Flash Gordon
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Flash Gordon is a science fiction comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond, first published on January 7, 1934. It was created to compete with Buck Rogers.

Plot summary

The comic strip followed the adventures of Flash Gordon, for whom the series was named, and his companions Dr. Hans Zarkov and Dale Arden. The story begins with Dr. Zarkov's invention of a rocket ship, in which the three of them make a journey to the planet Mongo, where they are stranded. Mongo is inhabited by a number of different cultures, some quite technologically advanced, that have been falling one by one under the domination of the vicious tyrant Ming the Merciless.

Each region of Mongo is analogous to regions on Earth. Arboria ruled by Barin and his Tree Men, is a lush forest region. Frigia is a frozen polar region. Tropica is logically a tropic region. There are undersea kingdoms and a flying city ruled by Prince Vultan of the Hawk Men. There are many sentient species on Mongo including lion-men represented by Prince Thun and Shark-men ruled by King Kala.

The three Earthpeople are befriended shortly after their arrival by Prince Barin, rightful heir to the throne that Ming has taken. Ming banishes Prince Barin and his followers — including Ming's own daughter, Princess Aura, Barin's bride — to the forest realm of Arboria, and the three join in Barin's quest to topple Ming.


Steve Holland starred in a 1954-1955 TV series which ran for 39 episodes and is, to date, the only live-action TV series based upon the character. The series had the distinction of being filmed in West Berlin, less than a decade after the end of World War II. It was recut into a movie in 1957.

1980 Film

The 1980 film Flash Gordon stars Sam J. Jones in the title role and also features Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Topol as Dr. Zarkov, Max von Sydow as Ming, Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, and Ornella Muti as Aura. Although not a critical success, the film is also noted for its musical score, which was composed and performed by Queen.

The film is noted for being very camp, and as such has acquired a cult status amongst students, sci-fi fans, and others. Many of the film's lines are very quotable, and often tongue-in-cheek, and this knowing sense of humour contributes heavily to the collective affection with which the picture is remembered. A good example of this is the performance of the actor Brian Blessed, who 25 years later is still most often remembered by the British public as the Hawkman character "Prince Vultan," despite being in many more serious, dramatic roles in film, theatre and television.


Flash Gordon and related characters have also appeared in radio and film serials, animated television shows, comic strips, omic books and postage stamps. A future film by director Stephen Sommers is planned.

The character Ming the Merciless was used as basis for Shepard's 1998 print Ming.