Rating: 4/5 – 2 out of 3 ain’t bad in this giant anniversary issue.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
The 100th issue from the Warlord of Mars franchise to come out of Dynamite! Let’s count them down:
35 – Warlord of Mars (34 issues + 1 Annual)
37 – Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris
12 – Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars limited series
4 – Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars mini-series
6 – Lords of Mars mini-series
5 – Warriors of Mars mini-series
99 total issues before this one! I am not counting the 5 issue “Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom” 5 issue mini-series from 2012, but that was set 10,000 years before the time of Dejah Thoris & John Carter and features neither of these characters, which is why I chose to exclude it.
Note: I’ve gotten comment that we should EXCLUDE Lords of Mars (6 issues) and INCLUDE Fall of Barsoom (5 issues) and also add in Warlord of Mars #35 that does not come out until the week after this issue. My math makes this the 100th comic with either John OR Dejah physically published by Dynamite.
That’s a LOT of Warlord of Mars comics! Dynamite is doing a fairly solid job with the franchise. With 100 issues there are probably at least 500 different covers out there, most displaying John Carter’s beautiful Martian bride, Dejah Thoris in all her cheesecake-y glory. To be fair, putting the scant amount of clothing on her that actually is there in these comics is more that Edgar Rice Burroughs described for her almost 100 years ago in 1917’s “A Princess of Mars”:
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.
But what about this specific issue that clocks in at 46 pages of story for $7.99? It’s broken down into 3 stories, the 1st 2 are directly related to one another, parts 1 and 2 of “The Sword of Barsoom”, while the 3rd, entitled “Stay” features John Carter and his faithful calot Woola (a calot is a big green 6-legged Martian version of a dog, Woola is on the cover image above).
Even though I’ve not been reading the title regularly (I’ve only read about half of the 100 issues) I have read and enjoyed the original Burroughs novels and the 1st two stories were very accessible to me as an occasional reader of the comics who is nonetheless fairly familiar with the world of Barsoom (the Martian name for Mars). I really enjoyed the story of the legendary Martian sword. Part 1, written by Robert Place Napton with art by Lui Antonio, is set 434 years before the time of John Carter and features Dejah Thoris. We also get to meet the calot Woola as a pup (which was very fun)! Antonio turns in a solid job on the art with the scantily clad Dejah cavorting around in all her semi-clothed splendor on almost every page. The eye candy is nice but I think it sometimes causes people to dismiss this book and we have a really solid story by Napton buried beneath the T&A. Woola is the real hero of this tale, I’d give this story a 4.5/5 if I was rating it on it’s own.
Part 2 of The Sword of Mars is brought to us by writer Arvid Nelson and artist Jose Malaga and is set just a bit shy of 4 years after John Carter became Warlord of Mars. Woola once again shines in this tale with a really nice twist at the end regarding the sword. I wasn’t a huge fan of the facial representations of John and Dejah by Malaga, so that detracted a bit from my enjoyment, but I still give this a solid 4/5.
The third story, written by Mark Rahner, is where it really fell down for me. The art by Jose Luis was my favorite in the entire issue; he beautifully rendered scenes with humor, drama, action, as well as great body language and nuanced facial expressions. But the mostly silent story (only spoken words being John Carter telling Woola to ‘stay’, thus the title) was fairly difficult for me to follow except in the broadest strokes. John Carter had something going on with a tough looking red Martian leading a group of armed men. This might relate to events in recent issues that I’ve not read and what was going on may be very apparent to regular readers. For me, other than being able to appreciate the art and a couple of broadly visual moments, this story was a failure for me. This one gets a 3/5, salvaged to that score by the art.
Overall, I really enjoyed the issue. The 1st 2 stories were self contained and I think they could be enjoyed by anyone picking up this issue off the stands. The 3rd story had great art but was hard for me to follow and may have relied on some knowledge of recent issues that I didn’t possess, not a great idea for an issue that could be a totally solid jumping on point to next month’s “Dejah of Mars” series also written by Mark Rahner. I’m interested in the premise set up by this story, even though I’m in the dark on the motivations behind what happened. I like these characters and I’m very happy to see how Dynamite has been handling them for the past 3 1/2 years.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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