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Mars Attacks is a science fiction-themed trading card series released in 1962. The cards feature artwork by science fiction artists Wally Wood and Norman Saunders. The cards form a story arc, which tell of the invasion of Earth by cruel, hideous Martians, under the command of a corrupt Martian government who conceal the fact from the Martian populace that Mars is doomed to explode and therefore proposes a colonization of Earth. The cards depict futuristic battle scenes and bizarre methods of Martian attack, torture and slaughter, as well as various Earth nations being attacked. The story concludes with an expeditionary force of humans volunteering to embark on a counterattack on Mars, in which the Earth force attacks the Martians in their manner (bayoneting and bullets). This necessitates the Martian invasion troops to be recalled to defend their homeworld. The Earth attack forces, after destroying the Martian cities and killing the Martians, depart just before Mars is destroyed in the predicted cataclysm, thus ensuring the peace and safety of Earth as the Martian race is doomed to extinction.
The cards proved popular with children, but depictions of explicit gore and implied sexual content caused an outcry, leading the company to halt production. The cards have since become collectors' items, with certain cards commanding over $3,500 at auction.
In the 1980s Topps began developing merchandise based on the Mars Attacks storyline, including mini-comic books and card reprints. An expanded set of 100 cards called Mars Attacks Archives was issued in 1994 by Topps and spawned a second round of merchandising. Director Tim Burton released a film called Mars Attacks! in 1996 based on the series, spawning a third round of merchandising. Topps released a 50th anniversary expanded set of 75 cards called Mars Attacks Heritage, spawning a fourth round of merchandising that continues to this day (as of 2017).