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The Warlord of Mars Continues to Rule Comics

default article imageAlthough John Carter (3-D) didn’t really hit it big at the box office, his adventures on Mars or Barsoom are thriving in comics. Dynamite Entertainment has published titles such as “Warlord of Mars,” “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris,” “Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom,” “Warriors of Mars,” and the upcoming, “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars.”

Created by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of “Tarzan”), “Warlord of Mars” follows former Confederate soldier, John Carter, as he searches the Arizona desert for gold. One night, he enters a cave with strange markings and is transported to Barsoom where he has super strength and can jump incredibly far because of the low gravity.

There, John meets the green, four-limbed Tharks and befriends Tars while finding himself in the middle of a civil war. This leads him to find a new purpose in life as well as fall in love with Martian princess Dejah Thoris.

Although Barsoom and its inhabitants might be thriving at Dynamite, it’s not the first time this pulp sci-fi hero was adapted to the comics. First, there were comic strips featuring John Carter, which evolved to comic books in the 1950’s from Dell Comics. In the 1970’s, John Carter’s adventures were presented as back-up stories in DC titles “Tarzan” and “Weird Worlds” before Marvel started to publish its adaptation of “Warlord of Mars.” John Carter even united with Burroughs’s fellow literary creation in “Tarzan/Warlord of Mars” by Dark Horse Comics in 1996.

Today John Carter and a line of “Warlord of Mars” titles reside at Dynamite Entertainment where this 100-year-old tale is being reenivsioned once more by some incredible comic book talent.

Writer Arvid Nelson has been scripting “Warlord of Mars” since the series began and wrote the spin-off title “Dejha Thoris” until issue 10. While talking to, Nelson explained how writers continue to tell this one story despite having been presented already by others. “The stories are so visual! I sort of reject the idea anyone can do a ‘definitive’ take on a story. I love seeing how different writers and artists handle the same material,” Nelson said.

Although Nelson is working on the two main series, other writers have also visited Barsoom. First, there’s the miniseries, “Fall of Barsoom,” by writer Robert Place Napton and artist Roberto Castro, which features Barsoom crumbling as two Martian races are fighting and a third is preparing to die. The story follows two individuals of the Ororvarian race trying to save Mars. This miniseries is a strong addition to the John Carter mythology by further developing the adopted world John Carter will later rule and protect.

Next, “Warriors of Mars” features another Confederate soldier, Lieutenant Gullivar Jones, who actually came to the Red Planet years before John Carter would proclaim it his new home. The series, written by Napton and illustrated by Jack Jadsen, has these two humans meeting together as they inhabit this new environment.

Napton explained what this series would be like and what to expect from it in a press release via announcing “Warriors of Mars.” “Gullivar was written first, but Carter cornered the market and became a legend…It’s a thrill to bring these two southern gents together on the same stretch of red turf and let them have at it. But it won’t be all blood and guts. There’s a story to be told...This is one mash-up fans of pulp won’t want to miss,” he said.

Although Dynamite has appeared as the premiere publisher of the “Warlord of Mars” stories since it printed “Warlord of Mars” #1, Marvel has returned to Barsoom after its 1970’s miniseries to tell more stories of John Carter’s heroics. Having merged with Disney, Marvel made a prequel miniseries, “John Carter: World of Mars” by writer Peter David and artist Luke Ross in preparation of the big screen adaptation.

Following this, Marvel has published another retelling of Burroughs’s original tale with “John Carter: A Princess of Mars,” written by Roger Landrigde and drawn by Filipe Andrade. Scottie Young drew the covers for this miniseries.

While “A Princess of Mars” has concluded, Marvel, like Dynamite, is still telling more adventures of John Carter. The next miniseries, which arrives in stories today, is titled, “John Carter: Gods of Mars.” In this miniseries, the hero returns to Barsoom after an absence on the Red Planet. Sam Humphries is writing the story and Ramon Perez is illustrating it.

While talking to the L.A. Times “Hero Complex” blog, Humphries talked about adapting the story and the challenge of presenting a prison escape from the book to comics. Humphries said, “In the original novel, it takes place over 50 or so pages. In the comic, we were far more limited. But we were able to create a bad ass sequence full of false exits, reversals of fortune, close calls and tons of action. Ramon really knocked it out of the park.”

Whether or not a sequel to John Carter ever gets made, fans of the character and novels can rest assured that his adventures won’t be lost as comic book publishers keep their desire to tell these stories again and again. The Warlord of Mars should continue to reign on in readers’ imaginations.

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