Cover date: Early January 2008
Writter: Justin Gray
Penciller: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Sean Phillips
"The Ghosts of Mars" - Part Five: "Justice Denied"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
With the help of his newly discovered wife and daughter in his mindscape J'onn confronts his dead brother. It takes a great deal of effort but J'onn frees his friends and they are able to defeat Ma'al but at a cost. J'onn collapses, both mentally and physically.
Later in the Watchtower Zatanna arrives to help. Zatanna, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman enter J'onn's mindscape and find him creating a new Martian population out of stone. They try to convince him to come back out of his head and after the urging of his wife and a Zen parable from Batman he agrees.
Story - 3: Five issues to tell a story that could have been done in two, three tops.
"But, Michael," you say. "What about all the great character work? What about all of the references Justin Gray made to the League's past? This was obviously written by a person who has a love for not only the Martian Manhunter but for the League in general. Wasn't it worth the time?"
My answer to that is yes and no.
Yes because I have a certain amount of admiration for anyone who wants to tell a good, solid, character driven story. It's a worthy and noble effort. I like character driven stories.
I just think that (and I've been harping on this in a number of recent reviews) the stories are stretched out too long. This comes down to personal taste. I realize that. A person getting into comics today might think of this kind of storytelling as normal, even preferable. I just think that the whole writing for the trade thing is getting a little tired. Everything has to be five to six parts. Everything has to be this close examination of everything.
I just don't care for it. Sometimes it works for me. Other times it really doesn't.
This was definitely one of those times.
So we had the final chapter of "The Ghosts of Mars". J'onn defeated his brother. J'onn tried to stay inside his own head with his wife and children. J'onn is talked into coming back.
Wow, five issues to get to that point. Fantastic. Ok, it wasn't a terrible story. I have definitely read worse comics in my time. The themes Gray explored and the emotional underpinning of the story just didn't justify the length of it.
If the book was cheaper this might not have been such a problem. At three bucks a pop five chapters of a sub-par story is a bit much.
Art - 4: Surprisingly the art was rather strong this time out. Leonardi's page layouts were dynamic and gave the story the emotional weight it needed at times. It was a strong issue art wise and probably the best of the story arc. It's nice to like something about this story.
Cover Art - 2: This was an ugly cover. It served the story but I just didn't care for it. It gets a two.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.