Mars is the home planet of the Biker Mice from Mars, and plays an important role – even though rarely featured – in the cartoon series of that name. It is the same planet as in our Solar System, but differs in many ways from the real Mars.
Location, geography and environmentEdit
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, and is at any one time between 36 million and 250 million miles from Earth (the variation due to its eccentric orbit around the Sun). At times (for example, The Adventure Begins #1) Earth has been seen from Mars as being large and clearly visible with the naked eye, apparently no further away than the distance from the Earth to the Moon; this is more likely to be intended as a symbolic rather than actual depiction.
Geography and environmentEdit
In common with reality the planet is depicted as being reddish in colour, desert-like with numerous canyons and mountains. Various physical features have been named which exist in reality, notably the volcano Mons Olympus and Tharsis Rise. The climate appears to be much closer to Earth’s than in reality; the temperature was warm enough for Charley Davidson to be able to survive comfortably wearing nothing but a shirt and trousers; she could also breathe without problems on Mars (and conversely the Biker Mice could breathe on Earth), suggesting that Mars’s atmosphere is also similar to that of Earth in the series. Furthermore, the behaviour of vehicles and movement of characters indicates that gravity is the same as on Earth. As on the real Mars there are frequent, severe sand storms as well as dust devils.
Mars was once a verdant land, rich in natural resources with flourishing plant-life and large oceans. In Back to Mars a variety of red, blue, purple and green plants are seen. However, this thriving world was destroyed during the Plutarkian War. The Plutarkians strip-mined the planet, stealing most of the resources and water, leaving it arid and barren. It is interesting to note that in 2002 data from the 2001 Mars Odyssey Mars Odyssey probe confirmed that much of the surface of the real Mars could well have once have been covered by oceans.
The principal city was Brimstone, but this was largely destroyed in the Plutarkian War. Whether the city in Back to Mars was a partially rebuilt Brimstone is uncertain but likely. In the new series, the Freedom Fighters are based in a substantial subterranean complex.
Almost nothing is known of Martian history beyond the last thirty years or so. However, the creator of the series, Tom Tataranowicz, has explained that in the context of Biker Mice, Mars is not only the planet traditionally associated with war from the human point of view (notably in the case of the Roman god Mars), but occupies such a role in the whole Solar System, with a history comprising centuries of barbaric war and violence. Although it emerged from this period into a more civilized era, the main focus of the series has witnessed two major Wars of Liberation.
The Plutarkian WarEdit
The Plutarkian War was the event which formed the catalyst for the entire first series. In Swimming with Sharks Vinnie’s Auntie Mago, who left Mars shortly after the start of the Plutarkian War, observes that her nephew was only knee-high to her when she last saw him. As Vinnie was 21 when the series began, the start of the Plutarkian War can therefore be dated to the mid-1970s ([[Wikipedia:Gregorian calendar|Gregorian calendar}]). Plutark was a small, heavily industrialised and polluted planet, where the dominant species were humanoid fish. With their homeworld’s resources used up, they set out to conquer other planets and steal their resources using a process known as strip-mining. They effectively gained control of Mars by bribing the Martian government and succeeded in strip-mining most of the planet. However, there was an uprising, first by Freedom Fighters led by General Stoker and then the Martian Army. The ensuing conflict was devastating, with most of the Cave Mouse population wiped out. Key events included the Battle of Brimstone and the destruction of the Tug Transformer – a device intended to transport Mars into orbit around Plutark (Once Upon a Time on Mars). Although outnumbered and facing superior technology, the Freedom Fighters were, by methods unknown, ultimately victorious, probably in the mid- to late-1990s.
The Catatonian WarEdit
This was the conflict which featured in the second series. Stoker seems to have first encountered the Catatonians in the mid-1990s (The Adventure Begins #1 and Changes) but judging by Catatonian General Cataclysm’s reference to five years of canned rations, the actual war probably began in 2001. To combat the drought on Mars, Stoker built a machine called a Regenerator, capable of turning any substance into any other, which the Martians used to create water. A race of humanoid cats, the Catatonians, became aware of this and set out to recover it. Although they were able to capture it briefly it was accidentally destroyed, and the Catatonians pursued Stoker to Earth where he could find the tetra-hydrocarbons to build a replacement. Although the Catatonians have suffered numerous heavy defeats at the hands of the Biker Mice on Earth and the Freedom Fighters on Mars, the conflict is ongoing.
