Sunday, June 12, 2011
Spotlight on Dynamite's "Warlord of Mars", a true epic.
Thinking outside of the box is an uncommon thing when it comes to comic books, everybody seems so wrapped up in spandex clad superheroes and mutants to the point where so many fantastic comics go unnoticed and unread. It’s sad. Today I wanted to discuss some of these non-superhero based comics in an attempt to get the word out there that Marvel and DC are not the only two publishers in the industry putting out good comics and consumers within the industry need to understand that. This entry into The Thought Corner is going to focus on a series by Dynamite Entertainment called Warlord of Mars and the reasons as to why this is one of the best comics currently on store shelves, strap yourselves in because there is a lot to talk about.
First things first, I’m sure many people are wondering what the heck Warlord of Mars is all about and why I’m posting a blog revolving around this title specifically because lets face it, there are tons of fantastic comics out there that are not put out by the “big two”. I chose this title because of the effect that it’s had on me, it’s an unconventional story based off a series of public domain books that are now long out of print but with a twist on the story and original elements added to craft this tale of a man known as John Carter. The basic plot of it all is that this man, John Carter, and his friend get into a tussle inside of a bar in Virginia way back in the day when people traveled by horse back, they kill a few important people and are hunted down where they eventually kill John’s friend. Without revealing much of the story lets just say that John finds himself on Mars where he is captured and imprisoned by a barbaric race known as Tharks, not liking how he and other members of their race are being treated he kills one of the Tharks in front of the high council and is given the rank of “chieftain” among them. Even though he is one of the clans chieftains, John is still considered a prisoner and does not have complete freedom to do what he wants so he has no choice but to serve the Tharks as a leader and accept the fact that he is their captive, it’s really interesting to see how limited he is knowing that they could kill him at anytime and someone else would just take over his rank. As the story progresses John meets a princess of another part of the planet by the name of Dejah Thoris, who is not cast in the mold of an alien and looks human with a slight red tint to her skin. They become friends and their feelings for each other grow, the problem is that Dejah is held captive by the Tharks because their clan is at odds with her homeland and the capture of her puts the Tharks in a good position within this argument between the two parties. While this is happening, John grows close to one of the Tharks thanks to her kind demeanor as well as an animal that has been appointed to him, they plan an escape and decide to take Dejah along with them. Soon after they agree on the escape plan they take off like thieves in the night only to be hunted down by the Tharks and separated from each other which is where the story is as of this writing.
There really is a lot more to the story that I don’t want to discuss here because it would give too much away, I just wanted to go over the basic plot of the book and talk about some of the characters, if you do decide to read it then prepare to shed a tear at the story revolving one of the Tharks, Tars Tarkas, and his estranged daughter. It’s very tragic. Another scene that gets to me is when John Carter reveals his love for Dejah and then an issue or two later we find out that she may be forced to marry within an enemy faction to prevent a long standing war between them and her kingdom, the look on Carter’s face was that of confusion and sadness.
The book as a whole is very story driven with lots of important moments shared between all the core characters, some issues are more action heavy than others but it all comes together to create one awesome story and I can see why the book is selling extremely well. Warlord of Mars usually finds itself within the top 150 (out of top 300) comics ordered each month which is very good for a small press publisher considering that Marvel/DC combined publish an average of about 290 comics every month. The online buzz for Warlord of Mars has been favorable too with many comic book forums having dedicated threads centered around discussion for the book and there is even a movie in the works, though the movie is not connected to Dynamite or the comics published by Dynamite. The series has sold so well for Dynamite Entertainment that they have even started publishing a spinoff series for Dejah Thoris and are currently working on another spinoff called Fall of Barsoom, which will be based on ancient tales that have taken place within the same continuity. The fact that this book is doing so well proves that there is a market for non-superhero titles in comics, it’s just up to the bigger publisher to realize this and publish more books that think outside of the box, but I’m not holding my breath on that because superheroes are still the big thing in comics and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
One thing I wanted to touch upon was the production of Warlord of Mars and just how good it actually is, especially the covers which is the first thing people are going to notice when they see the books. The series has a host of different cover each month since Dynamite loves playing the variant game so much, but there are two cover artists that have really left their mark on me with this series and those artists are Joe Jusko and J. Scott Campbell. Jusko’s covers are heroic, detailed, and incredibly painted to the point where I would actually put him on par with someone like Alex Ross, the covers Jusko has been putting out for this book are absolutely some of the best covers I’ve ever seen. Period. Joe’s portrayal of John Carter and Dejah Thoris have fans talking, they are so enthralled by his artwork that collectively they have all but named Joe the definitive Warlord of Mars cover artist, and I can’t blame them one bit since the work he’s done has been simply impressive. J. Scott Campbell on the other hand usually does not make use of John Carter on his covers and tends to stick to sexy poses for Dejah Thoris which have been a true delight to look at. Campbell’s covers are some of the sexiest I’ve ever seen for a comic book that can be purchased without having a black bag covering it and he has really drawn the fans in and made Dejah Thoris one of the most physically appealing women in all of comics.
Aside from excellent covers the interior art in Warlord of Wars is pretty darn good as well, I have read a lot of mixed reviews for this series and it's mind boggling to me because I don't know exactly what it is that people are actually looking for. The interiors pencils are on par with just about any other book on store shelves and I really enjoy the depictions of John Carter and the rest of the cast and I feel that the inks and coloring within the book are exceptionally done as well. The same goes with the writing, the script for the series is clever and intriguing and I find myself looking forward to each issue because of the way each book ends with a cliffhanger coupled with an interesting turn within the story that I feel I must follow, that is the mark of a good writer. If you're looking for a comic book that rejects the norm and paves the way for a fun adventure with interesting and unique characters than Warlord of Mars is certainly for you, I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and readers and until Dynamite gives me a reason I will continuing supporting it through word of mouth and through my wallet.
Reach for the stars and enjoy the ride.
As always I want to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated and you can always check me out at www.twitter.com/manga4life as well as TZ, CBR, and FUNI.
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