[Before I begin to review Martian Comics #3 I wanted to state that the idea behind this review was all mine. Julian, the head of Sequart, and the Sequart team were worried that having their own property reviewed on the site would appear narcissistic and self-serving. However, I feel that because Sequart is a community-based website, then Julian's own properties can be reviewed fairly and accurately. Therefore, I will treat Martian Comics like I would any comic being presented for review.]
Martian Comics is an ongoing science fiction story about Martian influence on human history and how that influence has shaped human society and culture. The issue is fifty-two pages long and is packed with story. Most of them being back ground pieces that help build the world and the mythology. The last story being what I assume to be the central narrative.
The art has a realistic style to it. It is anatomically correct while throwing in a bit of 1950s scifi flair. It is further enhanced by the crisp coloring that just look vibrant on the page. The stories in the issue were very solid, the technical skill of Julian is on point. Each story does what it was meant to, typically while addressing some complex philosophical point. Though the real strength of the issue is in the team’s understanding of panel structure. Almost every panel is justified in being the size it is presented as. This point is critical as panel structure is the true objective art in comics. The skill in making comics is not just in the story or the art, but rather how both find a balance with each other. The artist should not take up the whole page to get to the point and the writer should not overwrite over the artist. No space is wasted and there is no empty space to be found inside the panel. Thereby giving the reader more story and staying true to the confines of a medium where a creative team only has a certain amount of physical space to convey an idea or notion. Julian’s team has an inherent grasp on this concept and does an amiable job of showcasing it.
However, the issue is not a perfect work. The stories convey their point and serve to explore the universe, but there is no emotional connection. In each of the side stories, events happen, philosophy is spoken, and I am left wondering why I should care. They serve to world build but they fail in making me care about the events. Which leaves me wondering if they are not better suited to have the world building material just be introduced in the ongoing story. The side material serve a purpose but do not carve out their own identity. The main story has a bit more development, the characters are in a position that can easily create sympathy from the reader. Though it was still hard for me to care about their predicament. I admit that this could be because I’m starting a story three issues in but there was no character that I felt truly connected to. However, the main problem is the issue’s format. Typically in annuals or significant issues, the main story is placed first in a comic book because that is what the reader is buying the issue for. Then, if there is extra content, it follows the main story as supplemental reading. In Martian Comics, the reverse is done where the short stories are placed first. Which will put a lot of readers off as they will expect the first story to be the main story. The change also allows for readers to assume incorrectly that the book is an anthology instead of a traditional ongoing.
Martian Comics is a book with a lot of potential. If you enjoy fifties science fiction or The Martian Chronicles then this is a book for you. Julian and his team have released an intellectually complex comic that showcases their understanding of the craft and I look forward to see how their creative endeavors evolve.