The appeal of stories crafted by Edgar Rice Burroughs lives on to this day, with John Carter of Mars #1 revisiting some classic tales. Whenever a new generation of fans think of the name "John Carter," they may recount the decidedly mixed reviews of the 2012 live-action movie from Walt Disney Pictures. However, John Carter rose to fame from Burroughs' timeless novels, which have since been adapted into various comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment. The latest installment comes from Chuck Brown, George Kambadais, and Jeff Eckleberry. Even if this is your first time reading a John Carter story, the first issue does a satisfactory job of filling readers in on the basics while teeing up more adventures to come.
Starting off with John Carter's "Eternal Reward" helps to give a quick glimpse at how John has established a life for himself on Mars/Barsoom. He has a wife in Dejah Thoris, a young son, and seems to be living the good life. Through unforeseen circumstances, however, John is whisked back to Earth seemingly after his death. The timeline of events comes across a little uneven since we don't know exactly when John died. However, "Eternal Reward" alludes to this being the afterlife, and John's spirit is sent back to his Earthly grave.
A group of Army soldiers summarizes John Carter's life, including serving in the military, his unexplained disappearance, and how it's possibly linked to other missing people, animals, and objects around the globe. Kambadais excels at switching back and forth between the fantastical elements of space and the grounded aspects of Earth. Brown even makes a point to highlight how John never married and had no children on Earth, while we know that's the complete opposite of his life on Mars. Quickly explaining the time period and segregated Army units is another nice touch since it's something that could easily be glossed over by the reader.
The unlikely alliance between General Etor and the Green Martians serves to link both of John Carter's home worlds together. The origin behind a powerful severed hand calls for more explanation, but that will assumedly come in future issues. We do learn that the hand is behind the revival of John Carter, so there's at least that nugget of information. Another thing we learn is John Carter possessed superhuman abilities on Mars, given to him by this hand. So it may be likely that the hand is also the power that teleported him from Earth to Mars in the first place.
Lt. Hines and John Carter share a love for their missing wives, which is what sends the lieutenant on a search for answers at the Carter Mansion. Lt. Hines and his friend Charlie make for competent sidekicks, quickly adapting to the idea of a man returning from the dead and invading aliens roaming the planet. It should be fun to see all three gentlemen on Mars, and how Lt. Hines and Charlie adapt to a new, strange environment. Making one of the important supporting characters a Black man not only diversifies the John Carter series but also acts as an entryway into the story for readers, experiencing events along with the audience.
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
On April 20, 2022
Written by Chuck Brown
Art by George Kambadais
Colors by George Kambadais
Letters by Jeff Eckleberry
Cover by Junggeun Yoon