Defenders of the Earth#1 January, 1987 STAR (Marvel) Comics Cover: Alex Saviuk/ Fred Fredericks Script: Stan Lee (With Bob Harras) Pencils/Inks: Alex Saviuk/ Fred Fredericks
What can I say about this? It seems like a brilliant idea for a team book. Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar... And the creative team on this book is an amazing lineup. The script was by Stan "The Man" Lee, the pencils were by Spiderman Daily (and future Moonstone Phantom) artist Alex Saviuk with inks by Mandrake artist Fred Fredericks! Why are these usually solo heroes drawn together as a team? Because the Earth is threatened by Flash Gordon's old nemesis, the diabolical Ming the Merciless!! I'm sure anyone who saw this on paper would have thought it was a home run. But it's lousy.
For one thing, Marvel published this through their new children's label, STAR Comics. The Phantom doesn't even have his guns in this. But don't worry, they gave him some sort of "Jungle Lore" powers.
For another, the heroes are paired up with their children. And, if a bunch of badly written children weren't lame enough to crush your hopes that this was going to be a cool team book, there's Zuffy. Zuffy is a small, cute, purple alien creature so toyetic I'm surprised he's not advertised on the back of this comic instead of Popples.
Also, for some reason, Ming is green and has exaggeratedly pointed ears. I have my suspicions that somewhere along the way, it was discussed that the Emperor of Mongo looked a little too Asian the way Alex Raymond presented him. At the Time Flash Gordon debuted, "Yellow Menace" villains like Fu Manchu and The Yellow Claw were in vogue. Ming was never a charicature like the Claw, but I bet someone felt somebody somewhere might find him offensive.
At any rate, I found this issue in my never-ending quest for more Phantom comics and I'm putting it up here for you to read and judge for yourself. So, with all due apologies in advance here's part one of Defenders of the Earth #1:
Before there was Superman or Batman or Spider-Man, there was The Phantom. Playwright and cartoonist Lee Falk introduced The Phantom to the world in 1936.
Since then, The Phantom has run continuously in newspapers around the world, gaining a following in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand. He has spawned films adaptations, paperback novels, an animated television show and several comic book series.
I have been drawn to the Phantom by his unique backstory-one of the best in sequential media. This blog will let me share with others the exciting world of "The Ghost Who Walks, Who Cannot Die...The Phantom!!"
The Phantom and all related characters, indicia, etc. are copyright 2010 King Features Syndicate.
All scans and art are taken from my own comics except where otherwise noted and are utilized under the legal understanding of fair use.
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" 'The Phantom' is a marvelous role model because he wins against evil. Evil does not triumph against the Phantom... He hates dictatorship, and is in favor of democracy. He is also opposed to any violation of human rights." -Lee Falk