“Whatever happened to the Manhunter from Mars?”

Writers: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi

Artists: Patrick Gleason and Scott Clark

Publisher: DC

Price:  $2.99

Once dead, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected by a white light expelled from deep within the center of the earth.  The reason behind their rebirth remains a mystery.  But it will not be a mystery for long.  This is the Brightest day.

This issue focuses on the Martian Manhunter who is completely under the control of D’Kay D’Razz and finds himself in that story perennial, living out his dream alternate life.  Twenty-five years in the future, J’onn is surrounded by his fellow Justice League members as he is being honored by the entire Martian population for finally bringing peace.  This peace is shattered as his friends are brutally murdered one by one.  Employing his detective skills, he saves Superman even as his subconscious fights against the delusion.

“There is always someone who celebrates the victory of fear.  There is always someone who wants to shut off the light by destroying the good within us. The good among us.” –Martian Manhunter

The whole theme of the issue revolves around the idea of resurrection to new life.  For the longest time, the Martian Manhunter lived with the memory of having buried his race and being the last of his people (giving him a bit of a bond with Kal-El, Superman, in terms of being the last of his people).  So for most of his life, he saw things and operated from his old wound.  His identity was that of the last son of Mars and he struggles with the shift of being the first son of Mars.

Letting go of the past and accepting our new identity in Christ may be one of the toughest things we do in our spiritual journeys.  We tend to continue to see ourselves in terms of our sin and failures rather than in the grace and forgiveness that has been bestowed upon us.  We so often hear about God’s divine love and acceptance, how nothing can separate us from His love, but do we believe that?  Most times, we really don’t.  To think that God knows me in the deepest possible way, loves me unconditionally, celebrates who I am, and wants me to grow into who I am, that’s the kind of love we can hardly fathom.

It’s a matter of getting our identity straight.  We are known by God.  We are loved by God.  Yet we don’t always believe that and don’t always see how it plays out in our lives.  When our faith can’t get traction in our lives, we become stuck.  We misplace our identity, things get shifted, then our priorities change.  We want comfort, personal happiness, and the right relationship with that special someone rather than being a living billboard for God’s glory and love.  We end up not living up to our potential like we should, thus we need to keep being reminded of our true identity:  we’re children of God, known for exactly who we are, and loved anyway!

And He identifies with our humanity.  Christ’s example on the cross left him exposed for everyone to see.  Naked for people to mock, spit upon, and pour their own self-contempt on Him.  Yet Jesus willingly embraced it and came through the other side.  His wounded place exposes shame for what it is.  Exposed, trusting and with boldness, we’re free and ready to love others in our weakness.  To live out of that reality of His example.  We put our faith where it’s supposed to be and take on our true identity.

“But no matter what you are, there’s only one simple question you have to ask yourself that really means anything and that is:  Did I do more good than bad?” –Batman

In the end, though, nothing happens.  We have a story that might entertain for an issue, as much as any It’s a Wonderful Life riffs might, if you’re happy with “it was all a dream” type stories.  And then there’s the art.  With eight inkers, there is a lot of incongruity, to put it generously, to the artwork.  Some characters were drawn poorly, though if we were to continue the generosity, this may have been a hint that something was up.  Otherwise, it feels like a filler issue for the actual Brightest Day storyline and when we’re in the throes of a major crossover event, for what comics cost, filler is frowned upon.