Dejah Thoris Index
Back in the 1970s
(first issue was in
Marvel Comics ran a series called "Warlord of Mars"
that were based on Burroughs' novels. At that time, comic books were
still sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. They had not become
the niche industry they are now, sold only in comic book shops and
via the Internet. Which is to say, they still adhered to the gruesome
Comics Code that effectively neutered comics for 25 years or so.
Comics Code, like the Hayes Code, was an industry response to the
public perception that comics had Gone Too Far in its portrayal of
crime, violence and sex. Comics were especially vulnerable to such
perceptions because they were generally perceived at being an
entertainment medium primarily aimed at children, perhaps because
they WERE an entertainment medium primarily aimed at children ... at
when Congress started having hearings comic
publishers quickly, nay, eagerly, cut off their balls and neutered
themselves with voluntary compliance to an industry-based Comics Code
Authority before they found themselves reporting to some federal board
or other that would NEVER go away.
This required adherence to rules that essentially said comics will be
fit only for children to read, because we are not about to permit
anything that includes adult topics, so rest easy, Amerca, comics are
banal and boring, and will remain that way so long as the Comics Code
is in existence.
This lasted until the late 1960s, early
1970s, when comics began feeling the heat from the rise of what were
called "underground comics." Underground comics were the
sex, drugs and violence drenched product of the counterculture,
gleefully and explicitly exploring every single dark alley that the
Comics Code had permanently sealed off from mainstream comics.
the mainstream comics, underground comics were pure, unadulterated
nightmare fuel, because of course underground comics were incredibly
hip, cool and hence, desirable to the young, and by extension
mainstream comics became square, boring and stupid. Or at least, more
obviously square, boring and stupid. And that threatened to hit them
where they lived, which is to say, the cash register.
of Mars came along in 1977 and ran until 1979, at a time when
mainstream comics were
responding to the threat posed by underground comics by stretching
the comics code as far as they could, which still left them safely
banal in relation to underground comics. Still, after the long
unchecked reign of the Comics Code they were Wild Stuff
is how we have Showgirl Dejah Thoris gracing the
pages of Warlord of Mars comics. I call her that because her normal
costume did kind of look like a Vegas showgirl's, most often featuring
a skimpy metal bra, and Slave Liea style mud flaps fore and aft held
together by a tiny string. Sometimes she was more overdressed, but for
the most part it was a teeny metal bra, a thong bottom and mud flaps.
All in all it was fairly sexy gear for a comic
book heroine. Not TOO sexy, mind you, because the Comics Code still
ruled and Marvel was one of the Big Two comics publishers. If you
want to look at what the off brands were doing, who were not nearly so
concerned about the Comics Code Authority (because they were not
nearly so affected by news stand sales) you need only look at Savage
Sword of Conan's naked and almost-naked female characters.
Vegas Dejah Thoris was plenty sexy and plenty naked compared with the
Dejah Thorises the movies have given us to date, however. Despite being
created thirty years before either movie, she upholds the general
artists and illustrators have far outdone moviemakers in capturing
the real Dejah Thoris.
Comics has announced that is is going to do a new John Carter comic,
no doubt aiming to pick up eyes from Disney's "John Carter of Mars"
movie. It will be interesting to see how they handle it. I seriously
doubt, however, that they will be able to match Dynamite
Entertainment's' Dejah Thoris Comics for sheer sexy fun. Marvel never
was the risk-taker that Stan Lee makes them out to be, and they
certainly aren't risk takers now. More like franchise-protectors, and
looking at Dynamite Entertainment's prior publication,
franchise-grabbers, if they can manage it.