This book is the best read to come out of Final Crisis. This book is also wonderfully independent of Final Crisis for you to be able to enjoy it.
While it carries the “Final Crisis” trade dress, and expands upon the sadly diminutive exodus of everyone’s favorite Martian in “Final Crisis” #1, this book is so much more. Truly, it is a Requiem for a fallen friend.
While I have no doubt I brought some emotional baggage into this read (my aunt just died last week) this issue gave me so much more baggage. Frequently in comics, we lose our favorite characters. In comics, however, no sooner does the hero fall before the readers are declaring that the character will be back in the next big falderall. I’m not so sure here. Peter J. Tomasi doesn’t base this book around the hope that J’onn J’onzz will be alive and kicking, but rather focuses on the hero J’onn was — the things he did and the people he touched.
Tomasi does all that and more. He understands what the Martian Manhunter was all about. He clearly has some love for the character. In this book, Tomasi gets a chance to eulogize his fallen friend through the mouths and thoughts of Manhunter’s fave five. Tomasi further gives tribute to those who came before him in penning the adventures of the Martian Manhunter. He also gets a chance to point out to DC the treasure that they never quite realized they had, and offers a steaming plate of potential for the first superhero of the Silver Age.
Doug Mahnke steps up to the plate here, as he has with every assignment he has ever taken. His style may not be the flashiest, but it is the best selection for this issue. His collaborations with Tomasi are sure to become the stuff of fond comic book remembrances for decades to come. Mahnke pushes J’onn’s look here, just as he did in “JLA”. That said, Mahnke also delivers the details. Every page has more to look at every time you turn back to it. Take a look at the cityscape spread before Nightwing or the locker room Hal Jordan is in. The heroes and villains turn up in spades this issue, and Mahnke delivers recognizable characters with each face and costume. Honestly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mahnke worked through a whole set of pencils crafting this book. Why he isn’t mentioned in the same breath as George Perez and Art Adams escapes me.
The powerful coloring from Ruffino deepens the emotive qualities inherent in Mahnke’s style. The title has no shortage of occurrences and costumes, all of which are masterfully colored to the point of perfection by Ruffino. Certainly the final plunge of Libra’s javelin would have been less impressive without Ruffino’s skills.
This book is as close to a perfect read as I have encountered lately. Once the cover was closed, I looked around the house for someone to share this with, but the wife and kids were gone. Undoubtedly, this will be a book I point to time and again when someone asks me why I read comics. Without hesitation, consider me the chairman of the “Let’s get Tomasi and Mahnke to do he next big event book” committee. At the very least, know that I’ll be right there waiting for the next title these two creators get to sink their ideas into. The only thing missing was a nice plate of Chocos and a glass of milk sitting next to me when I wrote this review.