Saturday, September 23, 2023

DCU Holiday Special 2010 #1 (February, 2011)

The Centennial Park Hero Award was being presented by Superman following the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Man of Steel offers up a litany of heroes from sports, politics, first responders, the armed forces, "And, of course there are many metahumans I've battled beside... who are also worthy of such an honor." However, the award ultimately goes to Alex Monroe, a little boy disfigured by third degree burns over his face and much of his body while saving his siblings from a fire.

Superman in "Hero of Heroes" was by Kevin Grevioux, Roberto Castro, & Scott Koblish.

Friday, September 22, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #5 (Early June, 2011)

Exobytes continued to attack the Watchtower. "J'Onn's barely recovered and he was only attacked once." Aquaman couldn't stand unaided after two. Soon, life support was down, and everyone was headed for the transporters. Also, one-armed future Atom did a bunch of stuff with also future Lex Luthor, in the future, 'natch.

"Three Minutes" was by writer Marv Wolfman, Mike S. Miller, Adriana Melo, and Norman Lee.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Brightest Day #18 (Late March, 2011)

No, you didn't miss an issue, but J'Onn J'Onzz misses several! The Sleuth from Outer Space appears in something like 16 of this book's 25 issues, with multi-issue gaps during periods where they really shouldn't. Like being trapped in a delusion created by one of his enemies, for instance. Also, when Deathstorm recreates Black Lantern Martian Manhunter and other corpsemen with a Lantern Battery or something. And readers are like, "oh no, are the heroes going to ban together to stop them?" And the creators just sent the Black Lanterns into space for seven issues, with a one panel acknowledgement that they're still out there. Rather than waste a week in October to such a paltry post, I just dropped it early into September's schedule. The actual story resumes Monday.

"Easy Come Easy Go" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Scott Clark & company. Don't it, though?

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Martian Manhunter Reddit & Comment Moderation

Confession: I've had lengthy hiatuses from blogging over the years, and at some point I kinda forgot that comment moderation was a thing? And that point was several years ago? So I'm going through all my blogs trying to read and approve everything that isn't in Hindi or advertising "enlargement" by non-Martian means. Sorry to everyone who had a question or wanted to buy something off me or whatever, and especially Kevin in New Orleans, who got caught in the flypaper most often.

To justify this public announcement as a blog post, here's some recommended Reddit reading, with light commentary.
  • What is your opinion on the Martian Manhunter and his place in the DC Universe?
    • The poster's premise is mostly that J'Onn isn't represented as powerfully as his stats suggest, which is a common complaint often addressed here over the years. Just the nature of being a third-stringer in Superman's shadow. Like most DC heroes, he needs a solo spotlight to shine without other, better known heroes around. Also-- get mad-- he's never had a compelling series. No Moore Swamp Thing, Miller Daredevil... hell, the team of Ostrander & Mandrake had a definitive run on The Spectre, not the Sleuth from Outer Space. Since 2006, every attempt has been a deconstruction/radical revision. How do you break down a character never fully constructed in the first place?

  • Why isn’t Martian Manhunter a popular superhero like the others?
    • Second verse, same as the first. The Alien Atlas looks so good on paper, but that paper is typically a back-up strip or team book, and the talent hasn't really been there on solo projects. People, myself included, fall in love with the potential of the character, but various factors prevent it from ever being realized. I mean, his main home has been Justice League books, which has a far more dynamic premise, and even the JLA have had long fallow periods. And even individual Leaguers of much greater cultural relevance like Wonder Woman and Aquaman have struggled for far more of their careers than they've triumphed.

  • Does Martian Manhunter have an enemy gallery or not?
    • Nobody mentioned The Vile Menagerie as a resource, preferring the broad net of the DC Comics Database. Human Flame, Mr. V, and Ma'alefa'ak came up the most in comments, in that order. I think the recent Action Comics serial helped with that.

  • What Martian Manhunter comics would you recommend?
    • This one was painful to me because it was all the most obvious stuff in abundance, and a lot of it bad. Think we could maybe highlight some key stories in the three year runs of JLA or the 1998 Martian Manhunter series? Chester Molester won't get a royalty if you dig American Secrets out of a dollar bin, and J'Onn is the main character. The New Frontier is largely indebted to it, as well as "The Origin of the Justice League-- Minus One!", Secret Origins #35 and "The Man I Never Was". But then, nothing from before 1988 qualified for the primary referenced list.

