Warlord of Mars #100 (Comics Review)
Dynamite Entertainment’s Warlord of Wars is one of the very first comics I started reading back in 2012 when I returning to the medium. I’d managed to get a review copy of the first volumes of both Warlord of Mars and Warlords of Mars: Dejah Thoris, both of which proved to be surprisingly great reads and got me started on my John Carter/Dejah Thoris kick. Fast-forward to today, and I’m a huge fan of John Carter (especially the movie). I haven’t really kept up with the comics, but these are characters that I love reading about, and when I heard that Warlord of Mars was going to be hitting its 100th issue this month, I was pretty damn excited.
The momentous 100th issue features three stories, each by a different creative team, and the first two of these tell a rather interesting story about how Barsoom’s past affects its future, whereas the third story is all about John Carter’s calot pet Woola and is rather emotional. Before, whenever I’ve read a Robert Place Napton story in the pages of Warlords of Mars, I’ve never really liked it. But this time things are different. Which was great. And Arvid Nelson, well, I love his work any time of the day so it was great to see him return to these comics as well. And the final story by Mark Rahner was equally excellent, if not more so. And the best part is that the artwork all throughout was fairly good as well.
Robert Place Napton’s story is set more than 400 years in Barsoom’s past, from before the arrival of John Carter to the Red Planet. Since Napton is also the current writer on Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris, it makes sense for him to write this particular story and in keeping with the stories he has written previously, the Dejah of the past is a very different character than the Dejah of the present. I have some issues with how Dejah being mentally coerced in this story is quite the same approach as another of Napton’s stories from his run on the title, but he keeps things fresh enough that they don’t appear too similar. And overall, I liked how he explored the unique mythology of the planet through the artifact that Dejah and her accompanying team of archaeologists discover early on.
Oh and my favourite element of the setting makes its appearance as well, Woola. He connects all three stories and in effect he is the star of these stories much as the droids C3PO and R2D2 can be said to be the true protagonists of the Star Wars films. It is quite a fun little callback that is neither overly subtle nor overly in-your-face. Seeing Woola in Napton’s story was quite the kick, and the story ends on a really interesting note that fans of the original John Carter tales from Edgar Rice Burroughs (and the comics adaptations!) will no doubt recognize).
Arvid Nelson’s story picks up in the present time, almost four years after John Carter’s arrival on Barsoom. It starts off rather ominously, especially since the very first narration block of the story reads “Mars. Barsoom. The Red Planet”, in another great callback which this time refers to Frank Herbert’s space opera epic Dune – Arrakis. Dune. Desert Planet. Nelson’s story moves along at a very brisk pace and it isn’t long before John and Dejah are hauled up before the villain of the story. Nelson’s story is short and succinct. There is some really good action in this story and it also gives Woola the chance to be a hero for once, instead of just the usual comic relief that he is, lovably so.
I am actually quite surprised how well Nelson manages to make Woola a hero here. It was entirely unexpected and I was still so into the story that I was cheering the little guy to do what he had to do to save John and Dejah. Woola was one of the best things about the movie, and I loved how good of an outing Nelson gives him in this story.
The final story by Mark Rahner tells an unconnected tale in which John Carter goes on his adventures throughout Barsoom, but always tells Woola to “stay”. Sometimes it is to take care of Dejah while he is gone, although the calot doesn’t always do that, and sometimes it is to let him fight his own battles instead of charging along beside him. The final two pages of this story are really moving and it is in these pages that Rahner really hits his stride. His previous Warlords of Mars comics that I’ve read haven’t been anywhere as impressive, and this is definitely a well-crafted story that is almost from the point of the view of the calot itself.
Lui Antonio draws the first story, with Jose Malaga illustrating the second, and Joe Luis illustrating the third. Each artist brings something different to the table with his pencils and they have their own unique styles, but the important thing is that the artwork across all three stories is incredibly consistent. Any major differences there are, are in the colours and the inks, with Salvatore Aiala Studios credited for the former. Details in all the stories however are lush, and the backdrops are beautiful as well. The best part of the entire issue though has to be the third story since Mark Rahner lets Jose Luis tell most of the tale with there being extremely little dialogue, and mostly just consisting of the word “stay”. Brilliantly evocative piece that.
I may have fallen off reading the Warlord of Mars, but damn, this issue really makes me want to get back into the swing of things!
More Warlord of Mars: Volume 1.
Posted on April 23, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged A Princess of Mars, Arvid Nelson, Barsoom, Black Men of Mars, Calot, Comics, Comics Review, Dejah Thoris, Dynamite Entertainment, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Green Men of Mars, Jarsoom, John Carter, John Carter of Mars, Jose Luis, Jose Malaga, Lui Antonio, Mark Rahner, Mars, Pulp Heroes, Red Men of Mars, Red Planet, Review, Review Central, Robert Place Napton, Salvatore Aiala Studios, Sword and Planet, Syl Mak, Warlord of Mars #100, Warlords of Mars, Warlords of Mars: Dejah Thoris, Woola. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.