I’ve been reading and enjoying the relaunched John Carter: Warlord of Mars series written by Ron Marz (and later with Ian Edgington) for the last year or so – it’s good fun pulp adventure and I like that every now and then. I’ve even gone back and picked up the first Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris trade to see what that was like and, again, it’s enjoyable stuff.
Now there’s news of a new Dejah Thoris title (along with Red Sonja and Vampirella) coming from Dynamite with a redesign of the main character and whose story is road-mapped by Gail Simone whose writing I really enjoy – her various Secret Six series are among my favourites – so I’ll definitely be picking this up when it’s released. The new series will be written by Frank J. Barbiere (not someone whose work I know) with the redesign done by the excellent Nicola Scott:
which is a bit different from how she was portrayed in her previous series:
I’ve no doubt some corners of the comics internet will rail against the redesign, but honestly I think it’s a good move – it’s hard to take any character seriously when they’re wearing next to nothing, and that goes for the men in that picture, too.
The one thing that grates a little, though, is the claim that Dejah Thoris was a strong character in the original books. In the press release, Simone says:
Our mission here is to spruce up their look and remind people that these were the original female ass-kickers that inspired Xena, Buffy, and Leia Organa.
and later in the press release, Dejah is described as:
While the love interest of the world-displaced Confederate soldier, the strong and talented royal never stood on the sidelines, often venturing into danger or battle — and thus serving as a template for later science fiction heroines such as Princess Leia of Star Wars and Neytiri of James Cameron’s Avatar.
all of which leads me to wonder if they’ve read the original books by Burroughs. Sure, she appears but is captured near the beginning of the books and serves as little more than goal for Carter to seek, having adventures along the way. She really is a damsel in distress that does nothing except be captured and then rescued.
Don’t get me wrong – I much prefer to read about the new version of Dejah, no matter how scantily clad. She’s a better, more engaging and interesting character than just being someone who needs to be rescued. I guess I’d also rather see an acknowledgement of her true origins allowing for an understanding of how much the character has changed for the better.