Dejah Thoris, the titular Princess of Mars from the 1912 fantasy sci-fi novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is returning this Spring. Writer Chuck Brown, best known for his work on Black Panther, Aquamen, and the Harlem Renaissance monster-hunting epic Bitter Root, previously revisited this science-fiction staple from the point of view of its displaced Earthling protagonist in John Carter of Mars. Now the prolific writer is exploring the Princess of Mars’ mysterious past.
On sale March 2023, Dejah Thoris is set 1,000 years before the arrival of John Carter, exploring the Princess’ sheltered past in the well-guarded palace of the Red Martians, but war breaks out, forcing Dejah to brave the wilds of Barsoom and come face to face with her prejudices. In an exclusive interview with CBR, Brown shared his fascination with the lore of Barsoom, the allure of science fiction, the depth of Dejah Thoris’ character, and what’s next for the world of Barsoom. Brown and Dynamite Entertainment also shared exclusive looks at two variant covers for the upcoming Dejah Thoris #1, courtesy of artists Leirix Li and Joseph Michael Linser.
CBR: You’re no stranger to the mythos of Barsoom. What originally drew you to the world of A Princess of Mars?
CHUCK BROWN: The rich world-building and imaginative concepts of A Princess of Mars have always captivated me. The idea of a dying planet and the diverse array of characters and cultures that inhabit it is something that I find endlessly fascinating. Before I was approached to work on these projects, I just admired them from afar. The more I research and read, the more I enjoy this universe.
You’ve worked on classic superhero titles for both DC and Marvel and your creator-owned series Bitter Root. How does writing for a DC or Marvel title or your original story compare to your experience writing for Dejah Thoris? Have your previous works influenced your interpretation of this character and her world?
Writing for a pre-existing property like Dejah Thoris is a different experience than working on an original series like Bitter Root. With a pre-existing property, there is a certain level of reverence and respect that must be paid to the source material, but also an opportunity to put my own spin on things. My previous works have certainly influenced my interpretation of the character and her world, but ultimately, it’s a different animal. I have to be mindful of the artists I work with outside of creator-owned books. I try [to] reach out to each artist to find out what is most important to them before the editor sends them the script.
A Princess of Mars is considered seminal classic science fiction. What is it about science fiction that you find so appealing?
Science fiction allows for limitless exploration and imagination. It is a genre that can be used to comment on contemporary issues and offer thought-provoking concepts. I also believe that what we create as science fiction today could become science fact in the world of tomorrow. That is truly fascinating.
Previously, you explored this story from John Carter’s point of view. This time, you’re focusing on Dejah before she meets her future husband. Being royalty on Mars, her perspective must be very different from John’s! How will you convey this?
Dejah Thoris’ perspective is certainly different from John’s. She is a powerful and respected leader in her own right, and she doesn’t have superpowers like John. She’s a very grounded character on a red planet filled with marvels. I plan to convey this by showcasing her decision-making process, her relationships with her people, and her inner thoughts and motivations. She has been sheltered, but now she has to explore all the mysteries and dangers of Barsoom.
In the original novel, Dejah Thoris was an important character, but she played more of a supporting role. What is it about her that you were most excited to explore in this series? What changes have you made to her character, and what aspects did you keep?
Dejah Thoris is a strong and complex character, and I was excited to delve deeper into her backstory and motivations. I’ve made some changes to her character, but I have also kept many of the elements that made her so compelling in the original novel. As we all know, the red Martians are constantly at war with the green. Dejah will have to put her prejudices aside to work with a green Martain to survive her ordeal.
The Barsoom city-state of Helium, Dejah’s home, and its inhabitants play a large role in this upcoming series, as do the different tribes of Martians. What is it about the world of Barsoom and its characters that you love to write and develop?
One of the themes I want to explore in the series is the cost of war. The various Martian tribes are constantly at odds with one another, and this leads to a lot of bloodshed and destruction. The characters will have to grapple with the horrors of war and the senseless loss of life. The series will also explore the idea of what it truly means to be a leader and the moral dilemmas that come with being one.
What do you love most about working on this series? What are you most looking forward to your fans discovering in Dejah Thoris?
I love the creative freedom that comes with working on this series, and I’m excited for fans to discover more about Dejah Thoris’ backstory and her role in shaping the world of Barsoom. I’m also looking forward to Barsoom fans seeing the fun allies and terrifying villains [like] the Man-eaters.
What is next for you after Dejah Thoris’ adventures? Will you be exploring more about the mythos of Barsoom, or are there other projects on the horizon?
After Dejah Thoris, I have several other projects in the works with Dynamite Entertainment. I’ve been given the honor of working on a couple of Disney villains. But I am open to the possibility of exploring more of the mythos of Barsoom in the future. All they have to do is ask!
Dejah Thoris #1 goes on sale on March 8 and is available for pre-order at your local comic book store.