Classic Comic Cover Corner – John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling pop culture commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 – November, 1978

Cover art by John Byrne

John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 – November, 1978
John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 – November, 1978

Water being found on Mars was the big news out of NASA last week. Way to go, science, but John Carter fans could have told you that over a hundred years ago.

It’s blatantly clear on the cover of Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 (1978) that water and ice are definitely found on the Red Planet, and that it is most likely populated with nasty alien types (not counting our friend, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of the Thark, of course.)

On Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom (Mars), water is a dwindling commodity, mostly underground and transported via a series of elaborate canals, but it was certainly available and capable of sustaining life. ERB based his Martian waterways on what many considered to be fact in the late 19th century, including Percival Lowell of Arizona’s Lowell Observatory.

Besides predating NASA’s water find, John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 is also known for containing the very first Marvel art by renowned comic creator, Frank Miller; who got to flex his muscles in this issue, depicting an epic battle between Tars Tarkas and his Thark rival, Barak Sol. (Thank Issus the Obama haters haven’t discovered this guy, yet…)

John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 – November, 1978
John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 – November, 1978
– interior pencils by Frank Miller.

An interesting note on Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars series (which ran from 1977 to 1979); it is mostly original material not written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but instead authored by legendary comic scribes Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo. The 28 issue run (plus 3 Annual editions) are said to take place between the third and fourth paragraphs of Chapter 27 of ERB’s original novel, A Princess of Mars.

Here are those two A Princess of Mars paragraphs for your perusal:

Three weeks later, Mors Kajak and his officers, accompanied by Tars Tarkas and Sola, returned upon a battleship that had been dispatched to Thark to fetch them in time for the ceremony which made Dejah Thoris and John Carter one.

[Enter Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars Stories HERE!]

For nine years I served in the councils and fought in the armies of Helium as a prince of the house of Tardos Mors. The people seemed never to tire of heaping honors upon me, and no day passed that did not bring some new proof of their love for my princess, the incomparable Dejah Thoris.

As for NASA potentially discovering life on Mars; well, that’s another theory of which I’m sure ERB will be proven as being ahead of curve. (Here’s hoping [fingers-crossed] that said ‘life’ will include ERB’s infamous White Apes.)

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