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Kings Watch 2 (contains spoilers)

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  • Kings Watch 2 (contains spoilers)

    Since this book was announced, I've been trying to figure out the significance of the title. At first I thought it's the name (official or unofficial) of this group of characters: Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake, and Lothar. Of course we all know the 'King' part is a nod to King Features Syndicate, that distributed the original comic strips to newspapers throughout the world. But beyond that, each of these characters can be considered a 'king' of sorts in his own right. Flash Gordon - the king of space. And besides that, in the original comic strip, he was once literally granted his own kingdom (Kira, the Cave World) on Mongo in the wake of the overthrow of Ming. The Phantom - the king of his African jungle domain, The Deep Woods. Not in the literal sense, of course, but he acts as any good king should, to watch over and protect the welfare of all within his jungle 'kingdom'. Mandrake - the king of magic. Indicating he's one of the most powerful mystic adepts on earth. And Lothar, as some may or may not know, is the actual prince of the African tribe into which he was born, which makes him next in line to be king. 'Watch' of course, being diminutive of 'watchers' or 'watchmen' (er, I guess we know why they wouldn't use the latter), but the word can also be interpreted as a verb: "Kings Watch" as in 4 kings are watching. So I thought I had it all figured out.

    But then issue 2 dropped the bomb on me. In the story, it isn't referred to as "Kings Watch" (plural), but "King's Watch" (possessive). The Phantom describes it as an old jungle legend, a stone carving said to be used by a demon lord to spy on us all. Mandrake's old enemy, The Cobra, is in possession of one of two keys (which actually look like crystal donuts) which will activate the stone carving, and is seeking its twin. Which just happens to be the power source for Hans Zarkov's experimental Z-Plane that has just launched Flash and himself on a journey to investigate a mysterious space anomaly directly above their spaceplane factory in Conneticut. The same mystery anomaly has also appeared in the skies above Tanzania in Africa, and Phantom and Lothar meet when they both discover an incursion of dangerous creatures obviously not indigenous to the jungle (or earth, for that matter). It becomes clear that the proximity of the spacetime donuts (and the "King's Watch" stone carving - still unseen so far) are key to the geographical appearances of the anomaly.

    The Cobra is a key player here so far. Literally, since he possesses one of the two keys. I actually don't know much of the character as he has been historically portrayed in the Mandrake the Magician comic strip, but here he wears a snake-inspired scaly mask with fangs and a green hood, and is the leader of his own religious cult. The similarities to DC's villain, Kobra (called by his cult followers 'Naja-Naja') are obvious enough to make me a little uncomfortable, but wait, it gets worse. When he shows up to steal the other crystal donut from Zarkov and Flash, he arrives with his own private army in tow, looking suspiciously like the Cobra footsoldiers from G.I. Joe. This casts him in the role of Cobra Commander (although visually, he bears a much greater resemblance to Serpentor, who once took over the organization in Cobra Commander's absence). I realize that the name "Cobra" has practically become generic by now in the annals of supervillainy, but you'd think they'd want to play up the mystic powers angle more to make him more distinctive, instead of deliberately invoking a straight amalgam of DC's Kobra and G.I. Joe's Cobra Commander. Other than that slightly irksome angle, I'm enjoying the story so far. I just have one burning question: Who IS the "King" referred to in "King's Watch"? Could that "demon lord who spies on us all" be an extraterrestrial overlord, making the "King's Watch" stone carving actually "MING's Watch"?
    Last edited by pulphero; 10-16-2013, 10:57 AM.