Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #20

This week's comic review comes a little early as Dejah returns to Barsoom and a deadly adversary.

Having saved her home world from the Vathek, Dejah finds that Helium is now facing a new enemy: Mortus, the leader of a new assassins guild who is wrecking havoc. When a friend is killed while undercover Dejah volunteers to accompany master spy Gunbor to Zodanga and try to find and stop him, only to be told her place is with her people. Well that hasn't stopped her yet, so she stows away on Gunbor's ship and poses as his slave as the two infiltrate Zodanga's seamy underworld. When they are given a test by crime lord Xam Lin to go to a building he suspects Mortus of using, Dejah and Gunbor find themselves staring down a ticking time bomb ready to explode...

Following the last two story arcs I was ready for a less supernatural Dejah Thoris story and thankfully writer Robert Napton has delivered. In fact this might be the best storyline to date as it digs into the same territory that Edgar Rice Burroughs himself explored in Swords of Mars, Barsoom's world of hired killers, criminal activity and deadly assassins. In fact the story mirrors Swords in several ways, from Dejah using an alias to Mortus leaving a mark on his victims the same way John Carter did to Dejah and Gunbor having to earn the trust of the head of the assassin guild. Fans of ERB will I think enjoy the references and the turns the story takes.

This issue also marks the return of Carlos Rafael, once again providing a vibrant and lively look to the series. Yes Dejah has returned to her more voluptuous look from before while Rafael gives some distinctive backgrounds and looks to the various characters here, from the portly Xam Lin to the bald and one-eyed disguise Gunbor takes. The backgrounds don't pop but they are nicely rendered, showing a more subdued tone that fits the story being told.

For those who have dismissed the series after the last few arcs this one is a winner, a fun and lively return back to swashbuckling and dangerous Barsoom many fell in love with. Throw in some nice covers from Paul Renoud and Fabiano Neves and it's a no-brainer. Pick this one up!

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