Past guilt catches up, literally, in the latest issue of Martian Manhunter.
When people think of DC Comics, they think Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but it’s somehow overlooked that the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz, is basically Superman from Mars, plus telepathy and shapeshifting, which by some estimations makes him more powerful than ol’ Clark Kent (if only it wasn’t for that pesky pyrophobia.)
With a storied career, including leading the Justice League, fighting Black Adam one-on-one, and even dying in Final Crisis, only to be resurrected as a Black Lantern, J’onzz just doesn’t get enough credit. Written by Steve Orlando, with art from Riley Rossmo, colors by Ivan Plascencia and lettering by AndWorld Design, the latest iteration of the mighty Martian’s story takes us into both his detective work on his home planet and crimes right here on Earth, with this latest issue bringing events of the past full circle.
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The Martian Manhunter is confronted by his past, and it is angry
At the end of the last issue J’onzz was attacked by the Red Martian responsible for the murders he’s investigating in Colorado, while his partner, who just found out he’s an alien, ignores him. This issue starts with a flashback to the Red Martian, B’udd B’urnzz (nice), being sentenced for his crimes by the Martian Manhunters; he used to be a regular green Martian and his punishment was to be locked into red form permanently, which drove him mad, even though he claims it didn’t. We witness his extremely painful transformation and his vow to exact vengeance upon any Martian Manhunter he finds, and then we cut to J’onzz seemingly erupting into flames; his biggest fear and the cause of the death of every other Martian on Mars, including his family.
Dang ol’ telepathic trickery, tell you what, Martian Manhunter
J’onzz comes to in the police station, untouched. He realizes that B’urnzz, who spent centuries on Earth developing his mental powers, even as he lost his sanity, is a much more powerful telepath than our hero (who because of comic book time-space relativity hasn’t been on Earth but for a decade or two), and was just torturing him, sohe goes home to sit in an ice bath and think about what to do. Meanwhile, Detective Meade, J’onzz’s partner, thinks back to a relationship she had with a medical examiner, and how they had to hide their affection for each other. The covering up of the truth strikes a chord with Diane Meade, and when J’onzz calls her up, she grudgingly answers and talks to the Martian Manhunter, even though she swore she wouldn’t have any contact with him. He begs her to listen, and prepares to recount his last day on Mars, which was when his family died.
This was a beautiful issue; Rossmo’s art is, in a word, incandescent. The lines are bold yet graceful, and Plascencia’s colors are simply vibrant. Orlando is telling a hell of a story, as well, with very cool insights into what makes J’onzz tick. 9.5/10; highly recommended. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.