It’s been awhile since we last visited Barsoom with familiar faces like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, or Tars Tarkas. And many things have changed since the last time we saw them. Brian Wood, Alex Cox, and Hayden Sherman are giving us a newer, darker take on the Warlord of Mars with the new Dynamite Comic, John Carter: The End. The book has a similar feel to Old Man Logan where we see an aging John Carter and Dejah Thoris who have left Barsoom behind and are living in hiding upon the planet’s moon, Titan. They grieve for the death of their son and have abandoned the land that they once ruled and called home. When I first heard about this new direction, I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of the idea. I’m not crazy about end of the world, post apocalyptic tales and while I don’t necessarily think this fits completely in that category, it still feels very gloomy. Having said that, upon reading the issue, I can say that the direction is pretty intriguing and can open up some very interesting storytelling options.
As I mentioned, John Carter and Dejah Thoris are living on the moon of Titan away from their kingdom of Helium and those that they would call friends. They’ve lived in seclusion for hundreds of years while Barsoom has been taken over by a tyrant who has killed many of their people. We first see Dejah standing over the grave of their son, whom we learn very little of right now. She spots a ship coming for them and both she and John are ready to attack when a Thark steps out and implores that John Carter return to Barsoom. They are reluctant to return until they learn who the tyrant is. I won’t spoil it but it’ll definitely make for an interesting development in the story. The two of them decide to return to Barsoom to find that it is a different world than the one they left behind.
I’ll start by saying that I’m a huge Warlord of Mars fan. I’ve enjoyed the comics, the novels, and even the movie, so I’m pretty familiar with this world. Those who are new to John Carter will probably find themselves a bit lost. There’s only a few familiar names mentioned throughout the first book and while I’m sure the creative team will help the new readers, it also is worth noting that it may not be relevant to this particular story. The book seems to move at a pretty quick pace and while it’s nice to get right into the story, there were a few scenes that I felt could have been saved for a future issue. It seemed like a lot of things just fell on top of John and Dejah all at the same time just for the sake of moving the plot forward when it could have been more effective had they saved it.
The art by Hayden Sherman fits the gritty and desperate tone of the book. However, Sherman’s angular art style doesn’t fit very well when it comes to facial expressions. There were times where it was hard to even see the character’s eyes or mouths.
Overall, John Carter: The End #1 gives us a really intriguing take on John Carter and his world and while there were a few things that could have worked better, this creative team has definitely delivered an exciting and captivating tale. I look forward to seeing how John and Dejah deal with returning to Barsoom and what lies ahead for the pair of them.