Flash Gordon is the hero of a science fiction adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond, which was first published on January 7, 1934. The strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip. Also inspired by these series were comics such as Dash Dixon (1935 to 1939) by H.T. Elmo and Larry Antoinette and Don Dixon and the Hidden Empire (1935 to 1941) by Carl Pfeufer and Bob Moore .
In Australia, the character and strip were retitled Speed Gordon to avoid a negative connotation of the word "Flash". At the time, the predominant meaning of "flash" was "showy", connoting dishonesty.
The Flash Gordon comic strip has been translated into a wide variety of media, including motion pictures, television and animated series. The latest version, a Flash Gordon TV series, appeared on the US Sci Fi Channel in 2007-2008 and then on the United Kingdom Sci Fi channel. A print comic book series by Brendan Deneen and Paul Green and published by Ardden Entertainment debuted in 2008, with the first arc entitled "The Mercy Wars", and is also available on iTunes for the iPod and iPhone. Ardden also published a Flash Gordon anthology entitled The Secret History of Mongo. Ardden's second Flash Gordon arc is currently entitled Invasion of the Red Sword and is set to debut in fall 2010.
The comic strip follows the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov. The story begins with Earth bombarded by fiery meteors. Dr. Zarkov believes the meteors are from outer space and invents a rocket ship to locate their place of origin. Half mad, he kidnaps Flash and Dale, whose plane has crashed in the area, and the three travel to the planet Mongo, where they discover the meteors are weapons devised by Ming the Merciless, evil ruler of Mongo.
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