Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 Gypsy Comicpalooza Commission by Janice Tauro

As has been the case for the last several years and doing no small harm to my stress levels or general well being, I approached convention season with an ambitious project in mind. Despite it's steadily "San Diegoing" its way out of showcasing actual comic book talent in a show call Comicpalooza, it's still my home town convention... and the place where I can most easily juggle crazy schemes like Aliens 30th Anniversary character commissions signed by the actors who portrayed them, or numerous jams, some still unfinished for three years and counting (though I've made progress.)

While gathering prospects for this year's (and almost certainly the next as well's) project, I stumbled upon the Journey Bunny booth. The artist had some lovely work available for a very reasonable price, plus she and her table mate were as friendly and welcoming as could be. I gave her a stack of reference for different projects I've been working on over the years, but ultimately her favorite subject was Cynthia "Cindy" Reynolds. Gypsy is of course late of the Detroit Justice League and Justice League Task Force, but more recently adapted to live action as a reoccurring character on CW's The Flash.

Tauro only had time for a bust, so she opted to having Gypsy turning invisible around the edges. However, what remains is a lovely watercolor on sturdy paper, with mysterious eyes and windswept hair. Tauro had a beaming smile every time I saw her, and I have one as I look at this great piece. My only regret is that I didn't have her take part in a jam I was working on instead, with another favorite heroine, because I paid a "name" artist an exorbitant amount of money for something I liked fractionally as much as this. Maybe I can talk her into painting over it next year?

Journey Bunny

Monday, July 2, 2018

2017 Roh Kar Jam Sketch Detail by Allen Bellman

Allen 'Al' Bellman was a staff artist at Timely during The Golden Age of Comics. The majority of his work was on Captain America Comics and Marvel Mystery Comics, and he drew characters like The Patriot, Cap, Sub-Mariner, The Whizzer and Human Torch. He's probably best known for his "Let's Play Detective" strip. He'd appeared several times at Houston's Space City Cons, and I tried to angle for a commission. At the time, he was only working on characters he'd been associated with back in the day (the same answer Jim Steranko always gives me, not to mention Frank Brunner,) and I have always made a point of not doing that very thing. Well, that and I get all this Martian Manhunter stuff that nobody living ever drew before I hit them up.

I was at the 2017 Charlotte Heroes Convention, and I was specializing in new and ongoing jam pieces at that show. I saw Bellman once again, as usual with his wife (decked out in a Captain America themed get-up.) They're adorable. Anyway, for whatever reason, Mr. Bellman was amenable to not only doing a "golden age" character from a company he'd refused to work for (DC,) but to do it as one of the finishing touches on a jam. I'd always wanted to see his take on Roh Kar, First Lawman of Mars, and he seemed genuinely honored and anxious about joining the artists who'd previously worked on the collaboration. I think he said something about being afraid of messing it up, but to me this was absolutely the capstone on two years of effort with a joyful, luminous take on the first Manhunter from Mars! It's the only part of the piece that is drawn solely in pencil, and I briefly considered having it inked, but it would be a travesty to alter Bellman's shading and linework. Personally, I think it's his best work, but I'm kinda biased!

If you'd like your own commission, click here!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Podcast- JLMay 2018: Silver Age Part One (2000)

Episode #32

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or directly download an art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

JLMay 2018-- Silver Age (2000) Podcast Crossover Event
Agamemno reaches Earth as the incredible event begins! Gathering some of the JLA's greatest foes --- Lex Luthor, Sinestro, the Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Element, Dr. Light, Chronos, Black Manta, and Felix Faust --- to help him in his plan to conquer the Earth, Agamemno switches the minds of the villains with those of their nemeses! Can the heroes foil the plot before the would-be conqueror prevails? You asked for it-- and you got it! A STAGGERING SUPER STRUGGLE stretching across this month's DC COMICS! Dig what's Coming!
From here follow JLMay 2017 to these fantastic podcasts! Each will cover a different issue of SILVER AGE and each will come out in May! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #JLMay2018 when discussing on social media!

