Monday, April 11, 2022

Action Comics #1041 (May, 2022)

At the abandoned Casino Riviera, J'Onn J'Onzz confronted his past with the once thought "extinct" Vulture cartel. Inside, plainclothes officers Fox and Certa were led at gunpoint by masked men, until their heads were banged together by "The Alien Atlas!" The Manhunter was surprised someone as young as Fox knew that nickname. "My granddad told me about it." When the Martian Marvel told the cops to clear out for their own safety, the veteran Detective Certa knew enough about supers to believe him.

The Sleuth from Outer Space cemented the basic set-up of his late House of Mystery stories as modern canon: French Riviera, retirement of John Jones, Marco Xavier, et cetera. The one major new wrinkle was that he also meant to "Determine what, if any, connection they may have to Gotham's Court of Owls. The iconography is too close to be a coincidence."

Fighting his way to the casino floor, the Manhunter was reintroduced to Professor Hugo, Faceless, and a bunch of kids in Vulture masks called "The Wake." Hugo had devised a "neuro-scrambler" that can fry the brain of a Martian and cause him to cycle through his identities (like Bloodwynd) uncontrollably. The villains were all furious with Manhunter for having discarded them as "insignificant details. Easy to toss away, to forget when we no longer fit the story you wanted to tell. The life you wanted to live." Meta.

"A Face in the Crowd: Part Five" was by Shawn Aldridge and Adriana Melo. No story has ever done more to honor the entire history of the Martian Manhunter, especially the Silver Age material, as this serial. Including the quality of Jack Miller's plotting that felt like it was written on a napkin during a liquid lunch. It was practically written specifically for me, and being me, I still have to poke it in the eye with a stick. It's my nature.