Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wanted TPB: Conqueror of the Barren Earth

Writer: Gary Cohn 
Artist: Ron Randall 
Publisher: DC Comics (1982-1988)
Includes: The Warlord (backup story) #63,64,67,73,74,76-82,84-88, Conqueror of the Barren Earth #1-4, and Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #2

Plot:Thousands of years in the future, Earth’s sun has become a red giant, laying waste to the planet it once warmed. Long before, most of mankind had departed for other worlds, leaving the dying world to be fought over by the savage forces that remained behind.

In conquering the stars, mankind had found new friends and a terrible new enemy, the Qlov. The warring between the Qlov and the Confederation had spanned the galaxy, until finally mankind was back where it had begun—trying to reclaim its homeworld, Earth. Sadly, as the spaceship Renewal approached Earth orbit, it was attacked by Qlov forces. Only one escape craft from each ship survived.

Light-years from her countrymen, the warrior Jinal now leads the five other Confederation survivors in a quest in which she is determined to succeed: to become the conqueror of the barren Earth.

Review from The Barren Earth: An Appraisal by D.J. LoTempio: The Barren Earth started and ran from 1982 to 1984 during a period when DC Comics was adding short back-up strips to their titles. Stylistically, the series is a successful revamp of the failed Starfire series, which billed itself as a Sword and Science genre and whose writers didn't seem to understand the concept. I urge readers to check out David R. Black's overview of the Starfire series for details. Gary Cohn and Ron Randall quite clearly have a handle on the concept in The Barren Earth though, taking their inspiration from the Dune series by Frank Herbert, a modern classic. In fact, one could say that Cohn and Randall take a little too much inspiration from the Dune series since several similarities are apparent in The Barren Earth : the setting is a world of sand, filled with deadly desert nomads adapted to the climate; the theme of human evolution is one of the main story concepts; politics play as much significance as battles; there is a psycho-active substance that has a prominent role in the story; and Jinal seems too civilized for hardship, much like Paul Atreides.Now, you might be thinking that you are better off reading Dune , which I certainly wouldn't stop from you doing since it is a fabulous piece of work, but if you dismiss The Barren Earth as derivative then you will be forced to dismiss Dune and countless other fine fantasy works as derivative of Gilgamesh or The Arthurian Cycle or, dare I say it, the Old Testament. The Barren Earth is a work that follows in colossal footprints yet stakes a claim as an innovative comic series.

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