JLMay 2018
  1. Silver Age #1 [Justice’s First Dawn]
  2. Silver Age: Justice League of America [Coffee & Comics Podcast]
  3. Silver Age: Challengers of the Unknown [Relatively Geeky Presents]
  4. Silver Age: Teen Titans [Super Mates]
  5. Silver Age: Dial "H" for Hero [Idol Head of Diabolu]
  6. Silver Age: The Flash [The Longbox Crusade]
  7. Silver Age: Doom Patrol [Waiting for Doom]
  8. Silver Age: The Brave & The Bold [Comic Reflections]
  9. Silver Age: Green Lantern [The Lanterncast]
  10. Silver Age: Showcase [Batgirl to Oracle]
  11. Silver Age: Silver Age 80 Page Giant [Chris & Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill]
  12. Silver Age: Silver Age Secret Files and Origins [Fire and Water]
Martian Manhunter in...
JLMay 2017
JLMay 2016

We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Silver Age: Dial H for Hero #1 (July, 2000)

"Imagine-- if you can-- that with the simple spin of an alien dial, you could transform yourself into a super-hero! Robby Reed possesses such a device and uses it to battle evil-- even though he never knows which hero he'll become or what powers he'll possess whenever he decides to--"

Dial H For Hero

Littleville, Colorado is established as the home of Robby & Gramps Reed, along with their housekeeper, Miss Millie. The small city had been plagued by the super-human hoodlums the Thunderbolt Gang, but Robby and his magical H-Dial hoped to stop them once and for all in his latest heroic form, the darkness generating Twilight (who strongly resembled the Marvel heroes Cloak and The Shroud, but with the powers of DC's Shadow Lass.)

In a Post-Crisis revision of his origin story, it was revealed that Robby determined that his H-Dial had inscribed upon it Interlac characters from the 30th Century language used by the Legion of Super-Heroes. After weeks of study based on information from a future weapon once confiscated by Superman that made the news, Robby was able to figure out the rotary-style dial had ten letters on it that translated as A-D-E-H-I-L-N-O-R-V, but he only needed to concern himself with four of them to become a hero.

After busting some T-Bolts, Robby bolted to the school bus for a field trip. His friend Joey had a flier that he tried to hide from the orphan about a father-son "Olympic" event at Littleville High School. Robby didn't remember his father at all, and Joey was surprised that he seemingly wasn't even curious about the man. The class arrived at Fort Masterson, the military base that housed the latest technology, a "Computer Ordinance Macro-Accelerator." Unbeknownst to them, the form of the super-villain Dr. Light was also lurking outside its gates. In truth, this was J'onn J'onzz, trapped in the body of the Justice League of America's foe. J'onn was unaware of the extent of evil Dr. Light was getting up to in his Martian form, but was reluctantly following Batman's plan to smear "himself" and create resistance to the compromised League.

Using Arthur Light's various technological projectors, J'onn created a hologram to appear as the Martian Manhunter and attack the base. "Moons of Mars! I didn't expect children here! Now I must plan my 'rampage' with extra care!" Even more surprising was a figure among the school kids, "What? Can it be--? I know that boy! That's Robby Reed! I recognize him-- though it's been years! I haven't seen him since... since the funeral." More than a decade earlier, Jack Reed had served on the Middleton Police Department before he and his wife were murdered by gangsters. Robby's grandfather soon after moved to Littleville, where Robby eventually found the H-Dial he now used to become the Pyronic Man to defend the base.

Despite no longer physically being a Martian, J'onn J'onzz reacted poorly to a flaming cage. Recovering, the Manhunter created holograms of Superman, the Flash and Green Lantern to distract Pyronic Man and the military forces. Robby decided to dial up another hero, something he could not do so immediately in his earlier appearances in 1960s House of Mystery comics. Then he was oddly surprised to become a giant, even though his very first H-Dial transformation was into Giantboy. Unable to function safely in his unnamed giant form (another break from the old strips,) Robby quickly cycled through a quadruplet identity (also unnamed) before settling on an old form, Radar-Sonar Man. Finally, this form managed to destroy "Dr. Light's" equipment, forcing J'onn/Arthur to discreetly strip off his villain costume to escape in plain clothes. In the aftermath of the assault on the base, no one seemed to notice him simply walk away. The Manhunter had accomplished his goal, as the military sent out an alert that the Justice League had gone rogue.

J'onn remained proud of the son of Jack Reed, but wondered what motivated him to super-heroism. In an epilogue, we learn that Gramps Reed refused to ever speak of the man whose crusading had cost the life of his (unnamed, fridged) daughter, encouraging his grandson to focus on the present and his scientific pursuits. Miss Millie felt that Robby's constant disappearances of late were related to a quest to understand his father, and Scrabble tiles resting on a table in Robby's lab shack were shown to spell out "D-A-D."

