Monday, May 30, 2011

Comic Review: Rocketeer Adventures #1


As usual I can't think of a witty opening so let's take a look at the return of another pulp inspired hero to the comic racks.

Divided into three shorts stories, the first one by artist-writer John Cassaday, simply titled "The Rocketeer," finds the Rocketeer aka Cliff Secord in a stand off with the gangster Maroni and his henchmen over a stolen rocket. Complicating things is that Maroni has Cliff's girlfriend Betty as a hostage. Cliff acts fast and well gets a reward he wasn't counting on. The second story "Home Again," by Madman creator Mike Allred, finds Cliff and Betty having a brief reunion when Cliff returns from New York with a newer rocket from a mysterious stranger named Jonas. In exchange Cliff has go undercover to stop the "dark forces" that are now threatening the world. In the final story "Dear Betty..." written by Kurt Busiek with art by Michael Kaluta we find Betty on her own with Cliff off to war. The letters he sends helps her through the hard times but when the stop coming she begins to fear the worst.

Some confession time folks: My first exposure to The Rocketeer was the 1991 Disney film (probably the last really great live action film they made) and then I discovered Dave Stevens' original comics. Tapping into the same formula as Raiders of the Lost Ark, I loved the comics and the film's fun and light hearted tone and the homage to classic matinee fare like King of the Rocket Men. So when I saw this on the shelf I immediately snapped it up. And it was worth the price. The three stories are different enough but inter connect to tell a long form story with some surprises thrown in. I probably liked the last one best. For anyone who has had to deal with separation from loved ones due to war Busiek touches on the subject with warmth and compassion, helped by Kaluta's art. Following that the first one is a fun, good guys vs bad guys story with humor while the second one is OK. I felt it did suffer from being the middle story and being constrained by the shortness of the story-it felt like there was more to it that was missing. But that's a minor complaint.

The artwork is also top notch, capturing the look of the world Stevens created while offering enough wiggle room for each artist to work in. I also have to mention the cool Alex Ross cover (shown above) and two good pin-ups, one by Mike Mignola (image the Rocketeer meets Hellboy) and Jim Silke and you have a good start to what I hope is a successful series. And with issue promising such talents like Darwyn Cooke and Mark Waid it might be.

So breaking the usual lack of ratings for individual comics I'm giving this one the full **** out of 4. Fans of both the comics and those only familiar with the movie will I think enjoy this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Lord of the Spiders AKA Blades of Mars


Whose ready for another adventure with Michael Moorcock's Kane of Old Mars? (for those who missed my thoughts on the first one here you go http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-review-city-of-beast-aka-warriors.html).

When we last left off, scientist turned swordsman Michael Kane had been pulled back to Earth through the matter transmitter that he was working on. Let go from his former job, he has struck up a friendship with Edward P. Bradbury, who has agreed to help. As this book opens the two have completed construction of a new transmitter and are ready to test it outside of Stonehenge. When Michael enters the device he disappears...and then quickly reappears, only know sporting the outfit of a warrior of Mars and ready to tell his new adventure. This time instead of landing back in Karnala and the arms of his love Shizala, Michael finds himself instead in the Northern part of the planet where he almost becomes dinner for a vicious creature but is rescued by Hool Haji of the Mendishar race, a race related to the dreaded Blue Giants of Argzoon. Hool Haji is also the last descendant of the original ruling family of Mendishar before they were overthrown by Jewar Baru, a member of the warrior class known as Priosa, who is using false superstitions to rule. And before too long Michael agrees to help Hool Haji regain his throne and save the people, which leads to creepy spider-men and a reunion with both is beloved and an old enemy...

Having enjoyed The City of the Beast, I devoured this entry rather quickly (which is pretty easy considering the short length of barely a 150 pages in the edition I read) and again had a good time. Moorcock keeps the story moving with one cliffhanger after another. I also found those spider-men creatures really creepy. Maybe it's just I hate spiders but they worked as a cool and creepy menace. The book also echoes the second of the Barsoom series, The Gods of Mars in its setup-our hero returns back to Mars and attempts to return to his love-and in the portrayal of Jewar Baru as a false prophet, along the lines of the Therns and Issus. There is also Kane's use of a balloon to escape with his friends-similar to Hadron of Hastor's in A Fighting Man of Mars and I'm sure other references that eagle eyed Burroughs and sword and planet fans will enjoy.

My only complaint-it was too short and left me wanting more. Sure it's pretty lightweight but that was the point. It's pulp and nothing more. And that's what makes it a fun read. Rating: ***1/2 out of 4.

Monday, May 23, 2011

John Carter of Mars is Just John Carter


That's what some sites seem to be reporting http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/title-john-carter-mars-john-carter-now-in-time?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=title-john-carter-mars-john-carter-now-in-time. The Twitter account of the site Dark Horizons is reporting that Disney has now decided to drop the "of Mars" part and now the film is just called John Carter. There has been no official word from the studio-no surprise there considering their lackluster handling of this movie's PR so far-except for a change in the Facebook page address from johncarterofmars to johncartermovie http://www.facebook.com/JohnCarterMovie but if this is true they're really scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Let's hope someone is wrong. UPDATE: Well it looks like this is true. Sites from Collider http://collider.com/john-carter-of-mars-title-in-time/92540/ to Aint it Cool News http://www.aintitcool.com/node/49757 are confirming the title change. The reason? Unknown, even though AICN speculates Disney could be fearful following the disastrous box office of the recent Mars Needs Moms while Collider suggests fear that with a lack of a big name movie star that the studio might feel the title would be too silly for non fans. As for reaction, for the most part negative, with several saying removing "of Mars" from the title makes it sound like a generic non-SF flick(AICN says it sounds like a Tom Hanks film about a single dad). Others hope that maybe it will be like the Harry Potter or Indiana Jones series and the film's actual title will be John Carter and A Princess of Mars. We'll see but this seems to prove that Disney has no clue what they're doing with this film if they're going to change a name that has stuck for decades just to make it appeal to clueless audiences. Maybe if they just stick Johnny Depp's picture on the poster that will help.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #3


Since we have some time I'll go ahead and give you want you want-more hot Martians!

As this issue opens, the Green Men have laid siege to Helium and are demanding a face to face with the evil Jeddak of Yorn. But he has merged with the Colossus and immediately lays waste to them. But the Jeddak isn't done. He orders his men to wipe out all the Green Men, including the women and children since he feels that both the red and green races can not co-exist While that's going on Dejah, Mors Kojak and Tardors Mors frees the Jed of Greater Helium, Khanid Thal, and his men and escape but long simmering suspicions that Khanid had a hand in the death of Mors Kojak's wife leads to an uneasy alliance. Eventually they all know what must be done and as Tardors says "find out who are friends are..."

At this point with the story pretty much established and the next two issues the promised wrap-up, issue 3 is pretty much a mid point with no opening and no ending. The story has improved somewhat from issue 2-no Dejah swords in skull action-but the bonding of the Jeddak and the Colossus as an unstoppable force is reminding me too much of John Carter and the Giant of Mars. And that maybe is why some have not warmed to this series as much. Also the subplot about Mors' wife seems to come out of left field. Was this the reason for the war between Greater and Lesser Helium? I might have missed it mentioned in the first two issues but it seems to be thrown in as an afterthought-even though I feel sorry for the poor woman. She gets poisoned here and shot in the Marvel series.

On the plus side and I know I'm sounding like a stuck record but Carlos Rafael's artwork is still the major draw. In this issue he presents us with snarling calots, a full action Colossus and enough Dejah to at least make the issue visually appealing. The green men are still without their antennae but they do look better than the regular Warlord of Mars series. And the cover artwork by Joe Jusko and Paul Renoud (which is shown above) is the best. If anything that is reason enough to get this issue.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The New Adventures of John Carter Set for 2012


Well it looks like we're heading back to Barsoom. I09 is reporting that The New Adventures of John Carter of Mars will be published by Simon and Shuster http://m.io9.com/5803412/go-back-to-barsoom-with-new-john-carter-stories-by-some-of-your-favorite-authors. The book will be released through the Children's Publishing division along with a new book collecting the first three novels. No word of the official release date, even though I'm betting either before or around the March 9 release date of the movie. Here's the full press release:

SIMON AND SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS TO PUBLISH NEW ANTHOLOGY BASED ON THE CLASSIC JOHN CARTER OF MARS SERIES BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
New York, NY, May 19, 2011-Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing announced today it will publish a new original anthology called The New Adventures of John Carter of Mars, edited by John Joseph Adams and based on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Publication will be in the spring of 2012 and will coincide with the 100th anniversary of A Princess of Mars, the first book to feature John Carter. The anthology envisions all-new adventures set in Edgar Rice Burroughs' fantastical version of Mars (known in the series as "Barsoom.") This anthology not only imagines new or the lost adventures of John Carter, but also explores the other characters and niches not fully explored by Burroughs. David Gale is the acquiring editor, and Joe Monti of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency brokered the deal. Simon & Schuster holds World English rights.

Celebrated fantasy writer Tamora Pierce will write the foreword to the anthology, and John Joseph Adams will write the introduction and header notes. The collection will include stories by Joe R. Lansdale; Jonathan Maberry; David Barr Kirtley; Peter S. Beagle; Tobias S. Buckell; Robin Wasserman; Theodora Goss; Genevieve Valentine; L. E. Modesitt, Jr.; Garth Nix; Chris Claremont; S. M. Stirling; Catherynne M. Valente; and Austin Grossman. There will also be a "Barsoomian Gazetteer," a who's who and what's what on Barsoom, written by science fiction author and noted Barsoom expert Richard A. Lupoff. In addition, each story will feature an original illustration by noted artists such as Charles Vess, John Picacio, Michael Kaluta, and Misako Rocks.

At the same time, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers will publish John Carter of Mars, a bind-up of the first three John Carter books: A Princess of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, and The Gods of Mars, with all-new illustrations by Mark Zug, Scott Fischer, and Scott Gustafson.

"I still vividly recall the summer as a teenager that I read all eleven of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels in one enthusiastic gulp," said Jon Anderson, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Books for Young Readers. "The opportunity to revisit that experience with new stories from this stellar roster of authors was too much to resist!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

John Carter of Mars Trailer: When Can We See It?


That seems to be a question that needs answering. For weeks, ever since Taylor Kitsch made his comment about having seen it, the major question has been when will we-the rest of the non-Disney world-see the trailer for John Carter of Mars? It failed to turn up with Thor and now we turn to the next logical suspect: this weekend's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Now there has been no official word from the Mouse House that the trailer is attached but it would make some sense since On Stranger Tides is the studio's only real big adventure film this summer (even though thanks to owning Marvel Disney does have stakes in both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger). On the other hand Disney hasn't shown much sense in their handling of this film's promotion yet with no teaser poster or photos released so the only Carter/Sparrow connection possibly could be that photo above of Lynn Collins-in her red panted glory-at the premiere of Pirates 4 but you never know. I guess just keep checking the film's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/JohnCarterMovie for any word. UPDATE MAY 21: It looks like the trailer failed to show up this weekend. Then again I guess Disney could always use the "we thought the world was ending" excuse for the no-show.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #25-28


Well here's the end of the line. The last four issues of Marvel's trip to Barsoom and it ends...well you'll see.

When we last left our heroes, John Carter and Tars Tarkas were on board the ship of the dreaded Guild of Assasins taking them out one by one; Dejah Thoris had flown back to Helium to warn her grandfather Tardors Mors of an impending attempt on his and the royal family's life only to be captured by the traitorous Surbus and left to be Ulsio chow in a cell and the series had just been cancelled. Well after one month off "He's Back!" as the cover of issue 25, "Hide-n-Seek!" proclaims. And he's still causing havoc on that ship, knocking off the crew one by one while he and Tars plant explosives that will go off at sunrise. Afterwards he confronts the dreaded Tal Modrin, who tells him that his attempt is to save Barsoom from the constant wars and feuding that is causing Barsoom's destruction, even if means sacrificing until millions. John and Tars fight off the remaining crew until the ship blows up and then escape. Meanwhile we get some flirting from Mors Kojak and his wife Tara (yep parents flirting-EWW!) and a suspicious Kantos Kan who rescues Dejah from those rats. But the two are captured by Surbus and his men who proclaims that this night "the Guild of Assassins conquers Helium!"

And they attempt that in issue 26, "Night of the Long Knives!" But that always clever Dejah manages to grab Kantos' pistol and the two take out Surbus and his men and head off to warn the others. But the assassins have landed and both Tardors and Mors are fighting for their lives, with help from their wives and Sola. Eventually all seems lost until the cavalry arrives as John, Tars and the Tharks storm the gates. Everything seems fine until a ticked off Tal Modrin shows up and attempts to kill John. He fails but he hits Dejah's mother, causing John to leap after him but he falls off the flier...

And is found on the ground by Tars as issue 27, "Marathon of Death!" opens. The duo manage to cripple Modrin's flier and head off to get their vengeance. When they do find him its in the city of Marahn, where Tars had fought off Barak Sol weeks earlier (back in issue 18). But John is determined and goes in and fights Modrin, until Tars decides to take things into his own hands by causing the icy surface to break they're fighting on and those demon hands grab Modrin. Of course it wasn't him (talk about a cheat!) as John says the man he fought was different in his style. With that done, the two head home, only to find several dead red men, the remains of a flier and a torn piece of clothing with some familiar perfume-Dejah's! John immediately heads off to find her and soon finds a group of Warhoons ready to have some fun with the Princess. John thinks quickly and rescues her and the two ride off. As the issue winds down, Helium morns their dead-including Tara and several unborn children-while John deals with his own issue-Dejah's pregnant. After a brief time, Dejah has her egg (remember they're oviparous) and the two decide to name the child if it is a girl Tara. A final kiss and the end.

Well not "the end." That's issue 28, "The Weapon Makers of Mars!" In this one John decides that what he needs after the death and destruction and his becoming a father is a road trip. So he heads off with Kantos Kan and scientist/C-3P0 clone Sasoom Thil. They find the abandoned city of Aanthor (not to be confused with Karanthor, the Wing Men city from earlier). Once there they find white apes running from them and what appears to be a battle between white skinned humans and green men. But they disappear as quickly as they appear and John begins to investigate. What he discovers is that the city has one inhabitant-an ancient old man who calls himself "the Last Priest of the Elder Gods" who defied the Therns and have discovered the city's temple where a strange vault lies that he believes will grant him power. John however isn't affected as much by the strange man's power and manages to stop him and rescue his friends. The group then leaves...missing a final message from the Elder Gods. Oh well that's life.

After the brief cancellation, I guess Marvel must have worked out a way to continue the series for at least these issues. First up the good stuff-issue 25 and 26 deliver the action and a rousing series of cliffhangers, along with an interesting setup for Tal Modrin that makes him more than a standard villain. Writer Chris Claremont also isn't afraid to show off how brutal the assassins are-the massacre of the unborn for example-which helps establish them as a viable threat. Issue 27 falters though-I guess I come from the "kill the bad guy" school and the revelation that it wasn't Tal Modrin getting pulled down by those hands was a disappointment. Also it appears they ran out of plot if they needed to throw in the Warhoons and Dejah again in danger just to stretch out the issue. That being said the final two pages add some emotion and show us where the series might have gone, if it had continued.

