Monday, May 10, 2021
Locus made contact with Vandal Savage to seek his help in ending this new age of super-heroes before it could begin, just as a few well-placed senators had done to the Justice Society of America. Savage had already gathered a group of four super-villains to target the new group, consisting of the Thorn, Clayface, Eclipso, and Solomon Grundy. Meanwhile, Manhunter met with Aquaman on the dock to offer him a lift into downtown Gotham City. The Sea King was struggling with learning to read and speak English, to which J'Onn offered, "Learn German first. It's more logical. That's what I did." The meeting was not prearranged, and Aquaman took note of the Manhunter's possessing telepathy that far outstripped his own empathic abilities.
To the relief of Aquaman, he was soon set back on dry land to attend a press conference at the JSA's old headquarters. Not so fast, as Aquaman's soft mumble and ignorance of the surface world ("I'm sure that Sea Devil is a fine man...") plainly irritated the reporters. J'Onn J'Onzz avoided the microphone entirely, with only Black Canary and Green Lantern demonstrating any aptitude in public speaking. While the team was official out and named, lots of questions remained about their jurisdiction, politics, nationalism, and so forth. These deeper questions were set aside upon the thunderous crashing of the affair by Savage's quartet of villainy.
The heroes of the League had never been targeted before, and were thrown by the unprovoked assault, as well as the need to protect the host of imperiled collateral bystanders. Martian Manhunter did one-up Clayface after being threatened that the crook could transform into his worst nightmare. "My. How frightening. Try this one. It's from Mars." Clayface creamed at the sight of a giant alien beast with claws and teeth a third the size of the bad guy. Another unexpected power for the Alien Atlas.
Eventually, the three-quarters of the quartet turned on a rampaging Grundy, allowing the League to regroup and strategize. Manhunter recovered from a temporary blinding from a black diamond eyebeam to emit his own Laser Vision to harden a water-saturated Clayface. However Grundy collapsed the hotel ballroom, and the quartet were teleported away from the scene. Home audiences cheered another victory for the new Justice League of America being reported upon by the likes of Vicki Vale, Lois Lane, and Jack Ryder. Even "bystanders" Ted Grant and Alan Scott signaled their approval, though The Batman had every intention of running them out of his town.
In the aftermath, Vandal Savage tried to quit his association with Locus, though they seemed to perhaps persuade him otherwise. On the scene, when Ryder launched into a heated criticism of the League, the newly arriving Green Arrow sent a shaft through his mic. Seemingly in tow was Simon Carr, representing a wealthy anonymous benefactor offering to bankroll the team. An inventor named Ted Kord had already been retained to facilitate anticipated advanced equipment, vehicles, and facilities...
"Group Dynamic" was by storytellers Mark Waid / Brian Augustyn / Barry Kitson. Since this was arguably the least issue of the maxi-series, I think it's the best place for heavy nitpicking on my part. I realize that this was a new story from the early days of the JLA, unbound by prior continuity, except it isn't. The 1988 Secret Origins story had been edited by Waid, and the maxi-series studiously avoids retelling the actual 1960s League tales while simultaneously referencing them. What's the point of having a walking DC Comics Encyclopedia co-write a project like this without having it steeped in established continuity? The scene with Aquaman learning to read is nice... except Arthur Curry taught him to read (cursive diary entries no less) in The Legend of Aquaman (also edited by Waid.) The villains for the issue include the Matt Hagen Clayface (introduced in December of 1961) and Eclipso (August '63), with cameos by Metamorpho (January '65), The Atom (October '61), The Creeper (April '68), Blue Beetle (November '66), and the New Blackhawks (June '64) in a story that would be contemporaneous to The Brave and the Bold #28 (March 1960). The League are supposedly putting the Sea Devils out to pasture, even though they won't debut for five months? The only non-Golden Age heroic cameo that legitimately predated the League was the Challengers of the Unknown (February '57). Story wise, I get having the most stripped down "action heroes" reacting to the new super-hero team, but nerd-wise, it breaks my brain. Further, there's a new version of the "Justice League of America" naming sequence, already trod in Secret Origins. The Thorn was an exceedingly weird pull, given that she had barely appeared in the Golden Age and Infinity Inc. made a story point of her having disappeared completely following the births of Jade and Obsidian. Likewise, Eclipso had mostly kept to his own strip in House of Secrets until being revived for a Green Lantern subplot in the '80s, so why have him battle Hal Jordan twenty years too early? Grundy and Eclipso are especially dangerous villains, so it was a shame they offered so little a threat. Plus, Green Arrow may have been the first expansion member, but do we really need him around this early? This issue was... fine... but it clearly raised my geek hackles.
