By: Arvid Nelson (writer), Carlos Rafael (illustrations), Carlos Lopez (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator)
The Story: The Colossus of Mars, Part 5: The Jeddak of Yorn, safely embedded in the Colossus, is making thoat meat out of the navies of Greater and Lesser Helium. Dejah Thoris and Valian have a plan, but they don’t know if it will work.
What’s Good: The conclusion of the Colossus of Mars arc is cover-to-cover action as this story races to its climax. Other than the idea that Dejah, her father and her grandfather cannot die, we know nothing about what’s going to happen, but we’ve got a lot of plot threads, revelations and questions to see to. Will Valian’s vacuum-tube-filled steampunk device work against the Colossus? How will the navies of Helium survive, especially with the clever, welcome and logical twist that Nelson adds, courtesy of Zodanga, tying this storyline into the Warlord of Mars series? The character work in the climax is very good, as, by now, Nelson has fleshed out each of the major characters. Their actions, and ends, fit perfectly. The Jeddak of Yorn’s advisor has a fate, as does Dejah and as does Valian. Each is rewarded according to who they are and even Valian achieves a kind of bumbling honor.
Artwise, team Carlos was once again awesome. The Colossus standing thigh-deep in urban wreckage was full of pulpy goodness, with the thinning colossus reminding me of some 1950s matinee monsters, while the destroyed Martian cityline was strongly flavored by 1920s visions of what future advanced societies might look like. The heroics were good, with figures like Dejah Thoris and her family propelling the story with dynamic postures, while Valian and the Yorn advisor had more closed and stationary body language. The advanced tech fighting the Colossus looked beautiful and my take-away image for the whole issue was the Colossus blowing fire at the swarming navies.
What’s Not So Good: Honest to goodness, I loved this issue and have nothing to complain about. Did this issue move the comics field or create something startlingly original? No. But it certainly delivered a new, high quality sword and planet adventure that continues to keep this series high in my pull list. Should Dynamite be able to keep this up and create a broader readership for Barsoom, they (and other comics publishers) may be able to make a go of other sword and planet (or just plain fantasy) series. A number of them are already on the go (Flash Gordon, Red Sonja, Conan, Elric, Warlord of Mars, etc), but this is a field as wide as superheroing and the fantasy invasion can only help keep comics vital.
Conclusion: Nelson and the art team have sold me on their tone-perfect revival of old Barsoom.
Follow DS on Twitter.