In an effort to focus on the positive, I’ll only comment on two titles this week…
Rob Williams’ and Eddy Barrows’ MARTIAN MANHUNTER continues to be surprising and subversive science fiction, organically building an entirely new, and entirely tragic, mythology and history of Ma’aleca’andra. We’re seeing a revitalization and focus on J’onnz that hasn’t been seen since Ostrander’s superlative run on the title (with his frequent partner, Mandrake) that quite literally deconstructs, then reconstructs, the character. There’s something in it of Alan Moore’s ANATOMY LESSON or Grant Morrison’s ANIMAL MAN and RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, all crossed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Moral challenges are confronted, ethical tests are passed and failed, and the impact - though obviously intolerable in the long term - is genuinely shocking. Not quite as radical a reinvention as something like Tom King’s OMEGA MEN or Mark Russell’s PREZ, MARTIAN MANHUNTER is nonetheless operating in unique and interesting territory. Eddy Barrows’ art can be a bit uneven, but is generally quite beautiful.
Al Ewing’s NEW AVENGERS continues to be solid superheroics with a few of the trappings of the world of spycraft, if none of the moral ambiguity or atmospheric intrigue. As always, Ewing has a firm grasp of the needs of the story, and tells it simply and directly, without unnecessary flourish or embellishment. The threat(s) are organic and deeply rooted in the characters, their history and psychology, the action is bombastic, the character interaction is fun. On paper, it all works, but when read together, and combined with the flat artwork of Sandoval, it doesn’t add up to much. It’s merely okay, when I’m hoping for more.
A few points for picking up on a plot thread from about a decade back, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean as much as it once did to me.