Monday, May 3, 2021
In a darkened room, a series of unidentified individuals watched television monitors with reports of freshly emerging super-heroes the Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Manhunter from Mars, and Black Canary. Notes were taken, specifically locations of sightings. The last images were of J'Onn J'Onzz and the combined heroes, for which no notes were written, of the Appellaxian invasion. "...rumors for years of a Manhunter from Mars in Middleton, Colorado... but those rumors are now fact." In a cringey splash page for Martian fans that doubled as a house ad and store poster, all the Leaguers get their trademark epithets ("The Emerald Gladiator",) even ones unfamiliar and perhaps dubious, ("The Blond Bombshell"?) except "The Manhunter from Mars." To paraphrase Henry Jones, "We named the strip Manhunter from Mars." Stuff like that drove me to create this blog, with preferable canon epithets including "The Alien Atlas" and "The Sleuth from Outer Space." Anyway, it's a personal speed bump on the way to the inspirational "They were young... They were new... and still, they forever set the standard for all who would follow. Ten years ago, five powerful heroes came together... for a world that needed one unbeatable team. Just Imagine."
The League wasn't "official" at the end of their first case, leaving the prospective members to mull the decision in their private identities. Central City Police Department forensic scientist Barry Allen was uncharacteristically impatient and testy, as he's introduced to incoming detective Paris Jackson (less than six months before the more famous bearer of that name was born.) In Star City, Dinah Lance unpacked shipments to her floral shop while discussing the team with her mom. The elder Dinah (née Drake) was maybe putting the mother in "smother," especially when she got a new beat cop named Sherman to promise to keep an eye on her nineteen-year-old "little girl." A mild Canary Cry and numerous busted pots later, the junior Dinah was out the door for her meeting. Aquaman tried to make friends in a rough dock bar, but between his soft-speaking, heavy accent, and costume, he nearly ended up in a brawl instead. Things were calmed down by a kindly Coast Guard named Perez. At Ferris Aircraft, Hal Jordan ignored his buddy Tom Kalmaku's pleas to eject from the experimental $30M X-90 jet (or at least wear his power ring during test flights) in order to impress his boss Carol into a dinner date. Successfully landing, his next step seemed to be sweet-talking FAA investigator Lora Denton, but he fumbled.
In Middleton on a rainy night, Detective John Jones sat in a parked car with his partner Diane Meade on stakeout. He asked if she thought of him as a trustworthy team player. "God, John. Warn me when you're gonna speak. I'll alert the media. At least clear your throat or something... You're the most curious detective... You have a spotless record, you always get your man... and no other investigator has yet to find your sense of humor. What more do I need to know right now?" Twitch's tip about drug manufacturing at the back of Angelo's Restaurant panned out when armed dealers showed up to punish his skimming off their operation. Jones expressed his lack of understanding about addiction and violence, which the sassier Meade mocked. Pinned by erupting gunfire, Meade called for back-up while an invisible Jones used laser vision to heat the guns out of their hands. As the only armed man present, the suddenly visible Jones could easily arrest the lot. The press arrived before the reinforcements, with Channel Twelve News' Cal Redmond looking for the scoop on this hero cop. The taciturn Jones bowed out to meet with, perhaps, others like himself?