"The One-Man Justice League" was by Mark Waid & Barry Kitson

Monday, April 30, 2018

Silver Age: Justice League of America #1 (July, 2000)

Agamemno's body-swapped villainous JLA get up to some especially nasty business. This includes vomiting on one another, causing schools of sea life to devour each other as a laugh, massacring an entire miniaturized Daxamite city under foot, stealing the Oan central power battery, and rendering dozens of Green Lantern Corpsmen corpses, man. At one point, Dr. Light as Martian Manhunter is sexually propositioned by Catwoman as Black Canary after he flew her back to her apartment to feed her cats. "You're wasting your time, my amorous companion. Physics ace Arthur Light has always been more interested in test tubes and Bunsen burners than the fairer sex!" Clearly Brad Meltzer never read this story, or maybe consent is just a turn-off for Dr. Light? Technically, Catwoman is suggesting the sexual assault of both their borrowed bodies, so maybe she just phrased her request ineffectively?

Martian/Light's other major contribution to the issue was using his ability to turn himself yellow to choke the decorated Green Lantern Ares Bandet of Xarda to death (while partially assuming an anachronistic Natural Martian form.) Also, Martian Vision is apparently capable of destroying a whole mound of GL power rings (stolen at super-speed by the Flash/Mr. Element.)

Given the viciousness reflected in this synopsis, you probably shouldn't be surprised that "The League Without Justice!" is credited to Mark Millar, Scot Kolins and Dan Panosian, although this was before Millar built his career on that sort of cynical sadism. Personally, I can't take it seriously enough to be offended, since this story is a retcon that was only barely in continuity before being forgotten by a universe later rebooted anyway. It's a broadly satirical trifle, so you might as well roll with it, although the cutesy Ty Templeton cover smuggles a (literal) gut punch (of an old lady) underneath its deceptive retro presentation.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Silver Age #1 (July, 2000)

Agamemno was a yellow-skinned, symmetrically dysmorphic humanoid alien would-be conqueror created by Mark Waid to serve as the inciting antagonist for a retconned adventure set in the early days of the Justice League. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson with Triumph, but somehow Agamemno had even less staying power.

Supposedly, Agamemno's father was the first sentient being to spring from the "Big Bang," who was supposedly killed by other, lesser, jealous beings. At least, that's the story Agamemno told Lex Luthor, as he appeared before the corrupt businessman upon arriving on Earth. Agamemno lacked a physical form, and so would animate whatever matter was handy to create a simulacrum of himself for corporeal affairs of that type. Agamemno sought beings powerful enough to help him exact revenge for his father's death, and the terran Justice League of America appeared to be the perfect candidates. However, they didn't appear to be morally aligned for such a matter, so Agamemno offered to switch their essences out with terrestrial criminals, so long as they were willing to serve his ends. Small groupings of villains associated with the League or its individual members ganged up on our heroes to facilitate the body swaps. Black Manta and Dr. Light staged an attack on Atlantis, drawing the attention of Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter...
"Thanks for responding to my JLA signal, J'Onn. Under the circumstances, two on two seems fair!"

"My pleasure, Arthur! This shouldn't take long!"

Unbeknownst to them, Agamemno was waiting in the wings with a fourth fiend, Mr. Element. "According to Agamemno, fire is the Martian's weakness! He no doubt believes he's safe from flame on the ocean's floor-- but with my weapon, I can turn that nearby coral-- into pure sodium, which burns burns underwater!" The crook next extracted the oxygen from the water around the Sea King, suffocating him unconscious. Black Manta observed, "Make a note, Light. From this point on-- you might want to lay off the matches!" Similarly, Superman, Batman, Black Canary, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, and Green Arrow body swapped with their corresponding adversaries Luthor, the Penguin, Catwoman, Element, Sinestro, Chronos, and Felix Faust. The displaced Leaguers were secured at their Secret Sanctuary with the help of a duped Snapper Carr. However, "Felix Faust" was able to create a bow with a spent umbrella of "The Penguin," then guide "Catwoman" in firing a trick arrow he's secured before the body swap (as Faust's eyesight was comparatively poor.) The resulting explosion helped the team gain access to Sinestro's power ring, and then freedom.

Batman/Penguin decided that the team's best course of action was to swiftly ruin the reputation of the Justice League, to put Earth on guard against its former protectors. J'Onn J'Onzz bemoaned that rolling back his and Superman's efforts at acceptance by the planet, but deferred to the Dark Knight. Meanwhile, Snapper Carr called in the reserves to help him recover the missing "villains," including the Teen Titans, the Challengers of the Unknown, Metamorpho, Elongated Man, the Doom Patrol, and the Blackhawk Squadron...

