Layman, John

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3 out of 5

(3 books)

Decimation: Sentinel Squad O*N*E

(Art by Aaron Lopresti and Norm Rapmund)

Although published as the fourth book of the Decimation story arc, the majority of the story here takes place before M-Day, in which the mutant population is decimated.  The book tells the story of the development of the Sentinel Squad programme; the creation of a military police force which uses gigantic Sentinel robots for transport and is overseen by the Office of National Emergency. 

There's a fairly standard 'group of individualists forged into a team' type story going on here, which is why I've not rated the book higher.  There's nothing wrong with the story; it's just been done before. 

The new Sentinels are pretty cool though (particularly the Brawler unit) and I loved the fact that they are trained by War Machine.

3 out of 5

 

Mars Attacks Volume 1: Attack From Space

(Art by John McCrea)

The first volume of a new retelling of the Mars Attacks story, originally based on a run of 1960s trading cards.  In 1962 a Martian saucer crashes in America and its crew clashes with the local humans.  One of the Martians, Zar, escapes and vows revenge; returning half a century later as a General at the head of an invading army.

I have always loved the Tim Burton movie version of 'Mars Attacks' and was hoping that this book would capture the same magic.  It only partially succeeds in doing so.  The over-the-top B-movie action and violence of the alien invasion is present, sure, but the dark ironic humour is far less prevalent.  There's still an undertone of it, but there are no moments in this book that are genuinely funny.

Also, there's not much that actually makes this book stand out from any number of similar alien invasion stories (including other Mars Attacks ones).  However, one unique element that I did enjoy is that rather than following a human character through the book, it is actually the vengeful Martian General Zar whose story unfolds across it.  Nice change to see the invasion from the Martian perspective.

3 out of 5

 

Mars Attacks Volume 2: On Ice

(Art by John McCrea)

When a human scientist develops a weapon which could not only defeat the Martian attack but could also wipe out the entire Martian race, the interplanetary invaders unleash a new weapon of their own; the freeze ray.

More of the same in this book as the last one, although it should be noted that they tell two unrelated stories.  The pulpy B-movie feel is still there, but the morbid humour is not.

Also much like the first book of the series, the one thing that makes this book stand out a bit from the crowd is an interesting Martian character.  Here it's Blyx, who wonders if the humans really are all bad and feels that perhaps there could be some middle ground between Martians and Earthlings.  His naieve attitudes and behaviour make him a very original take on the ruthless alien invaders.

3 out of 5

Collaborations & Anthologies:

House Of M: Fantastic Four/Iron Man (here)

Read more...

Mars Attacks (here)

Marvel (here)