Teenagers From Mars

Teenagers From Mars
Teenagers From Mars review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Gigantic Graphic Novels - 0-9763038-0-9
  • Release date: 2005
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9780976303800
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Teenagers from Mars is a very good title, albeit completely misleading. The images conjured up evaporate on learning Mars is a small coastal US town, remote, homogenised and with a population of bored teenagers.

Rick Spears develops this well, opening with three teenagers digging open a Civil War grave and messing about with what they find, and following up with another, Macon, losing his job at the local branch of Mal-Mart and making the mistake of believing he can beat up his manager. Just beforehand he sees the girl of his dreams being escorted out of the store having assaulted a creep attempting to look up her skirt. They meet later, and the Comic Liberation Army is formed.

There’s a reason for the name, and a reason for the trouble it causes. Spears’ plot mixes several contrasting elements. There’s the tedium of teenage lives with the conformity demanded by the adult community, the perennial rebellion of teenagers against their elders, and values of mainstream society unthinkingly perpetuated. On occasion the characterisation slips from informed into caricature, but for the most part Spears is very good in setting up the scenarios attractive to bored teenagers in a small town, and the reasons for their boredom.

Copyright notices reveal artist Rob G to have the given name of Goodridge, and he’s not quite up to professional standards, but not far off either. Most importantly problems with depth and figurework in his greyscale art aren’t enough to detract from what he’s good at. He has a fine eye for page composition, is impressive with small character-building details and can adapt his style to look different when he’s required to provide the content of comics Macon produces.

The situation in Mars escalates first to unreasonable repression, then to righteous consequences, but for lovers of decent action adventure that’s all for the good. As he goes along Spears makes the case for comics as sources of inspiration and growth no matter what adults might think, and incorporates the real life case of Mike Diana. The story unfurls at a leisurely pace, takes some potshots and has a point to make, and it entertains from start to finish. It’s a winner.