Martian Manhunter (2018-) #2
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
I’ve never been a big fan of Martian Manhunter. In a team setting like Justice League, sure he’s great. But I never really read a Manhunter solo that I really loved. Similar to characters like Hawkman, Manhunter’s mythology seems to radically change from writer to writer. This definitely makes it hard for Martian Manhunter stories to get going and tell really great stories, but it also makes it easy for new readers to jump on. Even though we’re only two issues into this story, Steve Orlando’s Martian Manhunter breaks the status quo of mediocre Manhunter stories and tells a unique and engaging story.
The best thing about Steve Orlando’s Martian Manhunter is his worldbuilding on Mars. Oftentimes, flashbacks can be a chore to read, but here they take center stage and don’t feel out of place. I was worried that the flashbacks from the last issue would portray John as a brutish police-officer, but this issue does a great job of showing the many different layers of John. Sure he might be corrupt, but he’s a family man and respects the citizens of Mars.
Each new idea Orlando brings to Mars feels so natural and adds layers of depth to the planet’s mythology. From ceremonies where Martian picks their social forms to museums that show how man has influenced the culture of Mars, every idea feels fresh and inventive. Even the way Orlando presents these concepts feels so natural. Instead of explaining what everything is, he very skillfully conveys the meaning through dialogue. Because Martian’s talk just like humans, we understand what they are talking about even though not everything is 100% explained.
And of course, Mars wouldn’t look half as amazing as it does if it wasn’t for Riley Rossmo. Rossmo’s art is perfect at capturing the bizarre and alien nature of Mars while making things still look practical. Rossmo’s depiction of Martian Manhunter is perfect for this story. John is surrounded by fire in this issue so we get see Rossmo draw the Martian as a malleable and melting figure.
I recommend this series for both new readers and long-time Martian Manhunter fans. Although the main story isn’t nearly as interesting as the Mars flashbacks, the story also hasn’t really got a chance to start yet. Instead, Orlando delves into the history of Mars in a way no other writer has before. Even if you aren’t a fan of Martian Manhunter, this series is worth it for Rossmo’s art alone. If this team can deliver this quality every issue, this series is sure to be a staple of recommended Martian Manhunter reading lists.
Steve Orlando brings his worldbuilding A-game in this issue with Riley Rossmo's beautiful pencils backing it up.