Review – Mara

Cover of the comic Mara by Brian Wood et alMara, Brian Wood, Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles

I liked Mara quite a lot: it’s great that we’ve got a queer woman of colour in a comic like this, where neither of those things define her. I like the lead-in here: it doesn’t come across like a superhero comic in the first issue or so; that had me wondering what the pace would be like and whether I’d want to stick with it. Normally, Carol Danvers or Steve Rogers would’ve punched something by now, after all. Still, I loved the look of the comic, aside from the slightly weird fact that Mara’s white on the cover. The lines and colours all look great.

As the story develops, it becomes a bit more typical. Mara develops superhuman powers, the military gets interested, people want to experiment on her family to see if she’s the only one, etc. I only vaguely remember the bit in >Watchmen that people compare Mara’s reaction to, but I do agree that actually, it’s a really similar character arc. What makes it different is the character. The origin stories of superheroes are often compared to adolescence; their secret identities to being ‘in the closet’. But there’s no mystique about that with Mara, so where does that take the superhero narrative, if it’s an allegory?

I’d need to look at more of the literature and reread at least Watchmen for comparison to really talk about that, but it interests me nonetheless. Mara’s story seems to tell us that for her, it’s not adolescence or having a girlfriend or being a person of colour that sets her apart. Partly it’s fame, as the first couple of issues show us, but characters like Ingrid share that spotlight. Worth pondering.

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2 thoughts on “Review – Mara

  1. Great review, this sounds good. Is there an etymology here from the Old English demon Mara, which Katharine Briggs reminds us is related to nightmares and the phrase ‘mare’s nest’? Alan Garner’s Mara are terrifying female trolls– do you think this gives an indication of Mara’s supernatural otherness? Just mind-mapping here, mind.

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