[+++ WARNING: Potential spoilers! Buy and read the book, then come back here for the cosmic commentary! +++]
Fresh from Dejah and Co.’s adventures in 1940’s Earth, we plunge straight back into the heroic high adventure of Barsoom. Sebastian delivers amazing and epic work for this installment, working with the eerie Martian landscape properly for the first time, and as ever Dearbhla is stupendous with the colorwork, really breahthng exotic life and atmosphere into the strange world of Barsoom. Simon provides wonderful and fluid lettering which allows the conversation and action to really flow.
As the issue kicks off, we return to Barsoom to find a state of war. Things are not going well. These are truly the end times. The Mighty Tars Tarkas, one of the greatest characters of the original novels, and his brave daughter Sola contemplate the unthinkable battle raging, the Tharks versus the Warhoon. Clearly they are not part of this conflict but are following a plan of their own. They prepare for action.
Pages two through six
Sebastian treats us to an epic and explosive shot of the battle, starting with the double-page spread, and we follow Tars into the fight. He quickly reveals why he’s one of Barsoom’s most respected warriors. Slowly, against the backdrop of the action, we discover the plan… and it is a desperate one.
Tars and Sola are trying to broker peace between the warring tribes, because (thanks to the mysterious “End Winter”) even the language of Barsoom has broken down. They have allied with Thuvia, who has uncanny mind-gifts. They are trying to buy her enough time to use her powers to open communications. Tars needs the warring sides to negotiate a truce. Amazing shot of Thuvia on this page, with her ‘pet’ Banth, the Barsoomian lions, ferocious animals she is able to tame with her powers.
Pages eight through ten
But Thuvia’s powers are too weak, and our heroes find themselves with their backs to the wall, attacked by the brutal Warhoon. They need to protect themselves… by any means necessary. Thuvia unleashes her ‘pets’… I love the way Sebastian has shown the size contrast between Thuvia (“regular human”) and the towering Thark on page ten.
Pages eleven through fourteen
WHAM! Help arrives, from an unexpected direction (overhead!). It’s Llana and Clyde, Dejah’s allies, both super-powered by Barsoom standards thanks to their Earth DNA. Quickly the tide of battle shifts… and airships skim in overhead to back up the fight! There’s the valiant Kantos Kan and ultimately Dejah herself, back in action as a true Princess of Mars.
This is wonderful stuff – vivid and exotic images that perfectly capture the feel and atmosphere of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original stories, and the sheer wonder of the world he created.
Pages fifteen through nineteen
In the immediate aftermath of the battle and rescue, our heroes regroup and Dejah begins to explain her scheme for peace. It’s not going to be easy, and it will require everyone to play a part, each of them using their special gifts and skills. The fate of Mars is in their hands. With this issue, the plot is shifting into really high gear. The stakes are immense, and we can see that we are heading (over the next few issues) to a staggering escalation and climax of this epic tale.
Pages twenty through twenty two
But the first step is to end the war between the green tribes, and that means Dejah has to risk her life on a desperate mission of diplomancy. Cue the dramatic ending… where she puts everything on the line to confront the Thark Jeddak. The battle for the fate – and soul – of Barsoom starts here, and you are not going to want to miss the next issues!
Dejah Thoris (Vol.3) #10 is out now from Dynamite Comics