Mara review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Image Comics - 978-1-60706-810-5
  • Release date: 2013
  • UPC: 9781607068105
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

In some never nailed down future there are war zones, and vollyeball has taken off as a globally popular sport attracting the highest levels of sponsorship and investment. Children begin their training from as young as two, and at seventeen the game’s superstar is Mara Prince. She’s the idol of millions and the poster girl for more, yet in the middle of a game she suddenly moves so fast the cameras can’t pick her up, even when slowed to their minimum speed.

Accusations of cheating taint her reputation, and when other untoward incidents occur, televised across the globe, her sponsorship is withdrawn and she becomes a pariah. At this point the army start taking an interest.

Brian Wood has come up with a serviceable idea about a sporting superstar developing super powers under a constant spotlight, yet his chosen method of storytelling is glacially slow and overly dependent on expository captions. Maya Prince is a cipher from beginning to end, with brief, mildly exploitative, hints about her sexuality pretty well her only defining characteristic. The plot veers back and forth with no explanation given for this sudden manifestation, tension is minimal, and if tranquillity is the aim, tedium is the end product.

Ming Doyle’s art doesn’t help. As can be seen from the book cover, when dealing in individual illustrations she can produce an evocative picture. When it comes to telling a story, though, she produces a series of attractive flat and static images that don’t really work as a graphic narrative.

The back cover reviews consider this “a beautifully rendered exploration of fame, power and identity”, “a new standard in exploring supheroes in comics” and “feels like a ticking time bomb”. Were they really reading the same material?