With Comic-Con pretty much a done deal (just check out the sites below for news on Ryan Reynolds winning over the fans of Green Lantern, Marvel rolling out the all star cast of The Avengers and Harrison Ford making an appearance for Cowboy and Aliens) and a new Warlord of Mars comic book around the corner I thought I would attempt to finish up my reviews and thoughts on previous comic versions. (You can read my thoughts on the first seven issues here http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2009/07/marvels-john-carter-warlord-of-mars.html.)
So we pick up with issue 8-"And Stone May Crumble!" as John Carter has cleared his name after his forced "servitude" under the dreaded Air Pirate Staro Kan and has reunited with his beloved Dejah Thoris so he takes the day off to enjoy some "sand skiing" while Kantos Kan finds love with Lyssia, who predicts his death (talk about ruining a picnic!) And he might as assassins and a stone monster that can turn people into stone with his laser eyes run amok. Yes, a stone monster with laser eyes.
Issue 9 "Armageddon...At Last" finds John and company heading off to take out the dreaded "Council of Five" who has been behind all their recent troubles. Once at the enemy stronghold it's every man and Thark for himself as the battle rages on until all seems fine. That is until the next issue, "Confrontation" which finally wraps up the "Air Pirates of Barsoom" arc. While Tars Tarkas considers leaving Helium and returning to lead his people, John is summoned by "The Great One," the leader of the Council who is revealed to have been (spoiler alert!) born on the sacred Tree of Life that all of Barsoom's inhabitants emerged from. And the Great One has figured out that the only way to restore Barsoom to its original lush glory is destroy all life and start over...something John has to stop or otherwise die.
And as you can tell he does by the time issue 11 opens. "The Story of Dejah Thoris" finds John reminiscing about his first meeting with the incomparable Dejah-as a prisoner of the fierce Tharks. And how her beauty and strength had him falling head over heels in love with her.
Looking back at Marvel's take on Barsoom you got to give them this much-the series looks good. The artwork by the legendary Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres in issues 8-10 and Dave Cockrum in issue 11 captures Barsoom and the characters extremely well. Cockrum in particular drew an attractive Dejah Thoris, which counts for a lot. The major issue is still the plots. Not that I have anything against writer Marv Wolfman (who wrote several Tarzan comics for DC and Marvel that were pretty faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs) but I still feel that some of the "Air Pirates" storyline is too similar to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series. I could see Conan fighting giant monsters but I guess since Burroughs never had any (unless you count Joog the Giant) it seems out of place. Also there is goofy humor-John at one point calls Tars Tarkas in issue 8 "a big green lummox" and Tars comes off too Ben Grimm-grumbling for comic effect. Also an interesting notice-on the first page of issue 9 John states he wishes he hadn't brought Dejah with him on their mission in which she retorts "long before you took your first step on this world I was a capable warrior." I guess we know now where Andrew Stanton got his "blitzing" Dejah from.
With that said though-these four issues are still an interesting read for John Carter of Mars fans. I would definitely say get issue 11-the artwork is great and it stays close to the original novel. I just hope the upcoming Dynamite Comics series delivers on both fronts.