Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Eddy Barrows
Publisher: DC Comics
The last issue of Martian Manhunter introduced a brilliant new concept for the character, with him placed as a sleeper agent amidst a Martain invasion that’s been going on for years. The idea of questing J’onn’s identity and allegiances is a clever device, especially considering writers have struggled to find a place for him since Flashpoint, and this continues into the second issue which reveals more about what sort of character he is and expands on some of the sub-plots.
After the reveals at the end of the last issue, J’onn has an altercation with the Justice League while halfway across the world, Pearl goes on the run as the martains attempt to hunt her down for knowing her secret. While this is going on, the kids from the first issue are taking Mr. Buiscuits for reasons unknown. Right off the bat it’s obvious that the series is attempting to juggle a lot of plotlines, I have no problem with this as it gives the issue a lot of readability and I’m excited to see how they all cross over, but right now they seem a little disparate. While I’m enjoying the banter of Mr. Buiscuits, I don’t see how he ties into the story, especially given his limited page time. On the other hand, I think on paper Pearl’s story is fascinating and really plays up the horror aspect of the martians, with Eddy Barrows providing some really cool and creepy pencils for their organic martian technology. Her dialogue however just feels really clunky and far too wordy, it harms the pace at times of both the action we’re watching, with Pearl being hunted, and the tension building between J’onn and the Justice League. I still think there’s potential for these sub-plots and I applaud Rob Williams for his ambition, but right now they detract a little from what I’m truly loving about this book, his handling of J’onn J’onzz.
Williams really has a fresh, unique take on the Martian Manhunter, as stated he manages to expertly integrate the struggles other writers have had with the character into the central theme of the book, with J’onn attempting to find where he fits in, but not in the traditional teenage angst way. His depiction also hits upon things fans should love about the character, including his power levels being similar to Superman and his true terrifying form. Williams handles these in such a way that long-time fans will feel happy with his understanding of the character, while this similarly offers a terrific introduction to the character of new readers. If you’ve never experienced anything about the character I’d say this serves as the perfect introduction, capturing both the heroics and potential dangers of the character. It feels Williams has finally found a great angle for the character and integrates him perfectly into the current state of the DCU. Furthermore, there was a major complaint I had while reading the story about how quick tensions were escalating, however without spoiling it, Williams manages to once again show his understanding of J’onn to turn the entire scene on his head and use the problem to his advantage. It’s a very cleverly written comic that’s unlike any other big name superhero.
In conclusion, this series proves why the Martian Manhunter should be an A-list superhero. He’s finally found a place among the big leagues after being displaced by the new 52 relaunch, a gritty, dark and intelligent series that looks to be heading in some very cool directions. While not all the sub-plots gel right now, if they can all come together then this could really be one of the break out hits of the DC You relaunch and a series remembered for years to come.