In many ways Martian Manhunter is the least explored character with the highest potential in the DCU. He’s cold and unfamiliar, largely because his emotions are cold and his view of humanity is unfamiliar. He’s immensely powerful, yet kind at heart. In some ways you could compare him to Vision over in the Marvel universe. That makes me all the more interested in his featured play in this week’s Justice League, but is it good?
Justice League of America #5 (DC Comics)
This issue is all inside Martian Manhunter’s head as he assumes the role of a Japanese detective. He’s on the lookout for Martian cultists who are committing murders. Before he hops back into the role of Japanese detective though, the issue opens with him observing his JLA teammates.
Why does this book matter?
Manhunter is getting his own series soon so if you want a primer as to who this guy is this is the ideal place to start. This is also a done in one issue, so if you’re sick of long story arcs or event series this is a great place to get a quick and entertaining read from beginning to end.
So they’re having some kind of hero party?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Frankly everything is good about this issue. The book quickly gets us inside Martian’s head and shows us the lonely nature of his existence being on the JLA. His alienation is self-imposed due to his inability to relate to his human counterparts, but it’s also due to his deep-seated issue of being the last of his kind. Matt Kindt and Rob Williams write a very meaningful issue, largely because Martian’s pain and loneliness is so relatable.
Making his alien nature more apparent is a short sequence where Martian assumes the role of a Japanese detective. As he rolls into the office he’s pretending to be a person all the while ruminating on the immoral nature of pretending to be someone he is not. That’s captivating and it’s fun to investigate the character and his morose nature.
When he does stumble upon a crime scene things get very real very fast and the concept behind the villain is quite interesting. The idea that a serial killer alien that needs its victims to continue to live is interesting. Plus this villain has mind reading powers similar to Martian which makes for an exciting climax to their battle.
The art by Philip Tan to open the book is quite dirty and messy as you’d come to expect from him. In a way though this is an interesting choice as the pages he pencils are those with the JLA present. His pencils make the human characters seem even more foreign and disturbing. The remaining pages are penciled by Jeromy Cox and they suit the dark nature the story takes in Japan. Martian Manhunter looks fantastic and truly this is how superhero comics should look. The design of the villain in this issue is nightmarish and tribal which suits the powerset nicely.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Aside from some awkward art by Tan that can be forgiven as it suits the story? Pretty perfect.
Love this narration.
Is It Good?
A done in one story that delivers an effective psychological thriller and great narration? Sign me up. This is just as good as the awesomely disturbing and great Vision #1.