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Dejah Thoris #1
Writer: Dan Abnett
Penciler: Vasco Georgiev
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Maturity Rating: Teen
Release Date: December 11th, 2019
A climate emergency is discovered by Dejah Thoris while the societies of Mars are in upheaval. As these two forces collide, she searches for a solution while new enemies attempt to finally eliminate her.
Kick Some Ice in Dejah Thoris #1
There is probably no better genre than science fiction for providing allegorical criticism of politics. While there are notable standouts in this group, especially among the dystopian novels, the genre allows even more mundane stories to contain such political undertones. Thus a series such as Star Trek can contain a lot of different individual episodes which contain both story and subtle statement. The history of John Carter and his chronicles on Mars haven’t typically lent themselves to this criticism. Instead, they more often than not focus on pure science fiction, with a healthy dose of action thrown in. Now Dejah Thoris #1 comes in.
Dejah Thoris, Carter’s lover and Martian princess, has a more checkered past. She was originally conceived at a time when pulpy exploitation of women was widespread in science fiction. Even at that, her presentation was considered over-the-top. Her bikini was barely there to begin with and the women of Mars often had to walk around naked. This character, though a strong female character, has been hard to present positively in modern times. Some criticize modern superheroines for wearing what equates to bathing suits. Dejah Thoris, on the other hand, might have a hard time convincing some that she is even wearing lingerie. That said, in recent years she has been shown as a strong female character, and a relatively modern one. So how does Dejah Thoris #1 work?
Dan Abnett has the writing duties here. To say that there is a science fiction story going on here is really just part of the story. In short, Dejah Thoris has been voted out as queen due to the rise of a populist, and she has become a climate scientist. This setup of science for populism plays out in a hundred different ways every day in the news, and so the writer here has decided to bite into something a bit more meaty. The story itself is a bit formulaic at times, but the setup is not. There is enough subtext to keep the average reader’s interest piqued here, even as the Martian stories take a familiar form.
The pencils in this issue are by Vasco Georgiev and the colors are by Dearbhla Kelly. To say that the artists handled the artwork well here would be an understatement. As I previously mentioned, Dejah Thoris has a bit of an image problem, especially as a modern heroine. The only place where this is really a problem, though, is on the cover. Dejah wears proper clothes for her scientific research for part of the issue; then later the character is forced into her traditional costume, but not in a demeaning way. Though she is obviously nearly naked, the artist takes the liberty of using perspective change or obstruction to minimize her exposure. This keeps a foot in the past with her character’s stylistic background, but also shows that the art team knows they are presenting her to a modern audience.
All in all, this is one of the best presentations of Dejah Thoris ever.
Though not flawless, Dejah Thoris #1 is a really good start for the new series. The character is presented in a modern way, and the heavier topic is not avoided but, rather, embraced. As the stories of John Carter exist in the public realm anyone can really take them on, but the creative team here owns a new Dejah Thoris, and one better than we’ve seen before.
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