"Pawns of the Invincible Immortal!" was by Mark Waid, Terry and Rachael Dawson. Silver Age was a minor event running throughout a publication month involving one shots that helped re-secure trademarks for a bunch of old DC titles while piggybacking relatively moribund period properties onto the success of JLA. This story was fine, I guess. It was never my bag, obviously, and it still bums me out that three Leaguers got stuck with villains that were not from their rogues gallery. I'm sure that was a concern both commercially and for expediency, since it would have eaten up a lot of pages to explain who, say, the Human Squirrel, the Ape Archer, and Socks Slade were.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Supposing... The Samachson Estate Reclaimed John Jones?

2016 Martian Manhunter - John Jones detective sketch card art by Brendon & Brian Fraim

I had an odd and very minor dream last night wherein I was flipping through the Diamond Previews comic book ordering catalog. In the IDW section, there was a tiny image of J'Onn J'Onzz flying at the reader, and I vaguely recall it being connected to an Artist's Edition reproducing original pages from Justice League of America. When I woke up, I got to thinking that it might be a fun thought experience to consider whether Martian Manhunter had the sort of mobility to appear in such an ad. I'll try not to take too long, because he really doesn't, and the legal weeds are awfully tall in even considering it.

Beginning in the latter half of the 20th Century, a lot of Golden Age creators began challenging “work made for hire” contracts with early comics publishers based on their independent contractor status, and the general tendencies of everyone involved in the industry for having a poor understanding of copyright law. Basically, everybody was racing to cash in on a hot fad, paperwork was sloppy, and no one was taking a long view at the longevity and value of comic creations. Bob Kane has arguably been the most successful at these renegotiation encounters by quietly and cunningly making it worth National Periodical Publications wile to pay him off and afford him broad creative credit for the Batman franchise. Kane's rights claims provided DC Comics with a shield against other involved talents, since they would first have to go through Kane to get to DC, significantly muddying the legal waters. Considerably less successful have been the creators of Superman, who waged very public war against National for full ownership of the property quite early on, and have been met with numerous devastating defeats in the courtroom. However, there have been successes in that respect, as when Pete Morisi secured copyright on Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, which was sold by Charlton to DC Comics in the 1980s without his consent or involvement. The two parties negotiated an amicable divorce of intellectual property, and Thunderbolt was most recently published by Dynamite Entertainment under a licensing agreement.

The creation and ongoing rights to J'onn J'onzz are unlike any of those cases, though. The concept of a Manhunter from Mars had already been developed a year before his creation by an entirely different creative team in another National title. The only individual involved with both incarnations was Jack Schiff, a National editor, and the premise appeared in a Batman comic story dutifully credited to the aforementioned Bob Kane. The Samachson Estate would have to overcome the burden of proof that J'onn J'onzz was not a derivative work of another National property developed by one of their employees and the studio of a listed creator they had a firm contract with. The best case scenario would be the estate securing credit to Joe Samachson for co-creation and some sort of royalty or stipend. Given that just such a credit began appearing in the 1990s contemporaneous to a bunch of these reversion/termination filings, it's possible a settlement of that sort already occurred.

Having established the realities and reasonable assumptions on the matter, I can now delve into wild, ridiculous speculation. Suppose, against all odds, at least some of the rights to J'onn J'onzz were wrested from DC Entertainment? Again, I have to stress that despite multimedia adaptations and a degree of name recognition, Martian Manhunter is of extremely modest value in general and especially when separated from the DC Universe. Most of his stories were unambiguously written by hired hands and have inextricable ties to DC property. There's a very good chance that DC would simultaneously control their version of J'onn J'onzz and jealously guard against any of their concepts turning up in a competing incarnation. Even if Joe Certa's estate were to piggyback onto copyright claims, there would be a whole other conflict over National employee Jack Miller's role in the overwhelming majority of solo J'onn J'onzz stories published before 1968. Ironically, National's ownership of Martian Manhunter is more solidly bedrock than over any of their big three trinity of iconic heroes. What would either of J'onn J'onzz's established creators gain from a separation?

Joe Samachson is the credited writer of "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel," "The Case Of The Magic Baseball" and "The Man With 20 Lives." What do those stories give you to work with?
  1. The character of John Jones/J'onn J'onzz, though likely not the name "Manhunter from Mars" due to the earlier Batman story.

