The Hardcore Review: From The Vaults; Teenagers From Mars
“So, you get in fights a lot?”
“You always get your ass kicked?”
“Aren’t you ever afraid?”
This quote is why I love this comic. This quote is also why I love comics in general. Even when no one else is going to believe in you, you’ve got to believe in yourself.
Today I go back to the HCR vaults and re-review an old favorite of mine, Teenagers from Mars. TfM was self published by writer Rick Spears and drawn by Rob G. During the production of the 8 issue mini series Rob’s apartment went up in flames. You may remember this from an article in Wizard magazine that got fans and comic readers in general to send their support to the artist and his flatmate to get back on their feet. Spears and G have worked on many projects together. Titles include Dead West, Filler and even the mini series Repo which was stolen as a basis for the Forest Whittaker/Jude Law film that seems to have stirred some bad blood. When I checked out Repo the Genetic Opera, I thought it may have also “borrowed” from the duo’s work, although I am pretty sure that the only part they might have agreed with is the de-facing of Paris Hilton. Not so much the singing crap.
“Comics made me do it!”
But back to the mayhem that is the single greatest comic book story of all time. It seems a slew of grave robbings have made their way into the local newspapers and tv news broadcasts in the town of Mars. Those responsible are not the satanic, baby’s blood drinking, sadist goths you may have expected. Nay! This is workings of a trio of preteen youth, bent on getting their cemetery dirt soiled hands on a copy of Beyond Adventure #75, first appearance of the hero Captain Tomorrow. Problem is, a near mint copy of this Holy Grail of comicdom runs in the neighborhood of five thousand dollars. That’s a nice chunk of change, especially for three, under the legal working age, miscreants that would rather loot and pillage than mow lawns or have a paper route. Cause, wouldn’t you?
The paranoid adults in Mars go forward with a full on prohibition on all comics. Burning them in a massive bonfire in the center of town. Meanwhile, local former Mall Mart employee and small press comic book creator Macon Blair has become enamored with young Mall Mart assailant, Madison Lee. The local Mars’ government has confiscated Macon’s comic, Lines on Paper, and an all out sabotage, rescue mission is planned. F@#$ I love this book! Teenagers from Mars is equal parts punk rock, mixed with half an issue laden with zombies, and the single best “on the run” love story this side of Natural Born Killers, without all the killing. Madison and Macon click like few other characters. Madison is such a strong female character who refuses to be anyone’s damsel in distress. This is where I get a lot of motivation behind my female characters. So if you wanna blame anyone, blame messers Spears and G. There have been some amazing indie comics before and since TfM, but not one has captured my attention or imagination like it has.
Macon and Madison are the arch type anti-heroes that I hope people see my characters as. Madison, the girl who is as quick to assault a perv looking up her skirt as she is to gut punch the guy she loves so he understands that she is just as strong and capable as he. And Macon, the punk, comic book pusher, indie comic creator who will fight for what he believes in, no matter the odds.
As a friend revealed to me, TfM, is “a power trip,” that is honest about being so. This same comic book dealing friend of mine has pushed other amazing titles into my waiting hands. And they have been good, even great. But like he himself has said, “It’s not Teenagers from Mars.” There is mention of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and their famous case defending Mike Diana, who was actually banned from drawing after being found guilty of distributing pornography.
While some of the other projects Spears and G worked on together appear a tad more polished, its the rough around the edges feel that make this comic home to me. In the same way that nothing will ever beat a VHS copy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Cause it’s supposed to be dirty and gritty. And that is why there is a massive fandom for indie comics. For every Marvel or DC or even Image comic on the rack each and every week that you might be interested in spending you hard earned money on, there are dozens and even hundreds of indie comics that will make you stand up and cheer proud to be into comics.
The grade for the original review was back when The Dudley Boys power bombed their little brother Spike through two flaming tables on to the cold hard arena floor. Right before the perennial ECW tag team champions were set to leave the violent originators for the top flight imitators of the then WWF. Their goal was to lay the ECW Tag Titles on the desk of WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. It didn’t happen, as the next night Tommy Dreamer defended the honor of ECW by going one on two with the Dudleys who had beaten Balls and Spike for the belts on one of the first episodes of ECW on TNN. This however is not the grade I am re-giving to this review of Teenagers from Mars. However this time around the grade is quite a bit more subdued, yet a match that stole the show for me. It was not ultra violent. It didn’t have a ton of high spots either. What it was, was a technical marvel to behold. It had everything a pro wrestling match should have. It was Ring of Honor, still in it’s infancy, a part of their Field of Honor tournament. Matt Stryker, not the school teacher, the guy with the unibrow took on John Walters. At one point, Walters held the ROH Pure Championship. That is another story. Stryker and Walters took the crowd to their limits of emotional response. And both men chopped each other, and suplexed each other into next week. An under card match that could have stolen the show at Wrestlemania. That’s the point of wrestling. Just as in the comics business. You don’t do it for the massive payout or pay per view buy rate, you do it cause you love it. Teenagers from Mars is that book. Not a huge sales success. Probably ready by a fraction of those that read X-Men, but still in my mind, the absolute best there is. Walters and Stryker pulled off the match to end all matches that night. I forget who won, but I do remember a ton of false finishes, and several times when it looked like Walters would tap out after having his leg and knee beaten to a pulp. This match from Ring of Honor is why I love wrestling, just like Teenagers from Mars is why I love comics. I hope you check out both. And know, you’ll enjoy them.