As for issue 28, it's actually one of the best of the series. Writer Peter Gillis manages to craft a good, single story that is both gripping and suspenseful in the confines of one issue. If anything it shows that maybe the best approach to this series would have been shorter story lines or single stories for each issue. Considering how long and drawn out both "The Air-Pirates of Barsoom" and "The Master Assassin of Mars" story lines got-with needless subplots and pointless characters-this approach might have made the series go on further. But it didn't.

So in the end these four issues represent the Marvel series at it's best. It's a shame it was at the very end. Next time I'll wrap up my thoughts on the entire series and offer up the best and worst issues.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Intro to Thor" Featurette

As you can tell it's a slow week. In this case Marvel, in an attempt to persuade those who missed it last weekend has released a new featurette online that focuses primarily on one of Thor's least talked about stars-Mighty Mjolnir (sadly pronunciation lessons weren't included). Like I said, slow week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New "Conan" Poster


How's that for mayhem? Arriving a few days after the new trailer, the site IGN has posted this new poster showing Jason Momoa in full barbarian mode. You can see a much bigger version at http://movies.ign.com/articles/116/1166982p1.html

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Movie Review: Thor


It's Hammer Time! (I know, lame pun but...) And yes there will be spoilers so considered yourself warned.

Astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is studying strange electrical phenemona above the skies in New Mexico with her friends Eric (Stellan Skaarsgard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) when they see what appears to be a tornado touch down. They find a strange pattern imprinted on the ground and a guy they accidentally hit. And then the movie really starts as we go to the realm of Asgard and it's ruler Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who relates the story of the war between himself and his people and the Frost Giants who live in the realm of Joutenheim. As the years pass he decides to leave his throne to his oldest son Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a hot head whose coronation is disrupted when some Frost Giants break in and attempt to steal a device that can restore their power. Thor, mightily ticked off, decides to head to Joutenheim with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the female warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and three friends referred to as the Warriors Three, for answers. Unfortunately he starts off a war with the Giants and Odin decides to teach Thor a lesson-he strips him of his powers and his hammer Mjolnir and banishes him to the realm known as Midgard-or as we call it Earth. While there he is befriended by Jane and has to learn humility and compassion, especially when he discovers that Loki is behind everything, setting up a battle that will rock the Nine Realms...

I have to admit when I first heard that Thor was to become Marvel's next big budget movie I was more than a little skeptical. The character can be at best aloof or even arrogant while the mythology of Asgard can be confusing. Also I wasn't sold on the idea of Kenneth Branagh directing. After all his best known work was with Shakespeare and didn't exactly fit the bill to be helming a comic book blockbuster.

Well to my surprise Thor delivers, big time. First the really good stuff-Hemsworth is perfect as Thor. He captures the arrogance and brashness of the God of Thunder with a remarkable ease and holds his own opposite veteran actors like Hopkins and Skaarsgard. He also comes through in the action scenes and even in the humorous moments. If this doesn't make him a household name I will be surprised. The rest of the cast also delivers, especially Hopkins and Skaarsgard. Portman does get upstaged a bit by Kat Dennings' Darcy but when alone with Hemsworth has the needed chemistry. And the Warriors Three and Alexander's Sif also get enough to do without becoming superfluous to the plot and get their moment to shine when battling the Destroyer to save the small town Thor is staying in.

Branagh also gives the film a grandeur, capturing the world of Asgard with an eye for spectacle. The costumes, sets and stunts are all top notch and Patrick Doyle's music score manages to capture the epic and intimate unlike most comic book movie scores. The director does get carried away with too many "dutch angle" shots but it comes closer to capturing the look of a comic book more than most and certainly much better than Ang Lee did with Hulk.

