Sometimes the title of a comic can be a misdirection or appears to be at first. We’re sasquatch hunting in the feel-good story from Mat Heagerty called Martian Ghost Centaur.
The brightly lit adventure is set in the American town of Southborough. Two things have kept the economy hale and hearty for the locals; there are the tourists who come to look for the sasquatch after one was caught on video, and the other is a tech company start-up that’s buying land and buildings ahead of their grand launch.
Unfortunately, those two economic lifelines do not overlap. People don’t believe in the sasquatch any more, and the rise of technology, of the smartphone with cameras that can peer into the darkness, is to blame. No videos of the sasquatch surely mean that there is no sasquatch, right?
Corporations, even tech companies run by lanky blonde dudes, can be parasitic too. Landgrabs enabled by plummeting property prices aren’t all that helpful, especially if the growing company doesn’t seem to be hiring anyone.
Okay, most towns don’t have a Sasquatch Myth, but the set-up here in Southborough will resonate with many people. As old industries and jobs fade to memory, are they being replaced in equal numbers by new opportunities? Or are a few rich folks taking advantage of the change to grow their domains?
Imagine just how tense things become in Southborough when a TV myth hunter turns up and with a mission to get to the truth.
Martian Ghost Centaur is a comedy, though. I don’t want my introduction to make the comic book feel like a gritty soap opera that explores life’s harsh truths. Yes, it’s anchored in genuine concerns, but, hey, it’s Martian Ghost Centaur.
Our hero is a plucky team named Louie.
I wasn’t sure what I made of Louie until the scene where we discover she’s put her bedroom cupboard on AirBnB and squashes in a tourist now and then. Eh, that’s the capitalist spirit.
Louie sets out to save Southborough. Now, Martial Ghost Centaur is full of heart and love for life. So is Louie. We just have to see whether she’s got the ability to meet this frightful challenge.
Weirdly, Martian Ghost Centaur gets a 15+ rating on Comixology. I have no idea why. The cast is representative. I don’t recall any swearing (I checked again). There’s no nudity. There’s a tiny amount of violence; someone falls over once and hurts themselves. Was it the farting penguin?
The 185+page download wasn’t what I was expecting. I think I was distracted by the title and the concept. I didn’t notice that comedy tag. Fortunately, I enjoyed the story.
The concept strains belief but is rooted very firmly in the lived-experiences of many people. The characters are thoroughly believable, yet avoid many commonly used roles, and all save the baddies are appropriately endearing. Author Mat Heagerty has a knack for people.
The illustration and colour by Stephanie Mided is a power in its own right. Even when the story heads into dangerous or moody areas, there is a vibrancy in the visuals that remind us the Martian Ghost Centaur may just be around the corner. Then it is.
Like a slice of life story laced with humour? Martian Ghost Centaur, from Oni Press, gets the thumbs up from this biped.
Martian Ghost Centaur was published on the 17th, but Geek Native enjoyed a free advanced copy to review.
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