REVIEW: ‘Mara,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mara #1

Mara #1 is a fantasy comic published by Stuffed Rock Studio, written by Dylan Goss, with art by Rosi Woo. Mara is a young girl who lives a simple life with her parents as a part of their tribe. As a day that seemed like any other draws to a close, an unexpected cry goes up from outside their tent. Something is coming. Life for Mara will never be the same.

The hook. It’s arguably the most critical aspect of the first issue of a comic. Since there is no prior investment in the world to compel readers to come back, the story must provide a hook to create that compulsion—the genuine interest, if not outright, need to know what happens next. And while Mara #1 doesn’t pull off a flawless first entry, it certainly brings a hook that makes me want to know where the journey begun in this story will take its title character.

The only area where this book struggles is with its opening. Our introduction to Mara and her life before the fateful events of the book’s focal moment go by extremely quickly. We barely have a chance to learn anything about Mara and her family save the young girl’s name and that they seem to live a simple, peaceful life of hunting and survival as part of their tribe. With such a short introduction to the characters, there is no special connection to Mara and her family beyond the compassion one should always have for innocent lives.

Mara #1′s all too brief introduction comes to a crashing end when another tribe launches an attack on their village. Though the people of Mara’s tribe fight valiantly, an otherworldly force leads their enemies and cannot be overcome. Meanwhile, watching these events from the heavens are spirits that have a connection to Mara’s tribe. One of them decides action must be taken before the tribe is completely extinguished, even if there is a high price to pay for the action that is taken.

It is this sequence between the gods that feels like the crux of this issue’s story. The debate that transpires between the deities before action is taken stems from a disagreement of quality of life vs. simply being alive. If horribly scaring someone keeps them going, is it right to scar them? Or would it be better to allow them to keep their innocence, even if it puts their future in much greater doubt? It is a discourse of ends versus means that feels like it will be a recurring theme for the book going forward.

The art in Mara #1 captures the story well. The opening tranquility of Mara’s life is delivered clearly, as is the sequence in heaven between the gods. The battle over Mara’s village is a little bit of a mixed bag, however. While the art strives to capture the horror of the battle with a generous amount of blood and anguished looks on the faces of those who are being cut down, the art’s overall style doesn’t lend itself to the kind of shock it feels like it is striving to create.

Wrapping up Mara #1’s visual presentation is the lettering. The design of both the lettering, as well as the boxes that contain them, are both implemented with a focus on reinforcing the emotions behind the words they are presenting to the reader. In this way, the letters do a good job of enhancing the emotional output of the book.

When all is said and done, Mara #1 delivers a strong first outing that stumbles only a bit. With plenty of emotional presence and a strong plot point that leaves the reader wondering what Mara’s fate will bring her, this slight misstep can be easily overlooked.

Mara #1 is currently being released online for readers to check out here.


Mara #1
4

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Mara #1 delivers a strong first outing that stumbles only a bit. With plenty of emotional presence and a strong plot point that leaves the reader wondering what Mara’s fate will bring her, this slight misstep can be easily overlooked.