In his gravest hour, John Carter of Mars faces off against a whole new kind of little green men!
This issue was a bit of a mixed bag. I was actually very excited going into this, mainly because it has the most no-brainer “that sounds like a blast” title for a crossover that I’ve seen in ages. And the first half of the issue really follows through on the promise of the title and the cover.
Rather than belabor the point of why we’re all here, Jeff Parker’s script for this issue drops us right in on the action of John Carter battling the Martians. How these Martians came to be in Carter’s territory and why they’ve never been encountered by Carter before has yet to be explained, but the tone is exactly right.
There’s a very purposefully camp feel to the first half of this book. John is all dramatic poses and cheesy proclamations (a highlight is when he shouts “Land o’ Goshen!” as the battle escalates), which perfectly sells this story as one that is meant to be a hell of a lot of fun and not necessarily serious. Which, to be honest, is how the best Mars Attacks stories are told. They work best when they’re portrayed as menacing, but the stories they inhabit are heightened by a healthy dose of winking at the audience/reader.
In these sequences, Dean Kotz’s artwork evokes classic pulp adventure comics. There’s a very Doc Savage feel to the action. John Carter is a cornfed boy from Virginia and he fights like one, straight-up picking up the invaders and chucking them off their flying saucers. There’s a real sense of weight to the fight, with John wildly maneuvering a stolen saucer through the battlefield and just wrecking the baddies. It’s equal parts thrilling and hilarious.
Honestly, where the issue loses me is in the second half, which takes place in modern day with an all-new alien invasion and a ton of characters that seem unrelated to John Carter and his companions. We’re rapidly introduced to one unlikable character after another and it’s hard not to wonder what the point is.
There’s still a lot to like here, however. The sequences of John Carter against the Martians are a blast, but the second half feels like an entirely different book. The final page does promise some fun “fish out of water” action to look forward to, so it’s still worth a look for fans of the characters or if you’re just in the mood for some offbeat science fiction action.
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