Review – Martian Manhunter #9: Who is Charnn?

Comic Books DC This Week
Martian Manhunter #9
Martian Manhunter #9 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Martian Manhunter #9 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist


Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Past Becomes Present

Ray: Martian Manhunter has been one of the most ambitious books in DC’s stable, combining the untold story of J’onn J’onnz’ time on Mars, his decision to take on the role of a human detective, and the mystery that unites both periods, as becomes even more clear in Martian Manhunter #9.

It also introduced one of the most terrifying new DC villains in years, Charnn – a Martian serial killer trapped in a single form as punishment and determined to unlock his cells and regain his shapeshifting. The ongoing mystery of a teenage girl kidnapped by Charnn for experiments was finally explained last issue – she’s being turned into a Martian/human hybrid as part of the villain’s plan, and he intends to use humans’ natural healing ability to bond with his own cells. These reveals came fast and furious last issue, and have left J’onn and Detective Meade at a critical juncture in their mission. Now, to try to get the jump on Charnn before it’s too late, J’onn has decided to enter the villain’s mind on a dangerous psychic stealth mission.

Riley Rossmo is a brilliant horror artist and has delivered great art on both creator-owned and work-for-hire books, and he gets to show off more this issue than any previous one as J’onn explores a darker version of the mental plane. One of the best things Orlando has done in this series is exploring the darker side of Mars, and the reveal of exactly how Charnn got to Earth and survived all this time adds a new wrinkle to the story. Detective Meade, one of the best new characters introduced to the DCU in a while, doesn’t have much to do this issue besides express her support, but the evolution of her complex friendship with J’onn has been one of the highlights of the series. Despite the tense segments taking place on the mental plane, this issue feels like it’s the calm before the storm. The final showdown with Charnn is coming, and it looks like Orlando and Rossmo are going to deliver a modern DC classic.

A new martian? Via DC Comics.

Corrina: Whenever people used to ask me what DC property that I’d like to see as a television series, I’d always say “Martian Manhunter but make it a detective noir-style story and spooky and atmospheric.”

This miniseries would be exactly the kind of television show that I crave. The only drawback is that no live-action series could recapture Rossmo’s depiction of Martians, the good and the bad, and the insane landscapes of J’onn and Carnn’s minds.

Martian Manhunter #9 is where we finally see how these two plots–the Martian and the human–intersect. J’onn even says he has to face what happened on Mars in order to stop what’s happening on Earth. I tend to be wary of flashbacks in my fiction–they’re so often overused–but this series’ flashbacks to Mars have worked perfectly, both as glimpses of who J’onn used to be, and to set up the present plot on Earth. I cannot wait to read the conclusions but I hope Meade survives because she’s fantastic. That the story allowed her to doubt and be angry with J’onn makes her trust of him resonate that much more.

And now this creative team might be tops on my list to revitalize Sandman Mystery Theatre.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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