Dan Abnett's Writer's Commentary on Dejah Thoris #3 – Genuinely Shocking Long-Time Barsoom Fans

Dan Abnett has a Writer's Commentary on Dejah Thoris #3,, on sale now from Dynamite. Dan writes,

The intrigue and conspiracies of the first two chapters come to a head in this, the third issue of Dejah Thoris, and from this point, everything changes and the conflict explodes. I think Vasco's done some of his best work so far on this issue, and Dearbhla's colors are fantastic.

Page one

A sinister foreshadowing of the carnage to come. In the throne room of Helium, Jeddak Kurz Kurtos hears the news that his devious scheme to 'dispose' of the troublesome Dejah has failed. Is he pleased? What do you think? From here, the gloves are most definitely off.

Pages two to four

Dejah and the oh-so-loyal Kantos Kan have joined forces with Dejah's granddaughter Llana, who is a feisty and enthusiastic soul, and whose confidence comes from the fact that she is (thanks to "Earth" genetics) a superhuman by Barsoomian standards. At the Atmosphere Factory — and you've got to love the clean simplicity of the way Vasco establishes its monolithic scale — the trio compare notes and begin to fully appreciate the scale and menace of the danger bearing down on the family line. But Dejah, for whom this is not a debut rodeo, rejects the safe option. She's going to be proactive, as only she can, because others are in danger. She's out-thinking her nemesis.

Page six
But now they're in trouble. A ferocious airship pursuit-and-battle breaks loose, as the Jeddak's elite get them in their sights. They're outnumbered and they're outgunned.

Pages seven to nine
In the city of Ptarth, it's already too late. The murderous — and superhuman — Jeweled Killers are wreaking havoc in their mission to exterminate the Thoris Dynasty. Dejah's daughter (Llana's mom!), Tara of Gathol, a superhuman warrior in her own right, orders the evacuation of her close family… but she needs to buy them time to get clear.

Pages ten to thirteen
Cue a stunning clash between her and the Killers, which Vasco choreographs brilliantly. This is pure Edgar Rice Burroughs heroic swordplay… with some crunching and athletic hand-to-hand thrown in.

Pages fourteen to seventeen
Meanwhile, the air-ship battle is raging. Llana — typical Llana — is entirely kick-ass, but Dejah is cunning enough to know that courage alone isn't going to cut it. Once again, she uses her wits, training the effect of her rifle, and Llana's crackshot abilities, where it counts. But it's still not enough. In desperation, Dejah steers the fast, fragile air-ship into a blistering Barsoomian ice storm in the hope they can outrun the heavier chase ships…and that the storm will force their attackers back.

Pages eighteen to twenty two
I don't want to spoil the end section of this issue, so I won't. Suffice to say, both story strands are heading for disaster. I believe the critical and powerful events in Ptarth will genuinely shock long-time Barsoom fans. This is a big deal, a pivotal moment in the world's history.

And as for Dejah and her companions… after the last page, I wonder what we're going to call this comic from the next issue onwards?!

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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