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Spotlight On Brian Wood's MARA

Brian Wood's latest Image Comics series gives us a unique story about girls, volleyball and super powers.

There are times when we read the solicit to a brand new series and it sounds so bizarre and far fetched, that it is hard to imagine how the story would actually work. That is exactly the way I felt when I first read the solicit for MARA. Although interesting to a degree, the premise of this six-issue series just seemed a bit too strange. Then again, strange and different can sometimes mean "good," and with Brian Wood behind the book, there was a chance this series would be pretty interesting, and turns out, it is. Two issues in and things are so strange and unexpected, that they actually make for a pretty fascinating story.

Set in a "hyper-technological future world," Mara (the story's central character) was genetically superior to many girls her age. She is branded early on as an athlete, and molded to become a volleyball player -- but not just any volleyball player, the greatest, highest paid volleyball player in the whole Western Hemisphere. Mara is the biggest star, period. She has throngs of fans at her feet, sponsors, fame, and fortune and she is at the top of her game living in a society that, according to Wood, "celebrates perfection and personal achievement." Wood's story turns all of this upside down and depicts Mara as a young girl who goes from being at the very top of her society, to the very bottom of the food chain, a "traitor," to to speak.

== TEASER ==

The series is one that took me by surprise. As a concept it sounded rather bizarre, but the story and the characters are interesting and appealing in a way that is unlike anything being published right now. What makes this already unique story even more appealing is the absolutely stunning art from artist Ming Doyle. Doyle's line work is beautiful and her panels capture a lot of emotion. Doyle also draws the readers eye to abstract parts of the issue. The second issue, for example, gives us a close up at the bottom portion of Mara's face when she is engaged in a serious discussion with a good friend of hers. The decision to show only half her face creates a lot of emphasis on Mara's emotions in this scene and it is executed in a beautiful way.

Writer Brian Wood isn't just creating a world where competitive volleyball is the most popular sport in the country, but also a world where society's values are more conservative and rigid. In issue one readers see Mara's life in all its shiny glitz and glamour. She is rich, famous and possibly even being targeted by an Assassin. In this issue we are also introduced to Mara's "abilities," and they will lead to the question of whether or not she is actually being honest with her society. The second issue moves on from the crazy scene at the end of the first issue to focus on the society's values. Establishing the society and the way it functions is a really important part of issue two, because the way society views Mara is already set up as being one of the most important aspects of this story. In this future world things are, like I mentioned above, incredibly conservative. People's perceptions of you determine your place in society, essentially, and we get a glimpse of that when we see Mara's tiny slip up in the first issue.

It's also interesting to see her powers manifest to her (and everyone else's) utter shock and horror. The way Wood writes the story, he leaves readers in suspense. What is triggering her to react in this way? Why does she suddenly reveal her powers in issue two? Does it have to do with her emotions? Mara is also an interesting character because she is a character of so few words. Most of what is going on around her does a great job telling the story for her, but it doesn't really give us a look at what is going on with Mara internally. That is definitely left up to the series' artist. The way Doyle lays out panels, the expression on Mara's features, these details are what serve to give us better insight into how Mara is feeling and what she might be thinking.

The third issue of MARA is set to hit comic shop shelves on February 27th, and we definitely recommend picking it up for various reasons. First, you are supporting a creator owned story, and that is always a good thing. Most creators who go into comics want to write unique characters of their own, and Brian Wood is doing that here in this series. There is also the fact that the story is interesting. Wood is crafting not only an interesting character in Mara, but also an interesting and advanced world. He's developed a new kind of society. Beyond the fact that you are supporting a creator owned book, and that this story is cool, there is also the fact that it is very unique. It's a female centric book that doesn't give the whole scope of the story away and is contained in a mere six issues. That equates to very little investment in this title on your part, and the promise that it will likely be a relatively easy read.

Have you read MARA? If so, what do you think of the series?

Posted by Bigwalt

So gooooooood

Posted by Aeroman

I like this series

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

This is such an under the radar series. I am glad you guys did a spotlight on it. I think more people should be checking this title out. I know I have been enjoying it. I wish that this series was an ongoing series instead of a mini series.

