Martha Washington (comics)
Martha Washington on the cover to Give Me Liberty #1. Art by Dave Gibbons.
|Publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|First appearance||Give Me Liberty #1, 1990|
|Created by||Frank Miller|
|Alter ego||Martha Washington|
|Team affiliations||PAX Peace Force|
|Abilities||Computer Programming, Hacking, Hand-to-Hand Combat|
Fictional character biography
Born on March 11, 1995 and died on March 11, 2095, Martha Washington grew up in the Cabrini–Green housing project in Chicago (called "The Green") with her mother and two brothers in abject poverty brought on by the economic policies of the President Erwin Rexall. She is an average student, but one who displays a gift for computer programming and hacking.
Her teacher, Donald, encourages her to be a better student and, because he lives outside the Green, brings her contraband items. One night, Martha shows up at Donald’s classroom and finds that he’s been murdered by the Ice Man, a large thug who works for a local gangster called the Pope. Before dying, Donald managed to stab the Ice Man in the wrist. This distraction allowed Martha to seize his weapon, a longshoreman’s hook, and plunge it into his shoulder. The Ice Man chases her through the school to a locker room, but before he can kill her, he dies of blood loss. Martha is later remanded to a psychiatric hospital.
In the institution, she discovers that experiments are being secretly performed on children to genetically alter their minds, effectively turning them into human computers. Their heads are covered with wires plugged into their brains. Martha believes one of them resembles the Raggedy Ann doll she played with as a child. This institution is closed due to national budget cuts, and Martha is left homeless. She later joins the PAX Peace Force, where her heroic tale begins. She fights in many battles during the second American Civil War.
During the second American Civil War, her mother and brother die when Chicago is destroyed by a nuclear weapon.
Give Me Liberty
Martha Washington's first appearance. It features Martha joining the PAX Peace Force — a reinvented U.S. Army — and engaging in various heroic efforts, such as saving the rain forests of South America from crazed cattle ranchers. She eventually has to thwart the megalomanical plans of Colonel Moretti before he brings the country to the brink of destruction.
Martha Washington Goes to War
A five-issue series published in 1994, and closely based on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Martha Washington Goes to War has Martha fighting for the PAX army to reunite the fractured United States. The war effort is undermined by frequent technology failures, the disappearances of America's brightest minds, and a general malaise among the people. Washington is crippled in an attack. She's secretly visited by Wasserstein, her old boyfriend, who heals her with unknown technology. Washington is later brought onboard PAX's orbiting satellite Harmony. Wasserstein returns and seems to kill Coogan, Harmony's chief engineer. Washington pursues Wasserstein's flying craft into the radioactive wasteland in Oklahoma. She penetrates the field at the core of the wasteland, and finds a paradise. Wasserstein, Raggyann, and the missing scientists have hidden themselves here to develop technologies and strategies to improve the world. They knew PAX and the current government weren't interested in truly improving people's lives, so they created this sanctuary to wait until they were strong enough to overthrow the corrupt government and implement true change.
Meanwhile, the Surgeon General, living through robot doubles, has taken control of Harmony. He finds the sanctuary by tracking Washington's wrist computer and fires a devastating ray. As she sees the destruction she indirectly caused, Washington realizes it was this weapon that destroyed Oklahoma and not a nuclear device. Washington joins the scientists' cause as they attack and bring down Harmony. The Surgeon General's robots are destroyed. Other revolutionaries infiltrate military bases, free political prisoners, and seize control of the US government. Two years later, Washington continues to work with the revolutionaries to create a better world.
Happy Birthday, Martha Washington
A one-shot issue published in 1995, this is a collection of short stories about Martha and some of the many battles she has fought. The first story has Martha landing in Manhattan to take out Dictator Beluga. The building she lands in is shelled by PAX (her own side) and she is forced to head to Mercy Hospital with a wounded soldier of the Manhattan military. After the man she saved is patched up, they sit down to share a cigiretee. He reveals to her that Dictator Beluga is dead, assassinated by his own inner circle and possibly even by his own wife. However, PAX does not believe Martha's report and the shelling continues.
