REVIEW: Martian Manhunter #1

STORY BY: Rob Williams
ART BY: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira

You got to feel sorry for poor old J’onn J’onzz.  For a number of years he has been a stalwart member in the Justice League, including Justice League Detroit and has had a number of mini series previously.  So how did the Nu 52 repay him?  By putting him on Stormwatch, before moving onto Justice League of America. Now, in the aftermath of Convergence , we have another go at a solo series.

The book opens with an interesting meeting of some kids and Mister Biscuits.  Long time fans will know the relevance of biscuits and it is nice little touch.  From there, we get the first of a number of violent acts by a terrorist group called The Epiphany.  It’s during this initial interaction, do we get to see J’onn at both his most powerful and his most fragile.martian

Writer Rob Williams seems happy to walk this line between self assured and self doubt, which fits in with the character.  J’onn has always been an outsider, his shape changing ability acting like a metaphor to his attempt to fit into the world around him, regardless if it’s with humans or super-humans.  Williams is veteran of 2000A.D and as such, the different style of writing British sci-fi clearly shows through; his villains of the piece are suitably scary, creating a level of paranoia that is quite pervasive, especially as we begin to feel the seemingly self distrust exhibited by J’onn.

Ed Barrows is the veteran artist, adding to the aforementioned style with equally dark pencils.  I have seen Barrows work sporadically, I have the Birds of Prey issues he has done and I can’t say that the work was memorable.  For the most part I enjoyed the art, the only exception being the cameo of Justice League members, which seems a little flat.  Still there is more than even good stuff to give the benefit of the doubt.  Helping with the overall feel is some clean work from inker Eber Ferreira and some excellent colours from Tom Napolitano.

This book is off to a solid start.  It is easy to forget how powerful J’onn is.  He can stand toe to toe with Superman, even before Superman got de-powered.  I would like to see more if him, but always feel that DC don’t know what to do with him.  At his best, J’onn acts very much like a conscience for the people around him  Without that interaction, high and noble can get a tad boring.  I would love to see J’onn get the recognition he deserves as a mainstay of the DC universe and this book is strong step in that direction.

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