By: Arvid Nelson (writer), Stephen Sadowski (artist), Shane Rooks (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator)
The Story: In the time since John Carter has gone back to Earth, Barsoom mourns his loss and a son has been born to him. The Zodangans and the Therns seem to be hanging about with Dejah Thoris on their minds, when an assassin tries to kill her.
What’s Good: However much I loved Dynamite’s Princess of Mars adaptation (the first nine issues of this series), I’m pleased that it is done so that I can be transported to places and situations on Barsoom that I have not seen before (as Nelson and Napton are taking us). The new Zodangans (ever the rascally enemies of Helium) and the religion of the Therns are such situations. The plotting and counter-plotting has my interest and this issue did what a starting book in an arc should do, which is launch a story with enough momentum to get the reader to want to follow the arc. Artwise, Sadowski brought some different visions to the series. His pyramids and the lair of the Therns were intriguing, as was the hurtling flight of Carthoris and Tars Tarkas across the Martian wastes.
What’s Not So Good: I miss Lui Antonio. We really got spoiled by his beautiful art. Sadowski is certainly a competent artist, but the style change for the series feels drastic. The style is darker and scratchier and more realistic (as opposed to heroic and grand). Dejah Thoris is not the woman whose beauty has started wars, but is simply a woman. Tardos Mors does not seem to be the commanding figure that has ruled the twin cities for five centuries, but simply a man. Even the Zodangans, so beautifully portrayed in previous issues with heroic figures and short brush cuts are now lanky, long-haired figures whose postures seem sniveling compared to those admirable warriors who committed suicide to signal surrender to Heliumite forces. Additionally, whereas I felt that Antonio cleaved pretty closely to Burroughs’ original vision of a largely nudist society, Sadowski through more clothing onto the figures, which seems to me stylistically closer the later stories in Burroughs’ Mars series. I don’t mind which style Dynamite picks (the pulp covers always went with clothed figures), but the sum of the stylistic differences in the art was jarring.
Conclusion: As a hard-core Barsoom fan, I’m going to continue with the series, but the art switch really got me down. Hopefully, Sadowski grows on me. Or they bring back Antonio. Recommended for people like me.
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