Tuesday, February 12

Dynamite Comics – Mar 2013

Reviews, commentary, general reactions, and random notes on the Dynamite Entertainment comics that were released during January (mostly) that I received near the beginning of February. Caution: Spoilers ahead! [Link to previous month.]

Cover C (25%) by Ardian Syaf
Masks #3 of 8

(See this post for something that I just realized about this series, but discussed there and will do no more than make a referral here....)

Hearing more Justice Party propaganda spewing forth from the radio, the main heroes still at Wentworth's home make plans and head out on separate missions. Richard Wentworth and Ram Singh head for Albany to investigate the governor's office. Britt Reid and Kato go to consult with a newspaperman friend of Britt's. “Spooky,” Wentworth's (?) name for the Shadow, heads out to “serv[e] justice.” Elsewhere, in hiding, Anthony Quinn discovers that he's blind. He and Rafael Vega recall previous vigilantes – the Clock and Zorro. Quinn utters the fateful words, “Blind as a bat...” Miss Fury and Green Lama fall into a trap laid by the Black Police, are taken, and discover that the many captives of the new regime are being railroaded out of the City. While Reid is fruitlessly trying to get some information out of his friend, Kato ends up in a fight, where he is joined by the Black Terror. Margo Lane and the Shadow interrogate a fat cat supporter of the Justice Party. And on the way to Albany, Wentworth and Ram Singh pass a concentration camp.

Cover A (25%) by Alex Ross
The pace is maybe picking up a bit. We're now three-eighths of the way through the series – it better. Of course, the trade-off is that the story is now a bit sketchy, but overall I think it strikes an acceptable balance. Do we really need full pages given over to recalling the Clock and Zorro each when there are only twenty pages of story in this issue? Nevertheless, I'm still liking this immensely, and can easily see myself double-dipping and getting the collection, which will hopefully come out as a hardcover.

I am a bit disappointed I didn't get Cover A (25%) by Alex Ross, however. It's thumbnailed on the inside back cover, but luckily Dynamite's collections contain full-page “virgin art” versions of all covers, so I'll get the art there … eventually.

The last few pages contain a several-page preview of a new, original to comics Dresden Files miniseries. As much as I love that series, and even though this is at least plotted by Jim Butcher himself, I'm holding off for the collection. It looks good, even if I was sceptical regarding a pistol firing underwater. Apparently it can, however.

Art by Lucio Parillo
Lord of the Jungle #11
The Return of the Jungle Lord, Part 3 of 6: Gorilla Warfare”

You know, I am sceptical that this can even properly be called an “expandaptation” of The Return of Tarzan, it's departing from that story's narrative so radically. Here right off the bat Jane and Cecil land at the old Lord Greystoke cabin, along with M. Thuran. There is no extended period lost at sea in an open life boat with the horrific description of thirst and starvation that's present in the original. I was about ten years old when first I read it, and it made a deep impression on me. Once landed, Thuran takes them prisoner. Meanwhile, Tarzan helps the Waziri slaughter Europeans who are also looking for the gold of Opar and who massacred the Waziri village, after which he is accepted into the Waziri tribe by their new chief Busuli, who takes the tribal name “Waziri.”

Overall, even without the lost-at-sea sequence, this is more explicitly bloody and brutal than ERB's original, what with two execution-style head shots. It's riveting, no doubt. I am disappointed that the inside back cover is given over to an advertisement for Vampirella rather than the customary thumbnails of alternate covers.

