One of the reasons why I’d highly recommend Martha Washington Saves the World is becuase this is a comic that will appeal both to obsessive readers of comic books like myself and to people who are on the fence about reading them. One of the complaints I hear a lot from friends of mine who aren’t into comics is that they don’t want to commit to a series where they’ll have to read dozens of issues to understand what’s going on.* I think this in part explains the popularity of Watchmen; it’s a hermetically self-contained story. The same can be said for Martha Washington Saves the World: the entire series in this case is a mere 3 issues. It was plotted to end–it wasn’t just cancelled. Just about anyone can sit down and read 3 issues.
For devoted comic book fans, this book is exceptional. It features the meeting of two giants: Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons. Frank Miller by this time had done a lot of excellent work, such as saving Daredevil from obscurity and writing Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, one of the most popular graphic novels out there. Dave Gibbons worked on a different highly popular mini-series, Watchmen. In the 90s, they met up and gave the world Martha Washington, who was here to save us.
The story is in a sense an homage to classic Golden Age science fiction. I was reminded most of all of the work of Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey in particular. At the same time, Martha Washington Saves the World covers up some of the egregious failings of classic sci-fi. For example, so much pulp sci-fi from the 40s and 50s had lame roles for women (damsels in distress, or described as naive) and stories rarely featured people of ethnicity. Here, the main character is a black woman who has a Native-American boyfriend. She’s a cool character too; tough and very headstrong, reminding me of Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man.
Martha Washington Saves the World is published as an affordable graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. This isn’t recommended for children.
If you enjoyed Martha Washington Saves the World, you might also like Superman: For Tomorrow.