Defenders of the Earth (TV series)
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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Escape from Mongo
- The Creation of Monitor
- A Demon in His Pocket
- A House Divided
- Bits 'n' Chips
- The Root of Evil
- Cold War
- The Sleeper Awakes
- The Revenge of Astra
- Hall of Wisdom
- The Mind Warriors
- The Mind Warriors II
- The Lost Jewels of Tibet
- The Evil of Doctor Dark
- Diamonds Are a Ming's Best Friend
- The Men of Frost
- The Panther Peril
- Fury of the Deep
- Family Reunion
- The Defense Never Rests
- Like Father, Like Daughter?
- The Would-Be Defender
- Doorways into Darkness
- Deal with the Devil
- Terror in Time
- Ming's Household Helpers
- The Starboy
- The Gods Awake
- The Ghost Walks Again
- The Book of Mysteries
- The Future Comes But Once
- Kshin and the Ghost Ship
- The Carnival of Doctor Kalihari
- The Mystery of the Book
- Flash Times Four
- The Frozen Heart
- Rick Gordon, One-Man Army
- The Rites of Zesnan
- Audie and Tweak
- Return of the Skyband
- Dracula's Potion
- One of the Guys
- 100 Proof Highway
- The Time Freezer
- The Prince Makes His Move
- The Prince Triumphant
- The Prince Weds
- The Prince's Royal Hunt
- The Prince Dethroned
- Lothar's Homecoming
- Suspended Sabotage
- Call of the Eternals
- The Return of Doctor Dark
- The Deadliest Battle
- The Necklace of Oros
- Torn Space
- Ming Winter
- The Golden Queen
- The Gravity of Ming
- Flesh and Blood
- The Drowning World
- The Adoption of Kshin
- Street Smarts
- The Thunder Lizards of Ming
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
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.
- 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.
- The Phantom - Peter Mark Richman
- Mandrake the Magician - Peter Renaday
- Lothar - Buster Jones
- Flash Gordon - Lou Richards
- Ming the Merciless - William Callaway
- Kshin - Adam Carl
- Rick Gordon - Loren Lester
- Jedda Walker - Sarah Partridge
- Prince Kro-Tan - Hal Rayle