Justice League #17
Written By: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Jim Cheung
Ink: Cheung, Mark Morales, Walden Wong
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
After the last arc it was discovered that Martian Manhunter’s history goes further back than originally thought. It seems that, as a child, he was held captive on Earth. The Keeper has now unlocked Martian Manhunter’s erased childhood memories previously. Furthermore, Mars seems to have further information on what exactly is behind the Source Wall and what is to come now that Perpetua has been released. This issue covers a lot of these deeper mysteries and drives the larger narrative forward.
Martian Manhunter is back on Mars with Lex Luthor. The entire story is framed around Manhunter telling Lex his newly found backstory on Earth. We learn that he had a human friend on Earth named Albie, and Martian Manhunter is seeking Lex’s help in tracking him down. There are also some native Martian monsters that are attacking the duo throughout their time on Mars building up some dynamic action scenes. Overall, this is a fairly simple untold origin story with grander implications that I do not want to spoil further.
Scott Snyder has crafted a very focused tale. For the most part this comic focused on only two characters in present day (Martian Manhunter and Lex) and two in the flashbacks (Martian Manhunter and Albie). This is a fairly big retcon of Martian Manhunter’s origin, as it places him on Earth as a child, but Snyder writes it in such a way to not override against any existing stories. Lex Luthor has always been a three dimensional villain with multiple interpretations, and Snyder does a great job at keeping him complex. The sympathy a writer might have through reading Lex’s part of the story is warranted. The team here should be commended in looking at the main antagonist at different angles here. The action element of the story is also well constructed. Having large alien creatures chasing the duo through Mars makes this a dynamic read and not simply a flashback.I would love to tell more about what makes the writing so wonderful, but it is one of those stories you need to read for yourself and experience it firsthand, rather than be spoiled. Needless to say, every reveal is emotionally impactful and plays into the Justice League series as a whole.
Again the art seems to be on of the sticking points here. Everything is beautifully drawn and I could not show a single page in this book I did not like. But, the multiple inkers makes this book have an inconsistent feel. Any one creative team could have pulled this book together in a nice cohesive feel, but as it stands it is multiple great pieces stitched together. Having a singular penciler helps keep the general tone similar but the inking can been vastly different from page to page. It is a minor gripe, and admittedly one I find more jarring than most, but it is still something that should be pointed out. This Justice League comic has always looked better when it is one cohesive creative team working together in a unified vision, but for some reason many issues tend to have multiple art teams.