Saturday, July 30, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars-Fall of Barsoom #1

Another week, another trip to Mars. This time before John Carter even arrived.

After a brief intro, showing John in battle in the fallen city of Horz, we flash back 100,000 years when the city was capital of the Orovar Empire. But like most empires they've fallen on hard times-in this case their atmosphere and great oceans are evaporating due to the increase of the Red and Green Men on Barsoom. A scientist, Tak Nan Lee, has been commissioned by the Orovar Jeddak Xan Mu Xar to build an plant that helps the atmosphere but Tak is beginning to worry that they may be losing time, especially after the Jeddak breaks the alliance with the Okarans and the First Born. While that is going on in the city of Thark, Orovar general Van Tun Bor and his troops are fighting for survival against green men who have laid siege. And Tak risks his own life to save some red men from the green savages and meets someone who might change his future...

After Dynamite's two previous series, I was curious how this one was going to play out. Deciding to set the story long before John Carter or even Dejah Thoris were on Barsoom actually allows for more breathing room for writer Robert Place Napton to explore Barsoom's past and show the divisions that ultimately result in the savage planet John Carter finds centuries later. I did like that we meet the creator of the Atmosphere Plant and see the Orovars at the height of their power as well as the separate storyline following General Van Tun Bor, even if he only gets a few pages. I hope he shows up in a more expanded role. I admit that like most first issues it's hard to tell where the story is going but so far I'm intrigued.

Artwise, artist Roberto Castro does bring a pre-fall Horz to vivid life, even though I'm sure some will wonder about the futuristic design of it and the vehicles. Let's just say in some panels I was flashing back to Coruscant in the Star Wars prequels. Also offbeat is the way the characters are drawn or dressed-the First Born are towering 7 foot men, the Orovar leader and his men are dressed like the Asgardians from Thor while Tak Nan Lee is drawn in normal looking clothes. The red men though sport the usual future Barsoom ensemble, a nice touch. In all Castro does a good job, even without the scantly clad babes (well until the end).

So to close up I'll give a thumbs up for this issue and hope the next issue delivers just as strongly.

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