It’s more than a little apt that a comic about a shapeshifting alien continually shifts and slides its narrative from one moment to the next. While readers will eventually demand some answers — and, to be fair, some of them are already there if you take the time to put the pieces together — Rob Williams, Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira’s “Martian Manhunter” #2 continues to hold its readers’ interest by refusing to stay pinned down.
“Martian Manhunter” #2 continues to juggle its three plot lines — the kid-friendly Mr. Biscuits, the hunted Pearl in Dubai and the ever-frantic Martian Manhunter — by continually jumping from one to the next. The book’s inability to stay with anyone for very long works in its favor; it keeps the reader just a tiny bit disoriented, something that fits perfectly for all three of its protagonists as each of them weave and jump from one situation to the next.
Williams also isn’t afraid to pull a fast one on his readers. There’s a fight scene between Martian Manhunter and the Justice League early on in the book and, at first, it’s easy to assume that it’s another classic example of the old chestnut where you make your protagonist seem stronger by taking down well-known characters. Instead, just when you think that’s where the book’s heading, Williams pulls the rug out from under you, but in a manner that fits with both the characters involved and the tone that the comic is taking. Nothing is quite what it seems, and those who grow complacent are ultimately in the greatest amount of danger.
Barrows and Ferreira do a good job here; if anything, these are probably some of the best pencils I’ve seen from Barrows in a long time. The characters are fluid and leap around the page easily; he showa the multiple exposures of Pearl as she catapults and swings through the streets of Dubai, doing a great job of conveying just how limber and lithe the character is. The ever-growing and hulking Martian Manhunter is another perfect example; he’s able to make the character recognizable while, at the same time, coming across in a menacing manner that we so rarely see. I really like how this book operates, even down to Gabe Eltaeb’s colors always having a base hue for each scene (yellow for Pearl, green for Martian Manhunter, red for Mr. Biscuits), which then builds off of those central looks. It’s a cohesive and attractive comic.
Any comic where there’s a Martian in a strange mask calling itself Mr. Biscuits would automatically grab my attention, but Williams, Barrows and Ferreira have done so by doing more than just providing weirdness for the sake of being weird. Two issues in, and I’m settling in for the long haul. This creative team has something bigger in mind, and I’m ready to see just where that goes.