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Fear Of A Red Planet #3 Review

4 min read

“No Planet For Old Men”

Creative Staff:
Story: Mark Sable
Art: Andrea Olimpieri
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

What They Say:
Forced to let go of a popular suspect to prevent a riot, Carolina’s been ordered to arrest anyone, regardless of their guilt, to restore order and keep her job. This puts her up against a former cosmonaut turned cantina owner who keeps the colony drunk and placid, and the planet’s only fresh food supplier, who runs his farming facility like a plantation. Both have henchmen armed to the teeth.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When it comes to stories about Mars, I’m almost always game for it, especially when the topic is colonizing there. I’ve read far too many novels, fiction and technical, about how it can and should be done and am just fascinated by it. This series comes from writer Mark Sable, who has a couple of other AfterShock series, with artwork by Andrea Olimpieir. Sable’s scripts are ones that I struggle with a bit but invariably have some very neat elements to them that keep me coming back for more. This project is my first experience with Olmpieri’s artwork and it’s perfect for this book. There’s a strong sense of style and design about it that definitely clicks and with them also doing the color design for it there’s this sense of weight and oppressiveness that shines through it, making it feel incredibly lived-in and broken down.

The third installment is one that has a lot going on but basically reminds me that this is likely to work a lot better as a full read rather than monthly – which was already hard to do. There’s simply so much going on here that trying to make sense of it isn’t easy because we didn’t get the proper layout we needed early on. With this issue, Carolina finds herself being pushed to find the “right” murderer so that the production and corporate side can just get back to doing what they’re there to do and nothing else. Carolina is still trying to find the truth but she’s moved in a way to try and tamp down the problems, mostly by freeing Ludd for the moment while bringing in someone else. So much of what’s driving her is to avoid the problems she faced on the ISS twenty years prior but that’s also making her somewhat ineffective.

What Carolina ends up doing, with Sandra in tow because she does need some backup here overall, is to go after Garoux, the other person that’s like the second most hated man on Mars. Apparently, he runs some kind of food garden on the planet that isn’t under corporate’s control but there’s a kind of Eden with a slaver in charge thing going on that’s not really explained and just makes no sense when you get down to it. It’s a lot of that “we’re far away, you can’t control us” stuff playing in the background but it’s the way the book drops in something significant like this and it feels out of the blue. Of course, those under his control try to protect him but it just provides Carolina the pretext to arrest him while not really believing he may be behind the thing. A ploy to keep him safe while the real through is discovered? Possibly. But the lack of foundation for setting up so much of this means it doesn’t resonate well.

In Summary:
I’ve definitely been intrigued by elements brought into the first two issues of the series but the execution has left me frustrated in trying to understand it all. I just don’t feel like we’ve got the foundation we need in order to be a part of working through the story and understanding how it’s unfolding and why these characters act as they do. It’s a book that I really like the artwork and the ideas behind it but it’s become harder and harder to connect with each new installment that comes out. Carolina’s central focus helps and the flashback gives her a bit more but trying to piece it all together and throwing all kinds of unexpected stuff out of nowhere hampers the larger narrative.

Grade: B-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: February 15th, 2023
MSRP: $3.99

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