By: Robert Place Napton (writer), Roberto Castro (illustrator), Alex Guimaraes (colors), Joseph Rybandt (editor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (inspirer)
The Story: General Van Tun Bor makes some hard choices about what kind of man he is and how far he can follow the Jeddak of Horz. In the meantime, the Jeddak is sponsoring some lurid biotech through his cannibal mad scientist. And, the great scientist Tak Nan Lee reaches a crossroads not that different from the General’s.
The Review: Napton had pretty firm control of the plotting, emotional moments and the reveals in this issue. All parts of the story were competently done, but some shone. For example, although the wistful sense of loss associated with a dying planet had been communicated in many ways, both in words and pictures, in the first three issues of this series, Napton nailed me with a powerful, personal, emotional moment with General Van Tun Bor. The immediacy, intimacy and suddenness of Barsoom’s fall was surprising. The Jeddak’s arrogance and Bor’s struggle, as well as Tak Nan Lee’s were well developed, with the growing sense of tension as the Jeddak started making his moves. The other powerful emotional high of the book was the passing of the symbolic and thematic torch from white man to red woman. Very well done. The story is now set to conclude.
Artwise, Castro and Guimaraes were firing on all cylinders with a script that demanded a haunted, dying setting, filled with conflicted characters. The moment of the General emerging from the container contrasted so starkly with the opening scenes looking out on cargo ships plying flat seas. And yet, Castro and Guimaraes switched up to creepy mad scientist and brilliant driven scientist, with different color palettes: the mad scientist’s palette touched with more browns, suggesting the organic and biological tone, contrasting the electrical whites and chemical grays of Tak Nan Lee’s atmospheric factory. And Anouk, as always, is the beautiful, noble savage, the prototypical Dejah Thoris, one hundred thousand years before the time we know. And Castro carries her emotions through her scene with Tak Nan Lee, from determined hatred, to confused amazement to doubting humility and finally to responsible acceptance. It’s a beautiful sequence, aesthetically, emotionally and thematically.
Production: I found a minor production problem in my copy. A page of speech balloons was duplicated on two pages and it took me a bit to puzzle out where it belonged.
Conclusion: The myth of the fall of civilization has been with us since Homer’s Atlantis, the first view of the pyramids by the Greeks, and through all western history after the fall of Rome. Dynamite has captured a reflection of this myth in the Fall of Barsoom. Haunting… Powerful… Pick it up!
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