The past has finally caught up with J’onn Jonzz, and it’s unleashing a whole worlds worth of pain upon the Martian in Martian ManhunterMartian Manhunter #5. The current issue, titled Lost In The Sky, is published by DC Comics, written by Steve Orlando, with art by Riley Rossmo, colors by Ivan Plascencia, and lettering by AndWorld Design.
In issue four, J’onn had unwittingly followed the clues of the Ashley Addams case right into the trap of Charnn, one of the only other surviving Martians from the planet Ma’aleca’andra, or more commonly known to us earthlings as Mars. Fittingly, we open up for the current issue with a flashback on the foreign planet, where we witness a hearing from the council of Manhunters. The accused, Cha’rnn O’zzm, has been sentenced to relinquish his shapeshifting ability for the rest of his existence. A punishment they refer to as being “frozen.”
It is a fascinating cultural concept to consider and Orlando continues to immerse us in the Martian society and their customs. For a race of people that have the ability to phase shift from solid to gas, fly, communicate telepathically, and shapeshift from birth, this consequence is considered the ultimate punishment. These abilities are considered a Martians’ innate ability of expression, to be whomever, or whatever they want to be. So when it’s taken away, this is a penalty that would carry a huge mental burden on the accused.
Not only has Charnn been locked into one form, a prisoner within his own flesh, but his skin has also been marked with a red pigmentation, signifying the color of a high felon, since he has been accused of attempting to spark a rebellion against the Manhunters, shape abuse, and memory theft. It’s likely we’ll continue to learn more of our villain’s past as the series moves forward and Orlando reinforces the corruption that’s run rampant within the Martian’s governmental system in the story.
It’s very clear through Martian Manhunter #5 how mentally powerful the villain is. Easily overpowering J’onn J’onzz and throwing him into a telepathic confinement of the Manhunter’s own worst fears. At one point it’s even referenced “This torture is of your own design.”
Not only is he powerful, but he understands the dangers of one’s own mind and the terrifying secrets we keep hidden away that when faced with, would reduce us to pieces. For J’onzz who’s been carrying around far too many secrets, it’s like lighting a match in a firework factory. Charnn, who has survived on earth for centuries, finally has a Manhunter to unleash all of his hate and fury upon. He is clearly enjoying his revenge.
I absolutely adore this series, and can’t recommend it quickly enough. The parallels in the story clearly highlight subjects such as individual insecurities, the restriction of expression, and being haunted by inner demons. It’s so humanizing and sadly relatable. The panel design and art by Rossmo elevate the tone and the arc that Orlando is telling.
One facet of this story I particularly love is the visual representation of the fluid nature of the Martian’s shapeshifting ability and how we see that manifest during moments of mental, and physical encounters. Additionally, the coloring from Plascencia is brilliant, as she clearly creates very separate contrasting palettes between Mars and Earth.
This is a team that is so evidently all moving towards the same goal, and working together fluently. I didn’t realize how eagerly I’ve been wanting to see a solo Martian Manhunter origin series. This is a series you definitely should be reading.
Martian Manhunter #5 is available now.
Martian Manhunter #5
Overall, I didn’t realize how eagerly I’ve been wanting to see a solo Martian Manhunter origin series. This is a series you definitely should be reading.