How did John Carter get to Mars, how did Tarkas get Tars added to his name? The mysteries are revealed in the latest installment of Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment.
WARLORD OF MARS #2
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Illustrator: Stephen Sadowski
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Covers: J. Scott Campbell, Joe Jusko, Patrick Berkenkotter, Lucio Parrillo
Editor: Joseph Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Previously in Warlord of Mars: John Carter is trying to make his way in the world following the crushing defeat of the Confederate army. Even in the vast waste of Arizona, Carter runs into trouble again and again, but his companion and he are destined to find their fortunes in the hills. Meanwhile, on Mars, Tarkas, the green martian warrior is having problems of his own as his actions during a rescue mission brings his worth as a Thark into question.
A TALE OF TWO WORLDS
The first issue was told in way that jumped back and forth between Earth and Mars, but this issue is clearly divided into two chapters; one featuring John Carter running afoul of the local Apache Indians, and the other featuring Tarkas going before the council and fighting Tars.
As far as the John Carter portion of the book goes, it is told through the narration of Carter’s memoirs, and that works okay, but it creates a very quiet and somber story of a man alone in the world. It is fitting for the character, as Carter’s lack of true companionship, and what some might consider depression, have driven him far away. When the episode in the cave frees him from his body and he launches toward Mars, there is a sense of great relief, and release, and though the event is very terrifying, it conjures feelings of happiness from the reader. There’s something better waiting for him, though it isn’t clear what that is – unless of course you’ve read the book.
The events in the cave are the only portions of this issue that are adapted from the source material, and it is done well enough to qualify as a successful adaptation of that passage.
The events on Mars are original story elements, and last issue I lamented the fact that there were two characters Tars and Tarkas, and how confusing it was for those who had read A Princess of Mars. The name game is cleared up as Tars challenges Tarkas to a fight to the death, and when Tarkas wins, he not only gets all of Tars possessions, including property, metal (armor), and women, he also gets Tars’s name added to his own – hence Tars Tarkas. I think Nelson handled this element of the story well, even though it was a very confusing turn for those who are familiar with the source. If nothing else, Nelson used this sequence of events to show the reader that while Tars Tarkas is a fierce warrior, he also has a great deal of compassion – something that will be necessary when John Carter arrives on Mars (presumably) next issue.
THE ART OF GREEN ALIENS
Whenever I hear that the John Carter series is going to be translated to a visual medium, I’m always curious how the naked aspects of the tale will be handled. Edgar Rice Burroughs didn’t hide the fact that John Carter finds himself running around nude on a far off world, and he goes into enough detail in the book that readers know with the exception of jewelry most everyone is naked.
We get our first look at how that issue is handled in this issue, and artist Stephen Sadowski handles the matter tastefully with well placed bits of smoke, shadows, and blocking elements. There is still the occasional martian nipple appearance, but there isn’t a lot of attention drawn to the fact.
Like my previous concern over the book, the green martians are going are the biggest problem as far as art goes. Because they look so alike, big fight scene between Tars and Tarkas gets a tad mixed up when the camera angle breaks the 180-degree rule. If it wasn’t for the chipped tooth on Tars, one would think Tarkas was the one that fell victim to the sword. This probably won’t be a huge problem going forward as most of the rest of the Princess of Mars tale features more human character action and very little moments where giant crowds of Tarks are going to be needed.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT
Warlord of Mars was the top of my stack reading for the week, and I’m glad I got to it first. The split in the way the story is told feels like we’re getting two issues in one. The story is fleshed out nicely and continues to move the very important character development along. I like the art, and am curious to see what happens when the two worlds collide. Warlord of Mars #2 is well worth checking out, and earns 4 out of 5 Stars.