The Return of Flash Gordon

By David Kennedy

 

In his excellent article on The Defenders of the Earth, extrapolating from Art Bollman's account of an earlier team by that name, Greg Gick explains that the Flash Gordon portrayed in that cartoon (who seems to be in his thirties in 2015) is the descendant of Raymond "Flash" Gordon who saved Earth from Ming the Merciless in the 1930s. However, he does not go into much detail about what this Gordon was doing before he and his son Rick joined the Defenders. The assumption seems to be that the Gordon family have been living on Mongo all this time.

 

This is not true.

 

While Flash I did stay on Mongo for quite some time, he and Dale eventually decided their kids should grow up in a "normal" environment. They returned to Earth, although Flash would periodically visit Mongo.

 

Many years later, after Flash's death in circumstances I have not been able to uncover, his grandson William Gordon followed in the family footsteps by joining the US space programme. He married fellow astronaut Katheline Rogers [1] and, in 1981 they had a son, Ray Gordon, who was soon nicknamed "Flash"[2].

 

In 1996, NASA found evidence that Ming the Merciless was once more attempting to open a space-warp between Mongo and Earth. Apparently, since the first Flash had left the planet he had managed to reconsolidate his rule. William Gordon was, naturally, assigned to deal with the situation. The NASA base he was working at arranged for the teenaged Flash and the base commander's daughter, Andrea Dare, to be flown to safety. Instead, however, they crashed outside the home of eccentric scientist Dr Starking [3].

 

Dr Starking, a former student of Hans Zarkov, had also recognised the Mongo space warp. Being less heroic than his mentor, he was working on a method, not of taking the battle to Ming, but of escaping the situation altogether. Instead, however, he inadvertently took them all to Mongo. (It is possible that Flash seized control of the vessel from Starking and flew to Mongo over the scientist's protestations.)  Flash and Andrea destroyed the space warp but they, and Starking, were now trapped on Mongo.

 

Over the next year, Flash and Andrea would become members of the resistance group that battled Ming's rule, befriending Prince Talon of the Hawk People (the son of King Vultan III and the great-grandson of the Vultan the first Flash knew) and Princess Thundar of the Lion People, descendent of Prince Thun. Flash would also form a cautious friendship with Princess Dyna, Ming's youngest daughter [4].

 

Starking, seeing himself as the teenagers' guardian (a role he resented, but was not quite so cowardly as to relinquish), also reluctantly joined the resistance, although his priority remained finding a way of returning to Earth. He was aware that his charges had no interest in returning home until they had helped their friends, but felt he would cross that bridge when he came to it. (It may also have occurred to him that, given the planet's natural hazards and Ming's ruthless regime, a camp of armed resistance fighters was possibly the safest place on Mongo).

 

The record of the rebellion ends abruptly but, given later events, it is evident they eventually succeeded in destabilising (but not vanquishing) Ming's rule. What happened to Dr Starking and Andrea Dare after this is unclear. It seems likely that, with the rebellion mostly successful, Starking would have convinced himself that Flash and Andrea no longer required his "protection". Once the equipment he needed to return home was in the hands of the resistance, he probably volunteered to assure the Gordons and Dares their children were safe.

 

Information suggests that Andrea began a relationship with Prince Talon.  However this cannot be corroborated and her later history is unknown. If true, they presumably settled in the Sky City of the Hawkmen, actually known to Mongovians as Thanagaria [5].

 

We do know what happened to Flash, or at least can guess. He settled on Mongo and began a relationship with Princess Dyna. By now (2004) he must be 23. He and Dyna are married and Rick is beginning to crawl. Eventually, within the next ten years, Dyna will be killed by her father's forces, her consciousness preserved in the crystal that will become the centre of the Dynak-X computer, and Ming will make preparations for one more attempt at conquest.

 

And once again, Flash Gordon II will find himself leading a movement against Ming the Merciless. One of eight, defending the Earth...

 

NOTES:

[1] Who also had a familial interest in space travel, being related to Anthony "Buck" Rogers, and knowing his future history.

 

[2] William Gordon had a brother, who was also nicknamed "Flash". He was a quarterback for the New York Jets. Whilst he may have been a partial inspiration for the 1980 "Flash Gordon" movie, there is no evidence he ever travelled to Mongo.

 

Incidentally, the Gordons have always been noted sportsmen. The original Flash Gordon was, of course, a polo player and, at the time of his first trip to Mongo, the younger Ray Gordon was a noted skateboarder. There is also Barbara Gordon; a champion gymnast, before finding another use for those abilities, until they were taken from her. There is also another Flash Gordon, a basketball player with the Boston Celtics who sold his image to DC Comics for their "Flash Gordon" title. (I have been unable to find his relationship to the other Flashes... but an awful lot of sportsmen named Gordon get that nickname).

 

[3] The animated series based on these events gave the names of the girl and scientist as Dale Arden and Dr Zarkov. This, of course, was an attempt to suggest this was "the" Flash Gordon. Andrea Dare was a distant relative of the British family that would eventually produce Captain Dan Dare.

 

[4] For the same reason given above, the animated series called her Aura. Aura was Dyna's much older sister.

 

[5] This information comes from a Hawkwoman named Kendra Hol, who arrived on Earth in 2000, acting as a crime fighter in New Orleans and claiming to be Talon's cousin, the daughter of Hawkguard Katar Hol and Vultan's sister Shayera. However, her information is suspect, as it was later revealed that she was part of a group of renegade Hawk-People planning their own invasion of Earth. This invasion was stopped with the aid of Superman, Batman and Kendra herself. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

 

 

2004 by David Kennedy