The quintet of super-heroes had agreed to turn over the two surviving Appellaxian battle drones to the Air Force, specifically General Eiling, but a small army of masked and armed individuals were already at the seaside caves where the team had hidden the alien proxies. A battle ensued, with the reawakened fire giant putting J'Onn J'Onzz out of direct action. Black Canary critiqued the heroes by comparison to her "family" in the Justice Society, but included a Golden Age Flash Fact that helped her and the Scarlet Speedster to bring down the also awakened bird giant. When not undermining the only woman on the team, Green Lantern bailed on yellow bird duty to help Aquaman leave the fire giant all wet in a grotto. Jordan was surprised to learn of the Manhunter's weakness to fire, and tried to walk back a faux pas statement of bring sick of these aliens. "You mean no insult. Go. I will shield the soldiers."
More than that, the Manhunter executed a maneuver that would be adapted to animation in the Justice League TV pilot "Secret Origins." When armed assailants pointed their rifles at him, the Martian disappeared into the ground immaterially, only to arise behind the men and bash their heads together. So much for "The Martian is weak! Quickly! Before the others come to his rescue. --We will reduce him to Martian ash--" Green Lantern noticed, and wondered if his power ring could do that, too? The attackers tried to destroy what they couldn't steal, but were disarmed by the Flash. As a fail-safe, their leader leaped onto the bird giant and had his fellows "triangulate a portmatrix" to teleport them both back to base. General Eiling had ordered his men to stand down for their own protection, and openly admired the super-heroes who'd saved the day (if not the bird giant.)
After the USAF airlifted the fire giant for study, the quintet hesitantly agreed to remain a team to investigate the robbers, by order of Flash, Canary, Lantern, and Aquaman. Only Manhunter offered an unreserved "You... each of you... has treated me as you would one of your own race. You have included me where others might turn away. I am... grateful. I would be honored to join you." Meanwhile, the uniformed members of Locus watched video of this meeting remotely at their base, taking notes on the League's confessions to one another, while their field agents were already in play on the ground to gather intelligence...
"Justice League of America: Year One" was by Mark Waid / Brian Augustyn / Barry Kitson. I grew up on Super Friends, and the first JLofA comic that I remember seeing was 1983's #217 with the George Pérez cover, but it wasn't until the late '80s JLI era that I ever bothered to read any of the things. While I have a fondness for many periods of the property, it wasn't until the 1996 JLA relaunch that the premise finally sung for me, and it was during this period that I truly and eternally became a fan. That half-decade under Morrison and Waid will always be "my" League, and this maxi-series played a big role in that. Since I'd yet to read any but the earliest Detective Comics stories, I had no idea Diane Meade was a preexisting character, and I was still 100% sold on the Post-Crisis Middleton, CO shtick that I'd reject years later.
Monday, April 26, 2021
On the planet Appellax, whoever kills the world's leader succeeds him as the new kalar. With seven total claimants, the dispute could only be resolved through trial by combat, and impossibly destructive proposition. Instead of sacrificing 85% of their world to devastation, as occurred in the previous contest, it was decided to play out the scenario on the backwater world of Earth instead. The contestants would have their minds transplanted into various battleforms, and the last one standing would become kalar.
J'onn J'onzz flew over his city, wondering how people would react if he revealed his true Martian self, as he was tired of spending his life invisible or disguised. However, he spied stone statues littering the streets, and was discrete in checking them out. He realized these were not statues when he saw two police officers that he recognized in their midst, and heard the thudding footfalls of a stone colossus. Eyebeams from the battleform were petrifying people, so the Manhunter attempted to put a stop to it. Telepathy was particularly ineffective, as its overwhelming evil pained the Sleuth from Outer Space. The stone Appellaxian began taunting J'onzz, as the attempted probe had backfired, revealing J'onn's secrets-- including his weakness to fire! Sparks from stony fingers against a demolished gas station ignited an explosion, but J'onzz saved himself by landing on a fire hydrant. He briefly considered waiting the flames out, but recognized the continued harm the colossus would do in the meantime. Focusing totally on launching himself like a missile, the Alien Atlas flew through and exploded the proxy body of the Appellaxian. Waking up on the street, J'onn was not greeted by fear or anger, but the bemusement and incredulity of the citizens he'd saved. The mind probe had alerted Manhunter to the other invaders, and he set off to stop them before they could hatch from their cocoons.
