By: Arvid Nelson (writer), Stephen Sadowski (artist), Shane Rooks (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator)
The Story: Carthoris and Tars Tarkas are in it deep as they are shot down by the Warhoon. And Dejah Thoris is trying to puzzle through the mystery of who framed John Carter while navigating the intrigue between the Jeddak of Zodanga and the Hekkador of the Therns.
What’s Good: OK, by the second part of this three-part arc, I’m really digging the story. I like the mystery of the planted amulet, the steward’s death, the murder of the atmosphere plant worker, the madness of the other, and the slow, suggestive reveal of the Therns and Zodangans. I get that this is a set-up arc, to bridge the last few months of that ten years while Carter is back on Earth, and I’m good with that. I love seeing both Dejah and Carthoris in action, especially the son. He’s a character with obvious growth to do, and a lot to prove and that’s fun. I also loved the telepathy he’s got. Quite cool.
Artwise, I’m enjoying Sadowski’s work on the Tharks, the thoats, the atmosphere factory, the mad keeper, and Tars Tarkas. Sadowski’s Tharks are much larger than Lui Antonio’s and match more closely Roberto Castro’s (which themselves are closer to the green men Burroughs described as engines of destruction). I also enjoyed the newer designs of the Heliumite fliers, complete with stirrups, but my favorite visuals were Carthoris. Sadowski’s young, driven, conflicted hero works for me.
What’s Not So Good: I’m still not loving Sadowski’s Dejah Thoris, nor his internal sets in Helium. His Dejah isn’t the incomparable one, while I found some of the interior design in Helium (especially around that giant crystal) to be overly heavy, dark, and Earthlike. (If I recall correctly, they don’t even use stairs on Barsoom, but have a tradition of ramps.)
Conclusion: I found myself loving this issue. I love the characters, the mystery and the action. And, I can’t wait for two issues from now, when Carter comes back.