The world of Barbalien from the Black Hammer series is a treacherous one, and I’m not talking about the hostile planet of Mars where Barbalien’s warrior alien race is from. I’m talking about Earth, circa the 1980s when being gay was a death sentence to many.
Red Planet is a coming-out story where our hero isn’t taking on just one identity to fit into the human races as the bald police officer we know from Black Hammer, but now a second secret identity as Luke, a blonde Skywalker type, who is being introduced to the underground gay culture. With his third identity, his allegiances are torn between doing the thing required by his police force and fighting against the law he believes in. For Mark Markz, it’s a complicated issue, but for his new friends who have taken a stand against a corrupt and volatile police force, it is not.
The second issue follows this trajectory with an even hand, taking its time to integrate these ideas and build resonance between characters while keeping the threat of Mars palpable.
As we wind down on this year, Fanbase Press’ #StoriesMatter initiative has given our staff and contributors the chance to focus in on why stories are important, how these stories connect with us, and why stories should connect with readers. There is an imbalance in our system of law. It punishes those that are different from the preconditioned “normal.” Being gay, being transgender, being a POC has to, at times, feel like you’re just as alien as Mark Markz feels here on Earth, surrounded by humans who see you as “different,” hiding who you are on a daily basis. It sometimes takes heroic actions to start the change that’s needed, and it doesn’t have to come from a superhero. That’s what this series is about.
Creative Team: Tate Brombal (script), Jeff Lemire and Tate Brombal (story), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (art), Jordie Bellaire (color art), Aditya Bidikar (letters), Daniel Chabon (editor), Chuck Howitt (assistant editor), Ethan Kimberlin (designer), Josie Christensen (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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