Some funny timing: Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the release of The Phantom, the adaptation of the old comic strip hero created by Lee Falk. Falk was a prodigious talent who also worked as a theater director and novelist; as a comic-strip creator he also founded the long-running strip Mandrake the Magician, about a guy who used his magic powers (like hypnosis, invisibility, levitation) to fight crime. Created in 1934, Mandrake is sometimes billed as the first superhero. (He arrived about four years before Superman’s debut in Action Comics #1.) And 20 years after The Phantom movie, Mandrake will follow his colleague to the screen.
Mandrake the Magician
As much as Dynamite might be known for picking up a few unusual licenses, the upcoming Kings Quest series is not actually a comic book adaptation of the classic Sierra adventure game about wandering around, picking up everything you can, and then banging them together to see what happens. Instead, believe it or not, it's actually something better.
Coming in May, Kings Quest is Ben Acker, Heath Corson and Dan McDaid's sequel to Jeff Parker and Marc Laming's Kings Watch that finds the classic King Features adventure characters --- Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Jungle Jim and a time-tossed Prince Valiant --- reuniting to take on an entire army. In space.
This week at Comixology, Dynamite has a big sale on their "Greatest Hits," and as you might expect from the title, there's a lot of really good stuff in there. So good, in fact, that you probably don't need me to tell you about it --- being able to grab twelve issues of American Flagg for nine bucks, for example, is probably something that you already know is a good idea.
But if you're on the hunt for a buried treasure and you've got a spare picture of Abraham Lincoln burning a hole in your pocket, then you need to do yourself a favor and pick up Jeff Parker and Marc Laming's Kings Watch, one of the best (and most underrated) crossovers of the past few years.
June 11 marks the anniversary of the first appearance of comics' first superhero. Nah, not that lantern-jawed fellow in the red cape. The guy in the black cape and top hat who debuted a full four years earlier. Yeah, that guy. Mandrake the Magician.
This week marks the release of Prince Valiant #1, and with it, the final building block in the foundation of Dynamite's increasingly weird "King" universe. Built around the King Features characters that are best known as newspaper strips --- and in the case of The Phantom, a Billy Zane movie that invited viewers to 'slam evil!' --- the line got its start in the Kings Watch crossover in 2013. While Flash Gordon has stuck around and been pretty fantastic, it's only in the last month that the rest of the characters have rolled out into their own books to flesh out the world.
Now, with everything in place, the King line has pulpy sci-fi, mystic adventure, superhero action and swords and sorcery from the days of King Arthur all jockeying for position and trying to come together as a cohesive unit. And to be honest, it's actually pretty awesome to see.
Today, Dynamite announced that they were bringing The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon back to comic books with the team of Jeff Parker and Marc Laming. The big return is set to take place in an all-new series called King's Watch, in which the Ghost Who Walks, the Savior of the Universe and... uh... Mandrake find themselves battling against forces that threaten the entire world.