Review: John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1

Written by Guest Contributor: Jason DiGioia Having never seen the most recent John Carter film or read any of the literature serving as inspiration (or any of the comics, for that matter), I didn’t know what to expect with this title other than what the cover art promises: a beautiful, chain-shackled lady with big breasts, and a ripped dude with a sword. Thankfully, Ron Marz (Seriously? It was his destiny to write this book) delivers something just as alluring as J. Scott Campbell’s cover art: damn good storytelling.

JCWoM01-Cov-A-CampbellThe issue opens in a prison cell where Princess Dejah Thoris is speaking with a shadowed figure, a self-proclaimed conqueror of Mars. It’s evident that this guy is not from Mars and that he’s one arrogant bastard. He and his minion, a Barsoom scientist turncoat, need as much information as possible from the princess. A quick nip from a truth-serum secreting bug has Dejah Thoris spilling her guts about John Carter’s past. It’s a completely natural, seamless way of delivering backstory.

I was nervous that all we would get is backstory, but how silly that worry was. Barsoom is under attack by a race called the Kahori, and it doesn’t take long for us to see John Carter in action defending his adopted world. He and his “friend and brother,” the four-armed green man Tars Tarkas quickly kick some invader ass, with a little help from Woola, a pet that’s not afraid to bite the heads off enemies. This is where Dynamite’s new artist, Abhishek Malsuni, is at his best: action is clear and characters are vibrant in battle. There’s nothing over or underwhelming; Malsuni finds a great balance on the pages, and I hope his name is next to the artist credit in every coming issue.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a first issue without a high-stakes twist at the end to entice us into issue #2. But really, even without the final page reveal of the shadowed figure from the beginning of the book, I’d be eagerly waiting for the next installment of this ongoing series. It’s like a cocktail of old sci-fi serials and Saturday morning cartoons with a dash of maturity. It’s what a comic book should be: well-drawn, well written, and lots of fun.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Ron Marz Artist: Abhishek Malsuni Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/5/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital