The twin cities of Helium have been at war for centuries. Long before John Carter arrived on the red planet, Dejah Thoris was alive and well, kicking it, wearing less than nothing, surrounded by others wearing less than nothing… But forget half-nekkid people, you’re picking up this book to read about a great war and its resolution. Right?
WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #1
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Illustrator: Carlos Rafael
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Covers: Arthur Adams, Joe Jusko, Sean CHen, Paul Renaud, Ale Garza
Based on the stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Editor: Joseph Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Warlord of Mars: Apparently, once Martians reach maturity, they never die unless slain in battle. This means Dejah Thoris is hella-old by the time she met John Carter.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Amidst the turmoil that is the battle between Greater and Lesser Helium, the Jeddak of Yorn steps in to stop the battle by declaring his son will marry Dejah Thoris. It’s one of those force marriage situations where the fairest maiden in the land must marry the less than desirable son of the king. And while Yorn’s son isn’t that off-putting, he’s no catch – and he knows it. I like that Nelson writes this bit into the story, and even better, Thoris isn’t disgusted or put off by Dor Valian’s honesty.
While the declared marriage is supposed to create peace between the two cities, it is merely a ruse so Yorn may take control of the two cities. The leaders on all sides (including Thoris) are taken into custody, as martial law goes into effect. But why would the king of the Jeds need to take control of two two cities that are already loyal to him? The answer lies far beneath the surface of Lesser Helium, where something gigantic is discovered.
At first I didn’t think I was going to like this issue at all. The warring cities, the arranged marriage, the dopey son, all smacked of some retelling of Shakespeare gone wrong. However, when Yorn revealed his big plan, and the foreshadowed resistance movement begins to form I suddenly found myself more interested in this pre-Carter era tale. Nelson is a solid writer, and his work on the main Warlord of Mars series is well handled.
This story is based on little bits and pieces that Burroughs scattered throughout the John Carter universe, but is not an actual Burroughs tale. The fact that Nelson is spinning a tale that fits within that world, and makes sense, is a testament to his hard work.
SEAN CONNERY, WARLORDS OF MARS
The art in the issue is well done, even if the red skinned Martians tend to pale a few pages in (at least on my copy). The rest of the coloring is rather washed and the characters are outlined in a thick ink, which looks oddly right in this book. There are a few missed moments in this issue that were begging for a splash page, or at least an extended shot of the central characters, but overall, the layout and design works.
What is rather odd is how Rafael chose to draw Seeneth Vor, Jeddak of Yorn (King), and Tardos Mors, Jed of Lesser Helium. They both look like different renditions of Sean Connery! THe elder Tardos looks like a modern Connery, while the Jeddak of Yorn, looks like a bald headed version of Zed from the movie Zardoz. It isn’t something that jumps out immediately, but a close inspection (and possibly the need for new glasses) does seem to lean that way.
BOTTOM LINE: CHECK IT OUT
The Warlord of Mars series is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. This opening chapter is well plotted and paced, and the reveal at the end is a real surprise. Rafael’s art is solid in how he lays out the pages, and stages the action, and there is an interesting combination going on between the inker and the colorist. I have feeling most people are going to pick up this issue based on the scantily clad Thoris on the cover, but the real draw is the story inside. Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #1 is a solid read, earning 4 out of 5 Stars.