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Volume 2204
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Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars
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04


 

4. "DEJAH THORIS" -- Dec. 28, '41

P1: The green Martians bring precious loot from the wrecked plane and the captive princess is dragged to the market-place for sentence. 

P2: "What means this trespassing over our land?" Tars Tarkas demands, angrily. 

P3: "Our ship was on a scientific expedition, unprepared for battle," the girl speaks out bravely. "Why must you green barbarians forever fight us?" 

P4: "Because we are a superior race," yells a jealous high chieftain, kicking the girl viciously. 

P5: As the brute's hideous laugh rings out in the ancient streets of Thark, John Carter leaps forward in blinding rage at the cowardly act, his watchdog close at his heels. 

P6: As he nears the mounted chieftain, the earthman draws his shortsword and crouches for the mighty leap. 

P7: His steely fingers close over a huge tusk as blow after blow he drives into the enormous chest. "Seize the Earthman," cries Tars Tarkas, "This time he has dared too much!" 

P8: "You live with green men, yet risk your life for a stranger. Killing a high chieftain means torture and death along with me. Who are you?" The girl's soft eyes echo the question. 
 

Notes:

1. Compare the above narration to what was printed in issue #33 of The Funnies: As John Carter is being taken to the green Martian capital city, Barsoom [sic], a peaceful flight of merchant rocket ships from Helium approach the caravan -- Without warning his vicious captors open fire and shoot down the flagship... But John Carter has little chance to search for the princess -- let alone save her from the Tharks ... ("This is Dejah Thoris, daughter of Mors Hajak [sic], Jed of Helium!" "She is worth a jed's ransom. Our leader, Tars Tarkas, will reward us for this!") ... Suddenly a young chieftain leaps forward and strikes the princess! -- [John Carter intervenes and kills the offending Thark] ... The Earthman has again killed a green Martian warrior, with but a blow of his fist. -- ("That dog will not strike another woman -- let me help you.") ("What strange manner of man are you , that you consort with these Tharks...") ("I am John Carter, from Earth, a prisoner like yourself... we must escape together") ... [Carter finds Sarkoja spying upon them and warns her] ("...Don't let this happen again or I'll have you put in chains!") [Sarkoja consults with the warrior Zad, to kill Carter] ... At dawn the great caravan starts once more on the march to Barsoom [sic], the Thark capital. -- [Zad and Sarkoja attempt to trick and kill John Carter] 

2. In issue #34 of The Funnies, Carter, Sola, and Dejah Thoris cooperate to prevent the assassination planned by Sarkoja -- the warrior Zad is killed by Carter, who is wounded. Sola (called Dejah Thoris' "faithful Tharkian maid") and the princess care for the injured Carter. All of this is missing from the Sunday strip story, but needs to be at least summarized in the novelization. 

3. The interview between the captive Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkas was removed from the comicbook version and presented only as a summary in the Sunday strip version of the story. ERB's original conversation between the princess and Jed Lorquas Ptomel in the ruins of Korad should be reproduced in the novelization (and reconciled with the comics versions): ""What is your name?" asked Lorquas Ptomel, addressing the prisoner. --"Dejah Thoris, daughter of Mors Kajak of Helium." -- "And the nature of your expedition?" he continued. --"It was a purely scientific research party sent out by my father's father, the Jeddak of Helium, to rechart the air currents, and to take atmospheric density tests... We were unprepared for battle... we were on a peaceful mission, as our banners and the colors of our craft denoted. The work we were doing was as much in your interests as in ours, for you know full well that were it not for our labors and the fruits of our scientific operations there would not be enough air or water on Mars to support a single human life. For ages we have maintained the air and water supply at practically the same point without an appreciable loss, and we have done this in the face of the brutal and ignorant interference of your green men. -- "Why, oh, why will you not learn to live in amity with your fellows, must you ever go on down the ages to your final extinction but little above the plane of the dumb brutes that serve you! A people without written language, without art, without homes, without love; the victim of eons of the horrible community idea. Owning everything in common, even to your women and children, has resulted in your owning nothing in common. You hate each other as you hate all else except yourselves. Come back to the ways of our common ancestors, come back to the light of kindliness and fellowship. The way is open to you, you will find the hands of the red men stretched out to aid you. Together we may do still more to regenerate our dying planet. The grand-daughter of the greatest and mightiest of the red jeddaks has asked you. Will you come?" 

4, In the ERB version of the story, Tars Tarkas is obviously favorably influenced by Dejah Thoris' words, but does not immediately have a chance to express his assent among the hostile Tharks. This fact should be restored to the novelization, since it helps provide a reason for his motivation in assisting Carter and the princess later in the story. The comics versions of the story speed up the time that passed between the time Dejah Thoris was first captured and the point at which he able to converse in Barsoomian with the princess. These differences in the timeline need to be reconciled in the novelization. 

5. The second Thark chieftain killed by Carter was apparently named "Sojat," but he remains unidentified in the comicbook version of the story and is called "Azad" in the Sunday strip, perhaps a confused rendering of "Zad," the third Thark slain by Carter. The difference in names can be reconciled in the novelization by identifying Sojat and Zad as members of the "Azad" clan.


 
 

CHAPTER  4: "DEJAH THORIS"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

Among the various possessions John Carter inherited from the green man he had killed was a calot, or Martian watchdog. It was alloted to him by Tars Tarkas, probably more as a means to prevent his escape than as a pet. The Martian calot is a vicious creature, but this one was fairly intelligent and the Earthman soon won its loyalty by treating the animal with simple acts of kindness, something a typical Thark would never imagine doing. Woola, as the calot was called, responded to telepathic commands and his new master used that peculiar connection to summon or restrain the ugly, eight-legged beast. With the calot at his side John Carter made his way to the great open audience hall at the north end of the central plaza. There he found the chieftains of the Thark band gathered together and discussing the proper division of the spoils that were still being hauled in from the downed airships. 

