REVIEW: ‘Martian Manhunter,’ Issue #12 – “Champion and Chief”

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Martian Manhunter #12

Martian Manhunter #12, “Champion and Chief,” is published by DC Comics, written by Steven Orlando, with art by Riley Rossmo, colors by Ivan Plascencia, and lettering by Deron Bennett. Previously, J’onn J’onzz was locked in a battle to the death with the Martian Char’nn while young Ashley Addams stared in horror as her savior went toe to toe with her captor. Addams, a once human girl, has now been transformed into a fully-fledged Martian and struggles to deal with her newfound abilities. Leveraging the opportunity of J’onn focusing on Ashley, Char’nn is able to anatomically reach into the Manhunter and freeze the Martian, sentencing him to an eternity of solitary confinement within his own mind.

Martian Manhunter #12 picks up immediately after the events of the prior issue with Jo’nn physically trapped, a slave inside his own head. As the Manhunter wanders the frozen wasteland of his inner mind, he can’t help but overhear the screams of Ashley Addams. This call to arms awakens the hero, who perilously fights his way out to battle Char’nn once more. The memories of his past, now unable to hurt him after having literally faced them and owned up to them, can do nothing more than to slightly slow his escape back to reality. Now the Manhunter must end this battle and save Middleton before it’s too late.

Martian Manhunter #12

The visual representation over these pages as J’onn scars his body escaping the freezing process, and essentially leading to his transformation into something new, was truly gratifying after reading through the 12 issue arc. I was worried for Rossmo and Plascencia, wondering if they had enough left in their tank to deliver the visuals they’d need to give this 12 issue arc the ending it so deserved.

They proved me wrong and blew this issue away. The combination of these two creators is such a symbiotic relationship. During the moments when J’onn first escapes the freezing process, the illustration depicts the Martian’s body torn and scarred, partially on fire. But, the colors are contrasted and muted as the color drains from him. You are able to tangibly perceive the injuries he’s sustained and what he’s fighting through. It delivers the impact of what Orlando is intending: a singular focus of rescuing Ashley Addams regardless of the cost.

Orlando’s arc has been impressive as hell. While I will refrain from saying much about the conclusion so as not to take away the satisfaction from eager readers, I believe he smashed this issue out of the park and back to Mars. The ending is brilliant and really delivers what has felt over the entire series like an underdog finding their voice and rising up to battle their oppressor.

Martian Manhunter #12

Through the series, there are so many themes of freeing oneself from inner demons, whether it be from grief or shame. Both Diane and J’onn are forced into situations where they must confront memories of their past for the greater good of solving the case and rescuing the missing children.

I’d be remiss not to mention the contributions of Andworld Design. The lettering has been of a highly consistent caliber of the arc of the series, and issue #12 is no exception to this. Each line of dialogue whether spoken, or mentally communicated, is easily identifiable and embodies the character that speaks it.

Orlando was able to give a new voice to the Martian Manhunter. By showing his weakness – showing his humanity – he allowed the character to be better understood, and thus it makes him feel 100 times more powerful than I ever viewed him before.

Get Martian Manhunter on your pull list and read it until you’re green in the face. This is a series I will recommend for a long time.

Martian Manhunter #12 is available in stores now.

Martian Manhunter #12
5

TL;DR

Orlando was able to give a new voice to the Martian Manhunter. By showing his weakness – showing his humanity – he allowed the character to be better understood, and thus it makes him feel 100 times more powerful than I ever viewed him before.

Get Martian Manhunter on your pull list and read it until you’re green in the face.