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Mara TP Paperback – November 12, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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However, Mara's character development was done extremely well, the writing has been entertaining, and the art is great.
In fact, Mara's character has been developed so well that the ending of this volume leaves the character with huge potential for further story development. It is not often that a super powered being is brought to a volume's end in such a contemplative state. I would have given 5 stars just for how the volume ends, if not for the super ordinary treatment of the story for the majority of the volume.
I do not know if the author plans future issues, I wish he does - just so I can see where his vision of Mara goes.
At start it was interresting. Then Mara just been boring.
Whe don't know for where come her power, and is idea of leaving earth make me thought at Dr Manhattan.
She was power, she was disgusted and she change nothing ...
Worse she don't save her brother.
Mara is the most famous vollyball player in a future where sports are a world obsession. Children are taken away from their families in toddler-hood if they show a natural ability in any of the major sports and trained for most of their life in boot camps to become a world famous player. The perks are great but she's left very disaffected, living a listless sterile life traveling and playing, supposedly enjoying the adoring fans while her friend and lover/co player handles her corporate endorsements. But this all changes when she suddenly begins to develop supernatural powers and recognizes she wants no part of her human world any more. The adoration is hollow, her friendship/lover superficial, the world inhumane. So she leaves and lives in space - until a lonely astronaut forces her to reevaluate the roots of her discontent.
I can definitely see where the author was going with this. Mara is a thinly veiled Gabrielle Reese, abandoned by her family and turned into a sports-robot for the enjoyment of the masses. The 'poor little rich girl' is admittedly a bit hard to swallow, though, and once the weirdness of her suddenly morphing into Superman, complete with super speed, flying, and ability to live in space just fine, it just gets a bit odd. For the sake of the story and to emphasis Mara's disenfranchisement from humanity, she is made super-human. I can't say it isn't artfully done but at the same time, it feels like artifice and a rather heavy handed deus ex machina. As the powers allow/force Mara to rather unemotionally shed the trappings of her current life (betrayed by the public, abandoned by her lover, etc.) she starts to realize what she gave up at the behest of others and to try to figure out what she wants. Which, oddly, is to be alone in space (making no sense considering how alone and disenchanted she was already with her old life).
The heavy handedness comes in again at the end, with a lonely astronaut sent on a one-way exploration mission eavesdropped upon by Mara following his space ship to deep space as he communicates his last missives with his family. Tacked up on his bulletin board are pictures of Mara playing and a close up of her along with a photo of his family. It really wasn't necessary to put Mara into the pictures on his board to show that humanity doesn't always lack faith - just the words used when he communicates with his loved ones should have been enough to make Mara realize her exile was just another version of her previous life, no less one-dimensional for having made the choice herself this time. The "well, he believed in me so I guess humanity isn't all bad" was really shallow when it hit and lacked the punch it should have had.
The illustrations were very well done and suitability stylistic to create a unique and distinct feel. In fact, I felt the illustrations were better than the story they realized. I feel a less heavy handed, much more subtle approach to what feels like a self indulgent attempt at 'high concept' would have worked much better here. By no means terrible - but still leaving me feeling underwhelmed and unaffected by Mara's journey. Received as an ARC from the publisher.
It starts out in the near future with Mara Prince as a superstar volleyball player - in the near future volleyball is insanely popular - which might make you think that this is a sports comic: and then Mara suddenly uses super-speed in the middle of a game! From that point on, it's anyone's guess where the story is headed as Mara develops more and more superpowers - flight, strength, resilience, psychic abilities - and the world around her reacts with fear and hostility.
It's a story where you think at different points, as Mara discovers superpowers, that she might become a superhero, and then later you think she's going to choose to become a supervillain, but by the end, like Mara's powers growing by the chapter, the story eventually transcends the final barrier and becomes almost zen-like in its outlook and as enigmatic as a Kubrick film.
If I'm making it sound like a tricky read, I assure you it isn't. Brian Wood is one of the finest writers working in comics today and he writes Mara in a highly accessible way so that even if this is a completely new character and world, you can get into it and understand it instantly. I've read a lot of his work recently and Mara is definitely the best thing he's written this year.
The best part of the book by far - and both writer Brian Wood and colourist Jordie Bellaire do first class work, so this is saying something - is Ming Doyle's artwork. It is absolutely gorgeous! You know those shots in movies/TV shows where a camera films traffic and then you see the sped-up footage that looks like a neon line of red or white? Doyle does this in the first panel of the book, making it look as vibrant and surreal as it does on film - in a comic! From there you're treated to page after page of incredible illustration.
The fight sequences between Mara and the military are especially brilliant as Doyle brings the focus tight in on Mara and then pushes it back at just the right moments to give a perfect sense of timing and movement to the scene. Or the scenes where Mara is flying and to give the reader an idea of her power and speed, the panel remains earth-bound, looking up at Mara, is an utterly genius choice. Even a page-length shot of Mara meditating while listening to her MP3 player is ridiculously stylised and amazing. If nothing else, this book will make you a fan of Ming Doyle and make you seek out everything she's ever worked on, and is reason enough to pick up this title.
Is Mara a superhero story told slightly differently? Is it a metaphorical story of a teenage girl's journey to self-identity? Is it a spiritual comic retelling an ages-old story of gods? You can figure out the meaning of the book for yourself but the one answer I will give you is to definitely pick up this highly entertaining original superhero comic to read.