There are truths at the heart of every epic battle. First, all involved must know what’s at stake. Typically, it’s something intangible like freedom or liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Those shared concepts have a way of uniting men and women against a common foe. Second, those stakes must be measured against sacrifice. It isn’t enough to simply rise up and throw tyranny’s shackles clean off; there must be some blood shed as a consequence for taking a stand. Lastly – this is perhaps most important – the road toward the future must be visible for all. That doesn’t mean it’ll be fully cleared of obstacles. After all, who wants to fight an epic battle only once? Where would be the fun in that?
(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 …)
The alliances that were put into motion throughout the previous four issues proved a pivotal factor in the finish to DEJAH THORIS’s first storyline. Not everything wrapped up nicely – some people lived, some people died, but largely everyone readers expected to come through from the finish did so. Rest assured: Dejah’s fine. She might be a bit emotionally frazzled, but she still looked great in the resident bikini.
The strength of Issue #5 really starts and stops with Nelson and his team’s ability to stage the big climax. To my surprise, they pulled it off quite well. There’s an awful lot of visually exciting combat – stylistically, it’s certainly in line with everything that’s come before, and perhaps that was a little disappointing. When it all looks too similar, then there’s little cause on the part of the reader to distinguish one “big moment” from the next “big moment,” and too much of it ends up blending together into a sea of mediocrity.
But heroes are heroes precisely because they come through when history requires they do so. Each of the players here – Dejah, her family, their allies, Valian, and even Yorn – play some part in the final conflict. Naturally, there’s a lot going on in some panels, and, in one instance or two, things happen a bit so quickly that I had to study the panel (and a few panels before) to see if I’d missed something. Eventually, I realized that I hadn’t – it was merely that Nelson and his artists didn’t show the moment a major character was shot. Instead, they showed him in the act of receiving a significant blow, so call me naïve if I’m a reader who likes to have a development like that better plotted out for me visually.
It is what it is. Or isn’t.
Also, the battle is given a nice denouement. Usually, those kind of sentiments get brushed over, and, in a monthly read that clearly prides itself on action + boobs + action, I can appreciate that the book’s creative personnel didn’t scrimp on the pathos after delivering so much macho. It wraps up with a tragedy, and, despite suspecting our princess felt otherwise, she proved (rightfully so) that some royalty always hides away silent in the heart. That kindness – that humanity – only comes out in the most dire circumstances imaginable.
WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #5 [Ongoing] is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The story is written by Arvid Nelson; the artwork is drawn by Carlos Rafael; with coloring provided by Carlos Lopez; and the lettering is done by Marshall Dillon.
RECOMMENDED. As much as I wanted to love Arvid Nelson’s conclusion in WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #5, I didn’t. I didn’t dislike it. The best I can say is that it came up a bit short. Perhaps it’s that so many of the notes struck were a bit too similar to ones that have been struck in similar stories. Perhaps it’s that the big finish came a bit too easy to those involved. There’s nothing wrong with a measure of predictability to any tale; but when the best moments feel like they’ve been pilfered from other works maybe my expectations for a grand showdown were misplaced. It all ended like it began … right in the middle of the road.
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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