Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Martian Manhunter, Volume 2: The Red Rising Review (Rob Williams, Eddy Barrows)


The last time I read a book with “Red Rising” in the title was a pretty awful experience. Martian Manhunter, Volume 2: The Red Rising is better than Pierce Brownpants’ crummy novel but not by much which is disappointing as the first volume was really good.

The second volume sees Mars somehow resurrected and on a collision course with Earth - J’onn must decide which planet to save.

Honestly, I feel like nobody needs to read this one, even those who enjoyed the first book. Read that and leave it there – you can guess how it’s going to play out from that point and that’s exactly how it goes here. There’s a lot of running about and fighting that I didn’t really care for or completely understand (let’s throw Constantine in there for no reason - and giant mech warriors, really?), and J’onn’s contrived choice was totally predictable - you knew what he was going to do.

J’onn’s origin wasn’t that interesting nor was seeing the various versions of him come to terms with their true identities which is particularly boring to see repeated multiple times. I still like the cast though; they’re an imaginative direction to take the character, especially the endearing Mr. Biscuits.

That ending was pretty damn ballsy! It’s a helluva downer, which you don’t often see in superhero books, and Rob Williams reveals something about J’onn’s character that I doubt will stick and might upset some fans but I really liked it.

Ultimately this second volume was crappier than the first because it was more rushed. The action cascades across the pages, sometimes incoherently but always without being the least bit compelling, and the end reveals make the preceding story feel largely pointless. There’s also an issue from Justice League of America included for some reason - J’onn fights some silly alien; it’s terrible.

Williams’ ambitious and complex story falls apart in this second volume becoming dull and forgettable in the process. The first book was fresh, exciting and unpredictable; the second descends into standard superhero territory with the hero fighting X, Y, Z, etc. until the end. Unfortunately The Red Rising is not the triumphant finale to what I hoped would be one of the best Martian Manhunter stories yet.

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