Brew's Crew: Tars Tarkas of the Tharks
If you read Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars or related books, of course the standout character (sorry, Dejah) has got to be the green Martian (aren’t they all?) Tars Tarkas.
Tars Tarkas (never saw him referred to as just Tars, at least in the DC and Dynamite comics) is originally from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. A great warrior and leader among his people (the supposedly brutal and mirthlessTharks), he possesses a sense of compassion and empathy uncharacteristic of his race. In Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars, with the help of the newly-arrived Earth man John Carter, Tars Tarkas becomes Jeddak (ruler) of the Tharks.
Tars Tarkas is the first Barsoomian John Carter encounters when he appears on Mars. When Tars Tarkas discovers Carter inspecting the Tharks’ incubator (in which the tribe's eggs are sealed for up to five years prior to hatching), he attempts to kill Carter. The attempt fails, and Tars Tarkas instead takes Carter prisoner and transports him back to the nearby dead city, in which a group of Tharks have taken up temporary residence. When Carter kills one of the Tharks in combat, Tars Tarkas informs him he has gained his opponent's rank and possessions.
Over the course of the next weeks, Carter comes to respect Tars Tarkas for his abilities as a warrior and statesman. Carter also discovers that Tars Tarkas has a secret: long ago he fell in love and had a child (egg) with his lover, Gozava, two actions punishable by death in the Thark culture. Tars Tarkas and Gozava hid the egg and incubated it in secret. Tars Tarkas was ordered away on a long military expedition, and when the child finally hatched, Gozava managed to mingle her child with the newborn children from the communal incubator.
Gozava's maternity (although not the child's identity) was discovered, and she was tortured and killed by the Tharkian chieftain Tal Hajus for the crime of childbearing. However, even under torture she refused to reveal the name of the child's father. The daughter's name is Sola, and she befriends Carter and tells him the story of her birth and the identity of her father.
When he learns this, Carter's sympathy and admiration for Tars Tarkas increases, and he resolves to do all he can to help. Over time, the two become friends, and Carter, after escaping the Tharks in the course of his pursuit of Dejah Thoris, returns to them and helps engineer a duel between Tars Tarkas and Tal Hajus, then Jeddak of Thark. Tars Tarkas wins the duel, and according to Tharkian law becomes Jeddak.
In exchange for Carter's help, Tars Tarkas becomes one of Carter's closest allies. He appears in a number of the other novels in the series, and he is John Carter’s right hand ally in the ongoing Warlord of Mars series by Dynamite.
Such a great character!