Posted by judasnixon

I picked up the first two Issue, but I haven't gotten around to read them yet. I think I'm just going to wait in till I get all six and read them all at once......  

Posted by kantrip

I've enjoyed it so far. Issue 2 read more like a mid-arc issue with its pacing and lack of action but once you get to the end you know that that the rest of the series is going to be very exciting. I'm glad I'm taking a chance on this book.

Posted by akbogert

Great-looking art, indie book, with a solid writer behind it?

Alright, I'm sold. Downloading issue one now.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

art looks great

Posted by DonFelipe

I'm enjoying it so far!
Main character, plot, and art are pretty unique and well written and illustrated - the combination works really well. There's still a lot of questions at this point after 2 of 6 issues, and even this works. Mara is very mysterious. Despite the fact that she is (was) a perfect artist with super-powers who failed big time (and Mara's world doesn't like cheaters! ... note the hidden criticism) we don't really know that much about her? Where she's from? What is she really? A malfunctioning robot? Super-clone? Alien? What are her super-powers (besides Super-Beauty)? Well, we know she's got super-strength, super-speed, super-hearing (!), and she can fly... so the real question is what is she not capable of doing? 
The only thing that is quite safe to assume is where she's flying next to? Her brother!
Can't wait to see what comes next! Mara's exciting!

Posted by K3vinkha0S

Yaaaaayyyyyyy! Way to go ComicVine! You took some notice and did a feature on a smaller Indie comic. Not just the same old DC Marvel superhero fervor. An actual thought-provoking original story, with an original universe and characters. Anyways more to the point, Brian Wood is such a talented writer and I'm a sucker for most of his stuff (Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive) those are some of the books you guy SHOULD be talking about more often, books that are more compelling then the same superhero genre that get pumped out every week. Don't get me wrong, I love Snyder's Batman right now, and Hawkeye is soooo different and sets itself apart it's basically a indie. What Im getting at is just do more spotlights on indie stuff, get guys like Brian Wood, BKV, Ed Brisson, Nick Spencer or artists like Derrick Robertson, Riley Rossmo, or Sean Phillips to be on the podcasts..... But.... you probably wont and you'll use the "Not enough people look at those pages excuse"

Posted by SavageDragon

@haydenclaireheroes: Your so right it reallly is. Im digging this mini.

Posted by beggar

I've been loving Mara so far! Love Wood's work on this and Ultimate X-men, Doyle's art is fantastic too. Can't wait to see where the story goes.

Posted by Ren_

Oh man, not sure how this escaped my attention.

Edited by Bobzenub

I checked out the first issue, even though I'm really not a fan of Brian Wood's writing, but I've found out to be having the same rigid, borderline alienating writing style as in his other works that I could not stand. DMZ might turn me (haven't checked it out yet), but as for Massive and Mara, I won't be following them.

Posted by lannister

i love this series

Posted by derf_jenkins

Image has a history of pumping out high quality stuff like this. Its a shame they don't sell more books.

Posted by RoboShark

I've only got my hands on issue one. As I read it I was like "Why do i like this?" I still have no answer but it's a cool/different book...With volleyball.

Posted by Crimsonlord53

Any comic with girls in volleyball shorts wins in my book and the writers not bad either.

Posted by RazzaTazz

I have actually bought both issues but havent read them yet. I should get to it.

Posted by Billy Batson

I was going to write a blog about this before the first issue (not that anyone would have cared) but decided not to. Was a little surprised when CV didn't talk about it at all when the first issue came out, it was a light week due to the holidays.

After seeing the reception of the issues, I'm not that bothered about the not writing the blog. The reception has been pretty average so I might not get this series anytime soon unless I heard it gets better. And this coming from a big fan of Wood.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I have the first issue thus far and I read through it and was blown away by how fresh it was in my opinion. I love the concept and the story just flows. A must read I say.

Posted by G-Man

@Billy Batson: I mentioned it in a "Best Stuff in Comics" that week to bring attention to it.

Staff Online
Posted by akbogert

First time reading Wood. I've really enjoyed this. Not sure how I feel about it being so short -- I wish they could have taken longer to develop things -- but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how things go. Also, the art is just wonderful. Not like what I usually read at all, so the variety is nice.

Thanks again for pointing this one out!