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Comic books go to Mars

A list of notable or interesting comics with ties to the Red Planet
by Matthew Price Published: August 10, 2012

Earlier this week, the United States sent the rover Curiosity to Mars. Curiosity is the largest spacecraft ever to land on the red planet, and it will explore for the next two years. On its mission, the rover will search for signs of carbon, which is found in all life-forms on Earth.

Comics have long been fascinated with the Martian landscape. In fact, heroes with Martian ties or origins go back to at least 1939.

The following are a list of some of notable or interesting Mars-related comics in the more than 70 years since:

Rex Dexter of Mars

Rex Dexter is likely one of the first heroes of Martian origin; the character's first story is in 1939's “Mystery Men” No. 1. The character later had a self-titled one-shot. Rex's father built a rocket to Mars and voyaged there with his wife. The ship was damaged on entry, and it could not be repaired for a return trip until 60 years later. Rex, born on Mars, is sent back to Earth in the year 2000, where he protects the planet from threats both extraterrestrial and earthborn.

Lars of Mars

Ziff Davis published two issues of “Lars of Mars” in the 1950s. Issues No. 10 and 11 were actually the first and only comics featuring Lars, who came from Mars to prevent Earthmen from creating interstellar war.

“Lars of Mars” is now in the public domain. A 3-D version of “Lars of Mars” was released in 1987 by Eclipse Comics.

Martian Manhunter stories

The Martian Manhunter first appeared in a backup story in 1955's “Detective Comics” No. 225. An experiment teleports the green-skinned alien to Earth, where he uses his shapeshifting powers to take on the role of police detective John Jones.

The Martian Manhunter is a frequent member of the Justice League of America. Many of his 1950s and 1960s adventures have been reprinted in two large “Showcase” black-and-white volumes from DC Comics.

‘War of the Worlds'

H.G. Welles' science-fictional tale of a Martian invasion has been adapted into comic books multiple times, first by “Classics Illustrated” in 1955.

Other publishers to adapt the classic include Marvel, Eternity and Dark Horse. The Marvel series “Killraven,” which appeared in the comics “Amazing Adventures,” is a sequel of sorts to “War of the Worlds,” featuring a world in revolt following a second Martian invasion.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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