Monday, October 18, 2010

Warlord of Mars #1

Since I'm not a completist when it comes to buying comics, I tend to be immune to the "alternate cover" scheme, whereby comics companies release a title with several different covers, in hopes that collectors will buy 'em all.

I generally just pick the cover I like best (or whichever one's cheapest, if there's some kind of "rarity mark-up" involved), but I trust you can understand, gentle reader, why I chose this eye-popping cover by J. Scott Campbell, even if he has made the (common) error of giving Dejah Thoris a bellybutton (she's not a mammal - she was hatched from an egg, like most Martians).

It seems fitting that this comic would have an eye-catching cover, since it was the Frank Frazetta art on the cover of A Princess of Mars, the Edgar Rice Burroughs story released in the '70s by the Science Fiction Book Club, that got me interested in the original stories.

Now the Warlord of Mars is back in the spotlight (thanks in no small part to an upcoming film adaptation, I presume). Here we have something of an introduction to the characters in sort of a prequel to that first adventure.

We meet John Carter in 1866 as he tries to make his fortune out west - only to discover that the War Between the States still affects his life. Half the comic is about his struggles and the other half is about his future ally, the giant Martian named Tars Tarkas.

It's a pretty thin intro as written by Arvid Nelson, but then it only costs a dollar, so it's difficult to complain. It's all about setting up the story to come, and it does that well (and I enjoyed the reference to a certain character played by John Wayne).

The art is by Stephen Sadowski, and it's quite good, with a vivid, painted look to it. However, the action does get a bit gruesome, so I wouldn't recommend this for young kids.

It's too early to tell how faithful this adaptation is going to be, or if the creative team plans to follow its own path - but for an intro, this is pretty good. And the price is right (especially if you can find this cover).

Grade: B+


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