Comic Review: Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars / Writer: Mark Rahner / Artist: Lui Antonio / Publisher: Dynamite / Release Date: December 15th
The recent Disney movie John Carter brought with it an inevitable interest in the source material, The Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The original books use a number of tricks to make Mars appear radically different from Earth, and this includes things such as multi-limbed apes and cultural nudity, so perhaps it was inevitable that a visual medium such as comic books would take an interest in the original work.
The question we have to ask is; does this comic-book use Martian cultural nudity as a way of making us engage with a strange and alien culture, or is it just an excuse to fill the book with pictures of naked women in order to sell it to the teenage boys who presumably lack access to the internet?
Sadly, it’s the latter. Which is a real pity as Dejah Thoris is a very strong character. (Technically, she’s also a Disney Princess these days, though I doubt we’ll see her on the Disneyland Princess Parade any time soon.) Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars is not directly based on any of Burroughs’ novels, merely borrowing one of the central characters to create a story that is a thinly veiled excuse to have naked ladies on the page.
Of course, girls in a series of unlikely, unnatural looking poses isn’t enough; the White Apes of the title are also present, and they mostly exist to murder people and cover the pages that aren’t covered in bottoms and boobies in blood and guts. The plot also includes an archaeological jaunt gone wrong and a hidden conspiracy, but these have no depth and are merely window dressing. The dialogue is weak and boring, and the plot is meandering and pointless. If you have ever wondered why people stay away from comic book stores, look no further than Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars and its ilk. If you liked the Disney movie, pick up the original novels, and avoid this pointless spin-off.