Friday, March 11, 2016

Review - Mars Attack: Occupation #1 (@IDWPublishing)


"There was no place in this world for dreams anymore."

The seemingly shrill noises that an invading group will rely on to terrorize humans could be any decibel or duration. The Martians in Mars Attacks have their own distinctive sound and even though you can't hear it in Mars Attacks: Occupation #1 from IDW Publishing, you can surely imagine it. The issue is written and lettered by John Layman and illustrated by Andy Kuhn.

The Martians came. The Martians saw. The Martians conquered. Now the space invaders cruelly rule over humanity, which has no hope for liberation...until Ruby Johnson decides that she has had enough.

Ruby Johnson is a very strong protagonist in Mars Attacks: Occupation #1 and acts as the focal point for a burgeoning resistance. Layman presents her and her world of occupation by jumping back and forth between the past and present quite effectively. The approach taken is pretty solid, as it effectively introduces to the reader what's going on while at the same time generating a story going forward. The mythos surrounding Mars Attacks is fairly well known at this point, but Layman still manages to make their characteristics feel fresh when weaving them into the story. And Layman's dialogue doesn't feel wasted, relying on exchanges that move the narrative forward without sacrificing detail or pacing.

The horrifying image of a Martian is captured quite beautifully by Kuhn. Their stature is commanding and dominant over the subservient humans, maintaining an authoritative presence throughout the issue. Kuhn's style blends elements of traditional comics and newspaper strips, achieving something that sits happily in the middle. There are quite a few sweeping shots of the current state of affairs that accent the solitude someone like Ruby must be feeling in the new world. Just about every page and panel boasts a colored hue to them that provides something of an anchor for the reader to tether to emotionally to better understand what's actually going through the minds of the characters.

Mars Attacks: Occupation #1 is a somber yet enjoyable take on being enslaved by alien overlords. Ruby Johnson is being faced with an almost insurmountable task, but plenty of heroes before her have proven they can be an inspiration for a revolution. Layman maintains the levity that comes with the Martians despite the dire setting the humans of Earth find themselves in. Kuhn's illustrations are clean and mix the disparate character types well. Mars Attacks: Occupation #1 will appeal to fans of the franchise and those looking for a slightly different take on the post-apocalyptic setting.

Mars Attacks: Occupation #1 is in stores now.

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