In Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #3

Wonderful action and drama in space. I want more!

The covers: Four color covers for you to consider as you voyage to Barsoom. The A cover is by Ed Benes and Dinei Ribeiro. It’s a beautiful image of Dejah making an impossible twist as she hears something behind her. Her knife is bloodied from an ulsio she’s killed, but she’s failing to notice the rest of the pack that’s surrounding her. Simply gorgeous illustration with the colors perfectly highlighting her, while softening everything else. Stunning! Bart Sears and Neeraj Menon are responsible for the B cover which has our heroine slowly revealing herself from behind a pillar. Her dagger and expression show she is not a woman to be trifled with. A good illustration with a coolly colored background. I’m really enjoying Dynamite’s Marvelesque covers which Emanuela Lupacchino and Ivan Nunes created for the C cover. Dejah nervously reaches for a pistol as she is swamped by the ulsio. A sole bodyguard behind her cuts one of the creatures down. John is present, big and buff, in the upper left corner. Good image with excellent coloring by Nunes–Check out the highlights on Dejah and the shine in her jewelry, plus the hairs on the ulsio. The D cover comes courtesy of Abhishek Malsuni and Nanjan Jamberi. This is a spectacular drawing of Dejah holding a Steampunk pistol. Woola is doing his best impersonation of a fan that could get that close to the title character’s wife. The background work is excellent. The coloring is also well done with Dejah’s strong colors drawing the focus, followed by a softer colored Woola, and then a very soft distant setting. I’d like to see more from this pair. Overall grades: A A+, B B, C A-, and D A+

The story: This third chapter of “Invaders of Mars” by Ron Marz is easy to jump in on if you’ve never read the previous two. The first three pages are the justification from Dejah’s captor, Vush Tanzar, as to why he is betraying her and his own people. The entire time he and the princess speak, she never lies to him. She is honest and direct, and she is a woman of her word. This is the correct way for Marz to quickly characterize Dejah and show her to be a strong person. I love the prop Vush uses on 5. The change in opinion that occurs on 7 seemed a little too quick. The layout at the bottom could have been done differently to accomplish this better. John, Tars, Woola, and some men are on their way in an alien ship to save her and things don’t go as planned. The story then returns to Dejah and Vush who have an exciting moment of their own, though it too ends unexpectedly. This is classic storytelling with archetypal characters in peril, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Overall grade: A-

The art: This book must walk a fine line between science fiction and classic adventure, alien yet familiar. Zsolt H. Garisa is a master of this genre. The opening splash is an excellent example. Dejah is a beautifully rendered character, and her ornate jewelry is both familiar and exotic. The same can also be said of the architecture behind her, which looks like something from ancient history, though some of the spires exceed our planet’s ability to design. She’s moving through an adoring throng in a streamlined flying vehicle. This is the perfect mix of the known and the unknown. The double-paged spread on 2 and 3 shows Garisa to be outstanding with crowds–there are no blank faces or repetitions of the same individual: each person is unique. Also impressive is the rare panel without a background. The crowd, the dungeon, the ship, the caves, and the exteriors are highly detailed. This is a welcome exception to the rule of most artists. I would love to see Garisa stay on this book for a long time. Overall grade: A 

The colors: A variety of settings and characters give Nanjan Jamberi a good opportunity to shine. I am always pleased when the red men and women of Mars are darkly colored as they are throughout this book. This skin tone requires a different kind of highlighting to show the source of light in a panel and a body’s muscles. Jamberi has this down pat. Dejah’s violet wrap is an excellent way to show off her body and golden jewelry. I love the sky that began on Page 9 and the sickly pallor of the creatures on 14. I enjoyed 19 the most for the variety of colors and that wonderful sky. Overall grade: A

The letters: Title and chapter, narration, dialogue, sounds, and yells all come from Rob Steen. Narration and dialogue should be two different types of font as they are two different forms of communication often not spoken by the same character. Thank you, Mr. Steen, for making them different! Readers do notice this! I actually felt the book’s final sound. Overall grade: A

The final line: Wonderful action and drama in space. I want more! Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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