Warlord of Mars # 1
Script: Arvid Nelson
Pencils: Stephen Sadowski
22 pages + 2 bonus for $1.00
I have read some Conan prose from Edgar Rice Burroughs, but never any John Carter stories. From a distance it looked like an exceptionally vanilla buff dude punching and shooting people on Mars instead of earth, and I have less than no interest in that.
For a dollar, I'm not going to not buy this comic, so vanilla nonsense or not it made it home with me. And Arvid Nelson has a pretty good reputation, what with his very critically acclaimed and very unpurchased Rex Mundi series.
The good news is that there is more of a hook to John Carter than I had realized. He's a Confederate soldier, which is interesting to me. Making him a protagonist focal point in today's hyper politically correct environment is a ballsy thing, actually. It's sort of like writing a book about heroic Nazis - there's bound to be a little backlash.
Mr. Carter and his friend get into a fracas with a pack of Union jerkwads defending the honor of the state of Virginia, which makes sense. If you're going to shoot some people, best make it over something important I always say.
Across the solar system there is other social upheaval on Mars. You've got your standard green Martians, and they've developed a culture where demonstrating fear or weakness is a criminal offense. They have a white ape problem there. The problems being that the white apes capture green children and then eat them with relish. Not the stuff you put on hot dogs, they don't have that. I mean that when they eat kids, they really, really, really enjoy it. I identify.
The upheaval part comes in the form of Tars Tarkas, who is entirely too soft to be a green Martian. When he recognizes strength in an opponent he mentions these things out loud and accounts for it rather than the preferred Martian method of beating his chest and showing bravado. He also believes that a young child who shows fear when she's about to be eaten should not be thrown off of cliffs. Rube.
All of this is vaguely interesting. I'm curious to see how much of a hero they can make out of a civil war rebel soldier. I interested in seeing how much depth there is in Martian culture.
I'm not sure if I'm willing to pay $3 or $4 to find out, though, and at the end of issue # 1 the reader has literally no clue how John Carter gets involved with mars at all. We get a bit of confusing business at the end regarding a grave with a spring lock that only opens from the inside. But as to how a Dixie soldier achieves space travel or why? Nothing. Curious decision. Maybe Dynamite is under the impression that anybody picking up the comic has already absorbed the novels? I don't know.
I did enjoy this issue, especially at this price point. Unfortunately for Dynamite, I think the introductory issue made me far more likely to check out a John Carter novel for free at my public library than to get involved with the comic series. Unless they're selling all the issues for a dollar, in which case wild horse couldn't keep me away from it.