In “John Carter: Warlord of Mars” #1 John Carter returns to Dynamite Entertainment’s publishing line, but this time it bears creator credit to Edgar Rice Burroughs, a result of Dynamite Entertainment’s agreement with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Already familiar with the Burroughs’ group through other creative endeavors, writer Ron Marz displays another sort of familiarity in his knowledge of Barsoom.
Marz introduces readers to the conflicts on Barsoom (which some call “Mars” or maybe even “G’loot Praktaw”) through Dejah Thoris, the princess of Mars, and as of this comic, John Carter’s wife. Dejah is inflicted with a truth serum that incites her to reveal the truth of all she knows to an invader. The identity of that invader is revealed at the end of the book, setting this series up for a very personal conflict to come. The vehicle of the truth serum makes for a fantastically natural plot device to enable readers to quickly and efficiently get up to speed on the adventures of John Carter, the inhabitants of Mars and the current dilemma.
Marz’s passion shines thru, but Abhishek Malsuni seems pre-occupied with toeing the Dynamite Company line with the exaggerated characters that all become homogenous, save for Carter and Thoris. Dejah Thoris is the typically buxom, unimaginably Terran interpretation of the character once again. Personally, I have no problem with artists trying to make her sexy, but that’s not the same as a sex object who leads with her head-sized breasts. Any number of artists can handle making females sexy but not sexualized, which would be a great step in making the artwork more polished overall. Another artistic headscratcher materializes when Vush Tanzar releases a fierce insect upon Dejah Thoris. This beast injects the princess with truth serum venom through a bite on her neck, but Tanzar only puts on a rubber glove to handle the critter. Never mind the fact that he’s only wearing shorts and sandals.
That said, I’m not sure what she’s standing on in the splash page that opens a four-page grandiose recap of the legend of John Carter, but Abhishek Malsuni succeeds in making Thoris command the page without leading with her chest. That four-page sequence is stunning and mesmerizing as Thoris’ narration provides a field guide-like tour of the denizens of Mars. I’m a little disappointed that Dynamite missed a chance to give readers a double-gatefold presentation, but the sheer quantity of characters and mind-numbing level of detail is almost makes up for any other artistic shortcomings “John Carter, Warlord of Mars” #1 has. Malsuni’s art provides a gauntlet for inker Zsolt Garisa and colorist Nanjan Jamberi to navigate, but the duo proves to be every bit up to the task as is required and then some. Jamberi’s colors are bold and alien throughout, but never moreso than when John Carter and Tars Tarkas engage the invading Kahori.
“John Carter: Warlord of Mars” #1 is a solid start to a nice space opera that serves up great promise. Now that the Burroughs estate is inline, things are looking very bright for the comic book adventures of John Carter. I’m in, at least for a little while, but more variation in body types and postures would not hinder the adventures going forward.