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Thread: Review: Mara #1 - From Massive To Massachusetts

  1. #1
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    Default Review: Mara #1 - From Massive To Massachusetts

    Louis Falcetti writes;

    Mara is a comic with a special appeal for massholes (for the international set, a "masshole" is a person from the state (commonwealth)(republic) known as "Massachusetts", it refers to our tendency to be enormous assholes because we do everything right and the rest of the country is jealous). Not only is Ming Doyle from Boston but Volleyball, the sport of tomorrow from yesterday was created in my Massachusetts hometown of Holyoke. We also invented basketball but Springfield stole the credit. We let them keep it though because everyone knows volleyball is the far more popular sport. I mean just compare the sizes of our respective halls of fame for proof! (Please don't actually check that)

    So Mara is about volleyball kind of. The bare bones concept on the surface doesn't actually sound that new (world torn apart by war and poverty, sports used to distract, enthrall and bank off the populace). Hey that actually sounds really familiar. When you start hearing about the Natural Gas sponsors of the games it should sound even more recognizable.

    "When Mara Prince was a toddler, the world was consumed with endless wars, crumbling economies and destructive racial divides."

    Oh I see what he did there. This is one of those things that's actually two things. One of those "allegories" I hear the kids like so much these days.

    So like in The Running Man, Hunger Games, Rollerball, Battle Royale, Series 7 and a thousand other dystopian creative properties the world is united by a sport but noticeably different this time around is lack of the merry mask of murder surrounding everything. Mara isn't another "In a world where freedom was outlawed and love was a crime" stories. Mara's world is a lot like our own (which is maybe the point?)

    Wood is a master at capturing the culture's zeitgeist and using our hopes, fears, wishes and nightmares to craft moving, honest, beautiful comic epics, both large and small. And it looks as though Mara is no exception.

    I've always had a problem with perfect characters, it's been one of the reasons why I've never liked James Bond ("But you don't understand! He does have flaws! You just have to see the new one." you waste your time blathering at me) and it's one of the reasons why I don't like the new Who companion Clara ("But you don't understand! She died! She's like the blah blah blah of a bunch of stuff." you keep on to no avail). At points in the book Mara seems almost too good to be true. And there's a reason for that, so keep reading.

    It's a future world that Wood, Doyle and Bellaire so beautifully craft together, but not a future world that's been done to death, a bright vision of a technicolor future, gorgeous bodies and youthful smiles behind neon speed trails and men with guns. It's a Star Trek set but without the groovy peacenik feel of The Federation, Utopia by way of Nike & The Army would be more accurate.

    17 year old Mara is a volleyball God and before you go "Oh now really, how would volleyball ever be the most popular sport in the world?" need I remind you that the most popular movie of all time is a Dances with Wolves remake featuring cartoon blue people and the guy who wanted metal legs in Grandma's Boy?

    It's great layered story telling, where we're slowly exposed to more aspects of Mara's family and friends, all the while being given the introduction to her world and age. Doyle's art is outstanding, she perfectly captures the kinetic intensity of the athletes but also the myriad of expressions on Wood's interesting, dynamic characters. Whether it's a quiet moment before the insanity of a huge game or a video message from a loved one, Doyle is accomplished and electric, knowing how to make the reader's teeth grit or eye's moisten from action to emotion and back again.

    Wood is on fire right now, turning out quality work with an inspired and inspiring speed. He's creating his own path between the worlds, doing important, interesting (and fun) creator owned work while still finding time to keep the lights on and the bellies fed with entertaining, punctual work for hire. I'm a huge fan of Wood (go ahead, giggle) and when I choose to review work where I'm already a fan of the creative team, I'm always nervous, "What if it sucks?". Thankfully Mara doesn't suck. In fact, I might go so far as to say that it rules. I'd also use some kind of volleyball "word", you know, like Mara spikes on point! but I have no idea what volleyball words means since I never watch it because it's really boring. Unlike Mara!

    Mara, from Brian Wood and Ming Doyle, is published by Image Comics

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    Can we have less snarky digressions in the next review?

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    I thought it was a tremendous disappointment. Wood relied too much on caption exposition to tell us the world's background, like a movie voiceover. Why not SHOW us through your story-telling abilities and dialogue and let the reader fill in the blanks about the economy, etc. If you have a sci-fi setting, you don't need to explain every bit of it to the reader in the first 10 pages. Let aspects of your world flow naturally as your story addresses them. Otherwise the story ends up sounding like Escape from LA.

    Mara is an amateur job from an otherwise solid writer.

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    I love Ming Doyle's drawings on her web sites, but her comics have always been a disappointment, and "Mara" is unfortunately no exception.

    Look at the panels that start with "Nice intro. New PR people?" - most characters look blank, like dolls, with hardly any expression, and they look past each other while talking.

    And the volleyball match that follows looks nothing like volleyball. The net seems to be placed four feet too low (or maybe rather, the court and players are usually drawn wildly out of perspective), the characters look stiff and their moves look very un-volleyball-like. In the panel that starts with "Within six months", is the girl doing a bizarre twisted jumping bump with her arms pointed up? That's not a volleyball move - if you bump the ball, you should be standing on the floor with your entire body pointed toward the direction that the ball is coming from, and your arms never move very high. And what happens in the next panel, where it looks like the girl is just posing while the ball is levitating away from her? She doesn't look like she's hit the ball with either arm.

    Ming Doyle can draw static people who look good, but she's terrible at drawing expressive, believably moving characters.

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    I know Wood has his fans, but his political comics are often preachy to the point of pretentious boredom. (Like an NPR script with drawings.) This doesn't sound like it breaks with that tired formula.
    Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason ― Mark Twain

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    Wrote the Book on Cool doomedhuh's Avatar
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    who wants to read a comic about a volley ball player?

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    Quote Originally Posted by doomedhuh View Post
    who wants to read a comic about a volley ball player?
    Marvel puts Wolverine in 14 books a month for people like you.

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    Wrote the Book on Cool Revolutionary Cyke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpmdkc View Post
    I thought it was a tremendous disappointment. Wood relied too much on caption exposition to tell us the world's background, like a movie voiceover. Why not SHOW us through your story-telling abilities and dialogue and let the reader fill in the blanks about the economy, etc. If you have a sci-fi setting, you don't need to explain every bit of it to the reader in the first 10 pages. Let aspects of your world flow naturally as your story addresses them. Otherwise the story ends up sounding like Escape from LA.

    Mara is an amateur job from an otherwise solid writer.
    Yeah, I agree.

    Also, James Bond always had flaws- I mean, he was always a cold-blooded murderous bastard with no remorse or scruples, until the Daniel Craig movies. Which you do need to see, BTW.
    To be or not to be. That's not really a question.
    Jean-Luc Godard

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    Zen Master of Cool BobMarket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary Cyke View Post

    , until the Daniel Craig movies. Which you do need to see, BTW.
    I saw the one where the guy hit him in the balls for an hour. It was one of the most boringest movies ever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FarBeyondHalford View Post
    Can we have less snarky digressions in the next review?
    no we can't.

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