Review: Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special #1
Two very different “Last Martians” meet in the Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special. The stately Martian Manhunter wants to protect Earth and its people while the tiny, non-superpowers-having Marvin the Martian wants to blow it up. Steve Orlando and Frank Barbiere craft a story of the battle between hope and cynicism while Aaron Lopresti, Jerome Moore, and Hi-Fi ably and hilariously adapt the cartoon physics of Marvin’s “looney” world to the DC Universe house style.
Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special works as a story because Orlando and Barbiere take everything that Marvin says seriously via the character of Martian Manhunter, who is honestly the DC Universe’s ultimate straight man thanskThey also make him a total nihilist cynic, who has lost his planet and wants to destroy Earth, who he thinks is a bad little sibling because of wars, diseases, and traffic. The interplay between J’onn’s utter zen and Marvin’s complete chaos creates a lot of the issue’s conflict and comedy beginning with J’onn’s reaction to Marvin’s “form”.
However, shades of grey come to play when the humans that J’onn tries to save immediately turn on him and accuse him of being in cahoots with Marvin. For a moment, he is seduced to watch the world burn with one whiff of Marvin’s firecracker shaped plot device bomb. J’onn takes it easy on Marvin for most of the story because he is still super overjoyed to see another of his kind even though they are super different in abilities and disposition. Martian Manhunter’s physical weakness might be fire, but his real weakness is loneliness. He has to carry the hopes and memories of an entire race in his powerful mind, and not even Superman can understand what’s he been through because Mars was destroyed when J’onn was an adult. However, even though he does the angst thing (And Martian rightfully pokes fun at this.), J’onn is one of the noblest DC superheroes, and Orlando, Barbiere, Lopresti, and Moore keep this characteristic at the forefront of the story.
Other than the novelty of seeing various Acme doodads drawn in a semi-photorealistic DC house style, Aaron Lopresti and Jerome Moore provide clean artwork that is easy to follow even when Marvin decides to wreck an entire government warehouse. Some of the explosions seem generic, but Lopresti also delivers on some majestic moments like J’onn bursting through the flames that are supposed to weaken him to defend Earth from Marvin. Even though it doesn’t go into Laura Allred category, Hi-Fi delivers some trippy space thrills like the green on the special gate that Marvin uses to travel to the Earth of the DC Universe.
As an added bonus, Jim Fanning and John Loter do backup story featuring Marvin and J’onn in the Looney Tunes art style. It’s a lighter take on Marvin that the main story, which makes sense based on the art style even though he still wants to destroy the Earth. The plot involves Oreo cookies, or Jonn’s equivalent of kryptonite, and there are even some fun “cameos” from other Looney Tunes characters.
Marvin the Martian/Martian Manhunter hits that sweet spot between serious and silly. Steve Orlando and Frank Barbiere explore the reasons behind Marvin’s cynicism and J’onn’s optimism while delivering a pretty fun superhero-meets-Saturday morning cartoon beat ’em up with a clever twist ending that is something Alan Moore would do. They also make Marvin legtimately evil. And Aaron Lopresti and Jerome Moore get the biggest laughs for drawing his tiny self in the DC house style
Story: Steve Orlando and Frank Barbiere Pencils: Aaron Lopresti Inks: Jerome Moore Colors: Hi-Fi
Backup Story: Jim Fanning Backup Art: John Loter
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review