Heroes and Villains: Martian Manhunter, Merry X-Men

It’s time for Heroes & Villains and Christmas is drawing nigh. NIGH! If you haven’t checked out this year’s Biff Bam Pop! Holiday Gift Guide…there’s still time! This week I’m going to be writing about stuff that came out LAST week so before I get sidetracked on how great the first two-thirds of Elseworlds has been (SO GREAT) let’s get to it!

Martian ManhunterMartian Manhunter
Steve Orlando (W)
Riley Rossmo (A)
DC Comics

Full disclosure: I like using the term “full disclosure.” Also, I slept on Mister Miracle but I’m looking forward to reading the collected edition since the praise for that book has been pretty unilateral. DC has been taking some chances lately and doing maxi-series books that practically scream to be enjoyed in trade form. However, I also enjoy the aspect of digesting them as a monthly serial. It’s a win-win!

The new Martian Manhunter aims to be another one of those critic’s darlings as it presents a much overdue closer look at the Justice League’s resident alien. Yes, yes I know Superman is a Kryptonian but for the sake of argument he’s basically presenting as a guy from Kansas. J’onn J’onzz, in his public superhero identity is about as out there with his aliveness as he can be with out completely freaking out the squares.

The first chapter of this book splits its time between J’onzz’s day job as John Jones, homicide detective and the time before when he was a Manhunter of Mars. I’m painfully ignorant of Martian Manhunter’s publication history and I’m not about to go wiki-diving for what I consider would be pointless research. This book is very much its own thing and feels like one that can be picked up and enjoyed on its own merits for new readers like myself.

Obviously, Steve Orlando’s name carries a lot of weight as far as quality goes but Riley Rossmo’s art is what caught my attention. I hate using the word “unconventional” because it sounds like a backhanded compliment but the art in this book is absolutely unlike anything else DC is publishing right now. There’s so much fun to it and I feel like I’m enjoying a cool indie book and not something put out by a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

With all that said, don’t wait for the trade on this one, I feel like it’s going to be on a lot of “Year’s Best” lists this time next year.

The Merry X-Men Holiday Special
Various (W/A)
Marvel Comics

I love holiday specials. Some of you I’m sure feel that they’re cheap pandering ploys to catch the attention and the dollars of consumers everywhere. And to that I say…so what?

This book is giving me a cover with Jean Grey and Rogue (Gambit in tow) enjoying hot coco while various other X-Men frolic in the snow outside. I had to restrain myself from buying more than one copy. I’m an absolute sucker for comics about super folk enjoying the holidays and this book gives me TWENTY FIVE of them.

Yes, The Merry X-Men Holiday Special is made up of a ton of one page comics, each of them dedicated to a day of December up until the 25th. There’s a framing narrative with Jubilee and her son (? Clearly I’ve missed some stuff in the X-books) that bookends the comic and various other comics that range from the sweet and sentimental to the completely wacky (#HOTCLAWS).

I’m not about to give a full rundown of the creatives enlisted that made this book possible, that would spoil some of the legitimate holiday a surprises the book holds. I’ve only had the book a week and I’ve already read it several times over even though I had planned to only read a page a day until Christmas.

So if you’re looking for some holiday cheer with an uncanny twist, stuff your stocking with this book!

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