  2. A much more binary White Male John Jones / Green Male J'onn J'onzz, since variations on that model could be argued as derivative of DC stories, and you'd want the most recognizable version of the concept to exploit.
  3. Most of J'onn J'onzz's long established look and powers. In the Silver and Bronze Ages, J'onzz was much more limited in his abilities than the version we know today, which hews closer to the original conception.

  4. A strip likely called "J'onn J'onzz," since Edgar Rice Burroughs' people would probably take issue with "John Jones of Mars" being too similar to their more famous John Carter.

  5. Professor Mark Erdel and the Robot Brain. One of these concepts has been killed off before the end of the initial story, but a story engine could be developed around John Jones bringing things to Earth or transporting himself to other spheres through the power of the Robot Brain. More importantly was the notion of its reaching "other dimensions," a premise never explored in the later strips that opens up enormous options for classic sci-fi/fantasy "looking glass" scenarios across "space-- time-- or the fourth dimension!" Erdel could also serve a similar role as Professor Emil Jennings in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, leaving behind a treasure trove of gadgets that could fuel stories. He was after all a "world-famous scientist." For what, exactly?

  6. Emphasis on J'onn J'onzz as a scientist, an element almost immediately dropped in the Jack Miller stories. Proper deductive reason and the scientific method could be applied to stories in place of the logic leaps that came to define the DC strips.

  7. A greater sense of exploration. Reflecting Samachson's body of work outside comics, Jones could be more of a globetrotter and connoisseur of cultures. Why would he police one U.S. city indefinitely? Would he perhaps be more of an interventionist, stamping out corruption wherever he found it to aid his adoptive world toward its own Great Evolution? Unimpeded by a shared universe, he could topple governments and openly conflict with the mores of the western world? Or perhaps follow some variation on the Prime Directive, and vow only to work anonymously within the established framework of terrestrial customs?

  8. The de-emphasis of Mars itself, as the world was little explored in the early strips, and scientific progress has rendered assertions from those strips unlikely. Perhaps J'onzz comes from a far future Mars, or one from a parallel dimension? It may be best to stress his role as an extraterrestrial visitor over an implausible and trademark impacting Martian. Regardless, Mars is treated like a utopia in the first strip, which is a difficult thing to explore, and all paths to dystopia are well trod at DC.

  9. Lt. Saunders as an ongoing adversary. Saunders was John Jones' boss in the earliest stories, but was never well defined and swiftly replaced by Captain Harding. Jones needs a Lex Luthor more than he does a Perry White, plus Saunders comes off as rather oily in his debut. Maybe he finds some of Erdel's devices or gets exposed to some alien energy, or perhaps he's just a corrupt cop that stymies Jones' pursuit of justice without actually breaking the law himself?
It's all just idle speculation, given the aforementioned rationals for why this would never happen, but I thought you might join me down this particular rabbit hole on an April Fool's Day/Easter combination holiday...

Monday, March 26, 2018

Justice League: Mortal Leaked Cast Costume Test Photo

Half a decade ago, I pulled together a Martian Manhunter-specific look at what would have been the first JLA movie, featuring 6'2", sixty year old Australian Hugh Keays-Byrne as J'Onn J'Onzz. A couple of years later, when a picture of a latex mask produced for the film was finally released, I did an awkward, halting podcast adaptation of my earlier piece. That photo was part of a wealth of new information offered about the film in anticipation of the production of a documentary on it, George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal. They were even canny enough to create character posters for the doc, including the one seen in the header image above.

Unfortunately, it appears that Warner Brothers did not sign off on allowing any of this material to be used ahead of their actually completing a Justice League flick that wasn't as bad as you heard, but still landed with a thud on screens last year. I haven't heard of any movement on the project for a couple of years now and its official Twitter account went cold in September of 2016.

Don't ask me how toy photographer James Garcia got a very low definition picture of a full cast costume test (possibly here or here?), but such a thing apparently got tweeted out with the condemnation Yeah, can’t say I’m disappointed JUSTICE LEAGUE: MORTAL didn’t happen, then continues later in the thread with "I honestly thought it was from that old failed 1997 Justice League TV show when I first saw it. These look like cheap Halloween costumes". Also, the since-Golden-Globe-winning actor Armie Hammer, who would have played the Dark Knight, noted Not quite.... The bat suit isn’t right and also The Green Lantern was black. (@common was going to nail that role). The consensus of the thread was that the suits were bad, but Martian Manhunter looked the best, and the suits on the Justice League porn parody were better. (Note to self: why haven't you seen the Justice League porno yet?)

