REVIEW: ‘Barbalien: Red Planet,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Barbalien Red Planet #2

Barbalien: Red Planet #2 is published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Tate Brombal and Jeff Lemire, art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Aditya Bidikar. After the events at the protest, Mark Markz heads to a local underground club to better understand what is transpiring around him. What he discovers is a world unlike any he’s ever known.

The opening portion of this issue sees Miguel showing Mark around the Cafe Knight Klüb. An underground night club where the disguises, and judgments, get left at the door. This new and fairly overwhelming experience has Mark at a loss for words. He spends this entire portion of the book stumbling for responses as Miguel asks questions and guides Mark through this new world.

With Miguel taking center stage, Barbalien: Red Planet #2 takes this opportunity to emphasize what all these people must hide to have the freedom to be themselves. In no way that harms, involves, or endangers anyone else. They want to be themselves and have people give them the same treatment, kindness, and concern that others in their world are privileged to experience. It is always shaking to be so clearly reminded of how little such oppressed groups are always asking for. The only thing that’s sadder is how hard so many will fight to keep them from having it.

Just as Mark is being pulled onto the dance floor, the police show up. Knocking down the doors, the police break up the party and detain pretty much anyone they can get their hands on. Not wanting to be put in cuffs twice in one day, Miguel grabs Mark as his attempt to confront the police falls apart when a derogatory term is thrown his way.

Once the two are clear of the raid, Barbalien: Red Planet #2 follows the two back to Miguel’s place. Along the way, they talk about what just happened, and the differences between reality, and the things we often perceive as such. This sequence, which continues into Miguel’s apartment when he insists Mark stay the night for his own safety, is a painful look at the pain and confusion that such a constant state of stress, fear, anger, and resentment can do to a person. While I have no life experience to compare to Miguel’s feelings, I wholeheartedly believe the writing team is capturing the genuine thoughts and feelings of a real human being.

After this sequence, we have a brief confrontation outside the police HQ the next morning between Mark’s partner and one of the party-goers from last night, whose significant other had been dragged away by the police. As Mark intervenes to keep the situation from resulting in more violence, he is forced to wonder if he is truly helping the situation. If enforcing a peaceful interaction is really helping anyone save the oppressors. The thought clearly troubles him.

The art in Barbalien: Red Planet #2 continues to deliver its emotional story with all the skill and impact it wielded so purposefully in the last issue. Artist Walta doesn’t shy away from the hurt and pain those present within the story’s pages feel. Bellaire’s brilliance further enhances these emotional images with colors. Nowhere does the skill with color shine than in the introductory sequence taking place at the nightclub.

Throughout this sequence, the panels are awash in blues and purples. These cool colors enhance the relaxation and fun of the panels. However, as soon as the police arrive, these cool tones are instantly replaced with burning reds that change the mood with all the harshness of a punch to the gut.

The final piece of the storytelling here is Bidikar’s letter work. The letters here deliver the story smoothly and with skill. Everything is clearly laid out, allowing the reader to absorb the messages the story delivers without thought or distraction.

Just as Barbalien: Red Planet #2  comes to a close, we see the Martian bounty hunter begin to close in on Mark. What will happen next is unknown for our protagonist, but I feel life will not be getting any simpler for him.

Barbalien: Red Planet #2 is available December 16, 2020 wherever comics are sold.


Barbalien: Red Planet #2


Just as Barbalien: Red Planet #2  comes to a close, we see the Martian bounty hunter begin to close in on Mark. What will happen next is unknown for our protagonist, but I feel life will not be getting any simpler for him.

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