While his profile to the larger world might not be anywhere near that of his teammates Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter has long been considered the heart and soul of the Justice League and a major player in the DC Universe. After recently returning to lead the new Justice League, J’onn J’onzz is also returning to his own solo series.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, writer Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo will launch a brand new 12-issue Martian Manhunter series in December that will confront the hero with some mysteries form his very own past. This story is described as one that will re-examine J’onn’s origin and will revive his human detective persona John Jones as he tries to solve a murder that seemingly has connections to his Martian past.
“I’ve been calling this my dream project online for more than a year,” Orlando told The Hollywood Reporter. “I started talking to DC about it at San Diego Comic-Con 2017. He’s always been my favorite character since I was younger, so to be able to fire our best shot across the bow of doing an evergreen story with him, it’s super exciting. Everyday I’m writing, I just can’t believe it; there’s no character I wanted to work on more.”
Orlando stated that the series provides a way to define the character in a way that hasn’t happened before.
“In the past, J’onn has been too perfect,” Orlando said. “One of the reasons people have not connected to him is that he was a perfect upright cop on Mars, and yes, his family died but it was no fault of his own, and then he came to Earth and he was perfect. Our favorite characters, that’s not them, you know? Spider-Man let the burglar go. Bruce Wayne was too afraid to save his family. This book gives J’onn that moment, and that’s the keystone as to why this book will be, is, the Martian Manhunter story, because we finally know the why. Why he strives to be so good on Earth, why he has this journey, because he’s never really had one before. All of our favorite characters overcome their faults, and we hope he’s going to do it here, but he has to have them first.”
On the artistic side of things, Rossmo gets the shot to really redefine Martian culture and the look of J’onn’s world.
“There’s not that much pre-existing material for Martian culture,” he said. “There are all these different aspects, and I really love the design challenge of that. Like, what does a building look like for people who don’t really need furniture? It’s an abstract visual problem solving thing that feels pretty unique. I’ve been working on it for a year, and it’s been good to have that kind of run up. There’s a problem solving aspect to it that I really enjoy — what do the Green Martians look like, compared with the White Martians, how do they co-exist, even do they co-exist? And then the character designs have to reflect those cultural pieces and contrast all of that with how J’onn and the humans look like in the current storyline.”
This will be the first series for J’onn since 2015’s Martian Manhunter, part of the DC You initiative that came right before DC Rebirth, but comes as the character has found a different sort of spotlight the last few years on The CW’s Supergirl played by David Harewood. Fittingly for his aforementioned status as the heart of the Justice League, to many fans, their version of J’onn is the one that was in the spotlight of Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited shows voiced by Carl Lumbly in the early 2000s.
Martian Manhunter #1 arrives in December.