Comic Book Review: Martian Manhunter #8

Well, here we are at the final issue of this Martian Manhunter mini-series. Overall, Lieberman has done a solid job delivering a dependable and entertaining mini-series. However, it remains to be seen if Lieberman can whip up a satisfactory ending to this mini-series with Martian Manhunter #8. Let’s hit this review and find out.

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

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with J’onn realizing that Keane is human and did everything of his own free will. Keane says that he did what he did to the Martians in order to protect his country. Keane says that J’onn has no proof that Keane did anything illegal. Rio Ferdinand then enters the room with a safe full of documents, computer disks, recorded phone calls and more that are plenty of evidence of Keane’s illegal activities. She gives them to J’onn.

Keane says how the existence of the Martians were something more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. That Keane was going to make sure that no other country could get the Martians and use them for their own gain. Keane refuses to go with J’onn and stand trial for his crimes. Keane pulls out a gun and puts it to his head and pulls the trigger. J’onn uses his super speed to pull the gun away from Keane’s head and the bullet misses. J’onn tells Keane that he is going to stand trial for his crimes.

We fast forward three days. We see Martian Manhunter talking with Superman above the Daily Planet building. J’onn apologizes for letting his emotions cloud his judgment concerning the Martians. Superman says it is all right and he totally understands why J’onn did what he did.

J’onn then tells Superman that there is another green Martian on Earth. And that the other green Martian is behind all of this. J’onn then tells Superman how he hid on earth for months learning to control his transforming into a human and acting like a normal human so that he wouldn’t be detected. After those months of learning, J’onn finally made himself known to the JLA.

J’onn says that this other green Martian has hid among humans and acted as one of them. That the Martian was waiting his time until it was just time to act. That the Martian was making sure that he remained hidden from J’onn.

We cut to J’onn meeting with Sara. J’onn tells Sara that he must find the last remaining white Martian, Till’All because J’onn needs his help in taking on the other green Martian. Sara tells J’onn that they are more alike than J’onn thinks. That they both have lost things they hold so dear. Sara kisses J’onn and tells him that she hopes he finds what he is looking for.

We shift to J’onn tracking down Till’All. Till’All immediately attacks J’onn. J’onn tells Till’All that he needs his help. That there is a Martian out there who is behind this entire conspiracy and that J’onn needs Till’All’s help to stop that Martian.

Suddenly, Sara appears on the scene. She is wearing her Martian amulet. Sara tells J’onn that her real name is Cay’an. That she spent years searching and when she finally found J’onn, she waited. And when she had everything in place, she dropped the Martian Amulet where it could be found and waited for the rest to take place.

Sara then transforms into her regular green Martian form. Cay’an tells J’onn that she is doing all this because J’onn destroyed everything she honored and held precious. That J’onn’s brother is the one who spread the plague on Mars. That J’onn could have stopped his brother, Ma’Alefa’Ak. Cay’an says that J’onn’s obligation was to his people and not his brother. That J’onn’s brother destroyed everything with the plague. That J’onn should have killed his brother when he had the chance.

Cay’an and J’onn start fighting. J’onn thinks about him and his brother being similar to the story of Cain and Able. That Martians and Humans are more alike that J’onn ever thought. Except that J’onn is his brother’s keeper. All of his brothers be they green or white. Even Cay’an.

J’onn and Cay’an then unleash their powers at each other and there is a huge explosion.

We cut to the next day. We see the newspaper reporting that Keane has surrendered to the police and will stand trial for his crimes. We see J’onn at the courthouse. An old man approached J’onn. The old man’s son was a truck driver that J’onn saved a couple of days ago when one of the White Martians attacked a mine. The old man then thanks J’onn for what he did and shakes his hand. The old man says that J’onn probably hears this everyday. J’onn smiles.

Till’All then walks over to J’onn and asks J’onn why he has stayed on Earth. That humans seem so determined to hate everything. J’onn responds because he believes humans will learn what it means to be free of all that hate. And that J’onn wants to be on Earth when that happens.

Till’All then tells J’onn that he wants to kill Cay’an once they find her. J’onn says that they will not kill her. That they will prove to her that she is wrong and convince her that her anger is unfounded.

Till’All and J’onn fly off and then land at the JLA’s building. J’onn tells Till’All that he could use Till’All’s help in trying to save Humans from themselves. Till’All agrees. J’onn then says he wants to introduce Till’All to some of his friends. We see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in the meeting room.

