For the first time since being replaced in the Justice League by Cyborg (a decision obviously based more in politics rather than artistic choice), J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, finally gets his due in a brand new DC title that actually bears his name. Sure, he had appeared as a member of Stormwatch and the JLA, but he finally takes center stage here. And while his origin story gets tweaked a bit, the issues presented in Volume 1 – “Epiphany” deliver a story that gets a lot right, especially the loyal, caring nature of the “last” Martian. And the artwork is amazing too!
Early on in this graphic novel collection, J’onn makes a startling discovery while assisting NASA on the moon. As memories of his past come flooding back, J’onn heads back to Earth to try to head off an alien invasion that would leave Earth lifeless. As the Earth descends into chaos, J’onn splits his personality into different forms across the globe in an attempt to keep the invaders’ greatest weapon from being unleashed. This all might sound a bit similar to Man of Steel, but that’s only thanks to the spoiler-free nature of this review. It gets a lot weirder!
As the different aspects of J’onn’s personalities try to halt Earth’s invasion, we meet Mr. Biscuits, a spindly fellow with an ever present sweet tooth. He’s basically J’onn’s subconsciousness, is about 8 feet tall, and somehow enjoys Paul Blart films. Oh, and his cane naturally doubles as nunchakus. Through Mr. Biscuits we see the compassion of the Martian Manhunter, and a willingness to sacrifice at all costs. This is what has always made J’onn Jonzz a compelling character. He’s more powerful than Superman, but is more often seen as the soul, rather than the muscle, of the Justice League, and writer Rob Williams has brought this soul back where it belongs.
We also get a rare real cliffhanger at the end of this book. So often while reading comics, there’s no sense of peril, because the good guys always win in some sort of way that is at least semi-foreseeable. That’s not the case here!
If you’re a fan of Martian Manhunter, read this book. If you don’t know anything about him, this is a great jumping on point. You’ll really get the essence of the character and what makes him one of DC’s greatest, albeit under-appreciated, characters.
4 out of 5 stars.