  • Is there a lore reason why Martian Manhunter never gets to be on the Justice League anymore?
    • Because he doesn't sell, and modernity demands greater representation. My question is why do they ever add more dudes to a team with only one woman more often than not? If you need a Black guy, maybe remember John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, instead of trying to make Cyborg happen again? And SNS, Captain Marvel should never be on this team. Can we have another viable super team in the modern DCU besides JLA and Titans?

  • Genuinely curious, why is Martian Manhunter always cast as a black man?
    • Because it fits the othering text of the character, we all want him to have a James Earl Jones caliber basso profondo voice, and it's one of the only ways to get a brother a job without a freakin' fan riot.

  • Why do people actually like Martian Manhunter that much, and want him to replace Cyborg??
    • Well, you're starting from a logical fallacy. J'Onn J'Onzz co-founded the team in 1960 with four other heroes, so he arguably has dibs over Superman and Batman, much less Cyborg, who only joined in 2010. Cyborg is most popular as a member of the Teen Titans, and his inclusion in the JLA has always felt forced, especially when he's treated as a founding member. Something similar was done with Black Canary, but she was still the second or third heroine to join the team in the 1960s, with ties to their predecessors in the Justice Society. Like Martian Manhunter, DC keeps trying and failing to make Cyborg happen as a soloist. However, J'Onn has often been considered the heart & soul of the League, where many see Cyborg as checking a quota box. J'Onn was a constant in the League's darkest hours, but he's mostly absent nowadays specifically because Cyborg took his slot, so it's especially galling. I personally think both characters should be excluded from the team until they have a single solitary successful series. It's basically the same argument as when the Supreme Court struck down racial consideration for college, and people decided it was time to stop allowing legacies as well. Let themn both in or take them both out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #4 (Late May, 2011)

"Gentlemen, I'm afraid your argument just became moot. We no longer have to take the fight to Brainiac... because Brainiac just brought the fight to us!" The JLA satellite was assailed by nanites and Brainiacs robot enforcers. Martian Manhunter saved Firestorm from the former with his laser vision. However, the robots were swiftly able to adjust to the Manhunter's invisibility, then infested him with nanites, with other heroes pained by his maintained telepathic link. Forestorm and Hawkman carried J'Onn to the infirmary. Oh, and in the future, The Ray lost his right arm to treachery by a revenge-driven Lex Luthor, as you do.

"Strike Force" was by writer Tony Bedard, pencils by Howard Porter & Adriana Melo, inks by John Livesay & Norman Lee. Nothing says consistency like alternating creative teams between issues in a continuing narrative. Also, that they're both meandering slugfests.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Brightest Day #11 (Early December, 2010)

The main reason why I didn't cover this maxi-series in 2010 was coordination. I was still trying to maintain multiple irregularly updated blogs that had ties to the comic, as well as the daily Martian Manhunter one. The prospect of juggling biweekly Aquaman posts for my Justice League Detroit blog and maybe even trying to rope-in Shag's Firestorm Fan or even Luke Jaconetti's Being Carter Hall, with anything else left to DC Bloodlines? Big old "nope" on that. But also? Kind of a hot mess. Portent portent portent. The book was always promising to tell a major story without actually doing it, and then the New 52 happened and nothing was carried over but the Aquaman creative team. This issue is full of Firestorm content that will not be reflected in the rebooted universe, and in fact the entire story ends on an unresolved Nuclear Man cliffhanger. Even if I was waiting for the book to wrap so that I could cover it comprehensively, the damned thing doesn't even have an ending, so what would be the point?

Thirteen years on, I don't remember why Alvin Rusch and Martin Stein entered the Firestorm Matrix, or what Deathstorm's goal was. When the villain takes control of the White Lantern, and uses it to recreate the Black Lantern versions of the twelve characters resurrected in Brightest Day out of thin air, I don't know the how or why. I checked a couple of online resources, and neither explained it. I could actually reread the comic I still own a physical copy of and paid something like $2.99 for. I have all the issues, and the story runs through many of them, so I could go through them all to inform my writing. I just don't want to. I look at late life Scott Clark hacking his way through a double page splash swipe of Ivan Reis' instantly iconic "LIVE" gatefold tetratych for a forgettable shock value space filler full of rudimentary Photoshop effects and I simply do not want to invest any more than the bare minimum to acknowledge this thing's existence in Martian Manhunter continuity.

