Monday, July 31, 2023
"Enough! You have more important things to think about. This may be your last cycle before it passes away forever. J'Onzz is back among the living, and he is the last one. Do you really think now is the time to disappear-- submerge yourself inside their meat again?"
"But I am still so empty-- all those years of loneliness-- a lie of the mind to stay sane--"
"Now is the time to rise and do what the core of your being demands-- you must be fulfilled."
"And I will be. Buy if I can't have these lives at this moment, then I'll simply take them."
"Since your last submersion there's been the appearance of another. Someone who may capture his attention-- before we do."
"That won't happen... because I'll pay her a visit." This twisted creature set off in flight, having decapitated the young man and crushed the skull of the lady.
Detecting a "nagging familiarity" to the killer's m.o., the Manhunter reached out to the Teen Titans, with Superboy reporting that M'gann M'orzz was on "walkabout." In the Tanami Desert, Australia, J'Onzz found Miss Martian's getaway pad, the heroine herself brutalized. Dangling in a downward recline, covered in purple blood, half in White Martian and half Miss Martian form...
"Dead Zone" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. Following a two month absence, Martian Manhunter(!) was the David Finch cover-featured star, with an altered version of his 2006 logo. The splash page is glorious, certainly one of Gleason's best images of Manhunter and overall.
Monday, July 24, 2023
In Pearl River, New York, at Rockland County Morgue, J'Onn J'Onzz observed the flayed bodies of the massacred family. Finding a dog hair on their clothes, he tracked their absent family dog to the Rockland County Animal Shelter. In its memory, J'Onn saw a corrupted Martian figure stripping off the skins of the family members. He then took the dog to keep Melissa Erdel company, having wiped its memory of the trauma.
"Revelations" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.
Monday, July 17, 2023
The exact same scenario had played out in the previous issue, where a Black man working at a fish market was triggered by news of Aquaman's return, and murdered everyone at the shop with a knife. For a moment, especially with the TV shot of Aquaman, I thought the writers might have been playing at some sort of mass hysteria event related to Blackest Night that obfuscated the exact triggers/targets. But then I remembered that the man was revealed as Black Manta at the end of the issue, and the woman hissed J'Onzz's name after her homicidal episode, so their individual obsessions were never in doubt. They were just repeating the exact same gory, exploitative plot element in unrelated circumstances. Or put simply, writing poorly, which can happen with fatigue toward the end of a biweekly group collaborative maxi-series, but a severe warning sign on the third issue out of 25+. The exact murder weapons were an electric slicer, drum sticks, and a toy guitar/game accessory, in case you were curious.
On a moonlit flight, Melissa was willing to tell her story, if "Dad" could just help her remember. "I remember when you first showed me the stone tablet you found in the ancient ruins of that Aztec temple when you were a boy... I can still hear the wonder in your voice when you told me the same bedtime story every night of how space travelers from the red star once visited our planet and helped an ancient people survive and thrive. Once you had it translated it became your life-- our life-- and I was glad Mom left-- She never understood what we were trying to do-- All she saw was an obsession-- and all we saw was the future... but the future was pain... and horror. We should have run, Dad. We should have run as fast as we could. But we didn't. Because intertwined in all our fear was hope... Hope that somehow peace and understanding would win that terrible night. But it didn't. All our dreams of reaching out to a new world... only put our in jeopardy."
Albert Einstein was also a scientist, often attributed the quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." For instance, unleashing an alien xenomorph, shrugging, then tapping on another egg in hopes you'll get lucky and find a Kryptonian instead of a facehugger in that one. Writ large, it would also apply to revising Martian Manhunter's origin as a way in for new readers instead of telling, I dunno, an actual new story? We're not all Melissa Erdel over here. Also, notice how I put those little two-finger wave things on either side of phrases in which I'm directly quoting someone? Might want to try it sometime. One of my particular writing quirks is overly long sentences, arguably in need of better structure or truncation, but it's a conscious stylistic choice on my part. This reads like a child all sugared-up on Pixie Stix whose every sentence is a paragraph of nonsense. How exactly was Erdel "protecting" his daughter by having her in the same house where he's trying to manifest an opposite number against SIL from Species, in line of vision so that she could be blinded, and less than a stone's throw distance because an actual chunk of debris flew into her brain? Saul tackled J'Onn to "save" him from the explosion, but forgets to tell the Martian in a lab ablaze, "Oh hey, can you do me a solid and make sure my adult daughter gets out of here safely?" I assume that her childlike recollection is from the brain damage, and that she was not in fact a teenager imperiled and disabled as a result of her father's negligence.
"Nuclear Options" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. Yeah, nuclear options are indeed looking good at this stage. "Stop me before I retcon again." The art was much better this time, more in line withn his excellent, undervalued Aquaman run.
Monday, July 10, 2023
"Second Chances" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. While I was pleased that J'Onn had made a swift return from his stunt death, as he settled into his narrative within the quasi-anthology, I found the direction wanting. I had really enjoyed Fernando Pasarin art in the initial shared section with the Green Lanterns in #1, only to be succeeded by Pat Gleason delivering some of his worst art to this date. I guess someone felt the need to reenforce J'Onn's ties to Earth after the Coneheadhunter offered a brief and mostly overlooked reembrace of his Martian identity, but I don't think the fandom needed this. Given the state of Earth even then, wasting vital resources on Martian nostalgia just made J'Onn look foolish, and spun his narrative wheels at a point where he desperately needed traction.