I was primed for disappointment honestly. So far, next to maybe The Flash TV series, nothing has pissed away my goodwill as efficiently or quickly as the Pulpy-verse. When I read those first issues of Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake, Jungle Jim I was really ready for what I thought they had planned. Prince Valiant came along with a luke warm kind of confusing first issue, from what I remember. It didn’t stand out to me and it’s taken awhile to get these next issues. In that time I have crossed off each of the above books from the list of things I’m interested in. In one way or another they have all disappointed me as they squandered any potential they might have had. Then Prince Valiant came back. Issue 2 starts with a young, time traveling Flash Gordon coming from the future to save Valiant from the demon cave he spent the first issue in. From there we are introduced to the ACTUAL premise of this book which is Prince Valiant leads a squad of time displaced King-Dynamite characters in a space adventure to save the world.
It’s your basic Avengers Forever formula, which is a great formula actually. THIS is what the Pulpy-verse should have been all along. My personal feeling is that these characters should have been slotted into classic comic archetypes, hell some of these characters are the first of those archetypes, and you give them their own books before drawing them together. The goal should have been crossing them over and drawing them together until you get your super team. King Force! Nah… The Monarchy! I think that might be taken… Royal Flush Gang! Not on the nose enough… The Royal Court! That or King Force, I kind of like King Force (NOTE: After reading Phantom #4 they are apparently called Kings Watch, which is pretty badass). Anyway, the point being, I think these characters should be together more than apart. These characters as individuals has been done to death, put them in a team, that hasn’t really been done before.
So that’s our book, time displaced King Universe characters assembled to fight an evil. If I were to guess it would be a young Ming, which I’m down for. Our team consists of Prince Valiant, teen-age Flash Gordon, Mandrake in a raptor, Pirate Phantom, an old lady Karma and Mandrake nemesis Acheron who is the embodiment of all evil. It’s a pretty solid team, the characters, while arguably not three-dimensional, are at least different enough from each other to be interesting.
Young Flash is funny, not really written well as a teenager, but funny and he already has an interesting dynamic with Pirate Phantom. Pirate Phantom isn’t afraid to engage with Young Flash even though he doesn’t understand anything Young Flash says there is some respect from Phantom for Flash’s athletic ability and fighting prowess. Also of all the Pulpy-verse characters, Mandrake is probably the most well written across the board coming across as smug and smart ass in every appearance. In this book he provides some pretty funny and well done character moments, adding levity when needed.
The story has my attention, the art is serviceable and I’m actually interested in the Pulpy-verse again after being so incredibly disappointed by the other books. I’m hoping they stay the course with Prince Valiant because it has an incredible amount of potential just waiting to be tapped.
King: Prince Valiant #3 (of 4) Writers: Nate Cosby/Ben McCool Artist: Ron Salas Colorist: Luigi Anderson Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/15/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital