Red Mass For Mars #1


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Red Mass For Mars #1


  • Words: Jonathan Hickman
  • Art: Ryan Bodenheim
  • Inks: Ryan Bodenheim
  • Colors: Jonathan Hickman
  • Story Title: n/a
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jun 11, 2008

The end is upon Earth. After every imaginable catastrophe possible, now an army of unstoppable aliens approaches. Can a man who can see the future, the smartest man alive, and the egotistic heroes of our world save them?

Hickman is an idea man. There is no doubt about that with Nightly News, Pax Romana, and Transhuman, he has given us large concepts in books that have somehow managed to top each other in intelligence, concept, world building, and even shock value.

Unlike the previous three books, this is not my new favorite Hickman book. That’s not to say it isn’t good, it is. It is, however, the most difficult of his books to read. There is so much in this one issue that it becomes a little hard to take in. The ideas are so grand and the scope so epic that it becomes a little bewildering.

Hickman has great attention to detail and more often than not it is in the details that his greatest work lies. The details here are fast and furious from the cleansing machines that decide the greatest pollution on Earth is man itself to the psychic who looks down upon the smartest man alive. The thing is that the details are so fast and furious in this one that they detract from the story.

The story is pretty cool. Basically the Earth had been devastated by a continuing onslaught of disasters both natural and man-made. Now as the survivors are starting to thrive again, an alien race that contributed to the problems earlier has sent a vast army that is stated to be unstoppable. Our narrator, Marcus Farber - otherwise known as the great benefactor - is plagued with comprehensive visions of the future and it falls on his vision and wealth to mobilize the people able to assist man in our greatest need.

There is a bit more characterization in this book then in his previous efforts. The prose is as dense as ever, but here we really get inside the head of Marcus. There is also great exposition with Dr. Thaddeus White, the smartest man in the world, and with Lightbender, an apparent Superman analogue with a decidedly more Authority like approach to saving the people of his planet. What is impressive is that we learn almost as much about all three characters through very different means. Marcus is narrating so we learn his story and nature fairly straight forwardly. While the good Doctor is explained to us through the narration and his own interactions with Marcus. We have a slightly skewed look at him. The most astonishing is Lightbender though, in a two page spread where he addresses the world, Hickman tells us as much about him as the scribe relates about Marcus in the rest of the book. It is great to see the idea man get inside the head of his characters.

This is Ryan Bodenheim‘s first work for Image. It may be his first comics work ever. However, as with Ringuet and Hickman, he provides an astonishingly accomplished look to the piece. The best part here is that he is the most mainstream of the artists who have graced a Hickman script. It is very distinguishable and while there is a familiarity to his lines and character design, there is a uniqueness to his colors and layouts that makes him standout from the crowd. Unfortunately, for the more mainstream comic reader, this is a Hickman script and Bodenheim does not get to show off his narrative skills as Jonathan has him jumping around a bit, but there is interesting panel work that shows he has a strong grasp on how to get the most from a panel.

While this is not his strongest effort to date, Hickman still provides the reader with his usual dense and informative script. The guy has one heck of an imagination and this Superhero/Science Fiction story should do quite a bit to bring more readers to his fold. He deserves the attention as does this book. I say it is weak for a Hickman book, but that puts it heads and shoulders above most of what is available on the stands.

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