The previous issue of MARA ended on a precarious note; Mara, simultaneously at the height of her powers and at emotional rock bottom, held the fate of the planet in her once-golden hands. Alienated, betrayed, and equipped with a superhuman set of powers, Mara was poised to let go of her telekinetic hold on a sky full of missiles, getting not just an eye for an eye, but a whole human race, for their immediate and thorough abandonment of her.
That she rendered the missiles inert at just the last moment is what makes Mara Mara, and what shows us that she's undergone some serious character growth. It was entirely possible that this series could have been about the genesis of a supervillain, and instead, we get to see the brightness of her compassion and hope for humanity shine through. After all we've seen happen to Mara, we can justify her rage against the human race, and completely track with her actions, so the one-eighty for the better gives her a moral high ground that seems almost uncommon in nature. But, is Mara common in any sense?
What makes her compassion for humanity particularly spectacular (and, perhaps, equal to the magnitude of her metahuman abilities) is Mara's acknowledgement that she no longer belongs. She's aware that the people of Earth rejected her even before they saw the full extent of her powers, before she made any overt displays of her talents as a weapon. She's also aware that, the more she grows into her power set, the less human she feels, and the more she feels in common with moon dust than people. And yet, knowing that she's crossed the threshold even to the point that she doesn't care to see the reactions to her decision to nullify the missiles, she still holds onto hope for the species, and hope for the good amongst its members. Mara has taken the high road; in this case, it's as high up as outer space.
While it's strategically aligned in parallel to Mara's perception of the capsule pilot's long, difficult, and painfully alone journey, the flashback to Mara's one-hug separation from her parents delivers some information that might have been useful (or appeared more consistent) several issues prior. Mara at the opening of the series doesn't appear to be deeply affected by this abandonment; it's the ironic combination of isolation and constant-broadcast that is the primary source of her anguish. But since we're getting the details of her ship-off to volleyball camp via flashback, it stands to reason that -- unlike her sadness, anger, and other negative feelings resulting from the news of her brother's death -- any feelings of loneliness, abandonment, or emotional detachment rooted in this childhood event would still be a part of Mara at the start of the series. I embrace the layered analogy -- this flashback compares to the pilot's solo journey, and also to humanity's collective abandonment of Mara (sans one hug, even) -- but wonder if we'd see Mara differently if she had possessed a little bit more subconscious sadness from the start.
Wood, Doyle, and Bellaire give us an ending that is decidedly less explosive than Issue #5 may have led us to expect, but that provides something much bigger than the complete destruction of Earth: closure. In just six issues, we get to follow Mara through an incredibly dramatic character arc (from her ultra-comfortable beginnings as a celebrity darling to her isolation and alienation from the human race that rejected and betrayed her, and finally to her realization that there are still good people and good intentions in the world), bookended by the broadcast signoff that is now a mere echo of what it was in the first issue. Everything about this issue, and this series, is careful and calculated; planned to a tee, even as Mara's own life spirals out of control rapidly and without warning. Both the series and its ending were fascinating to read, and it's a testament to the kind of storytelling that -- unburdened by a lengthy series run -- can be encapsulated in a miniseries just large enough for a single trade paperback (Yes, Virginia, you can tell a great story in less than ten issues.).