Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mara #1

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Ming Doyle

One of the best things about Brian Wood's shorter independent books, like Supermarket and The Couriers, is the way in which he shows the future.  In Mara's world, America has become utterly obsessed with sports, with athletes trumping movie and music stars as the world's biggest celebrities.

Seventeen year-old Mara Prince is a volleyball prodigy, and the biggest celebrity on the planet.  She has multiple endorsements, a spacious free condominium, and a gorgeous girlfriend.  She also has some abilities, it seems, although it's not clear from this issue if she is fully aware of them or not.

Wood takes his time setting his story world up in this issue.  We learn how important sports are to society, and we learn how they became connected to the military, as 'special focus' service was used to draw enlistment, much like it works at specialized high schools.  We learn that Mara was being trained full-time from a very early age, in a system that sounds very similar to the one used by the Republic of China today to produce (construct?) Olympic medal winners.

We first realize that something is special about Mara beyond her athletic abilities when she senses a that someone in a crowd is carrying a gun.  Later, during an exhibition game, Mara appears to stop time to manipulate a ball's trajectory, but she gets caught.  It looks like the rest of the series is going to be about the consequences of that moment.

Wood is always an excellent writer, and in this issue, he presents a vision of the future that is well-planned and realized.  There is not as much political commentary as you would find in an issue of DMZ or The Massive, but there is a suggestion that Wood is not okay with the level of esteem we sometimes hold our athletes in, as well as a gentle criticism of the Chinese system.  Ming Doyle is an artist I'm not very familiar with, but I do like the way she fits into the stable of artists that Wood regularly works with, somewhere between Ryan Kelly and Becky Cloonan.

This is a very good comic, and worth checking out.

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