In turn, Aquaman, Black Canary, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and The Flash had faced their own battleforms. Likewise, each had been captured at the site of a sixth Appellaxian cocoon, turned into trees. Or as Barry Allen put it, "I feel like such a sap." The quintet were to march from Florida to Antarctica to help the wooden Appellaxian confront the remaining battleform. Luckily, Aquaman used his telepathy to break the alien's control to trigger a domino effect of super-heroes using the smallest measure of their remaining power to free parts of one another. This culminated in the entirely freed Flash turning the Appellaxian into toothpicks. The Manhunter asserted that there was no time for self-congratulation, and thought it logical to stick together, so Green Lantern used his power ring to fly everyone to the final invader.
The Martian noticed that the Lantern was the only hero entirely at ease with his presence, having seen more than his share of extra-terrestrials. The fast friends started calling each other by their first names. Up ahead in the frigid wasteland, "By Tarkas! Gentlebeings... we've been upstaged." Superman had destroyed the battleform and flew off without even noticing the approaching heroes. Dubious, given his super-senses, but we'll go with it. Despite the anticlimax, the Flash thought that it would be a great idea to stay together as a proper team. J'onn hated it, as it would necessitate going completely public. Still he was eventually convinced of the good they could do, "And it would be good to have... friends." Besides, it would be excellent P.R. for the Martian's coming out. Inspired by Black Canary's Society ties, they became the Justice League of America.
"All Together Now" was by Keith Giffen, Peter David, and Eric Shanower. I once asked David why he didn't do any more JLI-era material, since this was a swell story with an appropriate sense of humor for the time. Sadly, he was never asked, aside from a two part JLTF. The art nicely conveyed a Silver Age vibe, as well. Nearly three years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, with lots of weird and vague potential line-ups offered (such as in Secret Origins #29,) the answer to who exactly founded the group under the revised circumstances was finally decided. Taking its basic plot from the first team origin story from 1962's Justice League of America #9, Wonder Woman is swapped out for Black Canary and Batman is omitted entirely. While the World's Finest duo were late additions to the team and the tale the first time, here Superman is reduced to a cameo without interaction with the team at all. I really like the quintet model, at least for the early founding members (favoring Diana over Dinah, but still...)
Thursday, April 22, 2021
This piece is an example of a commission I created for a client.
I am currently taking commissions and if you would like more information, please view my commission info.
I have an interest in all three of these characters, just like I enjoy eating kippered herring, bleu cheese, and mint ice cream... just not all at the same time, Right? Anyway, I considered doing a more substantial post earlier this week, but then today happened, so you get this.
Monday, April 19, 2021
Fred Hembeck Color Sketch Card: Zook
...This card is a fully finished, unique piece of art by cartoonist Fred Hembeck (Fantastic Four Roast, Fred Hembeck Destroys The Marvel Universe, The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, and the recent Marvel collection, House of Hem). It is one of a collection of sketch cards being offered by the artist.
The card is drawn on 2.5" by 3.5" smooth surface bristol paper that Strathmore produces under the "Artist Trading Cards" specialty designation. The back of the card has a hand-lettered declaration, reading "This is a genuine FRED HEMBECK SKETCH CARD!!" A "Fred Head" caricature as well as the name of the character depicted are also included on the opposite side.
The card will be slipped into a sleeve and then put in a top loader.
Please note that "1 of 1" refers to the specific illustration on each card, NOT the character depicted. Inevitably, some characters will appear on multiple cards in different poses. Each card is hand drawn, therefore unique.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021
Monday, March 15, 2021
2020 New Zealand Mint 1oz Niue Justice League 60th Anniversary Martian Manhunter .999 Silver Proof Coin
This coin features a glorious green image of MARTIAN MANHUNTER alongside his logo. Additional engraving in the background, showing him in flight,completes the lively design. As a legal tender coin,the obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the year 2020-60 years exactly since the formation of the Justice League.I got excited for a minute when I thought I'd missed a sixtieth anniversary coin for the Manhunter from Mars from six years ago. Read the fine print, and it's from last year, in celebration of the JLA's anniversary. On the one hand, DC really should do a better job of celebrating the world's greatest super-heroes as a team, given that most of us are quizzical over that Green Arrow 80th anniversary special when the dude hasn't supported an ongoing in a few years. On the other hand, J'Onn J'Onzz's entire existence continues to be bound up in the group he co-founded. Admittedly, as a solo character, he would rate neither a coin nor a special on his own, so I should be happy that he'll always be a Beatle, even if only Pete Best.
