Martian Manhunter #1
From the announcement of the creative team, Martian Manhunter seemed like a lock to be something special. After the first issue, that notion proved correct as DC has kicked off the next unconventional, buzz worthy book in the tradition of Mister Miracle.
Writer Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo have a terrific concept with this 12-issue maxi-series and it looks like it will be an exciting ride.
Orlando explores both J’onn J’onzz’s life on Mars through flashbacks and as a detective. What’s most interesting is Orlando plays against reader’s expectations on J’onn’s life on Mars. He’s acting in a manner that is counter to the traditional take on the character. He’s got a bit of an edge and might not be the most honorable peacekeeper.
Orlando’s take on Mars is also intriguing. Martian children decide their form later in life, but in their adult life, the martians still change their shape when they’re not in public. The identity politics should make for some compelling stories. I’m also hopeful Orlando will explore John’s challenges and choice to live as a black man in modern America.
Rossmo was a perfect choice to handle the art. He’s got a signature exaggerated style that looks somewhat cartoonish, but works with this story. Rossmo makes expressive and distinct looking background characters. His take on the martians is inspired with his creativity on full display in the flashback scenes.
Ivan Plascencia provides his trademark bombastic colors, which look to be a vital component of the title’s art presentation. Letterer Deron Bennett explores some fun ways to convey the Martian speech pattern.
I’m not sure what to make of the costume design. As a martian, J’onn wouldn’t necessarily stick to standard fashion, but it’s a busy outfit in a bad way.
Orlando teases a sinister force that might have some connections to Martian Manhunter’s past. It’s rare that we get to see Martian Manhunter use his detective skills. This series looks to play on that to greater effect than his powers. This was a fantastic debut and one that left me encouraged about another new DC series fully reaching its potential into 2019.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10