Sparks Nevada is the on-again, off-again marshal of Mars. Sparks Nevada is brave, trustworthy, full of bravado and lawfulness, and a bit emotionally unavailable. Per Marc Evan Jackson and the Bens at ECCC, his middle name is Hansel, though this was not used in podcast canon until the Holiday Funaround 2016.
Sparks Nevada is portrayed by Marc Evan Jackson. He has been in every episode of Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars except Something Wicked This Way Is. Sparks was at a Marshal's conference on Mars and Jib Janeen the Jupiter Spy impersonated Sparks throughout episode. He has also appeared in Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier and been mentioned in all other present-day Sparks Nevada universe segments.
He has several tools:
- Laser Pistols
- Robot Fists
- Mercury, his rocket steed
- The Marshal Station, located in town. The Marshal Station is mobile and can also be launched into orbit when necessary.
Sparks Nevada's parents are Captain Caiaphas Nevada (played by Jerry Lacy) and Commander Stacy Kerns Nevada (played by Julia Duffy). Both Caiaphas and Stacy are featured in the episode Space-iversary. They are the head officers of the starship USS Indomitable. For more information on Sparks Nevada's family, please see the Nevada Family.
Every episode of Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars is an accounting of the life of Sparks Nevada.
For a full listing of all Sparks Nevada Universe events, including a high-level overview of the life of Sparks Nevada, please see Sparks Nevada Universe Timeline.
Sparks Nevada was born on Earth. He attended USSA Academy on Earth with Mercy Laredo, then later fought in the War for Earth's Moon with Mr. Horner. He most likely attended Marshal Academy sometime after the War for Earth's Moon before becoming marshal on Mars.
He soon became partnered with Croach the Tracker and began an on-again-off-again partnership with The Red Plains Rider. Sparks temporarily lost his job to the robot Techs, spent some time taking guard jobs, then briefly became a bounty hunter. After Croach was killed, Sparks and Red got Sparks' badge back, wherein Sparks became marshal again. When Croach was revived, the two returned to their partnership. Pemily Stallwark also became Sparks' deputy for a few months before he had her reassigned as marshal of the Earth's moon. Sparks continued being Marshal of Mars with Croach the Tracker as his partner, occasionally joined by The Red Plains Rider for over a year afterward, until his mother visited an said he was being offered the job of Marshal of Earth.
Sparks was in a serious relationship with Ginny West by that time, and couldn't decide between his dream job and the woman he loved. He took a sabbatical and instead opened up Sparks Nevada, Hardware Man of Mars Hardware. Red became the marshal in his place. Eventually he decided to take the job on Earth, before changing his mind and deciding to return to being Marshal on Mars, sharing the job with Red.
Sparks and Ginny got married after his decision to return to being marshal, but after Sparks learned that she was Jupiter Spy (though nothing the real Virginia West), the two of them split up.
Sparks recently received a highly dangerous mission to ride into the sun, which he embarked on with Croach and Red to unknown results.
Sparks Nevada has had four main relationships throughout the series.
The Red Plains Rider
Sparks has long harbored feelings for the Red Plains Rider. Before the series started, he and Red dated for a short time, but she was too upset about her breakup with Croach to commit fully, so she broke up with Sparks. In early podcast episodes, Red chose to get back together with Sparks, but once he proved insensitive, she instead chose Croach. Later, she and Croach again broke up, and Red again expressed a desire to be with Sparks. However, he was still too hurt to be with her and turned her down, then soon set her up with Cactoid Jim.
Red and Jim got married, but later divorced. After Red's divorce and Croach's accidental death at Sparks' hands, Red and Sparks took solace with each other, spending several months sleeping together, before Red left him to go find Jim and get her marriage back together. Later, Red believed she was pregnant with a baby that belonged to either Jim or Sparks. Eventually, DNA testing said the baby was indeed Sparks'. Just after the birth of the baby girl, Jib Janeen the Jupiter Spy revealed that Red was not actually pregnant with her own child--rather, she was an incubator for a Jupiterian baby. Despite loving the baby, she gave the child to Jib, who could properly care for it as humans do not have the necessary physiology. Red then left to go find Jim, who is possibly frozen in carbonite and serving as a coffee table for some aliens. Sparks has admitted that he still harbors more feelings for Red than he cares to say.
