No Justice And No Peace When Mars Attacks
Aug 08, 2018
by Vince Brusio
We love horror movies. We love disaster movies. We eat this stuff up with popcorn and soda. Same goes for comics. But we try not to eat at the same time we read comics because....well, who wants dirty comics. Back to what we have in commmon: often, many of us root for the monsters and the bad guys. Why the joy in such carnage? It’s make-believe, and it’s this kind of escapism that lets us take pleasure in someone else’s misery. We think to ourselves, "I got it bad, but that guy’s got it worse! Hah!" Well, in Mars Attacks #1 (AUG181110) from Dynamite Entertainment, EVERYONE on the planet Earth is about to have it a lot worse than you because writer Kyle Starks says that the carnage will be massive, and home insurance won’t be worth squat as no one will be left to build anything.
Vince Brusio: What’s your personal attraction to Mars Attacks? Was it one of the goals on your writer’s bucket list? Does it stem from you digging the 1996 Tim Burton movie? Do you have any of the original trading cards from the 1960s? Why are you exactly into these ugly big brain aliens?
Kyle Starks: Admittedly, I never knew about the playing cards until after I saw the Burton movie years ago. And I adored that film, very much my aesthetic of violence and humor smushed together. I think that Jim Brown bit is just an all-time great moment in film history. This book, however, is going to follow the cards - and while you don’t need to know anything about those cards, I think the OG Mars Attacks fans will get a huge kick out of all the Easter egg references to them. When Dynamite came to me I thought it was super important to really be referential to those great Len Brown/Wally Woods cards, after all, they started this whole thing! They tell an amazing story about the Invasion beginning to end. It’s a really fun narrative told one image at a time — just like a comic — and I thought, well, what if we followed a group of people who were running parallel to those cards and narrative? I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited to work on such a beloved franchise and I’m thrilled to work with one of my favorite humans on the planet, Chris Schweizer, who I think is the best-kept secret in American cartooning. He’s brilliant, and I’m so glad that so many people are going to get his work thanks to this larger stage for him. I’m so excited for all the people who have never seen his work who are about to get that opportunity.
Vince Brusio: So given that you have to write about skull-faced critters that ray blast people into ash heaps, how do you get inside the warped minds of these interstellar stormtroopers of death? Are they simply misunderstood, or do you see them as karma come to bite us in our collective rear ends? Who should we really cheer for in Mars Attacks #1?
Kyle Starks: Oh man, I think it’s easy to get in the minds of the Martians. They are doing the things that you can’t do but maybe some twisted part of you sort of wants to? They’re unchecked aggression given life and death rays. So because of that, and that they invading our beloved Earth, I don’t think this is going to be a book where people are going to cheer for the Martians. Or at least I hope not, I guess? They are fun though. They are fun for sure. And, you know, they’re coming here because their world is dying which is something I think one could be sympathetic to but, oh man, are they just being the absolute worst about it. But they’re rampant death merchants sooooo…let’s not cheer for those guys. Let’s root for the home team.
Vince Brusio: You’re well versed in comedy (Rick and Morty), but is this book comical? Looking at the covers for the series, Eoin Marron’s artwork for issue #1 delivers tongue-in-cheek humor, but the other three covers basically imply this is a more sinister series. Does that same balance of horror/humor apply to the story?
Kyle Starks: I think the tone of Mars Attacks will be closer to the tone of my Eisner-Nominated Image series, Rock Candy Mountain than Rick and Morty. There’s a ton of humor, a ton of action but in the end, it’s a story about these people, this father and son, and their journey. Both emotional and literal. But yeah, it’ll be funny. It’ll be fun, and there will be tons of destruction. So, it’ll be great. I think that the nature of Mars Attacks is visceral carnage mixed with humor and that’s something I am very much into, and is very in line with how I like to approach a story.
Vince Brusio: Give us some background on the characters in the story. Are the humans merely cannon fodder, or are there certain individuals who may be more than a bump in the road for the cosmic invaders?
Kyle Starks: This story follows a middle-aged son, Spencer, and his senior citizen, ex-military lifer dad, The Major, as they navigate the world the Martian invasion has caused. It’s really a story of survival and growth while the Martians do the things the Martians do so well: blow everything up, control giant insects, freeze and death rays, etc. Like most father and sons do, they have a complicated relationship and probably working any of that stuff out while a flaming herd of cattle runs by isn't the best time for it, but here they are.
Vince Brusio: Of all the previous Mars Attacks comics that have come before this one, did any of those stories influence your work on the series for Dynamite Entertainment? How do you put this series in perspective given the history of Mars Attacks comics in the past?
Kyle Starks: I read all of those series but I don’t think any influenced my work - I think you let the source material give you your ideas for this sort of thing or, at least, that’s how I like to approach these things. But Layman and Giffen did great work, for sure. I think with this book that Chris Schweizer and I are doing for Dynamite we’re starting anew. We’re doing something different than the IDW days. And like I said, all those guys did great work, but I hope the perspective will be that these five issues are the best five issues of a Mars Attacks comic ever.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.