Martian Manhunter may be dead — something Newarama readers knew was coming — but there are also hopes of his survival thanks to strange happenings (and a few odd, fan-favorite characters) in the new Martian Manhunter book.
In the first two issues of the series, written Rob Williams with art by Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira, Martian Manhunter is under the impression that the Earth is better off without him alive, because he thinks terrorist attacks around the world are his fault. He's convinced that the White Martians have succeeded in committing acts of terror by using Martian Manhunter as some type of weapon.
How are they using Martian Manhunter? That's just one of several intriguing mysteries in the book — but to be clear, there's also plenty of action (like last issue's bombastic Justice League fight) and a few new, quirky, characters (like the compelling but odd Mr. Biscuits).
Williams is hoping the charm of these new characters and the mystery of J'onn J'onzz's death at the end of #2 will keep readers sticking around for next week's Martian Manhunter #3, the latest in the writer's debut series within the DC Universe.
Newsarama talked to Williams to find out more about Martian Manunter's connection to the comic's cast of characters, how he came up with positioning the White Martians as terrorists, and what the Martian Maneater is.
Newsarama: Rob, you and I already talked in June about Martian Manunter's death, which happened at the end of Martian Manhunter #2. But there are clues that he might live on in a few other characters, or at least be connected to them somehow. Can you give any hints about how characters like Pearl, Alicia and Mr. Biscuits are connected to Martian Manhunter, or even explain why these characters are in the book?
Williams: Well, when I was offered the book and I pitched it, we wanted to explore J'onn J'onzz in a way that showed a different aspect of him. I wanted to show a different depth to the character.
Stories about Martian Manhunter can be quite one-note. And all of us have different aspects to us. We're all different people depending on the day you catch us. And what I wanted to do was create a brand new backing path for him, and also explore certain aspects of the alien nature of who he is.
So there are connections between certain characters, but I'm not going to say what those connections are.
But what I would say is that, every character you meet in this cast are all different aspects of J'onn's world, and you'll see more of that going forward.
Nrama: I think the one that's really stuck out to readers is Mr. Biscuits. What was the inspiration for that character?
Williams: Mr. Biscuits came about, actually, in February when there was a Burbank DC creative summit where a bunch of us went out there. It was quite inspiring, in terms of the willingness to introduce new characters and new powers and new facets. There was a real feeling of DC saying to all the creators there — just go for it. Don't give us what we've seen before.
So I think I was sitting in LAX, and Mr. Biscuits just sort of popped into my head, really.
One of the things I really wanted to do with the book… J'onn Jonzz is an alien. He is a shapeshifter, and he can look like a lot of different things. He's an alien.
And Mr. Biscuits was really me coming at the book and going, look, this is alien. This is something odd and strange and other.
Also, I think there's a great freedom and a great danger in that. Even Mr. Biscuit says he doesn't know if he's bad or good.
He's quite innocent, in a way, in his overall approach. The only thing he's certain about is that he likes biscuits, which I think is something we can all relate to.
But really, he is the alienness. He's the alien side of things. He's not coming at things from even slightly the same mental approach as every other character in the book.
So regardless of what his connection turns out to be — which you will find out — he is like our statement in Martian Manhunter #1 that this is not going to be what you expect.
It's surprising to me that people seem to have responded to the character very well. They seem to love the character. And we haven't seen much of him yet. But you're going to see a lot more.
So I was very excited to come up with a brand new, very outlandish character and see it take off, in a way.
Nrama: There's a lot happening in the story surrounding J'onn J'onzz, but we've been led to believe that the White Martians are the villains in this story. What interested you about using those characters? Was it that they are usually Martian Manhunter's arch nemeses? His natural enemies?
Williams: The Martians were mentioned when we were knocking things back and forth. We've seen them before, from the Justice League book — Grant Morrison and Joe Kelly did big things with them.
So it's not necessarily new ground, but what it is is very fertile ground. The core idea for them — and for the threat — is this idea of every one of us looking at TV, and there are horrific stories, and you can't believe that human beings are capable of these things. And we're kind of going, well, what if human beings aren't?
What if these shape shifters amongst us are prodding humanity in certain directions?
And then this "Epiphany" happens, which is a huge array of terrorist attacks and atrocities around the globe, all happening at exactly the same moment, which is impossible, but they're for different causes. And it pushes mankind into fear, into the edge of war.
That's very rich ground, when you look at just how people fear, and how that's used to control us. All that's in the book as well.
I know that sounds ambitious, but I want it to be a fun book. And there's a great deal of comedy and a great deal of human drama — and alien drama — but there's also this little sort of political side to it as well.
Nrama: There's a tease in an upcoming solicitation about a "Martian Maneater," which seems to spin out of Martian Manunter's death. Can you explain what that is?
Williams: Martian Maneater, you meet in next week's #3.
In #3, you'll also find out who's behind the overall plot, who is our big bad.
And then #3 also concentrates on FBI Agent Daryl Wessel, who you met in #1. And a boy named Leo, and he plays a big part in it as well. And when we first met him in #1, it would appear that even though Leo is predominantly paralyzed, that he strangled his mother, which is impossible. And Leo seems to know a lot about the Martian invasion.
Part of the fun of this book is that it's just a big mystery, and it is attempting to tease out the mystery as far as we can. We want people guessing. There is a bigger story. We do know what it is. And hopefully we can keep people wondering exactly where this thing is going as long as possible.