When I signed on to review this book, I swear I thought I was getting this King’s Quest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0TLhR51uGY
I did not find Sierra or the craggy animation of my youth. Instead, I found this:
Was that a Ronnie James Dio knockoff singing that intro? Damn, that gave me goose bumps.
Okay, for those who don’t know or remember Defenders of the Earth or Sierra’s King’s Quest, let me get you up to speed. Some obscure and almost forgotten cool heroes from a long time ago banded together to protect humanity. Collected in this group are Flash Gordon, a space hero; The Phantom, “The Ghost Who Walks” in a purple outfit and has some kind of powers; Prince Valiant, the Thor of the group; and Mandrake the Magician.
Told from the point of view of Jen Harris, friend to Flash Gordon’s girlfriend and Dale Arden. Harris now shares the role of The Phantom with the other hulking male Phantom guy.
Confused yet? If you lived in the 1930’s United States, you would be shitting yourself right now. Unfortunately, this is 2016 and this is also a comic book put out by Dynamite, the company that made a Voltron/Robotech crossover boring as hell.
Phantom Jen Harris flashes back to the days of the burgeoning reusable rocket era when she and Dale reported on the progress. We then jump to current time for the comic where Flash crashes a rocket and Harris pukes.
The group looks to take down Ming the Merciless. If you want to know who that is, watch the Flash Gordon movie from the 80s featuring music by Queen and Max Von Sydow as Ming. The guy who played Flash, Sam Jones, enjoyed a revival from the Ted movies. Oh, and don’t mistakenly do a web search for Flesh Gordon.
The group gets besieged by forest monsters, but before things get gory, Jungle Jim saves them. I wish I were making this up. Ming’s forces attack, and the group fights together with the forest creatures that are now on their side. Yeah, I wish I were making this up.
We then get some insight on a character that remains concealed and Harris’ role as heir to the mantle of the Phantom. We learn of the whereabouts of Dale Arden in a cliffhanger that leaves Harris puking and fans waiting for the next issue.
The art on the book is well done. The balancing of panels and the depiction of action comes through clear in the capable hands of artist Dan McDaid. I particularly appreciated the way McDaid handled Prince Valiant’s multi-panel attack later in the book.
The concept and execution feels flat, though. Few people know of these characters at the moment. Selling a book like this will not go over to big with such antiquated, obscure characters. On top of that, the book takes itself a little too seriously. Granted, Acker and Corson give it the college try by presenting Harris as the perspective character and making another character’s hidden identity a plot device. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t resound with characters that work together as a cohesive team. And since the subject matter dances into the grey area around the odd and the absurd, we don’t have enough humor or tongue-in-cheek tone to balance the over-the-top nature of steroid monkey monsters or magicians who use card tricks to take down villains.
I believe that there is a time and a place for this book to make a big impact on readers. This just isn’t that time and that place.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="violet" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 2/5[/button]
King’s Quest #1 Writers: Ben Acker & Heath Corson Artist: Dan McDaid Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/4/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital