Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Comic Review: Warriors of Mars #3

No clever opening, just a review.

This issue opens in the midst of battle as Captain John Carter and Lt. Gulliver Jones are taking a horde of green men until they have to jump...and then we cut back a month to Helium as Dejah Thoris receives a visit from a member of the Thither people, selling various relics from the Royal Palace of Seth, which as established in the previous issues her mother was the Princess Heru. While John expresses suspicion about the Thither, Dejah purchases several items, including a rug that no one-not even Carter-can move. Later after having a dream, Dejah finds herself drawn to the rug and wishing to see it unfurled, finds old Gully popping out. Inviting him to stay as a guest-and to find out more about her mother-Dejah finds herself at odds with John who thinks Jones is arrogant. Meanwhile (man this issue has a lot going on), the Thithers discover their old enemy is still alive and hatch a plan to snare him-by using Dejah! When she is kidnapped, it's up to Carter and Jones to save her from the River of Death (or Iss depending on your preference). The question is can they survive the green men, the Thithers and each other to save her?

Having adapted Gulliver of Mars in the first two issues, with some elements to connect it to the Barsoom series, writer Robert Napton begins the new story with some interesting-though debatable-choices. The biggest is probably the subplot involving Dejah's feelings towards Gulliver and John Carter's bouts of jealousy over this, notably shown in an argument after he agrees to let Jones go out on a scouting mission and Dejah's anger over putting the man her mother loved in harm's way. It shows strength on Dejah's part but some fans might not like the idea of her splitting what could be seen as her affections with another man. It also raises-though I think a good idea-Carter's own jealousy of not being the only Earthman on Barsoom. This has been done before (Dark Horse's Tarzan/John Carter series and more recently Peter S. Beagle's "Ape-Man on Mars" short story from the Under the Moons of Mars anthology) but here Napton does a better job, showing that the reason for it has more to do with Dejah and less to do with him feeling threatened by another.

Beyond that the central plot is almost standard for both-the bad guys kidnap the princess and they go off to rescue her. We'll have to wait and see where it goes.

The artwork by Jack Jadson is nice and bright but I do need to mention this: one complaint I've heard from friends who've read most of the Dynamite comics has been the bland backgrounds and a feeling of the artwork almost being rushed. I do agree that it has from time to time to a detriment. But at the same time I also feel that the characters have for the most part been well designed (even though I know some feel Dejah might be too sexy and needs more clothing) and Jadson handles that well here. They may seem a little cartoony-Carter most notably-but they do pop off the page well and the design of the Thithers is pretty good, a nice contrast to the usual Barsoomian creatures. Also Dejah does wear more in this series even though "SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE AGAINST NUDE RED WOMEN" she proves that Martians don't have pajamas when they go to bed.

I know that the idea of combining both worlds might turn off some fans of either but if you accept it as nothing more than fan fiction, it's a fun series. I still wished that they could have done a more lengthy adaptation of Gulliver of Mars but if this one sells maybe Dynamite will consider one in the future.

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