Martian Comics: The Tears of Khera 1: Mai the Child (#16) – Julian Darius

3 out of 5

Interesting but incredibly heavy-handed – which is a pretty succinct description of Martian Comics in general – ‘The Tears of Khera,’ structured, as it is, around black-and-white flashbacks and TV reframings and storybook plates of an event in which a Martian was vilified for crying purple tears (not a usual tear color for Martians, I assure you), gets away with its arch tone – we’re witnessing / reading a drama told via “in-universe historical artifacts” – and is absolutely helped along by Mansyur Daman’s emotive artwork. Darius’ parable or Martian fable of society’s judgements of those who are different will, I assume, extend to a modern day, possibly more enlightened Martians in issues to come; I’m not uninterested in reading the rest – Martian Comics has always been overly serious, but I like Darius’ universe-building intentions – but I’m also not necessarily compelled to, as I can’t really imagine there being much new to the story of Mai. She cries; her family is persecuted; religious and political leaders conspire to dismiss the truth of her purple tears as fiction. It’s a rather old-fashioned tale, for sure, and isn’t new to science fiction either, it just happens to here be told with Martians.

The flip-flopping between formats (the black-and-white sections; the TV re-enactment; etc.) is an interesting approach, showing how the story has, I assume, grown and evolved over the years – just like our retellings of Bible stories, or classic fables, again and again – but beyond adding color (via various colorists) and changing the shape of the panels, Daman doesn’t differentiate these sections as much as the comic format could’ve allowed, and Darius’ doesn’t segue in and out of them beyond a turn of the digital page. I think exacerbating this element stylistically a little more could’ve made for a more impactful and immersive read.

Alas, my time with Martian Comics has come to an end, drained by the preceding Girl From Mars story. But should Darius continue with his Mars’ tales, I’d take to something more along these lines – several issue arcs that stick more to a Martian point of view.