Comic Book Review – Mars Attacks #6

Luke Owen reviews the latest issue of Mars Attacks…

“An exciting new story arc starts here! As human ramp up their defenses, the Martians unleash a new weapon from their arsenal… the freeze ray! Don’t miss any of the action in this runaway hit series!”
IDW’s Mars Attacks re-launch for me has been a bit slow to get off the ground. Here we are in issue #6 and still so little has been accomplished. It just seems like we’ve been watching the same invasion over and over again. Call it a slow burn if you will, but I call it unnecessary padding.

That’s not to say that writing a Mars Attacks story is easy because it probably isn’t. But one of the plus sides of the (albeit mediocre) Godzilla series is that you follow a set of characters as they interact with the established kaiju. But as we go from issue to issue in Mars Attacks, we meet new people, get new information and then watch them invade again. Even the issue tease of the ‘freeze gun’ doesn’t get introduced until the final panel.

While it sounds like I’m being really down on the issue, I’m not. There is a lot to like about Mars Attacks #6 and the series as a whole. John Layman’s writing has been excellent and he has carved some wonderful dialogue and scenes in between the violent blood shed that comes from the Martian invasion. This is partnered beautifully with John McCrea’s art which explodes off the page in gorgeous design. Just like the trading card series it’s based off, Mars Attacks has this unique 50s sci-fi atmosphere to it and the attention to detail is exquisite (and at times can be genuinely frightening) which really adds a good level to the comic.

Issue #6 is the start of a new story arc, but it does carry on from the previous issues with a prologue to remind us of Zar’s torture and the justifications of their attack. We are then introduced to this issues protagonist, a small boy named Tommy Bailey – a technical genius who worked out that the Martians were attacking but no one believes him. It’s that classic sci-fi cliché in which the kid knows everything but the idiot adults are clueless in their endeavours that works really nicely for this story. There are some nice scenes of him being followed by a secret organisation who want to know exactly what he knows – which is apparently a lot more than them because even they didn’t see the attack coming. One thing that disturbs me somewhat from a character standpoint is that, knowing a Martian invasion is coming; he just abandons everyone around him to hide in his own sanctuary. As a reader you can fill in the blanks that his parents probably didn’t believe him again and so he was left with no choice but to go at it alone, but there is that underlining worry that he really is a soulless kid who doesn’t even care for his parent’s wellbeing.

I was very critical about Mars Attacks #6 at the start of this review and I still stand by it. Layman and McCrea are doing a fantastic job on this series but I just wish it would progress quicker. I do like the idea of seeing the Martian invasion from a different point of view but after a while it ends up like Vantage Point where you painstakingly watch the same thing over and over again. Mars Attacks isn’t at that stage yet, but it has the chance of getting there.

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.