In Review: Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #31
The covers: Two covers to tempt your inner fanboy. Fabiano Neves’ cover is a nice shot of a haughty Dejah with her go-to wearing-nothing-jewelry, with crown and plum colored cape. She’s also holding an elegant spear. She’s posing on the outskirts of a city against two moons. Good image with good coloring. Jay Anacleto’s cover is from quite the interesting angle! Our heroine bears two swords as a ship flies above her. This is probably the least ornate cover I’ve seen Anacleto do for a Dejah book, but the difficult angle and all the elements going on above/behind her are tremendous. Gorgeous drawing in every way. Caution: This cover may produce sweats! Overall grades: Both A
The story: In the dead city of Dorvas, Dejah comes to inspect a time portal discovered by Professor Bor Vik. Showing the princess a scene early in Barsoom’s past, the professor tells her they’ve only dared take short voyages, no more than 15 minutes, to any time period. Their conversation is halted when a Zondangan nationalist pulls a gun and fires at Dejah. Faster than you can say Stargate, Dejah falls in…1003 years into the future. A group of green men are trying to speed away across an ocean while being pursued by individuals in flying suits. Writer Robert Place Napton has brought time travel to Edgar Rice Burroughs and it’s more fun than you’d expect. The arrival of a major character on Page 8 had the story’s already high interest for me increase. The exposition on Pages 9 and 10 established what’s happened to this future, who the antagonist is, and what his goal is. This was a very quick establishment of the storyline but it wasn’t overwhelming, it felt very natural. The sequence that begins on the third panel on 11 was also smoothly written with action coming to the frontlines of this tale. The reveal on Page 13 was a surprise as I thought “this” would happen next issue. This inclusion will doubtlessly create more anomalies next month. With all of this action going on I was hoping that Napton would give me the confrontation I wanted and I got it on Page 19–with exactly the reactions I so desired! The cliffhanger was another welcome story piece and I’m really looking forward to the next issue to see how this continues. Overall grade: A
The art: Equally as good as the story is the artwork of Carlos Rafael. In a Dejah book you want the princess to be gorgeous and she is! Anyone who’s a fan of this Barsoomian royal or good girl art will be more than happy with Rafael’s work. I was also impressed with his male characters; Rafael captures the strength of the typically barely clad men, but he’s also adept at creating striking older men, as with the professor (impressive facial work on Page 2). I was also pleased with the men that clearly appear on Page 5, with their leader being very well done. The costumed flyers, though from the future, had an amazing retro-design with their masks being simple and scary. Page 18 was a nice piece of layout work teasing the confrontation I was yearning for. This artwork is winning in every way. Overall grade: A
The colors: This is a dark future for Barsoom and I was so happy to see it wasn’t colored in depressing shades. True, the villains of the story wear a darker palate than the usual Barsoomian natives, but they still were bright and visible as were their settings. I must compliment Carlos Lopez for his outstanding work in continuing to keep this science fantasy bright and splendid. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Marshall Dillon did more than his fair share of work on this book with scene setting, dialogue, and many sound effects. I hope he got paid by the PCHOW on this issue. Looking at all the fantastic firefights going on in this issue made me wish that Dark Horse Comics had the same sensibilities as Dynamite to make their science fantasy gunfights sound as rich. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Fun in the future on faraway Barsoom. This is a terrific issue for anyone to see what Dejah was doing before John Carter entered her life. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.