Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Favorite Martians

Last Sunday, I watched coverage of the Phoenix land on Mars. I’m happy that it landed safely and that the mission has been such a success so far. It was fun to see the crew get so excited by the whole process. The Phoenix also made me think that if we’re going to waste billions of tax dollars, it should be “wasted” on exploring our solar system not on a stupid war like the Iraq debacle.

All this info about the new Mars mission also got me thinking about my favorite Martians from fiction, comics, and film. Too bad Mars is a dead planet.

Marvin the Martian

This soft-spoken alien packs a big disintegrating punch. He’s the first Martian I remember and he’s one of the funniest Looney Tunes ever IMO. What’s even more fantabulous is that he’s on the official mission patch for the Mars Rovers.
This is Marvin's best appearance in the famous cartoon Duck Doddgers in the 24th and ½ Century:

And just because Marvin is so cool here’s his first appearance in Haredevil Hare from 1948:

War of the Worlds Martians

H.G. Wells created something both exciting and shocking with his WotW Martians. Every alien invasion and sci-fi horror story ever written owes so much to these grotesque blobs that pilot tripod death machines. Regardless of whether they’re plausible or not they’re still very scary and have shown up and been reinvented numerous times. You just gotta’ love ‘em.

The High Overlord and Skar

In 1973, Marvel Comics published a post-apocalyptic series in the pages Amazing Adventures. In this title, the Martians from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds came rushing back to earth and conquered our planet in the year 2001 and this time they inoculated themselves against the our planet's microbes. Almost two decades later, the earth is much transformed by the invaders into an almost Barsoom-like place and a hero, Killraven, rises to battle these Martian conquers. His most fearsome reoccurring enemies were Skar, a cyborg assassin, and the High Overlord, a Martian that had his alien body modified to fit inside bipedal suit of armor. They’re wild and wacky, but these two sci-fi evildoers are great pulpy villains none-the-less.

Mars Attacks Martians

I’m much too young to remember the Trading Cards but the movie was a real hoot. These gross looking Martians almost conquered the world using every trick known to the atomic horror genre. These little nasties are a great antidote to “serious” invasion monsters from films like Independence Day. It was almost a relief when they blew up the federal government. Too bad they couldn’t withstand Slim Whitman.

Dejah Thoris

This Red Martian hottie hails from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom and makes the grade because of her wild adventures with John Carter, her regal rule of the city state of Helium, and her lack of clothes. Sword and Planet has never seen anything better.

Martian Manhunter

I’d never been particularly interested in J’onn J’onzz until I read The New Frontier and watched Justice League: The New Frontier animated movie. I’m finding his desire to understand humanity and his alien nature fascinating. He’s kinda’ like half Spock and half Klaatu with superpowers.
J’onn J’onzz with the Kents at Xmas:

Martian Chronicles Martians

The introspective and telepathic aliens of Ray Bradbury’s Martians Chronicles are eerie and haunting. They turn the invasion scenario on its head by being the victims of Human colonization (in a metaphor of western frontier migration). They are not particularly malevolent like other Martians and are unable to deal with the threat the Human setters represent. Ultimately, they pass away except for a few ghosts and their cities are the ruins that the humans build a new Mars based culture upon.

Here's a scene from the 1979 TV adatption of The Martian Chronicles. (The TV show was OK but it is dated)



Pandabonium said...

Thanks for a great Mars post.

Indeed, it seems Mars has eaten half the craft humans have sent up there. Glad the Phoenix made it.

Bugs Buuny and the Martian were always good fun. As for Mars Attacks, I recently learned from a Swedish friend that "ack ack" is also a Swedish expression that means "uh-oh" or "oops".

Orson Wells' radio broadcast of WotW was the best version of that story to me.

I really enjoyed The Martian Chronicles book as a teenager.

Another fun movie was "Devil Girl from Mars" (1954) in which a dominatrix chick in a kinky leather outfit (hey, it's an English film) and a funky giant robot with a disintegrator ray show up at a remote English inn to gather men for breeding back on Mars.

And my generation was scared s***less as kids by the original "Invaders from Mars" (1953), which left us nervously laughing, yet checking the necks of our parents and teachers for implants.

Dean Wormer said...

Wow. I like the Mars Attacks martians and Marvin, of course.

Cool post.

Don Snabulus said...

Indeed a treasure trove of Mars in the arts. I would also include Holst's The Planets and the war-like Mars movement. Additionally, Emerson, Lake, and Powell did an interesting version of Holst's work.

Hypatia said...

My fav Bradbury Martian story is Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed (Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1949)

It's an interesting comment on what humans could "become"...on another planet.

All good stuff! Enjoyed the videos!

Stephen said...

what about veronica mars?

pidomon said...

great Jonn clip

Dr. Zaius said...

I felt the same way about J'onn J'onzz until I saw the film 'Justice League: The New Frontier'. I did a post about it!

I also read every John Carter of Mars book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Martians are way cooler than Tarzan any day!

SamuraiFrog said...

As Prime Minister of Mars, this post pleases me greatly.

Swinebread said...

Panda – I was debating about putting in Orson’s WotW. I think I should have but since I like the WotW movies too I thought I’d just mention the origin of them all via the H.G. Well’s book.

Another cool title is Superman: War of the Worlds. As Superman and Orson’s broadcast both appeared in 1938 it made sense to do a story bringing them together. In the comic Superman only has the superpowers he first used his very early adventures.

The Devil Girl from Mars looks totally awesome! Thanks for the info. I’ve never seen Invaders from Mars but the trailer on youtube was wonderful! Atomic horror at it’s best

Dean – Thanks dean, we do have similar tastes when comes to Martians

Snab – Hmm I haven’t read that one, do you have it?

Stephen – yeah I missed it the first time around but it really captures jonn very well.

Pidomon – thanks!

Dr. Zaius – I’m sorry I missed your post, New Frontier is really something special.

I’m a bigger fan of John Carter than Tarzan too!

Unknown said...