arden remain. The Barry series is also clearly set in Earth’s more distant future, whereas the Raymond strips seemed to be set in either the present or near future. Naturally, there is no explanation for these changes.
As the Barry strips begin, we meet Flash and Dale on a rocket ship, headed for Jupiter. There’s a detour onto an artificial prison world, where an outbreak occurs. Despite the science fiction setting, there’s a “crime drama” feel to this opening story, and one could even argue that a film noir influence is present. Barry’s artwork, too, provides more “hard boiled realism” than we saw in the lush, larger-than-life fantasy of Alex Raymond.
When Flash Gordon reaches Jupiter, Harvey Kurtzman arrives and then, something interesting occurs. Barry continues his more realistic approach in the art, but the stories start to resemble more traditional Flash Gordon stories. Flash and Dale are transported across the universe, where they encounter tyrants, exotic races, and beautiful women who fall for Flash. On the surface, these are pretty standard Alex Raymond-era tropes, but as Schreiner notes in the book’s concluding essay, Kurtzman’s Flash Gordon stories also contain the kind of messages and social commentary generally associated with the science fiction tales of EC Comics.
The volume concludes with a time-travel adventure that is arguably the best story in the book. Catching a glimpse of an apocalyptic future, Flash travels forward in hopes of preventing it. He encounters a group of future racketeers, and well…let’s just say that things get interesting. The tale is a perfect blend of Kurtzman’s inventive plotting and Barry’s relative realism, with a return to the noirish crime drama atmosphere of the opening story. The two talents are meshing together beautifully at this point, and you get a real sense of some amazing potential, and…then, sadly, it’s all over.
Alex Raymond loyalists may dislike Barry and Kurtzman’s abandonment of Raymond’s continuity, traditional setting and characters. For the rest of us, there’s some solid, entertaining science fiction here, along with some occasionally wacky twists. This may not be the Flash Gordon that we all know, but he’s recognizable nonetheless, and I enjoyed this different take on the character by two highly regarded comics creators.
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