24. "THE JUNGLE'S SECRET" -- May 17, '42
(read novelization

P1: Over the dense jungle Vovo guided his degravitated, mechanical mount until at last they came to the city of Eo. 

P2: Vovo cried: "With my brains alone guiding the hands of my mechanical men, I built my own city! 

P3: "Vovo is great! Vovo is mighty!" in monotonous repetition Carter heard the words come from the mouth of Oman, the mechanical man. 

P4: "Helium exiled me for my radical ideas," Vovo cackled. "That my intellect far surpassed theirs is evident by my advanced architectural designs." 

P5: "Hasten, Vovo!" urged John Carter impatiently, "while there is yet time to restore life to the Princess of Helium!" 

P6: After dismounting, Vovo led the Earthman to his laboratory, while Oman tended the mechanical mount. 

P7: Within the building, Vovo projected an image upon a screen. "The city you see is Helium -- over a thousand miles away. -- Helium's airships leave every dawn in search of Dejah Thoris, their princess -- whom I have decided to hold for ransom!"


1. In the novelization, when Oman hears Vovo take credit for building the city of Eo, one part of his mechanical mind slowly begins to awaken from the suppression of memory inflicted upon him by the wizard. At the same time, Vovo's programming of Oman's mental processes causes another part of his mind to block out the growing enlightenment, by causing him to repeat over and over again, "Vovo is great! Vovo is mighty!" Still, deep with his suppressed memory, Oman realizes that Vovo did not create and build the city -- that the wizard has instead merely used his power over the robot inhabitants to change the once beautiful place into a scene of ugliness and degradation. 

2. In the last panel of strip #24 Vovo, in his wonderfully equipped wizard's laboratory, reveals his intent to hold Dejah Thoris for ransom, until the royal family of Helium pays a great penalty for having sent him (along with his master Vo Dor, in the novelization) into exile. Compare his sentiments and depraved plans with those of Pew Mogel in JCB's Giant of Mars: "I preferred to conquer peacefully by first acquiring the Helium iron works as payment for Dejah Thoris safe return... Demand Helium's surrender... and you shall have your freedom!" Also, Pew Mogel made similar use of remote television cameras to monitor the progress of John Carter in approaching his hidden lab. 

3. In the novelization the stories of Pew Mogel and Vovo will be brought even closer together, by having the narrator quote a couple of passages from "Pew Mogel, His Life and Wonderful Works," wherein some deprecating mention is made by Pew Mogel, of Vo Dor's banishment from Helium, etc." 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

The Virginian was positive that the degravitated, mechanical mount must be flying over the center of the great mesa, but when he looked down he could still see no city. He looked again, and at a level not far below the crowns of the tall trees, John Carter could pick out the flat roofs of several buildings. Each roof was covered with its own patch of vegetation, so it was difficult for him to tell how many of them there were. He counted fifty and guessed there might be ten times that many, most of which blended so well into the surrounding jungle as to be practically invisible from the air. 

The flying thoat slowed and hovered above the scarcely discernible city of Eo. From the midst of the roofs a tall slender tower of silver hue began to rise. The Earthman knew of Barsoom's ascending and descending buildings from his conversations with Dejah Thoris, but this was the first example he had encountered. When the metal shaft had risen a hundred sofads [100 feet] into the night sky it ceased to ascend. A large window opened near its top. It was to this window that the flying mechanical mount now made its way. 

Hasten, Oman!" urged John Carter impatiently, "while there is yet time to restore life to the princess!" 

The Earthman expected some minimal welcome or a diagnosis of the stony state his princess had fallen into, but Vovo's first words were ones of self praise. 

"Did you see, Jasoomian?" he cried out, "With my brains alone guiding the hands of my mechanical men, I have built my own city! Here I reign as royal wizard and jedwar of my own metallic army." 

"Where is Dejah Thoris?" was Carter's only answer. 

"Oh yes, the Princess of Helium. Come down from the flying device and I shall show you. My lab is close at hand. The Princess of Helium in my tower! Can you believe it, Oman?" 

"Vovo is great! Vovo is mighty!" was the reply, in monotonous repetition from the mouth of Oman, the mechanical man. 

"Do you know, Jasoomian, that they exiled me for my radical ideas," Vovo cackled. "That my intellect far surpassed theirs is evident by my advanced architectural designs. It is time that Helium paid me proper respect, don't you think?" 

After Captain dismounted, Vovo led the him to his laboratory, while Oman tended to the mechanical mount. 

"We shall look in on the princess in due course, man of another world. But first of all, there is something you should see." 

Within his grand laboratory, Vovo directed the Earthman's attention to a large view-screen. It was like nothing John Carter had seen before. In front of his eyes was a moving image, all in color. It was ten times more fascinating than the magic lantern show he and Lieutenant Powell had once attended in St. Louis. 

"What is this, Vovo, a sorcerer's mirror?" 

"The city you see in the moving pictures is Helium -- over a thousand miles away. I forget at the moment what communications devices you have on Jasoom. You have no moving pictures machines do you?" 

"I have operated telegraph apparatus," answered Carter. "I know that instructions on how to draw a picture can be sent by code, over a wire. You have a device that draws the pictures very quickly? Or are they many photographs put together?" 

"You have the basic idea, Jasoomian. But forget the wire. These moving pictures were recorded by one of my mechanical birds. Then the bird, which has a camera in it, flew part way back to Eo and sent me the moving pictures without any need for a telegraphic wire. Watch, I will play the same recording a second time." 

John Carter watched the televised scenes with a certain amount of respect and wonder. It was a wonderful invention, no doubt, but he did not see how it could help the frozen princess. 

"So that is Helium, eh? The images are remarkable. Such a means of communication would have been very useful to the generals of the last army I served in. But what good is it to you, to sit here and watch a distant city in this way?" 

"Oh it is of great use," laughed the wizard. "I can spot any invader -- any enemy -- before he ever arrives at my door. I watch Helium's airships leave every dawn in search of Dejah Thoris, their princess. They search for her mostly in the northern hemisphere these days, with hundreds of naval fliers. Great amounts of treasure are expended every day by the Jeddak of Helium and he has nothing to show for it. And now I have his granddaughter as my guest. This is a very useful development, don't you think!" 

"I have heard you say you want the reward that will be given upon her return. If you can save her life and send her back to her family in safety, then I'm sure the reward will be yours." 

Vovo looked up from the view-screen and his big eyes searched John Carter's muscular frame carefully. Yes, the Jasoomian was a fighting man. Too bad that he had no usable hands to wield his swords. But, for the moment, that too suited Vovo's purposes. 

"No, Jasoomian," you mistake my purpose here. I will do my best to save the princess. I will not ask for the reward. I shall demand 100 times the value of any reward Helium has to offer, for I shall hold their healed princess, until they pay my asking price, for a great ransom!" 

John Carter said nothing. So long as Dejah Thoris was revived and returned to her people in good health, it did not matter to him what price Helium paid, nor whether the payment was called "reward" or "ransom." But he had played the little man's game long enough. It was time for action. 

"You have made your point, Vovo. Show me Dejah Thoris now. Show me what you can do for her. My patience with you and all your talk is wearing thin!" 

"Then look behind you, beyond the shelves of medical equipment." Vovo gloated. "There lies your precious princess. And only I can save her now!" 



Send all correspondence to

ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
ERBzine Material is copyrighted by the respective contributors and/or Bill Hillman
No part of this Web site may be reproduced without permission.