The chieftains were just then dividing up among themselves the more valuable loot, which consisted in arms, ammunition, silks, furs, jewels, strangely inscribed vessels, and a quantity of solid foods and liquids, including many casks of purified drinking water. The only items of booty that John Carter felt no shame in appropriating for his own use were a few small printed books which the illiterate Tharks had thrown upon a rubbish heap. These the captive inserted into the leather pouch attached to his sword belt. He hoped one day to fathom the exotic written language of the unfamiliar red men. 

With Woola close at his heels, the white man continued wandering about the plaza, attempting to learn something more about the race of red Martians whose looted property the Tharks had tossed into a hundred heterogeneous piles. Then Sola found him and remarked rather casually that one of the red race had been taken alive. Before John Carter could respond he caught a glimpse of a throng of green warriors roughly dragging the prisoner from the battle craft to the podium of the audience hall. He broke off his conversation with the green girl and pushed his way through the crowd of giants, in order to get a decent view of the new captive. 

The sight which met his eyes sent pangs of sympathy through the soul of the battle hardened veteran. On the podium, surrounded by contemptuous Thark guards, stood a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to an earthly women, save for the vivid red pigment of her flawless skin. Her features were the model of perfection -- her eyes large and lustrous and her flowing hair a lustrous coal black enhancement to her remarkable beauty. She was as destitute of clothes as the ever nude green Martians; nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure. Her lack of concealing garments appeared to cause the girl no embarrassment, however; she stood among her captors with head held high, displaying a haughty indifference to the cruel jests of the green barbarians. At first she did not see the Earthman standing there, half hidden by the tall olive-hued crowd, but finally her searching gaze met his and her eyes widened with surprise. 

Bronzed by constant exposure to the sun, and dressed as he was in the harness of a Martian warrior, the beautiful prisoner mistook him for a member of her own race. She stared at the man with pleading intensity and made a number of slight hand signs which were beyond his comprehension. A moment passed and John Carter could do nothing other than push a little closer to her through the concourse of riotous brutes. The young woman repeated the subtle sign language, but when the Earthman still did not respond, her look of hope faded into one of disappointment and dejection. She then averted her eyes and ignored him altogether.

Dejah Thoris had not yet recovered from the shock of watching so many brave sons and daughters of Helium die on board the Haldar when the monstrous Thark dragoons thrust her roughly before the crowd in Korad. A true daughter of bloody Mars, she had witnessed death and destruction before, but never on the scale of the disaster which had just occurred. At least half the expedition fleet was in ruins and all of the ships that had escaped were terribly undermanned and critically damaged. A mandatory radio blackout in the region surrounding Zodanga precluded wireless distress signals. There was little chance of the survivors reaching safety. She only held back her tears by a force of will that refused the Tharks the pleasure of seeing her suffer. 

For a brief moment her hopes were raised. She thought she saw a countryman amid the unruly swarm of onlookers. But he must have been a gun-running panthan. He turned pale with cowardly recoil and did not lift a finger to help her. Focusing her attention upon the more consequential barbarians in the throng, she caught the drift of what they were saying -- She would be carried to the capital city of Thark, where her last agonies at the Great Games would be offered for the enjoyment of their king, Tal Hajus. The most dignified looking and highly ornimented of these cheifs then approached her and the raucous crowd quieted down considerably. 

"Who are you and what means this trespassing over our ancestral lands?" the Thark leader asked, addressing the prisoner. 

"I am Princess Dejah Thoris, daughter of Mors Kajak, Jed of Greater Helium. Our ships are on a purely scientific research mission. We are recharting the air currents and taking atmospheric density tests. We came to this desereted unclaimed place, unprepared for battle, to resupply our ships and map the region. The work we are doing is in the interest of all Barsoomians: our scientific work ensures that there is sufficient air and water to support your people as well as ours. Although you do nothing to help us and much to hinder us, we labor constantly just to keep you, ourtselves and all the other nations alive. You may demonstrate your martial honor and civil justice by restoring me to my people as soon as possible. Pay homage to all your great ancestors by joining with us in the salvation of our dying planet. As the grand-daughter of the greatest and mightiest of the red jeddaks, I have the authority to pardon your recent manslaughter and also to guarantee your soverign rights by treaty, this very day. Will you release me and relay my proposal to your Jeddak, Tal Hajus? What possible reason could you hace to refuse? Why must you always fight us?" 

Just then a young chieftain leaped up to the podium. Downing the girl with a powerful rap to the head, he placed a foot upon her lower abdomen and turning toward the assembled giants yelled out, "Because we, not puny red cowards, are the superior race!" The entire crowd, save for two or three of the most intelligent elders, broke into peals of horrid, mirthless laughter. The jeering cry of "Sojat Azad is right! Sojat Azad is right!" rang through the ancient streets of Korad. 

There was more one individual in the crowd who was not laughing. Springing upward, this bronzed man struck the menacing Thark full in the face. A totally surprised Sojat Azad fell back upon his four lower limbs and was in no position to commence a sword fight. Instead, the green ruffian attempted to draw a loaded pistol from his belt. This cowardly move the attacker thwarted with an instantaneous blow to the chest. The attacker's calot also joined the fight and in another moment the green man was dead. 

Dejah Thoris witnessed the entire thirty second struggle from only inches away, but none of it made any sense to her. Into the silence that followed she blurted out a sardonic rhetorical question: 

"Who is this strange pale man who wears the metal of Thark? -- a Zorian gun-runner? -- or a Zodangan traitor? or perhaps merely a dolt who risks his life for no reason?" 
 
 


 
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