by Jessica Greenlee
Warlord of Mars #31 is a straightforward start to a longer story ark, and Nelson tells it competently, showing the Barsoomian’s inertia in contrast to John Carter’s brasher energy and portraying a people more ready to fight than to wait and examine something. He also lays out the friendships between peoples, showing Carter as a leader of numerous Barsoomian races.
The premise is that John Carter, the Earthman, is far more curious than the Barsoomian people her rules. Greater and Lesser Helium are guarded by two towers: Red in Greater Helium, Yellow in Lesser. They’ve been there for thousands of years, but no one has gone into them. John Carter, is determined to find out what’s inside. First, there are monsters, then the return of a much-loved figure who may not be all he seems, and an end that leaves it unclear whether John Carter or the Barsoomians had the right idea.
Reis’s art is heavily stylized, tending toward the blocky. Cities and crowd scenes look good, especially with Lucas’ added strong coloring. The cityscapes are varied and suitably alien looking, and the layout of the opening crowd scene is especially effective. Human faces have a tendency to look like they’re made of wax–either smooth and expressionless or just starting to melt. Monsters, however, are great: the many-eyed, flesh-colored crab creatures are truly nightmarish.
It’s a decent beginning to a mystery and promises future challenges for the warlord and his people in further volumes.