Flash Gordon was once a smart, athletic but still ordinary man, a graduate of Yale and a part-time Polo player -- until he was captured by evil forces and taken to distant planet, Mongo. There he became the great fighter of these evil forces named Flash Gordon, the "King of the Impossible". Together, with his acquaintances Dr. Hans Zarkov and his love interest, Dale Arden. He has saved Earth on several different occasions, namely from his Arch-Foe Ming the Merciless, the Evil Emperor of the Planet Mongo.
When several meteors crashed into Earth, Dr. Hans Zarkov kidnapped Flash and Dale Arden, to find where the meteors came from. They set their course for the planet Mongo on a rocket ship invented by Zarkov. While there they discovered that the meteors are actually being used as weapons by Ming the Merciless. Ming is immediately attracted to Dale and desires her to be his wife. But she refuses.
Alex Raymond created, wrote and drew the character of Flash Gordon from his first appearance in King Comics #7 released in 1934 until he enlisted in the Marines to fight in World War II. Flash was inspired by and created to compete against fellow science-fiction hero Buck Rogers. Recently, Dynamite Entertainment has revived the character of Flash Gordon.
Major Story Arcs
For years Flash, Dale, and Zarkov have many great adventures on the planet Mongo. Along their adventures they occasionally team up with Prince Thun. They travel to many different places on their journey including the Jungle Kingdom, Undersea Kingdom, the Ice Kingdom, and even the Flying city of the Hawkmen. After their long adventure on Mongo they are called back to Earth to defend it from the Red Sword Invaders. Afterwards they leave Earth for a short time and explore other planets. When they return to Earth they make it their home base.
After that Flash joins the World Space Council. During the Skorpii War, Flash and his two friends travel to other planets and even return to Mongo at times. While back at Mongo they discover that Prince Barin of the forest kingdom, has taken over and married Ming's daughter Aura. Since Prince Barin has taken over Mongo it has been a relatively peaceful planet except for the occasional attempts to retake control of Mongo by Ming.
Based loosely on the comic strips of Alex Raymond, the three Flash Gordon cliffhanger serials are considered classics by serial fans. Universal Pictures cast former Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon and he played the part to perfection in all three serials.
The three serials took advantage of Flash Gordon's popularity in the comic strips of the day and became some of the most memorable science-fiction motion pictures to the World War II generation. All three serials were filmed in black and white.
The first serial, "Flash Gordon" has 13 chapters and is considered by some serial experts to be the best cliffhanger serial ever made. The second serial, "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars" has 15 chapters and the third, and final serial, "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" has 12 chapters.
Steve Holland was cast as Flash for all 31 episodes in the 1954-55 "Flash Gordon" television series.
The 1980 Flash Gordon movie cast Sam J. Jones as Flash, with Ming the Merciless played by Max von Sydow, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Topol as Zarkov, Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan and future Bond Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin. The film saw Flash reinvented as a quarterback rather than a polo player as in the original comics. Not a success at the time of release, it has since become a cult classic.
The 2007 the cable SyFy Channel featured a teen/twenty-something soap-opera type Flash Gordon series which starred Eric Johnson as Flash.
From 1979 to 1980 the animation studios of Filmation produced a Flash Gordon cartoon with the idea of creating a quality animated franchise which would be for boys what Disney was for girls. The animated series is often called "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon" in an attempt to distinguish it from earlier Flash Gordon vehicles, but it's actually titled simply "Flash Gordon." Flash Gordon was initially supposed to be made as a full-length animated feature film for the NBC television network but was later changed to an animated series which only lasted two seasons.
The first season was serial in nature with a new, sequential chapter showing each week. Unfortunately, NBC was unhappy with the serial format of the first season (it made showing reruns much more difficult) insisted on changing the format for second year. The second season featured 'stand-alone' episodes and was aimed at a much younger audience. The series also introduced and featured a small dragon named "Gremlin" as a comic-relief type character typical of that era's entertainment formula for kids. This drop-off in storyline quality and characterization lead to a drop in ratings which quickly lead to the series' cancellation.
Filmation made another stab at the character with a one-off animated movie in 1982, but not before Flash's return to the big screen in a live action feature (below).
In 1986 Flash returned to cartoons alongside fellow King Features' stars Mandrake, Lothar and the Phantom, joining together as the Defenders of the Earth to battle Ming the Merciless. The series lasted 65 episodes.