Key Selling Points:
Sixth release in the officially licensed JUSTICE LEAGUE 1oz Silver Coin Collection.
Celebrates the 60th anniversary of the original super hero team.
Features two images of MARTIAN MANHUNTERTM. In the forefront he is shown in colour with his logo and, in the background, engraved in flight.
Acrylic coin case allows easy access and display-arrives inside a complementary box.
Limited mintage of 1,960 for each coin reflects the year the JUSTICE LEAGUE was created.
Ideal for any collector, especially one of DC Comic memorabilia.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Picking up the numbering from the Firestorm and Aquaman Blue Ribbon Digests:
DC, 1979 Series Price: 1.75 USD; 2.25 CAD
Indicia frequency: Monthly
On-sale date: 1986-07-03
Indicia / Colophon Publisher: DC Comics, Inc.
Brand: DC Blue Ribbon Digest
Editing: Barbara Randall
Martian Manhuntercover / 1 page
Pencils: George Perez
Inks: George Perez
Letters: Gaspar Saladino; typeset
Genre: science fiction; superhero
Martian ManhunterTable of Contents / 1 page
Indexer Notes: On inside front cover.
Menace of the Martian Weapons!John Jones Manhunter from Mars / comic story / 5.67 pages
Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Characters: Martian Manhunter [John Jones; J'onn J'onzz]; Captain Harding (supporting); The Buggsy Roach Gang (intro, villain)
Synopsis: A cache of Martian weapons falls to Earth and into Buggsy Roach's hands.
Reprints: Detective Comics (DC, 1937 series) #264 (February, 1959)
The Origin of the Justice League-- Minus One!Justice League / comic story / 33 pages
Script: Steve Englehart
Pencils: Dick Dillin
Inks: Frank McLaughlin
Characters: Justice League of America [Green Arrow [Oliver Queen]; Green Lantern [Hal Jordan] (also in flashback as Hal Jordan); Superman [Clark Kent; Kal-El] (also in flashback); Martian Manhunter [J'onn J'onzz] (on tape and in flashback); The Flash [Barry Allen] (flashback); Batman [Bruce Wayne] (flashback); Aquaman (flashback); Wonder Woman [Diana Prince] (flashback)]; Robin [Dick Grayson] (flashback); Challengers of the Unknown [Ace Morgan; Prof. Haley; Red Ryan; Rocky Davis] (flashback); the Blackhawks [Blackhawk; Andre; Stanislaus; Hendrickson; Chop-Chop; Olaf; Chuck] (flashback); Dr. Saul Erdel (flashback); Commander Blanx (villain) (flashback); Roy Raymond (flashback); Karen Duncan (flashback) Lois Lane (flashback); Jimmy Olsen (flashback); Rex the Wonder Dog (flashback); Congo Bill (flashback); Congorilla (flashback); Robotman [Dr. Robert Crane] (flashback); The Vigilante [Greg Sanders] (flashback); Plastic Man (flashback); Rip Hunter (flashback); Jeff Smith (flashback); Adam Strange (flashback); Alanna (flashback)
Synopsis: Featuring the near-origin of the JLA told by the Martian Manhunter via tape to Green Arrow.
Reprints: Justice League of America (DC, 1960 series) #144 (July, 1977)
John Jones' Farewell to EarthJohn Jones Manhunter from Mars / comic story / 6.67 pages
Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Characters: Martian Manhunter [John Jones; J'onn J'onzz]; Captain Harding (supporting); S'vor (introduction, villain); Jovians (introduction)
Synopsis: Jovians come to Earth searching for a criminal but they need Manhunter's help because their weakness is water and it's raining. Jones agrees to help them in exchange for a ride home.
