Ming the Merciless

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Ming the Merciless

Ming the Merciless is a fictional character appearing in the Flash Gordon comic strip. When the heroic Flash and his friends land on the planet Mongo they find it ruled by the evil Emperor Ming, a despot who quickly becomes their enemy.

The capital of his empire is named Mingo in his honour. In addition to his army, Ming has access to a wide variety of science fiction gadgets, ranging from rocket ships to death rays to robots. Though evil, he has his weaknesses, which include a desire to marry Flash's beautiful companion, Dale Arden. Ming's daughter Aura is as evil as he is when the series begins, but is eventually reformed by her love for Flash.

Though he is technically an alien, Ming strongly resembles a stereotypical Asian supervillain, and his resemblance to Dr. Fu Manchu is especially strong. In later adaptations of the story his Oriental nature has been downplayed out of sensitivity to criticisms of racial stereotyping.

In the Flash Gordon movie serials Ming was played by Charles Middleton. In the 1980 theatrical movie he was played by Max von Sydow.

In the animated series, Ming looks totally different: he is a green, pointy-eared, sharp-toothed scaly alien, which cause the heroes to call him a "lizard". In this version, Ming is more humane and even comical at times.

Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia until 1966, was nicknamed "Ming", reputedly because of his imperious manner.

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