Outside of TV’s Supergirl, Martian Manhunter is completely absent in popular culture, so it’s strange to see that his first appearance since DC Comics launched Rebirth over a year ago is in a Looney Tunes crossover special! In Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian Special #1, J’onn J’onzz meets another Warner Bros. intellectual property who also happens to be a Martian. Is this as funny as the classic Marvin The Martian shorts? Read on to find out.
Writer: Steve Orlando, Frank J. Barbiere, Jim Fanning
Artist: Aaron Lopresti, John Loter
Publisher: DC Comics
Here’s the official synopsis of the issue from DC Comics:
Martian Manhunter tries to halt Marvin the Martian’s determination for world domination. J’onn is conflicted with his own Martian identity as he attempts to stop the hapless, determined Marvin from blowing Earth to bits in order to gain a clear view of Venus. And the bonus Looney Tunes backup story features DC characters written by Jim Fanning with art by John Loter!
This $4.99 special features two stories. The first is “Best Intentions,” written by Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere with art from Aaron Lopresti (who also did the cover). The second is called “The (Next To The) Last Martian” by writer Jim Fanning and artist John Loter, and is done in a Looney Tunes cartoon-style.
“Best Intentions” begins with J’onn receiving what he thinks is a distress signal from another Martian, even though he’s the last Martian alive. He rebuilds the Erdel Gate to bring the other Martian to Earth and it turns out to be Marvin. But Marvin is a Martian of another universe and he wants to destroy Earth with his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator! J’onn has to convince Marvin that humanity should not be destroyed, even if humans don’t think highly of aliens.
The story is littered with wonderful references to Marvin, showing how ridiculous it is for the character to exist in a “realistic” (at least as realistic as a world with a Martian Manhunter can be) universe. As you read the story, it’s hard to avoid hearing Mel Blanc’s voice in your head, since Orlando and Barbiere utilize the best parts of the character. Lopresti has also found a way to bring Marvin’s expressions to life like in the cartoons, even though his head is just a black ball with eyes on it.
“The (Next To The) Last Martian” is targeted towards the kids in the audience, as it is drawn in a cartoony style. It’s a quick backup, with Marvin trying to figure out how to steal J’onn’s powers. That story is funny, but that design of J’onn in the Looney Tunes world is a little strange.
The idea of Looney Tunes characters meeting the DC Comics characters in “realistic” settings seems like an odd one, or one just to make sure the publisher has plenty of books hitting stores this week. But at least Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special was pulled off well. Orlando and Barbiere’s script might focus a little too much on the philosophical questions than funny confrontations between the two Martians, but they figured out a way to use the best of Marvin from the cartoons. Maybe this issue will at least inspire DC to finally introduce J’onn J’onzz in Rebirth.