Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Dean Ormston
Coloured by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Todd Klein
The heroes of Spiral City’s Golden Age are trapped on a farm, completely cut off from their former lives. ABRAHAM SLAM is adapting, and Martian hero BARBALIEN is trying to fit in, but the townsfolk aren’t always inviting. GOLDEN GAIL, MADAME DRAGONFLY, and COL. WEIRD have all isolated themselves, trying to forget their past and present. It seems that only the robotic sidekick TALKY-WALKY is determined to follow in the footsteps of BLACK HAMMER and escape the farm.
This issue takes a closer look at Barbalien and it’s chock full of surprising little tidbits. We open with him attending the town’s Sunday church service and then his mind wanders to the past. A NASA ship has landed on Mars and they’ve killed the astronaut and as Mark Markz, Barbalien, talks with the Chancellor and his right hand woman Jan Janz we learn a great deal about how he lived his life there.
On Mars he was a man of peace whose father had united the red tribes of Mars. He believes in compassion and his words over the use of a sword. The Chancellor who obviously doesn’t like him very much takes his advice that they send an emissary to the third planet to investigate and see just what kind of people live there. Much to his chagrin it’s Mark Marz who is chosen, the price of not being liked.
The look at how he came to Earth and how he assumed his earthly identity are interesting stuff. Meanwhile intertwined we see him at the church and why he’s there to begin with. It certainly has nothing to do with the Sheriff who is openly hostile towards him. Though that might have a lot to do with the fact that his ex-wife is having sex with Abraham and they are starting a relationship that includes her wanting to come to his place and have dinner with his family. Which should be one of the more interesting scenarios should we get to see that come into play.
Dean and Dave do some really nice work on the interiors here. I love the focus on the characters and the little clues throughout until the “big reveal.” The flow of the story through the use of page layouts, angles and perspective with the use of backgrounds really help to fill out the story nicely. We get a great sense of this world they are stuck in and in the flashbacks we get a great look at the world where Barbalien operates.
While we don’t get to see much about them trying to find a way out of this nightmare, okay we don’t see anything other than Dr. Trigg and Ms. Weber find a satellite that’s come from Colonel Weird’s ship. So our intrepid reporter trying to find out what happened to them is among the first to know that there are some clues out there that they are still alive. This is a very new and interesting take on what we would normally see as those core members of the world’s super team. I love the familiarity with the mixture of originality to create a brand new set of mytho’s Jeff’s taken the concept and ran with it in ways that are completely interesting and entertaining.