I’ve spent a dizzying amount of time gushing about Der-shing Helmer and her return to webcomics over the last couple months, and now the time has come for an official review of her newest comic Mare Internum!
This comic follows Dr. Michael Fisher, one of a team of researchers living in a man-made colony on Mars. Helmer opens the comic with a farewell, and it is the failure of both this hastily scribbled suicide note and the the subsequent suicide attempt that seems to set the tone of Michael’s adventures. Things aren’t exactly going his way thus far, and its a bit early to tell if this trend will continue or if the delightful team of dynamic, multinational scientists and researchers help him turn his luck around.
The story takes place on Devotion base, a United States research station constructed in 2083. The action presumably takes place a couple years later, as Michael refers to the “past year” of his life at the station, where he began his work in 2084.
As for the base itself, Helmer has clearly done her research. In response to questions about the habitat and sustainability, she discloses that her designs are based heavily on current research and possible habitat structures being tested. I highly recommend reading her commentary after each page, as she often includes links to other resources and supplemental reading.
Helmer has also included other pages on her site that demonstrate the vast amount of effort she has put into creating this comic. A glossary page helps situate readers in her Martian future with a list of locations, concepts, and slang. Here she has also supplied links to further information on the Devotion Base and our protagonist. I’m hoping that more profiles/extra content will be added to these pages, so keep an eye on them!
If you’re at all familiar with Helmer’s other work, you know that her artwork is phenomenal. As a reader of The Meek, I was extremely pleased to be disproven in my belief that her illustrations could not be more gorgeous. Apparently they can be, and in Mare Internum they certainly are. Helmer has chosen to begin the comic with a stunning blue/purple/red color palette, and uses these colors to create incredible depth, lighting, and texture. (Check out the third page of the intro and the first page of Chapter one, especially.)
This is one that I would highly recommend to any comic lover, or any lover of science fiction for that matter. It updates Tuesdays and Thursdays, and can be read here.