The last survivor of Mars seeks out another of his kind, but things don’t go quite the way he planned… Your Major Spoilers review of Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian Special #1 awaits!
Writer: Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Jerome Moore
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Marie Javins
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian: “Martian Manhunter tries to halt Marvin the Martian’s determination for world domination. J’onn is conflicted with his own Martian identity as he attempts to stop the hapless, determined Marvin from blowing Earth to bits in order to gain a clear view of Venus…”
A LUDICROUS PREMISE
We open with Martian Manhunter (still wearing his gladiator-inspired New 52 costume, but having reverted to his old-school beetle-browed head) reactivating the Erdel Gate that brought him to Earth, in response to a telepathic distress message in his native language. The gate opens to reveal… Marvin, a Martian unlike any he has ever seen. The two Martians bond briefly before they realize that they have a fundamental disagreement about things: J’onn wants to protect the Earth, while Marvin wants to blow up all up, and has brought along a few bits of technology to make that job easier. The bulk of the issue is a running conversation between our Martians, with some battles between superhuman powers and technical prowess, ending with J’onn ruminating that all he really wanted was to reconnect with another member of his race. There’s also a cartoon-derived short backup story, drawn in the classic Looney Tunes style, that frankly makes J’onn utterly terrifying to look at…
“BEHOLD! THE ILLUDIUM Q-36 EXPLOSIVE SPACE MODULATOR!”
The recent DC/Hanna Barbera crossover issues were fun at least in part due to the ridiculousness of them: The Banana Splits alongside The Suicide Squad, f’rinstance, was frenetic and more than a little dumb, but it tried to bring something new to the page. This book, while energetic, never really finds its legs, trying to balance the psychological story of J’onn J’onzz dealing with his sense of loss while a faceless cartoon in a gladiator hat tries to blow up the world. Neither portion of the story really meshes with the other (although seeing J’onn in the Bugs Bunny role in the backup story is kind of fun), but it makes for an okay story, and Lopresti’s art is lovely throughout. The most difficult part of the whole issue for me, though, comes in knowing exactly what Marvin sounds like, without being able to do the same for J’onn. (The Keith David voice just doesn’t work with this dialogue, sadly.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: FUN, BUT EPHEMERAL
All in all, this issue isn’t a bad one, just not one that achieves the full potential of such a goofy concept, instead trying too hard to stay in continuity for the current version of the Martian Manhunter and ending up feeling inconsequential. Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian Special #1 is still fun, though, with excellent art in both parts of the tales and a story that’s just sort of okay, earning a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. I would have enjoyed seeing more humor, but I suppose that it’s not a natural state for the Martian Manhunter character, either…
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