“Lords of Mars” begins this month with an exposition-heavy issue. The presence of two disconnected stories damages the pacing. Yet, the series revives old pulp heroes in a big, bold way.
WRITTEN BY: Arvid Nelson
ART BY: Roberto Castro
RELEASE: Aug 7, 2013
“Lords of Mars” opens on the legendary Tarzan adjusting to his new life as the lord of Greystroke. Nelson uses the lens of English gentlemen to show that Tarzan may not be quite as civilized as he once believed. The most interesting moments in the script come from Tarzan’s juxtaposition against any other hunter. He’s much more useful with his bare hands.
Of course, things get out of hand and Tarzan quarrels with the other gentlemen over a moral issue. Tarzan quickly jumps into action, and finds himself fleeing into a cave with Jane.
Here we cut to Mars. John Carter is forced to respond to a threat from his enemies. The politics of Mars take center stage here. The imagery is fantastic but most panels are so full of dialogue that the issue slows down.
The main gripe I have with the script is its reluctance to kickstart the story. In a book that promises meshing two very separate heroes together it sure takes a long time to do it. By the end of the issue it is still not clear what will bring our two heroes together. Not only that but Tarzan’s story is that he is stuck in a cave. Hardly pulse pounding stuff.
Castro’s art is pretty fantastic and fluid. The opening moments with Tarzan bounding through the forest feel kinetic and exciting. Castro displays Tarzan’s full power all in the first page. The peering eyes, and the pounce say it all. The talking between all the gentlemen is only interesting because of Castro’s choice of angles.
Once on Mars, Castro has many more opportunities to flex his muscles. Mars is cool, foreign, and beautiful. His birds eye view panel of people disembarking a ship gives Mars a grand sense of scale that was lacking in the earlier stuff on Earth. John’s outstretched hand pointing to his fleet shows us everything we need to know. John isn’t close to losing this battle.
The book is sold as bold and promises the team up of a lifetime. So much time is spent building story that the promise hardly comes together. John and Tarzan’s stories are still too separate and unrelated to make good on this team up. Instead of capitalizing on the two hero dealing with the same issue, we’re treating to a long winded bout of world building.
The promise of the book remains. If issue #2 picks the pacing up we may actually have the book we were sold. As it stands however, “Lords of Mars” fails to serve as an interesting chapter in either hero’s journey. With a couple of tweaks and little more action the series could get much better. Approach with caution.
Reviewed by – Jimbus_Christ