Comic Book Review: Martian Manhunter #3

The Revolution has enjoyed the first couple of issues of this Martian Manhunter. I have never read anything by Lieberman before, but he has delivered a solid story so far. However, Barrionuevo’s artwork has been the real strength of this mini-series. I expect that Martian Manhunter #3 will be another good read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Penciler: Al Barrionuevo
Inker: Bit

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins with J’onn telling his fellow Martians that they cannot kill anyone else. That they must trust J’onn and follow his lead.

We shift to Alex Ferguson in an apartment. Alex is the scientist that we thought was dead in the plane crash from last issue. Well, Alex is alive, because he decided to not get on the plane. Alex didn’t trust Dyer (J’onn’s human disguise) and is now wondering who would be trying to kill him.

We cut to Ms. Rio meeting with her superior officer, an old General. He asks her if Ferguson had any family or girlfriend that he might have talked to. Rio says that he was a lab rat and had no family or friends. Her commanding officer orders her to find Dyer and follow him until he says otherwise.

We cut to J’onn in space using his telepathy to search Earth for Alex Ferguson. We cut back to Alex in his small one room apartment. He talks to his girlfriend, Sara, on his cell phone. Alex and Sarah engage in some banter and then Alex tells her that he has to go, but that he’ll contact her soon. He then makes a videotape to send to Sara. Alex tells her that he has to find Dyer and that until then he is not safe and neither is she.

We shift back to the General giving the order for his troops to bring back the five Martians only. They are to leave J’onn alone. We cut to Alex arriving at Dyer’s office. It is totally empty except for a telephone. Pursuant to the General’s orders, Giggs has Dyer’s office under surveillance. Giggs is stunned that Alex is still alive and immediately radios in for a strike force team.

We cut to J’onn arriving back at his building and noticing that the alarm in Dyer’s office has been triggered. We cut back to Alex running through the building and being trapped by Giggs’ strike force. J’onn arrives on the scene and takes out one of the strike force’s robots. Suddenly, more strike force robots arrive on the scene and blast J’onn with napalm. The napalm blast sends J’onn goes flying into the neighboring building. By the time J’onn recovers and returns back to where Alex was it is too late. Alex has been killed.

We shift forward two hours. J’onn is discussing all that has happened with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The Trinity disapprove of J’onn using his mental powers to force open the mind of the government assassin who killed Roh’Kar and of J’onn altering Alex Ferguson’s memory to make him think he was dealing with Dyer instead of with J’onn. J’onn totally calls out Clark telling him that Clark would do the exact same thing if five Kryptonians suddenly appeared and said that they were being hunted. That Clark would do everything in his power to protect them.

We cut to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There the General is meeting with Green Lantern (Hal Jordan flavor), Black Canary, Zatanna, Vixen and Green Arrow. He tells them that there is a group of highly powered individuals who have broke out of a secure research facility. That each member has the potential power to be considered an enemy of the state. (Oh god, please don’t let this mini-series turn into another post 9/11 political rant.) And that the most alarming part is the person responsible for their escape is Martian Manhunter. The General then asks the JLA’ers how do they stop him. End of issue.

The Good: Martian Manhunter #3 was a much weaker read than the previous two issues. I did enjoy the scene between J’onn and the Trinity. I loved how J’onn totally called out Clark and exposed him for the hypocrite that he is. Superman is questioning J’onn’s tactics, when we all know that Superman would do the exact same thing if these were Kryptonians instead of Martians.

Lieberman delivered a strong ending. I certainly was not expecting the Department of Homeland Security to be involved in this entire affair. And I definitely was not expecting to see Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna and Vixen called in to take down their teammate, J’onn. This was a cool hook that got me excited for the next issue. With all the growth and development that J’onn has undergone with him accepting more of his Martian nature and abandoning his efforts to become more “human” I think that J’onn won’t have any problems brawling with his teammates if it means protecting his fellow Martians.

Barrionuevo turns in another great looking issue except for the very end. I just didn’t like how he drew any of the JLA members. They just didn’t look right. However, I dig how Barrionuevo draws J’onn and the other Martians. Barrionuevo’s style mat be too static and heavy lined for some people. But, not for me. His style is an interesting change of pace from what you see on most comic books.

The Bad: The pacing on this issue was way too slow. The story gets bogged down and comes to a creeping halt. I have no idea why Lieberman would bother having Alex not get on the plane and actually be alive. Then give him panel time but not really do anything new or different with him and then just go ahead and kill him off at the end. Lieberman might as well have killed Alex in the plane crash. Him surviving and his plot in this issue was rather pointless and unnecessary. It only served to slow down the progress of this story and make this issue a slow and boring read.

Other than Alex turning out to be alive and then getting killed, nothing else happened in this issue. Martian Manhunter #3 read like a wasted issue. It seemed that Lieberman was stalling. This is only an eight issue mini-series. It cannot afford to have a wasted issue like this one.

I’m also a little concerned over the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has been revealed as the agency behind the capturing and testing on the Martians. I really hope that this mini-series doesn’t de-evolve into yet another tired post 9/11 political commentary. I think I’ve had plenty of that shoved down my throat over in the Marvel Universe as well as in the DCU with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. I really hope that Lieberman has something more original and creative in mind than that tired angle.

Overall: Martian Manhunter #3 was a bit of a disappointment. I feel that Lieberman lost his focus and direction with this issue. However, the ending was great and the next issue should be a blast. Overall, I’m still pleased with the quality of writing and artwork on this title.