Meanwhile, the actual Manhunter flies unaided from Earth to Mars. I guess? A page is wasted showing his fly really fast away from one planet, through satellite debris, and toward another planet. That's 232.43 million miles in a span of days? Hours? Minutes? Just stupid fast in a way never demonstrated in actual stories. Upon reaching Mars, J'Onzz found his pyramid home surrounded by a Black Lantern icon-shaped instant forest in another two page spread with one word on it. I hope DC wasn't paying the writers a full rate.

"Father's Day" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Superman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1 (April, 2011)

In a parody of the "Grounded" extended story arc, Bizarro decided to isolate himself on Bizarro World and refused to learn anything. Eventually, the other heroic Bizarros threw him a parade, ruining everything, and prompting Bizarro to leave for Gotham City. "No Go Away Glad, Just Go Away" was by Steve Horton and Dan McDaid. The writer went on to do another book about an alien, Bowie: Stardust Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams, which he was hawking when I was at FAN EXPO Chicago this year. I'll tumble on it at Half Price Books one of these days.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Justice League of America #54 (April, 2011)

At a time of grave crisis, the world's greatest heroes banded together to combat evil. The name of this team... the Justice League of America. Other heroes joined this group... other champions. The roll call changing year by year. And of late the roster has shifted yet again...
"Shadow Warriors" was by James Robinson, Brett Booth, and Norman Rapmund.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1 (September, 2010)

In the first ever sweeping revision of Ray Palmer's origin story, which was itself immediately forgotten (not unlike the Atom himself) in the sweeping revision of the DC Universe that was the New 52, we get a splash page for the Tiny Titan's time with the Justice League by Jeff Lemire, Mahmud Asrar, & John Dell.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Wonder Woman #41 (April, 2010)

Here's a tiny J'Onn cameo from a JLA/JSA meet-up, which Princess Diana recalls as she gets pressed into a fight with Power Girl. By Gail Simone, Chris Batista, & Doug Hazlewood

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Action Comics #890 (August , 2010)

Lex Luthor had a fantasy about subjugating Earth's metahumans, by Paul Cornell & Pete Woods.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

2023 "JLI as NWA - Straight Outta Compton" art by Rod Allen

I wasn't super impressed with most of the entries into CBR's The Line it is Drawn: Comic Characters on Famous Album Covers, although it was far better than the truly awful Unlikely New Avengers Lineups from the following week.* I mean, there were two versions of the Fantastic Four doing Abbey Road. How much more basic can you get? Also, actually published comics often do this shtick nowadays, so where's the novelty? Rod Allen, who seems to be a current star contributor to this project, bucked the trend with two actually good ideas. One was Flamebird doing Taylor Swift's 1989, which was inspired and well executed. The other was just cute, taking the abbreviation of the lighthearted Justice League International as a cue to interpolate with similarly abbreviated infamous gangsta rappers whose full name I can't use on a PG-rated blog. J'Onn stands in for Ice Cube (I figure he's more of a Dr. Dre, but the placement is preferable) while Booster, Ice, Fire, and Beetle fill in the rest. They trimmed out a member for this composition, and I think having Guy Gardner pointing his power ring at the viewer Eazy-E slot was a missed opportunity, but still a fun piece. Check out Rod Allen's Instagram for more.

*It wasn't (entirely) the artists' fault, as they were at the mercy of some really stupid, trying-too-hard-to-be-difficult reader suggestions. Admittedly, I'd just texted a joke to my friends about how every Marvel character plus Beetle Bailey and Heathcliff had been Avengers by this point. Kind of hard to parody a concept long committed to self-parody.

Monday, September 11, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #3 (Early May, 2011)

In the future, Power Girl was at the forefront of the surviving super-heroes begrudgingly working with Mech Luthor against Brainiac, the "interesting" story. In the present, Batman questioned the wisdom of Superman's plan to rescue the Daily Planet, and whether he would choose the same course if his wife wasn't in the building. Superman got in his face, scowling "You dare--?" So yeah, the prototype for Injustice, without the saving grace of platforming Tom Taylor. Oh, J'Onn was seated at the meeting room table in the present.

"Betrayal" was by writer Marv Wolfman, artist Mike S. Miller (yes, that one;) pencils by Adriana Melo, and inks by Norman Lee.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Action Comics #883 (January, 2010)

Sung to the tune made popular by The Music Explosion, I'm going to call this a "Little Bit o’ Jones." When Jimmy Olsen went missing, Perry White visited his apartment, finding framed photographs of super-heroes, including the Manhunter from Mars. By Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and artist Pere Pérez.