Ruthlessly And Recklessly Kicking Over The Martian Card Table – Mark Rahner Talks Dejah Of Mars
Yesterday we ran the writer's commentary on Dejah Of Mars #1 and today we follow that up with a brief interview of writer Mark Rahner by a fellow writer Shannon Eric Denton.
SHANNON ERIC DENTON: Dejah is a character born from the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs and thus was monstrously ahead of its time considering we're coming up on the 100 year anniversary. What are your ambitions on staying true to a classic property like this while also embracing its progressive and exploratory nature?
MARK RAHNER: My ambition is to show her ruthlessly and recklessly kicking over the Martian card table to find her missing husband. I don't think she's ever been your typical damsel in distress. But this time the shoe's really on the other foot, and she has to save Carter from something awful.
The goal in all the Dejah Thoris comics I've written has always been to show why she's the woman John Carter fell in love with – why she's "incomparable." Carter's a superman of sorts, and she does things that leave him in awe.
DEJAH OF MARS also gets into issues Burroughs raised that I hadn't seen much done with: Carter's apparent immortality – described at the beginning of A PRINCESS OF MARS – and the aftermath of his ridding the planet of its fraudulent religion. What if ours were eliminated – and by an outsider, no less?
My story in WARLORD OF MARS 100, "Stay," was a prologue to this one. It was enigmatic, but all the questions it raised will be answered.
SED: You're writing one of the most empowered female characters of fiction in Dejah Thoris. What would you like female readers to know in an effort to get them to give this book a try?
MR: That she's got some depth. Don't write her off as a pin-up. In DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS, I wrote her as a damaged, isolated woman haunted by abuse-survivor PTSD and survivor's guilt. DEJAH OF MARS is about family and how a woman will plow through anyone who threatens hers, no matter who it is or what the consequences are. The story's original title was "Get Carter" and you'll see nods to the 1971 crime flick that had Michael Caine's character tearing the hell out of an English town to find out what happened to his brother. Dejah Thoris is clever and determined – brutally so here. But she's not invulnerable or unstoppable. She tries harder and shows more nerve.
SED: Besides his Mars series what are your other favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs's creations?
MR: I became a Tarzan fan when I read some of those novels before I wrote Dynamite's LORD OF THE JUNGLE annual. There was none of that "Me Tarzan, you Jane" silliness from the old movies. Tarzan's a brilliant guy who learns fast and picks up languages easily. He could be a secret agent. And very similar to Carter, he's extraordinarily kind and honorable as well as a nearly unstoppable, devious killer. I wouldn't mind returning to him someday.
SED: When the book was originally written knowledge of Mars was scarce. Now we have robots up there. How has this helped and hindered your writing in regards to the adventures set on the Red Planet?
MR: I've ignored the science we know now so thoroughly that a congressional climate-change denier would be jealous. It's pure, pulpy fantasy – run through a grindhouse theater in my case. But in DEJAH THORIS AND THE WHITE APES OF MARS, I did create a backstory for the "face of Mars" we see on the planet's surface. It's really a mass burial mound.
SED: What other upcoming projects from Mark Rahner should fans be on the lookout for?
MR: A big TWILIGHT ZONE annual in June! Couldn't be more thrilled. Three stories, 48 pages. TZ and Rod Serling were massive influences on me, and I wanted to do right by them. You've ordered it, right, Shannon? RIGHT?
For more on Dejah Of Mars #1, click here.