WRITER: Ron Marz
ARTIST: Ariel Medel
LETTERER: Rob Steen
COLORIST: Nanjan Jamberi
COVER ARTIST(s): Ed Benes, Dinei Ribeiro
PUBLISHER: Dynamite Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: 05/27/2015
Leave it to John Carter to lie to Woola in the very first panel.
Dynamite’s recent reiterating of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ successful John Carter stories has been a newer spin on a classic character. Only seven issues in, already the series has begun cementing its place into these mythos with the ever-impressive John Carter and Dejah Thoris. Acclaimed writer Ron Marz has recently wrapped up his first arc with the last issue, so this issue had some setting up to do for the second arc.
The art for this book is far from bad. It’s clean, precise, and extravagant. Along with Nanjan Jamberi’s colors, Ariel Medel has pencilled and inked a book that is quite aesthetically pleasing. However, it does feel like a bit bland at times. Rather than push the same “every man has more muscles than skin and every woman’s breasts should be larger than life” trope that comic books have been pushing out for, no joke, decades, why not try something new? Now, before someone attempts to remind me of the original John Carter lore that states that the Martians were frequently scantily-clad, let me restate. It’s not the clothes. I understand wishing to keep certain aspects true to the original. It’s just that a woman can be beautiful without her chest and rear end pushed out at strange angles. A man can appear as a true, courageous hero, even if his muscles look like something one gets from going to the gym every day, rather than a caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger at his prime.
If this sounds like an attack on Medel’s pencils, though, it’s not. Medel pushes out art that clearly illustrates the story Marz has created. It’s just that this art, while aesthetically nice, is nothing readers haven’t seen before in, say, the 1990s-2000s. If this art style appeals to you and you enjoy your heroes being physical models of perfection, well then, all the power to you.
In terms of writing, Ron Marz crafts a carefully worded issue that has both calm and more excitable moments. I must give him props for the amazing fight scenes he’s scripted, as it complements quite well with Medel’s style. And in terms of getting our heroes out of the first arc, it definitely seems that we don’t spend more time back in the city than we need to. On the other hand, there was something that just felt off about this issue’s writing. The dialogue seemed clunky and forced, the pacing strange. It was nice to see Dejah take up the fight against the Warhoon when John could not, yet I still couldn’t help but feel like her battle cries (taunts?) were odd. Two-page spreads were quite prevalent, and while some looked nice (the opening in the city, the lead-up to Dejah bedding her husband), others seemed unnecessary and awkward (Dejah’s fighting montage). However, the single-page spreads were admittedly all great in terms of pacing and emphasis.
All in all, this was not a poor issue by any means. Between seductive spreads and constant dialogue-driven progression, the issue felt like an okay start-up for a new arc. It did, however, suffer from unoriginal art and weird dialogue, as well as seemingly trying to push a “mature” feel where it is not needed. For fans of John Carter, this issue should definitely be a pick-up, but it may not be for comic lovers looking for new stories in general.