Warlord of Mars has consistently been the best of Dynamite Entertainment‘s books based on Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series (although that’s not saying a whole lot). Still I’ve genuinely enjoyed the series’ progression. Unfortunately, that changes in issue #22. Here’s the official description from Dynamite:
John Carter smashed the power of the Therns, the evil priests who enslaved Mars for thousands of years with their false religion. But Matai Shang, the Holy Father of their order, has found the perfect way to strike back – Dejah Thoris. Shang has kidnapped Carter’s princess and is heading for a remote kingdom that still blindly clings to his discredited faith. Unfortunately for him, John Carter is hot on his trail! Tag along in Warlord of Mars #22: The Jungles of Kaol.
The problems with Warlord of Mars #22 are numerous. Arvid Nelson’s plot progresses in illogical fits and starts, through coincidences and unfounded assumptions on the parts of the characters. The dialogue is corny in places and the whole story has a “monster of the week” feel: John Carter arrives in a shiny new location where not much of consequence happens, then moves own by issue’s end. It’s all unnecessary.
Artist Leandro Oliveira‘s art is fine on an individual page basis, but can be pretty inconsistent in places, shifting from more or less realistic to practically cartoony. His shading varies as well, which only makes matters worse. John Carter’s pet calot, Woola, generally looks flat.
The book also suffers from technical issues: it’s hard to tell who is speaking in some places, and one speech bubble points to the wrong person entirely. It’s often difficult to tell which order to read the captions and bubbles in.
As much as Warlord of Mars #22 struggles in places, it mostly stews in mediocrity, rather than plunging into the truly awful. It does have a few good aspects – a couple action scenes and some political machinations – but I’m largely disappointed that the book has suffered such a drop in quality.