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Interview: Scott Beatty on MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING

Ming the Merciless is a tough and vile villain but what made him become this way?

Dynamite Entertainment has successfully relaunched the Flash Gordon franchise. For those familiar with the characters, you know his Flash's biggest nemesis is Ming the Merciless.

Last month Dynamite announced a prequel series due in April entitled, MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING by Scott Beatty and Ron Adrian. The series will focus on who Ming is, who he was before and how did he rise to power. We asked writer Scott Beatty to share a little on the series.

Comic Vine: People know the concept of Flash Gordon from the strips, movies and animated series but has Ming's backstory ever been told?

Scott Beatty: Not to any large extent. When Flash and company first arrived on Mongo, Ming was already well-established. Our goal with MERCILESS is to explore just how Ming became such an omnipotent presence on Mongo. He didn't spring forth fully formed. He had to work at it a bit, and that rise to power was not without blood... or sacrifice.

CV: How far back will this series go? How young will Ming be?

SB: MERCILESS begins with Ming as a young man, a tyrant-in-the-making. We don't see him as a colicky baby or a child of Mongo pulling the wings off flies or feeding bore-worms to his schoolmates. The wedge in this story drops right at the beginning of his seizure of power and we go from there. There will be hints to events in his youth, but our series focuses on why he is known far and wide--and quite infamously--as Ming the MERCILESS.

== TEASER ==

CV: Often when villain's 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?

SB: Ming's motivation is that he wants to be in charge. Absolutely. And he will suffer no challengers to that dream. I think if you sympathize with the villain, you might want to consider therapy to root out those submerged urges. Do we sympathize with a despot or a genocidal dictator? Or a terrorist? I'm a firm believer that evil is an inherent force. It's not about childhood trauma or choosing the dark side because it's easier. Often, bad people do bad things because it's just what they want to do. Ming has a plan. He's completely Narcissistic. He wants it all, and he won't stop until he achieves that.

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?

SB: Ming is in no way afraid to get his hands dirty. He's a straight-line kind of guy, as in "How do I get from Point A to Point B by expending as little effort as possible?" Now, he's also wicked smart, and he knows that subterfuge and waiting will win the day also. Patience isn't his strongest virtue, but watching the dominos fall is quite satisfying to him. Basically, for Ming, when a plan comes together it only confirms (in his own mind) that he was right from the start.

CV: Will there be one event that carves Ming into being so "merciless"?

SB: Let's just say this: "Merciless" is an honorific bestowed on Ming from different quarters for different reasons. The Hawkmen have a legend. The Sharkmen do also. MERCILESS isn't just about Ming. It's also how the various Houses and peoples of Ming view their ruler, and why they fear him so utterly. You would think with Hawkmen and Sharkmen and Lionmen that some faction or alliance would have the stones to go toe-to-toe with this skinny, pointy-eared, gold-painted prince and free the planet. MERCILESS illustrates how Ming keeps that from happening.

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?

SB: Again, this isn't about sympathizing or caring for the main character, who just happens to be an ANTAGONIST. When I watch a villain or read about the misdeeds of a bad guy, I'm more interested in seeing just how low they'll go to get what they want. MERCILESS isn't touchy-feely. It's not a story of redemption. I don't want readers to care about Ming. I want them to say, "Oh my God, he DID NOT just do that." Remember, in Alex and Eric and Daniel's brilliant FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST, this is the guy who makes Hitler look like a kid hustling marbles at the playground. You should worry about Ming. Not FOR... ABOUT. He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING #1 is on sale April 25, 2012.

18 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

All Hail Ming and His Glorious New Regime 

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I quite enjoyed Zeitgeist so this should be good in filling out the background  

Posted by Joe Venom

A striking resemblance of Sinestro (not that there is anything wrong with that), anywho looks good, sounds good consider it added to my pull list!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Joe Venom said:

A striking resemblance of Sinestro (not that there is anything wrong with that), anywho looks good, sounds good consider it added to my pull list!

Dude Ming is like 30 years older than Sinestro
Posted by mrdecepticonleader

About time he got an origin story.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@mrdecepticonleader said:

About time he got an origin story.

IKR
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

It will definitely be great to see how Ming definitely became The Merciless. A long time coming for comics, and I'm ready to see this as well.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:

It will definitely be great to see how Ming definitely became The Merciless. A long time coming for comics, and I'm ready to see this as well.

Yea that's what I'm looking forward to
Edited by The Impersonator
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men 
Posted by The Impersonator

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men

Oh yeah. The moustache too. =P

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men

Oh yeah. The moustache too. =P

Everyone should be jells of that tach
Posted by The Impersonator

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men

Oh yeah. The moustache too. =P

Everyone should be jells of that tach

Yeah....I know what you mean. We should all have merciless moustaches. Well.....except for the ladies. =P =P =P

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men

Oh yeah. The moustache too. =P

Everyone should be jells of that tach

Yeah....I know what you mean. We should all have merciless moustaches. Well.....except for the ladies. =P =P =P

Is it just me or does that sound like a band or... or a motorcycle gang?
Posted by The Impersonator

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:

@spiderbat87 said:

@The Impersonator said:
He's bad news for Mongo. He's bad news for Flash Gordon. And he's totally bad news for Earth.

And he's a pervert. =P

as are all mestached men

Oh yeah. The moustache too. =P

Everyone should be jells of that tach

Yeah....I know what you mean. We should all have merciless moustaches. Well.....except for the ladies. =P =P =P

Is it just me or does that sound like a band or... or a motorcycle gang?

Hmmmm....Now that you mention it, it does sound both. =P

Posted by Joe Venom

@spiderbat87: yea....but that still doesn't mean they don't look alike, the young version of him that is

Posted by mattiebatslayer

I am incredibly excited about this! I had no exposure to Flash Gordon before Zeitgeist and I loved it. Marked this date on my calendar already.

Posted by BrendanDeneen

If you enjoy Flash Gordon comics, check out FLASH GORDON: THE MERCY WARS #0 and #1 here: www.Ardden-Entertainment.com

And if you like stories about Ming the Merciless, check out FLASH GORDON: THE SECRET HISTORY OF MONGO, an anthology also published by Ardden Entertainment. It includes a Ming story entitled "Merciless" (!) by comic industry J.M. DeMatteis.

Ardden Entertainment has been publishing Flash Gordon comics since 2008 and we've received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, Ain't It Cool News and more.

Thanks!