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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Warlord of Mars, Dejah Thoris. Colossus of Mars. Arvid Nelson (Writer), Carlos Rafael (Art), Carlos Lopez (Colours), Marshall Dillon (Letters) Dynamite Entertainment( 2011)

A  hugely enjoyable pulp science fiction story set on Mars or Barsoom as it is called by those who live there. The story is set 400 years before the arrival on Barsoom of John Carter and deals with the life of the woman he fell in love with, Dejah  Thoris, Princess of Mars.
Greater and Lesser Helium are constantly fighting each other for supremacy and just as victory seems to be in sight for Lesser Helium, lead by Dejah Thoris's grandfather Tardos Mors, the overlord of both Lesser and Greater Helium, the Jeddak of Yorn intervenes to stop the conflict. He wants Dejah Thoris to marry his son, something she accepts as her duty as a princess of Helium. The marriage turns out to be a cover for a much more significant action by the Jeddak of Yorn and Dejah and her family find themselves caught in a trap. The story esclates very nicely, the reveals are very good, the battles superbly staged and the cast are vigorous and very engaging.
The worst part to the book is the stripper costume given to Dejah Thoris, while everyone on Barsoom wears very little clothing a full bikini would have served considerably better than the thong and tear-drop nipple covers she is inflicted with. This creates a unnecessary tension within the story, Dejah Thoris is no passive heroine, she is a active, skillful fighter. Her clothing dramatically and consistently works against this, she is constantly on the verge of being ridiculous, something she manifestly is not. Avrid Nelson gives us a full blooded action hero, she is fast and forceful, a recognised leader and the equal of any. The writing is consistently excellent throughout, it has all the forward motion that the adventure needs, the action is big and loud, the set pieces are a joy, the cast are never overshadowed by the explosions. The cast come strongly forward and it is clearly they who are driving the action and not the reverse, this gives the story real weight and grip.
The art by Carlos Rafael is everything that romantic science fiction should be, it is lush and detailed. The cast are given great physical presence, they look like they fully inhabit the space and respond to each other with nice range and subtly. Included with the volume is a great step-by-step view by the extraordinary Joe Jusko of how he painted one of the covers for the series. The colours by Carlos Lopez are vibrant and give the story the bright light it needs, the colours are not subtle they are matched instead to he loud drive of the story and the wild context of Barsoom. The lettering by Marshall Dillon is nicely varied, it gives depth the voices of the cast and the sound effects are great. Great pulp, comic adventure, well worth reading.

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