Edgar Rice Burroughs' fantastic novel "A Princess of Mars" is presented here in graphic novel format splendidly. While not the first time this story has been told graphically, this is certainly one of the most accurate and well-represented versions of Burroughs' classic tale. This work is brought to us by the powerhouse duo of Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard, whose previous adaptations include "A Study in Scarlet," "The Hound of Baskervilles," and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" among others.
If you are reading this review then I am going to assume you have at least a little knowledge of Burroughs' 'Mars' books, even if limited to the (extremely under-appreciated) Disney motion picture. The recollections of Captain John "Jack" Carter's adventures across the planet Mars include some of the most influential settings and imagery that continue to be a profound staple of modern day science-fiction. The success of such franchises as "Star Trek," "Masters of the Universe," James Cameron's "Avatar," and the almighty "Star Wars" owe much to A Princess of Mars for it's fantastical landscapes, interplanetary romance, and galvanizing alien races; but most of all for it's boundary-breaking perfection of a sub-genre dubbed the "space-opera" to which many an author owes his/her gratitude.
The text adaptation of this book by Ian Edginton blends perfectly with the action shown in the artwork. We are given everything we need to know, that cannot be shown in graphical form, through the use of narration and word balloons while the more poignant scenes are shown through powerful imagery. Speaking of imagery, I.N.J. Culbard's artwork is, in a word, dominant. The beautiful landscapes of the planet Barsoom (Mars) are brought to life through fantastic colors and Culbard's interpretation of the green martians, red martians, thoats, calots and all other manner of Barsoomian flora and fauna are refreshingly simple yet, mesmerizing. His artwork can be likened to that of Guy Davis or Darwyn Cooke, but with a distinction all it's own.
This is a story that many people, myself included, hold very dear. It is the beginning of a supremely powerful odyssey which spans worlds and generations with high adventure and logical morals strewn throughout. This version published by Sterling Press is a shinning example of what a great book can become in the illustrated world. My only hope is that we will see the rest of John Carter's adventures told in this format. Until that happens though, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. As stated before, there are many illustrated versions of this wonderful tale to choose from, but this particular version is the hardest with which to compete. The only version you will ever need is here and it sets the bar mighty high. It is definitely worth every penny.