Dejah Thoris? More Like Dejah Snore-ris – DEJAH THORIS Volume 2 Review
Dejah Thoris Volume 2 – Dejah Rising! (Issues 6 – 10)
Written by Amy Chu
Illustrated by Pasquale Qualano
Colored by Valentino Pinto
Lettered by Thomas Napolitano
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Back in 2012 when the movie John Carter came out, I thought the film looked really stupid. Around that time I learned that the movie was inspired by, if not entirely based on, a series of Science Fiction books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’ve always been intrigued by those books, but have never gotten around to reading them. So I was excited at the opportunity to read a comic book featuring one of his characters, especially a comic written by an author whose work I usually enjoy. Unfortunately, after reading Dejah Thoris, I realized I probably should have started with Burroughs’ novels.
Dejah Thoris is a Martian princess. Heir to the throne of Helium, she cares more for science than the trappings of royalty. She’s a sexy scientist with an inquisitive nature and an independent streak. This second volume in the series follows Dejah as she takes part in a research mission. The newest ship in Helium’s naval fleet, the Xataxian, is set to embark on a mission to measure air currents around Mars. Dejah is joined on the scientific excursion by her grandfather, Royal Academy Administrator Dekana, and the ship’s newly appointed captain Keel Cors. As the voyage gets under way, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to the mission than simple scientific research.
Writer Amy Chu makes it easy to pick up on the names, terms, and Martian culture created by Burroughs, especially for those readers who are not familiar with the source material. In all of her writing, Chu does a great job of imagining how her characters would react to the situation presented in a given scene. Often in comic books, the main character’s actions are predictable even as the challenge they face changes. However in Dejah Rises, Chu reveals her version of Dejah Thoris to be a multifaceted character who has varied and natural reactions to the obstacles she faces on the scientific mission.
As much as I enjoyed the characterization of Dejah, I found the actual plot to be very tedious. So much so, that I had to force myself to finish this volume. The story is dialogue heavy, and outside of some character development, most of this dialogue doesn’t lead to anything substantial. Most of the issues collected in this volume left me feeling like the creative team was trying to make sure they met the required page count. Nearly every page is filled with dialogue, yet I never felt like I was getting anywhere in the story as I read through the comic. When action scenes did occur, they were often hard to follow. Though some of the fault for this lies with the art team.
In general, artist Qualano’s illustrations mesh well with what I’ve come to consider Dynamite’s house art style. His work in this comic is standard fair for the titles published by Dynamite. It doesn’t break new ground, but the characters are usually drawn well. The exception to this is during the action sequences. Qualano’s figures look great when they are standing still, but when they start moving the images on the page become muddled and confusing. In addition, there were many pages where I felt like either the panels were out of order or the speech bubbles were mixed up. One redeeming quality I can mention about Qualano’s art in this comic is that I loved the designs of the spaceships.
Dejah Thoris Volume 2 is an accessible jumping on point, though not necessarily an engaging one. I was surprised by the reveal on the last page, but long time fans of Burroughs work will probably see it coming. Speaking of Burroughs, this comic seems like it’s meant mostly for fans of his novels. Those like me, who haven’t read any of his books, likely won’t get the same level of enjoyment out of Dejah Thoris Volume 2. This comic isn’t all bad, but without the nostalgia factor, the story and art just don’t stand up to the other Sci-Fi titles that are out there.