Martha Washington Stranded in Space
A one-shot issue published in 1995, Martha Washington Stranded in Space guest-stars The Big Guy. Martha investigates a space anomaly which temporarily sends her to Big Guy's reality. The back-up story is "Attack of the Flesh Eating Monsters", originally published in black and white in Dark Horse Presents #100-4. Martha fights off an attack by monsters conforming to 1950s pulp-SF stereotypes; she discovers that this is merely a psychological study conducted by the world-controlling AI, named Venus.
Martha Washington Saves the World
A three-issue series published in 1997, Martha Washington Saves the World depicts the arrival of an actual alien spaceship. Martha uses its superior technology to defeat the megalomaniacal artificial intelligence named Venus, which - though it had proved critical in defeating the old corrupt American regime - has been undermining humanity and sapping people's will. Martha and a handful of friends then leave Earth entirely, off to explore the origin of the aliens.
Martha Washington Dies
The story takes place on Martha Washington's 100th birthday on March 11, 2095 although unlike the earlier stories narrated by Martha, it is narrated by a young female soldier who looks like Martha Washington before joining Pax in the first issue of Give Me Liberty. The only difference is a scar on her face (it is possible she is related to Martha as a great granddaughter). She reveals that Martha married Wasserstein and has three sons, of whom she survived, and also that it is her final day of her final year of her life. In a warzone, surrounded by human warriors apparently under siege from unknown foes, who are described as "barbarians who won an awful victory", an elderly Martha Washington gives a brief speech of inspiration and as she dies, she gave her final words to herself and even to the soldiers for courage "Give me liberty" before turning her body into a blast full of fireworks. The final page of the issue and the series ends with the Martha lookalike now leading the soldiers to battle, who are now encouraged by Martha's final words.
Dark Horse released a hardcover collection of all the stories, remastered with added extras, in October 2009. It was initially announced as The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty First Century, and then The Martha Washington Omnibus, before finally settling on the original name.
The details of the various collections:
- The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century (Dark Horse Comics, hardcover, 600 pages, July 2009, ISBN 1-59307-654-1) collects:
- Give Me Liberty (4-issue mini-series, June–September 1990, tpb, Dell, ISBN 0-440-50446-5)
- Martha Washington Goes to War (5-issue mini-series, 1994, tpb, ISBN 1-56971-090-2)
- "Happy Birthday, Martha Washington" (one-shot, 1995)
- "Martha Washington Stranded in Space" (one-shot, 1995)
- Martha Washington Saves the World (3-issue mini-series, 1997, tpb, ISBN 1-56971-384-7)
- Martha Washington Dies (one-shot, 2007)
- Miller, Frank (July 2010). The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century. Dark Horse Books. p. 539. ISBN 978-1-59582-482-0.
- Miller, Frank (July 2010). The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century. Dark Horse Books. pp. 1–600. ISBN 978-1-59582-482-0.
- Martha Washington Dies in July: Talking to Diana Schutz, Newsarama, March 27, 2008
- Dave Gibbons On the 'Martha Washington' Omnibus, Newsarama, July 23, 2008
- The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century details at Dark Horse.com
- Miller, Frank (July 2010). The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century. Dark Horse Books. p. 600. ISBN 978-1-59582-482-0.
- Give Me Liberty Dell edition details at Dark Horse.com
- Martha Washington Goes to War details at Dark Horse.com
- "Happy Birthday, Martha Washington" details at Dark Horse.com
- "Martha Washington Stranded in Space" details at Dark Horse.com
- Martha Washington Saves the World details at Dark Horse.com
- "Martha Washington Dies" details at Dark Horse.com
- The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century Limited Edition details at Dark Horse.com