I have to admit, I was a little worried that this would drop to a level of camp that would make it just plain un-entertaining. But my worries were quickly relieved when I saw the gorgeous cover by Ray Dillon. The only way to describe this cover is ‘epic.’ I mean, you could get lost in that, well, piece of art. I also can’t forget to mention the front cover is made to look like it was part of the original Mars Attacks trading card series which means the back cover of the book completes the image by being the back of the trading card. Genius!
So the story begins with Popeye and Castor Oyl, Olive’s brother, returning from a trip to find Sweethaven in rubble. During the night before, Martians arrived on Earth and were quickly taken over by the Sea Hag who used a gem to hypnotize them. As Popeye and crew try to figure out who and what the invaders are Popeye decides sitting around and talking about it isn’t going to solve the problem. He sets out to take care of it the only way that’s worked for him in the past: Punch the heck out of it! But even he knows this may be more than he can handle alone so he tries to recruit his father, Pappy, which fails, but be does find some allies in Alice and he befriends the Goons.
The Sea Hag launches her attack but the Martian Death Rays don’t have the desired effect on Popeye and his friends (you’ll have to read the book to get details because it’s very entertaining) and an all out war begins as the Goons and Popeye stand their ground.
All is well until the Martians bring out their robots. The giant mechanical menaces take out Popeye and scare the Goons away. It takes the unexpected arrival of Pappy to take out the Sea Hag, another funny sequence, and give Popeye some of that trademark fighting green stuff: spinach! Popeye and Pappy fight with the fury of an entire army and overwhelm the Martian forces causing them to retreat despite the screaming demands of the Sea Hag.
And faster than you can say ‘I yam what I yam’ the day is saved.
Now, as I said before, I expected this to be pretty ho-hum and was surprised at how much fun this book was. While it takes a while to get into reading Popeye’s dialogue, the jokes in this issue, especially the running gags, are spot on, and delivered with such perfect timing it makes me wonder if the regular Popeye books are this much fun. Martin Powell does a fantastic job making the Martians a threat but not one that’s overwhelming or seems out-of-place in the world of Popeye. He also doesn’t reduce them to a punchline.
But the art… Well, maybe not so much the art, not that Terry Betty didn’t do an amazing job on this, the characters look so crisp and energetic that when you’re reading you can’t help but hear Popeye’s voice and when he ate the spinach you had no choice but to hear the signature music. What really set the whole package off was the way it’s colored. It isn’t the flat coloring we have today, the style mimics the classic coloring of comic strips and books from years gone by. It really brings the whole package together in a single issue that ends up being more entertaining than it has any right to be. I have to admit, I was concerned about how this crossover was going to play out but if this book is any indicator as to how this event is going to play out then IDW has another hit on its hands. I was there for Infestation and Infestation 2 and loved almost every moment of each of them but I think this one might be the event that tops them both!
This issue certainly caters to fans of both franchises, but if you’ve ever been curious out either of them, now’s a perfect time to check out Mars Attacks and Popeye. Also worth keeping an eye out for are the variant covers. Each of these 5 books will feature 2 additional covers featuring classic and independent characters in and around comics drawn by their creators. This issue’s variants feature Mars Attacks Opus and Mars Attacks Miss Fury (I have included a look at the Miss Fury cover but, sadly, the Opus cover was only made available to another website and those meanies watermarked their name on it but trust me, it’s amazing and if your LCS has it then you must get it)! Ask your comic shop if they have them available and check back here next week for…