Comics: Dejah Thoris #0 and #1 - Reviewed

This new series from Dynamite, based on stories and characters originally devised by Edgar Rice Burroughs, begins with standard fare in issue # 0. We’re introduced to the mythology of Dejah Thoris’ homeworld of Barsoom through flashbacks, as we see the inhabitants of Barsoom descend into conflicts that have obvious parallels in the real world. The purpose is to set up the conflict that will drive the rest of the narrative, and in that sense, the creators get the job done. 

Amy Chu’s writing follows the standard trope of the Hero’s Journey, this time with an adventurous heroine who has the typical rebellious streak. Dejah seeks to defy the confines of her royal heritage and upbringing to seek out a lost paradise that could bring hope to her ailing planet. Issue # 0 follows the beginning of her journey as we are presented with her motivations to seek out the mythical Ephysium. 

The rest of characters, overall, are standard and don’t express much depth, and in that sense, the script is quite basic. 

While the artwork for the individual characters is solid and crisp, Qualano’s sense of sequencing of the panels is a little bit off. We go from one scene to another without a clear delineation of all the events taking place in a given scene, and there is an excessive use of close-ups of characters while the background seems lifeless in comparison. 

Issue #0 ends with a cliffhanger that sets up a clear conflict for the next issue, as Dejahs make a choice that could have lasting ramifications not only for her people but for her future. Overall, for a special 25 cent issue, it serves its purpose as a decent entry point for readers who are looking for a few minutes of decent entertainment, but it’s nothing that will blow anyone’s socks off. 

Rather than picking up right where issue #0 leaves off, issue #1 retreads the same ground as its predecessor in the first couple of pages, repeating some information and adding in a few new details about Ephysium that were not mentioned before. 

The cliffhanger from #0 is not even addressed until about halfway through the issue, and the characters’ reactions to the chain of events are underwhelming. The reader doesn’t feel the true impact of Dejah’s decisions, and new characters are simply introduced to meet the demands of the plot; any sense of actual suspense or tension is barely palpable. While the reader can feel some sympathy for Dejah, the other characters remain largely disposable. Issue #1 also ends with a cliffhanger but not in a way that advances anticipation for what comes next. 

The art is a bit better this time around, but we still go from scene to scene without a stable sense of perspective for the reader. Rather than being shown what is happening through art, the reader is left to fill in the blanks through the given dialogue. 

The covers for both issues are very well done, but it’s obvious that they are being used to market the books through sex appeal. Perhaps Dynamite knows that the story on its own is not strong enough yet to carry the series on a long-term basis. 

-Berk Koca