Dejah Thoris #3
Frank J. Barbiere (writer), Francesco Manna (artist), NEN (cover)
Dynamite Comics, April 2016
Disclaimer: A review copy of this comic was provided by the publisher.
The dethroned princess of Helium’s journey of discovery takes many leaps and bounds to get her to her destination. We’re not getting much exposition to get us from point A to point B: in this case, point B for Dejah is getting to M’rkassa to solve the mystery of her recently dislodged memory. Meanwhile, in Helium, the councilman who ousted her is starting a revolution. We know this because he says so, and the people of Helium will most likely go along with it since they had no problem disowning the princess due to her apparent lack of royal blood. The bad guy is going to have to get rid of Dejah’s husband, the Warlord of Mars, to do this, since John Carter and his spies have been busy doing … stuff and things. We don’t know what they’re doing any more than we know what the councilman’s revolution will involve other than grandstanding and occasionally killing a minion.
After Dejah’s successful trial in the last issue, she has apparently proven herself worthy enough to not only sport the most expensive outfit in the People’s Army, but she also gets to lead the most elite squad because she showed enough skill and gumption in the “every person for themselves” battle of recruits. Thankfully, writer Barbiere does not find it necessary to have this new team question her leadership on the grounds of her femininity, but the leader of the Army does keep making passes at her that Dejah bluntly shoves off. One out of two ain’t bad, I guess.
Dejah, now called Larka, explains to her new squad that she has shed her past. She then promptly directs them to M’rkassa, despite being warned of the dangers that lie there. How selfish of you, princess, to involve others in your personal quest! Unsurprisingly, this plan doesn’t work out so well for unexpected reasons that will hopefully, finally give us something to chew on in terms of real, meaningful plot elements.
I’m all for a story that slowly teases me with a promise of what’s to come, but that’s not what’s happening here. I forgave the sudden introduction of a mysterious past and the convenient elements that shove our protagonist along her way in the first issue because I thought they were there to set things up in order to dig in deeper as the story progressed. But there is no digging happening since every aspect of the mystery of Dejah’s past, and the pending revolution back home are just being glossed over. I would like to say that the art makes up for this, but it plods along just the same, offering little of interest because there is so little for the characters to do. Thank goodness for NEN’s covers.
I expect big reveals will happen soon enough, but with little believable build-up, I suspect that I won’t be too shocked by them.