Review: John Carter Warlord of Mars #18

John Carter Warlord of Mars #18 cover
Cover by John Byrne and Rudy Nebres

John Carter Warlord of Mars #18
Published by Marvel and © Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., November 1978

Title: “Meanwhile, Back in Helium!”
Synopsis: Fellow green Barsoomian Barak Sol challenges Tars Tarkas in formal combat for leadership of the Thark.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Bob McLeod

Review: It’s surprising just how unfriendly to new readers John Carter Warlord of Mars can be. Over at DC, Mike Grell’s Warlord (see reviews) deals with similar story fare, but is quick to welcome newcomers. Here, continuing storylines and specialized vocabulary make it difficult for readers to get comfortable in this Edgar Rice Burroughs world. Of course, it’s the art that makes this one interesting to many fans, with a young Frank Miller turning out his first work for Marvel. Bob McLeod’s inks largely overwhelm the rookie’s pencils, but Miller’s storytelling and fight choreography skills are already top shelf.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “Frank Miller does an admirable job of filling in for Ernie Colon. … 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.” – Tim Lasiuta, Comics Buyer’s Guide #1626, March 2007 … “Unless you particularly like sword-and-sorcery with a remarkably silly slant, John Carter is only of note because a young Frank Miller penciled issue 18.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: It’s always interesting to see some of the earliest work from a notable creator.
Not-so-cool factor: Wait. What? There’s John Byrne pencils on that cover? It’s a fine cover but it’s hard to see any Byrne under those inks.

Notable: Frank Miller’s first published work at Marvel.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “What was that?! Barak – ?!?” – Tars Tarkas (turns out Obama isn’t a secret Muslim – he’s a secret Martian!)

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on July 3, 2009.

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