Martian Manhunter #4 sees the series hit full stride as J’onn moves the separate pieces of his consciousness towards one another in order to fight off the other Martians.
The issue opens quietly enough in a flashback as Agent Wessel sits on the steps to the Congress drinking a morning coffee. After being reminded of his alien qualities lying beneath the surface, the issue cuts to Pearl who is trying to evade the alien attackers that have been pursuing her since the series debut. She is visited by a telepathic image of Martian Manhunter who guides her through her escape off her ship and into the Indian Ocean.
As Pearl descends deeper into the ocean waters, Agent Wessel, joined by Mr. Biscuits and the young Alicia, does his best to evade the Martian Man-Eater, a monstrous being intent on consuming them in order to draw out the pieces of J’onn J’onzz within.
One of the great things about Martian Manhunter #4 is that it serves as a big payoff for the previous issues. The use of multiple protagonists had made prior chapters seem fairly disjointed, but that setup contributes greatly to the enjoyment of this issue. By taking the time to establish the characters, writer Rob Williams is able to create not only bigger emotional stakes, but fun moments of interaction between them as they come together. The banter between Wessel and the young Alicia is particularly entertaining. And as the protagonists becomes more endearing, it becomes easier to invest in them and worry for them as they go through dangerous situations.
Eddy Barrows leads a talented art team that add another level to the story. Barrows chooses the angles for his artwork in a way that really sells the mood, using extreme close-ups to heighten tension, and using long vertical panels to give a sense of scale. His lines not only make for good facial expressions, but there’s some really nice action as Mr. Biscuits and Wessel face the Man-Eater. Eber Ferreira does a fantastic job inking Barrows’ lines, using deep blacks to create a detailed, but grim foundation for colorist Gabe Eltaeb. Eltaeb’s colors are fantastic. His palette feels very natural, and his subtle blending of different colors to create skin tones really makes the characters feel like living beings. The sequences on Mars are handled in a different style, which almost resembles colored pencil, but it fits the tone of the book and the alien quality of J’onn’s homeworld.
With an exciting and emotional script by Williams brought to life by Barrows, Ferreira, and Eltaeb, there isn’t much that can be improved on in Martian Manhunter #4.
After disjointed early issues, Martian Manhunter hits full stride in its fourth outing. By bringing together the disparate cast, Rob Williams develops some great character moments that speak, not only to these protagonists as individuals but to the many good qualities of J’onn J’onzz. Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Gabe Eltaeb have always provided this series with great art, but their narrative skills as a team really lend an intensity to not only the action, but the overall tone of the book. Martian Manhunter is part superhero, part sci-fi, and part-horror, and most importantly, good storytelling.