Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe

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Chapter 301: The Purple Death Chapter 303: Walking Bombs


As the others flee the Power Room, Flash is caught in a struggle with a giant of great strength. The giant tries to force Flash into the deep pit from which Ming sources his energy. Flash rallies, but both men topple over the edge and plunge downwards, witnessed by Dr Zarkov, who has just entered the room in search of Flash. Flash manages to break his fall by grabbing a bar protruding from the side of the pit. Zarkov helps him out by using a winch and they make good their escape.

Ming and Captain Torch return to the room to find them gone. Torch cannot comply with Ming's order to sound a general alarm as the internal communications system has been disabled by the explosion. As Torch wonders why the Earthmen were in Frigian clothes, Ming expresses his belief that Gordon and Zarkov must have made a pact with Frigia, to rescue General Lupi in return for permission to have access to Frigia to mine Polarite. Polarite, Ming further explains, is the only known antidote to the Purple Death, and it can only be found in Frigia. Unbeknown to Ming, this conversation has been overheard by Captain Ronal, who had still been lying in the Power Room somewhat dazed after the struggle.

Back at Barin's rocket ship, General Lupi is eager to leave at once, but Roka and Turan will not entertain the idea of leaving without Flash and Zarkov, who risked their lives to get the General free. The 2 Earthmen promptly turn up, closely followed by Ronal. The party then board the ship and take off to return to Arboria.

Their departure is spotted and Ming gives orders that the fugitives are to be taken alive, as he has his own plans in mind for dealing with them.

Aboard the rocket ship, Ronal tells the others about what he overheard Ming telling Captain Torch. Zarkov in particular is pleased, as this news could mean the salvation of the universe. He is familiar with Polarite, having previously discussed it with Flash's father Professor Gordon, but had no idea where it could be found.

Ming's squadron, commanded by Lt. Savin, attack the rocket ship, but Zarkov has a trick up his sleeve. His ship is equipped with a Transparency Screen, a disappearing device which can render the craft and its occupants temporarily invisible. The ploy works, and the pursuing ships lose their target and turn back thinking it is still somewhere within the thick clouds.

Back in Arboria, Queen Fria is delighted to hear news of Flash Gordon's success in rescuing General Lupi and muses that she might be able to persuade Flash to return with her to Frigia to head her army. She casually dismissed Dale's reminder that Flash's first commitment is to his own people. Fria thanks Flash in person when he arrives back, although Flash insists every member of the party was equally responsible for the success of the mission.

Ming has had Lieutenant Savin punished for failing to capture the Earthmen, to serve as an example of what fate awaits those who fail to carry out their orders adequately. Ming tells Captain Torch that Zarkov's next move will surely be to travel to Frigia to obtain Polarite, and he counters Torch's argument that nobody except Frigians can survive the extreme cold there by insisting that Zarkov is intelligent enough to find a way. Ming orders Torch and Lieutenant Thong to take a bomber to Frigia to destroy the expedition and to bring the Earthmen back as prisoners.

In Barin's palace, one of Princess Aura's attendants, Sonja, listens in with interest as Flash and his friends discuss their next move, to obtain the Polarite from Frigia. Zarkov says that the Polarite will be easily located, as the energy it generates will melt the snow above it. Their clothes will be treated with Colaroid, which will protect them from the harsh climate. Queen Fria is somewhat put out when told that the mission will be too dangerous for her to be a part of, particularly as Dale is one of those going along. Dale is smugly satisfied that the Queen is not getting her own way. Unseen by the group, Sonja slips away to get word to Ming.

Torch's ship is patrolling the region of Frigia, keeping watch for Zarkov's ship. However, Zarkov's ship once again deploys its Transparency Screen, allowing them to land in Frigia undetected. In the harsh frozen wasteland, Flash leads a party consisting of himself, Dale, Barin, and Roka out to scale a mountain with a black peak, where they expect rich Polarite deposits to be found. Climbing is hazardous in the terrible conditions and at one point Dale suffers a nasty fall, but is saved from serious injury as the party are roped together.

