Return to Mars

Ever wish there were new adventures of your favorite books? One more trek across Middle Earth? Just a few more stories from Bradbury? Another voyage to Barsoom? Once an author has passed away, all such chances fade away, with rare exception. Tolkien’s son did complete his fathers The Children of Hurin. When Robert Jordan knew his health was failing, he made sure someone was going to finish his Wheel of Time series. There also has been a number of attempts to bring back Edgar Rice Burroughs quintessential space hero, John Carter, back to life through the world of comics.

First, I’ve never been into comics. I think I owned one at some point long ago. Now even the word “comics” is archaic and they have been replaced with graphic novels (graphic in the sense of lavishly illustrated). I may have to make an exception here, if it means more epic adventures across the Red Planet.

Back in the late 1970s, Marvel created the John Carter: Warlord of Mars series of new tales that took place within the first book, The Princess of Mars. A few years ago, all of the issues were collected into one volume (it’s surprising how vivid the artwork is when printed on high-quality paper as opposed to the old comic newsprint).

In recent years, Dynamite has brought Carter back in its graphic novels. One of the spin-offs of the series features the princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris, in her own adventures before she ever met earthling John Carter. Because of the highly visual nature of this iteration, these stories are usually labeled for “mature” readers.

Burroughs’ books weren’t explicit in nature, but what happens when the violence is visualized – and those barely clothed Martians are depicted? Whereas the books leave much to the imagination, these graphic novels — not so much. Ironically, Burroughs’ blink-and-you-miss-it description of Dejah Thoris in the first book would inspire decades of sci-fi and fantasy art.

So if you long to return to high adventure on the distant Red Planet, John Carter and Dejah Thoris are still out there generations after we first read of their meeting.

The ultimate action couple.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Return to Mars

  1. Thank you for keeping Burroughs alive.

    His stories were timeless and really, in my opinion, they were just romance novels for guys; naked, tough, masculine, heterosexual, romance novels. The cheesy movie adaptation of “At the Earth’s Core” from the mid seventies sparked my interest in Burroughs as well as a life long love of beautiful, scantily clad women. The book proved to be much more entertaining, and since we had no access to multiple movie viewings at the time, I had little choice but to read if I were to immediately re-live the experience. To this day I always recommend watching the movie of any adaptation BEFORE reading the book, I think there’s more enjoyment and less criticism in this process.

    I’m now a collector of his works, though I admit it’s been some time since I’ve added to my library. Strangely enough I was never drawn into the Tarzan series, go figure. Venus, Mars, Caspak, and, Pellucidar were my worlds of choice for many years. I now have over 400 different editions including a map-back paperback as well as seven first editions. Unfortunately the first editions do not have any dust jackets, but some others do.

    Someday I’ll unload the whole thing to someone willing to appreciate it. For now it collects dust in my basement. Perhaps someday, before I die, I’ll revisit all those old worlds of my youth.


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