Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: A Princess of Mars (A Graphic Novel)


Because you can never have enough versions.

I had heard about this one and had seen some artwork on a web site but this had flown under my radar until I saw it at the local Barnes and Noble over the weekend and got a copy. Adapted by Ian Edginton (whose credits include an adaptation of The War of the Worlds for Dark Horse Comics as well as some Star Wars and Star Trek comics), this one wins the prize for being the most faithful of the three adaptations that have shown up in the past two years (the others being Dynamite's Warlord of Mars and Marvel's abysmal John Carter-A Princess of Mars). From the opening which keeps Burroughs' framing device right through it presents the entire novel with only some minor tweaks in dialogue and a few clarifications to keep it moving. I know some will find his approach boring and would welcome a more original take than just sticking to the original so you're warned.

For the artwork, the job here is handled by I.N.J. Culbard, who did art for the same original publisher, Self Made Hero, on adaptations of At the Mountains of Madness and a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories. The art here is, well muted in that it lacks the overly bright colors of the Dynamite comics. It also has a more retro feel to it, which actually helps tell the story without drawing attention to itself. I know that sounds strange but in comics sometimes artists seem to get carried away trying to wow the reader with splashy colors and action and Culbard instead goes with a more subdued palette. That's not to say it doesn't deliver action or there isn't some brightness. Just don't expect the standard comic book look.

Also don't expect clothing. This is definitely adult oriented so those who complain about Dejah's skimpy attire should probably just avoid it now.

I guess after having a swarm of John Carter of Mars comic books this past two years, I thought another one was overkill. But I'm pleasantly surprised how well this one turned out and how it pays tribute to Burroughs and his creation. So give it a chance if you're not burned out on Barsoom. Rating: ***1/2 out of 4. Next time I'll give opinions on the return of Tarzan and the dreaded Star Wars commentary.

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