J’onn then introduces Till’All to his favorite food: Oreos. End of story.

The Good: Martian Manhunter #8 was a satisfying conclusion to a well done mini-series. Lieberman did a nice job tie up this mini-series while still leaving just enough open to be addressed in a future mini-series or in another title like the Justice League of America.

The reader got to see Keane get what he deserved. J’onn exposed Keane for the criminal that he is with the surprising help from Keane’s ex-right hand woman, Rio Ferdinand. Lieberman did a great job building Keane into an extremely dislikeable villain. The reader felt fully satisfied seeing J’onn prevent Keane from killing himself and forcing him to be tried for his horrible crimes.

The twist of having a green Martian being behind this entire conspiracy was a pretty cool move. The fact that Sara was the green Martian in disguise was an ever better twist. I loved it. I kept thinking that Sara had to play a greater role in this mini-series than what Lieberman had shown us. Lieberman definitely delivered a big enough surprise in this issue in order to end this mini-series with a bang.

I dig how Lieberman wrote Cay’an’s character. Lieberman gives us a nicely developed villainess in Cay’an. Lieberman nicely lays out Cay’an’s motivation for formulating this entire plan and in the process creates a villainess that the reader can sympathize with. I understand why Cay’an has done what she did and I can’t say that I really blame her. I’d probably react the same as Cay’an if I was in her place.

Lieberman also gives us a Martian Manhunter who has faced an absolute crisis of faith in this mini-series. J’onn has hit rock bottom. He has viewed humans as something to despise. J’onn has come dangerously close to completely shedding his pacifist attitude and his desire to look for the best in people and to make this Earth a better place to live in. However, Lieberman has Martian Manhunter faith in human’s restored and replenished his desire to make Earth a better place.

Lieberman does this in two ways. The first is by having J’onn able to connect with Till’All, a white Martian. J’onn is able to show that all that matters is that they are both Martians. White or green doesn’t matter. It is this incredible and unheard of connection between a white Martian and a green Martian is a testament to J’onn’s faith in the power of love and tolerance.

The second is the scene where the old man thanks Martian Manhunter for saving his son. By having the old man say that people must thank Martian Manhunter all the time only highlights how rare it has been that someone has actually thanks Martian Manhunter for what he has done. Superman always gets the thanks and adoration of the masses. However, Superman’s fellow alien in J’onn rarely gets it. This scene was touching and is positive affirmation for J’onn that humans do appreciate him.

In this mini-series, Lieberman has really impressed me with his ability to take Martian Manhunter and to compare and contrast him with Superman in establishing a new fresh take on J’onn’s character. Lieberman really stresses the fact that J’onn is truly alien. That he is disconnected with everyone around him. How he is the last of his people and truly alone.

Superman gets the love that is so elusive for Martian Manhunter. Superman is accepted as a human. He was raised by humans and married a human. Lieberman does an excellent job really emphasizing that J’onn is an alien and by having J’onn embrace his Martian heritage and not trying to conform to human standards.

This mini-series has done a great job further fleshing out and developing J’onn’s character. I have always liked Martian Manhunter and Lieberman has helped to give us a more interesting and unique J’onn than we had prior to this mini-series.

I don’t think that J’onn will ever be able to support his own ongoing monthly title. However, I hope that we get a second mini-series at some point in the future. Lieberman did a great job leaving enough of this story open with Cay’an still on the loose and J’onn mentoring a white Martian. I would like to see both these plotlines explored at some point in the future.

Barrionuevo’s artwork was solid. I dig how he draws Martians. Very cool. Barrionuevo’s style is very distinctive and I can see where some readers are simply not going to like it at all. I think Barrionuevo’s art gave this mini-series a nice distinctive look.

The Bad: I have no real complaints about this issue. Yeah, the part at the end of this issue about humans and why they hate each other and how J’onn believes that humans will learn to eradicate hatred. It is goofy hippy sounding stuff that will never happen and is really easy to make fun of. However, it is consistent with J’onn’s character and is why J’onn is such a well respected hero within the DC Universe.

Overall: Martian Manhunter #8 was an enjoyable and satisfying ending to a solid mini-series. Lieberman did a good job with this mini-series and finished strong and ended with quite a stunning surprise. Hopefully, we will see more of Martian Manhunter either in a second mini-series or over in the pages of the Justice League of America. If you missed this mini-series, then it would be worth checking out the trade paperback.