Published: January, 1987 – July, 1987
Written by: Stan Lee, Michael Higgins
Art by: Alex Saviuk
Based on: Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond, The Phantom & Mandrake the Magician by Lee Falk
Star Comics, Marvel Comics, 110 Pages
I don’t know how many people remember Defenders of the Earth. It was kind of big in the ’80s, as it spawned this comic series, an animated television show, a toyline and other product tie-ins.
For those that don’t know, it was a team that was formed of three old school pulp heroes that were originally published in comic strips by King Features Syndicate. They would go on to be really popular and even had serials produced back in the days when serials were still a thing.
The team consists of Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, as well as their kids and some other allies. The Defenders are unified in their battle against famous Flash Gordon foe, Ming the Merciless.
This comic series was published by Star Comics, which was a short-lived imprint of the much larger Marvel Comics. With that, they were able to get the great Stan Lee to write the first issue of the comic. Michael Higgins would take over for issues two through four with Alex Saviuk providing the art for all four issues.
The story sees Ming do something horrible to Flash Gordon’s wife, which inspires these heroes to come together in an effort to defeat Ming and his desire to conquer Earth.
Defenders of the Earth was an entertaining read, especially that Stan Lee issue. It had a lot of energy and it got you excited for what could have come but sadly, the series ended at issue four, even though it promised a fifth. It doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger but it ends unfinished, which kind of sucks.
I didn’t remember much about this series but the comic has made me nostalgic for the television show, which I haven’t seen since about 1987. I may go back and give it a watch in the very near future.
Pairs well with: other ’80s comic book tie-ins to toylines and animated series.