Mark Russell is one of the finest satirist working in modern comics today, and I don’t care who hears me say that!
Not that there is really much debate about that. Russell has garnered widespread and well deserved fame for his ability to take outlandish ideas and give them a grounded depth and reality lacking from a lot of other modern satire today.
This week we’re going to be taking a look at Russell’s latest work, a new comic from Ablaze Publishing titled Traveling to Mars. It’s another in Russell’s fantastic recent run of modern satire comics, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
So let’s dive in to Traveling to Mars and see how Mark Russell once again brings his trademark wit and irony to bear, this time on Corporate greed, the race to Mars, and finding dignity in death.
Here’s the blurb: From two-time Eisner and Harvey Award nominee Mark Russell and hot new talent Roberto Meli comes a compelling new sci-fi series…
Traveling to Mars tells the story of former pet store manager Roy Livingston, the first human to ever set foot on Mars. Roy was chosen for this unlikely mission for one simple reason: he is terminally ill and therefore has no expectation of returning. Roy is joined on his mission to Mars by Leopold and Albert, two Mars rovers equipped with artificial intelligence, who look upon the dying pet store manager as a sort of god. Against the backdrop of not only his waning days but those of human civilization as well, Roy has ample time to think about where things went wrong for both of them and what it means to be a dying god.
A riveting story of planetary exploration and of finding meaning in your final days.
There are a lot of Russell hallmarks on display in this book. Cynicism towards corporate America, the stupidity of of modern man’s approach to climate change and dwindling natural resources, and of course, the dignity of those who are all too often overlooked in our society.
The here of this work, Roy Livingston, is, by all accounts, a loser. No friends, little family, no one to really miss him when he dies. Roy was a mediocre student who lacked support or ambition to make much more of himself. He’s fairly sure that even in his death he’ll be a disappointment, something his father feared most of all.
But then Roy gets the chance to do something no one else has ever done: travel to Mars to claim it for Earth, and by Earth we mean a billion dollar artificial meat producing corporation, of course.
See, the way the law has been written, the first person to get to Mars and claim it gets to keep it, along with all of its natural resources. Most nations have struggled with this because of how challenging it would be to not only get someone to Mars, but then manage to get them back.
But Roy’s dying of terminal cancer. There’s no way back for him, and so his team has the advantage of being able to send someone there to claim the resources, without the worry of how to actually get them back after.
This book is classic Russell. Ridiculous and hilarious social satire, mixed with poignant and beautiful meditations on the meaning of life and the value of leaving a lasting legacy after.
Russell is joined on this book by Roberto Meli, an up and coming talent in the world of comics. He does an admirable job in capturing the feel of this book, and I’m very excited to see where his career goes from here.
Alright, that’s it from me this week, folks. Ask your LCS about preordering Traveling to Mars #1 from Ablaze, and let me know below what you thought of it. Until next time, Stay Safe!