Writer’s Commentary: Dan Abnett Discusses ‘Dejah Thoris Vs. John Carter Of Mars’ #5

by Olly MacNamee

We have another detailed, informative and as-ever enjoyable Writer; Commentary from Dan Abnett to share with you this Friday afternoon. This time, as you’ve probably already read, Dan talks us through his thoughts behind the script for Dejah Thoris Vs. John Carter of Mars #5, out now from Dynamite Comics.

The clash between Dejah Thoris and John Carter against the grim demi-god beings of the outer dark begins to reach fever pitch. If our heroes don’t block the primordial Longborns’ entry into the world, then the fate of Barsoom – and all the planets of the Solar System – is sealed.

And in the middle of it all is the mad scientist Rotak Gall, arch-manipulator, hunted criminal, and the instigator of this disaster. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m beginning to love the crazy little guy, even though he is definitely the villain. Maybe it’s his sly personality, chatterbox habits, guile and cunning. Maybe it’s because he’s a cat person. But I‘m becoming very fond of him, despite the fact that he is the sole reason all these terrible things are happening. Great to have a reason to cheer for the villain, right?

Page 1

Actually, I know why I’ve grown to love him. Look at page one. It’s the way Alessandro (Miracolo)’s drawing him. So much character. The pride, arrogance and self-importance, the impish cunning just dripping off him.

And as we reach the first amazing spread, he doesn’t even blink when confronted by omnipotent cosmic beings a hundred (I’m guessing) times his size. The guy’s got nerve, is what I’m saying. He’s dealing with giant space gods face to face without even flinching. Everyone and everything is working to his manipulative scheme.

Page 2

Meanwhile, John and Dejah are battling for their lives. I love the effect of tension on page four created by the lack of dialogue. Gall’s clone warriors are hunting for our heroes… and get found by them instead. There’s no time for words, just crunching action. Great dynamics from Alessandro, and – as always – Dearbhla’s colorwork is gorgeous.

Dejah and John have got work to do. They’ve managed to get a message to Kantos and Co. outside the palace, hoping that he can bring the heavy guns (literally) and end the crisis. Well, they hope as much. Trusting that Kantos has heard them, they now need to survive… and find a way out. But how do you find your way out of a palace that’s a) vast, b) a labyrinth, c) mostly locked and d) is spread across time and space with no natural exit?

Page 3

They’re going to try. Which allows us, the creative team, to have fun as they run from room to room and time to time, visiting the palace in different eras of its life, from the distant past to the far future. And not all of those rooms are empty, as Alessandro startlingly demonstrates on page thirteen. In these fantasy action sequences, I feel that Alessandro has really captured the true spirit of the old pulp publications, and the classic (and wonderful) book jackets and spot illustrations that have always made Planet Stories in general, and the works of ERB in particular, so very memorable. It’s a flavor quite unlike any other.

Outside the palace, Kantos has heard them, and he realizes that to save the world, he might have to do the unthinkable and sacrifice his friends. And one of those friends is the queen he is utterly devoted to. But he’s a loyal guy, and this is a desperate emergency.

Page 4

As Gall gets in deeper with the dangerous Longborn (and his masterful manipulation finally comes unstuck in a way that takes him by surprise – see that powerful image on page seventeen), John and Dejah fight their way across time and space and some glorious pages, before running into… the most unexpected ally of all.

Now – finally – they have a chance. They can end this threat for themselves. And that means taking on the Longborn face to face in a furious fight to the death.

Page 5

But there’s a final shock in store. Up front, I said, “The clash between Dejah Thoris and John Carter against the grim demi-god beings of the outer dark begins to reach fever pitch.” Well, let’s lose “against the grim demi-god beings of the outer dark” part and remember what this series is called. It’s time for the ultimate face off: Dejah Thoris versus John Carter.

Come back next time for the Barsoom-shaking conclusion… you really won’t want to miss this.

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