When I was a boy, I read a fair amount of what one might call vintage Science Fiction. Sure, I’d also read some of the more contemporary stuff for that time (mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s), but for a whole number of reasons that modern stuff didn’t stick with me, not in the way the classics did. In the classics, the characters all seemed a bit larger-than-life. It was far easier for my young mind to imagine John Carter gallivanting around the Martian landscape than it ever was a 70’s-era astronaut. Nowadays, my tastes haven’t changed all that much – I still gravitate toward some very classic characters like John Carter, The Shadow, Conan, Batman, and Superman – but I have to say that I’m not sure what my young mind would’ve made of Dynamite Entertainment’s version of DEJAH THORIS.
(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 …)
From the product packaging: “The peace John Carter brought to Helium and Thark is new and fragile. On the eve of a Red & Green festival to balm age-old hatreds, Dejah Thoris is kidnapped. The ordeal triggers her lingering nightmares of abuse and helplessness at the hands of brutal Tharks. And the kidnapper is nightmare personified: Voro. He caters to a taste some green men never lost: the red meat of Helium women.”
With DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS, it looks like Dynamite Entertainment has entirely given up the pretext of being anything like epic fantasy or golden age science fiction so far as this incarnation of the John Carter universe is concerned. In fact, a reasonable person might conclude that this four-part tale bears a striking resemblance to epic exploitation fare more than anything else. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE immediately comes to mind, as do any number of ‘Women Behind Bars’ motion pictures of the 1970’s and 80’s. I don’t say that to disparage the tale at all – in fact, I’m a bit of a fan of that whole exploitation genre of filmmaking; I do say it, though, not entirely expecting it from such a tentpole scifi figure as the Princess of Mars.
I can admire good storytelling, and scribe Mark Rahner – mining territory normally left to direct-to-DVD releases – certainly serves up a tale as captivating and the women as drawn in here. Essentially, they’re clad in little more than scraps of fabric – along with the obligatory nipple clamps and cleverly-placed jewels. (Heck, at this point, that’s half the fun of this title!) As much as others might wish to rain on the parade of one man’s rape fantasy to the next, I suppose there’s nothing all that wrong with wanting a little S&M and T&A with your A&E. That’s precisely what you get here.
Because it’s a Dejah Thoris story, John Carter really only appears as a happenstance. He’s in there, but his involvement is trivial, something which may be adjusted according in the next installment as this is openly billed as Volume 1.
DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS – VOLUME 1: RED MEAT is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The story is written by Mark Rahner; the art is provided by Lui Antonio; the colors are by Arison Aguiar; the lettering is done by Marshall Dillon; and the volume’s cover is by Jay Anacleto. While Dejah Thoris and John Carter are the creations of Edgar Rice Burroughs, these Dynamite comics are not authorized by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. At this juncture, I suspect you more than I already know whether or not Dynamite Comics’ modern run on DEJAH THORIS is in your area of interest; and, if it is, then DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS is little more than more of the same. That isn’t a bad thing – plenty of folks are buying it or, at least, enough to keep Dynamite churning them out. But it’s amazing how far the title has come from the Walt Disney film, eh?
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that I’ve repeatedly reached out to the fine folks at Dynamite Entertainment for the purposes of getting on their pre-release distribution list; however, they’ve thus far refused my every request for materials. (So, yes, folks: that means I paid for this myself!)
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