Comic Book Collection Blog
My name is John A. Deering.  And I've got so many comic books in my collection right now, it's ridiculous.

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You would not believe how many times

Flash Gordon Did It First

Just check out the first version of Flash Gordon ever made - the original newspaper comic strip from 1934.

What This Strip Did First:

1. World coming to an end

2. Takes place in New York

3. A scientist who nobody believed about the world coming to an end

4. Landscape of Mongo

Flash Gordon Did It Before:

1. A - Superman's Krypton

B - Armageddon (Bruce Willis)

C - 2012

2. Before: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and really Batman's Gotham City and Superman's Metropolis are both based on NY.

Yet after 1905's Little Nemo in Slumberland, which is set in NY.

3. Superman's Krypton (1938), his father Jor-El

4. Landscape of Krypton.  Any time they show you the landscape and nature and wilderness of Krypton . . . yep.  It's all really references to Mongo, the well known world of Flash Gordon's adventures from the 1934 comic strips.

It's just not got that "for kids" feeling of some works, like the Wizard of Oz books, and the Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips since 1905.  It's made more for an audience that is 15 and into video-games.  Case in point, Flash attempts to stab this enormous monster, before Nintendo, before Sega, before Sony PlayStation.

If you're feeling a sensory overload of awesomeness, that's because you've just realized that Flash Gordon battles giant beasts, knights, an Emperor, AND cavemen, in one Sunday strip.  Proof of human evolution is living right there in Ming's Castle.  And to think that, EVEN IN 2016, evolution is still considered to be touchy subject to many. 

Also a mushroom, kind of like Alice in Wonderland, Super Mario Bros. - look above Emperor Ming's head in the lower-left panel.  So, for sure, the kids in the 1930's, who you previously had thought were missing out on the whole A-B-C of Amazing Spider-Man to Isaac Asimov's I, Robot to Star Trek, really had all this.  You've met Star Wars?  Now meet the Emperor that taught Star Wars everything it knows.

What This Did First:
- King Kong vs. Godzilla
- the Twilight Zone episode, "It's A Good Life", where the kid conjures up imagery of two dinosaurs fighting - maybe a reference to this?  In the original short-story, he had conjured up images of shapes wriggling about nonsensically.  "It never made any sense."  The TV version had a more clear image of two dinosaurs viciously tearing into each other.
- The phrase mortal combat: Flash Gordon uses it here.  The 1980 movie has Flash Gordon and Prince Barin fighting in a pit of spikes, in a fight of trial by combat.  The hawkman even yells "Finish him!" in that 1980 movie.
- This would be a badass video-game if made by the makers of Mortal Kombat

This would have been Mortal Kombat to you if you had lived in 1934.

Look at how well that fight scene was choreographed.

In a comic strip.

Princess daughter of villain saves hero's life, having fallen for him.  Later inspiring: Princess Kitana of Mortal Kombat.  Maybe.

You would think a princess is a Disney kind of concept, but the princess daughter of an Emperor is shown in Flash Gordon in this cool, Star Wars kind of way.  In the 1980's you had Mario and Zelda.  In the 90's, Princess Kitana in Mortal Kombat II, and the movies.  In the 30's, this was Mario, Zelda, and Mortal Kombat in one.  In fact, magic is real in Flash Gordon.

In terms of Mario, this comic strip takes from the Renaissance at times, and so it's like Super Mario Bros.; he generally travels through every kind of terrain in the world, from "snow and ice" to "underwater" to "up in the air" to plenty more, like Mario 3; it's high-tech like Super Mario Land, and has a touch of dinosaurs like Super Mario World.  So, you name it, and this guy has done it first.  The strip below is exactly "with it" for that cool feeling all PlayStation games were going for.  To think that no Flash Gordon game ever was made for the PlayStation is just . . . baffling . . . LOOK at it!

- Futurama
- Star Wars
- the War of the Worlds movie
- Everything that was done in Space Invaders: bunch of ships blasting lasers, and a hero armed with a laser gun.  Technically, Space Invaders could be retooled into Flash Gordon (you know, a ROM hack) simply by replacing aliens with spinning gyros, the backdrop of space with Mongo City, and the Space Invaders ship with the ship Flash is seen inside at the final panel
- Jesus Criminy Christ I think that should be enough for a single Sunday strip

Although Flash Gordon did all these marvelous things long before countless movies and video-games became famous for them, Flash Gordon also came out after books and novels had covered basically everything in the world.  I assume that Renaissance fantasy magic books had dragons, the War of the Worlds existed as a novel, and other futuristic books had the Futurama-like world.  But all in one, in a single video-game!

