When there’s varmints that need a catching, and young’uns that need a saving, on his rocket steed he races across the stars! He might be from Earth, but Sparks Nevada is the one and only Marshal on Mars. With his faithful companion, Croach the Tracker — whose language I profane with my own human tongue — Sparks rides the crimson plains of G’Loot Praktaw (which we designate Mars), upholding the law with his pair of robot fists! In this BOOM! edition of the Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel, we learn about the origins of the odd couple relationship that defined a podcast and its relationship with its audience.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour, as a concept, is the brainchild of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker. A podcast/live show began at a table reading of their original film script, Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars. Moving to the live stage as an old-timey radio show in 2005, the live show ran through 2015 with a large cast of improvisors, actors, and musicians playing parts in over ten different minishows. While many Sparks Nevada tales were told over the podcast, the original meeting between Sparks and Croach that created the onus between them was never told. In this graphic novel, we not only experience that meeting, we see how the Martians live, both above and below the ground, their great underground city, their Q;Cunes, and the care they have for their home planet.
In addition to exploring more about the “Marjuns,” the seemingly simple escort mission intersects with two other characters introduced in the podcast: Sparks’ parents. Unlike the stage show/podcast, the comic doesn’t have to stay in town to keep the action moving. Acker and Blacker point out in the post-comic annotated script that it wouldn’t matter where they set the show because it’s not visual, but using comics as the medium, literal worlds are possible. From flashbacks to Sparks’ days as an Academy Cadet to the box canyons and oases of Mars, the story can now go wherever it needs to.
As a long-time fan of TAH, and especially Sparks Nevada, I immediately heard the voices of Marc Evan Jackson (Sparks Nevada), Mark Gagliardi (Croach), Craig Cackowski (Felton), and the rest. The dialogue is pitch perfect, hitting all the notes needed from a good episode of Sparks while telling a brand new story. If you have never listened to TAH, the comics are an excellent start to understanding the structure and the humor. If you’re a fan, these stories are must-haves. I swear by the burrs of my astro-spurs that this graphic novel is worth it.