In The Night We Never Met, Sparks was forced to confront his feelings for Red while nearly being killed by Mercy Laredo. Sparks and Red realized that they would probably kill each other (or at least, Red would kill him) should they ever enter a serious relationship, and as Red is again in love with Croach, all possibility has ended, as Sparks has moved on as well.
Rebecca Rose Rushmore
Rebecca Rose Rushmore is a popular Western Sector novelist who came to Mars to live out adventures instead of just writing about them. After a brief romantic interlude with Cactoid Jim, Rebecca became interested in Sparks Nevada, who initially did not return the interest. After encouragement from The Red Plains Rider, Sparks agreed to date Rebecca Rose Rushmore. They dated for a couple of months, but during the events of The Piano has Been Thinking, it became obvious that Rebecca's feelings for Sparks drastically outweighed his feelings for her, and Rebecca walked away from the relationship.
Mercy Laredo was a woman Sparks dated at USSA Academy, who later became a bounty hunter. After Sparks lost his badge to Techs, a bounty was put on his head, which Mercy meant to collect. She had a personal vendetta against Sparks for breaking up with her via email. However, after an intense show-down, Sparks and Mercy reconnected and began dating again.
For two months, Sparks, Croach, and Mercy travelled together and hunted bounties after Sparks also became a licensed bounty hunter. Eventually, they were tasked with bringing in The Red Plains Rider as a bounty, but instead there was an intense three way showdown between Sparks, Mercy and Red, which ended when Sparks misunderstood Mercy's intention to break up as her shooting Sparks, and Sparks fired first. Croach, who was under onus to Mercy and not Sparks at the time, threw himself in front of the laser bullets and was mortally injured. Mercy used the distraction to escape.
Mercy later showed up again in The Night We Never Met, still angry with Sparks for breaking up with her via gunfight. In order to collect a bounty on Ginny West, Mercy trapped Sparks and Red in The Marshal Station. Mercy was encouraged by her teenage protege to let her vendetta go. Mercy's plan was foiled by Ginny's quick thinking, and she left Mars, still not happy with Sparks but with less bloodthirst about it.
Sparks Nevada met Harriet Alcott-Jiminy's new Troubleshooter partner, Ginny West, at a dinner party thrown by Mordecai and Harriet Jiminy to celebrate The Red Plains Rider's successful completion of her martian maturation ritual. The party was also a setup for Sparks and Ginny to meet, as Harriet and Mordecai believed they'd make a good couple, and a setup for everyone to help Ginny and Harriet cure the Pleasure Being virus. Sparks and Ginny needed to pretend to be attracted to one another in order to fool Fondal, the Pleasure Being sent to kill Harriet, but after getting to know one another a little more, Sparks and Ginny found they had much in common and were actually attracted to one another. By the following month, Sparks and Ginny were corresponding regularly and Sparks was calling Ginny his girlfriend. He also says he is glad for Croach and Red for their renewed romantic relationship.
Sparks and Ginny solidified their relationship in Custard's Last Stand, and by Crisis on Infinite Marses part 2, they were comfortable calling themselves girlfriend and boyfriend. They then began discuss moving in together, as Ginny's probationary period as a Troubleshooter on Mars is over.
After being offered the role of Marshal of Earth, Ginny and Sparks went through a rough period trying to decide how to navigate their relationship and Sparks' indecision. After nearly breaking up in Martian Orders and Space-ships Passing in the Night, as Sparks took the job without consulting her, Sparks decided to stay on Mars, and married Ginny in Marshal on Mars. Just after being married, Ginny revealed herself to be a Jupiter Spy, but on their honeymoon during That's no Honeymoon, Sparks decided he loved her no matter what she is.
Unfortunately, that evidently did not last because in the episode Still Alive, he says that he and Ginny have split up. In that same episode he meets the real Virginia West, who has been mining salt on Jupiter, and finds her nothing like the Ginny he knows.
Two alternate universe versions of Sparks Nevada were seen in Crisis on Infinite Marses part 2. One version, who gave up being a marshal to happily own a hardware store, was in a long-term relationship with Virgil West, an alternate, male version of Ginny West. A second version of Sparks, who was female and possibly younger (at least younger looking) was in a long-term relationship with Ginny West wherein they lived together for several years.
Partnership with Croach the Tracker
Croach the Tracker is Sparks Nevada's main companion. Although he will not accept the official position as deputy, he has occasionally been referred to as such for brevity's sake. He has been travelling with Sparks Nevada for several years. They have a slightly combatative friendship, wherein they often pick on each other and intentionally get on each other's nerves, but also highly trust one another and would rather be at one another's side than not.