Reprints: Detective Comics (DC, 1937 series) #267 (May, 1959)
The Invaders from the Space WarpJohn Jones Manhunter from Mars / comic story / 11.67 pages
Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Characters: Zook (intro); Diane Meade; R'Ell; Martian Manhunter [John Jones; J'onn J'onzz]
Synopsis: When alien criminals from another dimension escape to Earth, Manhunter rounds them all up, but they accidentally leave their pet Zook behind.
Reprints: Detective Comics (DC, 1937 series) #311 (January, 1963)
The Devil Men of PlutoJ'onn J'onzz Manhunter from Mars / comic story / 8.67 pages
Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Characters: Martian Manhunter [J'onn J'onzz]; The Devil Men of Pluto [Nar; Xanadar; L'Lex] (villains)
Synopsis: The Devil Men of Pluto come to Earth looking for a stolen treasure.
Reprints: House of Mystery (DC, 1951 series) #159 (June, 1966)
Thantos -- The 3-in-1 Man!J'onn J'onzz Manhunter from Mars / comic story / 8.5 pages
Script: Jack Miller
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Characters: Martian Manhunter [J'onn J'onzz; Marco Xavier]; Zook; Thantos (villain)
Synopsis: Thantos, a being from another dimension, attempts to collect the materials that will allow him to return to earth at will, but Manhunter defeats him.
Reprints: House of Mystery (DC, 1951 series) #168 (July, 1967)
The Last Angry God!Justice League / comic story / 20 pages
Script: Denny O'Neil
Pencils: Dick Dillin
Inks: Dick Giordano
Characters: Justice League of America [Batman [Bruce Wayne]; Superman [Clark Kent; Kal-El]; Green Lantern [Hal Jordan]; Martian Manhunter [J'onn J'onzz]; The Atom [Ray Palmer]; The Flash [Barry Allen]]; Korge (villain)
Synopsis: J'onn J'onzz enlists his former teammates to help the Martians against the evil giant Korge.
Reprints: Justice League of America (DC, 1960 series) #115 (January-February 1975)
Digest Forumletters page / 1 page
Indexer Notes Inside back cover. Letter of comment from reader Diabolu Frank. No editorial response.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
I thought this A-Mortal piece would be a perfect Halloween post, but couldn't find a scan until after the holiday. Oh well. I guess Friday the 13th will do as a theme in a pinch. At least this one hasn't been sitting in a queue for half a decade-- just for long enough that I can't remember whether this was from Comicpalooza, North Texas Comic Book Show, or Other. I'm not familar with Robert Henry, but he was sitting next to Tim Vigil at a con while I was getting one of my personal character creations drawn. I liked Mr. Henry's book and offered him a selection of references to contribute to one of my unfinished jams. As such, his layout was dictated by available space, but I think he did a good job working within those restrictions. It's one of if not the first of the jams I started back in 2014, but I think I can maybe squeeze one more piece in before finally putting the whole thing up here. Won't happen this year, obviously...
Friday, November 6, 2020
I've often mentioned my regrets over holding artists' work "hostage" to my severe downturn in blogging from daily to, in some cases, not even annually. I've stepped up a bit since this blog's thirteenth anniversary in September, though noticeably drifting from a weekdaily schedule that month to weekly-ish in October. This has been one of the longest weeks in the longest year in recorded human history, so I wanted to go out on a high note by releasing a piece I've saved far too long for a special occasion.
If I recall correctly, Brad Garneau started out in gaming before going into commissioned art with a specialty in painting. I really liked his work when I first saw it in 2015, but I'm not in a painting patron price bracket. Thankfully, he also does line art commissions, with a style recalling the likes of Angel Medina and Sam Kieth. He contributed The Vixen to a jam that was completed in 2017 (one of the few, in fact) that I'm only just now realizing as I type this that I've yet to publish. God, I suck.
Anyway, I don't get a lot of color pieces, and I wanted this one to get showcased at a time when it would get a lot of eyes... so instead I sit on it for four years after my traffic has dwindled to double digits from inactivity. Sigh. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Nothing to do now but brush. If you're interested in the subject, Tybalt Bak'sar, he has a profile page in the Vile Menagerie (now free of Photobucket branding), as well as a battle against The Cheetah...