Cave Mice are humanoid rodents, and the principal protagonists of the series. Their torso and limbs are essentially identical – at least externally – to humans, although Cave Mice tend to be of larger stature than the average human (the shortest male mouse whose height has been recorded is Vinnie, at 6 foot 1). They also have a long, strong prehensile tail, whilst the head is rodent like with a muzzle and large round ears. The entire body, as far as is known, is covered in fur. Most commonly this is in shades of grey or brown/tan, but white and ginger have also been seen. Their eyes are like those of humans, but the colour of the iris is usually red (though again other colours, including blue, have been seen). Most Cave Mice have ‘hair’ on their heads, which is sometimes a different colour to their fur – for example, Carbine has grey fur but black hair. Vinnie and Modo are the Cave Mice most notable for lacking this ‘hair’ – it is uncertain if this is due to species variation or a conscious choice of style. Almost all Cave Mice have a pair of red antennae protruding from their head. These allow them to communicate telepathically, including with non-Martians, by using them to touch the head of the person they wish to communicate with. Almost nothing else is known of the physical and biological make-up of Cave Mice; however they can eat Earth food with no apparent ill effects. Despite Vinnie’s reference to himself in Where no Mouse has Gone Before as green-blooded, visual evidence indicates that they have red blood.
Culture and societyEdit
The name ‘Cave Mice’ suggests a race originally troglodyte in culture. According to Tom Tataranowicz, historically Cave Mouse society was formed around Clans, different Clans being distinguishable by their antennae. To what extent the Clan system still operates is uncertain. Families appear to be organised in essentially in the same way as on Earth, with references to parents, sisters, uncles and so on being made. However, due to the war-ravaged past of Mars with fears of reprisals etc, the use of surnames has long since been abandoned. The use of ‘Vinnie VanWham’ as a nickname by Vinnie in The Pits have led some fans to regard ‘Van’ as a traditional part of Martian surnames. Forenames in the series are almost always associated with motorbikes (Throttle, Harley) or weapons (Carbine, Rimfire). Modo (origin unknown) and Stoker (probably related to steam engines) are the only names not apparently associated with either.</p>
Traditional clothing (seen in flashback in Hard Rock) and some architecture (the Monastery in Once Upon a Time on Mars) show oriental characteristics, but other clothing suggests influence from Western Earth culture (acquired through intercepted media broadcasts) and some architecture is entirely alien.
There is a ruling body, formerly known as simply “the Government” but more recently as “the Martian Council” – these two are presumably not the same institution, as Mars seemed to be under martial law in Back to Mars. The constitution of the government, and how representative it is of Martians beyond Cave Mice, is unknown. At least at the time of the Plutarkian War the death penalty could be enforced; treason was punishable by the offender being thrown into a spike filled pit known as ‘the Pit of Everlasting Doom’ (Back to Mars). There is or was at least one religion, but again the precise nature of this, and how widely it was practised outside the Monastery, is uncertain; it is interesting to note that the monks, whilst apparently Cave Mice, had no antennae. It has been suggested that due to the telepathic ability conferred by antennae the monks removed them as a form of spiritual isolationism.
Almost all aspects of Martian life seen in the series have been related to military affairs. The Martian Army seems to have been disbanded during the Plutarkian War. It wore green, yellow and red uniforms, included the rank of Sergeant, and utilised old fashioned tactics which essentially consisted of standing in line to fire (Once Upon a Time on Mars). The Army was replaced by the Freedom Fighters, initially an informal group of rebels but becoming more structured by the time of the events in Back to Mars. References have been made to the ranks of Trooper (Break Up), Corporal, Sergeant (both The Tender Mousetrap), Commander (throughout the new series) and General (Back to Mars onwards), and there have also been references to an Intelligence branch (The Tender Mousetrap). Tactics have largely involved hit and run attacks utilising specially equipped motorcycles.