From then on, I bet kids saw spinning tops as this elevated sight of spaceships blasting and leveling a futuristic city.

- Flash Gordon finds his outfit, his main costume, in the bad guy's ship - before the movies of Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter.  That's right, stuff done in the "movies based on video-games" genre, where the video-game costume is found toward the end in the bad guy's castle, Flash Gordon did it first.

This came out before:
- the Wizard of Oz (1939)

See how Mario ought to look?  New Super Mario Wii U makes Mario look silly.  Actually, Mario did become comic books in several forms, one of them the Valiant Comics run in the late 80's.

To be fair, a black-and-white version did exist, called "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", as of 1911.  Lots of movies in the 1910's decade came out before more well-known 1930's remakes.  However, it was not a color movie where people sing.  This Cowardly Lion-looking character was there before the 1939 movie, yet way after the 1905 book, if Frank Baum's work is even a factor or not.

This is way cooler than the Wizard of Oz.  It's for an older audience.  It captures that 1930's unphraseable need for video-game action, in games like Metroid.  This comic strip has the feeling of Metroid right now.

I'm shocked that there never came a massive RPG-like action game re-enacting this total quest.  Prince Thun could join Flash's side like in an RPG.

This also came before Star Wars' many random beasts and creatures.

Before Jurassic Park

Red Droks.  Who ever heard of such a thing?  You could not say it was predictable, or that you saw it coming.  Now Flash Gordon is becoming more creative than collecting together well-known things like knights and dragons and spaceships.  But, as the very first few panels of the first comic strip show you: look all around Earth and you will find the fantastic everywhere.  Real life had the Stegosaurus, so why not the Droks?  Are they not more feasible anyway?

Marriage between villain and girl was later shown in comic books of Super Mario World (Super Mario Adventures) and Mortal Kombat (Malibu BattleWave comics).

Flash Gordon also inspired Star Wars, and was before Avatar's blue people of Pandora.

Star Wars and Mortal Kombat both turn out to have an Emperor as the higher power beyond the first villain introduced.  Flash Gordon had Emperor Ming, whose mercilessness captures the dark parts of powerful men in human history.  In that sense, Flash Gordon takes from futuristic elements and old-time ones.  Religion is discussed as well: different lands around Mongo have different religions and dieties.  Well holy crap, if the evolution parts weren't controversial, that sure ought to be.

So what came BEFORE Flash Gordon?

Late 19th century - the War of the Worlds, the book

1905 - the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the book

1905 - Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, the newspaper comic strip.  Little boy Nemo goes on adventures every time he dreams, and wakes up at the end of every strip back in bed to wake up to a terrible reality.  But this is just so much more 15-ish; it's like comparing the early 80's to 1994.

I guess Buck Rogers was the other major sensational character who came before Flash Gordon, a character living 500 years in our future.  Flash Gordon lives today (1934) but travels to the futuristic planet Mongo.  Buck Rogers had traveled simply to the future of Earth.  Superman had once been imagined as the future final man of Earth, when the Sun is dying out, sent back in time to the 1930's.  Superman finally ended up being a human-looking extraterrestrial baby rocketed to Earth from Krypton.

With so many versions of Batman made, from 1989 to 2014, how could they not make any new versions of Flash Gordon in that time?

Not since 1983 has there been a Flash Gordon video-game.  It has the dual-screen formatting of the Nintendo DS, in 1983 - a permanent map view in the lower half, a spaceship flying around in the upper half.

And so it turns out that Flash Gordon invented the radar map-view in video-games before Zelda did it in 1986.

Mario AND Zelda.

But, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon does have a Create-A-Fighter mode, which allows you to craft basically any character you could think of.  Some of the presets have names like "Ming" (beard) and "Mongol" (shirt).  Mortal Kombat intentionally had presets to make Flash Gordon characters easy to make.  Some other presets make it just as easy to make Akuma, from Street Fighter, Jason Vorhees, and the Thunder God as seen in Big Trouble in Little China.

Ming has yellow skin, because, and this leads me to my next point, FLASH GORDON HAD YELLOW SKIN BEFORE THE SIMPSONS.

By now you are doubtlessly blown away and questioning how you never knew that Flash Gordon was really the skeletal framework that gave us so many different things.

Flash Gordon

Emperor Ming

Princess Aura

Thun, Prince of the Lion-Men

Red Monkey Men of Mongo