AfterShock Comics have announced “Fear of a Red Planet,” a colonial sci-fi thriller from writer Mark Sable (“Where Starships Go to Die,” “Miskatonic”), artist Andrea Olimpieri (“Shades of Magic,” “Dishonored”), and letterer Dave Sharpe. Set on humanity’s first Martian colony, the book follows Carolina Law, the first interplanetary UN marshal, as she investigates the murder of the colony’s most hated man. Law has never fired a shot during her ten years on Mars, but that might be about to change, as her investigation ignites the tensions between the colonists living under their corporate overlords.
Sable describes the series as his opportunity to do a western, albeit one that explores modern concerns about space colonization projects the likes of Elon Musk fantasize about. “There are no supernatural or extraterrestrial threats in this book,” he says, “it’s the far scarier extrapolation of what billionaire space programs like Mars One, Space X, etc. could lead to… along with the deadly Martian environment itself.” He states “the main character is very much inspired by Timothy Olyphant’s characters in Deadwood, Justified and The Mandalorian. But she’s a woman that fronts a more diverse cast than most westerns have historically allowed.”
He praises Olimpieri’s work on the series, saying “from the minute I saw his designs I knew he was the perfect artist for this book, and someone the comics world needed to hear more from.” He adds, “He’s designed a book grounded in realism, but with this amazingly kinetic energy that infuses the action.”
“Fear of a Red Planet” #1 will be released on November 2, with a final order cutoff date of October 10. It will retail at 32 pages for $4.99, with a main cover by Paul Azaceta, and an incentive variant by Jeremy Haun. In the meantime, you can check out an unlettered preview of the comic, and read more from Sable about the book and its influences in an official Q&A:
MARK SABLE ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE IS EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:
“FEAR OF A RED PLANET is a near-future, sci-fi Western about the first murder on Mars. Imagine if an Elon Musk type founded a Martian colony, and it failed to be self-sufficient. The colonists are forced to mine rare earth minerals just to be able to afford resupply rockets from Earth. Returning home is a distant – if not impossible – dream.
There’s one woman tasked with keeping order on Mars – Carolina Law, the first and only U.N. Marshal. Scarred by war back on Earth, in the decade she’s been on Mars, she’s never needed to fire her gun. That’s about to change.
I’m excited about FEAR OF A RED PLANET because it fuses two of my favorite genres. I’ve written near future sci-fi before, as in my last Aftershock book, WHERE STARSHIPS GO TO DIE. But I’ve never gotten to write a Western, with High Noon showdowns, mobs surrounding a jailhouse-Mexican-standoff, etc.
Even more exciting is that I get to help introduce another incredible international artist to the U.S. market – Andrea Olimpieri. He does both the line art and colors, and from the minute I saw his designs I knew he was the perfect artist for this book and someone the comics world needed to hear more from. I’m also reuniting with two of my favorite collaborators on covers, Paul Azaceta and Jeremy Haun. This is really a dream team.”
MARK SABLE ON SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:
“From a science fiction perspective, movies like Alien (imagine an even more sinister Weyland-Yutani) and the underrated Outland, where Sean Connery plays a lawman on a deep space refinery. But FEAR OF A RED PLANET also gave me the chance to do a deep dive into Westerns. I particularly loved Sergio Leone’s masterpieces The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.
The main character is very much inspired by Timothy Olyphant’s characters in Deadwood, Justified and The Mandalorian. But she’s a woman that fronts a more diverse cast than most Westerns have historically allowed.
That’s all on top of real-world research. There are no supernatural or extraterrestrial threats in this book; it’s the far scarier extrapolation of what billionaire space programs like Mars One, Space X, etc. could lead to…along with the deadly Martian environment itself.”
MARK SABLE ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PICK UP THIS TITLE:
“1. The combo of the hard sci-fi of The Expanse with the character driven neo-Western sensibility of Justified or Deadwood.
2. A character-driven story with a strong-female lead and an internationally diverse cast full of interplanetary refugees with dark pasts, anti-robot revolutionaries and Cosmonaut cantina owners.
3. Andrea Olimpieri’s art. He’s designed a book grounded in realism but with this amazingly kinetic energy that infuses the action.”
MARK SABLE ON WHAT HE FINDS TO BE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN WRITING A NEW COMIC BOOK AND ALSO WHAT HE FINDS TO BE THE BIGGEST REWARD:
“To me the challenge is always the same – give readers characters to care about. I feel like high concepts come fairly easy to me, but stories don’t truly click until I find characters that start to surprise me when I write, and I feel like they have a better idea of where things should go then me. And, of course, the story truly doesn’t come alive until artists like Andrea start making it their own. I love the feeling of being a published writer, but to me the best feeling is still getting pages from my collaborators. Whether they are artists, colorists, letterers, etc., I’ve been lucky that they always find a way to create something that’s even better than I initially envisioned.”