Review: Mars Attacks Zombies vs. Robots (One-Shot)

IDW has done something pretty damn weird. I’m not talking, like, “show me on the doll where IDW touched you” weird; more like, “I just went out for one beer with IDW, but 48 hours later and I’m living with a Mexican sex show dwarf in Tijuana” weird. In other words, it’s taken me for a bit of a ride. It all started when IDW decided to turn the Mars Attacks franchise into its own sort of comic book meme, applying it judiciously throughout the past month to its family of titles, like KISSPopeye and The Real Ghostbusters. We haven’t reached the weird part yet - so far, that’s just good marketing, really. The weird part is that, as an experiment ... it kinda worked.

I’m not gonna lie, I hated Mars Attacks in its original incarnation as a hokey pastiche flick with its massive five-star ensemble cast. I get that it was meant to openly feed upon itself as this anachronistic Holly(Ed)wood modern relic, but to me, it just felt flat, bloated and humorless ... a lot like this girl I used to date. Look, I was in a low place, alright?

MarsAttacks_ZvR-pr-1I never really dug the misadventures of those testy little Martian devils ... that is, until they attacked The Transformers last week. The humor and charm in that book just completely bowled me over, so much so that I decided to snuggle up against the next and, I believe, last host of this loopy little viral meme, not counting its appearance as variant covers. While I do think it lacks the same hilarious absurdity and endearing nostalgia that I so enjoyed in the Transformers book, Mars Attacks Zombies VS Robots acts as further proof that this nutty little treatment over at IDW is pretty goddamn great!

The setup for this is exactly what you think. A group of elite Martians attempt to enact space vengeance on humanity by accidentally attacking the post-apocalyptic, near human-less world established in original IDW series, Zombies VS Robots, co-created and written by Chris Ryall, the very same scribe on this book. The plot, if you can call it that, is negligible, and that’s okay! There’s something about a stargate and ... look, it doesn’t really matter. It’s flimsy as all get-out and thrown together quickly to facilitate this sexy three-way duel ... which I’m fully aware is a contradiction in terms. But hey, this was never going to be “high concept,” so don’t over-think it.

In fact, the creative team just should have skipped plot development, rising action and exposition altogether, just so we could get down to the thrice-layered meat in this freaky little sandwich. If it wasn’t for the admittedly fun marriage between Kuhn’s monstrous art and Ryall’s aside-driven wit, I personally would’ve been okay with the Martians just showing the fuck up and going, “Oh, hey you guys! I see you’ve got some zombies and robots here. That’s cool. Hey, check out these laser beams! Pyew! Pyew! Pyew!” That’s really all you need in a story like this: Conflict!

Of course, when the Martians finally do encounter a pack of zombies, it’s the kick-in-the-crotch, slap-you-in-the-gums, bat-shit crazy sorta fun you’ve always wanted in a mash-up like this. Then it really gets good. Don’t get me wrong, I love the alien/zombie dynamic in the early throes of this book, particularly in the way the zombies communicate in the classic little infographic speech bubbles, but the robot/alien interaction is THE reason to come to this particular show.

After literally bumping into each other and exchanging a bit of friendly gunfire, the two forces proceed to engage in the kind of back-handed conniving and wanton thuggery you can set your watch to, almost immediately turning on each other after a shaky, lie-filled truce leads absolutely nowhere. Both the robots and the Martians are complete pricks to each other, and it’s pretty entertaining watching them play off one another ... and then later, just “offing” each other.

With a fabulously unpolished visual direction and a truly sardonic sense of humor, Mars Attacks Zombies VS Robots is the mouthful you want it to be, and provides a great ending to IDW’s entertaining cross-title tryst. For what it’s worth, I hope they keep this up, maybe not as a regular ongoing, but definitely as an annual exercise. I, for one, would most certainly come back for more.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Chris Ryall Artist: Andy Kuhn Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/30/13