By: Arvid Nelson (writer), Lui Antonio (artist), Adriano Lucas (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator)
The Story: Having led the tharks away from Dejah Thoris, John Carter became lost and is dying in the Martian desert. But, he finds a strange building and after some creepiness, gets past it and back to civilization, where he gets news of Dejah Thoris. Then, it’s back to sneaking *into* the enemy camp for our favorite Warlord of Mars.
What’s Good: We’re in the high point of Act II of A Princess of Mars, so the pace of action is fast and the exposition is minor. Nelson hurtles us from the atmospheric factories of Mars, the weird tech of the homesteaders of Mars, to the city of Zodanga, where writer and art team show us a different Martian culture and how their military works. I have to say that I like Nelson’s sleight of hand for getting John Carter into the Zodangan navy better than Burroughs’ version. Nelson didn’t abandon Burroughs’ premise, but he connected together the attrition from the Zodangan-Helium war, especially among the air service, with Carter’s easy entry. This made the plot much easier to buy. I also loved the training sequence and Carter’s laconic monologue as well as his boastful competitiveness.
Now, as much as I loved the story and words this issue, I was totally enthralled by the art. The expressions and rugged characterization of Carter, the caretaker of the atmospheric factory and of the Zodangans were excellent. People *looked* like different people in features and the clothing and accoutrements were distinctive as well. And of course, Dejah Thoris was, as Burroughs intended, incomparable. But where the art really shone for me in this issue was in Carter’s flight training and in his first solo. The design of the one-man flyers was a lot more logical than Burroughs’ version, even though Nelson and Antonio stayed conceptually faithful to Barsoom’s creator. The one-man flyers also gave Lucas on colors an additional chance to shine (so to speak), with the thrust. Not that the colors have been anything but a strong point in this whole series. The pallette choices have been excellent and the coloring of John Carter by the new friends he makes, was cool. And I couldn’t talk about colors without also mentioning the medallion on the caretaker with the eight Barsoomian rays. Very cool and a nice nod for us lifelong fans. Oh, and a last artistic postscript: I got the Jusko cover. It is fantasticly perfect classic Barsoom…worth framing.
What’s Not So Good: It is really difficult to find anything to complain about in Warlord of Mars, even in the spirit of trying to be critical. If anything, I would say that John Carter’s proportions are probably better in the heroic range than in the super-heroic proportions that Antonio is choosing, but this is a minor stylistic point and takes nothing away from my enjoyment.
Conclusion: I can sum up this issue with the feeling I had as I closed the book: “This was the best issue of Warlord of Mars so far.” Go buy it. I unreservedly recommend Warlord of Mars.
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