Mara #5 (Image): The penultimate issue of Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s sports, media, superhero, identity affair opens with a serene sequence of Mara floating in space, and you can almost hear Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” accompanying the majestic scene. As her wisps of hair unfurl like a plate of angel hair pasta in the zero gravity of space, it’s a beautiful bit of power recognition. With the glow of Earth’s atmo below her, she achieves an important realization, this mental shift toward a sense of ultimate freedom is the greatest part of her powers manifesting, finally understanding that she can be literally and figuratively above all of man’s petty strife occurring below her. There’s almost a parallel between Mara’s personal discovery and the professional journey the audience has seen artist Ming Doyle take during the course of this series. In the first issue, I thought Doyle offered some jerky and awkward art; there was a tentative quality almost holding back her own artistic power. By issue three or so, everything began falling into place, and became crisp, light, and stylish. Her own transformative experience working on this title has given her most recent artistic effort a sense of majesty and wonder and identity. Colorist Jordie Bellaire supports this endeavor with icy blues, amber Earth tones, and the deep purples of space. The conventional wisdom of national security forces back on Earth really has no method for interpreting Mara’s actions, much less reacting to them with any semblance of balance. Instead of any measured, proportional response by the Cheney-esque military doctrine, Wood crams about as much social relevance into the turn of events as he can. We see free market capitalism try to seize a sample of her DNA for an opportunistic cash grab with project “Skyward.” The societal perception remains mixed, backlash and awe running amok, reminding us how celebrity affection can turn on a dime with just one transgression. One minute you’re in, the next you’re out. The military leverages her brother as hard as they possibly can at the futuristic equivalent of a CIA Black Site. The military has no allegiance to its own people, only its own inertia. As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. With regard to Mara, if you look at the world through a militarized lens, all you see are potential weapons. This forces Mara to speak to them in a language they can understand. It’s almost a Watchmen-esque drive toward an ultimate solution. Will Mara burn this village in order to save it? Grade A.