It's all come down to this! The monstrous Charnn has unleashed his army of mercenaries on the town of Midleton to harvest bodies to be brutally transformed into ersatz Martians, and only J'onn J'onzz and Detective Diane Meade stand in his way!
Splitting up, Meade rallies the remainder of the local police force to defend the locals...
...while J'onn confronts Charnn directly in a physical and psychic duel, with the life of Ashley Adams (transformed fully into a Martian!) hanging in the balance!
The Eisner-caliber creative team of Steve Orlando, Riley Rossmo, and Ivan Plascencia fire on all cylinders this issue, the penultimate of the miniseries. Now that J’onn has successfully made peace with his past and is operating at peak strength, he can bring his full abilities to bear against Charnn. Orlando isn’t afraid to get into rip-roaring territory right off the bat (well, after a humorous aside wherein Meade informs J’onn that maybe he ought to put on some pants).
The “you and me against the world” trope is well-worn territory, but Orlando works it just right, playing both J’onn and Meade to their inherent strengths. Meade rallies the troops and saves the town, keeping a foot in the real world; J’onn goes to fight the monster. Charnn throws psychic images of his dead wife and daughter at him to throw him off-guard but these tricks don’t work; later in the issue he pulls a trick out of his hat though that is a far less cliched maneuver that might change the course of the battle.
J’onn is appropriately startled to see that Ashley Addams has been transmogrified into a Martian. Presumably, she is meant to become Miss Martian, although none of the issues leading up to this moment suggest that except via general association. Amidst the chaos of confrontation, though, there’s a nice, slowed-down moment where J’onn, confronted with the confusing reality of Ashley’s existence, suddenly realizes, “I’m not alone.” That realization is stark and pure, and is all over J’onn’s expression.
Riley Rossmo is favoring a cartoonier take on his usual style this issue, eschewing the creeping horror vibe of previous issues and amping up the caricature. At this point in the series, fans are either going to dig his art or not; switching approaches really isn’t going to change any hearts or minds. Some of Rossmo’s panels are wonky to the point of off-putting, though: witness J’onn’s non-foot on page four for a prime example of this:
C’mon, Riley. You’re better than stuff like this.
Martian Manhunter rockets to its penultimate chapter, with great authorial execution. The art has slipped a little bit, though, to the point of occasional distraction. Hopefully, Rossmo is merely preparing to pull out all the stops for the grand finale. This series hasn't been for everyone, but has been a unique meditation on guilt, identity, and the weight of secrets. Don't miss out!
Martian Manhunter #11 (of 12): Gazing Into the Abyss
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
- Art - 6/106/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10