Earlier this morning, I dig a post for one of my ongoing blogs regarding the history of science fiction. In it, I wrote a snippet about how sci-fi has always embraced scantily clad women in one way, shape, or form. (Believe you me, not that there’s anything wrong with it says this red-blood American male!) I’m not entirely certain those are the sentiments Edgar Rice Burroughs intended to tap when he created the character of Dejah Thoris, a princess of Mars, but who knows? She is, after all, a princess, and sci-fi along with fantasy have long held hard and fast to their fascination of depicting princesses in the skimpiest costumes around. Who am I to poke holes in standard operating procedure?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Picking up only days after the events culminating in Issue #5, Dejah Thoris and her people have begun repairs to the city of Helium, picking up the pieces from the battle that decimated so much (see the previous narrative arc available in DEJAH THORIS: VOLUME 1). However, a new problem – something’s broken the city’s plumbing! – sends the lady and a detachment to the Martian arctic, where a new enemy has established a foothold thanks to a secret tied to unimaginable wealth! Will this band of warriors be enough to restore the flow of water or will they instead be eaten alive?
From the first page, my expectation was that scribe Arvid Nelson and his crew were prepared to serve up much of the same as what’s come before to this ongoing tale. Stylistically, it all looks and feels similar to the first five issues, but thankfully there’s a new chink in the fabric: an all-new location! When the chilled environment appeared, I realized that the variety of locales really had affected THORIS’s first five issues – everything blended together, and there was very little to distinguish one book from the next. Now, the change of scenery actually caused me to perk up a notch, though it didn’t last all that long before our princess finds herself taken captive by some Martian “blacks.” (In true chromatic sense, they’re not ‘black,’ per se, much more ‘gray.’) Oh, the colors of the wind!
As with the first arc, there are instances where things happen that could’ve been handled vastly more improved. For example, there’s a stowaway aboard Thoris’s craft who never quite gets explained as well as he could’ve (Why was he there? What were his intentions? How did he know when Thoris and her crew would be heading to the ice cap?). Furthermore – without spoiling a plot point too greatly for readers, though this issue was first published a while back – there’s a moment wherein the princess confronts the stowaway when out of nowhere a net simply appears and captures her. Erm … who threw it? Why did they throw it? If someone else was there to throw the next, couldn’t there have been a shadow or, at least, a shadowy figure in the distance? I had to re-read the series of panels a few times in order to see if I had missed something. Unfortunately, I hadn’t, and, while it all makes sense further down the road, I don’t like narrative surprises that don’t explain themselves in the here and now.
That’s alright. Call me old-fashioned. I’ll wait.
Otherwise, the launch of this second arc is a bit of an improvement over the first. Granted, Thoris is still drawn much like a Playboy centerfold, and she’s increasingly appearing in positions contrived to help amplify any man’s libido. But it looks like that artistic conceit (if you can call it that!) is definitely here to stay.
WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #6 is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The story is written by Arvid Nelson; the tale is illustrated by Carlos Rafael; the work is colored by Carlos Lopez; while the book is lettered by Marshall Dillon; and all of this is naturally based on the works of the master, Edgar Rice Burroughs. It’s available for a cover price of $3.99, a bargain if you can get it.
RECOMMENDED. If it’s sci-fi cheese you want, then WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS continues in that grand tradition of serving up the best fantasy-fueled TnA (ask your parents, kids!) quality ink and color can provide. It ain’t so bad. Issue #6 boasts an interesting change of scenery in that Dejah and her kin are off to the arctic wastelands of Mars (those boob adornments have got to be driving her crazy!), as well as bringing a whole new band of pirates into the tale to mix things up. Nelson and his team continue to dish on a classic character with good clean fun … well, maybe not so much ‘clean’ for the kids reading.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that I’ve repeatedly contacted the fine folks at Dynamite Comics in hopes to arrange for reader copies of WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS; however, the company apparently does not recognize nor cooperate with requests from new media outlets.
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