Issue one begins with Jemadav Nah-ee-lah, the titular Moon Maid, and her protector, Pal-dan, as they recall their various adventures from an ill-fated hunting expedition. In a true sword-and-planet fashion, there are a lot of instances of capturing and imprisonment. After taking off on a hunting expedition to alleviate the tedium of confinement in her father’s palace, Nah-ee-lah, Pal-dan and the party are attacked by a Kalkar patrol, forcing Nah-ee-lah to flee. She is then captured by a Va-gas hunting party, escapes, and rescues Pal-dan, only to be captured again by another Kalkar patrol while they are stuck in a swamp. Branded as spies, Nah-ee-lah are taken to an ancient city to be interrogated. The Kalkar commander has other ideas, however, and sees Nah-ee-lah as a way to her hidden kingdom. The duo are thrown in prison, and Nah-ee-lah begins to formulate an escape plan.
The first few pages of issue one of Catacombs of the Moon are quick flashbacks to prior comics to get the reader up to speed for Nah-ee-lah’s newest adventures. The artwork, both on the cover by Sparacio and the interiors by Gabriel Rearte, are gorgeous. Rearte really captures the lost world look of the Hollow Moon, with verdant jungles and ancient ruins, all masked in perpetual twilight. Though it takes place inside the moon, the jungle sword-and-planet setting will be attractive to the fans of pulp-Venus stories, such as those found on the Old Venus anthology edited by G. R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Nah-ee-lah herself seems to be a reluctant heroine, yet self-aware of her life of privilege while suddenly being thrown into the endless jungle. She doesn’t let her royal status hinder her or her interactions with others and shows down-to-earth (er..moon?) empathy with Pal-dan. Instead of submitting to the world of self-pity for being captured, she makes it her task to escape. She’s a fantastic heroine.
Catacombs of the Moon captures the classic Burroughs spirit, but also sets the course for new, grander, and perhaps even more modern adventures as well, especially with regard to its intertextuality with other Burroughs comics published by American Mythology.
Creative Team: Christopher Mills (writer), Gabriel Rearte (artist), Beezz Studios (colors), Natalie Jane (letterer), Mark Sparacio (cover artist), Puis Calzada (variant cover artist), Arthur Hesli (variant cover artist)
Publisher: American Mythology
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