By: Eric Trautmann (plot and script), Alex Ross (plot and art direction), Daniel Indro and Ron Adrian (art), Slamet Mujiono (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor)

Chapter Three: The Monsters of Mongo: Flash, recently escaped with an assist from the luscious Princess Aura, is shot down in the territory on the lion men. Pursuing agents: should we use surgical strike? Ming: no, make it messy. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Adolph is getting some military aid from old Merciless. Hail Ming!

What’s Good: This is one of two sword and planet titles I’ve picked up from Dynamite this week (see Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #10, for the other). Sword and planet is a fun, escapist form (well, let’s face it, the whole comics medium is an escapist form, but this is more escapist than say, the street level crime of the Kingpin or something). Ross and Trautmann make full use of its conventions. We’ve got alluring evil princesses, quick getaways, strange moons with dangerous aliens, an empire full of goons, all lead by an implacable tyrant. Our hero is daring, truehearted and consummately dangerous, and he’s setting his sights on the bad guy. This is swashbuckling adventure for adventure’s sake, modernized with better tech and science, but at its core, beats a heart of pulp.
The art by Indro and Adrian under the direction of Ross is awesome. I love the draftsmanship and especially the close attention to facial expression, and the shadow and texture required to make it real. The castles and moons and trees and ships and other costumes are evocatively alien, and basically, it is a fiesta for the eyes.

What’s Not So Good: The only tinny notes I’ll make on the art design is Flash’s costume this issue and last, which looks like a bunch of Christmas ornaments barfed on a muscle suit. I know the color pattern goes back to Alex Raymond, but I think some modern compromise might have made it less loud. Likewise, I lost the thread in a few of the action sequences, because the art team had jammed so much stuff into each panel. It’s a nice reason to have a problem, but the composition problem was there in a few spots nonetheless.

Conclusion: A fine sword and planet adventure starring one of science fiction’s icons. Beautiful art and exciting peril.

Grade: B

-DS Arsenault

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