Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Face-Off: Martian Mayhem!


Karen: In honor of the recent announcement about the discovery of liquid water on the surface of Mars, we give you the opportunity today to throw your support behind one of two books that each dealt with the red planet: In War of the Worlds, Killraven and his band of rebels fought back against invading Martians in a dark future, while John Carter, Warlord of Mars followed the adventures of the Edgar Rice Burroughs character as he rescued princesses and battled six-limbed martians on Mars itself. Which book survives this interplanetary death match?




16 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

For me it's Killraven by default, because I haven't (yet) read Warlord of Mars (the omnibus, purchased a few years ago now, is still awaiting a proper read-through). I really enjoyed Killraven for the most part, especially that run of stories by McGregor and Russell; I also think it's criminal that it hasn't had a decent color reprint yet.

On the subject of John Carter, though, I thought the almost universally panned movie from a few years back was really good.

Redartz said...

I'm with Edo; the Killraven books were enjoyable, with a nice cast of characters (loved Old Skull). Having never read John Carter, I can't really make a judgement call upon him. Of course, my favorite Martian (sorry, Ray Walston) is Marvin. He, and his Explosive Space Modulatooooor...

Doug said...

Count me among those who've not read either of these characters in comic form, and as I've remarked recently I've only just cracked some John Carter literature. So for the rest of the day, I'm just spectating!

Doug

dbutler16 said...

Well, I guess it's John Carter be default for me, because I've read one issue of that, and I thought it was pretty good, and I've never read an issue of Killraven, though I've heard good things about it. I'll put it on my to-do list.

Colin Jones said...

Can I mention another one - Gullivar Jones, Warrior Of Mars. He appeared in my very first Marvel comic which was Planet Of The Apes weekly #5 in November 1974. And I agree with Edo about the John Carter movie - I saw it on DVD and I enjoyed it too.

Humanbelly said...

I remember. . . I remember. . .
Liking Killraven a heck of a lot-- pretty sure he was the very next feature in Amazing Adventures after the Beast's run ended, wasn't he? And I think I have nearly the whole run-- but darned if I can remember very many specifics about it. Usually very well-drawn, and it tended to be a "denser" read-- not a breeze-through.

As I mentioned a little while back, John Carter simply failed to pull me in. I think it may have been burdened with the rather dated SF/Fantasy tropes of its source material. Truly, if it had been set almost anywhere that was, say, outside of our solar system, I could probably have given it the benefit of suspended disbelief. But by the late 70's/early 80's Mars had lost its exotic appeal of being a wholly unknown planet where, who knows?, whole civilizations might be thriving. I dunno-- just seemed like yet another dis-placed white guy in a savage land story, which there were already plenty of in the comics racks.

And really, even though I've always been pretty much a Zuvembie, J'onn J'onzz is always the first name that comes to my mind when I think of my favorite Martian In Comics. Love that guy!

HB

J.A. Morris said...

My money's on Jonathan Raven.

Edo Bosnar said...

Colin, I've always wanted to read those Gullivar stories. In the US they came out in Creatures on the Loose (with some really nice covers by Steranko, among other things).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my money's on Killraven too.
I absolutely loved KR, to the extent that the later issues - the ones drawn by Craig Russell - make up one of my favourite Marvel runs of the 70s. Having said that, I think you had to come to it around eleven or twelve years old in the mid 70s to really appreciate it.

Not that theres anything wrong with John Carter - Gil Kane inked by Rudy Nebres definitely made for one of the better looking Marvel books of the late 70s. But it lacked a bit of spark somehow... Same goes for the DC version from Weird Worlds a few years earlier.
(And lets not forget, John Carter never had an alter ego that took on the apes like Killraven did. Colin, how could you bring up Planet of the Apes and not mention Ape Slayer?)

The best Martian comic, though, is surely the second run of League of Extraordinary Gentleman, which is just fantastic. Plus, it includes John Carter AND all that HG Wells stuff.

-sean

William Preston said...

I bought (some of) both books off the comic racks. I was a fan of Wells, so the Killraven stuff caught me on that level. I only had a few issues, so part of the fascination for me was in not knowing what the heck was going on. It was exciting, but I couldn't piece together what exactly had happened or how the characters connected to one another. Wild stuff!

I got the early issues of John Carter, up through at least the first annual. (Only recently did I read any of the ERB books; they're quite good. He's a fine writer, but you can see him struggling to come up with ways to differentiate the fight scenes. John Carter always looks overwhelmed, he's about to fade, and then he pulls off a victory.) I loved the Kane art. When Colon came in, I found the books too visually unappealing, and I stopped buying them.

Colin Bray said...

Never read a single story with either character (or Gullivar Jones for that matter) but do see them cheap on the bay - now sorely tempted.

And concur that J'onn J'onzz is a great character, probably my favourite DC hero. Dignity is portrayed in so many ways through comics, from Black Panther to Cap, to Storm and Namor. But I find the dignity of J'onn the most compelling of all.

cerebus660 said...

It's definitely War Of The Worlds for me! When the Don McGregor / P Craig Russell team hit their stride, I think the strip was one of the highlights of 1970s Marvel. Beautiful artwork, complex characters, poetic ( if occasionally pretentious ) prose and some innovative storytelling all added up to a comic that could stand up next to Master Of Kung Fu or Tomb Of Dracula as a genuine attempt at raising the bar for Marvel comics.

Gullivar Jones was fun, although not in the same league, but had some lovely artwork from the likes of Gil Kane and Gray Morrow. I only ever saw / bought one issue of ( Marvel's ) John Carter but found it dull and derivative. I have to agree with Humanbelly on this one - the concept was outdated by that point.

Anonymous said...

Colin & HB, couldn't agree more; J'Onn J'Onzz is the best Martian. Colin, your point about dignity is a great one. My favorite aspect of the Martian Manhunter is his compassion. It makes him a good mentor for younger heroes as well as someone to whom even Batman can open up to. He's one of my two favorite DC characters (along with Green Arrow).

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

Mars attacks! :)

Well I gotta go with my buddies Edo, Redartz, dbutler16, JA Morris and HB - Killraven all the way baby! To me that title was a masterpiece, especially when Craig Russell took over art duties. Yeah, Don McGregor's wordy plotting style and trippy dialogue was well suited on a series like this. I liked that it was an original story which was derived from another well established story (War of the Worlds by HG Wells). One of my favourite stories dealt with virtual reality and this was many years before the Internet. It was really different from all the regular superhero stuff that was out there at the time. I don't have the complete run (maybe 75 %) of this series but I highly recommend it.

As for John Carter, I did read some issues of that title; while I enjoyed the art of Gil Kane & Rudy Nebres on that series, to me it lacked the depth and originality of Killraven.

So - Killraven wins the deathmatch against John Carter. Five exploding stars (Killraven's favourite weapon aside from his sword) out of five!


- Mike 'mud brother' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Karen said...

Looks like Killraven is the winner -although when it comes to Mars, nobody beats J'Onn J'onz! Thanks for checking in folks!

One of these days I'll have to break out those old Amazing Adventures and do some more reviews. We've had all of one here at BAB. That's ridiculous!

Dougie said...

Killraven is pretentious, without doubt, but also so innovative and experimental. Alongside Shang-Chi, it was one of the most adult series of the 70s.

However, the interplanetary romance of John Carter is more escapist fun. I don't agree that the concept was dated- perhaps the trappings were a little baroque but plot-wise, can I just say: Star. Wars.
I have conditions however: I preferred the Murphy Anderson version of Carter at DC to Kane and Chris Claremont's handful of Marvel scripts to Marv Wolfman, whom I find almost unreadable anyway.

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