With a page to Deadman’s and Dove’s collective search for the “New Champion of Earth” and a brief interlude to the adventures of Firestorm, the balance of this issue focuses on the Martian Manhunter and his confrontation with the psychotically violent “other” green Martian – D’kay D’razz. Their struggle takes place on Mars and offers a war of minds that runs the gamut of emotions.
As J’onn J’onnz and D’Kay D’razz merge minds and reflect through D’razz’s history, the art from Gleason threatens to bleed off the page and drizzle onto the reader. It is such an overwhelming spread that I had to stop and walk away for fear that I wouldn’t be focused enough to absorb it all. As D’razz expounds on the possibility of being lost in the experience of being human, Gleason immerses us in the experience of living Martian.
D’razz is impossibly fluid, in constant flux from one panel to the next and presented in intricate detail and disgusting depth. Gleason may be drawing what is in the script, but this is truly where Gleason shines. No script in the world could possibly describe the undulating horror that is D’razz throughout this issue. Gleason’s contribution to the legend of J’onn J’onnz is undeniable.
After reading comics with Gleason drawing Aquaman, Superman, a host of Green Lanterns, and Martian Manhunter each (for the most part) individually, the visual spectacles continue in this issue as we see Gleason deliver the entirety of the Justice League of America to battle J’onn. Why Gleason hasn’t been given a crack at regularly drawing the JLA completely escapes me, especially after seeing this.
This is another issue of “Brightest Day” that narrows its focus to one character in particular, then zooms out for an update on resurrected heroes from elsewhere. The end result is a more personal tale of J’onn J’onnz, although you wouldn’t presume as much from the David Finch cover. The Reis cover – the variant – depicts the tale that rests inside. Still, this issue makes some significant strides in the life of one hero, but forsakes the other returned characters to do so. The story it does deliver is one of the most satisfying and electrifying stories in this series yet.