Better Than the Movie In One Issue: Mars Attacks #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Spencer visits his father, Major Carbutt, at the retirement home in which he resides. Spencer is a middle-aged man, and he just lost another job. His dad isn’t happy with him, but Spencer still thinks well of his veteran father. While Spencer is visiting his father this time, the world seems to literally end around them. Aliens have attacked, and they are blowing through the military and police force with ease.

Mars Attacks! #1 cover by Tom and Sian Mandrake
Mars Attacks! #1 cover by Tom and Sian Mandrake

I, like many people, am no fan of Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! film from 1996. I also was never into the trading card series, and it was mostly prominent far before my time.

Despite whatever feelings I have about what, to me, amounts to a mediocre and baffling sci-fi/horror comedy film, Mars Attacks! #1 from Dynamite Entertainment is a surprisingly genuine and endearing understated apocalyptic comedy set during the invasion that defines Mars Attacks!

Spencer is a well-meaning but unmotivated deadbeat, and his father is stern but doesn’t hide that he does truly want the best for his son.

Then the apocalypse happens. Mars attacks, as the title says, and the two men are trapped in the nightmarish carnage that follows.

There are funny scenes of the president responding to the crisis, and this shows that this story is well and truly separated from the Jack Nicholson president universe of the film.

Mars Attacks! #1 art by Chris and Liz Trice Schweizer
Mars Attacks! #1 art by Chris and Liz Trice Schweizer

Chris Schweizer’s artwork is charming and contributes to the strangely understated tone of the book. There are hilariously over-the-top violent scenes scattered throughout the comic, but the style maintains a calm cartoonish vibe that suits the characters of Spencer and Major Carbutt. The Martians themselves still have the unnerving yet kind of goofy visage of old. The color work, which has assists from Liz Trice Schweizer, isn’t too flashy are blinding. Instead, it maintains a chill and restrained palette of its own that contributes to that understated tone.

Mars Attacks! #1 by Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer is a funny, quirky, yet endearing adventure into the Mars Attacks! universe that finds a father and son bonding in the burnt remains of our society. It’s a delightful comic, and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Mars Attacks #1 comes to us from writer Kyle Starks, artist Chris Schweizer with color assists from Liz Trice Schweizer, cover artist Tom Mandrake with Sian Mandrake, and variant cover artists Ruairi Coleman with Timothy C. Brown, Eoin Marron with Dee Cunniffe, Robert Hack, and Chris Schweizer.

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