Volume 2233


33. "BOLD ATTEMPT" -- July 19, '42
(read novelization

P1: Into the domed glass building Vovo's mechanical robots carried the princess. 

P2: The wizard had given the girl a strong drug and now she was oblivious to her impending fate. 

P3: In the small glass building adjoining the larger laboratory, Vovo prepared for his greatest experiment. 

P4: Now far above the laboratory, John Carter, Oman and Woola paused in their flight. 

P5: Then Oman urged their robot mount down the rugged hillside, but Woola soon gained the lead. 

P6: Sensing his master's anxiety for the princess, Woola raced into the laboratory ere the great door was closed. 

P7: Vovo cursed. Then he turned the lever that locked both girl and calot within the domed building. 

P8: An instant later, amid the shatter of glass, the mechanical mount crashed headlong into the control room where the wizard sat. 


1. In panel 2 of strip #33, JCB implies to his Sunday strip readers that the story might be a dream, when he says: "The wizard had given the girl a strong drug and now she was oblivious to her impending fate." The effects of this drug can be extended and enhanced in the novelization. Dejah Thoris is administered the drug just as she is returning to mobility after her decalcification in Vovo's machine. She thus continues to remain aware of events around her, but lapses into a drug-induced lethargy, in which she no longer has the will to act in her own defense. In the novelization Dejah Thoris will continue to function under the numbing effects of this drug, all the way through the scenes of strip #38. 

2. The events of strip #33 are complex and will require some special attention in the novelization. In the novelization both Dejah Thoris and John Carter are asleep in Vovo's lab, sharing a parallel dream that only hazily reflects the actual events going on around them. Vovo's "greatest experiment" will not be an actual enlargement of the princess, to 15 times her normal size -- it is an experiment in drug-induced mind control. Vovo has spent many years perfecting his control over robotic brains and now he is extending that control to the minds of the helpless Earthman and princess. At the same time, Vovo is so wrapped up in his experiment that he fails to notice Oman's growing capacity for mental independence. As Vovo works to subjugate John Carter and Dejah Thoris, Oman unites forces with the newly arrived Woola, to thwart the wizard's intentions. 

3. The chaos pictured in the last three panels of strip #33 reflects the dreaming John Carter's dim perceptions of the activity going on around him, while he and the princess are sleeping in Vovo's lab. Oman still retains some remnants of Vovo's programming in his brain and he is reluctant to harm the green dwarf. However Woola is not inhibited by any such menta;/moral reservations and the calot instinctively presses forward, ready to kill Vovo in an instant. 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

Dejah Thoris struggled to prevent the robot from injecting the drug into her arm, but to no avail. Before the effects could further cloud her mind she demanded that the little wizard tell her what had happened to the Jasoomian, but Vovo avoided giving her a direct answer. All he would say was "You will never again see the one you call Dotar Sojat -- and soon you will be quite happy about that." Vovo then directed her attention away from such thoughts and to the cape the mechano-man had just taken from her. 

"I will now give you a little preview of what is coming, granddaughter of Tardos Mors," she heard him say. "Watch carefully what happens to the robe you had wrapped about you." 

The wizard pulled some switches on one of the control panels and the huge glass dome descended until its bottom rim was just a little above the ground. A robot threw the cape under the great enclosure and then Vovo lowered it until it hit the ground with a heavy thump. Next, Vovo's robots manipulated a ray projecting machine outside of the dome, aiming the end of its long beam shaft directly at the robe. At that point Vovo threw a switch and something impossible happened. 

It appeared to John Carter that the mechanical mount was hovering in the air, a little above the tree tops, and that he and Oman were looking down upon a large transparent enclosure. Not far from this were Vovo, Dejah Thoris and a large number of Eo's mechanical men. The Earthman was ready to rush to the girl's defense at once, but Oman pointed out the many robots surrounding her. Vovo was in complete control of all of them. But he implored Carter to projected his thoughts to her, with all his will, and try to gain her response. 

Oman scrutinized the faces of the two humans. If his plan was going to work, they must make mental contact at once. As soon as that happened he would distract Vovo and the three of them could move to end the wicked experiment before it began. But the girl seemed distracted -- so deeply under Vovo's spell that she did not perceive the arrival of her would-be rescuers. 

