Martian Manhunter #12 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Becoming the True Self
Ray: One of the best books DC has put out in recent years, Martian Manhunter #12 brings Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo’s sci-fi epic to a thoroughly satisfying close. After a year of buildup, it’s finally time for J’onn to face off with the sadistic Charnn, who has gained control over an army of vicious drug-runners. While Diane Meade and her fellow detectives fight for their lives, J’onn is forced to break free of a psychic prison to face the fleshbound monster in person. Charnn is a great example of how to write a villain who has genuinely suffered but is still an irredeemable monster. The Martian justice system is cruel, and J’onn realizing that is a big part of his character arc, but Charnn was a horror before his punishment and little has changed except his insanity has worsened. The action segments featuring Meade and her fellow officers are probably the least interesting part of the story, but that’s just because everything else involving the martians is so good.
Ashley, the young survivor who was turned into a martian hybrid by Charnn, has been mostly kept in the background but finally gets to take charge this issue and show what her new powers can do. She’s a fascinating character, and I wish she had gotten to have her own voice in this series a little more. But that comes back to my only complaint about this series – it doesn’t quite feel like it’s over. Oh, the main threat is neutralized with J’onn devising a genuinely inventive punishment for Charnn that neutralizes his threat. But the unique dynamic between J’onn and Meade, and his bond with Ashley (whose control over her powers seems to be tenuous) leaves so many stories untold. This is one of the most fascinating series I’ve read in a while, with a genuinely alien society and a host of original characters to fill out J’onn’s supporting cast. But with all of them so far in the past, I don’t know if they’ll ever be followed up on. I hope Orlando gets the opportunity to bring them back in another story.
Corrina: I wholeheartedly agree with Ray. Martian Manhunter has been one of the best books DC has put out in years, with a fantastic character arc for J’onn, as he comes to terms not only with being an alien on Earth but also with his mistakes from his life on Mars.
Martian Manhunter #12 is the type of satisfying conclusion that is so rare in superhero comics. Yes, there are some plots I’d love to see followed up but it’s a complete story, leaving J’onn with more confidence than before, it featured a terrific villain, and it created new supporting characters that I would love to see again. (Hint: this would make a fantastic adult drama for, say, HBO?) And Meade? How much do I love Meade? I love that she doubted J’onn once she found the truth, I love that she could examine why she did, and recognize that while J’onn isn’t the same as her late partner, he’s is, nonetheless, a person of worth. Meade’s just a force of nature in this small town, a woman who lives her unapologetic life.
No great story works completely without great art and Rossmo’s wonderful depictions of Mars, even of Martian sex, and his horrifying depictions of Charnn stand out, as do his various depictions of the crime scenes. The colors, too, have always burst forth, adding texture to life on Mars and horror to the scenes with Charnn. But perhaps the best color job is the different shades of green for J’onn and Ashley.
I hope this is all collected in a prestige edition.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.