For my own taste, with the exceptions of Wonder Woman and Superman, I definitely prefer the looks and character selection of Mortal over the Snyder/Whedon jam. The Alien Atlas is clearly based on his short-lived Brightest Day costume, and is obviously made of rubber muscles in the old school 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Corman Fantastic Four Thing mold that I'm iffy on. It's a very classic look for J'Onn that I'm not confident would have been well received by general audiences, who may have dubbed him a cheapjack Hulk. I'm a defender of the New 52 redesign, which I think would look fantastic and distinctive on the silver screen, and we now have a proof of concept via the television show Supergirl's excellent but too little seen One Year Later rendition. I've never been wild about the comics used as source material for the screenplay (save "Tower of Babel," which is a sequel story, not a launching pad) or the word that it would have played like an excessively violent Injustice: Gods Among Us grimdark interpretation of children's heroes. All that having been said though, I still kinda wish Mortal had come out. I feel it would have been lambasted and underperformed in a manner not dissimilar from the 2017 attempt, but could have taught Warner Brothers lessons that may have provided positive guidance on Man of Steel and averted Dawn of Justice entirely.

All in all, J'Onn J'Onzz making his "cinematic debut" eleven years after the fact in a sketchy behind the scenes photo from an aborted film featuring the entire "true" Justice League of America in an untold proto-formation story is just about the most Martian Manhunter way this could have played out. Mortal is like a real life "The Origin of the Justice League-- Minus One!"

Friday, March 16, 2018

Justice League Vol. 1 (2018) Solicitation

Justice League Vol. 1
Written by Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez
Illustrated by Jim Cheung
$16.99 US
DC Comics
On sale Nov 13, 2018 | 144 Pages | 978-1-4012-8499-2

Visionary author Scott Snyder makes his mark on DC's most legendary team in Justice League Vol. 1!

Spinning out of the cataclysmic events of Dark Nights: Metal and the universe-defining No Justice, the core members of the Justice League--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and more--are finally reunited!

The cosmos suddenly opens up to new threats that the Justice League could not imagine! As Lex Luthor and Batman race to solve a mystery going back to the beginning of the DCU, the rest of the League dive deep into new corners of their own mythologies!

One of the most critically acclaimed authors of his generation finally scribes DC's flagship title in Justice League Vol. 1! Collects Justice League #1-6.
It's been nearly half a year since my last post, due to both general burnout and my reading very little mainstream DC/Marvel output in recent years. Truth to tell, there were many years there where I kept buying Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman product out of devotion to the characters and blogs without ever bothering to read them. They're still sitting in boxes. For this reason, I can't tell you a) a first person perspective on how the New 52 Martian Manhunter series ended; b) where he's turned up in the year or two since, or c) what he's been up to since his return in the most recent issue of Dark Nights: Metal. Well, okay, he rescued Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Mr. Terrific from imprisonment, they all fought Starro off-panel, and then they got ambushed by those parallel universe lowercase "b" bizarro Batman/Justice Leaguer mash-ups. That story is about to spin-off into an event mini-series called Justice League: No Justice where everybody including J'Onn J'Onzz gets a sucky group-themed new costume and a bunch of relaunches get set up.

Speaking of which, here's the sorta-not-really "leaked" solicitation for a collection of the 2018 relaunch of Justice League. They're folding all the current JLA series back into one, putting on notable talent, and giving us virtually all of the actual League founders on the same team again. Only Hal Jordan is excluded, but the Green Lantern Corps is still represented by John Stewart, who is the superior character anyway. Even the Black Canary of the '10s, Cyborg, is sticking around. But most importantly, the Manhunter from Mars is finally on the core team again for the first time since Infinite Crisis twelve years ago. Again, this blog is now a decade old, and that has never been the case across its entire existence. And they're keeping the New 52 redesign I really like, even if you guys all seem to have more mixed feelings about it.

Is this enough to get me to buy monthly floppies again? I've been doing that for a while, but they're of the more economical Alterna Comics variety, not this $4 nonsense. Christopher Priest taking over was a much greater temptation, if only for the new adventures of Glenn Gammeron, but we all knew the minute they put a black man in charge of the book that the countdown clock was ticking on that run. Barring some sort of J'Onnaissance, I won't even be picking up the trades. I'm just happy to see the Alien Atlas afforded some respect and acknowledgement again, plus I didn't want to have a reason to hold resentment towards Victor Stone.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Scary Monsters featuring Chris Claremont (2003)

Episode #31

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or directly download an art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

This episode, we look at the 2003 six issue mini-series JLA: Scary Monsters by Chris Claremont & Josh Hood, with a brief interview segment with the writer following the story synopsis.

