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?