This week FLASH GORDON ZEITGEIST #3 is in stores. Last week we talked to writer Scott Beatty on the April 25th release of MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING series focusing on Ming's early days. As you know, Alex Ross has a hand in shaping many of Dynamite Entertainment's books and he will be involved and providing covers for Ming as well (you can see his penciled/sketch cover for the first issue).
Alex took the time to answer our questions on Ming and the series as well. Check out Scott Beatty's response here and take a look at Ross' below.
Comic Vine: People know the concept of Flash Gordon from the strips, movies and animated series but has Ming's backstory ever been told?
Alex Ross: If any investigation into Ming’s personal history has been done before, ours will be completely independent of that. This new take on who Ming is is a very aggressive one that paints the portrait of a younger Ming obsessed with power.
CV: How far back will this series go? How young will Ming be?
AR: It’s always interesting to note about such bald icons when they did have hair.== TEASER ==
CV: Often when villains get the focus, the stories slowly get readers to sympathize for the villain, to understand their motivation. Will that be the case with Ming or is he simply cold hearted and completely ruthless?
AR: What Scott has written is absolutely not a sympathetic portrait. In an age where the backstories written about classic villains swerve much more to the side of how they were arriving at their villainy through reasonable means, I’m happy to see something that just portrays a personality for being as bad as they sometimes come.
CV: What type of character will young Ming be? Does the tribulations require him to be a cold and calculated person or does he face physical situations that has him completely get his hands dirty?
AR: In a weird way, it shows a comparison to Flash Gordon having Ming get physically involved with his various struggles in the story. It might be too easy to think of Ming as some kind of overly protected being who’s never exerted any effort, and I don’t believe that was ever Alex Raymond’s intent with the character.
CV: Will there be one event that carves Ming into being so "merciless"?
AR: Scott lays out how this complicated imperial dynamic works. It’s interesting to see how he defines that Ming’s father before him was not the same kind of tyrannical emperor. What the story shows is that with the laws of dictatorship governing a place, you have potential abuses that can run wild, and Ming realizes all of those.
CV: Is there a struggle in making him into a true villain without making him weak by giving him emotions? How do you find the balance in making him evil yet making him more than a simply deadly villain in order for readers to care about him?
AR: Weirdly enough, in this day and age, the idea of doing a villain as the lead in a comic book isn’t as strange as when DC tried giving Joker his own series in the 1970s. Since this story doesn’t detail how an unsympathetic villain is ultimately robbed of power, it really does examine a history that brought us the war of the worlds that is the Flash Gordon storyline. In many ways for comic books, Ming is the original of all big bad guys. Before Joker, Doctor Doom, or even Galactus, there was the guy who came barreling down at Earth with a whole planet of nastiness.
Check out this early look at the uncolored pages for MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING #1 (on sale in April) with art by Ron Adrian.