We all know someone who’s never seen Star Wars or doesn’t gets it when you say “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!,” it’s from Jaws by the way. Whenever I meet someone like that I let them know how they have a void in their life that needs filling. When it came to Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons Martha Washington I was the one who had a void to fill, but thanks to Dark Horse Comics for publishing The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, this trade paperback collects every page of Our shero Martha Washington. My life is complete as I take a flashback to this visionary work from two of comics greatest storytellers.
The late 80’s- early 90’s saw a huge number of creators becoming so disenfranchised with the big comic companies that they struck of on their own or headed to smaller companies to form boutique labels. This new freedom allowed Miller the ability to further his critique on current events and society from the viewpoint of heroine Martha Washington.
Woman, soldier, leader, weapon, protector, explorer, Earth Mother all attributes and details that give you a very broad description of Washington. This black woman born in the slums of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini–Green Homes housing project, a maximum security “home” in this story, becomes the most influential person in history, saving the US and Earth from enemies foreign and domestic. Again the most basic, lay explanation of this book I could think of because Miller and Gibbons create a world that hits a little too close to home with a parody of US international and domestic politics, thankfully Washington is there to help them survive.
This edition collects every appearance of Martha, including the short black and white stories, now fully colored and remastering and has a great crossover with Miller’s other creation, Big Guy from Big Guy and Rusty. The trade is graced by a brief introduction from Miller but the true value is Gibbons insight for each stage of the various story arcs, backstory of the series publishing herstory in addition to pages of concept notes and design ideas.
Sadly the importance of this book is I feel more relevant in today’s world of 45*, ecological disasters on the horizon, Hydra-Cap, the seduction of artificial intelligence and America at a critical juncture for its collective soul. You won’t be able to not compare timelines and you’ll wonder if her version of the 21st century is better than ours, if only Millers crystal ball of social comictary could comfort us in knowing that we’ll make it through the next four years with only minor bumps and bruises.
If you’ve never read it go fill that void in your life like I did.
George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.