Mars Attacks: Classics Obliterated (One-Shot)
When I was a kid, I was scared pantless by the 1996 Tim Burton film Mars Attacks!, which featured creepy, bumbling, murdering Martians, a human-headed dog, and, though a comedy-horror film, was nothing but terrifying to me. It’s not scary anymore…just a little unnerving, but the franchise as carried on by IDW into our favorite medium here at Graphic Policy captures the ridiculously violent, funny nature of that movie and its inspiration, the 1960s trading card series of the same name (sans “!”).
But I haven’t really been a fan of the on-going comic; I find it amusing, sometimes laughable, but really nothing more than a distraction from my usual pile of beloved series, and so I haven’t really followed the Mars Attacks comics since issue #9. But I’m a sucker for adaptations of classics, and I just had to give the one-shot Mars Attacks: Classics Obliterated a try.
This special issue tackles three classics: Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), giving a special twist to each, and presented by three separate artistic teams.
While this sounds promising, unfortunately, I only found the Moby-Dick adaptation at all appealing, and that mostly a result of the sketched-look of John McCrea‘s pencils and the unique feel of Phil Hester‘s writing. Hester places Melville directly into the story, a facet of adaptations I rather enjoy, because it’s sort of entertaining to think of the writer as having actually experienced the thing being written about. In addition, Hester is an incredibly talented writer, as his script shows, and this pairs unbelievably well with McCrea’s vivid portrayal of the fervor of Captain Abraham for catching the Whale.
On the other hand, Beau Smith and Kelley Jones‘ Jekyll and Hyde (or Jackal and Snide, as they adapt it) is an uncomfortably modern take on the tale, which I found awkward and not as well written, despite a pretty funny twist when the Martians get ahold of Jekyll’s monster-making serum. This story is easily overlooked, in my (not so expert) opinion.
Neil Kleid and Carlos Valenzuela expertly adapt Robinson Crusoe, creating a stranded, lone-maddened Martian that meets up with the eponymous character. This adaptation is also well written, and the art equally likeable, but it seemed to be lacking the pizazz that drew me into the first story. I’ll admit, however, that while Hester and McCrea’s Melville story was unevenly paced, ending rather abruptly, Kleid paces the story so that by its conclusion, the reader is satisfied and not wanting. May this is why it adds up to very little: there’s nothing left to be desired.
If you’re a fan of Mars Attacks or any of the classics adapted herein, you might want to check this out, but otherwise this review will probably satisfy any curiosity you have and leave you with $7.99 in your pocket. On the whole, it seems a half-hearted knock-off of the recent Deadpool: Classics Killustrated, both in tone and design, but lacking in the same quality and inspiration.
Story: Phil Hester, Beau Smith, Neil Kleid Art: John McCrea, Kelley Jones, Carlos Valenzuela
Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
This review is partly in response to Brett’s review, which you can find here, but also because I really wanted to put my two cents in on this start-off issue to what I hope will be a series longer than the short-lived Sword of Sorcery which just finished up, and which also deserved a longer run. And, because I believe Larfleeze as it is here, and as it was begun in the back-up of Threshold #1, is a breath of fresh air among superhero comics and DC especially.
Larfleeze #1 is outrageous, over-the-top, sometimes silly sometimes serious humor that lurks on the edge of absurdity but is still entirely relatable. I enjoyed reading the Threshold back-up featuring Larfleeze much more than I enjoyed the main story itself, and I attribute this to the voice Keith Giffen gives to this character’s story. It’s a book that reads like Douglas Adams writing an obnoxious, selfish, rude teenager who’s millions of year old and has more power than most superheroes in the DC Universe. He is the Orange Lantern, a corps to his own, and he’s funny as hell, backed up by a sardonic butler who’s the smartass version of Alfred Pennyworth. And Giffen’s work is supported by Scott Kolins’ non-realist art, which looks the visual embodiment of what I imagined the Hitchhiker’s Guide books would be if in comic form.
I said above that Larfleeze #1 is a breath of fresh air for comics; let me explain. A lot of the major plots these days are dark, edge-of-your-seat apocalypse. It seems as though everything is going to Hell, lately, like something bad is always around the corner and there is no good whatsoever. It’s one end-of-the-world battle after another. With Larfleeze in the pilot seat of his own book, it’s guaranteed that any such darkness will be overlaid with hilarity, and that’s exactly what I like about this book. Larfleeze himself is a funny furball, and you’re really never sure when he’s telling the truth, but you’re always assured he’ll come out on top.
Giffen and Kolins make a great team, and perhaps in other hands (literally) this book wouldn’t be worth buying, or would be easily recognized as an attempt to live up to the character Geoff Johns created. But this is the guy who wrote us Ambush Bug, another funny but not-so-much loved character, sort of like Marvel’s Howard the Duck (no, not Lucas’ movie).
This may not be a book for everyone, but if you like Douglas Adams, if you like the Lantern mythology, or if you’re greedy, then at least read Larfleeze #1 and see what you think. Brett may be right, this book might fall into the obscurity of the thousands of dead DC titles (does anyone remember Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!?), but for now, it’s a hilarious and lovable break from all the darkness on DC’s roster.
Story: Keith Giffen Art: Scott Kolins
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read/Buy
IDW provided Graphic Policy with FREE copy of Mars Attacks for review