Mars Needs Music!

Free Mars is a comic book written by Dave Pauwels and arted by Nicolas R. Giacondino.  It's also a webcomic.  Mars is a blank template that authors have used to write stories about its imagined past and present and possible future.  Once we learned that Mars was more or less barren and lifeless, our stories turned from fantastical yarns to more plausible, if expensive and unlikely tales of a science fiction bent.

Free Mars is an adventure story set in one of those plausible futures (all the way out to 2339) where mankind colonizes Earth's sister planet.  A corporation runs Mars, of course, since humanity is there to mine it and make things.  And after some time, some of the people living there begin to identify as Martians and that's about the time when humans start asking questions like, "why are we being ruled by a king corporate headquarters across an ocean space?" and "do we really have to keep biting on their culture and fashions? maybe we could come up with our style?"  Both questions which coincidentally Free Mars is concerned about.

Free Mars is about a band named The Sisters Grimm which consists of three stylish, independent women, Vexx, Sam and Gremmy.  The band records a song that catches the ear of Damien Kessler, who just happens to be the leader of the Martian Liberation Front (MLF). When the song gets played on the MLF's pirate radio station and Vexx's boyfriend Dub gets arrested by corporate security, the three women decide to get out of town.  I'm not giving away much in letting you know that their trip out of town is more eventful than the women would have preferred.

I really like the art on Free Mars.  It's got a ton of energy and Giacondino's got a vision of Mars that really helps give it a seedy, New York-in-the-seventies-vibe, well but you know, on Mars. The coloring is kind of primal – more sophisticated, but still evoking a real old school comic book feel to it. Pauwels has done a nice job setting up a plasible and interesting future world as well as constructing a good launchpad for an action adventure story.  His mixed-up slang and techno-babble helps to give his Mars just enough otherness to be alien but not distracting.

The print collection collects the first two chapters of the webcomic.  It's nicely done – it's comic book size — with thick paper and great production value.  The webcomic has just finished serializing the third chapter of the story, probably the most action-packed set piece so far.  At a page a week update schedule, it's going to take awhile for this story to finish but they've been very consistent their first year of publication.  If you haven't read it yet, you've got a whole 50 plus pages in the archives.  Definitely check it out and if you like the comic, you should take a look at getting the book as well.


The creators provided a free copy of the comic book to ComixTALK for review purposes.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.