Comic Review – Dejah Thoris #1

  • Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
  • Artist: Francesco Manna
  • Colorist: Morgan Hickman
  • Letterer: Erica Schultz
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Release date: February 3, 2016

Dejah Thoris is getting an extreme make over courtesy of scribe Frank J. Barbiere and artist Francesco Mann for the New Jersey based publisher Dynamite Entertainment. Dejah Thoris was the creation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs. She first appeared in A Princess of Mars; Burroughs’ Mars based science fiction series published in  All Story Magazine’s February-July 1912 issue.

The story took place on Mars where Confederate veteran John Carter was transported to the red planet, known by the natives as Barsoom, under mysterious circumstances. Once on Mars, John Carter gains super strength and agility. Carter ultimately falls in love with the Martian Princess Dejah Thoris, daughter the Jed of Lesser Helium and granddaughter of the Jeddak of the city-state Helium. Dejah Thoris is the central character of Burroughs’ first three Barsoom novels. In each she is targeted by enemies of the state and is oft pursued by John Carter in attempts to rescue her from the abductors.

DEJAH THORIS #1 Cover by Nen
DEJAH THORIS #1 Cover by Nen

Thoris was always portrayed by Burroughs and Dynamite’s comics as a noble and strong-willed character. To date Dynamite has used artists that illustrate the princess in a good girl style art. It was certainly beautiful to look at, especially the interior art by Carlos Rafael and covers by Paul Renaud and Jay Anacleto. Yet it did bother me that drawing her scantily clad, which was in keeping with Boroughs’ Barsoomian garb in his books, did not seem practical for an active warrior princess. Adorned with a new cover logo and look, the changes to Dejah Thoris #1 by Dynamite are more than superficial.

Dejah Thoris #1 centers on a conspiracy in which Dejah’s father has gone missing. Councilman Valois, now in power, places Dejah under arrest. He accuses her of assassinating the Jed and challenges the validity of her royal bloodline. Dejah escapes Helium to seek the truth of who she really is.  Foreshadowed in the first few pages of the issue, Dejah has transform from a Princess of Barsoom to the warrior named Larka.

Dejah Thoris #1 was not on my pull list initially. I expected same approach to the character as in previous series by Dynamite. I was excited to discover Frank J. Barbiere is the writer. He is  versatile author of comics such as Solar: Man of the Atom for Dynamite, Five Ghosts for Image and Black Out for Dark Horse Comics just to name a few.

Artist of Image Comic’s Black Magick Nicola Scott redesigned Dejah Thoris’ costume and initial story ideas were provided by Dynamite’s Red Sonja writer Gail Simone. With these elements as a foundation, Barbiere presents a Dejah Thoris the likes of which fans have never seen. This is not hype; the proof is found in reading the first issue.

Franco Manna fills the pages with beautiful layouts and does a superb job in conveying the emotions felt by each character simply through the expression on his or her face. Dynamite has also found the right colorist for the book in Morgan Hickman, washing Dejah Thoris with royal purple hues and painting red-lit Martian skies. Erica Schultz adds clear dialogue to the art and exercises restraint when adding sound effects, keeping the reader firmly immersed in the story. Dynamite offers a choice of breath-taking covers of Dejah Thoris in her new outfit by NEN, Tula Lotay, Ming Doyle and Nicola Scott.

Put aside any reservation you may have had about Dynamite’s Dejah Thoris. This is a fresh take on the character by Frank J. Barbiere and Franco Mann. With plots ideas provided by Gale Simone and a new costume design by Nicola Scott, let the decree go forth, this version of the Prince of Mars is out of this world.

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About the author

Christopher Calloway

Christopher Calloway is the small press and idependent comic creator editor for Word of the Nerd. He is long-time comic book reader and collector who is passionate about comics and their creators.

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