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Volume 2218
From the Danton Burroughs/John Coleman Burroughs Archive Site
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars
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Improved image from the Jim Albert Collection and Michael Tierney


18. "THE YOUNGSTERS' DESSERT!" -- Apr. 5, '42
(read novelization

P1: The mother durkoos soared off in quest of other prey, leaving Dejah Thoris in the nest as food for its young. 

P2: Her skin was already ashen gray -- soon would be stony hard. The deadly vapors below had done their work. 

P3: Meanwhile, John Carter, making his way up through the building, found his path blocked by hissing dragons. 

P4: His earthly muscles sent him in a long broad jump over the swaying heads. 

P5: Then John Carter shattered the final door leading to the roof. 

P6: Here he saw the young durkoos striving hungrily to reach the girl. 

P7: The Earthman's sword turned crimson as he mowed a path to his princess. 

P8: As the sobbing girl threw herself into the Earthman's arms, a giant dragon's head emerged slowly from the doorway behind. 


1. The dragons shown in panels 3 and 8 of strip #18 are not creatures of ERB's Barsoom. ERB, however, once mentions snakes, and also speaks of "silians" as being prehistoric reptiles that yet inhabit the Sea of Korus at the Martian south pole. JCB also invents arbock "tree reptiles" for his Giant of Mars.

2. The end of this strip illustrates an important reunion between Carter and the princess. Some mention of their mutual affection seems unavoidable in the novelization -- still, the ambigious nature of their relsationship, as molded by ERB throughout the first Mars book needs to be maintained. 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

The ascending ramp wound around a large open shaft in the center of one the extensive building's many wings. At the beginning of each new storey along the way, the ramp rose up through a tunnel a few yards long. In the next of these tunnels the swordsman entered he found his path blocked by hundreds of hissing, gurgling reptiles, every one of them a carnivorous monster with many rows of dagger-sharp fangs. Pausing, and then taking several steps back, the Earthman looked back over his shoulder and saw quite a few more of the big reptiles, silently trailing him and closing fast with each passing heartbeat. 

If the daughter of Mors Kajak had been a true daughter of the cult of Issus, she might have then been saying her final prayers at that moment. But, instead, a thought came to her -- as if from far away -- "Courage, Dejah Thoris!" 

For some inexplicable reason the mother durkoos just then soared off, leaving the maid of Mars in the nest alongside its screeching young. The blind little monsters did not attack her directly, but one made a lucky thrust of its pointy beak into a tender spot on the girl's bosom and she determined that she would at least die in relative dignity, outside of the tumultuous nest. Her limbs felt as though they were made of lead, but she edged very slowly out of the bed of bones and rubbish. Her skin was already ashen gray and very soon would be stony hard. The deadly purple vapors she had encountered earlier had nearly finished doing their noxious work upon her. 

John Carter eyed the rows of flashing teeth with a grim smile of determination; he had not come so far to be turned away by these packs of hideous reptilian things. There must be a way around them and the exit to the roof could not be far off. He calculated his chances in jumping over them, but in the dark narrow confines of either the tunnel ahead of him or the one he had just come up from, that was impossible. The open space around which the ramp twined presented a vast blackness on his left which the dim light of his torch could not penetrate. The wall on his left was solid carborundum, ten feet thick. 

He was vaguely familiar with the tree-haunting, rock-infesting arboks of equatorial Mars, having inspected a couple of Tharkian harness pouches made of their durable hides. He knew that such reptiles could leap as far and fast as his own mighty muscles could take him, if their blood and brains were sufficiently warmed by the sun. But these were creatures of the shadows; that fact was demonstrated by their reluctance to approach any closer than the corona of his torch light. They would wait until his little light died out and then would attack him by the dozens -- in utter darkness. 

Dejah Thoris had slowly and painfully worked her way back to the edge of the roof, this time on her increasingly inflexible hands and knees. In the distance she saw the mother durkoos, circling a spot on the ground like a huge vulture, just looking for the most opportune time to strike. It would soon take a new victim, she knew -- and then the feathered monster would return. Her chieftain was nowhere in sight. She tried with all her might to call for him. 

"John -- Dotar Sojat! Oh please answer me; where are you!" 

The girl's raspy voice was little more than a whisper now. Her soft inarticulate words could not reach him, were he standing a hundred paces away. All was lost. She wondered if she had strength enough to hurl her adamantine body into the plaza, so very very far below?

The Virginia Captain agonized on what path to take next. The reptile pack behind him was the smaller of the two. He might be able to slaughter a host of them and then jump to the safety of the descending ramp. Another level down there was an open exit door he remembered having passed. He had just about settled on this option when, out of the forward company of hissing monsters a large, vigorous hizzah attacked. 

If the repulsive reptile can be described in earthly terms at all, it might be said to look something like the fabled Chinese dragon. Its lengthy, sinuous body is covered in a mass of impenetrable scales, practically as resistant as diamonds. The front arms end in long sharp claws, equally hard, while the back limbs are but the atrophied wings of its prehistoric, flying progenitors. The Barsoomian hizzah propels itself with an extremely powerful tail, much like the sidewinder rattlesnake does on the blue planet. And, unlike its shadow-loving fellow reptiles, the hizzah will attack in the light as well as the dark. 

With his right hand John Carter thrust out the excellent long-sword of ancient Mars, while his left reached for the short sword at his side. His smoldering torch went tumbling to the floor of the ramp. 

"Feed on this!" shouted the Earthman, pointing the short sword directly into the open jaws of the dragon. 

At the same time his powerful right hand plunged the longer blade into the belly of the beast. By a great stroke of luck the honed tip of the Orovarian blade slipped between the less compactly arrayed under-scales at the same time the other sword ripped into the dragon's throat. The thing writhed about for a few moments and then fell to the ramp dead. John Carter barely had time enough to recover the flickering firebrand before the arboks closed in from two sides. 

A sudden inspiration came to the Earthman. He pulled the second, unlit torch from the confining straps of his harness and set it ablaze from the flame of the fallen one. Then, holding fire in both hands, he alternately forced the light into both of the creeping hordes. The arboks fell back on either side, leaving an open space to the front and back of John Carter and his fresh kill. Then the swordsman worked feverishly to slit open the hizzah and remove its internal organs. Each time the arboks made the slightest move toward him the reptiles got another taste of fire. 

When the dragon was gutted, John Carter crawled inside the bloody covering. With straps pulled from his warrior's harness he tied himself in, so that nothing but the diamond scales might meet the jaws of an attacker. Replacing his swords in his belt, and holding a torch in each hand, John Carter moved forward. The first attack came from behind, but he withstood the onslaught. The clawing bodies were all over his back, but the hizzah's tough scales protected the Earthman. Each time he waved a torch the reptiles in the rear backed off and those in front leaped one direction or another, opening a way for him. Twice he was knocked to his knees and once an attacker managed to slither in between his knees for an anxious moment, but the Earthman pressed on. Finally past most of the pack, he let go the heavy carcass and one of the torches. Then with a judicious application of the long-sword he made his way free of the hideous beasts. 

A sliver of light broke the darkness ahead, then another and another, forming a hollow rectangle. John Carter pushed forward with a kick of his foot and the age-old wooden door shattered into pieces. Carter stepped into the light. He had reached the roof at last! 

"John -- Dotar Sojat! Oh please answer me! Where are you?" a faint voice called out.

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