Advance Review: Mixing Sci-Fi And Western Tropes In `Fear Of A Red Planet’ #1

by Tom Smithyman


Combining two popular genres is no guarantee of success – particularly when the story of a murder mystery is set in a small town where everyone has a motive. With some nice artwork, it’s a decent enough start to see if the creative team is able to surprise the readers in future issues.


From the Mad Max movie series to TV’s Firefly, setting Westerns in a science fiction setting is a familiar tactic when trying to mine the best of both genres. That’s the same vibe that Fear of a Red Planet is trying to create.

Set in 2070, the story is set in a mining colony on Mars. The colonists lead a hard life, scraping out a meager existence by selling rare elements to their corporate overlords. With a resupply ship making the journey to the red planet only once a year, any dreams of returning to Earth are far-fetched at best. The inhabitants find what comfort they can at the bottom of bottle or in a sex worker’s bed. Throw in a murder mystery at the end of the premiere issue, and you have the makings of an interesting, if familiar story.

Writer Mark Sable’s first installment introduces us to several characters who are largely forgettable, save Carolina Law, the marshal in these here parts. She has a mysterious past – so we’re told anyway. It’s not evident in the first issue. Don’t let that stop you from feeling for her. The lawwoman who has never fired a shot now faces her first murder investigation in 15 years.

Artist Andrea Olimpieri provides some fairly muddy visuals for the series, though they seem appropriate given the mix of genres. Olimpieri also provides the colors, preferring to stick with one dominant hue for each page. It works well. And he chooses those colors wisely – making a concerted effort not to go for the obvious choice of making everything red to coincide with the Martian surface.

While there are no real surprises in this initial installment, there’s nothing to stop readers from coming back for more. It may not be high praise, but readers should stay tuned to the next issue to see whether Fear is worthy of their long-term attention or whether it’s just a recycled story trying to seem new in a mix of genres.

Fear of a Red Planet #1 will be available for purchase tomorrow.

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