Finally, Torch's ship spots the party. They swoop down and drop a bomb. The party is too small a target and the bomb misses them completely. However, the explosion triggers an avalanche. Tons of snow descend on the helpless climbers.

Recap card

FLASH is rescued from the energy pit and escapes with Zarkov from Ming's palace.

RONAL, Barin's captain, learns there is an antidote for the "Purple Death", a mineral known as "Polarite", found only in the frozen unlivable Frigia.

FLASH and Zarkov promptly lead an expedition into Frigia, protected against the unlivable cold by a discoveryof Zarkov's.

A MING ship, sent to destroy them, sees Flash, Dale, Barin, Roka and one of the miners climbing a huge mountain searching for the "Polarite". They drop a bomb. It misses, but starts an avalanche which....


  • The closing stages of the previous chapter showed Zarkov encountering Ming outside the ruined laboratory, seemingly about to engage in a fight. Both characters separately turn up in the Power Room soon afterwards with no indication as to how this plot point was resolved.
  • Some prints of this serial include a voiceover reading out the recap of the preceding chapter. On the recap for this chapter, the voice pronounces "Arboria" incorrectly.
  • The name "Mongo" now seems to relate to the region controlled by Ming.
  • Ming is titled in an official capacity as the "Dictator Ming".
  • Zarkov's invention of a Transparency Screen to render his ship invisible might be considered to be an extension of the work he was conducting during the first Flash Gordon serial, when he managed to make Flash invisible. A rocket ship turning invisible was also a concept used by Universal in their "Buck Rogers" serial in 1939.
  • This chapter reveals the hitherto unknown fact that Dale Arden is a chemist and a radio operator. Assuming that Zarkov is sincere, and not bluffing to justify Dale's inclusion on the expedition, it is not clear whether Dale possessed such skills prior to first meeting Flash and Zarkov in the first serial (as her background was never explained). It is possible Dale has been learning these skills since she first returned from Mongo, as the first chapter of the second serial, Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars, showed her working with Flash and Zarkov in a scientific capacity as they try to identify the cause of the disturbances on Earth.
  • Torch and Thong spot the expedition through the viewing periscope on their rocketship and recognize the lead figure as Flash Gordon. The cutaway shot showing the view as they see it shows vague figures who could not possibly be recognized as specific individuals.
  • There are 4 members of the expedition; namely Flash, Dale, Barin, and Roka; yet the stock footage used for the long shots clearly shows 5 mountain climbers.
  • One of the pieces of stock footage used to show Dale's nasty fall is clearly that of a male climber falling.
  • The gratitude of Queen Fria for the rescue of her valued General Lupi does not, it would seem, extend to having her men assist with the collection of Polarite. Despite more than one mention in the narrative that Frigians can survive in the extreme cold, no explanation is given as to why the Earth people have to brave the sub-zero conditions when the Frigians (who owe them a favour, to say the least) could just as readily mine the Polarite for them. In fact, the Frigians offer no further assistance to Flash and his party in the struggle against Ming after this chapter.
  • Sonja is introduced in this chapter, though she is seen only briefly and will not make another appearance until Chapter 6. In fact, her brief appearance in this chapter seems to have been an afterthought, for actress Anne Gwynne was not physically present when the scene was shot. The cutaway shots of her are actually lifted from material filmed for Chapter 8 when Sonja feigns sleep whilst imprisoned with Dale by the Rock Men. Sonja is another character nominally lifted from the Flash Gordon comic strip, in which she appeared from February to October in 1938, but once again there are significant differences. In the comic strip Sonja was an exiled noblewoman imprisoned by Ming, and later freed by Flash whom she then tried to seduce. When Flash spurned her advances, she then sought revenge by releasing the imprisoned Ming on the condition that he made her his Empress. Ming kept his word but had Sonja executed as soon as she was crowned.


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