It occurs to me that since Dynamite does not date its publications like DC does (I was going to write “and Marvel,” but I'm frankly not so sure about that anymore, so seldom do I buy a Marvel comic), my blog header is a bit of a misnomer. Properly it should be “released in May 2012,” but since they come to me at the end of the month along with the DC comics dated July, I'm going with it.
This month has a bit of a mixed bag.
Lord of the Jungle #4
“4: The Village of Torture” [ previous issue ]
Continuing with what looks to be a five-issue adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes, we open with a scene not in the novel. Lt. D'Arnot on the French cruiser Jeanne d'Arc find the hulk of the Arrow adrift, with its crew apparently reduced to cannibalism. At least that's how I took it. Either that or some bloodthirsty creature had its way with them. Nothing more is done with that – I don't think that when the French sailors reappear a few pages later, having found the Porters' party stranded, much more is said of the Arrow than that they found it and “it was not a happy sight.” I'll say. It's pretty grisly, with bodies in various states of decomposition and dismemberment, including one laid out across the mess-board with its guts hanging out. And a dinner knife sticking out of its knee. I swear one of the crewmen cowering in the background looks alive – hunched in crazed shock, but alive.
Anyway, soon thereafter D'Arnot and company find Esmeralda and the others. Esmeralda can communicate with them, being Haitian … she says. But she pauses as she says it, as if she was making that story up. Maybe she was, because I don't remember the book's character being anything but a black nanny stereotype, which this character is very definitely not. Meanwhile, Tarzan and Jane are having an idyllic time in a shelter he erected for her. He's acting goofy (“Oo. Oo,” he says as he holds fruits before his eyes like bug-eyes), but also communicating with her by writing in the dust of the ground, “I AM WHITE SKIN OF THE APES.” She perceives that he “think[s] the letters for 'White Skin' make the sounds for 'Tarzan' ….” Uh, Jane, didn't Esmeralda say as much last ish? – Why so surprised? She ends up proclaiming her love for him, I guess it's easy to do when the guy can't understand you. “I couldn't say this if you did.” She's torn between staying with him and returning to her father, whom she knows will be worried.
Headed into the jungle to find the missing girl and her companions who had previously set out to rescue her, D'Arnot and company find Cecil Clayton and Prof. Porter just in time for them all to be attacked by the man-apes from the first issue, who drag D'Arnot off as the others manage to fight their way back to the Clayton cabin where Tarzan has deposited Jane before heading off to investigate the gunfire. Here Cecil's jealous calumnies from the novel when he learns of Jane's time spent in the ape-man's company comes out as full-blown dickery. The issue ends with D'Arnot in the man-apes' village, being prepared as the main course.
Of course, the man-apes continue to be Nelson's way of being more politically correct and not portraying the black Africans as cannibalistic savages as they are in the original novel. While I don't think much changed in the way the story was told in this issue, I found myself enjoying it less than I did the previous issues. Not sure exactly why. It's still good enough. But there's no way it supplants the old 1970s DC adaptation by Joe Kubert as “my” comics version of the story.
Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #12
[ Previous issue ]
The Boora witch in the Toonolian marshes has captured Dejah Thoris and wants her body for herself. She casts some spell that will bring that about gradually: “By day, my consciousness will reside within yours in secret. By night, I shall emerge. My thoughts will be your thoughts – my heart will be your heart. … After your body adjusts to my presence, I will live in you completely and you will live no more.” Of course, Dejah Thoris is acting pretty peculiarly even during the day by the time they return to Helium, their quest for minerals vital to the city-state being so wildly successful as to raise Kantos Kan's suspicions. By night? – first she almost succeeds in kidnapping a child but has to settle on its pet calot pup, which she boils up for supper. Then she attempts to seduce Kantos Kan in the palace swimming pool. Swimming pool? – on Barsoom? I guess Dejah Thoris learned to swim somewhere [see my comments to issue #6]. Kantos Kan exercises the better part of valor and cuts his swim short. Anyway, the witch gradually taking over Dejah Thoris is basically angling to take over Helium, and by the end of the issue is engaged in some hot and heavy “conspiring” with Sab Than. I think Dejah Thoris is going to regret her body's unwilling actions. “But I was under the mind-control of a witch!” – yeah, right, sure you were. Which, since I don't remember sorcery ever being a big part of ERB's novels at all, especially not the Mars novels – wonky science, yeah, but not sorcery – will probably be as unbelievable to the Barsoomians as it would to us. Oh, and I don't remember any creatures of Barsoom except the humanoid red, yellow, black, and white races ever being quadrupedal. The artist seems to have forgotten that and has four-legged lizards in the Toonolian marshes.
Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars #2 of ??
[ Previous issue ]
Having just witnessed the massacre of their crew and warriors, Dejah Thoris leads her friends, the other ladies of Helium, and their lady servants, through the city, with the dread white apes hot on their tails. One by one, they fall. A couple sacrifice themselves for the princess, including her friend Brin at the very end, giving us more bloody death scenes. Until only Dejah Thoris herself is left, with the apes still in pursuit, and her knowing that the second ship carrying the Hatchlings, including young Carthoris, is getting ever nearer.
And that sums up this gruesome, bloody book. I'm not sure what the point of this series is. I don't care for the art, the story is worse. There's not even the intriguing question of the “Battle of the Face of Barsoom” referenced here. We are only left with the promise that whereas things got worse in this issue, as the end of issue #1 put it, next issue will be “Much worse!” Yay.
But it is a nice cover, even if it is sideways. It's by Brandon Peterson again – but it looks like Dejah Thoris found her navel – or at least has a pronounced dimple in her midriff.
MCR liked this a lot more than I did. To each his own. His Review: http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2012/05/comic-review-dejah-thoris-white-apes-2.html
The Shadow #2
“The Fire of Creation, Part Two” [ Previous issue ]
The Shadow and Margo Lane end up in a running fight with Nazis on the Pan Am China Clipper just short of their completing their long journey from the States to Hong Kong in search of some doohicky. The Nazis are working with the Japanese villain Taro Kondo who is seeking the same doohicky on behalf of his Emperor … and is an old enemy of the Shadow. He seems to know the Shadow's identity as Lamont Cranston/Kent Allard. And that's about the gist of it. The Nazis on the plane come to a bad end, of course, and Lamont and Margo arrive at their destination.
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