Art by Lucio Parillo
Lord of the Jungle #12
The Return of the Jungle Lord, Part 4 of 6: Treasure Vaults of Opar”

Jane raises the ire of Rokoff – the real name of Thuran, of course – and his henchman Paulvich when she realizes she's insurance against Tarzan's interference in their mission and tells them how big a mistake they are making. Later, Cecil gets loose and considers abandoning Jane to escape, but his conscience won't let him and as he tries to free Jane they are both caught. Tarzan and the Waziri find Opar and barrel right in, Tarzan throwing caution to the winds which seems very out of character. He should have been more cautious because he's almost immediately captured by beastly men – are these the same as the ape-men surrogates for black cannibals from the first story arc? – that's not clear. He is to be sacrificed to the Flaming God until La appears and is obviously taken with him to the rage of the head honcho beastly man – who drags her off after killing his fellows. Tarzan gets free, kills head honcho, who turns out to be La's hated mate – but she is, of course, taken with Tarzan. Along the way, she has told him of Opar's history, descended from a great civilization, but whose men have degenerated into beasts and even speak the language of Tarzan's great apes. She helps Tarzan escape from Opar, scoffing that she's in any danger and expressing scepticism regarding organized religion that I can't decide if it is or is not very authentically Burroughsian. On the one hand, there are the Mars tales and the cult of Issus, which contains that theme, but it just doesn't sound right in this context. Whatever, even though it's still a gripping story, sometimes the effect of an “off” characterization and a bulkier Tarzan we're getting from Dynamite makes me feel more like I'm reading a Conan the Barbarian comic than Tarzan.

Cover A (50%) by Paul Renaud
Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #21

Dejah Thoris and Gunbor conveniently escaped just in time from the explosive cliffhanger ending of last issue, and link their glimpse of brains in jars to a wave of disappearing prostitutes. So Dejah Thoris goes undercover as bait and is eventually taken. She was recognised, however, so not killed right off. Gunbor was taken as well, but we're not told immediately what his fate is. Mortus is really the Jeddak of Yorn, believed killed at the end of the first story arc, but whose head was somehow wedded to a mechanical body, and who is now harvesting brains to create an army of robotic cyborgs. In the last scene, Dejah Thoris meets the newest cyborg warrior – Gunbor.

While this story is a bit better than the just previous arc, I'm not really enjoying it that much and frankly it's only my obsessive-compulsive collector's mentality as well as the odd pre-order system governing this hobby that are keeping me with this series at this point.

Ironically, Dejah Thoris' prostitute disguise is actually more modest than her usual attire which amounts to a skimpy bra – or more often pasties that could barely cover the nipples – and gee-string.

Art by Joe Jusko
Warriors of Mars #5 of 5

This review is coming very late – my understanding is that the comic was released months ago, but I only just got it. Interestingly enough, my colleague here who also pre-ordered it also did not get it, and it was only our contacting our mail-order merchant that got us copies, with no real explanation as to why we did not get them originally. One of our pre-orders being overlooked could be happenstance, but both? – in the same town? He rather ironically questioned me, “Wouldn't it be funny if we were the only two customers of said mail-order merchant who ordered the book in the first place, and that's why they forgot to order copies 'way back then...?”

One thousand years in the future, USN Lt. Gullivar Jones emerges to find a terraformed Mars complete with oceans. Earthling invaders capture and interrogate him. Despite his being manifestly human, they believe him to be an agent of the native Martian rebels, so they implant him with a “worm” – some kind of surveillance device that transmits back to them everything he sees and hears – and literally dump him on the ruins of Helium. He's in no better situation there, being captured and considered a Jasoomian spy. He meets Dejah Carter and has to accept that John Carter and Dejah Thoris are long … dead? – gone? – it ends up being unclear. The worm transmits back to the humans the intel they need to attack. Jones ends up saving Dejah Carter and enabling the attack to be repulsed, then swears himself to the Barsoomian resistance, against his own people.  There is, of course, the implication that here, in Heru's granddaughter, Dejah Thoris' daughter (I presume, although I'm not sure that is specified rather than just a vague descent), Gullivar has found his own Princess of Mars.  The End?

Even though “The End” is followed by a question mark, I'm pretty sure it is. It's been a somewhat interesting expansion of the precursor of far inferior quality that nonetheless helped to inspire Edgar Rice Burroughs in the creation of his own tales, here managing to tie it into his work – but it is otherwise an absolutely forgettable series.

Cheers, and Thanks for reading!

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