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.