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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


"Life is But a Dream"
Total Recall #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Written by Vince Moore
Art by Cezar Razek

Having killed Cohaagen and given Mars an atmosphere, Douglas Quaid (the man who was Hauser) simply wants to live happily-ever-after with the woman of his dreams, Melina. But how can he with Mars in chaos?


Story Summary


Picking up immediately after the end of the movie Total Recall, Quaid kisses Melina and is still left wondering if this is all a dream. Then Cohaagen's men begin firing their weapons at the two lovers, seeing Cohaagen's dead body on the Martian slope next to them. The two manage to race back to Venusville and find the resistance and citizens fighting against the Federal forces. Although mistrustful of Hauser-turned-Quaid, Tony agrees to help provide covering fire while Quaid runs to meet with Everett, chief of the Mars security forces to broker a truce between the factions. Everett reveals that the Northern Bloc has already named Cohaagen's children, Milos and Vila, as the new administrators and the two are on their way to Mars even as they speak.


In Venusville, Quaid and Melina bump into the same mutant psychic and her young daughter, Eva, they met previously and both are suffering from terrible headaches. Eva senses that someone important is coming soon.


Milos and Vila arrive and their press conference hints that they will be resuming their late father's policies on Mars.


Meanwhile, little Eva collapses and dies, but not before gasping out, "The Martians are coming." And in a shadowy corner of Venusville, a shadowy figure of a man echoes her phrase, adding, "I must prepare the way."




Didja Know?


This mini-series did not have individual issue titles. I've made up my own title for each issue based on the theme of "dreams",

from the dream/reality dichotomy of the Total Recall film. This issue's title, "Life is But a Dream", I borrowed from the final line of the children's nursery song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".


The complete 4-issue mini-series is collected in a trade paperback called Total Recall: Life on Mars.


Didja Notice?


Page 1, panel 1 shows the globe of Mars from space, with its two moons visible. The closer moon appears to be Phobos from the large crater visible on it, the farther one Deimos.


A newscast from Earth on page 1 reveals that the Southern Block has regained control of the Panama Canal in battle against the North.


The Earth newscast also reveals that Earth's population is generally still unaware of the recent events on Mars as depicted in Total Recall. The newscaster is able to report only rumors of the deaths of Mars Administrator Vilos Cohaagen and resistance leader Kuato and that it appears some kind of accident has occurred at the Pyramid Mines, causing venting of gases into the Martian atmosphere.


The dialog at the bottom of page 1 is the same as that spoken by Quaid and Melina at the end of Total Recall. Then the two-page spread on pages 2 and 3 shows the kiss the two shared at the end of the film, where viewers were left wondering if it was all real or was Quaid about to wake up from a memory implant at Rekall on Earth.


Page 2 reveals that the year is 2084.


On page 3, Quaid's inner monologue refers to Melina as his princess of Mars. This is a reference to the character of Dejah Thoris, a princess of Mars in the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.


As his and Melina's kiss finishes on page 4, Quaid is still left feeling uneasy about his reality. He explains to her that everything he was promised for his Ego Trip at Rekall has been delivered. He even mentions that the image of Melina was at Rekall, waiting to be programmed in as the woman of his dreams. And he goes on to remark, even if all that has happened is real, how does he proceed with life now? He is not really Douglas Quaid, an identity programmed into his mind six weeks ago; and he is certainly not the thuggish Hauser anymore either.


On page 4, Quaid remarks that he wasn't real until six weeks ago, a reference to his "wife" Lori's comment in Total Recall which indicated Hauser underwent the memory implant of Quaid six weeks ago. But that was when he was still on Earth; after that, he took a ship to Mars which both the script and the comic book adaptation of the film indicate takes several weeks. So Quaid has been in existence for more than six weeks (unless he's still in the chair at Rekall, that is!).


Who is the man hidden in shadow on panel 5 of page 6? Presumably it is the same man seen at the end of the issue who echoes Eva's prediction that "the Martians are coming."


The comic does a pretty good job on attention to the details of the movie. For example, notice that the floor of the Last Resort bar is a checkerboard pattern in both.


Page 11 reintroduces Everett, the chief of the Mars security force, a character played by actor Marc Alaimo in Total Recall.


On page 13, Everett reveals that word of Kuato's death has spread to resistance cells all over Mars and many of them have gone on offensive. Mars remains under martial law.


The art of panel 1 of page 14 is the same as panel 5 of page 13, just shrunk down.


Page 15 reveals that with the death of Vilos Cohaagen, the new administrators of Mars assigned by the Northern Bloc are Milos and Vila Cohaagen, the son and daughter of Vilos.


Page 16 reintroduces Eva, the psychic mutant played by child actress (at the time) Sasha Rionda in Total Recall.


Page 19 reveals that Mars is administered by the Cohaagen Martian Mining Corporation.


Milos' comments on page 19 indicate it took he and his sister only days to arrive on Mars after being named co-administrators. This would seem to suggest that there are faster modes of travel than the standard transport taken by Quaid in Total Recall. If this is the case, why would Richter and Helm have taken the same slow transport as Quaid? Possibly they knew that it was the most likely means of transportation for Quaid and they hoped to find him on it and stop him before he even reached Mars.


On the last page of the issue, we see the shadowy figure revealed, but he is left unnamed. He seems to be the same character revealed in later issues to be an agent of the returning Martians, named Q'd. But he has a mutant deformity on his forehead in the later issues; here he looks like a normal man.


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