Monday, May 20, 2013

Comic Review: Tarzan/John Carter #1

With Dynamite’s Lords of Mars coming soon, I noticed I never got around to reviewing the last time Captain John Carter and Lord Greystoke met in comic book form. So here it is for you faithful readers, one issue at a time.

Picking up in December 1945, Tarzan is returning back to his beloved Africa when he is ambushed by the sons of the German officers he had killed a long time back in Tarzan the Untamed. When a bolt of lightening causes one of his would be assassins’ gun to explode Tarzan finds himself suddenly floating away from his body and heading upwards-to Mars! Once there-and in full leopard skin loincloth and knife on his hip-he remembers the tale of another Earthman who had come to the Red Planet and begins to explore it. It isn’t too long before he finds life or in this case a huge ship commanded by Purid Mos, Master Assassin of Zodanga. But before he can be taken aboard, a banth appears and Tarzan goes mano-a-mano with it. Impressed by his physical strength, Purid thinks she has found the perfect warrior to fight her hated enemy: John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom. After bringing Tarzan on board she tries some seduction, which Tarzan rebuffs. As usual he seems to forget Hell hath no fury like a woman with sharp pointy things…
A little history for those who forgot-or tried to. After the cancellation of Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle comics in 1979, not much was done in the comics world with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations until the mid-90s when Dark Horse acquired the rights. They immediately sent Tarzan back to Pellucidar, to far off Amtor and teamed him up with DC’s top guns Superman and Batman. He also finally rubbed shoulders with Captain Carter (officially if you don’t count Tarzan on Mars) with this four issue series.
That said I had sort of written this series off, but rereading this first issue its pretty fun if uneven. Writers Bruce Jones and Simon Revelstroke have some fun bringing up past events and letting Tarzan do what he does best as the series unfolds. The opening is pretty good with the revenge seeking sons and Tarzan’s arrival on Barsoom, delivering a nice rousing action sequence with Tarzan’s fight with the Banth. There are a few nit picks. First seriously guys? Purid Mos? That’s not the most attractive name for a hot Barsoomian. But the biggest problem is the lack of John Carter! If a series promises the Warlord of Mars than he should be present, even briefly. His absence will disappoint readers and I hope Arvid Nelson does a better job balancing both lead characters in his series.

Handling the art work is Bret Blevins and while it may not top the list of the best Tarzan or John Carter of Mars comic book art its pretty nice and colorful. The design of Purid’s airship is nice and striking-a lot better than some of the Dynamite artwork or Andrew Stanton’s dull airship designs-and he manages to keep the characters looking full. If anything it does appear that Blevins was using Alex Raymond and his classic Flash Gordon as an inspiration and while it doesn’t approach Raymond it’s still a good job.

So I’ll try to have reviews of the remaining three issues in the future. I wish Dark Horse had published a trade paperback collection and maybe they will now. Be back soon!

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