With all the John Carter love rolling around here on this blog and making y'all people nauseated, I figured I'd do some research and discover what REALLY makes Captain Carter tick. I wanted to find out what it is about him that makes those of us who love him love him, and those who kind of sort of really hate him, you know, hate him.
So I've started reading the books. I'm on the fourth in the series, Thuvia: Maid of Mars. And I must say that I'm charmed. In sort of an eye-rolling puh-lease kind of way. These books were published a hundred years ago. They were ground-breaking and laid the framework for books and movies like Dune and Avatar. They deserve some respect.
So it is with this respect--and my proverbial hat off to those on both sides of the John Carter love-aisle--that I give you: John Carter of Mars, the Books. In 2 Minutes:
Hello there, puny earthling. I am John Carter, God of Mars. They don't actually call me "God," but I'm so full of natural impulsiveness, brazen fighting skills, earth-muscles, and the ability to get out of every bad situation simply by showing up, that they might as well. Call me a God, that is. That last sentence was so long I feared you might have lost my train of thought. I know I did.
You must wonder how I, John Carter of Earth, Captain of the Somethingth Cavalry, managed to find my way to Mars. I wonder too. I found myself here after passing out in a cave in Arizona, lying around for a day or two until I couldn't take it any more and then just sort of standing up out of my body. It was freaky. Especially when I saw myself lying on the ground fully clothed and looking like I was dead---then looked down at my separated-self and discovered I was entirely naked. I mean like, buck. Or as they will say in the future, and which will be wildly incorrect, "butt."
Scarce had I considered the nakedidity issue when I looked up, saw Mars, and wuhBAM! I was sucked up onto it. Just like that. I have no explanation. Like, ever.
The moment I arrived it became clear that Mars has pitiful gravity which turns me into a superhero and solves all of my problems before they happen. But since that would make for a boring story I make sure to leave a few obvious problems unsolved. You know. For fun. In any case, I can bounce around and kill people merely by saying my name to them, and everyone on Barsoom knows it. Even all the peoples I've never heard of and don't know I exist. They do too.
So, I was captured by Tharks, then fell in love with Dejah Thoris who was also conveniently captured. I mean, who wouldn't? The woman was conveniently naked. Butt. However, being the Southern gentleman I was, and despite having lived smack in the middle of the Victorian era where people were clothed to within an inch of their lives, I barely noticed. At all. Except to say that Dejah Thoris was naked. Nekkid. Nakedy-woo-woo. Nay-hee-hee-ked. Seriously, being naked wasn't a problem at all for any of us. Except for every time we tried to walk, or ride, or jump, or fight in the desert and sand tried to get all up into our . . . never mind.
Right. I am a man of great action and little thought. I can't take all this talking. To make a long story short, here's how things went:
"Hark! A beautiful [NAKED] woman! And some green men! And wait! Some Ebony-skinned men! And Wait! Some yellow guys! And wait! Some white guys with auburn hair that are here but not here! And some Therns which are holy and wear bad blonde wigs! And behold all of the tunnels under Barsoom that no one knew were here but figure into every story! Tunnels full of Stygian darkness. Stygian, I tell you! In case I haven't made it clear, all darkness on Barsoom is Stygian. You can use that if you like.
"Zounds! I am beset by wild beasts/red men/yellow men/first born/tree-guys/thoats/other big elephantine things! I shall fight and slash and beat 50-to-1 odds and . . . oh wait. Never mind. They went away. I don't know why, but I'm grateful. Another moment and I'd be dead. Except probably not because I'm John carter, and no one on this planet is like me . . .
"WAIT! Who's that kid? He says his dad died just about the same time I left Barsoom the first time! And his mom mourns and is beautiful! And wow! He leaps around a lot and fights like a Virginia Cavalry man! And he kind of resembles me!
Who could he be?
"Well, I shall disguise myself because the bad guys I am following and whose conversations I have overheard at exactly the right moment to learn stuff that will later allow me to save ALL OF MARS--except I'll forget it for a few moments, but then right before everyone dies I'll remember that the code to save Mars is: Left 18, Right 32, Spin Counterclockwise on both knees, hum the third verse of the Star Spangled Banner, and do the Hokey Pokey--is one they will kill me for if they know I overheard it. And besides I need to save Dejah Thoris who is in a perpetual state of kid-napped-ness and who, despite the total coolness of her character in the movie, pretty much does nothing in the books but disappear from behind me without me knowing. That and be naked.
"And now for something really different: I am disguised as a Yellow Man of Mars with a black beard and mustache and yellow skin. No one knows who I am, even my most familiar enemies who know I always disguise myself because I've done it forty times. ZOUNDS! Look over there! It's Dejah Thoris! Who I am here to rescue! Again!
"Yooohooo! Dejah! What? SHE TURNS HER BACK ON ME? DOES SHE HATE ME NOW, HER LOVING HUSBAND? HAS SHE TURNED AGAINST ME? I AM BEREFT!
"Gasp! My enemies have captured me! They are unmasking me! "haHAH! Yes! It is I, John Carter of Earth! Mars! Whatever! You did not recognize me because of my brilliant disgui . . . wait. Oh. I see. Dejah didn't know who I was because . . . Ah. Who'd-a-thunk?"
"Okay. I'm tired. I'm going back to Helium to become Warlord of Mars, and my son (which is who that kid turned out to be; who knew?)--taking a leaf out of Bella Swan's book, except without the sparkles, and calling himself Carthoris--can take over. (See what he did there? He combined Dejah's name with mine. So it became "Carthoris". That, my friends, is how you become a best seller.)
Okay. The end. I'll probably die here on Mars, but not for like a thousand years since time is different up here. But I'm too tired to explain it. I'm going to nakedly ride without a saddle on a thoat all the freaking way back to Helium through the sand while fighting multi-colored Martians off, but not bleeding to death from my naked wounds of nakedness. See you next time I get sucked back to earth. Dejah says Hi."
"John Carter and the Diaper of Mars!"
And P.S. - For reals, I love these books. They're a hoot. And extremely imaginative. Great summer read!