The second of the three dominant species on Mars, Martian Rats are another race of humanoid rodents. They are similar in appearance to Cave Mice, but with longer muzzles and more angular features, small pointed ears and no antennae. Their typical fur colours are grey and brown, generally of a darker hue than seen amongst Mice, and there is a lighter patch around the chin and mouth. Their eyes are usually wholly red, except for the pupil.
Culture and societyEdit
Little is known about the background of the Rats, but the scanty evidence available – largely in the form of Mace – suggests that they share the Cave Mouse tradition of naming their children after weapons. It is not entirely certain why, but there is a distinct animosity between Rats and Mice. The Rats supported the Plutarkians in the War, but it seems the bad feeling predates this; it is hinted in Once Upon a Time on Mars that under Cave Mouse rule, Rats were oppressed and possibly treated as second class citizens. Certainly the Rat spy Mace believed the Plutarkian invasion to be the best thing to have happened to him. The ‘Tunnel Rat’ of The Reeking Reign of Head Cheese found his natural environment to be underground, using a jackhammer and tunnelling machines. Although he shares the physical appearance and animosity to Mice of other humanoid Rats, it is by no means certain that he is typical of their culture, or even a Martian Rat (since he seems to come, like other supervillains, from Black Rock Asteroid).
The third of the dominant intelligent Martian species, Sand Raiders are humanoid hyena-like creatures that live in the Martian desert. Brown-furred and yellow-eyed, they have long, thin ears. Slightly less ‘humanized’ than Rats and Mice, they can be very large (and/or obese).
Culture and societyEdit
Sand Raiders are shown as nomadic people, living by piracy, scavenging and slave-trading. Whether this is true of all their race is uncertain; it is possible Sand Raiders are merely a group or groups within an unnamed species. Sand Raiders speak with a distinctive accent resembling that of England’s West Country, and are notable for their baying battle cries. They fought for the Plutarkians during the War, most likely as mercenaries rather than through any political ideals. Only one has been named, Slobber the Mutt – an obvious parody of Jabba the Hutt, but a notable difference from Rat and Mouse naming traditions. As with Rats, Sand Raiders are consistently portrayed as villains.
Desert dwelling, carnivorous beasts, in spite of their name Sabre Squid appear to be reptiles akin to snakes. They have three heads, each on a long serpentine neck, which join together in a broad body which tapers to a point. Red, but with paler spots and bellies, Sabre Squid appear to be eyeless, presumably relying instead on smell and vibrations. They have large fangs, and are extremely fast moving. They hunt by hiding under the sand, bursting out to attack their large mammal prey, such as Cave Mice.
Mentioned once in Surfer Cats from Saturn, almost nothing is known of the Martian Noga. Most likely along the lines of cattle, Noga hide is highly prized. The seat of Vinnie’s bike in the new series is upholstered with Noga hide.
Appearing in Seeds of Victory, the critically endangered Squirrel Bats live exclusively on the now almost extinct Martian Pink-Seed plant.
Anonymous horned animalEdit
The skull of an anonymous animal has been seen lying in the deserts of Mars. It resembles that of a bison, with upturned horns projecting from the side of the skull. However, there is a third horn projecting, [[Wikipedia:Unicorn|unicorn-like, from the centre of the forehead. One fan theory holds that this is the skull of a Noga, but since the Noga was never mentioned in the classic series there is no proof of this and it may be an entirely unrelated animal.
Whilst Martian technology is more advanced than that of Earth, in many cases this is only slightly so. Cave Mice favour motorcycles, generally heavily armed, for transport. The standard bike used by the Freedom Fighters is grey, resembling a stripped down racing bike. Senior members use custom-built motorcycles of a variety of designs, some resembling those of Earth, such as the Harley-Davidson-style bike used by Throttle. The three bikes used by the Biker Mice are the most advanced, partly through further modifications made by Charley. A typical Martian bike carries guns and rocket launchers. They run on gasoline (as witnessed in Road Ravens) but are also equipped with rocket motors for additional thrust. They are also theoretically equipped with energy shielding (Throttle uses his to protect himself from a sand storm, though whether it is also capable of deflecting weapons fire in uncertain). However, the shielding technology is highly unreliable (Once Upon a Time on Mars). Motorcycles can also be equipped to launch Tangle Springs, simple spring like devices which can ensnare and disable wheeled vehicles. Cave Mice have also been seen using a form of military hang glider.
