With a trio of stories tucked into “Flash Gordon Holiday Special” #1, readers are given a holiday treat sure to entertain. Those tales don’t overlap in story, but they do share the connective tissue of occurring in the Flash Gordon universe according to Dynamite Entertainment, and they all have holiday events driving their narrative.
The opening installment, “Jungle Bells,” features a return to Arboria and puts the spotlight on Flash Gordon and Professor Zarkov. Written by Dan McCoy and drawn by Joseph Cooper, this story focuses on the Arboria celebration of Khris-Maas. It’s only eight pages long, but it gives the creative team enough space to examine the coincidence of Christmas aligning with “Khris-Maas” and the potential legend that connects the two. Halfway through it becomes “Kris-Mass,” after a spell of “Kris-Maas,” but the intent is clear, even if the spelling is suspect.
Cooper’s art, however, is not suspect, delivering drawings that are totally on model with visuals established by regular “Flash Gordon” artist Evan Shaner. Cooper uses a nice mix of camera angles to drive this story, but never sacrifices storytelling. Omi Remalante’s colors are brilliant and sharp, full of vitality befitting a story set on a lush jungle world.
The colors get a little more murky in he second tale of “Flash Gordon Holiday Special” #1. Titled “Wonders and Salvations,” this story puts the spotlight on Juhrg, a warthog/boar beast-man and refugee from Ming’s invasion as depicted in “Kings Watch.” Set in Belarus in the wake of the invasion, this chapter is written by Elliott Kalan and drawn by Stephen Downey. Remalante colors this story as well, but the setting calls for a darker look and the colorist delivers. Downey’s art is heavy in shadow, adding to the mood of the tale as Juhrg learns about the celebration of miraculous light.
Forsaken, hungry, cold and alone, Juhrg finds a sympathetic soul in a boy (or “almost-man” as Juhrg calls him) named Samuel. The boy shares some latkes as the story stretches out for fourteen pages filled with a message of hardship, ignorance, and, ultimately, acceptance as Samuel also shares the meaning of Hanukkah with his newfound friend.
The final chapter, titled “Resolutions,” delivers an eight-page story from writer Stuart Wellington and artist Lara Margarida. As so many folks do when considering resolutions, this chapter looks back on Arden’s two most recent New Year’s Eve celebrations. This is the most mundane of the bunch, but even a story that is light on action can provide some strong character beats, which is where Wellington focuses in this chapter. As this segment wraps, the story returns to Frigia, and ties back in to the lead tale.
The cover boasts 40 pages, but my math checks “Flash Gordon Holiday Special” #1 out at 30. The bottom line is that this is a holiday special delivered at a time holiday special comic books are exceptionally scarce. This is a fun diversion from the regular adventures, easing off continuity and giving the characters a chance to stretch out a bit. Readers of the regular “Flash Gordon” series will certainly enjoy this, as the creative teams pack in the fun.