Review – Martian Manhunter #4: The Spreading Plague

Comic Books DC This Week
Martian Manhunter variant cover, via DC Comics.

Martian Manhunter – Steve Orlando, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist


Ray – 9/10

Corrina: GAH! Run From That Villain!

Ray: After the last issue revealed the truth of how J’onn Jonnz came to take on the identity of John Jones and left the relationship between him and his human partner frayed, Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo are ready to take their mystery to the next stage in Martian Manhunter . Equal parts surreal sci-fi serial and horror/suspense comic, this title reveals its secrets slowly and continues jumping back and forth between the two timeframes. More action takes place in the past on Mars this issue, as the mysterious ailment known as H’ronmeer’s Curse continues to sweep through the population. There’s shades of HIV/AIDS in the social context here, as the divisions this plague causes in the population are causing almost as much damage as the disease itself. We even see it affect J’onn at home, when he uses it as an excuse to his suspicious wife why they should keep parts of their minds walled off from each other. Of course, we know the truth is more sinister than that.

As J’onn starts to seek a way off Earth for his wife and child – a quest doomed to failure, John on Earth is seeking clues to the Spaceman’s murder and kidnapping. A bizarre segment where he mind-melds with a pet iguana and reveals its shocking role in the killings of the family is easily the issue’s most memorable moment. I’m glad Diane Meade is staying an active player in this issue, even as she and J’onn are estranged. Both she and J’onn get closer to the truth, but the Spaceman still has Ashley in his clutches and has disturbing plans for her. The reveal of exactly who he is and why he has such a burning hatred for J’onn bring’s J’onn’s sins on Mars back to haunt him on Earth. While the story is highly compelling, the real star here is Riley Rossmo’s brilliantly disturbing art – whether he’s depicting Martian sexual congress or the villain’s grand reveal, his surreal painted style is what helps to make this series a classic.

Martian Manhunter #4
H’ronmeer’s Curse. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: This is the issue that takes the mystery threads from the horrible events on Mars and the horrific murder seen in the first issue and binds them together in the creepiest and scariest way possible.

Rossmo has so many great panels this issue. There’s J’onn talking to the iguana, on that hill, surrounded by sky. There’s Ashley in that room, with the rest of it in shadow, and the “joining of J’onn and his wife. And there’s the final panel, as the ultimate villain is revealed, almost oozing out of the page.

One hopes that Diane, J’onn’s partner, will finally realize what she’s dealing with in the evil Martian.

Meanwhile, I’m also off to contemplate the terror of a thought virus.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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