Review: John Carter Warlord of Mars #1

Carter 01The stories of John Carter and Dejah Thoris on Barsoom as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most elusive targets when it comes to comics.  Although they were born in the pulp science fiction medium which helped give birth to comics, they equally have never been able to find a home among any of the comic publishers.  In the 1970s first DC Comics focused its series Weird Worlds on the martian hero, and when that failed Marvel had its own attempt with a more successful 28 issue run.  Though occasionally used after that, the public domain character could never seem to gain enough of interest to be a valuable commodity outside at the big two publishers.  In the 2000s Dynamite Comics focused on mostly public domain characters and found somewhat of a hit in John Carter, enough so that his stories were spun off into those for Dejah Thoris, set three hundred years before his arrival on Mars.

These series had decent runs, but were eventually ended for the same reasons as those before.  What is interesting about this development though is that for the first time Dynamite has decided to refocus a bran-new series on the characters right away instead of letting the characters languish in obscurity.  The product of this focus is the new series is John Carter Warlord of Mars.  The presentation of the first issue is as good as can be expected considering the challenges for this character.  Some readers, especially those of the previous Dynamite series, would be very familiar with the stories, but the new readers that the publisher is after would also need some grounding in the stories.  This is handled in a novel way as Dejah is imprisoned and exposed to a truth serum, exposing many of the basic facts of the series.  In so doing it covers both a background for new readers while giving it a different presentation.  As the issue progresses to action on the battlefield, the story transitions smoothly away and then back to Dejah for the surprise ending.

This approach is perhaps where this series might succeed.  It offers both long-term and new fans of the series a great place for jumping into the action.  The story is of course a bit bizarre as it is based on the works of Burroughs, who only operated off of an early 20th century understanding of the red planet, but those that decide to look beyond the obvious scientific impossibilities of the setting will find here an excellent tribute to the fantasy and science fiction masterpieces that were the originals.

Story: Ron Marz Art: Abhishek Malsuni

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review