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THE COMIC BOOKS OF MARS
By Ronald Greenfield
In this article I mention my love of comic books. ERBzine has a very well detailed section on Burroughs inspired comics. (I have read most of then.) But there is very little on the newer Comics I have found.
In 2010 Dynamite Entertainment began a new series entitles “Warlord of Mars.”
Their website description reads:
"The original warrior of Mars returns from Dynamite! Warlord of Mars is an enhancement of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs story, Princess of Mars!
If you thought you knew the story, think again! This series will capture the grit and action of the original while expanding on it with new elements. The story is about John Carter, an ex-cavalry officer in the Confederate Army who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars! Joining him in his adventures there are Tars Tarkas, his Martian comrade, and Dejah Thoris, a Martian Princess."
Naturally I had to read the comic to see if it was any good.
The first issue begins with the text of "A Princess of Mars." However it is shown to take place in what appears to be a small old west town.
The text follows the John Carters introduction about himself, how he was a soldier, and began his search for gold in Arizona. In my personal opinion this was a fine way to begin the comic series. It is a wonderful homage to the original book.
The next few pages depict a part of the story we have never seen before.
Some soldiers enter the bar were Carter and his friend Powell are sitting, and they toss a few insults at them.
Carter was going to ignore them until they insulted his beloved Virginia.
Carter and Powell set off into the desert to find their fortune.
The story then switches to Mars and an untold tale of Tars Tarkas.
He is introduced with a description from the novel.
The first issue ends with the novels introduction presented on what appears to be olden paper.
Issue two continues the story up to the point Carter travels to “leaves his body.”
It also has more of the story of Tars Tarkas on Mars.
Issue three begins with Carter awakening on Mars and discovering the Thark incubator.
The story now follows more closely with the book with little “original material.
Issue #4 has a prolug about the effects of Mars on Carter's muscles and the Green Men. This is again taken from the novel.
Issue #5 introduces us to Dejah Thoris. (It also includes a few pages about the incubators.)
The comics continue to adapt “A Princess of Mars” through issue #10.
The issues also continue to include the “olden-style paper” that includes notes ancient Barsoomians, plus the science and technology as presented in the book.
As an avid fan of Burroughs Martian Tales I personally found this adaption to be very enjoyable and entertaining.
The additional story of Carter and Powell was enjoyable.
The story about Tars Tarkas …. not so much.
It was a treat to get a look at “Martian Livestock.”
Warlord of Mars #10 is an original story entitled “Heretic of Mars.”
It takes place during the time Carter was absent from Barsoom and features Deja Thoris and a young Carthoris.
The website's description reads:
"John Carter disappeared from Mars as mysteriously as he arrived. Days before he did, an unknown assassin murdered the guardian of the Red Planet's life support system. Carter himself is implicated in the horrific crime, and it's up to his princess, Dejah Thoris, to clear his name. That would be tough enough, but someone is trying to kill Dejah, too! With enemies all around her, both seen and unseen, she'll need all the help she can get. A murder mystery of Barsoomian proportions."
Well, this was an interesting tale.
It was nice to see a bit of what life was like for Dejah and Carthoris while Carter was absent.
It was also nice to see Tars Tarkas take on a surrogate father role with his best friends son.
Warlord of Mars #'s 13 – 17 is an adaptation of the “Gods of Mars.”
The adaption is again a worthy one.
It has a few edits in it for pacing purposes but remains true to the story.
The first view of the Valley Dor is magnificent.
It also has an image of “Issus” that shows what a hag she truly is.
The primary difference is the introduction of Carter to his son.
Warlord #19 – 20 is another original story.
This one takes place shortly after “Gods.”
Warlord #21 – 25 is the adaption of the “Warlord of Mars.”
This adaption has several “edits” to speed up the story.
None are truly major unless you have read the novel and are a complete “purist.”
I would have to say my major regret is the fact that Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak are not in the story.
The images of the domed cities are very nicely done.
And of coarse, the announcement that John Carter is now Warlord shows the joy his family feels.
Warlord #26 – 30 is an original story.
The website describes it thusly: “John Carter might be the brand-new Warlord of Mars, but his honeymoon's gonna be real short. The savage green Martians start running amok the moment he ascends the throne, threatening to smash the fragile peace he has fought so hard to win. What's behind the uptick in violence? Only John Carter and his old pal Tars Tarkas can find the truth.”
All in all this was an interesting story.
However, I was dis-pleased that they made the Okarians the “villains”
Warlord #31 – 35 is known as “Tyrant of Mars.”
The tale is described thusly: “The Red Planet is a world of secrets, but Martians lack the innate curiosity of Earthlings. Why? Because on Mars, the past can come back to haunt you - literally! When John Carter discovers the inner workings of a mysterious tower over his capital, he unleashes an ancient evil that could lay waste to his empire!”
This is the final storyline of the run.
Though an enjoyable tale there are many things I dis-liked. (Such as the revealing that “Tardos Mors” was dead.) They did make good use of the “Holy Therns” and First Born.
I liked the concept of the Dark Library.
Exploring the ancient World that was Barsoom has always been an interest I have.~ Ronald Greenfield
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