Dan DiDio + Jim Calafiore revive ‘Defenders of the Earth’ at Mad Cave Studios

The eight-issue series featuring Flash Gordon, the Phantom and more will launch in August.

As part of their revival plans for Flash Gordon, Mad Cave Studios has announced the creative team for Defenders of the Earth, an eight-issue series based on the animated TV show. Former DC Publisher and current Frank Miller Presents publisher Dan DiDio will write the series, with Jim Calafiore of Exiles, Secret Six and Leaving Megalopolis fame on art.

Defenders of the Earth ran for 65 episodes back in the mid-1980s, and featured Flash Gordon teaming up with other King Features comic-strip characters to battle Ming the Merciless. Flash, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar, Mandrake’s assistant, were joined by their children as they, um, defended the Earth.

“As a fan of the original animated series, I was excited by the opportunity to work on this title,” said DiDio. “I’m hoping to build on some of the show’s classic elements and move them in new directions while exploring the personalities and lives of the characters that make the series great. One of the best aspects of the series was finding a way to unite the show’s four disparate, iconic stars following the end of their war with Ming. What sets it apart from other books featuring Flash Gordon, Mandrake, The Phantom, and Lothar is the added generational aspect of the story—that’s the fun part of writing. The father/son relationships of Flash and Rick, and Lothar and LJ; the father/daughter relationship of The Phantom and Jenna; and the mentor/protege relationship of Mandrake and Kshin are really the heart of the story. What makes and breaks these families is key to saving the world from a new and more deadly challenge.”

cover by Jim Califiore

Here’s the description, from Mad Cave:

Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar are united again in this reimagining of the classic animated series, Defenders of the Earth. Picking up with characters and storylines from the original series, Flash confronts Ming in a final battle, only to find that even greater threats await him and his teammates as they each must confront ghosts of their past to protect their families and future.

“I don’t say that I’m so old that I read the original strips back in the day, but every artist knows these classic characters and have been influenced by them and their creators,” said Calafiore. “A lot of great artists have worked on them over the years. The challenge, and the fun, is having my name added to the list.”

Djordje Djokovic and Andy Clarke have done variant covers for the first issue:

This is not the first Defenders of the Earth comic we’ve seen, as Marvel’s Star line published a four-issue adaptation back when the original show aired. Mad Cave will release a collected edition of that series in June.

“It has been such an exciting journey to work with Mad Cave and their talent as they reintroduce our classic heroes, who inspired the modern-day superhero genre, to new audiences,’ said Christina Nix Lynch, Senior Director of Domestic Licensing at King Features. “This comic launch is extremely special as it’s the first time the Defenders universe has been introduced through fresh storytelling and gives our fans the opportunity to see how our core characters interact as a team.”

Look for the first issue of 8 to arrive in stores on Aug. 14.

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