Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #24

As we head into the home stretch of this series, we find our heroes facing "BETRAYAL!"

When we last left off, John Carter and Dejah Thoris were captives of the Guild of Assassins and their mysterious leader Tal Mordin. With Carter chained and Dejah facing an evil looking Thark all seems lost...until it's revealed that the masked Thark is Tars Tarkas, whose quick actions releases Carter and the trio seem to escape in a flier, only it's actually Dejah flying off to warn her family about the coup d'etat that waits for them. Carter and Tars meanwhile engage in "guerrilla warfare" against the assassins but all may be lost as Dejah discovers treachery in Helium...

Packing in narrow escapes, devious villains and a fast paced plot, this issue finally recaptures the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs that got lost in the Orovar story arc. Chris Claremont shows here a nice flair for the characters and the story that makes this one of the best of this series, capturing the pulp fun while maintaining a sure hand that prevents it from sinking into comic book silliness or chaos. The ending is also a corker, especially with the ominous words that this might be "THE END?" (for those who don't know Marvel's deal with ERB Inc. had hit a few speed bumps and this was the last issue, until a deal was worked out.)

Art duties for this issue are handled by the duo of Mike Vosburg and R. Villamonte and they do a good job balancing the action and helping the story move. Some of the art choices are different from what has gone before-like the over-dramatic designs of Tal Modrin, as well as the first appearance of the "Hulk" Tars Tarkas that later comic book series would adapt. We also get Dejah's Barbarella outfit and well she wears it well. Otherwise it's a solid A for effort.

With four issue left to go (and three Giant Size Annuals) we're about done with our 1970s visit to Barsoom. Until next time faithful visitors, Kaor!


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