Saturday, October 25, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #3

While we wait to see how the Back to Barsoomers spin that $306.6 million figure, let's continue with the much less expensive retro adventures of John Carter. In this issue, chained up heroes, obedience collars and a guy wanting to be called Master. Wait is this suddenly 50 Shades of Barsoom?

When we last left our hero, Carter had been knocked unconscious following his fight with the white apes and captured along with Dejah by the villainous Stara Kan. Finding himself chained up, Carter first struggles to break his chains, eventually doing so (I guess it wasn't that admantium metal Mopey Carter had trouble with). But a hungry banth causes problems before he escapes his cell and confronts Kan, who has his own back story-he was a soldier in the Zodangan army who lost his arm when Carter and the Tharks invaded in A Princess of Mars-and is a member of the "Council of Five." He also demands to be called Master and spend the rest of the issue beating Carter until he submits due to that obedience collar Carter has around his neck.

Diving into this issue, the first thing that grabs the reader is the opening, which is handled with suspense and a sense of dread for both Carter and Dejah's fates. Only afterwards when we get to the "slap Carter around" scenes did it become silly and unintentionally hilarious. I'm sure Marv Wolfman was just trying to create a formidable antagonist for John Carter but Stara Kan's constant "call me Master" routine becomes over the top and silly. Also looking at it from a cynical 21st century point of view you can't help but laugh at the whole thing, A half dressed guy being slapped around in an obedience collar? Did no one think back in 1977 how that sounded?

Gil Kane returns to handle art duties, this time teamed with Rudy Nebres and together they handle the demands quite well, from the rather ferocious looking banth to Kan and Carter's "fight" it continues the high art standards set by the first two issues.

So faithful reader we wait and see what happens next. Will Carter rescue Dejah and defeat Stara Kan and the Council of Five? Will he get that collar off? We'll find out next issue.

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