Although they were at first reluctant to be called friends, Sparks has twice admitted he thinks of Croach as his best friend. Once at the end of Companeros, though he was interrupted by Mercury, and he later admitted to a dream version of Croach that he considers Croach to be his best friend. He has also told Croach, Red, and Felton that he thanks them and he loves them. Croach believes that their onus-based relationship is akin to friendship and, as Sparks has seen his feet, achieves verisimilitude to family. He also does not seem to mind being designated "buddy" and "pal" by Sparks, while he will object to any other misdesignation by Sparks or anyone else.
Croach was first assigned to ride with Sparks Nevada to fulfill a very large onus which the tribe owed to Sparks after Sparks saved Croach's tribe from a flood. The flood was caused by robot outlaw John Steelhands melting the polar ice caps that the humans had been using as a robot outlaw prison. The flood headed right for both Croach's tribe, which was celebrating Han-oo’Kah, and a human settlement. Sparks hooked a wormhole generator to his lasso and lassoed up the flood. Barlok the Wise, Croach's chief, assigned Croach to fulfill the tribe's onus owed to Sparks by tracking his metal enemies.
The onus owed by the tribe was very large to begin with. Sparks suggested Croach could wear down the onus faster by being a "general help" and thus Croach also fights at Sparks' side and does all other duties of a deputy without getting paid for them. There has also been a large amount of personal onus accrued by both Sparks and Croach to one another. Croach keeps track of all of the onus in his head.
Sparks and Croach once spent several minutes living in one another's bodies during the events of A Mind is a Terrible Thing... In Space!.
Croach has left Sparks Nevada's company for several arcs, each time returning to Sparks.
- In early episodes, Sparks relieved Croach of his onus when the Red Plains Rider chose Croach over Sparks. For several months, Croach and Red had a relationship away from Sparks' presence. They ran into one another during Companeros, and although Sparks was hopeful Croach would return, he did not at that time. Sparks admitted he missed Croach riding with him even more than he missed Red, and nearly told Croach he was his best friend. Later, Croach saved Sparks, Cactoid Jim and Rebecca Rose Rushmore's lives and declared his intent to return to Sparks' side, as he was ending his relationship with Red because of their physical incompatibility. Croach also realized that Sparks could not relieve Croach of his onus, thus he still needed to fulfill it.
- Several episodes later, at the end of The Piano has Been Thinking, Croach declared that he had now completed his onus to Sparks Nevada and will return to his tribe. However, Croach had also had his first exposure to alcohol in the episode and may have not returned to his tribe. Instead, Croach spent several months incurring tabulation at O'Toole's bar and drinking heavily. When Sparks Nevada and The Red Plains Rider found him there, they took Croach with them as they escaped from the bounty hunter Mercy Laredo.
- After Sparks reunited romantically with Mercy Laredo, Croach owed Mercy onus for saving his life from Orna Peganu. He travelled with Sparks and Mercy for several months, doing most of the work in the bounty hunting, and drinking heavily. When Sparks, Red and Mercy were showing down while trying to bring Red in for the bounty on her head, Sparks shot at Mercy. Croach, who was under onus to Mercy at the time, jumped in front of the laser bullet. Neither Croach nor Sparks knew that alcohol renders Martian Nah Nohtek inert, and the shot was fatal. Croach died in Sparks' arms.
For several months after Croach's death, Sparks often had nightmares about Croach, wherein they would reunite pleasantly, talk about recent events, and then Croach would turn on Sparks and eat his guts out (possibly a metaphor for Sparks' guilt over accidentally killing Croach eating him alive). When Sparks became Marshal again, he admitted to Red that it didn't feel as fulfilling as he thought it would without Croach by his side. On the eve of Cactoid Jim's election as President of Earth, Croach was resurrected by V'stalu of the Galaxium and returned to Sparks Nevada. He revealed his shared consciousness with V'stalu and told Sparks that he must kill Cactoid Jim before Jim became corrupted and destroyed the universe.
Once the Jim situation was dealt with, Croach declared he was once again under onus to Sparks for his part in saving the universe, then took up adventuring with Sparks again as his companion.
