Written by Cliff Biggers.
Barbiere Shares His Dejah View
Has Dejah Thoris really been around for more than a century now? Yes indeed—she made her first appearance in All-Story Magazine way back in 1912. For a centenarian, she's looking quite good indeed—but after a hundred years, it's apparently time for a new look!
When Dynamite's new Dejah Thoris series debuts in February, readers will meet a Dejah Thoris whose world has been changed, leading her to go into a self-imposed exile, where she assumes a new identity and new duties as a rookie soldier in the Barsoomian outlands.
The saga begins with the disappearance of Dejah Thoris's father. "Without giving too much away, I can say that things escalate quickly and Dejah does not end up taking the throne," writer Frank J. Barbiere said. "The mystery of what happened to her father and the machinations behind his disappearance are a big hook of our story. While we're primarily interested in Dejah's quest and growth, the plot as a whole all revolves around what happened to her father and the bigger, more insidious plan behind it.
"Dejah has a memory shaken loose—something that she had buried deep in her subconscious—and it cuts to the core of who she is. This series is really about her getting back in touch with her identity, not just the roles she's given. It all ties together nicely and relates to themes about destiny, lineage, and identity—I'm very proud of how the book is shaping up and think readers will be intrigued.
While many of Dynamite's Dejah Thoris tales have been set in Barsoom's pre-John Carter past, Barbiere is focusing on the John Carter era in his series. "John Carter is married to Dejah Thoris in this story and has been established as a main player," Barbiere said. "It's not really a new origin or anything like that, as much as a new story within the already established canon. It's a great experience to play with that canon and have such a wealth of mythology at my disposal. It is truly humbling to add to something that is already so massive and great."
In addition to John Carter, other familiar characters are slated to appear in the new series. "There will definitely be some familiar faces popping up! There will also be a lot of the elements of the world fans love worked in. I really enjoy taking advantage of the fantastic canon and mythology established in the world of Barsoom. It really adds a nice dimension to the book!"
The much-publicized "new look" for Dejah Thoris is actually a logical component of the story. "It's featured very prominently into the plot and has a necessity," Barbiere said. "We still get to see a fair bit of 'classic' Dejah, but her new outfit is actually a military uniform. Dejah leaves Helium and is trying to hide her affiliation with the kingdom, so it really works quite well within the story. The idea with the redesign isn't to change the canon—it's to add to it in an exciting, organic way.
"It's really quite liberating to have such a fleshed out character. I feel when you create your own characters you spend so much time trying to convince readers they have substance, that they are worthwhile. With Dejah, I can lean on her past and the great stories that have come before, and really focus on doing something new and saying what I want to say with the story. It's part of the reason I really do enjoy work for hire projects, as well as my own creations."
The new look was designed by acclaimed artist Nicola Scott. ""Dejah Thoris was about playing with themes and the Barsoom aesthetic," Scott said. "Plaited leathers, swooping, organic shaped armour, and gossamer fabrics seemed the right place to start. It was just a matter of playing around with shapes and proportions until it came together."
Dedicated Burroughs fans don't need to worry that Barbiere is trying to reinvent ERB's vision of Barsoom. "There is a fair bit of the mythology at play, but largely it's the visual aesthetic that will be a touchstone for fans. We know this world looks and acts a certain way, so we'll be playing into that as much as possible. This is very much a story set in the established story world, so we won't be taking many liberties with the aesthetics and mythology of the universe—just expanding them and enhancing the story we want to tell!"
Barbiere explained how his role in the Dejah Thoris relaunch came about. "I've had a fantastic working relationship with Dynamite Entertainment since Solar: Man of the Atom. I've stayed in touch and expressed an interest in doing more, and thankfully my name came up as someone who would be a good candidate for Dejah Thoris! I'm very excited to be collaborating with new editor Rachel Pinnelas as well as senior editor Joe Rybandt, both of whom have brought a really fresh new direction to all three of the books launching—Dejah, Sonja, and Vampirella, respectively."
In spite of his comprehensive knowledge of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and its inhabitants, Barbiere isn't a lifelong ERB reader. "I had always caught references to Burroughs growing up, but it actually wasn't until I read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2—which features an opening issue featuring Barsoom/some of the John Carter mythology—that I became aware of it," Barbiere explained. "The vividness of the desert imagery was really striking to me, something that Moore and O'Neil really caught in their interpretation. I researched it a bit after that and really thought it was a cool mythology—then of course, the film brought it back into the limelight—at least for a short moment."
Barbiere's first storyline "is planned as a six-issue arc," he said, "but hopefully there will be more to come, as I really do enjoy the character and the world of Barsoom, and I am truly honored to be writing Dejah Thoris, a character with such a robust history and celebrated pulp pedigree. This is a new start for Dejah Thoris, and I think our story is going to reignite the spark of what makes her great. It's a bold new take that really captures the spirit of Dejah as a dynamic, interesting, and capable character ,while exploring her past in a way that fans new and old won't expect."
Dejah Thoris #1, by Frank J. Barbiere & Francesco Manna, is scheduled for February 3rd release. The book is offered with cover art by Jay Anacleto, NEN, Tula Lotay, and Tony Fleecs; in addition, Dynamite will offer a 1-for-10 variant cover by Ming Doyle and a 1-for-25 variant cover by Nicola Scott.