“The Fire of Creation, Part Four” [ previous issue ]
Aboard a junk in Shanghai harbor – or possibly somewhere else on the Yangtze River (I think) – , the Japanese criminal Kondo tells the Chinese crime warlord Wong and a Chinese general the story of one Kent Allard, basically the story of the origin of the Shadow without intimate knowledge of the details of what happened to transform a wastrel into a supernatural arch enemy of crime. Meanwhile, Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane are accompanying a military expedition searching for Kondo and Wong – and following the Shadow's wake of destruction. Margo as well as a implicitly “invert” (Cranston's term) British diplomat get a graphic introduction to the realities of the atrocities the Japanese are inflicting on the Chinese, leading Cranston to soliloquize to Margo on the evil that is growing in East and West. Their boat catches up with their prey only to see it blown up by a mine. I'm enjoying the pieces and parts of this story without being able to really see the overall picture yet.
“7: The New Guy / The Concrete Jungle 1 of 2” [ previous issue ]
This is the first half of an apocryphal story occurring between Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan, set in Baltimore where Tarzan is working manual labor to earn his way back to Africa. He has by now become a minor media celebrity. Inevitably he comes into conflict with the crime boss whom he's already humiliated, Canler – and again humiliates him in front of his men. Canler knows how he can strike back at Tarzan, though – through Jane Porter. Not a good idea, as I'm sure we'll find out along with him next time! Canler is also involved in some plot with an unnamed Russian who's obviously the villainous Rokoff of the next two novels. Tarzan's unacknowledged – to say the least – cousin Cecil continues to show himself an ass. Esmeralda continues to show herself more perceptive than the white aristocratic Porters and Greystokes put together. And Jane is obviously having second thoughts about the choice she made. A good filler tale.
“Worms of Mars, Part 2 of 2” [ previous issue ]
This completes the apocryphal bridging story between Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars (ERB's novel). John Carter, Carthoris, and company, with the help of the deceased “goddess” Issus' granddaughter Linea find and destroy the anti-Atmosphere Plant, but Linea is fatally injured in a fight with its guardian “worms of Mars” – really sea-serpents called silians. In the end, she professes regret for her haughty treatment of Carthoris, who had so obviously fallen for her … despite her color. That's an interesting, perhaps metatextual twist – John Carter, the one-time Confederate officer, now married to an oviparous non-human (strictly speaking), sees great advantage in a prospective dynastic union of the royal houses of Helium and the Black Pirate First Born of Barsoom in reply to a rather glum (having just again been figuratively kicked in the balls by Linea) Carthoris' comment, “But she's … you know, she's … / black...”. Anyway, as she dies, Linea does also order the First Born, as the last command of the last descendant of Issus, to make peace with the red men. From John Carter's journal: “All First Born resistance ceased shortly after the deactivation of the Doomsday Factory. / My son never spoke of Linea again, but I do not think it was because he wished to forget her –no. / It was because remembering was too painful.”
|50% alternate cover|
(Somebody's getting poked!)
[“The Boora Witch, Part 4”] [ previous issue ]
In Helium, the possessed Dejah Thoris seems to triumph over her father and grandfather, but at the moment she is about to execute them, Kantos Kan returns. He had discovered the truth in the Toonolian Marshes, bringing back the Boora Witch's body. “Dejah Thoris” tries to bluff him, but he calls her on it – and beheads the body. This destroys the witch and restores Dejah Thoris' soul to her own body. The Boora Witch was originally an Orovar woman who obtained forbidden knowledge to prolong her own life through possession of a series of bodies. In the end, although nominally forgiven, Dejah Thoris exiles herself from Helium. I'm not sure if the next issue will be considered a continuation of this arc or the beginning of a new arc – or a bridging story before a new arc takes up. In any case, this has been the end of a very disappointing, very un-ERB-like tale, and hopefully we can look forward to something better. ERB did not write Swords and Sorcery tales – at least in his Mars series.
[“Gullivar Jones and John Carter of Mars, Part 2”] [ previous issue ]
Our heroes make their way to the Thither People city in the southern wastes of Barsoom, intent on rescuing the abducted Dejah Thoris. But meanwhile Zar-Hap casts the princess of Helium into a pit to coerce her into revealing the secret of Gullivar Jones' carpet. There Dejah Thoris longs to see her deceased mother – and the carpet brings Heru to her. When John Carter and Gullivar Jones attack, they are all united and escape with Dejah Thoris commanding the carpet, which now responds only to her. Gullivar Jones and Heru are reunited, but she cannot stay. With his lost Barsoomian love fading back into the dead, Gullivar Jones determines to see the future of Mars. Dejah Thoris commands the carpet to respond to him … and he reappears one thousand years later [caption] – on an ocean. Besides the fact that this is all utterly uncanonical, it's not a bad story this go'round. I've not been terribly impressed with the past couple of issues, but this one was fine. One random comment: John Carter on p. 3 looks so much like Russ Manning's image of Tarzan that I did a double-take.
|Russ Manning's Tarzan |
vs. Jack Jadson's John Carter
Cheers! – and Thanks for reading!