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.
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.
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)