Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar At The Earth's Core from Dark Horse (sporting an eye-catching Mark Schultz cover) finally puts back into print some of those luscious little stories which appeared in the back pages of DC comics way back in the early 70's.
The stories adapt the ERB novel At The Earth's Core which begins the saga of David Innes and his trip to the weird world inside the planet where he encounters a prehistoric world full of different kind of people and infamous creatures called the Mahars.
When DC Comics first picked up the Tarzan license from Gold Key there was a considerable push to maximize the opportunity and impressive efforts were made to bring to the stands not only the high profile Tarzan property but other lesser characters such as Korak, John Carter of Mars, Carson of Venus and David Innes. When the John Carter movie was being made Dark Horse published the John Carter stories from those days, (I discussed those here some years ago.) And the Tarzan material has long been in print from the company. Sadly other stuff has not been available until now.
The Pellucidar stories began as back ups in the pages of Korak Son of Tarzan because when the comic first debuted DC was still experimenting with its twenty-five cent format. But quickly the format went away and the material produced both for Tarzan and Korak needed a new home.
And so was born Weird Worlds, specifically designed to showcase John Carter and David Innes who alternated cover appearances in the tried and true tradition once used by Marvel for its split-books of the previous decade. The original Pellucidar stories adapt the first novel by ERB and offer up some neat scripting by Denny O'Neil and some handsome artwork by Alan Weiss. But sadly for this reprint that great artwork is ill served by an indifferent reproduction which appears to be simply scans of the original pages. Given the quality of the work, one could hope for more in this regard.
The story is pretty good, and it's good to have this adaptation complete in one volume. Several of the chapters are inked by the famous "Crusty Bunkers", the gang of talented young artists who worked in the studio of Neal Adams and Dick Giordano and would become Continuity Associates.
The story told is vintage Burroughs -- David Innes and scientist Abner Perry use their mechanical drilling machine to head through the Earth's crust and end up in Pellcidar, a vast territory which exists in perpetual light and is filled with people, apelike creatures called Sagoths who serve weird dinosaur-like creatures called Mahars.
The story is a twisting yarn and has the heroic Innes fall immediately in love with the resident beauty who calls herself without an inkling of self-awareness "Dian the Beautiful". But unaware of Pelucidar's customs he manages to insult her and then they are separated.
Innes spends much of the rest of the series trying to surive Pellucidar's deadly environs and trying to find Dian and also Perry who he loses track of.
Eventually the series closes its adaptation of the debut ERB novel. But not before the creative team of Len Wein and Alan Weiss are replaced by Denny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta and later Dan Green. It is this creative team which tells the story of how David Innes returns to the Earth's surface and because of circumstances works diligently to return soon thereafter to save Dian and Abner.
The series comes to a close a bit abruptly. But we do get a sense of closure and certainly the door is left open for further adventures in the future. Those never come as the ERB license moves on to Marvel and later to other ports of call. Pellucidar is rarely a regular part of that alas.