Mars Attacks #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Cover Artist: Tom Mandrake
Review by Stacy Dooks
It’s an open secret among my friends that I am the person who absolutely adores retro science fiction. You put some bubble helmets, ray guns, jet packs, and rockets with fins in your product, and I am on board. I’m not entirely certain where this love of old school sci-fi comes from, but one of the earliest influences I can trace it back to was encountering reprints of the classic Mars Attacks card set from Topps. Now Mars Attacks #1 from Dynamite brings back the alien menace from the red planet. Can it conquer the globe or is it worthy of disintegration?
As Mars Attacks #1 opens, we meet Spencer Carbutt and his father, the retired Major Carbutt. The Major is living in an assisted care facility and his son has come to visit him after losing yet another job. The pair begins to fight about the differences between the Major’s generation and Spencer’s in what might otherwise make for a compelling commentary on the generational divide and the horrors of growing old. And then the Martians invade and foul everything up. Now Spencer and his father are on the run, or as much of a run as the Major can manage using a walker. Will father and son mend fences as the world ends? Or will the last words they ever hear in this life be the martian battle cry of “ACK! ACK! ACK!”?
As I mentioned above, Mars Attacks was a science fiction trading card set released by Topps. Originally published in 1962, it had striking artwork from Golden Age comics heavyweight Wally Wood and pulp magazine artist Norman Saunders. The cards were worthy of EC Comics with levels of gore and implied sexuality that quickly got the set cancelled. Of course, you can’t keep a good Martian down and the property made a return in the 1980s, and it eventually made its way to the silver screen in a cinematic adaptation by director Tim Burton in 1996. The property has been featured in comics a few times, with a particularly long run from Topps Comics back in the ’90s featuring comics luminaries like Keith Giffen. The new series doesn’t have any ties to any previous versions and does seem set in the modern day (although there are a few visual gags that tie back to the 1960s aesthetic). The art by Schweizer is a great fit for the series: stylized enough to handle the over-the-top satire but still pull off some touching moments, and the writing by Starks makes you feel like you’ve know the Carbutts and their relationship within a few pages.
The Verdict: Buy it.
While a bit of a slow burn to start, I get the feeling this series is going to take us to some delightfully wicked places before it’s all over. Whether you’re a long time fan of the property or just someone who wants to enjoy a fun read for Halloween, Mars Attacks #1 is definitely a treat without tricks. Recommended.