Wood trades his customary post-apocalyptic slant for a futuristic cityscape in a world that has become hyper-commercialized, where years of international conflict shifted the national focus to physical excellence, and where, all too plausibly, athletes are ultra-celebrities, commodities raised and trained from a very young age to be the poster children of an entire culture. Mara Prince is the most prominent, already long into her career at seventeen; she’s the kind of seventeen only believable in Hollywood or sci-fi, too good to be true. That’s why she’s so successful.
Ming Doyle provides very good art for Wood’s story, selling the athleticism and spectacle without relying on the bombastic summer blockbuster imagery that would’ve been all too easy a choice for this book. Jordie Bellaire’s colors tend toward the earthy in the reds of the team’s uniforms and the facepaint fans use to celebrate Mara, and the browns of Mara’s skin and the volleyball court. It’s an almost-retro color palette, or at least not one that immediately strikes me as science fiction’s bread and butter, but it works.
This first issue mostly sets the stage for what is to come – Mara has secrets, you see – and if the script’s a little awkward here, maybe that’s because Wood is still getting used to writing a world that survives the next few years more or less intact. His usual skill at world building is alive and well, though. Mara is a pleasantly different series than a lot of what’s out there, and I, for one, am interested in seeing where this is going. If your pull list for the end of the year is a little light, the start of this miniseries is definitely one I’d consider.