Martian Manhunter #8 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Drips With Emotion
Ray: Incoming Wonder Woman writer Steve Orlando once again proves that he’s one of the strongest talents at DC with Martian Manhunter, a fascinating alien noir that shifts genres at the drop of a hat. The last two issues have delved deep into J’onn’s terrifying alien past and introduced one of the creepiest new villains at DC in years, but Martian Manhunter #8 completely changes the focus and reveals the past of J’onn’s partner Detective Diane Meade and her friendship with the real John Jones.
Comics starring Batwoman have also dealt with forced outings in the past, but Orlando’s portrayal of Meade as a bisexual woman struggling with both bigotry from within a Louisiana police department and biphobia from the woman she’s dating might be one of the most nuanced takes on this kind of story I’ve read. The trauma of being outed and forced to either end her relationship or resign drives her out of Louisiana and to the small Colorado police department where she meets John.
The character of John Jones has always lurked around the fringes – most runs haven’t made clear if he was a real person or just a false face J’onn puts on, but Orlando makes him a fully fleshed-out character – a tough man with his own painful secret who protects his friends fiercely and responds just as fiercely to anyone who cruelly targets him or them. It’s easy to see why Meade respects him so much, and it’s just as easy to see how much he and J’onn have in common. The road back to being partners for J’onn and Meade hasn’t been easy, and that makes the personal moments between them this issue all the more powerful. Our villain straight out of a horror movie is lurking in the background, but there’s a huge development in the story of his captive Ashley that sets us up for a fantastic final third of this series. This hasn’t gotten the same hype of King and Gerads’ Mister Miracle, but it’s no less a modern DC masterpiece.
Corrina: So many comic stories stop for backstory to explain their characters. But backstory has to be integrated well to make it relevant to the emotions and the story going on in the now.
Meade’s backstory is like that, allowing the reader to see her so much better, but also delving deep into how and why she behaves as she does, and why she finally accepts the Martian Manhunter. Her emotional journey from terror to trust in her partner has been one of the many highlights of this series. I’m not always thrilled with Rossmo’s exaggerated human faces and hair but Rossmo’s style is also one that permeates the panels with emotion. When Meade says she trusts John, that trust leaps off the page.
This is the best thing Orlando’s written for DC and Rossmo’s art brings it to life, making it one of DC’s best books.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.