These will all be long, so I’ll cut the post up.
1. Flash Gordon
Originally a comic strip in newspapers then made into movie serials, a campy movie in the 80s, as well as a disappointing TV show a few years ago (many pundits have spoken of that already, so I won’t go into that here. Anyway it’s not a feature of this piece). Most of it was centered on the planet Mongo. For that, the space opera feeling came from the fact that Mongo had many climates and zones, but they had little in the way of scientific rationale; they just existed — and differing races… so there are barbarian birdmen and men with the heads of big cats, and so on.
His origins? Here’s the information from Wikipedia, with my additions:
“[…] the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale University graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov.The story begins with Earth threatened with a collision with the planet Mongo. Dr. Zarkov invents a rocket ship to fly into space in an attempt to stop the disaster. Half mad, he kidnaps Flash and Dale and they travel to the planet. Landing on the planet, and halting the collision, they come into conflict with Ming the Merciless, Mongo’s evil ruler.
For many years, the three companions have adventures on Mongo, traveling to the forest kingdom of Arboria, ruled by Prince Barin ; the ice kingdom of Frigia, ruled by Queen Fria; the jungle kingdom of Tropica, ruled by Queen Desira; the undersea kingdom of the Shark Men, ruled by King Kala; and the flying city of the Hawkmen, ruled by Prince Vultan . They are joined in several early adventures by Prince Thun of the Lion Men . Eventually, Ming is overthrown, and Mongo is ruled by a council of leaders led by Barin.
Flash and friends return to Earth and have some adventures before returning to Mongo and crashing in the kingdom of Tropica, then reuniting with Barin and others. Flash and his friends travel to other worlds and return to Mongo, where Prince Barin, married to Ming’s daughter Princess Aura , has established a peaceful rule (except for frequent revolts led by Ming or by one of his many descendants) […]”
Flash has been redesigned over the years. He’s now a football player rather than a polo one.