-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Ernie Laurence
Writers – Arvid Nelson, Matt Brady, Robert Napton, Mark Rahner
Artists – Jack Jadson, Stefano Martino, Vicente Cifuentes, Leandro Liveira, Everton Sousa, Rafael Lanhellas, Marcio Abreu, Wagner Reis, Lui Antonio, Jose Malaga
Colorists – Kyle Ritter, Thiago Ribeiro, Alex Guimaraes, Maxflan Araujo, Inlight Studios, Salvatore Aila Studios
Letterer – Marshall Dillon
Ex. Editor – Joe Rybandt
Based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
“They say love is blind, but I cannot believe it.”
As an omnibus, there are multiple stories from individual comics gathered into one large collection. Based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is a man from the state of Virginia on Earth during the Civil War. He is transported to Mars – which the natives call Barsoom – and due to his strange immortality and Earth-based muscles, is far stronger than many of the inhabitants. On Barsoom he has countless adventures including marrying the princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris. Together they have a son, Carthoris.
In the first story of the Omnibus, Worms of Mars, the Queen/goddess of Mars, Issus is dead. Prince Carthoris leads a group of warriors into the temple of Issus looking for his mother. They fail to find her or stop the High Priest, but do capture some First Born women, including one named Linea. Rather than use them as bait or ransom, Cathoris lets them go. Linea then decides to help them stop her father from sucking all the air away from Barsoom and killing everyone.
The five part series continues with John Carter going after his wife against a number of foes and eventually prevailing. At the end he is put on trial in Helium where his friend, Tars Tarkas declares him Warlord of all Barsoom.
The next five part series, Savages of Mars, details the peace that follows after John Carter becomes the Warlord of Barsoom. As the various races: Greens, Reds, Yellows, and so on work out peace, someone is trying to damage that. At first, it seems the Greens are ill-equipped to handle civilized society and act as savages, attacking, plundering, and killing as a primitive society. John Carter figures out there is more to it than that. What follows is two parts mystery and three parts political intrigue and one hundred percent John Carter action.
A third five part series, Tyrant of Mars, is then followed by three stand alone short stories about John Carter hallucinating that he’s back on Earth prospecting for gold and Barsoom was just a dream, a sword from the time of the first Martian, and Woola.
What is there to say about the continuation of the classic world of Barsoom by Edgar Rice Burroughs? The unique view of Mars with its many rich cultures, strange laws of Physics, and technology are foundational science fiction that many have grown up with over the decades since ERB first published in The All Story back in 1912.
The art of the various stories within the Omnibus changes somewhat, but holds true to a continuous theme. Various artists put their personal touches on the world of John Carter without violating the integrity or consistency of the look of Barsoom. I found the colors vivid, the drawing style pleasing and strong, and the action and drama drawn in such a way as to draw you into the scenes and keep you immersed in the world.
The beloved characters of Barsoom: John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, Woola, and many more stay true to form in all six stories in the Omnibus. There is heroism, humor, loss, sadness, and the entire spectrum of emotion delivered by characters old and new. Each is well written within the context of a story first imagined on the coattails of the likes of Jules Verne before we ever conceived of going to the Moon for real, much less Mars. We relate to these characters’ fears and triumphs.
I would definitely recommend this Omnibus to older readers who are looking for that archaic science fiction birthed by men like Verne and Burroughs. It has the disconcerting imagined vision of a habitable Mars in an age where we know the reality of the planet as we prepare to go there with the first manned mission in our lifetimes, yet it is still highly entertaining, action packed, and full of all the things necessary for a great story.
Of course, the clothing styles on Mars, especially the women, are far too revealing for a younger audience, as is the violence and gore, so no youngsters should read this, perhaps below the age of sixteen, truthfully. Beyond that, it’s just a great series of stories that are a lot of fun to read.
Now I have the strangest urge to read some Buck Rogers…
Rating – PG13