MARTIAN MANHUNTER #12
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Andworld Designs
Publisher: DC Comics
J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter has been around for years and hasn't always gotten the recognition he deserves. He's a founding member of the Justice League and is widely considered the "heart" of the League. Over the course of the past 12 issues, Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo have given us one of the most unique takes on the character yet. It's the perfect blend of sci-fi, noir and just pure insanity.
This story took place in the past, before J'onn joins the Justice League during the time he spent as a detective in Colorado. From the first issue it was clear, that this wasn't going to be your usual "superhero" book. Martian Manhunter was a character that up until now has been long considered, "B-List". Well, Steve and Riley proved those people wrong and showed everyone just how important Martian Manhunter is.
This series has really dove into what make J'onn so special. He hasn't always been perfect and has a lot of regret and shame about things he's done in the past, but through all that adversity he becomes the hero we all know and love today. That is what has made this such a unique book, Orlando really pulled back all the curtains and took us deep into the mind of J'onn. Like most of us we all have things we regret, and it really makes him more "human" than ever.
With the final battle between him and Charnn taking everything he's got, J'onn uses every ounce of strength to overcome his feelings of self doubt. After a lengthy battle, J'onn perseveres and shows why he's such a powerful character. While all this is going on his partner, Diane, and the rest of the police department are fighting for their lives.
Finally, coming to peace with who he is, we see the true Martian Manhunter that we all know and love take form. He rushes to their aide along with Ashley Addams who is now a Martian hybrid as well, thanks to Charnn. Making quick work of their enemies J'onn reveals himself to the entire PD. It was shocking to say the least but definitely could have led to some interesting stories if this were an ongoing series.
Throughout this series Steve has captivated all of us by taking us on one of the most unique character studies I've ever seen in comics. He fleshed out a backstory that we never really got to see before, even introducing a new character in Diane Meade. The relationship between those two was really the heart of this book, and in my mind was why I loved it so much. He took J'onn on a road of redemption and self discovery, and made him an even more interesting character in the process.
Rossmo's art was perfectly suited for a book of this nature. From the depiction of Mars and martian powers, to the emotionally charged scenes between characters, this was one of the most visually stunning books that came out last year. Plus you compliment that art with the coloring of Plascencia and the art seems to come alive like an otherworldy acid trip.
This book is something we don't always see at DC and is something that I wish we could get more of. It's creative risks like this, where something really special is created, and the reward is in the amazing product we all got.