It looks like we are in a golden time of Edgar Rice Burroughs comic book retrospectives. IDW and Dark Horse have been putting out collected reprints of Tarzan and other Burroughs properties for a while now. After going through the stuff everyone knows, like Tarzan and the John Carter of Mars comics, Dark Horse is going to the deeper cuts. They are going all the way to Pellucidar at the Earth’s Core.
At the beginning of the Bronze Age of comics, DC was printing several comic books based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. One of these started out as Korak: Son of Tarzan. It had 52 pages and in addition to the cover hero had two back up stories based on a number of characters from Burroughs’ books among them: Pellucidar. That book was later re-branded as Tarzan presents Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Weird Worlds (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it). In these books Pellucidar and John Carter traded between being the main and secondary stories. Poor Carson and Korak rarely made their way back to the comics.
Dark Horse as collected the Pellucidar stories into a single volume. The stories are written be Len Wein and Denny O’Neill. They feature the art of Allen Weiss, Michael William Kaluta and Dan Green. So we are looking at some of the heavy hitters of the Bronze Age.
Pellucidar is the story of two American scientist explorers who build a tunneling machine that takes them deeper into the Earth than any man before them. They end up in a world they never expected. An entire world surrounding the core of the earth. This was Burroughs’ take on the pseudo-scientific Hollow Earth theory, that an area around the center of the planet was hollow and lit and warmed by the molten core in its “sky.”
This is a land populated by humans, neanderthal-like people as well as dinosaurs and other monsters. Pellucidar is ruled by the Mahar. The Mahar are a race of Pterodactyl-like beings who are telepathic. They have a race of ape-like being who act as their enforcers Through the course of the stories our heroes lead a revolution against the Mahar and try to find their way back home.
This collection is great for someone who is into Wein or O’Neill. It is also perfect for the ERB lover. But for casual fans of the period or the writer, this is pretty skippable. The writers and artists turn in a capable and engaging story, but it is clear that this is paycheck work and they both did much more interesting things with the other properties they worked on for DC.
Wrtiers: Len Wein and Denny O’Neill
Artists: Allen Weiss, Michael Wm. Kaluta and Dan Green
Publisher: Dark Horse