Exclusive: Parker, Laming bring Flash Gordon, Mandrake and the Phantom together for new adventure



Three of the biggest names of the pulp comics world – Flash Gordon, the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician – return in September in a new series from Dynamite Entertainment called Kings Watch, by writer Jeff Parker and artist Marc Laming.

After making his way through the jungle, out of Earth orbit and into a mystic realm, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively pulled up a conjurer’s cone next to the scribe to ask about this strange team-up.

Cosmic Book News: So, Jeff, how did this gig come about? Was it something you initially pitched or a project you were approached about by Dynamite?

Jeff Parker: Approached by editor Nate Cosby. He’s worked with me on book launches before at Marvel (like X-Men First Class, Agents of Atlas) so we team well on stuff like this. He figured I was probably into these characters, and I certainly was. 

CBN: Who is/are the “king” in Kings Watch?

Jeff Parker: That is actually a revelation that makes the story really interesting so I’m not going to spoil it!


CBN: Tell us a little about your own past experiences with these three diverse heroes? Maybe the inspirations for your interpretations of the characters?

Jeff Parker: Like a lot of kids I read Phantom in my newspaper, still being written by his creator (and Mandrake’s) Lee Falk. I was always on the lookout for Flash Gordon stories because PBS had shown the Buster Crabbe serials and I loved them. I’m still fond of the 1980 movie too. My favorite material is Alex Raymond’s original stories, and then anything with him that Al Williamson drew. 

CBN: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake are such different types of heroes from different types of environments. Will they indeed come together, and in what environment? Flash of the Jungle? (laughs)

Jeff Parker: They do come together, and they really mix it up. But yes, think how many alien jungles you’ve seen Flash in, it’s well in his wheelhouse. But this story gets very global and the three go all over to fight what’s happening as it goes on. 


CBN: Can you describe a little of what will be happening in this unique team-up?

Jeff Parker: The catalyst for a lot of chaos in the story is the Mandrake villain, The Cobra. He’s discovered something that could change the entire world and has no moral reservations with going through with it. Mandrake has been off the radar for a while and doesn’t plan to do any more adventuring, but then he’s the first to understand what’s at stake. 

CBN: How about the art of Marc Laming? Have you two worked together before?

Jeff Parker: We never have, but I hope to change that from here out. Marc was already great, his work on The Activity and Exile on the Planet of the Apes is excellent, but I swear he must be going for an Eisner or something, he’s blowing the doors off this thing with each new page. And just a pleasure to work with, he actually tolerates my crazy descriptions. He does his work mostly digital, but I’m trying to convince him to do some on paper because I know a lot of people would love to own pages from this. 


CBN: Is there any literature or other genre outside of comics that may influence this tale? With Flash Gordon involved, how much of this will be science fiction-oriented?

Jeff Parker: Almost purely pulp- sci fi, mystery and adventure. It’s a kind of sci-fi that is inclusive of a lot of other genre. Really Flash is always more over to the side of science-fantasy, after all. 

CBN: Besides The Cobra, can you tell us anything else about the foe(s) your protagonists will be facing?

Jeff Parker: There are a lot of big freaky monsters, spies and murderous cult types. And special threats to be revealed halfway through. 

CBN: Before we wrap, Jeff, I just wanted to say what a big fan of your Exiles work at Marvel I am. I certainly wish that iteration of the series had continued.


Jeff Parker: Hey thanks! We had a good time on that book, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

CBN: Finally, any projects current or future you would like to discuss?

Jeff Parker: We’re only about a week away from the digital launch of Batman 66, so I hope readers will come to comiXology or the DC site [for that]. I have a feeling this is going to launch big, a lot of people have waited a long time for this version of Batman and Robin to return. Fantastic art by Jonathan Case with The Riddler and Catwoman kicking the series off. 

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jeff Parker for answering our questions and also Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Kings Watch” #1 hits in September!