Several months later, on the heels of Red's false pregnancy, Croach discovered that he was fertilized, and declared that Sparks was the fertilizer of his ovum, due to Sparks stimulating his eggsacs during the events of The Agony of the Feet. Although Croach was excited about being fertilized and impending joint fatherhood, Sparks was still reeling from learning that Red's baby was neither his nor Jim's, but the Jupiterian offspring of Jib Janeen. He was upset to hear that he was now going to be the father to half-Martian babies with Croach, an event which he did not expect. After Croach attempted to cheer Sparks up by throwing a surprise event baby shower for himself and Sparks, Sparks' moping and anger at Croach was too much for Croach to bear. Croach left, saying he did not want to raise their offspring with Sparks as he currently was and told Sparks to track him when Sparks returned to himself.
Soon after, Sparks snapped out of his depression and tracked down Croach. reluctantly accepting his fate to have half-Martian babies with his best friend. However, while Croach was in labor, it was revealed that Jib Janeen had impregnated Croach while posing as Sparks Nevada several months earlier (Jupiterians impregnate their incubators via kissing), as he had the Red Plains Rider.
Since tracking Croach down, Sparks has seemed to make an effort to be kinder to Croach. For instance, when Croach shed his exo-skin and left it near Sparks' desk in Moonfaker, Sparks recognized Croach might be acting out. He promised to give Croach more attention, as he had been spending a lot of time with his other deputy at the time, Pemily Stallwark.
Croach was under the greatest onus to Sparks he has ever been under when he undertook the onus of all of G'loot Praktaw when Sparks lead the mission to save the entire planet from Chicky Sullivan in Moonfaker. Sparks and Croach's partnership has been solid, and they have even been seen calling each other "friend" openly.
In Marshal on Mars, Croach was petulant about not being asked to be one of Sparks' many Best Men for his wedding. When he told Sparks he was upset, Sparks finally admitted Croach is his best friend and made him the only Best Man in his wedding.
In My Only Sunshine, Coach, along with Red, decided to accompany Sparks on a dangerous mission into the sun. Sparks also says that he learned to express his feelings because of Croach and Red, and openly tells them that he loves them.
While Croach is Sparks Nevada's main companion, there are several others who have taken Croach's place in his absence, or joined both of them.
- While Croach had left Sparks for his relationship with the Red Plains Rider, Sparks' Rocket Steed, Mercury, temporarily gained the ability to talk and was Sparks' main companion. Most notably, he encouraged Sparks to stand up to his parents and helped him gain his father's respect.
- After Croach declared his onus was fulfilled and left, Mordecai Benmont Jiminy (the Barkeep) joined Sparks Nevada for two episodes as his main companion. At the time, the Barkeep had no saloon, as it had grown arms and legs and walked away after being rejected by Croach romantically.
- While Croach was dead, The Red Plains Rider and Sparks took solace in one another as Red was mourning the loss of her marriage with Cactoid Jim and they were both mourning Croach's death. After getting Sparks' badge back and regaining his position as Marshal, Red spent a time as Sparks' unofficial deputy. Red also often joins Sparks and Croach and they ride as a trio.
- Cactoid Jim served as Sparks' deputy for a very short time during The Return of Croach the Tracker and the Introduction of Two New Important Characters, but resigned before the end of the episode. Jim has accompanied Sparks and Croach on several other adventures.
- Pemily Stallwark was assigned by the Mars-Earth Coalition as Sparks' official deputy starting in Natal Attraction, although Croach still rode with Sparks as his unofficial deputy as well. After saving Mars, Earth, and a USSA fleet from Chicky Sullivan taking over the Earth's Moon and re-weaponizing Mars, Sparks was able to get Pemily re-assigned to be Marshal on the Earth's Moon.
- Sparks Nevada appears in every episode of Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars except Something Wicked This Way Is (TAH #119).
- He also appears in every Christmas Special (TAH #52, 98 and 147).
- Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier - Good Jim (TAH #113.
- The Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars segment in The Original Graphic Novel
- The Great Thrilling Adventure Hour / Welcome to Night Vale Crossover
- Tales of the United Solar System Alliance - T-Minus (TAH #58)
- Tales of the United Solar System Alliance - New Frontiers (TAH #117)
- Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier - Space-coach (TAH #32)
- Tales of the Troubleshooters - Personal Business (TAH #104)
- A Word from Our Characters (TAH #92.1)
- The ad for audible.com at the beginning of Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too (TAH #79)
- On with the Show (TAH #156.1)
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour April Fools' Fun-Around part 1 (TAH #209)
- The Piano Has Been Thinking (M Bar 2007) (FTV #2)