Review: Mars Attacks #4

I enjoyed the last issue for telling a unique story and being a fun read.  Issue #4 earns the same praise and now has fostered a loyalty to this book.   John Layman takes the topic of alien invasion and makes it a page turning adventure. The book opens with a flashback of the previous Martian scout missions to Earth and the terrible consequences—for both the aliens and the Earthlings.  Like the Predator, the Martians have visited the Earth at different points in history: the Aztec empire, the American Revolution, and the 1800’s plains.

Fast forward to modern-day when the Martians return to destroy, not to explore.  In orbit, Xiuhcoatl and a Civil War soldier have been awaken from suspended animation.  Emissary Zar kept the two for war trophies and remembrances of his own failings as a leader.

MarsAttacks_04-CvrAThe two humans, despite being unable to speak each other’s language, work together to fight before being probed to pieces. One human falls, one escapes.  The conclusion incites such a “Shit, that’s pretty cool moment,” that one wishes the book was weekly, not monthly.

John Layman does an excellent job of including stills from the collecting card series in key parts of the story.  His portrayal of the Martians is new and daunting, making the creatures frightening more than comedic like in Burton’s film.

The true strength of the book comes from Layman’s story.  With such well formulated but wildly unpredictable scenarios, the book conveys a take-no-prisoners tone.

And best of all, Layman makes the Martians the focus of the book.  Unlike IDW’s Godzilla in which the title character barely shows up amidst a boring plot, Mars Attacks balances the Martian invaders’ story expertly with the human fight for survival. I can’t believe how won over I am from a book that I thought I would cast off.

Score: 4/5

Writer: John Layman Art: John McCrea Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release date: 9/26/12