Friday, September 21, 2012

NBIM Day 21: John Carter Warlord of Mars (1977)

The heart of Carter's Barsoomian adventures is his love for the beautiful Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris.
Last week , in between teaching classes, a former student of mine gifted me two comic books in plastic sleeves with the words, "I got these from my dad's comic collection for you. I remember you saying you were looking forward to the movie last year." It was a kind unexpected gift. Even better than the unexpected gift was the forgotten memories it brought to the forefront and I knew it would become one of my National (Comic Book) Back Issue Month selections...

Issue #1 cover by
legends Kane and Cockrum
Nearly six months ago I wrote about the fact that two different comic book companies were each publishing individual John Carter comics at the same time. While Marvel/Disney was releasing a line of Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations during the John Carter (2012) film's short summer run, Dynamite Publishers had been publishing stories based on the original novels, which had lapsed into public domain over the past two years. At the time I had forgotten about the "original ' Marvel John Carter series released in the aftermath of the original Star Wars (1977) movie's runaway, blockbuster success.

Published in 1977 by Marvel Comics, John Carter Warlord of Mars issue #1 was written (and edited) by respected creator Marv Wolfman with pencils provided by the legendary Gil Kane, who was inked by Dave Cockrum (who would later design the looks of the new X-Men, including Wolverine). Not surprisingly, the issue features Carter's by now familiar "origin" tale: Civil War soldier gets mysteriously transported to Barsoom (Mars), falls in with the green men of Mars (Tharks) only to fall in love with a princess of mars, Deja Thoris. Ironically,  Marvel would eventually release it's own Star Wars comic book, a story which admittedly apes many of the tropes established many, many years earlier by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the original Mars novels, the first of which, A Princess of Mars, was published in 1917 . Certainly adapting John Carter probably seemed like a reasonable way to cash in on the space craze started by Star Wars.

I was somewhat surprised when I looked up this particular iteration of Carter at and found that copies of this first issue were available for as low as $1.10! In fact, nearly the whole 28 issue series can be (and will be my me!) had for  little more than an average of $1.30 per issue. In this day when modern Marvel comics are far less entertaining, I more and more frequently find myself going backwards for entertainment.

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