Review: Mars #1

Mars #1 cover
Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel

Mars #1
Published and © by First, January 1984

Title: “Rebirth”
Synopsis: A terraforming team goes into hibernation for 10,000 years. Morgana Trace awakes to discover the rest of the crew missing.

Writers: Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel
Artists: Wheatley and Hempel

Review: Creators Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel rip through the early years of brilliant paraplegic Morgana Trace’s career at breakneck speed, cramming several issues worth of back story into this debut. Likewise, several interesting sci-fi concepts are hurriedly introduced, then left undeveloped. In both cases, the pacing makes it tough to connect with the story. As for the art, the duo’s style is cartoony but serves the story well. Combined with the use of brilliant colors, Mars looks like nothing else from its time.

Grade: B-

Second opinion: “The art works very nicely. It gives the book an otherworldly feel to it that makes you know that it is not happening to the girl next door.” – Bob Sodaro, Amazing Heroes #35, Nov. 15 1983 … “Overall, this was an excellent first issue.… It is apparent that the series will not be about superheroes, colorful costumes, or fisticuffs.” – Lee Dunchak, Comic Effect #41, Spring 2005 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: The Wheatley/Hempel team. While Mars lacks the polish of their later collaborations, this creative duo would go on to produce some excellent work together, including Blood of the Innocent and Breathtaker.

Character quotable: “We’ll be just fine – what could go wrong?” – Morgana Trace, Mars’ paraplegic protagonist

A word from the editor: “Mars is unique in that its creators, Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, share all the various tasks in producing a comic book: both are responsible for the writing and both are responsible for the pencilling and the inking – a relationship not dissimilar to that shared by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for their long and productive careers together.” – Mike Gold, in this issue’s “Read Letters” letters column

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on April 4, 2011. An earlier version of the review appeared in The Comics Buyer’s Guide #1653, May 2009.

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