I am not a big fan of this character/comic, but I have a good friend who is and so I wanted to read it and become a little more familiar with the character. I will be interested in what he thought of this book.
Not knowing the character well, what I see here is a character conflicted with his origins and his goal or current pursuits. Was he a victim of an alien genocide, or a creation to be a weapon. Is he intended to be a hero to Earth, or a means for its destruction?
The scope here is massive, with the potential end result being the destruction of the planet earth. There are other aliens … other Martians? … in the mix, and it seems that even the planet Mars is embodied to facilitate an attack. And fighting against and for J’onn J’onzz are other heroes, some whom I have never heard of before this (not a big surprise since I’m not a huge reader of superhero comics any more). There is also a biscuit eating alien who is sort of a “Forrest Gump” who has befriended a young human girl. and there is some old superhero who is living on an island.
But there’s a little more to this. Some of these others are also J’onn J’onzz. That’s right, I said that some of these other characters are also J’onn J’onzz. Whereas I have known he has certain talents, including the ability to shape-shift, I did not know he could divide different parts of his being and send them into different bodies. At least … I think that’s what I’m seeing here.
The story is a wild ride and numerous times I felt shades of the old Marvel title, Doctor Strange, with a lot of other-worldly, unexplained things happening that seem to make perfect sense to books’ titular hero. Even the art often evoked Gene Colon, Frank Miller, and Frank Brunner.
But this is DC and the Martian Manhunter. And unless you’ve following the character for a while, I suspect you’ll be as lost as me.
The first part of the book, with J’onn heading to the moon to check in on some astronauts because earth lost contact with them, was pretty straightforward and interesting. But once J’onn is attacked the story takes on a dream-like quality with the Martian Manhunter, as we see him confused and manic and fighting against members of the Justice League (who are barely recognizable). It spirals a little out of control from there.
What I am finding is that in the world of comic books and on-going superhero stories, if you aren’t already following a title, it is almost impossible to jump in. Too much has happened to be able to follow along easily. I had hoped that since this was Volume 1, there would be enough background information to grasp what I needed to know. I don’t think that’s the case here. There was a sense of something that I thought I could really like, but not being a previous follower of the series there was too much that was foreign to me.
Looking for a good book? Martian Manhunter, Vol. 1: Epiphany, is a graphic novel in which the stakes are high and the battles are fierce, but unless you already know what’s going on, you may not want to jump right in here (even though it is a #1).
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Martian Manhunter Vol. 1: The Epiphany
author: Rob Williams
artist: Eddy Barrows
publisher: DC Comics
paperback, 160 pages