Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Attack of the Volleyball Teens

Mara #1, by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire

Brian Wood has been on my radar since I came across the interesting title Local he produced with Ryan Kelly. That followed a young woman as she moved each issue to a new location in North America, with the episodes being full of local detail. Mara is not like that, in so far as it is not just a character study but has science fiction elements. It is set in the near future, in a world that has become completely obsessed by sport. The implication seems to be that this sports obsession somehow differentiates this future world from our own.

The eponymous Mara is the 17-year-old star player in a volleyball team. She is one of the biggest sports stars in the world. Meanwhile her brother is off in the military serving in some central Asian hellhole made up for the purposes of this comic. Things trot along until Mara's team has to play an exhibition match against an up-and-coming team. On live television Mara then exhibits bizarre super powers, which is as much of a surprise to her as to everyone else.

I am not entirely convinced by this. The future setting seemed a bit thin and lacking in detail. Maybe that would unfold over time, but for now it felt like there was not really much going on with it. The main character seemed a bit odd too - for someone in her teens, she seems wise beyond her years. Maybe this is meant to foreshadow her being superpowered and all that, but to me it just made her seem less like a real person.

Still, there are things to like here. The sporty stuff was fun (despite hating sport I have always enjoyed sport in comics). And the art (from Ming Doyle, with colours by Jordie Bellaire) is likeable too. One thing that should be saluted here is that in a story about buff teenage girl athletes, the art seems to lack a voyeuristic aspect - even a full-page picture of Mara in her underwear seems strangely desexualised. Mara looking far more white on the cover than she does inside is however a bit odd.

Overall, while this comic is somewhat interesting, there is not enough in it to bring me back for a second issue. If this turns out to be a terrible mistake, let me know.

Image source (also another review)

Some mostly-very-short reviews of other comics written by Brian Wood.

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