Set in a conflict ridden future, Mara #1 opens on our titular character in preparation for her upcoming match. In this future, sporting events are solidly set in the public eye, viewed by all around the world and can determine the moods of nations as well as distract from the wars occurring worldwide. Mara Prince is a young sports prodigy, selected and trained from a young age for the sports arena by large corporations who fund and use much of the entertainment industry to sway public opinion. With a fantastic twist in the final pages, Mara #1 provides a mystery, strong characters, and a deep and detailed world.
With all the hype and “sneak-peek” type posts I saw leading up to this comic’s release, I actually had little knowledge of what the comic was going to be about. So when the comic opened on prep for a volleyball game, I thought, “I’m reading a comic about volleyball. This is a volleyball comic. Hmmm.” Regardless of subject matter, I trust writer Brian Wood to bring on the interesting, as it were, and bring it he did. Also, having read and enjoyed much of Brian Wood’s recent work (Northlander’s, DMZ, The Massive), I’ll admit that I fanboy-ed a bit at the release of this comic.
Attention in the comic is split between Mara’s time on the court where she plays and live-broadcasts her matches, and her time off the court where we learn about her relationships with her teammates and her brother who is overseas. The dichotomy provides a truly intriguing view of Mara’s character as we get to see here in and out of the public eye. On the court we see that she is rightly the best at what she does. Off the court however, we get a deeper glimpse at the pro-volleyball player that is still a kid in many ways. She worries about her brother, the more overzealous fans of her team, and the eventuality of becoming “too old” for the sport.
The art by Ming Doyle is simply fantastic. The ways in which different artists depict the future has always been incredibly interesting to me, and the world that we are shown in Mara is a fascinating world indeed. We get luxurious views of cityscapes and hotels, holographic screens projecting sports events, and the spacious arenas in which Mara plays. The clothing designs also caught my eye. Whether the jumpsuit of an athlete or the cloths of a fan in the crowd, each style speaks volumes about the world and gives the reader information on how central competitive sports are to the public in the story. Worked into the clothing of a security guard or painted across a fans face, “Mara” is seen everywhere, giving the reader scope to how famous she is and how intense her fan following is. In fact, the thematic, almost mantra-like “Mara” is pervasive, only given rest when Mara is alone in her room away from the crowds of fans that scream her name.
This is a fantastic start to the series. Brian Wood created an excellent balance between character and world in the exposition, which wraps up solidly right as the twist plays out in the issues’ eleventh hour. The art likewise is excellent evoking incredible views of the future and the technology it possesses. This series is definitely a buy, and I highly suggest picking up the first issue to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. Issue #2 is out now as well and it is definitely on my list of things to read.