Friday, September 18, 2015

Retro Comics: Warlord of Mars King-Size Annual #1


I said we would be returning to Marvel's Barsoom and here we are. The first of three "King-Size" annuals tells us the tale of "When Walk the Ancient Dead!"

Needing some alone time John Carter takes flight and finds the empty cities and desolate desert of Barsoom, giving him a chance to reflect. But when he comes upon a lone man fighting off Warhoons he jumps in. After defeating the green men he discovers that he has rescued a white man, Pan Dan Chee and that the empty city of Horz is inhabited. Oh and he has to die to preserve their secret. And that there is a mad embalmer below the tunnels of Horz and the preserved bodies of past rulers, who are not dead but rise. Luckily for Carter they don't eat human flesh but they want his blood for being a wizard who they believe has deceived them long enough...

If this sounds familiar its because it's (as the credits state) "loosely" based on the opening story from Llana of Gathol with some modifications, primarily no jetan game between Carter and Pan Dan Chee and no appearance by Llana. That said Marv Wolfman stays pretty close to the original, somber tale with some modifications to make it fit into then current timeline Marvel had set for John Carter. There is still enough action and surprises to make it a worthwhile read even if you are familiar with the original tale.

Helping out is the artwork by Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan that captures the faded glory of Horz while managing to bring giant ulsios, beuatiful princesses and rousing action to life. Granted Pan Dan Chee looks like he escaped from Marvel's Savage Land (seriously he looks like Ka-Zar's cousin) and the green men aren't as menacing as they could be but that's small change for a great looking tale.

One down and two to go. Until then take care and Kaor!

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