Comic Reviews: Martian Manhunter and Winter Soldier!
Martian Manhunter #1 (DC Comics)
After the critical success of Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle, it makes sense that DC comics would want to replicate that success with some of their other characters. Stepping up to the plate is Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo, starting a new twelve part miniseries focusing on J’on J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. Naturally the comparisons to King and Gerads’ series are going to be rampant, but so far it seems like Martian Manhunter isn’t going to be making anyone forget Mister Miracle anytime soon.
Bouncing between J’onzz’ investigation of a crime scene and his time on Mars with his family, Martian Manhunter presents the title character in an interesting light. Not entirely welcome in either world, but drawn to doing the right thing, J’onzz is a cop in both worlds, but that’s where the similarities end. The central mystery in both stories is interesting, but they’re both very weird, almost to the point where I don’t completely understand how the two stories match up just yet.
That’s not to say that Steve Orlando’s script doesn’t have some interesting moments though. Orlando does a great job of characterizing J’onzz, and showing how even on his home world he was a bit of an outsider. Despite being a part of the DC universe for decades, Martian Manhunter hasn’t ever really been that fleshed out, so Orlando’s got pretty much a clean slate to do with Jones as he pleases. That essentially means that Orlando turns him into a “by the book cop” type, which is fine, but not very interesting when he’s on our Earth.
Riley Rossmo has always been a “hit or miss” artist for me, and Martian Manhunter doesn’t do much to change that. In fact, Rossmo’s style bounces between “hit” and “miss” in a bunch of pages and panels throughout this issue. For every great splash page or layout, there’s a few weird panels that look so out there that it’s hard to really tell what’s going on. A series like this one can afford to have some unconventional panels and pages, but there’s so many here that it starts to distract from the actual story.
Those looking for another Mister Miracle with Martian Manhunter are probably going to be sorely disappointed, but there’s potential here for a pretty cool mystery if it starts to pan out in the next few issues. Here’s hoping the story comes into focus and the art starts to improve so we can find out.
Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel Comics)
For a character with a pretty big following thanks to the MCU, you’d think Marvel would have cracked how to create a hit series for The Winter Soldier. There have been many attempts to give Bucky Barnes his own series, and not even Ed Brubaker could help make it a hit. But Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis are giving it a new shot with a new miniseries starring the character, and it’s got a pretty great hook that should lead to this series becoming an ongoing.
Bucky has given up a life of espionage in favor of one that helps people who need it. Working with Sharon Carter, he’s created a secret network that allows people in need to contact him if they need help, and even hides them from people who would do them harm. It’s going really well, and Bucky’s even set roots down in the Midwest. But when one of his contacts is attacked by someone who has an outfit that’s eerily similar to his old Bucky outfit, it’s up to the Winter Soldier to track him down and put a stop to it.
Kyle Higgins made a big splash on Nightwing back during the New 52, and his characterization of Bucky is just as good as his characterization of Nightwing. Creating this new spin on the character works surprisingly well, and it seems like something that is in line with who Bucky Barnes is as a person. While there’s not a lot of action in this series, that’s not a bad thing, because Higgins’ script is pretty compelling without it.
Rod Reis’ art is a little looser than I typically like, but he’s still able to convey the action and dramatic moments effectively. Reis is able to do a lot with very little detail, and it actually works really well for the moments where Bucky is reliving and remembering his past. While it would be nice if the backgrounds were a little more detailed, the art from Reis is still well suited for this series.
Winter Soldier is finally a series that is befitting of the character, and one of the first times that I wished a Marvel mini-series wasn’t just a mini-series. I can’t wait to see what Higgins and Reis have planned for the next four issues, and I’m hoping that this sells well enough that we’ll see a full series from the same team.
Posted on December 6, 2018, in Comic reviews and tagged DC Comics, Kyle Higgins, Martian Manhunter, Marvel Comics, Riley Rossmo, Rod Reis, Steve Orlando, Winter Soldier. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.