This review is dedicated to Ken Brown from Drawn to Comics who teaches me about comic books, my older sister Viviana Cruz who introduced me to the film ‘Mars Attacks’ in 1996, and all the people in college who I drove insane as I talked to them in “Martian” “nah, nah nah” grunts for several semesters.
When an old college friend mentioned to me that “Mars Attacks” was going to be released monthly as a comic book, I was a little leery how the “Martians” would be portrayed. I didn’t know if I wanted laugh as Tim Burton had made me crack up with his “Mars Attacks” film in 1996, or if these Martians were going to take a more serious frightening nature as I always envisioned them what they should have been. I had never bought a comic book in my life, but I had no problem spending $3.99 for a comic to see what it was going to be all about.
Four months later, IDW Publishing, Eisner Award Winners (think of the Oscar award for comic books) John Layman and John McCrea have created not only an awesome comic book, but have turned me in to a new comic book fan. Andrew Elder adds a superb coloring to their art and storyline that brings an entire comic alive. No longer am I laughing at Tim Burton’s portrayal of Martians.
The first issue of Mars Attacks, known as ‘Mars Attacks #1,’ was released in June 2012. People who buy the comic are quick to learn that there are over 55 different variations of artwork of the cover. These cover variations are based off the original Topps ‘Mars Attacks’ cards released in 1962. I mean these cards could have been our parents, or grandparents’ first Pokémon cards!
So back to the 1st issue, like all 1st issues, this is basically a quick set up and basis of the story. Readers learn how Zar the Martian, yes he has a name, who would later become General Zar, would crash land on Earth in 1962, after his ship bumps with what then is Astronaut Spencer’s space capsule which is orbiting the planet. Zar is found unconscious by two human individuals who tie him up and then sell him to a carny. The Carny somehow frames Zar for murder as a human tries to set Zar free. Up until this point, I actually felt a ‘saddened I feel sorry for you Zar’ emotion. Zar is cut (which would later turn in to a scar) and then escapes after he witness his Martian friends being killed. Issue #1 ends with Zar vowing revenge upon humans. .
In Mars Attacks #2, now Senator Spencer who 50 years earlier, saw Zar’s Flying Saucer bump his space capsule is visiting the US President to discuss a SETI bill, which Senator Spencer has sponsored. Martians disguised as humans attempt to assassinate The President, but The President is saved by Senator Spencer. As the President is being escorted to safety by The Secret Service, he looks outside to see destruction and the invasion by the Martians has already begun.
In Mars Attacks #3, The Martian invasion is in effect as readers learn at the end of #2. Oversized insects created and controlled by Martians are attacking humans. Sidney Rose, owner of a flea circus who was present at the Carnival were Zar was framed 50 years earlier is the main character of this story. Sidney Rose witnessed firsthand how Zar’s Martian friends killed innocent people. Sidney discovers how the Martians enlarged the insects when he finds an injured solider. The injured solider tells Sidney to get the canister to the Army Lab. After the solider passes on, Sidney applies what was in the canister to his loyal flea circus, which grow to Godzilla like sizes and in turn takes the fight to The Martians.
Mars Attack #4 is a very unique story. Readers are given a flashback of Martians visiting various cultures throughout human history and always with conflict between both sides. The main story focuses on An Aztec Warrior by the name of Xiuhcoatl (translation ‘Fire Serpent’ in Nahua, language spoken by the Aztecs). Xiuhcoatl is taken prisoner and would awaken 350 years later on General Zar’s mother ship in space. On board, Xiuhcoatl is put in a confined room with humans from all eras and cultures of human history. All the humans are slowly poked, prodded and experimented on, later to be killed except for him and a Civil War solider. The Civil War Solider can’t verbally communicate with Xiuhcoatl, but both plan to fight back and make an escape. The solider says how it is sad that during the Civil War, Men are fighting Men, but if they knew what they were facing, they would put away their differences and unite to fight the common threat to humanity. As they escape, one of these two individuals sacrifices himself, the other escapes in General Zar’s personal command craft (not the mother ship) This infuriates General Zar’s pride as he decides to defy his Martian command to stay in space by personally going to Earth to retrieve his craft and kill humans himself. I mean I’d be mad too and go chase after someone if they stole my car, wouldn’t you? The individual who escapes crash lands on Earth and is discovered by Sidney Rose, owner of the Flea circus.
What can I say? I am anxious to read issue #5 since all four separate tales are starting to gel together, and the entire story has got me boiling to find out what’s going to happen next for humanity. Throughout these four comics, I was able to relate to the emotions felt by a majority of the characters, even the Martians, if they have any. John Layman and John McCrea successfully took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I won’t lie, their Martian Invasion has created a comic book collection.
I asked writer John Layman over twitter if he would ever consider a crossover of Mars Attacks and Batman, since other individuals have taught me that Layman does write for other companies like DC, mainly for the Masked Caped Crusader from Gotham, Batman, but he responded. ‘Not a chance,’ but I clearly can envision Batman taking the fight around Gotham to the Martians, but a simple quick marriage and divorce between IDW and DC characters is not going to happen.
So what will IDW Publishing do next?
Comic fans can anticipate and take part in several other battles against The Greenies, as I have started to call them. Every week, in January 2013, Mars Attacks will crossover with other popular IDW comics. The first week, on January 2nd, Mars Attacks everyone’s favorite spinach eating sailor, Popeye. I guess the Greenies are no fan of Spinach.
A week later, on January 9th, Mars Attacks KISS (yes KISS, the rock band) in a retelling of KISS’s first comic issue. I guess these Greenies don’t like Rock and Roll either.
On January 16, Mars Attacks the Real Ghostbusters . I guess the Greenies are jealous of Slimmer and don’t want him to be the only green menace around, but how will ‘Proton Packs’ fair against aliens?
The battle that takes place the week after, on January 23, IDW Publishing will release Mars Attacks The Transformers. I hope Optimus Prime and the Auto-bots are up to the challenge. Following the battle on Cybertron, Mars Attacks Zombies vs. Robots on January 30. Not sure what that will entail. Aside from all the crossovers, I heard a rumor, yes, only a rumor, that there will be various special limited edition covers like Mars Attacks Chew, Mars Attacks Judge Dredd, Mars Attacks Cerebus and more.
Who knows, Mars Attacks Batman may someday take place.
For updates on the latest information on the Mars Attacks invasion,
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