Again I can't think of a snappy opening. So here we go.
When we last left off, John Carter had become separated from Dejah Thoris and Sola after escaping the Tharks. As this issue opens he has stumbled upon a strange structure that he soon discovers is an Atmosphere Factory that maintains the air of Barsoom. Inside he finds the factory's keeper who accidentally reveals the code to enter and leave the factory to John and plans to correct his mistake. John escapes though and soon finds three brothers-the Ptor family-who provides needed information-Dejah is being held captive by Than Kosis, the Jeddak of Zodanga. And if that isn't enough the king's son Sab Than has developed an interest in Dejah. With some red body paint John sneaks in and becomes a scout in the Zodangan air force and ends up saving the nephew of Than Kosis. His reward is guarding the Jeddak. And as the issue ends possibly the Jeddak's future daughter in law...
Like the previous issues, this one's strongest asset is Arvid Nelson's writing. Again the plot is direct from Burroughs (except for the notable absence of Kantos Kan) with the factory, the Ptors, the arrival and rescue of the nephew and some nice little touches...It's all there. I admit this does cause a lack of suspense if you've read the novel and know where things are headed but to this fan-after the original Marvel series and its additions-it's nice to see someone who has read the book and is determined to remain faithful to it.
Where this issue gets off track is in the art, or rather some of the artistic choices, especially with the characters. The factory keeper is drawn here as a midget who looks like a voodoo chieftain from an old jungle or Tarzan movie while Than Kosis is another rotund bad guy. And Sab Than? He looks like he's 15 years old! And the city of Zodanga isn't shown off enough. Maybe that will be fixed in the next issue.
So I guess the score is this: the writing is strong but the art-or at least some of the artistic choices-needs work. Still fans of John Carter who've been keeping up will enjoy this issue. And another A+ for the cover artwork by Joe Jusko. Next to the Rockwell cover for issue 5, this might be the best one of this series.