Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hidden Gems: John Carter, Warlord of Mars Annual #1

If you're anything like me, you go nuts for all things ERB. There have always been great Tarzan comic books - but our good friend, and Civil War vet, John Carter hasn't had the same luck. Although I did enjoy the DC version that appeared in Weird Worlds - Murphy Anderson's artwork lacked a bit of the dynamic energy that I feel is required for these stories. Also - those tales were chopped up so much that I found it difficult to get into the flow of things. The Jesse Marsh drawn Dell stories do even less for me - really nothing close to what I imagined when I read the novels. Marvel's John Carter, Warlord of Mars series bucked that trend - finally delivering us a strong comic book adaptation of the Mars books.

While the ERBverse may seem daunting at first, this is a great standalone story and the reader needn't to be familiar with all things Barsoomian to dive right in. There's a lot to love about this book. Marv Wolfman really packs a lot into this one issue - giant rats, crazy undertakers and draconian jurisprudence. You've got a very strong cover by Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres (the art team for the early part of the ongoing series), but it's the interior work that really blew me away. Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan collaborate for what may be the most attractive John Carter story I've ever seen (and I'm a big Gil Kane fan) - the fight scenes are dynamic and everything from the creatures to the vast Martian landscapes are beautifully rendered. The 34 page format really allows for the story to be told at an appropriate pace (although it does wrap up a bit quickly). This one can still be found in bargain bins at cons - I got a beautiful copy for $1. Happy hunting.


The Groovy Agent said...

You have excellent taste, man! Marvel's John Carter series was the best comicbook version of ERB's creation ever, and that annual was a definite highlight!

Scott M said...

Hey thanks - I like to think that I'm not too crazy. I've always been a big Sal B fan, and this is probably some of his best work. I've got a full run of the series (might be missing Annual #2), but would love to see it in trade format.