Defenders of the Earth (TV series)

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Defenders of the Earth is an animated television series featuring characters from three comic strips distributed by King Features Syndicate — Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician — battling the Flash Gordon villain Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. Supporting characters include their children Rick Gordon, Jedda Walker (daughter of The Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), Mandrake's assistant Lothar, and Lothar's son L.J. The show lasted for 65 episodes; there was also a short-lived comic book series published by Star Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics).

Premise

The plot begins with Flash Gordon and his son Rick escaping from Ming the Merciless. Ming has exhausted all the natural resources of his home planet Mongo and has set his sights on Earth. Flash's unnamed wife (presumably Dale Arden from the original Flash Gordon comics) is captured and Ming tries to brainwash her. She resists to the point of death.

Characters

Protagonists

  • Flash Gordon is the legendary space hero and leader of the Defenders of the Earth. He is an ace space fighter pilot and the father of Rick Gordon.
  • The Phantom is the legendary "Ghost Who Walks", and his true name is Kit Walker. According to a note in the end credits, this is the 27th Phantom. This version of the Phantom is different from how he is portrayed in the comics. By chanting "By jungle law, the ghost who walks calls forth the power of ten tigers" he is temporarily given superhuman strength. In the comics, the Phantom does not have any supernatural powers. In the show his horse Hero and his wolf Devil also make brief appearances.
  • Mandrake the Magician is a cultured man of mystery who has magical powers and knowledge of the occult. He frequently uses illusions both in and out of combat to achieve his goals.
  • Lothar is superhumanly strong and a close friend of Mandrake. He is also portrayed as a mechanical wizard and a master tactician.
  • Richard "Rick" Gordon is an impulsive computer genius and the son of Flash Gordon. Rick, along with many of the other teenagers of the show, attended Central High located in Central city.
  • Kshin is an orphaned Asian boy adopted by Mandrake, who is training him as his apprentice. As the younger of the group, he is always trying to prove he is worthy of being a true hero. His country of origin was never specifically identified in the series. Kshin has a pet alien called Zuffy — an orphaned Zuffoid found by Rick Gordon on the planet Mongo.
  • L.J. (Lothar Junior) is the street wise martial arts expert son of Lothar, as well as Rick's best friend.
  • Jedda Walker is the daughter of The Phantom and displays telepathic and limited psychic powers. She has a pet black panther named Kisa. Some episodes imply a romantic relationship between her and Rick Gordon.
  • Dynak X is the central computer based in the Defenders' Headquarters, formerly Flash's wife and Rick's mother (though she is never referred to by name, it is presumed that she is Flash's longtime love interest Dale Arden). In the first episode, Ming the Merciless kidnaps and attempts to brainwash her to reveal where Flash Gordon is hiding, but the enormous physical and mental anguish ends up killing her. Before she dies, however, her "essence" is saved in a crystal that is eventually used to power the Defenders' computer.

Antagonists

  • Ming the Merciless has two children Prince Krotan and Princess Aura and is bent on world domination and operates from Ice Station Earth, his hideout located in the Arctic. This version is made more grotesque in appearance than his traditional Asian appearance to avoid racial stereotyping, a similar treatment would be used on The Mandarin in the Iron Man animated series and on Dr. No in James Bond Jr.; all three characters were given green skin and pointed ears.
  • Octon is a metallic octopus like machine which advises Ming the Merciless on how to conquer the Earth or defeat Flash Gordon and Co. The name is taken from Octon, the leader of the mysterious crime syndicate 8 in the Mandrake the Magician comic strip.
  • Garax is the leader of Ming's soldiers, the Ice warriors
  • Mongor is a giant serpent-like pet of Ming the Merciless.
  • Kurt Walker, under his alias "N'Dama, the Weather Demon", is the older brother of the Phantom. Kurt is a character specifically created for the series, and has never appeared in a Phantom comic book or comic strip story. Indeed, in the Phantom legend, the firstborn son is in the Walker family is always named "Kit" and becomes the Phantom. However Kurt does appear in issue #3 of the Marvel Comics Defenders of the Earth mini-series.
  • The Sky Band is one of the Phantom's oldest foes. In the series, they are space-pirates, while in the comic strips, they are sky-pirates.

Episode titles

  1. Escape from Mongo
  2. The Creation of Monitor
  3. A Demon in His Pocket
  4. A House Divided
  5. Bits 'n' Chips
  6. The Root of Evil
  7. Cold War
  8. The Sleeper Awakes
  9. The Revenge of Astra
  10. Hall of Wisdom
  11. The Mind Warriors
  12. The Mind Warriors II
  13. The Lost Jewels of Tibet
  14. The Evil of Doctor Dark
  15. Diamonds Are a Ming's Best Friend
  16. The Men of Frost
  17. Battleground
  18. The Panther Peril
  19. Fury of the Deep
  20. Family Reunion
  21. The Defense Never Rests
  22. Like Father, Like Daughter?
  23. The Would-Be Defender
  24. Doorways into Darkness
  25. Deal with the Devil
  26. Terror in Time
  27. Ming's Household Helpers
  28. The Starboy
  29. The Gods Awake
  30. The Ghost Walks Again
  31. The Book of Mysteries
  32. The Future Comes But Once
  33. Kshin and the Ghost Ship
  34. The Carnival of Doctor Kalihari
  35. The Mystery of the Book
  36. Flash Times Four
  37. The Frozen Heart
  38. Rick Gordon, One-Man Army
  39. The Rites of Zesnan
  40. Audie and Tweak
  41. Return of the Skyband
  42. Dracula's Potion
  43. One of the Guys
  44. 100 Proof Highway
  45. The Time Freezer
  46. The Prince Makes His Move
  47. The Prince Triumphant
  48. The Prince Weds
  49. The Prince's Royal Hunt
  50. The Prince Dethroned
  51. Lothar's Homecoming
  52. Suspended Sabotage
  53. Call of the Eternals
  54. The Return of Doctor Dark
  55. The Deadliest Battle
  56. The Necklace of Oros
  57. Torn Space
  58. Ming Winter
  59. The Golden Queen
  60. The Gravity of Ming
  61. Flesh and Blood
  62. The Drowning World
  63. The Adoption of Kshin
  64. Street Smarts
  65. The Thunder Lizards of Ming

DVD

BCI Eclipse has also released the entire series in two boxes of 5 discs each.

  • Defenders of the Earth - Complete Series Volume 1 (5-Discs) 33 Episodes
  • Defenders of the Earth - Complete Series Volume 2 (5-Discs) 32 Episodes

In addition, the first episode also appears on other BCI releases:

  • Animated All-Stars collection
  • The New Adventures of Flash Gordon: The Complete Series

Selected episodes are available in the UK, in compilations including

  • Hollywood DVD LTD
    • Defenders Of The Earth- The Story Begins
  • Delta Music PLC
    • Defenders of the Earth Movie (3-Discs)
    • Defenders of the Earth vol 1
    • Defenders of the Earth vol 2
    • Defenders of the Earth vol 3
    • Defenders of the Earth Movie - Prince Of Kro-Tan
    • Defenders of the Earth Movie - Necklace Of Oros
    • Defenders of the Earth Movie - The Book Of Mysteries

Other media

In addition to the four-issue Marvel Comics miniseries, there have been books including The Creation of Monitor, A House Divided, The Sun-Stealers and Computer Checkmate.

A line of action figures produced by Galoob included Flash Gordon, Mandrake, Lothar, the Phantom, Ming and Garax.

A PC video game was also made. It featured the various heroes from the series on a quest to defeat Ming.

As a marketing ploy, the Sunday strips of Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician all mentioned the Defenders of the Earth on the strip of September 28, 1986. This is the only appearance of the Phantom and Mandrake in the Flash Gordon newspaper strip, as well as the only appearance of Flash Gordon in the Phantom and Mandrake newspaper strips. Since the Defenders of the Earth storyline was out of continuity for all three newspaper strips, this sequence was shown as an alternate reality.

Trivia

  • Rick Gordon was initially intended to be Kit Walker, the son of the Phantom.
  • Jedda Walker was initially intended to be Jedda Gordon, daughter of Flash Gordon.
  • A parody, having the same name, is made up of comic strip characters Rex Morgan, Mary Worth, Garfield, and Mark Trail.
  • Robot Chicken parodied the series with Flash, Phantom and Mandrake posing as the neighborhood watch.

Cast

External links