Review: The Mice – The Factory Menace / Author: Roger Mason / Artist: Roger Mason / Publisher: Scar Comics / Release Date: Out Now
One of the things that small press comics excel at is taking off-beat ideas and running utterly rampant with them. After all, with the mainstream flooded with gritty action heroes and ubermensch in tight-fitting clothes, we may as well look to the indie books for something a bit different.
The Mice – The Factory Menace is stark and brutal dystopian sci-fi of the sort that seemed more common in the '80s. Aliens have not only invaded the earth, they barely noticed the existence of mankind as they did so; massive alien beings build their factories on top of the ruins of human civilisation, reducing humanity to the status of vermin and nuisance. The story focuses on a plucky band of resistance fighters who are desperately trying to fight back. In this case, by disrupting a canning factory. There are two storylines here: the action-packed and gritty struggle of humans trying to survive in a world gone wrong, which contrasts against the dull and mundane menial labour of the aliens. We care about the humans, of course, but we also sympathise for the poor aliens who are trapped in all too familiar drudgery.
Roger Mason’s art style is as broad and sweeping as his storytelling is subtle. The blocky, black and white style suits the grimy and hopeless world very well, and it cleverly balances detail and impact. For example, the alien people-eating monster referred to as ‘the cat’ is designed in such a way that though we can clearly see that it’s an alien monstrosity, it’s not easy to work out exactly what horrible thing it will do next; it’s stark appearance adds to the sense of otherness that it evokes.
Thick with satire, irony and humour, The Mice – The Factory Menace is a rare gem, and if you’re the sort of person who likes to talk about the artistic credentials of sequential art as social commentary, or you simply like good sci-fi well told, then this will make you grin.