By Brandy Dykhuizen. “I am Larka,” the princess formerly known as Dejah Thoris repeats 3 times in the first two pages, most likely to convince herself of the gravity of this newly acquired indignity. Larka, you see, has been enslaved, and appears to be undergoing forced combat training with a new set of pretty hot, albeit useless armor and a handful of badass weapons. Even under unwanted command, she exudes a simmering power ready to explode and conquer. For now we just have to assume she’s suffering current insults for the good of a larger scheme.
Enter the meat of the story – the flashback to her last moments as Princess Dejah Thoris, her brief interlude as queen culminating to her swift descent as a prisoner awaiting death. Frank Barbiere gives us a super fun and classic set-up full of fairy tales and fantasy motifs, and he doesn’t skimp on the prototypical villains. Conspiracy abounds when Mors Kajak, the Jed of Lesser Helium, goes missing and his daughter, Dejah Thoris, is accused of killing him to claim the throne for herself (yeah, that ol’ chestnut).
Mysterious councilmen appear out of nowhere with a baffling power to convince the kingdom that they belong there (ok, guys…who’s turn was it to guard the Royal Seal?!?). The leader of this skeezy pack, the probably ironically-named Valoris, sits somewhere between Ming the Merciless and Aladdin’s Jafar in terms of facial hair and demeanor. All we know about him so far is that he’s up to no good and out to steal the throne. (“Damn… this was your plan all along!” Nothing escapes John Carter.)
However, Dejah Thoris is no damsel in distress. With a roundhouse kick to the face of her would-be assassin (and with her handmaid’s help), she escapes to embark on her truth-seeking mission. Dejah Thoris or Larka, Francesco Manna portrays her slightly less naked but no less stunning than Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original description of her in the John Carter series. Cliches and tropes aside, it looks like the tables will turn for our eponymous character, and her journey between truth and justice will be a fun, ass-kicking ride.
Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99
Written by Frank J. Barbiere.
Art by Francesco Manna.
Colors by Morgan Hickman.
Letters by Erica Schultz.
7.5 out of 10