Friday, March 23, 2018

Mare Internum

If the last webcomic I referenced hearkens back to the late 1940s, Mare Internum's more of a throwback to the late 1800s and SF's first popular flourishing in Verne and Wells' tales of exploration. Unfortunately, it's also undermined by a lack of attention to the interesting details of what is actually found in said internal sea and a growing inordinate fawning over victimology. A gay geologist and a Nigerian entomologist fall through the surface of Mars. Gruesome hilarity ensues.

Though reasonably evocative of its alien environments and occasional body horror elements, Mare Internum suffers some jarring timeskips in its action, often at the most dramatic moments. The tension and wonder of a first contact, the period of mental adjustment when thrust into a new environment, all the drama and pathos inherent in exploration stories seems to be largely lost on this author. Instead, the more the story drags on, the more it takes on the mawkish talking points of snowflake propaganda.

That at least one of the protagonists is not from one of the G7 countries comes as a welcome surprise. Then again, this is because it can simply be elided smoothly while dealing with more relevant action. A Nigerian cricket farmer is just another cricket farmer. That the other protagonist's gay makes no never mind either, initially; so what? It's his insanity, his desperation, his involvement in the exploration project that matter.

It's much harder to justify half a chapter dealing with Mike's childhood sexual abuse, given how completely superfluous this is to an already endearing character coming unhinged over losing his career. Worse, the latest page to go up has Bex apparently launching into some hair-rending monologue on the difficulties of being a "strong woman" and spouting social justice catchphrases like "accept my inherent humanity" all the while both characters increasingly ignore the world-shaking scientific revelations on which they're sitting. Even more interesting is the author's own interpretation beneath today's strip:
"Overwhelmingly she’s been the subject of a lot of scrutiny and angry comments despite Mike being the way worse of the two, behaviorally… It’s been very interesting to watch, and a little sad too."

Wow, really? It should be noted that Bex has so far jumped the gun at least twice and murdered two sentient beings. At least one of them gets better, but still... hard to see how anything Mike has done, despite his reckless self-destructiveness, is "way worse" except in the warped interpretation of modern politically correct posturing. Is he so irrevocably damned by his interpersonal micro-aggressions? Or does Bex as a black female simply outrank a gay white male in the oppression Olympics and is therefore entitled to have her actions excused?

By this point it seems largely irrelevant that we're even on (or rather in) the planet Mars altogether. This whiny babbling about who hurt the other's fee-fees could be taking place on any safe-zoned college campus.

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