Library Gallery This episode's non-paying advertiser:
We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Vile Menagerie: ARGUS WEEDE

Alter Ego: Argus Weede
Occupation: Gang Leader
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: The Weede Gang
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #313 (March, 1963)
Eyes: Light
Hair: Black

Argus Weede was an extremely elusive crime lord in Middletown. He successfully kept out of the reach of the law through a complex system involving contacting his men via video conferencing or meeting them in person only through an indirect route to "contact stations." These stations included at least one highly advanced underground lair hidden below an artificial tree trunk elevator. Another base was established in a lushly decorated abandoned railway car.

The asset that most set Weede apart from common criminals was his interest in "black magic" and occult artifacts. These included a magical element Weede acquired which, if combined with the notable but seemingly powerless Wand of Wodessa, would grant spectacular abilities. A small time hood named Roy Roggins who had been refused entry by the Weede Gang heard about the gang leader's interest in the wand. Roggins stole the wand from an elaborate estate known to hold a collection of magical artifacts, but was greeted upon exiting by Weede's men. Also on the scene was police detective John Jones, who chose to address the situation in his secret identity as the Manhunter from Mars. Jones had been staking out the site in hopes of capturing Weeede, and the Manhunter decided to pretend the wand had powers in order to clandestinely follow his gang back to their leader.

Eventually, the hoods reached Argus Weede, who was able to guess at the Manhunter's plan. Weede took the Wand of Wodessa from Roggins, connected the essential magical element to the tip, and temporarily trapped the Martian Marvel. The Weede Gang then launched a crime spree that The Manhunter struggled to contain, thanks to a series of magical constructs. Finally, the Manhunter faked his own seeming demise, invisibly separated Weede from the wand, and delivered the lot of them to jail.

Powers & Weapons:
Argus Weede appeared to be a man of great resources, possessing a wealth of advanced equipment of unknown origin. With the Wand of Wodessa, Weede could animated objects like statues of Civil War mounted soldiers, a humanoid champion made of raw electricity, and a smoke creature to do his bidding. The Wand of Wodessa could also levitated, collapse, explode, and otherwise broadly manipulate objects with enough force as to briefly contain a powerful Martian hero.

Quote: "I've got as many tricks up my sleeve as the Manhunter has!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Monday, September 18, 2017

2016 Porto “The Man of 1,000 Disguises” sketch by Antoine Mayes

After I forgot to collect my copy of Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter volume 1 and a jam piece from Antoine Mayes at one convention, and then he didn't have it with him at a second convention, he flagged me down at a third convention he wasn't even exhibiting at to get the abandoned items back to me. It worked out very much in my favor though, because besides enhancing the jam piece, Mayes had taken advantage of the reprint volume to more fully realize his own version of the Porto jam from scratch. Here he offers a distinctive “The Man of 1,000 Disguises” pondering his next bit of costumed camouflage while flanked by figures from his past misadventures, the Native American and the spaceman. Mayes had some loose ideas for additional touches at the bottom right (I seem to recall something about an orb) but as this was just a fun unsolicited sketch do-over, it was ultimately left as is. I really enjoy Mayes' angle on the character and the cool rendering of the alternate identities, making relative Mort Porto look more like a contender. I swear, Mayes has more imagination and talent with a ballpoint pen than a lot of more seasoned pros have with pricey tools...

Antoine Mayes

Monday, September 4, 2017

2014-2015 Porto Comicpalooza convention sketches by Herbie Rivera and Antoine Mayes

One of the first, and frankly, least successful jams I started in 2014 involved Porto, among the most obscure Silver Age Martian Manhunter foes. I asked Herbie Rivera to draw the character, which he did in his baseline entertainer appearance. Unfortunately, in black and white and sans any of his costumes like “The Human Fly” or “Bird-Man,” all the drawing looks like is a random dude. Further, the jam was a mess of unrelated sketches of varied perspectives, with lots of dead space. I wanted to try to better unify the total image, and I needed to better communicate “The Man of 1,000 Disguises.” I've been very impressed with Antoine Mayes' imagination on a different jam piece that he really set off, and so I handed him a copy of Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter volume 1 and let him go to town. As you can see, he didn't disappoint, supplying five additional figures in wildly varying costumes derived from Porto's sole story. I actually forgot to collect the art and the book from Mayes at the con, and then we had a few missed connections before I finally got to see my goodies again. I'm sorry for the anxiety that gave Mayes, but I do not at all regret the results that protracted time frame yielded.

