“Mature” Comics: Grimm’s Fairy Tales Vs. Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris

What Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris and the Grimm’s Fairy Tale comic franchise have in common is that they both seem to be aimed at readers who have the shortest attention spans imaginable. This concept is particularly odd since comics already accomodate  people who lack patience. They’re stories told in pictures usually featuring less than 200 words a page. If somehow you read a comic where Batman punches Bane for 20 odd pages and you’re yawning, then, I guess, these are the books for you.

Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris and Grimm’s Fairy Tales are the types of comics I usually avoid for two reasons. One is that they’re marketed as “mature” and yet play to the most juvenile aspects of our nature (kind of like how South Park is meant for a mature audience, yet such an audience wouldn’t laugh at it). The other reason is that the covers feature women so scantily clad that I’d probably die of embarassment approaching the counter.

Another thing Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris and Grimm’s Fairy Tales share in common is they both freely use famous stories from the public domain. Warlord of Mars is based on the Barsoom books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (also the inspiration for the film John Carter) and Grimm’s Fairy Tales takes beloved children’s stories and throws in gore and cleavage.

Today, I managed to get past my squeamishness and read a bit of both. Running a site about comics means reading stuff I’m not excited about.

The issue of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (published by Zenescope) I read was a reimagining of Lewis Carrol’s Alice In Wonderland, except with all of the good parts taken out. Here, Alice is now a warrior-woman running around in a bikini, and all of the other characters we know by heart are no longer telling her riddles or sharing elaborate puns–they’re trying to kill her. For some reason, she has a big sword which she uses without much forethought. The issue ended with more decapitations than season 1 of Game of Thrones, and yet throughout I was never all that thrilled by it. In fact, no matter how hard it tried, it was one of the most boring comics I’ve read lately.

Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris was more ridiculous than Grimm’s Fairy Tales for the simple reason that while the Alice in Wonderland issue featured all of the female characters in lingerie or bikinis, Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris featured the heroine in practically nothing. I know what you’re thinking “Starfire, Black Cat, Power Girl, Catwoman, Wonder Woman and She-Hulk all had pretty revealing outfits too…” Compared to Dejah Thoris, those superheroes were nuns. Basically, the concept with Dejah Thoris is to show as much skin as possible without crossing over into actual nudity. If you’ve watched any of Marilyn Monroe’s later movies, you may have some idea of what I’m talking about.

The hugely surprising thing is, Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris isn’t bad. The artwork isn’t cheap. The pencils by Carlos Rafael show a definite influence from artists like Terry Dodson and Adam Hughes. The colors are creative and the script zips along nicely. Where Alice in Wonderland left me wondering “why are they fighting?” then “what did the fighting accomplish?” Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris actually fulfilled the story requirements I’ve come to expect in a comic.

Don’t misread this and think I’m urging you to go out and buy Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris all at once. It’s not for everyone, and it’s safe to say it’s not for women at all. It would take a huge amount of ironic distance for a woman to read the series and not get offended by Dejah’s costume (imagine if Princess Leia’s metal bikini became shrunk in the wash and was worn by a bustier woman and you’ll get some sense of the bizarre and illogical otherworldliness of this series). However if you’re a mature adult and want something immature and low-brow to read, I’d choose Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris over Grimm’s Fairy Tales any day.

–If you like comics like Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris, then also check out Frank Cho’s Shanna the She-Devil (ridiculous, I know).

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