Saturday, November 22, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #8

Ready for more Barsoomian action? Well then prepare as "Flesh May Wither...And Stone May Crumble!"

When we last left off, John Carter had been reunited with Dejah Thoris and the two had adverted the destruction of the Atmosphere Factory and Barsoom. So what do you do next? Head for Disneyl...go sand skiing! Yep it's a day off as the pair picnic with Tars Tarkas, Kantos Kan and Kantos' lady friend Lyssia. But as usual all is not well. Lyssia is having visions of Kantos' death due to her "soul stone" (isn't that an Infinity Stone that Thanos needs?) while the leader of the evil Council of Five makes it clear that he will not stand for errors. Back in Helium while everyone gets ready for bed, Kantos is attacked by more Council underlings but that isn't the worst of it-an explosion started by the robot arm of Stara Kan (from issue 2) sets off the creation of stone monsters! Stone monsters that shoot laser beams that turn people to stone! Can Carter and Kantos save Helium from this latest threat?

Well let's start with the good stuff first, namely the artwork once again by Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres. With a slow start, the pair manage to bring the characters to life with vivid design work and deft hands. Later when all hell breaks loose, they keep the action tight and flowing without any confusion or mistakes. So the usual thumbs up there.

Now on to the "WTF" stuff? Really rock monsters that shoot lasers from their eyes? The thing is before that the issue is pretty good, giving Kantos Kan the spotlight for once as we see his own life and his devotion to Lyssia, despite her dire warnings of his fate. Marv Wolfman also skillfully works in a flashback tale of Carter's adventures on Jasoom that manages to tip its hat to Edgar Rice Burroughs' other famous creation and provides a nice respite from the action. Then those rock monsters show up and it becomes a looney tune. Granted it provides a touching-and dark-ending but after the telepathic lizard from a few issues back it may be time to set aside the Godzilla escapees. Then again rock creatures that shoot lasers would have been right at home in the Stantonland version of Barsoom that's a surprise he didn't include them.

So if you want to see John Carter fight rock creatures this is the issue you need to read. Otherwise next time get ready as we finally meet The Council of Five!

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