There was a long delay both between the efforts of Rivera and Mayes and between initiating the commission and receiving it. I chose to make this the first new art posting since September 30, 2016 because it works so well symbolically. While it wasn't my intention, this blog went nearly a year with barely any updates, and in the meantime Photobucket ceased to offer hosting for the thousands of images that I used to illustrate this site across its now ten years in existence. Jeez, if I'd realized we'd hit a decade, I'd have gotten a post up on the first, our actual anniversary. Eh, I'm not much for pomp anyway. Point is, I'm now reclaiming this blog, slowly fixing what's been broken in my absence and returning to weekly posts. The podcast should be back on a seasonal schedule by Halloween with a special guest, and I've begun daily updates on the salvage efforts on Twitter. I appreciate your patience, and hope I can dazzle you the way Mayes dazzled me...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2017 DC Extended Universe film intro animation Martian Manhunter

I've so far been grateful that J'Onn J'Onzz has been spared involvement in Warner Brothers' lousy shared universe of motion pictures, but the hope is that Wonder Woman will mark a course correction. This is especially true now that the new animated opening from the DC films has been released, and pretty clearly features the Manhunter from Mars in a relatively prominent position.

If you look at the final Cinemascope view of the featured characters, there are roughly five groupings, with the center section dominated by the movie Justice League. Specifically, that's The Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and Aquaman, all of whom also got solo animation spotlights earlier in the clip. J'Onn J'Onzz's replacement as a League founder, Cyborg, also got a solo spot, but is inexplicably consigned to the fore of the second grouping at left of the JLA (subtext?) Green Lantern is also way in the background of the core group, flying upward, along with that classic icon... Atrocitus?

In the group at right of center are a bunch of silhouettes that appear to resemble other Lantern Corpsmen, with (I think) Sinestro the most prominent but also (probably) involving Jessica Cruz and Kilowog. Less ambiguous are Nightwing (back to his blue chest symbol,) Harley Quin, and our own Alien Atlas!
...and the Green Lantern central battery. The DCEU is very invested in GLs.

How big of a deal is this? Difficult to say. J'Onn is clearer and more visible than many of the characters here, and the more obvious inclusions all have representation in films, television, and/or animation at present. His appearances on Supergirl (also included) would seem enough to qualify him, given the presences of DC's Legends of Tomorrow's Firestorm, Hawkgirl, and Hawkman (as well as Green Arrow and DC Super Hero Girls' Bumblebee.) Still, confirmed film stars like Mera, Batgirl, Shazam and Black Adam are of similar standing in the intentionally vague group shot (as is TV's Black Lightning, admittedly) so place your bets and we'll see how it pays out...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Podcast- JLMay 2017: Justice & Liberty

Episode #30

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or directly download an art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

JLMay 2017-- The Justice maxi-series (2006) Podcast Crossover Event reaches chapter three, as Diabolu Frank offers a dramatic reading, which carries over into coverage of JLA: Secret Origins (2002), JLA: Liberty and Justice (2003), a smidge of Kingdom Come and more!

From here follow JLMay 2017 to these fantastic podcasts! Each will cover a different issue of JUSTICE and each will come out in May! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #JLMay when discussing on social media!
  1. Aquaman and Firestorm: The Fire and Water Podcast ep. 193
  2. Super Mates 70: The Husband & Wife Geekcast!
  3. The Idol Head of Diabolu: A Martian Manhunter Podcast #30
  4. Views from the Longbox Episode 263: A somewhat regular podcast about comic books.
  5. Pulp 2 Pixel Podcast: Secret Sagas of the Multiverse #26
  6. The LanternCast Episode #279: The Foremost Green Lantern Podcast on the Internet!
  7. Shazamcast: Earth's Mightiest Captain Marvel Podcast
  8. Comic Reflections (Weekly Discussion of Gold, Silver, and Bronze age Comics)
  9. Silver and Gold 28: The Booster Gold and Captain Atom Podcast
  10. The Power of Fishnets 22: The Black Canary and Zatanna Podcast
  11. Waiting for Doom (The Doom Patrol Podcast) Episode 95
  12. Justice’s First Dawn: A Classic Justice League of America Podcast
  13. Diana Prince Wonder Woman Podcast #14: Spirit of Truth & Justice (2001-2007)

Alex Ross & The Manhunter from Mars

We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options: