Deconstruction may prove to be the trend that will define this period of comic book history. We’ve recently had Tom King’s run on Mister Miracle, plus Margaret Stohl’s Life of Captain Marvel, both excellent titles. Now, Martian Manhunter #2 continues writer Steve Orlando’s wonderfully-inventive exploration of a character that is so often pushed to the sidelines in the DC main roster.
J’onn’s disguise fails following the accident at the end of our last issue, exposing his true form to his partner. J’onn grapples with whether to erase her memory in the present. Concurrently, we see extended glimpses of his past life as both a cop and a family man back on his home world, plus anxious hints at the coming cataclysm that will eventually render J’onn the last son of Mars.
As mentioned above, deconstructing and exploring J’onn J’onzz as a character is at the heart of Martian Manhunter #2.
An extended flashback to J’onn’s past life on Mars occupies half of the book. This offers perhaps the most fleshed-out glimpse we’ve ever had of Martian society. We learn more about their customs, physiology, and way of life. More than anything, though, it provides a look at what made J’onn the Manhunter we know today.
There are no real surprises to be had; we already know the story of J’onn’s past won’t end happily. Despite that, you can’t help feeling the tension mount as H’ronmeer’s Curse starts to impact Martian society. Martian Manhunter #2 does a great job of laying on the dread.
From an artistic standpoint, the Martian segments were standout moments in the first issue. With much of Martian Manhunter #2 centered there, Riley Rossmo’s designs really get the chance to shine.
Rossmo’s work on the issue centers around lots of fluid and rounded figures, giving it a nicely-stylized, cartoonish vibe. Even under that, though, you still get an appreciation for the brilliantly-creative design work. We’ve seen comparatively little of DC’s Mars in the past. Thus, the artist enjoys carte blanche to invent the aesthetics of Martian society as he goes.
The colors play an important role in that process, too. Earth is marked by muted, naturalistic tones. However, this contrasts with Ivan Plascencia’s wildly creative, alien colors for the Martian segments.
Martian Manhunter #2 takes everything that was great in the first issue and expands on it. This may prove to be one of the best limited-run titles of 2019.