Rats and Sand Raiders favour four-wheeled dune buggies equipped with guns; as similar vehicles are also used by Lawrence Limburger’s goons, and Napoleon Brie’s Dune Raiders on Earth it is possible that these are of Plutarkian design. Sand Raiders also utilise a distinctive form of bipedal armed-transports known as Stilt Walkers, resembling the Imperial AT-ST of Star Wars fame, which can both walk and spring using both legs simultaneously. Sand Raiders have been known to use their Stilt Walkers to ambush their enemy by hiding under the sand.
In Rock and Ride it was stated by a Plutarkian that all (or most) Martian star ships were destroyed, but it seems he was labouring under a misapprehension. A class known as a Cyclodrone Thunderpipe was seen in Rock and Ride. Apparently unarmed, it dated from the Plutarkian War and resembled a motorbike in its design. The vessel was shot down by a Plutarkian Destroyer over Earth, and the wreck was subsequently cannibalised for spare parts and upgrades to the motorcycles of the Biker Mice. Another Plutarkian War vintage vessel, the Super A-Class Martian Space Chaser, was wheel-shaped with a command unit at the ‘hub’. The vessel was capable of surface landing, and also had amphibious qualities. The class was taken out of military service in 1992, the example seen in Swimming with Sharks being a pirate vessel commanded by Mago. The third Martian vessel was of uncertain age, but possibly fairly old as it was in need of repairs to its door mechanisms. A boxy ship with a distinctive bow section shaped like a stylised mouse head, it was lightly armed and capable of holding off small Catatonian warships, but ultimately overwhelmed and boarded. It was destroyed by a bomb. One other type of ship has been seen in Martian hands. Used by General Carbine in Break Up, it was a small, angular vessel with a two- or three-man cockpit, and equipped with a cloaking device. However, the design, a dark green hull with yellow cockpit and cloaking technology all indicate a captured Catatonian vessel rather than a native ship. In addition to sub-light engines, Martian vessels are presumably equipped with some form of hyperdrive as in The Tender Mousetrap Carbine was able to make the journey between Mars and Earth – which would usually take in the region of eight to nine months – in under an hour.
Guns are almost exclusively laser weapons, ranging in power from pistols to artillery. Some do, however, fire projectiles. Other weapons include stick-grenades, rocket launchers, tangle springs, piton guns, flares and energy dishes (small discs which can be used to short out electric machinery, as grenades and remotely controlled land mines) – the latter two favoured by Vinnie. Throttle uses ‘Nuke Nucks’, gloves equipped with power cells that when activated can significantly increase the power of his punch, and project pulses of destructive energy. Both these and the flares were designed by Harley. Modo has a bionic arm equipped with an inbuilt laser cannon. This was retconned in the series to become the work of Doctor Karbunkle, but was in ‘’Rock and Ride’’ implied to be Martian work, suggesting that they at least have the technology for such a device.
Long range communication is generally achieved via intercom links or VidComs – apparently a more sophisticated form of the human webcam or video phone systems. Carbine was seen using a holographic communicator in The Tender Mousetrap.
Possibly the most sophisticated piece of technology used by the Martians is the Regenerator. Mounted on a tripod and resembling a laser weapon, the Regenerator harnesses the energy of tetra-hydocarbons to convert any substance into anything else. On Mars it was primarily used to create water, but Ronaldo Rump used his to create hamburger outlets from office blocks, transform Siberia into a hospitable region for his golf course and so on. Tetra-hydrocarbons possess a finite amount of energy and must therefore be replaced. The Regenerator can be used to artificially create them, but they are no longer available on Mars. Thus, when the Regenerator was destroyed in The Adventure Begins #1 the Martians were forced to seek replacements on Earth.
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