Zar was having a bad day. His ship collided with another, causing him to crash land on an alien planet. The creatures violently “welcomed” him and although he managed to escape, the seed of retaliation was planted. Stewing in a pot of hatred and loathing for 50 years, he plotted his revenge. Now General Zar, he is back with ray gun a-blazing, determined to destroy everything on the blue-green planet known as Earth.
Sporting a retro-style cover by Eisner-winning artist John McCrea (Hitman), which embodies the space horror film posters of the 1950s, the premiere issue of Mars Attacks IDW’s Greatest Hits Edition releases this week in local comic book shops everywhere. The five-issue series features the writing and lettering by John Layman (Chew), also an Eisner winner, as well as coloring by Andrew Elder and editing by Denton J. Tipton. In addition to the McCrea variant cover, each issue will feature a Ryan Brown cover in the style of the Topps card series. All that experience and talent is wrapped up into a one dollar comic book price!
Mars Attacks is an entertaining read. Layman spins a hilarious comic book version of the old science fiction B-movies filled with angry alien invaders. From the separate opening storylines introduced in this issue, Layman aptly establishes Zar’s driving motive to annihilate the human race. The narrative is succinct, which complements the quick pacing and results in a page-turning action/adventure story.
Layman’s lettering work is clean and readable, which is always crucial to the reading experience. One of the nuances of the sound effects that was particularly clever was when Layman distinguished between human punches and shotgun blasts that looked like slanted Arial text in CAPS, while the ray guns’ sound effects were jagged edged outlines. Placement of the speech bubbles and narration boxes were well placed and did not hide or detract from the unfolding action.
McCrea’s art is reminiscent of the early comic book style, yet updated with contemporary detailing techniques. His page layouts are not overly elaborate or convoluted; instead, he has kept frames simple, often three to five on a page. The gratuitous space highlights his artistic skill, and his choice to include full-page spreads heightens the globally epic story. Additionally, featuring three trading cards as scene titles within the story was an especially nice touch.
Adding to McCrea’s art is the spectrum of Elder’s color palette that incorporates rosy pink blushes, warm yellows and gold, and rich metallic blue-green. The cool blue tones for the space scenes to the fiery reds as Zar’s damaged spaceship enters the Earth’s atmosphere blend well and, honestly, the colors pop off the page.
Mars Attacks captures the spirit and seriousness of the alien invader films of the 1950s and is a welcome addition to the other IDW stories featuring these menacing, bulby-eyed, ray gun-toting aliens. Backed by a talented creative team who delivers an entertaining story and fantastic visuals, this will be a must-have for science fiction fans. And, the one dollar price tag should sway any readers still on the fence.