By d. emerson eddy — I often spotlight a comic starting a new arc, launching with a new #1 issue, standing alone as a contained story, or ranking as the finale of a series. I do this because it's easy to talk about a jumping on point or a finished arc as a whole. It gives you a good amount of material to write about in order to entice readers into the world that the creators are building. It's not as easy to pick something in the middle of things, but I realize that's somewhat to the detriment of those stories. Random chapters somewhere in an arc need loving too. This is an idea that seems to have infected me this week, and so I’m writing about Martian Manhunter #4.
I've been enjoying this series from the beginning, exploring deep into J'onn J'onzz's early history on Earth and his life on Mars, but it has been getting even better with each subsequent issue.
The main draw is the breathtaking artwork from Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia. Rossmo has a style that is strikingly unique. Extremely stylized, I think the closest comparison would be that it’s somewhere in the ballpark of Kyle Baker interpreted by Jhonen Vasquez. Weird, but gorgeous, shapes that coalesce into visual storytelling that perfectly fits the ever-changing and fluid world of the last survivor of a race of shapeshifters. This issue, that fluidity is used brilliantly as J'onn continues to try to track a serial kidnapper through mimicking the thought patterns and shape of the kidnapped girl's pet iguana. We get a kind of kaleidoscope meets collage of imagery from Rossmo with a psychedelic, hallucinatory color scheme from Plascencia that perfectly captures the alien thought processes of an iguana. It's incredibly well done.
Though the book is not only infectious with visuals alone, there's also the wonderful character-building and idea-seeding from Steve Orlando. He's great at crafting some dark and depraved villains and worldscapes, as shown in the Lord Preceptor in Electric Warriors and the entire worlds of Crude and Dead Kings, and he does so again with the kidnapper here. The identity of the kidnapper is a surprise, so I won't spoil the reveal, but the voice that the character is given is chilling and creepy, bringing a twisted idea to life. Which itself is embodied through the lettering from Deron Bennett's studio Andworld Design, that shifts and changes, with as much beautiful coloring as the art, and angry red thoughtforms for the kidnapper.
Overall, Martian Manhunter has been off to an intriguing start and it's growing even stronger with this issue as the mystery builds, as J'onn J'onzz's past and present collide. Great work all around from Orlando, Rossmo, Plascencia, and Andworld Design.
Martian Manhunter #4
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.