Of course there are problems. The first is how lacking a villain Loki ultimately is. I'm not saying Hiddleston gives a bad performance-in fact he is rather good. But the role is thinly written and his reason for his actions is lacking. Let's just say brotherly jealousy isn't that compelling a reason for causing massive mayhem as it used to be. The second is Marvel shoving in SHIELD just to setup next year's The Avengers movie. I know comic book fans love this but to me, like it was in Iron Man 2, it's a distraction, especially one scene during Thor's attempt to retrieve Mjolnir that is just there to introduce a character we won't see again until next year. All that could have been left out and the film would have been stronger but I guess I'm in the minority on that point. And finally some of the CGI is a little dodgy, like some shots of Asgard and the Bifrost so those demanding 100 percent perfect effects might want to look elsewhere.

Even with those points Thor still kicks off the summer with a fun, entertaining movie that takes a hard character and has a good time with him. I'm sure someone will disagree and I might even have second thoughts later but for now the rating is ***1/2 out 4.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conan the Barbarian Gets a New Trailer


Well you can tell that the summer movie season is upon us when the trailers start showing up. So following up GL here's a new look at Conan. If anything this trailer is a vast improvement over the teaser from a few months ago and Jason Momoa is looking more and more like the Cimmerian every time I see pics of him.

Green Lantern: New Trailer and Poster


Yep more greeny goodness. A new trailer and poster has been released, with the former showing us more Mark Strong's Sinestro, more brunette Blake Lively, more alien action-including our first glimpse of the Guardians-and the expected "more!" Check it out below:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #21-24


OK back to Barsoom for more adventures.

When we last left off, both John Carter and Dejah Thoris were being held in the undiscovered city of Karanthor by Wing Men, descendants of the ancient Orovars. Issue 21, "The Lady and the Lion!" opens with John having just punched out the devious leader Chan Tomar but being discovered by Tomar's guards. John and Dejah attempt to escape but are recaptured. While in the dungeon Dejah admits her shame for betraying John for the repulsive Chan-Rule No 1 ladies-it's OK to become another man's sex slave as long as you're doing it to protect the real man you love-before the big event-a fight with a wild banth in a coliseum with Dejah as bait for the creature. John wins but not before Tomar decides to shoot an arrow into Dejah's shoulder. And that was his last mistake as Dejah Thoris gets her own vengeance and rids the Wing Men of their leader. And what do they give in return? Death to John and Dejah! What a bunch of ingrates!

As issue 22, "Climb the Freedom," opens John and Dejah are sentenced for violating "ancient laws" for slaying Chan Tomar and are to be returned to the arena. But John breaks free and grabs his radium pistol, a weapon the Wing Men have no familiarity with and manages to use it to free both him and Dejah. As the two make a mad dash for it, the Wing Men are in hot pursuit until John uses his jumping ability (yep white men can jump) and the Wing Men decide to let the two die out in the wilderness (not only ingrates but lazy as well). After that it's one long climb-both for our heroes and the reader-as the two scale the "wall around the world." Along the way they fight off a white ape, tend to Dejah's wounds, hear tales of John's trip to Mount Everest and his time before the Civil War and make up like Martians do. Eventually they get out, find Dejah's flier that they had abandoned and are doing some fencing practice when an airship appears. Unfortunately it happens to be the airship of that Guild of Assassins! (You remember them right?)

Well John and Dejah does as issue 23, "The Man Who Makes Murder!" (sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode title), finds them captured by the Guild. But luckily for Dejah they think she is Daria, the female assassin who had been killed after poisoning John back in issue 16. After slugging a few assassins, John and Dejah stage a mock fight so John can read Dejah's mind and get some answers. He discovers that Dejah discovered a plot to overthrow the royal family of Helium and that her real mission was to discover the identities of the assassins. John also discovers a shocking secret that causes him to falter and be captured. Meanwhile back in Helium Tardors Mors is beginning to worry about the missing John, Dejah and Tars Tarkas (who rode off in issue 18). Back on the ship Dejah gets more info on the Guild and a new outfit by way of Barbarella. But since Daria failed to kill John Carter, Dejah must defend herself in a contest against female assassins. Also her cover is blown by the arrival of Guild's leader Tal Mordin, the Master Assassin of Mars! And her fate-a four armed one!

