Dan Abnett has a Writer's Commentary on Dejah Thoris #2 on sale now from Dynamite. He writes,
With issue 2 of Dejah Thoris, the action's stepping up and the intrigue is increasing. The story strands Vasco and I set up in the first issue are beginning to tie together.
Pages one to five
Barsoom is full of monsters, and their attacks are almost always explosive and savage. Though we're dealing with the mightiest of all Martian beasts – the White Apes – here, we thought it might be refreshing to set up a more insidious, 'horror' vibe. At the start, there's a brooding sense of menace, a quiet… the guards on duty, having a chat. The ape attack is explosive, but it's a more of a sudden pounce before the ominous quiet returns. Dejah and Kantos Kan get a hint that something's wrong, and we get the very creepy slow burn moment of Dejah finding out what – quietly opening the door and glimpsing the horror outside. I love the way, incidentally, Vasco got the palm-print bolt on the vault door to work.
Pages six to nine
The ape attack isn't a random predation, though our heroes don't know that yet. It's a deadly ploy unleashed by Dejah's nemesis, the Jeddak of Helium, to remove the "Dejah Thoris" problem and make it look like an accident. The White Apes are truly ferocious, and neither Dejah nor Kantos are blessed with the superhuman strength or agility of John Carter. Vasco and I wanted them to be entirely outclassed. The fight is brutal and one-sided. Kantos displays his utter devotion and his loyalty to Dejah in the face of death. Dejah prevails by using her cunning and her smarts. But it's only a temporary fix.
Pages ten to fourteen
In our other story strand, we show Tara's visit to Ptarth. Dejah's family are gathering to enter a self-determined exile because they know the Jeddak is out to expunge Dejah's dynasty. In the talk between Tara and Thuvia we learn more about the situation, the problems involved… and we drop a little backstory that should intrigue readers. Thuvia's husband is John and Dejah's son Carthoris, and he's missing, presumed dead. There isn't time to unpack that here, but it's an ominous thread that will haunt the story. For now, Tara is eager to get her family to safety. The glorious sunlight and expanse of Ptarth is a deliberate tonal contrast to the gloom and jeopardy of the opening scenes…
…and to what follows. Dejah and Kantos have done their best, but the wild apes are going to finish them.
Pages sixteen to nineteen
Except help is at hand. Enter Llana, Dejah's granddaughter. She's a fierce, and – thanks to her Earth-human heritage – she's superhumanly strong. Dejah and Kantos have a savior in the form of this Barsoomian super girl, who takes on the apes in ferocious and gleeful fashion. Great action from Vasco. Of course, Llana can't do it alone. Once again, Dejah proves that her mind and her cunning are vital weapons. She demonstrates why she is one of the great heroes of Barsoom.
Pages twenty to twenty two
Then it's time for the 'post game inquest' as they try to figure out why any of this happened. Dejah's beginning to understand that the situation has turned, and that her family security under the reign of the new Jeddak is no longer a sure thing. The truce is over. Her enemies, who have been lurking at every hand for months, are finally making their play. To demonstrate that, back in Ptarth, disaster begins. We get our first, chilling glimpse of the power and deadly ability of the Jewelled Killers…and from this moment, nothing is ever going to be the same again.
To say that the next issue is a major and shocking turning point is an understatement.