Bowed But Not Broken – Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars Volume 1: Red Meat

The Green Men of Mars is yet another miniseries spun off from Dynamite’s popular Dejah Thoris series, which in turn was a spinoff from Warlord of Mars.  There have been a few minis thus far, but none as long as this one which is will run twelve issues, of which four are collected in this volume.  Written by Mark Rahner and drawn by Lui Antonio, it takes place during the opening festivities of a celebration highlighting the coming together of the green and red populations of the planet.  It was in no small part due to the actions of Dejah’s husband, John Carter, who while a humble man, is now the leader and warlord of Mars.

All is not well with Dejah though, as she keeps having flashbacks to an earlier time in her life where she was held captive and tortured by the Tharks.  And while they say lightning never strikes twice, Dejah is captured during the festival and taken away to be cut up and sold as meat for wealthy Tharks.  This of course does not sit well with her and she aims to free herself as well as the other women who are being held captive.

This is a strange series as on one hand it obviously objectifies women, more so than any other Dejah Thoris series, with its risqué cover gallery, and some of the situations our protagonist finds herself in, namely the very first page of the book.  And yet on the other it shows her as a very strong and resourceful heroine, overcoming her captors and even keeping her experiences quiet for the betterment of peace between the populations.  Can exploitation and empowerment go hand in hand?  While it can more than likely be debated by many, the answer could go either way and this book walks a very fine tread between the two.

The covers, like almost all of Dynamite’s books are far better than the interiors.  Jay Anacleto whose covers are the best of the bunch, can draw like few others and it is a shame he is not as prominent as he once was while doing Aria for Image.  The rest of the covers are fairly good, but pale in comparison to his.  Glad to see him at Dynamite on such an iconic heroine.

As for the art by Lui Antonio, it is good, but it takes a while to get used to it though as it is a style far different than most.  The problem with Dynamite’s Mars series of books is that the artwork never usually matches the setting.  This is science fiction with arguably one of the biggest franchises of its genre.  It should be grand and epic and fill one with wonder.  Lui Antonio’s work just does not fit the bill.  Yes it is good, but not a good fit.

Mark Rahner does a decent job with the story, but not as well as some of his peers on the other series starring our protagonist.  He gives us suspense when we need it, drama when it is called for and action when it is deserved and overall gives us a good story.  There is one part that is completely strange and seems very out of place in this book and that was almost any scene dealing with John Carter after Dejah’s disappearance.  He is made to look inept and essentially dumb.  Carter is anything but, otherwise he would never have become the Jeddack of Mars.  It is silly and almost unforgivable so hopefully when the next two volumes of this book come out, it vastly improves.

Not the greatest book from Dynamite or from the Warlord of Mars universe, but it was decent.  It has good writing and good art but it never gets any better than that.  The book needs to get the ‘wow’ factor, something the covers usually have and the interiors do not, if it is to stand out from the pack and right now it is sorely lacking.

3 out of 5

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