REVIEW: Dejah Thoris #3

With all the trauma of past issues still impacting the former Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris as last finds another  pseudo family to take her in.  This time however, it’s the People’s Army of Barsoom.  Of course, the commander may have other idea’s for the hidden Dejah, now using the name of Larka, but at least the first formal step towards his goal is easily rebuffed.

Bosses getting “handy” aside, Dejah is now the leader of her own band of warriors, each with their own skill set and characteristics, some of which you may well recognise from other comics.  Still as a group, it’s an ok meeting, here’s to hoping further interaction will liven them up a bit.  Driven by her dreams, Dejah leads her team to M’Rkassa and the blood that awaits them.

Frank J. Barbiere is writing for the long haul, with a style that kind of follows a set up issue, then a part payoff issue, leaving longer story threads hanging.  This helps keep the story moving along, although at this stage, I think I would like to know more about the motivations of Valoris and his plans of dictatorship than focusing all the attention on “fish out of water” Dejah.  As for the lead, she remains as strong as in previous issues although she seems to take a step back in the action scene.  It could be that she is not used to working with her new team or it could be that Barbiere needs to show the strengths of the individuals on show.  Either way, Dejah’s part in the fight doesn’t gel with my expectations of her in that situation.

Francesco Manna continues to deliver some strong art in this book.  His work is smooth and clean with the obvious Adam Hughes influences on show.  I guess if, as an artist, your work is heavily influence driven, then you may as well be influenced by one of the comic book greats.  Manna does well across the board in this issue; there is focus on facial expressions which is clear and shows the emotions of the characters.  What is surprising is how the art doesn’t deteriorate in the action scenes.  Panel structure is well used, not just falling into larger panel for just the action scenes.  The colors by Morgan Hickman are again fantastic, giving a touch of realism to the far off world.  Talking about the art, forget the variant covers, the main one by Nen is a gorgeous painted affair that captures the spirit of the overall story that Barbiere is trying to tell.

From the get go, I am really enjoying this series.  Part of this is that I had low expectations, which all those concerned have totally blown out of the water.  The writing is tight, the art is smooth and the colors give the book a heady mix of realism and off world-ness.  Moving forward, I would like to see more of the political shenanigans going on in the capital and more weight given to Valoris who at this point resembles a pantomime villain?  That’s for later issues, as for right now, this book continues to impress as part of Dynamite’s female centric range of books.

STORY BY Frank J. Barbiere
ART BY Francesco Manna
PUBLISHER Dynamite Entertainment

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