By Will Holden
Writer/ Artist: EPHK
Publisher: Image Comics (Originally produced via Kickstarter)
Mawrth Valliis is the story of two fighter pilots on either sides of a war upon the surface of Mars who, once forced to work together for their survival, discover the great secrets behind their never ending conflict.
The story begins with a skirmish between the two pilots and their flight teams. One of these pilots wings the other and gives chase, despite the apparent dismay of their commanding officer, and just when the limping pilot is about to crash into a rock face they pass through like it’s water. The other pilot, clearly surprised, pushes on through the cliff face and together, the two pilots will discover the secrets of the world they war over.
I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t used any names yet, this is because the entire comic is in “Native Martian”. Now, this isn’t a silent comic, despite not having an understandable script. The lettering for the Martian utterances of every character are a stylised series of symbols with recognisable punctuation that provides enough context, along side the brilliant art, to get everything you need to follow the beats of the action.
Talking of the brilliant art, I got really strong Prophet vibes, which I have pontificate about in the past. That is not say it is a facsimile of the various contributors art from Prophet, the design and look are very original, but there are some touch stones which gives the comic a similar feel. For example, there are a few moments in the comic where we are treated to delightful diagrams of one of the pilot’s excursion kit or how their aircraft is made up, a similar technique is used in Prophet. This gives a sense of realness to the world and technology, the suggestion that these items have been designed to function, not just to look cool. Now that’s said, the art itself is great. There is a double page spread of one of the planes, just seen in silhouette, against a beautiful painted background that looks like the gaseous nebulae of some distant galaxy. I would love to have this on my wall, it is a stunning piece of art outside of the context of the story.
The comic is so clear in it’s visual story telling that even without knowing what anyone was saying, I never felt lost in the plot. The beat to beat action is really fun and is more than enough to keep turning pages but it is the manner with which the actual tale unfolds which is the comic’s master stroke. It is a shining example of the unique aspects of comics and graphic novels, a story that can only be told via a visual medium. I’m not going to tell you one more thing about the story because it really should be experienced first hand.
I am really impressed with the level of story telling through the art and expert use of the foundations of comic book writing (the onomatopoeia is in earth tongue) to really sell what comics should be for. If you like sci-fi, really creative design and artwork then check this one out.
5 dog fights out of 5.