[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Deron Bennett
As J’onn J’onzz recovers from his wounds, hear the story of how Martian Manhunter became John Jones, this time from the Martian himself. Meanwhile, Ashley Addams is still missing and in a lot of danger.
We’ve heard the story before, even from J’onn J’onzz himself, but this time Steve Orlando, Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia, and Deron Bennett draw readers into the panels by bringing forth emotions powerful enough to make them feel as though they witnessed J’onn J’onzz become John Jones firsthand. Rossmo especially does not hold back when drawing J’onn, showing both J’onn and Diane’s perspectives. On one hand Diane’s looking at a sickly, olive-green, zombie-like version of her partner putting his heart back into his body. Its hard to feel anything but shock and horror when seeing a friend and confidant so horribly disfigured and still alive. J’onn, on the other hand, is literally falling apart as he realizes that nothing will ever be the same after this. J’onn trudges forward weak and in need of protein, and while Diane can barely stand to look at him, she helps him if only to satisfy her need for answers. And so begins Martian Manhunter’s journey to Thu’Ulc’Andra.
It starts with a beautiful double-page spread showing J’onzz being ripped away from his family across time and space. Rossmo and Plascencia create a visceral tearing effect that show the physical and emotional pain J’onn must have felt in that panel. The remaining panels on that page are jostled around and off-kilter to mimic J’onn’s disoriented state. What follows is an exemplary rendition of writing and art working in tandem to elevate the reader’s overall experience. Dr. Erdel’s written sense of wonder, pride, and fear are brought to life by his facial expressions, mannerisms, and Rossmo’s excellent small heart rate panels spread throughout the page, and Deron Bennett’s take on how humans interpret Martian language is a small but crucial and beautifully executed detail that encapsulates the entire experience.
As J’onn roams Earth lost, alone, and invisible, Plascencia’s translucent colors show readers how lonely and unwanted he must have felt. These are universal emotions that humans are always aware experiencing, portrayed in their most intense states by someone who feels it all. There is an entire world living without him in it until he senses John Jones’ distress. Rossmo does a great job showing what J’onn could have been on Earth: a being driven by rage that turns into a monster to invoke justice by evoking fear in others. As J’onn brings wrath upon the Good Huntsman, he transforms into a terrifying beast. J’onn brought justice, but then immediately turned to respectfully mourning the dead. The hyper-violent, rage-driven acts present the page before seamlessly give way to one of the most beautiful mourning rituals ever portrayed in comics. The exquisite double-page spread of J’onn inhabiting the life of John Jones can only be described as the most raw form of capturing someone’s essence. One just can’t help but stare at the life of a respected and distinguished man before them and be brought to tears.
As J’onn’s tale continues, a realization begins to emerge that J’onn’s life moving forward will never be the same and, for once, all is uncertain. This fear and uncertainty is brought to life by Rossmo and Plascencia through Diane’s fears projecting all around her. The distorted, glitching effect just adds to the sense of horror Diane must have felt. As the issue ends, the two go their separate ways, and the reader is left wondering what their relationship will become.
Towards the end of J’onn’s story, the tale gets a bit more dense and narration-heavy. There was a lot of mundanity once Martian Manhunter inhabited the persona of John Jones, but that may just be to symbolize a return to normalcy. It is also important to mention that this is a retelling of an origin story which may anger some, but it is done in a beautiful and unique way that adds a lot more to the tale of J’onn J’onzz.
In Martian Manhunter #3, Steve Orlando, Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia, and Deron Bennett, show how J’onn J’onzz became John Jones while capturing the rawest forms of human and martian essence.