If you’ve read Chris Claremont’s X-Men run from the 80s and 90s you know there are a lot of plot threads dropped all over the place that he always intended to get back to, and some times actually did. There are some of my friends that are driven crazy by this. It never really bothered me. That was because I grew up reading the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs would introduce an idea and if he could figure out how to work it into a later story, great. If not, he was sure that he could get back to it later.
As a reader, it is sometimes frustrating. As a storyteller, it is a wealth of opportunity to turn his story into someone else’s. The best of these do it while remaining true to the characters and the worst are just forgotten. In John Carter The End, Brian Wood (Starve, X-Men, DMZ) and Alex Cox (Adventure Time) look at the strange dynamics of family life on Barsoom (Mars, to you Earth folk) that was set up by Burroughs.
According to Burroughs, once the Martians reached adulthood they were functionally immortal. They could be killed. Your parents would live forever, right along side of you, unless they were killed in a war. And brother, did Barsoom ever have plenty of wars. It was considered something of an anomaly that Helium had four generations of royalty alive during the course of the Mars books.
In this story, John Carter and Dejah Thoris have exiled themselves to Titan following the death of their great-great-grandson, who killed an innocent villager. Only it turns out that their son (they condense it, because who wouldn’t) is really alive and has become a huge dictatorial problem for Barsoom.
A delegation of Green Martians is sent to bring them back to see if they can deal with their child. But it turns out that all this times, John Cater has hidden the truth from his wife.
Hayden Sherman (Civil War II: Kingpin) does a great job with the art in this book. It is primitive and powerful. Each panel looks dangerous, like you could be sliced to ribbons by the cliff faces.
Will John Carter be able to reconcile with his wife? What will he find when he confronts his son? I guess we’ll find out together.
Writers: Brian Wood and Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran