In its debut, Martian Manhunter introduced readers to a number of characters while simultaneously setting the stakes for the opening arc. Martian Manhunter #2 picks up immediately in the aftermath of the first issue as J’onn and Helen Demoff examine discuss J’onn’s fate. The two are quickly joined by Superman, who questions how J’onn knew about the terrorist attacks. J’onn’s answer is simple, yet disorienting: the terrorists used J’onn to plan them.
The issue transitions to Washington, D.C., where Mr. Biscuits, escorted by the young Alicia and her friends, moves from his hideout to the subway station. The unlikely group attracts a number of odd looks from the citizens they pass en route to their destination. Mr. Biscuits reveals himself to be an odd character, and rather than wait for the train, jumps on the tracks in search of it, only to find himself directly in the subway train’s path.
Just as Mr. Biscuits is about to get hit by the train, the issue cuts to Dubai, where the thief, Pearl, runs from a growing number of alien thugs. She runs as quickly as she can, using her agility and tech to evade her pursuers. But, in the end, she is ultimately cornered. The issue then cuts back to J’onn and Superman, and it is here that the action really heats up.
J’onn has decided that the only way to solve the terrorist problem is to kill himself, and he plans to use Helen Demoff’s machine to do him. Irritated by his friend’s secrecy, Superman confronts J’onn, starting a fight between the two. J’onn reveals himself to be much more than Superman anticipated, and soon, the rest of the Justice League joins in. What started as a disagreement, quickly becomes an action packed brawl as J’onn fights his friends so that he can make the ultimate sacrifice…
In its second installment, Martian Manhunter makes some good improvements. The script by Rob Williams is a bit more focused this issue, focusing primarily on the conflict between J’onn and the Justice League. There’s a few twists and turns to the story here that play out well, and hint at the overall connection between J’onn, Mr. Biscuits, and Pearl. While J’onn gets the largest focus, the interaction between the eccentric Mr. Biscuits and the young Alicia steals the issue yet again, and as Mr. Biscuits begins to move in pursuit of his unknown goal, readers get a better idea as to his character.
The artwork by penciler Eddy Barrows and inker Eber Ferreira utilizes deep blacks to maintain a darker, more sci-fi feel. Even when the Justice League shows up, the book never abandons its style to match the tone of a superhero comic. Colorist Gabe Eltaeb contributes greatly to this, relying on darker and more muted colors to help emphasize the blacks of the inking.
While Martian Manhunter #2 does plenty right, it also fails to differentiate itself from the plethora of other science-fiction stories being told in modern comics. At this point in the story, there’s no particular reason for this to be a J’onn J’onnz story as opposed to say, Green Lantern. That isn’t to say that writer doesn’t have a grasp on J’onn’s voice, just that the story at hand hasn’t yet relied on him being the protagonist in any significant way. Part of the cause for this is the split between the three storylines. While the events of this issue hint at their larger connection to the story, the sections with Mr. Biscuits and Pearl have both been fun, yet inconsequential subplots. As the three stories begin to come together, however, the series will likely find its own voice.
Martian Manhunter #2 builds on its predecessor in some fun ways, with developments that reveal both character and allow for some great action. The script by Rob Williams has some solid twists, and the art by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Gabe Eltaeb makes for an atmospheric read. The one thing holding Martian Manhunter back is that it hasn’t quite found its own selling point. There are a number of great science fiction books on comic book racks, and Martian Manhunter may need to draw more heavily on the special qualities of its cast to stand out from the pack.