The Martians are returning to Earth in IDW Publishing’s new Mars Attacks series, based on the 1950s trading cards and the 1996 Tim Burton movie, and the publisher has put together a solid creative team for the project: Eisner-winning writer John Layman (co-creator of Chew) and Hitman artist John McCrea.
The Topps trading card company this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks; it started as a set of trading cards that were directly inspired by comics and illustrated by Golden Age artists Wally Wood and Bob Powell. Pulp artist Norman Saunders painted the cards, and you can see the complete set at his website (now maintained by his son). They feature flying saucers destroying the Golden Gate Bridge, entire cities being incinerated, a pilot set aflame in his cockpit, space-suited aliens menacing screaming women, giant insects, even a dog being zapped before the eyes of a little boy. The cards were marketed to children, and apparently they did quite well, but once the grownups saw them the fun was over, and Topps was compelled to revise some of the cards and then stop production entirely.
Most people are probably more familiar with the Tim Burton film based on the cards. IDW’s comics will feature new stories based in the Mars Attacks universe, but it sounds like the tone may stay close to the original. In the press release, Topps executive Ira Friedman said, “[John McCrea’s] experience drawing over-the-top violence on comics like Hitman, Judge Dredd and The Boys, coupled with John Layman’s penchant for twisted, offbeat humor makes them the perfect team to relaunch Mars Attacks.”