John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 (Comics Review)

Dynamite Entertainment’s adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels and the spinoff Dejah Thoris comics were among my first introductions to the world of comics when I got back into them in 2012. Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun in reading many of the different stories that have been put out in the last few years, and while some have been really good, some have been not quite as good. Fact remains that these comics have done much to expand the world of Burroughs’ characters and setting, and as we move to a new phase in the wake of the 100 year anniversary of the books, it looks like the awesome is going to continue.

Ron Marz and Abhishek Malsuni are at the helm of the Warlord of Mars series reboot, retitled as John Carter: Warlord of Mars and the action-packed first issue gets off to a great start as we are (re)introduced to the core cast and what the world of Barsoom aka Mars is really like. Ron presents a very interesting villain for the first arc of the new series, someone with ties to John Carter and he also gives a brief recap of things here, getting new and old readers alike on the same page before moving into the meat of the story. And Abhishek Malsuni’s artwork is pretty gorgeous when combined with Nanjan Jamberi’s colours, making this is a pretty awesome book.

John Carter - Warlord of Mars 001b

The new series presents a Barsoom where aliens from beyond the planet, working in conjunction with someone from John Carter’s past, have invaded the planet and have even taken Helium while John Carter and Tars Tarkas are out in the desolate plains, fighting off their armies. We start off with Dejah chained in the dungeons of Helium and forced to take a truth serum drug so that her captors can accurately gauge what kind of resistance they can expect from John and Tars. We even get to hang out with John and Tars for a bit before cutting back to Dejah who is giving her captors a history lesson, punctuated by the fact that when her husband comes back to Helium, he is going to make them pay for what they have done to Barsoom and to her.

I really liked this issue. It is a great starting point for new readers and there’s even lots of new materials for older readers who stuck with the previous iteration of the series. Ron Marz balances the story really well as he introduces the world of Barsoom and its myriad life to the readers while also keeping the story rolling along. Sure, this is the first issue and not everything is explained properly, such as the how and the why of the alien invasion, but that’s not really all that important here.

John Carter has always been a man of action and in the scenes where we see him battling the invaders alongside Tars and Woola, we get a strong sense of what kind of a man he is and what makes him so special on Barsoom. It is typical John Carter action, sure to please fans everywhere in the same way that it did me. And I loved the ferocity of Woola in battle, who was the star of Mark Rahner’s excellent short story “Stay” in this year’s Warlord of Mars #100 anthology issue. Plus there’s Tars Tarkas, one of my favourite characters from Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars and all the adaptations of that story that have followed since, whether in movies or comics or else.

The cliffhanger ending reveals who John Carter’s nemesis is, and while I’m not familiar with who he is, I also can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next with him since there’s a pretty epic confrontation in the offing.

Abhishek Malsuni handles the artwork in this new series, with colours by Nanjan Jamberi and letters by Rob Steen. Bart Sears does the cover here, which is the “B” cover for this issue. Right off the bat, I loved Abhishek’s artwork here. He draws a pretty great John, Tars, Woola, and Dejah and his sense of action and camera angles is similarly excellent. The visual flow of the story is unhindered at all times and he neatly mixes in the splash pages with the regular pages. There’s one splash page in particular, which shows off the different forms of life found on Barsoom, whether intelligent or bestial, that I think is one of the best pages in this entire issue. And Nanjan’s colours are also excellent, imbuing the issue with rich and varied tones that bring Abhishek’s pencils to life.

All in all, this was a pretty damn good issue!

Rating: 9.5/10

More Warlord of Mars: Volume 1, #100.

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Posted on November 6, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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