Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #20

OK we're back with the "Battle at the Bottom of the World!"

Barely surviving the attacking Ptothians and revealing his powers to his new friend Garthon, John Carter leaps to safety and gets a hero's welcome from Garthon's father Gar Karus. Soon he discovers the war is not over, as well as Garthon's secret shame-he likes gardening and poetry over fighting and war. But the two become allies in the struggle while Carter plans his escape from Karanthor with Dejah Thoris. But when he attempts it his famous anger gets the best of him and he slugs sleazy Jeddak Chan Tomar, bringing forth guards ready to slay Carter for his treachery.

Opening with a big battle and closing with near death, this issue thankfully restores some of the fun and ERB-style adventure that was lacking in the past few issues (Tars Tarkas solo adventure excepted). Carter and Garthon's friendship brings a nice balance to the action while Garthon's love for the red slave Hira reminds Carter of what is important. The cliffhanger finale also is good, leaving the reader ready for the next issue. There are some flaws and some unintentional laughs for 21st century readers (especially concerning Garthon and his "hobbies") so just accept the time period it was written to enjoy it.

Ernie Colon's art is also improved, with well defined characters, excellent action and nice designs. They help the story move along and don't distract, even if Dejah's costume resembles something from one of Marvel's other "cosmic" comics like Captain Marvel or Adam Warlock more than John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Oh well, her Barbarella look is still to come.

After some so-so issues this one comes back a winner. Next time "The Lady and the Lion!"

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