Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Only a handful of comics were released on Wednesday, what with it being a skip week for Diamond Comic Distributors. What did come out, though, could be described as “event” comics — an anniversary issue, crossover kick-offs and several first issues and specials — including Mara, a new miniseries by Brian Wood and Ming Doyle.
“Mara is one of the most famous people on the planet, a superstar athlete with widespread name recognition, celebrity endorsements, her own broadcast network — not so shabby for a girl in her late teens,” Wood told Comic Book Resources in September. “She is a member of a society that places their ultimate emphasis on physical achievement, whether it be in sports or the waging of war. So when she does start to manifest powers, this is pretty significant. Everything she’s accomplished up to this point is immediately suspect. It looks like she cheated. It’s hard to overestimate the implications of that in the world she lives in.”
Here is what folks are saying about it:
Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics: “Wood’s goal is to clearly present us with a future world that is a magnification of our own. The NFL is the most watched programming week in and week out, and while there is no inherent harm in enjoying a sport, there is clearly a lot of ulterior stuff going on in the marketing and the business side of things. Athletes get paid salaries that are more and more outrageous every year and advertising seems to pervade everything, as certain sports see players covered in logos. Even playing fields and specific games are sponsored by companies who have a financial stake in the popularity of sports. Wood has always allowed a bit of politics or social commentary into his work, but is careful in doing so. The enjoyment of the sport itself is not condemned, and the satire of the business side of things is handled with subtlety and class.”
Justin Giampaoli, 13 Minutes: “Mara Prince is a compelling female creation, the near-perfect embodiment of strength and grace, humility and confidence, the charm of the girl next door, with the exotic leanings of something more. There are some subtle clues preceding it and then something big, something very big, happens in the particular game we see. I don’t want to spoil the reveal in total – though it’s not hard to find online or in solicitation copy, so imagine if David Beckham or Mia Hamm were… something more. But regardless of the particulars, Wood pushes his character right up to the precipice of change, there’s the identity stuff I know and love in his writing, there’s the dystopia masquerading as utopia, the cultural commentary, and the social relevance, yet it takes place in an ostensibly new genre so it also feels like he’s stretching himself as a writer.”
Niall Doonan, ComicBuzz: “The story isn’t all Mara, however, and there are some interesting sub-plots. Mara’s relationship with her military brother and with her volleyball teammate Ingrid seem like they will develop well as the story progresses.”
Harrison Rawdin, Unleash the Fanboy: “Ming Doyle handles the art, and the talent does an outstanding job lavishing this book with intimate but provocative layers. It’s a visual dance comprised of many elements such as symmetry, finesse with just a hint of chaos. Perhaps what most caught my attention is our protagonist’s eyes and how the artist handily gives her a soul via such a subtle but important feature.”
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “As mentioned earlier, there’s a surprise twist at the end of the first issue, one that upends Mara into a completely different direction. Is it a bad one? I don’t think so. It does, however, transform the book into something that feels a little more standard. Sports comics aren’t unique in their own right, of course, but most of the first issue of Mara felt very different than what we’re getting on the market these days, and having it become something more familiar is just a touch disappointing. Still, I have no doubt that the rest of Mara will still be a lot of fun, and when read in a collected edition this sudden surprise will probably flow a lot more smoothly. Regardless of the slight disappointment at this surprise (and to be fair, it is handled quite well), I’m still more than interested enough in Mara to want to come back for #2. Still a very good comic.”