Having defeated Ming the Merciless for good (yeah, right) Flash Gordon and friends face an entirely new challenge: finding their way home. Their only hope may lie with Dr. Zarkov, but he’s about to face some problems uniquely his own. Here’s the official description of Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #8 from Dynamite:
While exploring the subterranean labyrinths beneath the Imperial Palace of Mongo, Dr. Hans Zarkov-brilliant scientist and engineer-finds himself trapped in his own past, courtesy of an insidious trap left behind by Ming the Merciless. Is even Zarkov’s genius enough to free himself from this deadly snare?
The determining factor for whether you pick up Zeitgeist #8 is a simple one: how much do you care about Hans Zarkov as a character? Because he’s really the focus of the entire issue. The decision by Eric Trautmann and Alex Ross to put the major plot elements on hold in favor of exploring a single character is probably a good one; the problem of returning to Earth will likely be solved by some sort of deus ex machina comic book pseudoscience, so using a character driven issue to delay that solution makes it seem harder won. The means by which Ming sets his trap for Zarkov is also inspired, emphasizing that, even in captivity, Ming is a force to be reckoned with. It imbues him with a sinister cunning that raises him above the generic evil overlord we’ve seen in recent issues.
Unfortunately, the peek inside Zarkov’s head is less interesting, at least for me. I’ve been reading FGZ for several issues now, but Zarkov hasn’t been all that important, and consequentially, the reveals about his past don’t seem important either. If some of his motivation is being revealed, I haven’t seen the action it’s supposed to be behind.
Daniel Indro delivers some pretty good robotic space spiders, and Zarkov is at least heavier set than the p90x bodies that fill the rest of the book, although he’s probably still in better shape that 80% of real scientists. The scenes of his past are refreshing, as they provide a respite from the somewhat garish SF set pieces we’ve been seeing. Slamet Mujiono‘s colors are particularly admirable here, as he’s able to show-off his ability with more subtle color palettes. His lighting working is beautiful here as well.
Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #8 is a respectable issue, but may not appeal to everyone. Reader’s who aren’t strict completionists may want to use their money elsewhere this month, perhaps experimenting with a new title.