Graphic Novel Review: The Martian Confederacy

One of the many things I’ve learned while working here at iFanboy is that creating and making comics is hard. Between being able to actually write and draw and the whole business side of things, it can be a thankless job. But the love of making comics for people to read is, what I’m told, keeps people going. Thank god for that, because without such passion for making comics, I think I wouldn’t have as much fun in my life. Because I like fun, and reading comics like The Martian Confederacy is just that, fun.

Written by Jason McNamara (Continuity, First Moon) and illustrated by Paige Braddock (Jane’s World), The Martian Confederacy is (what appears to be) the first volume of an entertaining series of graphic novels. Set in the very far future and on the now depressing planet Mars, we’re introduced to a world that is both foreign and hard to get adapted to, but is completely relatable and recognizable. I once read somewhere that good science fiction is the kind of story that is both foreign to the world we live in and yet a world you could picture yourself in. This is the kind of world that McNamara and Braddock have created within The Martian Confederacy.

When it comes to comics, I’ve got a little wisdom that I’d like to write (and maybe someday someone will quote). Any comic or graphic novel (that isn’t a monthly 22 page issue, rather a volume or complete book) that I sit down and read completely in one sitting is a great comic. Graphic Novels that are in volume form are typically 100 or 150 pages, like the Scott Pilgrim series, I usually try to spread out like a novel. Reading a little but at a time. But every once in a while a book grabs me and I find myself not being able to put it down and before I know it, I’ve finished the book. Invariably I’m usually pissed at this point, because I had hoped the book would last much longer, and I find myself frantically checking on-line to see when the next volume is coming out. As you can probably guess, this is exactly what happened to me. I simply couldn’t put The Martian Confederacy¬†down until I had finished it, and when I was all done, I wanted more.

The story focuses on a group of unlikely heroes who are of the seedy type, thieves and outlaws, who are thrust into a planet wide conspiracy to keep the air on Mars unbreathable, thus keeping those (and their companies) who run things safe. Throw in a hot android, talking bears and a two sided woman, and you’ve got quite the rumble. The characters and the setting are written in a manner that, while completely alien and bizarre, seem plausible and even believable. McNamara has created a world where it makes absolute sense and is reasonable to consider that humans would expand and colonize Mars, and then throw it aside and leave it for the undesirable element. It’s done in such an elegant manner, it’s easy to fall into the world and get caught up in the action and suspense.

Sure the story reminded me of Total Recall at times, but that will happen any time you’re working with Mars and the ability to breathe the air. But luckily this story didn’t have any awful acting. No, in fact it had some wonderfully drawn and expressive art by Braddock. Braddock has a certain level of indie fame with her successful series Jane’s World, and up to this point, I wasn’t aware she had worked on anything else. It’s great to see a creator who is known for one book/series, take on a title that is such a departure from what we know them from, and still deliver. It shows the really talented artists and gives them a chance to show their skills in storytelling, character design and design. Even the coloring of the book, with a red hue/color palette is such an obvious but subtle and effective touch to really transport the reader into the world of Mars.

As a self-published book, it’s clear that this is a labor of love for both creators and the thought and attention to such a property comes through in how smoothly the story flows in establishing the characters and conflict and then propelling us to the climax. If you’re a fan of science fiction books like Fear Agent and indie comics with a touch of cartoony illustration like those found in books like Oni Press’s North World or even Scott Pilgrim, then you’ll definitely want to check out The Martian Confederacy.

Get The Martian Confederacy from Amazon >



  1. Awesome!!!  I’ve been looking for a new Sci-fi story to read, you know other than Fear Agent, which I love.

  2. This does feel like a mix of Total Recall and Scott Pilgrim….two things I would never think would work together.

  3. Ron, thanks for the kind words for the Martian Confederacy!

    I’m like you with my graphic novels, I want them to last but I usually end up blowing it and reading all in one sitting. I just picked up the Local hardcover and told myself I would read just a chapter a day…and last night I blew it. Read the whole thing in a junkie rage. Now I’m depressed because it’s over.  

    I like the Total Recall meets Scott Pilgrim tag. Although I don’t remember much about Total Recall. Is that the one where Arnold shoots Sharone Stone and says "consider this a divorce?"…that’s my Governer for you (we all can’t get be lucky as say…Alaska). As for Scott Pilgrim, I know I’m going to get shit for this, but…I’ve never read it (profesional jealousy). Paige and I have been describing The Martian Confederacy as the Dukes of Hazzard meets Noam Chomnsky.

    If the Sci Fi setting seems familiar it’s because I based it on the post colonial struggles of Latin America. I was also influenced by the writing of Jamaica Kincaid and my own travels through the third world.

    The Martian Confederacy was most definitely a labor of love for Paige and I. We’re stoked that you enjoyed it. Thanks again.

  4. This looks pretty good. I am intrested in seeing how this would read. I cant wait to pick this one up

  5. looks good