Wednesday, March 9, 2011

John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1 - June 1977

"The Air-Pirates of Mars, Chapter 1" by Marv Wolfman, Gil Kane, and Dave Cockrum.

The first issue of Marvel's John Carter, Warlord of Mars hits the ground running, literally, as the splash page opens right in the middle of the action, with John Carter on a mission to rescue his beloved Dejah Thoris:
Here we flash back to how Civil War soldier John Carter, Gentleman from Virginia, ended up in this strange place: after retrieving the body of his dead friend from a tribe of Apaches, Carter hides in a small cave.

He passes out, and the next thing he knows, he finds himself standing over his own body, and transported across space and time to the angry red planet, Mars.

But before he can get lost in his thoughts for too long, he is attacked by a multi-armed warrior Martian named Grunt-Ar. But thanks to Mars' low gravity, Carter's physical prowess is nearly unmatched, and he defeats his foe.

He turns to another Martian, demanding to know where his beloved Dejah Thoris is. This Martian tells him what he wants to know, and after punching them out, he heads for The Tower of Law:
Inside the tower, several Warhoon Martians are beating Dejah Thoris so she reveals vital information. Despite several blows, Dejah will say nothing, but before things can get worse, one of her tormentors finds himself with John Carter's sword in his back!

Carter leaps into the fray, slicing his way through other attackers, until there is finally only one left:
sg be continued!

Okay, so why a John Carter, Warlord of Mars blog?

Well, when I was a kid, my parents and I went to visit my brother and his wife when they lived near Washington D.C. While I was there, he gave me some old books he had as a kid and thought maybe I would like. One of them was A Princess of Mars, featuring this cover:
sg, of course this would be the perfect time to say something really dramatic happened, like I cracked the cover and fell in love with Edgar Rice Burroughs' second most-famous creation, kicking off a life-long obsession with the character. But that didn't happen.

No, to be honest, at the age I was then (around ten or eleven), I wasn't interested in much of anything other than comics, and the first few pages of the book left me bored so I never continued.

But I did fall in love with the cover: it was so beautiful, so mysterious, that it completely captivated me, and was one of the earliest examples of my obsession with movie poster and book cover art. I held onto the book for years, never reading it, but enjoying the cover more each year.

A few months ago, I decided to give the book another try, and this time I was able to enjoy all of it, not just the cover. I got so into the character and the world that I started reading all the John Carter comics I could get my hands on--surprisingly, for a character that's been around for over 70 years, there really aren't that many.

No, unlike his more famous literary sibling, Tarzan, John Carter has never been that big a success in comics, and there has never been a single movie or TV show devoted to him--which is kind of amazing when you think about it: there have been many, many live-action or animated adaptations of concurrent characters like Tarzan, The Phantom, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Superman, Batman, Captain America, etc.--but no John Carter of Mars.

That is, until next year, when the live-action John Carter of Mars film debuts, directed by Pixar's Andrew Stanton (making this his first live-action film) and starring Taylor Kitch as the Gentleman from Virginia, as well as Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, and Lynn Collins. In addition, Carter is back in his own ongoing comic series from Dynamite, and its proving to be such a success they've already kicked-off a spin-off Dejah Thoris book. After many decades in the background, it looks like the Warlord of Mars is poised to take center stage.

So I thought it'd be fun to kick off this blog exactly one year away from the film's release, and in that time we'll be covering all the various iterations of John Carter as a comic book, starting with longest-lasting effort, the Marvel series that ran for 28 issues.

We'll be posting every other day, looking at each series' issues in order. So be back in two days for the next issue of John Carter, Warlord of Mars!

Update: In what is a rather inauspicious beginning to one of my blogs, apparently I was wrong wrong wrong about there never having been a John Carter movie. In 2009 came A Princess of Mars, starring...wait for it...Antonio Sabato Jr. and Traci Lords as Dejah Thoris!

How I missed this film's existence is beyond me, but somehow I did. I'm sure the makers of the 2012 film are just thrilled there's this low-budget effort out there (or maybe, like me, they never even heard of it!).

The film is available via Netflix Watch Instantly, which means I will soon be sitting down to take in this little epic, and I'll report back here. Thanks to my pal Sean for setting me straight in the comments!

1 comment:

Sean Tiffany said...

I just read the original three books myself about a year ago and really loved them so it's great to see you doing a new blog on the comic series based on the books.

But, you're wrong in that there hasn't been a movie yet. There has and it stars Antonio Sabato Jr. as John Carter and Tracy Lords as Deja Thoris. It's bad, but not as bad as you'd think.

And it is streaming on Netflix. I'm sure by this time tomorrow you'll have watched it. Enjoy!