Martian Manhunter #7 // Review
The trail of a lost girl leads a displaced Martian and his human police partner to a pig farm in Colorado where they find more than they expected in the sixth issue of the Martian Manhunter mini-series. J'onn J'onzz and Diane Mead continue to negotiate the tricky path to trust and effectiveness in an issue written by Steve Orlando with artist Riley Rossmo. The messy grittiness of a police assault on a rural human trafficking outpost feels weird and stringy in the hands of Rossmo, but the powerful arc of Orlando’s script powers the story through artwork that isn’t necessarily suited to it.
It’s a human trafficking ring headquartered out of a pig farm in rural Colorado. J’onzz and Mead are leading an assault on the facility. What appears to be a strange mix of humans and livestock turns into something altogether darker as the investigation continues. An alien presence leads J’onzz and Mead into deeper danger than expected in an encounter that will bring the two police officers closer than circumstances had allowed in previous issues. Elsewhere the missing girl valiantly defies her red martian captor, but how long can she hold out?
Human trafficking is pretty horrifying, to begin with. Add-in extra-terrestrial intelligence and the presence of...pigs...and things get weird and particularly dark. There’s a gradual descent into darkness amidst violence and action on a rural farm somewhere in America that really is particularly effective. There’s a strong payoff in seeing Mead finally warm to J’onzz in a serious way. When the two share a beer at the end of the issue really underscores the power of what they’d been through over the course of the issue. The arc and pacing of the action in this issue work remarkably well and could stand quite impressively on its own as a single story.
The soupy spaghetti of Rossmo’s art bends and sways to the rhythm of the action that Orlando is squeezing it through. Rossmo’s work is nothing if not dynamic. The rush of action splooshes across the page in an impressionistic explosion that gives the action some very impressive kinetics. It’s just too bad the weirdness of the art robs some of the horrors of what Orlando is giving the artist. The impact of the gritty, grizzly darkness loses some intensity in the distinctive stylishness of Rossmo’s pen. Thankfully, the presence of the alien is there to allow Rossmo a bit more of an opportunity to breathe artistically.
The search for the missing Ashley Addams is finally right at the center of the story where it needs to be. Orlando and Rossmo have found the pulse of the action as the mini-series reaches the beginning of its second half. With all of the establishing action well and fully out of the way, the mini-series should have no problem finding its way to resolution with a strong sense of momentum.