Review by Frank Plowright
The first Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris Omnibus isn’t much of a prize, the only real quality to be found was the ever-improving art of Carlos Rafael, who drew almost all of it. Having reached a peak, however, his contribution here is restricted to a few chapters at a time, and far more is drawn by Debora Carita, whose artistic evolution doesn’t follow the same trajectory as Rafael’s. Her first pages have weightless figures, distorted bodies and a scene meant to be the floor viewed from above, but which instead looks like Dejah Thoris has been glued to the wall. This is in an attractive style, that may well fool people not looking beyond Carita’s hundreds of pictures of the near naked Dejah. Where Carita shines is with locations and scenery, for which the effort is visible. A page of each artist is provided as a sample for comparison.
Carita’s not helped by now sole writer Robert Place Napton, whose plots frequently aren’t thought through enough to avoid holes, and all too often present warrior woman Dejah Thoris as a victim. That is if people aren’t falling for her. The funniest example of that is one of the Vampire Men of Saturn who doesn’t lust after her due to her physical perfection, but because her blood is so intoxicating. Perhaps it’s meant as tongue in cheek, but given the surrounding material that can’t be an automatic assumption, as for most of the book Napton supplies generic fantasy showing Dejah’s body as often as possible. Another unintentionally hilarious moment is when she’s disguised as a slave girl and this actually requires her putting on more clothes.
It’s not until the final sequence, originally published in paperback as Duel to the Death, that Napton works out the kinks in his writing to supply stories that can’t easily be picked to pieces. Strangely, they’re motivated by a vengeance-driven character who was contrived when introduced, but for the final sequence is a credible puppet master, with Napton producing twists that aren’t predictable or contrived. Unless the ending is considered, and even then it might be homage transcending contrivance. As that story is drawn by Carita, it’s nowhere near enough to balance the mediocrity served up over much of the remainder.
If you suspect Dejah Thoris’ adventures might be to your taste, as all Dynamite product is expensive you might be better sampling one of the slimmer collections, those not earlier noted being Rise of the Machine Men, and Phantoms of Time.