“Mars Attacks #1”

John Layman, John McCrea, Andrew Elder IDW Publishing $3.99, 32 Pages
John Layman, John McCrea, Andrew Elder
IDW Publishing
$3.99, 32 Pages

Now a cult card game and originally created in the early ’60s, the Mars Attacks franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary and to celebrate these delirious Martians, IDW has now brought them back to comics, in a book that is bursting with fun, personality and terrific visuals.

    In keeping with the tradition and spirit of the franchise, IDW has cleverly released over 50 covers, each one printed with its own trade card cover from the original series. After studiously going through all the ones my store had, I decided on 13. These are obviously a species that enjoy their work…

    Mars Attacks does exactly what it says on the tin. Conceived when space exploration was in its exciting infancy, Yuri Gagarin had just orbited space a year prior, and the drama of Roswell in the late ’40s still had imaginations running wild. The US was in Vietnam. The enemy, conflict, and freedom littered the news and airwaves. The Mars Attack card game took all these events and interest while using a more satirical and flippant approach to exact some social and political commentary.

    Fast forward 50 years to the release of this comic, and it’s safe to say this series has been brought to our shelves more for the purpose of nostalgia and that retro feel rather than address our current world crisis. And what a treat it is. Opening in America’s Deep South in the summer of 1962, the opening issue tells the story of future chief Martian, Zar, and documents his first journey to Earth and how his vendetta with the human race began.

No. 13: A little sherry celebration.

    Hayman manages to create quite the comedy sketch as two hick farmers stumble across the stereotypical flying saucer. Luck and good fortune seem to be the main theme of the issue and the irony of it all pours through these pair of idiotic men. Of all the people in the world to make first contact with an intelligent alien race, Earth serves up the bottom of the barrel. Trying to make a quick buck from their findings, things predictably go sour and we get some memorable scenes from John McCrea.

    McCrea does a great job of keeping that ’60s look and feel to the book while adding his own contemporary style to it. The Martians look fantastic and some of their facial expressions are priceless. His countryside landscapes and scenes of space are strangely quaint and picturesque amongst all the impending terror and doom and colourist, Andrew Elder deserves huge credit for making these scenes really pop.

    Mars Attacks may be a relatively old and simple idea but don’t let that sway you. This is truly a fun read with a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and maybe we need more of that in modern comics. I’m excited to see where Layman takes these merciless aliens and how they deal with 2012. The invasion begins next issue; make sure you don’t miss it!