Monday, April 9

Dynamite's Warlord of Mars

A couple of quickies to get me a little further along the way toward catching up with where I'm actually reading....

Warriors of Mars #1 of 5 (?) (2012)

I'm presuming this is a miniseries, and guessing at the number of issues based on the length of Fall of Barsoom as well as each of the first two story arcs in Dejah Thoris.

Warriors of Mars is a bit of an odd duck (or malagor) – a crossover between Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and a book which likely gave him a bit of inspiration in creating it, Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, written by Edwin Lester Arnold and first appearing in 1905, a half-dozen or so years before ERB would have been conceiving A Princess of Mars. It's available under its more well-known title, Gulliver of Mars, at Project Gutenberg. I've downloaded it to my iPad; I tried to read it in preparation for this series, but I can easily see why what the Wikipedia article here calls “its lukewarm reception caused [Arnold] to stop writing fiction.” It's pretty wretched and I didn't make it very far, so what little I know of the plot comes from that article as well as, even more so, a review of a recent scholarly edition at SF Site, here.

Basically, US Navy Lt. Gullivar Jones travels to Mars via magic carpet, where he has a series of misadventures that mainly seems to have afforded the Englishman Arnold a chance to comment both on H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and the image of the “ugly American.” Like Wells' time traveller in the far future meeting the Eloi and the Morloks, Jones meets two opposing races, the Hither and Thither Folk, but the characterization of the races is quite different than Wells'. And like the stereotypical “ugly American,” Jones is bumblingly arrogant and condescending.

How well this can be blended into ERB's Barsoom I'll likely have to let other reviewers address, but my guess is that Dynamite's Gullivar Jones (at least they retain the correct spelling of his name) is going to find a Mars quite different from the one Arnold sent him off to on “vacation.”

Quickly: This story is framed by Dejah Thoris telling John Carter a secret regarding her mother – here named Heru, daughter of Jeddak Hath of the old city of Seth (I think the similarity to DC's Hawkman villain “Hath-Set” is purely coincidence). Before she met Dejah Thoris' father Mors Kajak, Heru had loved another, a man of Jasoom, Lt. Gullivar Jones, USN. As told by Dejah Thoris, the circumstances whereby Jones came by the carpet and was whisked off to Mars follow Arnold pretty closely – I did get that far but not much further, not far enough to know how well the next bit tracks. Jones ends up rescuing Princess Heru from a plot by the Thither People – who look kind of like bigger, meaner, and very red Tharks – but during a feast in Seth to honor him a second plot succeeds in seizes her while he is left unconscious, face down in a canal....

Warlord of Mars Annual #1 (2012)

Tars Tarkas tells John Carter the tale of the events that brought the Tharks to that incubator where they first met. It's a fairly well done story, maybe most interesting to me for Tars Tarkas' commentary on John Carter's warlike nature:

“Sometimes I do not understand you, Prince of Helium. … You are nothing less than this planet's savior. You have changed our culture with kindness and friendship. … And yet if I were to count the men who have died by your sword, I might not finish the task in a lifetime.”

“A Thark lifetime?” John Carter asks.

“Certainly not your lifetime. … As you have sometimes made references to the possibility that you are immortal, I have found myself wondering something else from time to time. … Perhaps you are your planet's god of war.”

The brothers in arms laugh heartily over tankards of wine, but it's an interesting notion....

Compared to the standard-length Warriors of Mars #1, this extra-priced ($4.99 as opposed to $3.99) “annual” gets just five extra pages of story (26 as opposed to 21) – and that's including a glossary text page. It does feel heftier because it contains a substantial preview of the Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom trade paperback collection, basically the latter half of the first issue of that miniseries. I just have to keep telling myself this is not one of the big publishers, but one of the smaller “Independents,” and that the quality of what is presented is pretty decent.

Cheers! – and Thanks for reading! 

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