Half nekkid Martians running about killing one another in a cleverly designed tale of power and greed? Sounds like the makings of an awesome comic book.
WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #2
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Illustrator: Carlos Rafael
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Covers: Arthur Adams, Joe Jusko, Paul Renaud, Ale Garza
Editor: Joseph Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris: 400 years before John Carter took his magical trip to Mars, the twin cities of Helium were engaged in a bitter civil war – or as civil as wars can be – all seemingly encouraged by the overlord of Mars, Jeddak of Yorn. Little did the two cities know that Yorn was secretly plotting against the two cities, announcing the marriage of his son, Valian Dor, to the beautiful Dejah Thoris of Lesser Helium. When it looked like peace was at hand, Yorn captured the Jeds of both cities, and along with Dejah Thoris, imprisoned the three as he took control of the cities.
At the end of the last issue, readers discovered what Yorn was up to; buried beneath Lesser Helium a giant golem was uncovered. If Yorn can figure out how the colossus works, he can take over the entire planet for his own. It’s just too bad the Tharks (the four armed seven foot tall green martians) pick that very moment to open an all out assault on the city, with everyone trapped inside.
During the confusion, Valian Dor finds it in himself to grow up and do everything he can to free Dejah Thoris from her chambers. She in turn frees the two Jeds, and the three attempt to escape. And they would, too, if it weren’t for the previously mentioned Thark army bearing down on the city. It doesn’t look good for the group, especially when Yorn unknowingly activates the sleeping giant.
Though the key plot moments don’t seem like that big of a deal, it is the character interaction that sells this issue for me. If it isn’t the over the top, scenery chewing, Ming the Merciless-type Yorn, it’s the sexually charged exchange between goddess and nerd when Dor frees Dejah that makes this issue engaging and memorable. Sure, there are plenty of things blowing up as the Tharks invade, and blood and body parts litter the once shiny floors of Lesser Helium, but it is the Saturday serial feel of the dialogue that works so well in this sci-fi tale.
HALF NEKKID PEOPLE, DOING HALF NEKKID THINGS
If you haven’t had a chance, take a listen to The Major Spoilers Podcast #296 where the hosts discuss nudity in comics. The topic was brought up as a direct result of this issue hitting the stands. On the one hand, I don’t mind at all if the creators of this book decided to let everyone walk around with all their stuff hanging out for the world to see – that is how Edgar Rice Burroughs created these characters. On the other hand, I don’t want this issue to get tagged with an adult only tag, and be shrink wrapped in plastic with a brown paper insert hiding as much of the cover as possible. A compromise has to be made if this tale is to reach the largest audience, so I’ll go along with the half naked concept.
In the hands of Carlos Rafael, what is not shown is just as titillating as if they had decided to let everyone run around in the buff. In short, the art in this issue is stunning. The bodies don’t look like mannequins with muscles on top of muscles. Instead Rafael gives solid builds to those who should be athletic, and isn’t afraid to let those who are not so athletically inclined to have rolls of fat. And if you think Adam Hughes can draw some fine women, wait until you see what Rafael does with Dejah Thoris.
In addition to the action filled poses of the character, it is the shading and coloring of the issue that helps bring everything together. For the second time in a week, I’ve read a Dynamite book that didn’t send the issue in the crapper because of shoddy coloring and shading. The skin tones look like they are being lit, and I can actually see what is going on in the scene instead of trying to see through a dark muddy mess.
BOTTOM LINE: COME FOR THE ART, STAY FOR THE STORY
As wonderful and as jaw dropping as the art can be at times, it is the story that makes this issue fun and worth picking up. Where else are you going to find an epic tale of war, revenge, and deceit, set against a martian backdrop with sexy people fighting giant green aliens? Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris has a great hook, that also includes a great story and earns 4 out of 5 Stars.