In Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #8

A classic character in an enjoyable adventure.

The covers: A foursome to place in a prized position once you take them from Barsoom. Ed Benes and Dinei Roberto do the A cover which has Dejah against a wall, while husband John is about to clash with a crowd gone chaotic. Dejah is gorgeous, with her skin the perfect shade of red, John angrily heroic, and the locals threatening, especially that hunched over individual in the front with the hatchet. An excellent cover! The B by Bart Sears has an overly muscular John and a frightful looking Dejah bearing pistols and moving toward the reader. His arm looks longer than a thark. Both characters look ugly; it’s possible to look good and be angry (See John on Cover A), but this is not a good image by Sears. Additionally the photo dropped in for the background sticks out negatively. I would rather a backdrop be white or a single color than this. The C cover is much, much better: John and Dejah are back to back, she with swords and he with blade and gun, in a forest, surrounded by humanoid silhouettes whose eyes glow. Spectacular image with both leads looking stunning and the coloring beautiful. This cover by Emanuela Lupacchino, Mary Sanapo, and Ivan Nunes is one to seek out! The final cover, the D, is by Jonathan Lau and Nunes. John and Dejah are riding a rapidly moving reptile, whose entire visage can’t be contained on the cover. She looks behind them with a long pistol ready, unaware a red hulking creature is on the other side of them with a hand lunging for John. The computer effect used to blur the individual grasping at the hero looks messy and being dead center ruins the illustration. And don’t all animals on Barsoom have a minimum of six legs? This cover is not working. Overall grades: A A, B D+, C A+, and D D-

The story: The first chapter of Ron Marz and Ian Edginton’s “Man-Made Monster” opens in the best of horror’s traditions: a lonely settlement has its heard of throats spooked. The father and son go out to check, while the mother stays inside with her young daughters. The men find all the animals dead, their chests ripped open for sport, not food. They soon encounter the individual responsible for the carnage. Within the dwelling one daughter says, “Momma, there was screaming. But now there’s no more screaming.” Something begins to slam against the door. The mother grabs a sword from the wall just as a gigantic fist breaks through. With anger in her eyes, she holds the blade ready and tells her daughters, “Close your eyes, babies..” That’s an opening worthy of a novel or film. The next day, John and Dejah are returning from visiting some ruins when they spy the broken home below. This is reason enough for the pair to investigate, drawing them into the death that has been plaguing the region. It’s expected that they will hear the woes of the locals suffering under this creature’s wrath, but Page 14 elevated this monster’s fury considerably. It’s also a given that the couple will encounter the beastie, and they do, though with an unexpected cliffhanger. The final page may seem rote, but it’s perfectly in line with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tales. Overall grade: A

The art: Ariel Medel provides the pencils on this book and they’re good. Illustrating a John Carter books requires an artist to be adept at rendering the human form, as John and Dejah often show a lot of skin, an expert at rural and urban settings on the science fantasy world of Barsoom, and skillful in populating the environment with a range of familiar and new creatures. Medel is successful in every category. John is a fit individual, but not an overly swollen bodybuilder, Dejah is voluptuous without being gravity defying, and the people that inhabit the region look good; the young girls are impressive in the opening, as many artists have difficulty in drawing children. The faces of the leads are consistent, being striking but not inhumanly beautiful. The settlement that starts this tale is appropriately rural, as is the city of the issue’s last act. The thoats and calots look fine, but it is the unnamed creature, not revealed until the end, that steals the book. The design of the creature is solid and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it. Page 17 has the only area of concern: the third panel is blocked off for a sound or additional image but remains an empty parallelogram. It was odd and stuck out. The rest of the book looks fine. Overall grade: A

The colors: The coloring on this book is also good and praise should be given to Nanjan Jamberi. The opening three pages nicely use a deep blue in the background to signify the night, while an absence of background color in the final panel on Page 4 forces the reader to recognize the isolation the characters are in. The inhabitants of the region are a much darker shade of red than Dejah is and this disappointed me because the princess never seems dark enough in this book. The monster threatening all is a slick charcoal, to hide him at night and make him stand out during the day. A flashback in the story provides the most impressive coloring because of its difference from the normal choice colorists make. Often flashbacks are tinted yellow to age the past events, but in this book they go to a violet-rose for the violence that occurred. Nicely done. Overall grade: A

The letters: The story’s title, sounds, dialogue, yells, narration, and creature speak are crafted by Rob Steen. I was glad to see the antagonist receive his own font to show readers he is nowhere near the same species as the humanoids of Barsoom. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is an excellent jumping in point to one of Burroughs’ greatest creations and one of Dynamite’s best titles. A classic character in an enjoyable adventure. 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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