Emphasis on the 'hunter' now.

*The new week inevitably brings new comics - this one will be out on Wednesday.

Martian Manhunter #1 (of 8)

Perhaps the most immediately notable thing about this new DC miniseries, yet another project previewed in Brave New World and sent out into the universe to live for a limited time, is that it actually interacts with the aforementioned preview, repeating nearly a whole page of material wholesale and doing a decent job of clarifying the often jumbled action of that initial piece. And I’m sure you can appreciate the perverse quality inherent to such happening - a preview ought to capture the reader’s attention and make them desire a particular book, in the way that Brave New World did for The All New Atom. In this case, not only did the preview for Martian Manhunter not encourage the reading of the pursuant miniseries, it only really sprang to life after reading the first issue of said miniseries itself. Up is down and black is white.

There’s also reversals going on in this debut issue’s story, which sees the titular green superhero shuck off the constraints of human society, elongate his head into a more Mars-natural form, expound at length via caption on his personal anxieties, slip into a scarier costume, and generally act as an all-new, all-pissed-off badass since he's discovered that dirty humankind has been hiding away Martian survivors for use in weapons research. Needless to say, everything he thought he knew was wrong, nothing can be the same, oh what a fool he was to trust in anyone's good nature, every day is rainy, etc. Beatings (as seen in Brave New World!) are duly handed out as the Manhunter tries to track down a green escapee, and encounters a dread conspiracy of some sort.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the title character. Actually, I know very little about his past, or what the events of this issue mean in the grand scheme of things. I'll leave any discussion of how any of this relates back to prior stories to those better equipped. But hey, it's the first issue of a miniseries, right? It ought to be easy for new readers to slide on in, right? And it is easy here - I certainly never felt that I was missing any tremendously vital backstory at any point. It's enough to know the title character is (forgive me) alienated, and on the search for others like him. Everything a new reader needs for basic comprehension are right inside. But actually caring about what's understood - well, that's something else.

Stripped of any substantial familiarity with the title character's history, all I'm left with is a bog-standard 'badass hero on a mission that will probably push him to the edge' introduction, complete with predictable personal tragedy to drive him, and cruel villains to taunt him; there's even a mysterious voice tempting Our Hero to join in on its shadowy cause, and a sequence wherein a sneering boss baddie has an underling killed for his failures. A.J. Lieberman scripts the whole thing with the requisite amount of angst and spittle ("Look at them. I've protected them since the moment I arrived on this planet. One doesn't have to be a telepath to know what they're thinking. I can see it on their faces. They're scared. Of me. Of how I look."), the plot points coming across with sufficient clarity and little flavor. Al Barrionuevo's pencils (inked by 'Bit') improve upon his Brave New World work, in that the staging never confuses and the action flows without impediment, a successfully ok look attained.

Hardly a terrible book, merely a dully competent one. If you're not already interested in the Martian Manhunter, I can't imagine this issue sparking much of anything inside of you, unless you starve for more grim sentinels in dark attire. Too many other comics to choose from for me.