Review: Warlord of Mars #1

Interview with Ace Masters

Warlord of Mars #1

Posted 03 Mar 2011


Writer: Arvid Nelson
Artist: Stephen Sadowski, J. Scott Campbell (cover)
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Nei Ruffino (cover)
Publisher: Dynamite

 5.00 out of 5 Stars

Reviewed by Sara Michelle Kowalczyk

Warlord of Mars #1 is an adaptation of the “Mars” series of science fiction novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The comic reads like a memoir; it’s narrated by the main character, John Carter (a ruggedly handsome Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones type). He’s a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. He says his story “is a chronicle of the strange events that befell [him].” He goes on to explain that after losing the war, he made his way to the Southwestern territory of Arizona. There, he and a fellow officer, hoped to find their fortune in gold, but what they found was something far different. The book doesn’t explain how yet, but obviously John somehow gets transported to Mars. After introducing himself, John tells the story of his friend, a Martian warrior named Tars.

Tars was part of a savage alien race called the Tharks who lived on Mars. They had green skin, large, yellow eyes, four arms (like Goro from Mortal Kombat), and sharp mandibles. The only thing these beastly creatures feared were the white apes (literally huge white gorillas with crazy mohawks and four arms). The white apes had a habit of feeding on the Tharks’ young, their favorite delicacy. Tars and another warrior, Tarkas, are sent on a mission to defeat the white apes and save the adolescent Tharks. Unfortunately, the white apes devoured some of the Tharks before Tars and Tarkas arrived.

A born hero, Tars takes charge and slays most of the white apes by himself. He rescues the young, including a female named Sola. Sola showed fear by screaming when the white ape was about to tear her throat out. Fear is an emotion the Tharks don’t tolerate. Tarkas wants to throw her over the Cliff of Sighs for her weakness and indiscretion. Tars is different. He feels compassion for others. He knows he must bring Sola in front of the Jed to decide her fate. I’m guessing he’s the Tharks all powerful leader or chief? Tars hopes the Jed will let her live.

I did some research into this comic because I wasn’t familiar with the “Mars” books or the name of E.R. Burroughs. I found out he created Tarzan (duh, I should have known that), and his “Mars” series was published around the 1920s. I think the girl on the cover is Dejah Thoris, a princess in the first “Mars” novel, A Princess of Mars. She is the princess of Helium and is the love interest of John Carter. She is described as being beautiful like a human woman, but she doesn’t wear much clothing except for jewelry and a tiara. J. Scott Campbell portrays the galactic goddess in all her glory with her pet space tiger by her side. I love Dejah’s bouffant hairstyle. She reminds me of the female characters and aliens on the original Star Trek episodes.

I really liked Nei Ruffino’s work on the cover. Dejah’s shiny, gold body jewelry enhances her exotic beauty. Her purple skirt and metallic top are reminiscent of Princess Leia’s slave costume. I Googled “slave Leia costume” to see if there were any more similarities between the costumes. I came across some really cool stuff I didn’t know, and I consider myself to be a pretty big Star Wars fan. Princess Leia’s bikini was inspired by Frank Frazetta’s (R.I.P.) “Egyptian Queen” that appeared on the cover of Eerie magazine in 1968 (she looks a lot like Dejah Thoris). George Lucas was a huge fan of Frank Frazetta’s artwork. Mr. Frazetta even painted covers for the paperback editions of the “Mars” series.

Unfortunately, Dejah does not appear in this comic. J. Scott Campbell did two more covers of her after this one, and luckily at the end of issue #3, Dynamite previewed that she’ll finally be in issue #4. I Google image searched Dejah Thoris, and there are tons of sexy pin-ups of her by superstar artists like Adam Hughes, Joe Jusko, and Frank Cho. I’m really interested in reading her story, so I’m looking forward to issue #4.

Since I haven’t read the original books, I can’t say for sure if Arvid Nelson did a good job rewriting them, but I can say that I loved this comic! I’m not a fan of Stephen Sadowski, so the interior art was just okay for me, but the story really made up for it. This book is suspenseful, intriguing, and entertaining with a bit of otherworldly pulp. I think Dynamite is onto something by releasing this classic sci-fi/fantasy masterpiece for old and new fans alike.