Before her widening eyes the cape she had worn doubled in size; then it doubled again and again, until it was many times its original mass. Only when Vovo turned off the bombarding rays did the great heap of fabric cease its miraculous expansion. 

"Now that you have seen my little preview, Dejah Thoris, perhaps your mind can grasp the fate I have in store for you. My mass-multiplier ray will increase your size, just as you saw the cape was expanded. At the same time I will take full control of your enlarged brain -- the largest, most complex and powerful brain on all Barsoom. It will be my pleasure to instruct that unique, pliant mind and to put its great analytical capacity to effective use in my service!" 

"But have no fear," he continued, "I will not harm you. In fact, I have been careful to fine tune the multiplier's settings so that your expanded bones and muscles can support your new weight. I will do all of that without changing your present lovely proportions. If you will now be so kind as to step under the dome when I raise it, Princess of Helium..." 

Vovo's mechanical robots carried the princess beneath the domed glass enclosure and left her there, flat on her back. The strong drug the wizard had given the girl had already made her oblivious to her impending fate. From his seat among the switches and controls, the Wizard of Eo began the count-down for greatest experiment. 

Woola had gained the lead and was leaping straight toward the dazed girl. Sensing his master's anxiety for the princess, the Martian watchdog slipped under the descending glass enclosure at the last possible moment and raced to her side. Much to his dismay Woola found the girl unresponsive to his yelps. Then the wind rushed past him so quickly that his ears ached terribly. Poor Woola -- he had not the slightest premonition as to what was about to happen! 

One by one Vovo flipped the switches and turned the knobs that set his carefully orchestrated process into motion. As the glass dome descended to its locked position, four enlarging ray shafts slid into position around the prone subject. Vovo made a slight adjustment in their aim in order to avoid expanding any more the already enlarged cape. The readings on his instruments informed him that he had enough organic compounds in storage to increase the maiden's mass by eight hundred percent, resulting in a new height of close to seventy-five sofads (75 ft.) and still leave a great deal of unused material in reserve. That amount of enlargement would result in the expansion of her brain's cerebral cortex by exactly the measure he wanted. He set the air pressure to compensate for the sudden increase in mass under the dome. The most delicate part of the operation centered in his making sure the there would be a sufficient number of new blood vessels of the correct size to adequately nourish the expanded body. He did not want to place any undue stress on the enlarged heart, so Vovo's last instrument adjustments set the new heart size to conform exactly with his finely calculated specifications. 

All of these important observations and considerations occupied the wizard's attention so closely that he only looked up from the instrument readouts after the dome was locked into place. Of the five final switches on his control panel, Vovo had already flipped four of them into the closed position. Now his trembling green fingers hesitated over the fifth switch. Where had the calot come from? What was it doing beside his experiment subject? Vovo cursed aloud and with the other hand he reached for his radium pistol. 

Oman was shocked when he witnessed the impulsive calot bound forward to the side of the semi-conscious maiden. His carefully conceived plan fell apart then and there. Vovo was just becoming aware of the interruption to his experiment, and before anything could be done to stop him his radium pistol would destroy any and all intruders. However, the robot had not even completed making that lightning fast conclusion when something was done to halt the detestable green dwarf. 

Dejah Thoris watched the enclosure descend over her limp body, the enormous cape and all else that was within her field of view. For an instant it seemed as though she were back in Vovo's tower laboratory, where a much smaller glass had confined her body when the wizard performed her decalcification. But the sensation left as quickly as it had come and in its place was the absurd notion that Woola was beside her under the glass. Then her perception was assaulted by a maddening whirl of colors and flowing shapes. No longer able to gather her thoughts, the Princess of Helium surrendered her mind to insanity. 

For less than a eye-blink's interval John Carter felt Dejah Thoris' thoughts enter his mind. It was a precarious, ephemeral contact, but it was all the reassurance he needed before plunging the flying metal thoat directly into the Wizard of Eo. Oman fell to one side as the mechanical mount fell out of the air. The Earthman felt as though the robot steed had disintegrated beneath him, leaving only Carter's flying body and outstretched sword to impact upon the living target of his malice. An instant later, amid the shattering of glass and the crunching of metal, the mechanical mount crashed headlong into the control area where the wizard sat.

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