Volume 2231


31. "STRANGE FOES" -- July 5, 1942
(read novelization

P1: As the creature leaped upon Oman, John Carter recognized his old, faithful calot -- Woola. 

P2: Carter sprang toward the two combatants. He saw Oman work his feet beneath Woola's belly. 

P3: Suddenly, the robot extended his legs with great force. 

P4: Woola was hurled backward. Then the Earthman made his final dive. 

P5: He alighted astride Woola. Now his calm words of reassurance quieted the growling beast. 

P6: Oman arose unhurt. "We have no time to waste," he said, "if we would save your princess from harm." 

P7: "What harm has the wizard planned for her?" Carter asked. "I must show you, "Oman replied, "or you will not believe." 


1. In strip #31, Carter's acts of diving through the air can be implicity linked to the common dream experience of flying. The scenes in which Woola's vicious attack has no effect upon Oman -- and where Carter immediately follows the robot on a new quest to find Dejah Thoris can also be given a dreamlike quality in the novelization. 

Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

At first John Carter had no idea of what was going on in front of him. He perceived noise and motion but the combination of thrashing limbs, animal roars and clanking metal was more than his drowsy senses could take in. Then his scattered thoughts came together and John Carter recognized his faithful old calot, Woola. The creature had leaped upon Oman, throwing him down. Now the two alien bodies were locked in a desperate struggle. 

The Earthman sprang through the air toward the two combatants. In his groggy state of mind the short leap seemed to take a long time. It seemed as though he hovered over the two wrestling combatants for a time, before his feet struck the ground. Oman had managed to kick the calot away long enough to draw his sword. 

"Dotar Sojat, your beast is attacking me!" exclaimed the struggling robot. "Give him your signal to stand down!" 

Captain Carter made a second dive and again he felt his body floating through the heavy, spell-infected atmosphere of Eo. During that magical period the Earthman projected a strong telepathic command to the watchdog. Oddly, he alighted astride Woola. The calot began to grapple with him, but his calm words of reassurance soon quieted the growling beast. 

Oman arose unhurt. He was evidently more concerned about the calot than himself. Once he was assured that the brute was not injured, he renewed his entreaty to Captain Carter. 

"We have no time to waste," he said. "The noise may invite curious investigators. At any rate, Vovo will soon discover that I am in secret communication with you. if we do not act now. Join me in saving your princess from harm." 

"What harm has the wizard planned for her?" Carter asked. 

"No explanation I could give you here, now, would make any sense," Oman replied. "Things in this place are not as they appear. But your calot is truly here with us. I am also truly on your side. Believe me, Dotar Sojat. I must show you, step by step, or you will not believe and you will never leave Eo." 

"Then lead the way, metal man. You say my sword arm is restored and that my long-sword has never left my side? that is all I need to know -- for now." 

"Good!" answered the mechano-man. "The first step is to reunite you with Dejah Thoris before Vovo has carried out the next transformation he has planned for her. I must fetch the transport device. Can the calot keep up with you while you ride the mechanical mount?" 

"Woola will follow my mental commands, Oman. I have instructed him to obey you also. Hopefully he will do that." 

"Excellent," replied the robot. "I must make the necessary arrangements and determine exactly where Vovo will be when we confront him. I fear I cannot bring myself to kill an intelligent being, but you and the calot may subdue him as you think is best. Stay right where you are and I shall be with you again very shortly."

The Earthman waited in silence. He had no difficulty in believing that Vovo was a master of deception and illusion. He wondered for a moment whether the flying thoat and the television display he had seen might not be the green man's trickery. But, no; his sense of unreality only began after the wizard had injected him in the laboratory. And only after drinking the heady wine had his eyes began playing tricks. No doubt Vovo was indeed a great inventor, but he was also a great villain and John Carter did not share Oman's feelings of compunction over the need to run cold steel through the wizard's evil heart. 

Oman prepared to obtain the transport device for the Jasoomian. He was Odwar of the Army of Eo and none would suspect his motives and actions, so long Vovo did not know. Now that the wizard had a suitable subject for his greatest human modification experiment, Oman was determined to stop any transformation of the red princess before the wizard could behin to harm her. He realized the pressing need to reunite the two humans as quickly as possible. The unexpected appearance of the calot might be helpful in reestablishing that union. The beast was devoted to both of them and it could help protect the red girl and the Jasoomian once they were together again. 

The remarkable brain inside of Oman's metal skull was capable of performing several unrelated tasks almost simultaneously. While he had been conversing with the recovering Earthman and while he had been struggling with the attacking calot, his sorting out and recataloging of old memories had continued unabated. As his mental circuitry completed that complex operation, Oman understood better than ever the methods and effects involved in Vovo's web of mass delusion. He also realized how much his own unwitting complicity in the scheme, carried out over hundreds of years, had helped make Eo the slave state it had become. 

Tapping into his restored memory, Oman recalled that the dwarf had first come to Eo, disguised as a female, in a trading party that exchanged radium for medicines and machined parts. The masquerading green boy had given no name, nor did he participate much in the bartering. Ten years later the same little man reappeared at the plateau, as the servant of a persecuted scientist whom the Wizards of Eo took in as a refugee and fellow savant. These wizards inhabited metal bodies much like the one Oman now possessed. In fact, it was from them that he had obtained his mechano-man frame and mental circuitry, eons before Vo Dor and Vovo were born. 

Vo Dor was the name of the fleeing scientist. What story of woes he related to the wizards and why they had broken their own rule of allowing no outsiders to set foot upon the plateau, Oman knew not. For many years Vo Dor and his little assistant were inconspicuous technicians who mostly operated out of sight, in the mesa's cavern workshops, repairing and maintaining the growing number of true robots, dedicated to the wizards' service. Among all the metal men at Eo, only the wizards and Oman possessed living brains -- all the rest were artificial creations. 

For unknown reasons, Vo Dor was elevated to a position among the wizards -- the only Barsoomian ever admitted. Shortly after that, the wizards went into permanent retirement. Oman now realized, in retrospect, that by some insidious trickery Vovo had taken Vo Dor's place as the last Wizard of Eo. Vovo had wiped out all traces of Vo Dor and the wizards from the mechanical brains of the artificial men. They became his obedient slaves. Only Oman preserved any semblance of independent thought. His more complex mind was a human brain augmented by the old wizards' technology. Vovo was not fully successful in controlling him. 

All of this realization came together inside of Oman as he prepared his plan to reunite the two humans -- a plan which must not fail! 

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