By: Arvid Nelson (writer), Carlos Rafael (illustrator), Carlos Lopez (colorist), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator)
The Story: When we last left Dejah Thoris and her unlikely ally, the Pirate Queen of Mars, they were trapped in the clutches of dangerous cannibals.
**Warning: Very minor spoiler, that anyone ought to have guessed**
The Review: On art, Rafael and Lopez continue to deliver beautiful visuals, whether it be the great flying battleships of Barsoom, the radium pistols, the Tharks or the stars of this arc. Since Dejah Thoris #1, Rafael has demonstrated a deft hand for the expressions necessary for Nelson’s story. Faces are mobile and flexible, registering surprise, fear, determination and confusion so Nelson doesn’t have to. It’s pointless to choose one or two exemplary visuals for the review, since cover to cover, the beauty and clarity of the art is quite high.
Storywise, as a sophisticated, modern reader, I was at first nonplussed by the way Dejah Thoris and her de facto allies escaped from the kitchens of the pirate warship. It was mildly convenient storytelling and did not hinge on the decisions or actions of Dejah Thoris, but on that looney assassin who’d been tracking Dejah since Helium. But then, I thought about it, and realized that this is exactly how Burroughs would have engineered this escape. In the classic pulp tradition, small, fast heroes with quick wits and great initiative always beat out the bad guys. In this case, the hidden knife from Dejah Thoris #7 was used to surprise their captors. The escape also included a tense moment with the big villain, where again, an extrinsic factor (in this case, true Deus ex machina) saved the day and put off the final showdown with the pirate leader. Both of these plot devices harken from a less sophisticated age of storytelling and fit totally within the conventions of pulp fiction. So, while it is not cutting-edge literature, the Dejah Thoris series is a breathing homage to the pulp tradition that Dynamite is reviving. And the last half of the story was the icing on the cake of a good pulp story in the midst of Act Two: the set up for a race for a lost treasure, perhaps cursed, shrouded in legend.
Conclusion: More and more, Dynamite is drawing on classic pulp tropes to build a new pulp tradition. Tune into Dejah Thoris for classic sword and planet adventure, riding on pirate themes, rascally allies and grostesque villains.