Included in Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson's keynote address at the Image Comics Expo in Oakland, California was the announcement of Mara, a new six-issue sci-fi/superhero miniseries created by Brian Wood and Ming Doyle. Featuring color art by Jordie Bellaire, Mara stars a teenage celebrity whose life becomes chaotic when she manifests superpowers. Speaking exclusively with ComicsAlliance, Wood said he initiated the project in response to the increasingly vocal opposition to dubious depictions of female characters in superhero comics.

Wood provided us with the setup for his and Doyle's new project:

The world of MARA is a war-and-fitness obsessed future, where the angst and insecurity of average citizens is compensated with an extreme focus on sports and battle. Mara Prince is a superbly gifted athlete, playing in a women's volleyball league, and is as famous as you can imagine, with endless endorsements, comped everything, and millions of screaming teenage fans. Until one day, during a highly visible match, she starts to manifest superpowers. For a culture that prizes physical achievement, conformity, and fair-minded sportsmanship, this puts Mara's entire world at risk.

Mara is a progression of a theme Wood explored most famously in Demo, what happens to superpowered young people in an otherwise normal, realistic world. There's an obvious sci-fi twist to Mara, though, and one specifically designed to help Wood and Doyle address the reaction of some (including us) to the nature of female characters in genre comics.

I decided to create this during the post-DC52 reaction regarding women in comics, female characters in superhero stories and their depiction within, and all that discussion that followed. In addition to just feeling like I had a powerful, relevant story to tell, I wanted to prove, if only to myself, that a story like this can be told without reducing it to or otherwise relying on these sorts of base depictions of women. Like Channel Zero, Jennie One, Supermarket, Demo, Local, The New York Four, The New York Five, DV8, and a good deal of Northlanders, MARA features a complex, realistic, multi-faceted female lead.

It's been a good night for Image announcements. In addition to Mara, Image confirmed a new series of Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

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