Edgar Rice Burroughs created the character of John Carter in 1912. Carter was a Civil War veteran who, for reasons barely explained, was able to transport himself to Mars. Mars’ lesser gravity allowed Carter to be much stronger than anyone else on the planet, and he could jump for great distances. As an early pulp hero, he worked with allies from the various races of Mars to have various adventures, many featuring his love interest and eventual wife Dejah Thoris.
Dynamite seems to have the current rights to Burrough’s characters, and Comic Bento sent the first volume of a series featuring Dejah Thoris from before she met Carter. How was it?
Well, nothing special all told.
A little knowledge on the different races of Mars (called Bassoom by the natives) would probably help. There are Red Martians that look basically like humans for the most part, and the four-armed Green Martians among others. Their technology is a bit more advanced than ours, obviously, but they still have some sort of quasi-medieval society. I read the first John Carter novel once, but I don’t recall how many of these characters appeared in it aside from the one whose name is in the title.
And that may be the problem. Writer Arvid Nelson and artist Carlos Rafael do OK here, but there’s little in this story that says much of anything about Dejah Thoris as a person. She doesn’t seem to register as a distinct person, and while the adventure in question, where a ruthless Martian would be dictator takes control of a giant war machine, is OK enough, none of the characters came across as memorable enough to care about. Everyone seemed to want Dejah Thoris to do all manner of things, but I never really understood why her as opposed to, oh, anybody else. Anybody at all, really.
And with that in mind, I think it’s worth mentioning Dejah Thoris’ wardrobe. She basically doesn’t wear much of anything. Nobody on Mars does, actually, but she seems to wear less than anybody else. That’s actually more or less in line with Burrough’s source material, where John Carter says that Dejah Thoris was pretty much naked when he saw her for the first time and she never really put anything on aside from a few bits of ornamentation. Plus, Carter insists she doesn’t really need the ornamentation, because of course she doesn’t. So, while none of the Red Martians in the series wear much of anything, even the other females seem to wear more clothes than Dejah Thoris. On the one hand, accurate for the source material. On the other, it seems pretty exploitative in a comic book from 2012.
I’m going with six and a half “Who the hell is that guy anyway?”s.
NEXT BOOK: This looks interesting. We got a book from British publisher Titan Comics that appears to be a sword-and-sorcery parody called Thrud the Barbarian. Be back for that one soon.