Steve Orlando Says 'Martian Manhunter' is a Love Letter to Mars Literature

Steve Orlando's Martian Manhunter, coming in December with artist Riley Rossmo, will be a love-letter to Martian literature, including some pretty cool nods to not only the history of J'Onn J'Onzz, but to science fiction storytelling going back to the 19th Century.

During an interview at New York Comic Con, we asked whether the series will explore the "Bloodwynd" period of J'Onn's history -- and Orlando told us point blank that while we asked a jokey question, he would give us a real answer.

"This story takes place right when J'Onn is considering revealing himself as the Martian Manhunter to the town of Midletown, Colorado," Orlando told ComicBook.com. "Our Midletown is spelt with one 'D' instead of the real Midleton, because it's just a little bit different, for a variety of reasons. At the same time, we're going to allude not just to things like when he was Bloodwynd, if we can, but all of the other famous runs, all of the other non-famous runs of him, and also Mars literature in general. The greater heritage of Mars literature."

The series is a big swing both storytelling-wise and artistically for Orlando and Rossmo, who worked together on DC and Dynamite's successful Batman/The Shadow crossover. The acclaim that project earned, combined with the success the publisher has enjoyed from Tom King and Mitch Gerads's Mister Miracle, has opened the door to a deeper, more involved exploration of Martian Manhunter than DC might have approved in years past.

"The city that J'Onn is from is Gorgreg. In our book, we've never really seen the name of the city he's from before, and Gorgreg is actually the name for Percy Greg, who wrote Across the Zodiac, which is arguably the first ever science fiction novel from 1888," Orlando said. "Every chapter in Martian Manhunter is named after a chapter in A Princess of Mars, from a character level, to a thematic, to a symbolic, to just a window-dressing level. Everything is a big love letter to Mars literature, and so we're going to reference as much as we can as we drive J'Onn's story forward."

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Martian Manhunter begins in December.