Lucky for her, that four-armed warrior is Tars Tarkas and as issue 24, "Betrayal!" opens he lightly taps Dejah-well lightly for a Thark-and helps John escape causing all hell to break loose. A massive fire helps cover up Dejah's escape in a flier while John and Tars stay on board and begin to take out the assassins one by one. While that's going on Dejah returns to Helium but since she's wearing the outfit of Daria is mistaken for an assassin and arrested. She also finds the mole inside Helium-Sorbus, a Dwar who has the complete trust of several, including Kantos Kan. Sorbus leaves Dejah in a cell in an abandoned catacomb and to some ulsios (Martian rats). Can she escape? Well John and Tars defeat the Guild? Or-as the last page asks-"Is this THE END?"

With 8 issues left I decided to split them into four for this review and the next one. As this storyline shows, we go from one thing to another in rather quick succession. In fact maybe too quick as I was wondering why the whole Karanthor plot was even included. It could have been a whole story itself instead of interrupting the flow of the "Master Assassin of Mars" story. Also the story is wrapped up rather abruptly. John's friend Garathon just leaves, leaving John and Dejah to their fate, the Wing Men get lazy and just leave the pair to die on their own while the whole Dejah as slave subplot just leaves a bad taste in this fan's mouth.

Once we move past that though issues 23 and 24 move quickly with a tense narrative by writer Chris Claremont and excellent art by artists Mike Volburg and Ric Villamonte (the two took over from artist Ernie Colon with issue 22). The added political intrigue and the plan John uses to take down the assassins on the ship add some variety to the swashbuckling while the ending does leave for one enticing cliffhanger. And that cliffhanger? On the letters page of issue 24, Marvel explains that this was to be the "last issue...at least for the foreseeable future...Unfortunately the intricacies of magazine publishing-complicated in no small way by the fact that Marvel licenses CARTER from the Burroughs estate-prevents us from doing so at this time." This does seem to go along with various reasons I've heard as to why the series was ultimately cancelled-the Burroughs estate demanding more money for the rights and possibly being unhappy with the direction the series took. But I guess they must have given Marvel a reprieve since four more issues were published...and we'll tackle them soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #6


Well here's the second comic book review of the weekend.

This issue opens with one of the best chapters from A Princess of Mars-Sola's story as she relates the history of her parents and their betrayal by Sarkoja. After listening to this tale John Carter and company arrive in Thark where he quickly decides it's time to leave-especially after he hears he's to be thrown into the combat in the arena. His plans take a turn when Dejah Thoris is taken before the Jeddak of the Tharks Tal Hajus-and if you read the book you know the rest: John cleans Hajus' clock, our heroes escape and are pursued by Green Men before being separated. At the end John stops the pursuerers-who are Warhoons-and finds a structure that might hold the key to his-and Barsoom's-salvation.

After the swords through skulls action of the Dejah Thoris series, I found this return to calm a welcome change. First the good stuff-the handling of Sola's story was done well and I loved the flashbacks showing us Sola as a child and her mother. I also liked the appearances of the Warhoons who sport better looking tusks than the Tharks have so far. The scene where John reveals his feelings to Dejah before the escape is also well handled and the action where they separate to escape the Warhoons adds some needed action after the talking.

On the flip side, well I didn't care much for Tal Hajus' look. Let's just say they took this http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3657794304/ch0000111 and added four arms and legs. And as you die-hard fans can tell from my description this is the first issue since #2 to change the original storyline-yep no Warhoon games and no Kantos Kan before John's discovery of the Atmosphere Factory. Maybe that's being saved for the next issue or has been changed for other reasons. We'll have to wait and see.

Again sounding like a stuck record, issue 6 is another strong issue for the series. Hopefully next month I won't have to review everything so close together.