Monday, June 2, 2014
"Was John Carter here?"
Inevitably, we'll get to other planets. Whether or not they're as close as Mars or further out there remains to be seen, but what is expected is that we'll encounter some other form of life. If that life is royalty, even better. Mars has royalty in the form of Dejah Thoris, who's kicking off a new series from Dynamite in Dejah of Mars #1. The book is written by Mark Rahner, illustrated by Jethro Morales, colored by Salvatore Aiala Studios and lettered by Marshall Dillon.
Dejah of Mars #1 picks up where Warlord of Mars #100, with John Carter imprisoned and framed for stealing a Helium artifact. As most civilizations are wont to do, the theft of such a sacred object is punishable by death, which puts Dejah Thoris on a mission to find and free him. Dejah proves that she's not above getting her hands dirty in order to find and save John Carter from an impending execution. That involves a lot of shady locales and dealing with some rather unsavory characters as well.
Using Dejah's view as the vehicle for the reader gives another perspective to the trials and tribulations that comprise Helium. Many of the stories feature John Carter trying to "save" the princess, so it's nice to see Dejah playing the part of hero. And Rahner doesn't really pull any punches with her either, offering a Dejah who's fierce and determined to see her mission complete. That's not to say that John's story is ignored or anything, but he doesn't get top billing in the issue. There's another storyline involving the politics and laws of Helium and the three storylines tend to cross paths with one another quite frequently. It's not completely confusing, but there are times when you have to double check where you're at in the timeline and what exactly is going on.
Any foray into another world requires visual that transport the reader to that world and Morales does an admirable job in Dejah of Mars #1. Characters demonstrate the action that comes with interrogations and shakedowns pretty well and some of the local fauna is illustrated to give the world more detail. Many of the settings feel a little simplistic though. Dejah herself is illustrated with the attention to the expected features and it's clear that Dynamite knows what readers expect from her from a visual standpoint. Facial expressions showcase a lot of emotion that effectively conveys the mood of the scene.
Fans of the John Carter mythos will definitely be interested in Dejah of Mars #1. Other readers may feel a little underwhelmed by it all, as having an understanding of that universe will allow you to be more invested in the action. Rahner presents a Dejah who's very capable of getting the answers she wants, but you could argue that her reasoning for the resolve being love is a little disempowering. The scenery and characters present a look at Mars that feels alien and Morales handles the action on the planet pretty well. Dejah of Mars #1 is another entry in what's a long, storied character's history that presents a new perspective and subsequently new tales.
Dejah of Mars #1 is in stores now with interiors below.