Writers: Brian Wood & Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Release Date: 8th February 2017
With John Carter: The End, Dynamite fast-forwards us 100 years into the future of Barsoom. The prospect of a story written by Brian Wood (DMZ) and Alex Cox (Adventure Time) is a tantalising one. And when you add to that mix artwork by Hayden Sherman (The Few), the likelihood of something truly interesting emerges.
Annexed on the moon of Titan, John and Dejah have long left Mars. They have chosen a life of solitude, mourning the death of their son several years past. Unknown to them in their exile, however, things have changed for the worse on Barsoom. A ruthless power now rules in Helium, and the planet is being ripped apart by war.
Tars Tarkus sends his kin to find John Carter to beseech his return as Warlord of Mars and to help end the conflict. In doing so, he exposes a secret John has kept from Dejah that could be the undoing of both of them. They have no choice but to return to Mars, where old wounds are re-opened as the fight for the planet reigns on.
As a fan of the series I was intrigued to find out what this story was. The pedigree of both the writing and art team had my attention, yet the first eight pages are entirely without dialogue. It’s an excellent piece of direction that helps immediately draw you into the story. It’s more of a reciprocation between authors and reader. You are forced to think about what is happening, rather than have the dialogue tell you. It’s more… interactive. An investment, if you will.
These first pages set the pace of the issue, something which doesn’t let up. It’s fast, but is not rushed (even if the issue feels a little short at 22 pages). The introduction is basic, uncomplicated, and lays a simple foundation for the story. Yet at the same time, there is still enough to suggest that things will get very interesting for John Carter of Virginia soon.
I’ve only recently stumbled across the art of Hayden Sherman, and I am already a fan. His unique style is well suited to the alien world of Barsoom. His signature intricate line elements are organic and freehand in approach which gives a curious play on proportion and detail. Add to this his use of various thicknesses of pens to emphasise the alien likeness of Mars and Titan and we have something very interesting indeed.
Working alongside Hayden on art is colourist Chris O’Halloran, who is doing a splendid job of keeping Titan feeling suitably exotic. His use of blues and greens as the backdrop on the landscape of the moon is effective – and kinda cool, if I’m honest. I loved the colours used in the space scene as the Green Martian ship travels from Titan to Barsoom. It’s a clever bit of interplay between both artists that caught my eye. In fact, there are a few frames of note such as this scattered through this issue.
I enjoyed this first issue of John Carter: The End. The story is simple and doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. As a technical piece, the narration and the art are excellent. Yet, something about it just stops short of being truly stellar. On my first read-through I was a bit disappointed at the length, but I get the feeling that this will not always be the case. There are signs of great potential here. Fans of the books will love this, and even if you aren’t familiar with the novels there’s definitely enough here to make you come back for more. I’ll be sticking with this one for sure.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.