Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Podcast: Martian Manhunter Multiversity

Episode #4

The Idol-Head of Diabolu Podcast - Martian Manhunter Multiversity

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As part of a Super Blog Team-Up crossover, we look at Imaginary Stories featuring the unfamiliar J'Onn J'Onzzes of parallel dimensions! Trip the light fantastic with the below blogs/vlogs/podcasts!

#SBTU Multiversity
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2005 Comic-Con International: San Diego Souvenir Book art by Derek O'Leary

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Happy Birthday to Krypto, first published on January 27, 1955 in Adventure Comics #210! "The Superdog from Krypton" has yet to team up with Jupiter, the Dog with a Martian Master, but the artist's invention of "The Justice Pack" does include some sort of Wolfdog from Mars.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2005 Comic-Con International: San Diego Souvenir Book art by Douglas M. Coleman

Superman's here? Shoot, is someone from the Revenge Squad about to turn J'Onn J'Onzz into a jobber again, or is this another round of unnecessary fighting between Man of Tomorrow and Manhunter from Mars with the new twist of wedding reception cake crushing? No, it's okay, these two are supposed to be friends, and Kal-El is probably in a ba(r)king mood in advance of his beloved Dog of Steel celebrating his 420th birthday (or in human years, Krypto turns 60 on January 27th.) In publication time, Krypto arrived about eight months ahead of the Sleuth from Outer Space, and was celebrated across 16 pages pf the same SDCC '05 convention book (including two text articles!) The dual birthdays weren't really noted in the book, though there was a modest connection drawn that I'll post next week. I'm not sure if J'Onn has ever hung out with Krypto, but M'gann M'orzz...

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Friday, January 16, 2015

2005 Comic-Con International: San Diego Souvenir Book art by Robin Thompson

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Robin Thompson is a Vancouver based independent comic artist and publisher whose offerings include the rough hewn Champions of Hell, but he's also produced all-ages fare. You can reach him via Facebook or buy his merch here

Friday, January 9, 2015

2005 Comic-Con International: San Diego Souvenir Book art by Fernando Correa

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This one's just a mess o' random congrats, innit? A xenomorph from Alien stalking Marvin the Martian. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial chatting with Mars Attacks! My Favorite Martian's Uncle Martin being buzzed by hot rodding grayskins in flying saucers. All surround a Timmverse J'onn J'onzz, while a Squeeze Toy Alien cameos in the corner box.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Podcast: 60 Years of Martian Manhunter - 1955

Episode #3

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The Idol-Head of Diabolu Podcast - 60 Years of Martian Manhunter - 1955

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Three episodes in, we finally cover the debut comics of J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars. The Batman and Roy Raymond TV Detective stories from Detective Comics #225 are given brief nods before diving into a synopsis of "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" (01:46). A rather overwrought analysis of this first story of Detective John Jones (05:54) precedes coverage of the second "half" of the origin, the run-of-the-mill mostly standalone tale "The Case of the Magic Baseball" (18:46). Finally, "Martian Morphing Mail" (21:10) has already morphed away from the previous episode's audio, and is a bit livelier this round. Coming in at a stout 31:24, look for the show to lean back up again now that the heavy lifting of our subject's introduction is out of the way (and hopefully less painful voice "acting.")

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

Friday, January 2, 2015

2005 Comic-Con International: San Diego Souvenir Book art by Sam Guzzardo

In 2005, the Manhunter from Mars celebrated his 50th anniversary as a comic book hero. DC Comics didn't acknowledge it in any way, shape, or form, although the storyline "Crisis of Conscience" did show J'Onn J'Onzz the permanent exit door on JLA membership for the first time since 1984. This blog didn't start up until 2007, and while we didn't specifically celebrate fifty-five, I think it was a good year for our output overall. Also, 2010 was the year J'Onn was resurrected in Blackest Night, so there's that.

With all the hubbub around the 75th anniversaries of Superman and Batman in 2013-2014, and the presumed dual celebration of the Flash & Green Lantern crossing that landmark this year, I want to do something special here. It's a safe bet DC will once again forget the Alien Atlas' 60th, even though his birthday is a lot more legit than their shoving Barry Allen and Hal Jordan into the spotlight.

I suspect 2015 will be my last year of routine blogging, and I want it to be the best possible, so I've been working on projects to do the anniversary up right since spring of last year. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the '05 SDCC convention program book at Comicpalooza for ten bucks, which devoted 17 full pages to art and a text article for the Sleuth from Outer Space's half-century mark. Hopefully he'll get something like similar treatment in this year's edition, but in the meantime, I've scanned all of the 2005 pieces for presentation on Fiftieth Friday for the next few months. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Podcast: The Debut of Despero (1960)

Episode #2

To permanently save this episode's MP3 file to your computer or other listening devices, right-click the link below to bring up sub-menu and select “Save Target/Link As...” Pick where you want it to save to, and you're set.

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This week, we look at one of the primary villains of Martian Manhunter and the Justice League of America, Despero of Kalanor. Starting with a brief glimpse at the JLofA's earliest issues and foes, we progress to a synopsis of 1960's Justice League of America #1 (02:38,) Frank discussing his first exposure to and thoughts on the Silver Age Despero and his supporting players (06:41,) a synopsis of 1964's Justice League of America #26 (08:58,) further analysis on the character (11:46,) his current lack of a role in the films Justice League Parts 1 & 2 (14:17) and listener response on the first episode (17:07.) We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Martian Sightings for March, 2015

Martian Manhunter
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
1:25 Variant cover by DAN HIPP
On sale MARCH 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

“The Infinitus Saga” reaches its stunning conclusion! The combined might of the JLU, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Rannian War Fleet and the Thanagarians learn the true meaning of sacrifice as events unfold that will change the DC Universe forever!
The "penultimate chapter" was solicited two months ago, so my question is, which issue(s) were padded out to take the story up through to the "Convergence" break?

Cover by JAE LEE
On sale MARCH 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Teenaged Diana comes to Man’s World and discovers a “Wonder World” where she makes new friends. That part’s great, but her Amazon bodyguards are busy tracking her down and scaring everyone she meets! Then, in “Sabotage Is in the Stars,” Wonder Woman aids India’s space program, making it safe for them to launch their new SpaceCrops platform. But when Diana discovers that LexCorp caused the problem, she takes matters into her own hands!
It never occurred to me that I could get a pre-52 Martian Manhunter out of this title. Glad I'm already buying it.

Written by WALTER SIMONSON and others
On sale MARCH 25 • 688 pg, FC, $75.00 US

Legendary writer/artist Walter Simonson takes on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World! These tales star the heroes and villains of the Fourth World as Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation and Orion battles to stop him! Collects ORION #1-25 and stories from JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD #9-11 and 13!
I've had the one issue of this series J'Onn and the JLA appeared in unread and unbagged in a box for over a decade. Read the first few issues. They were a'ight, but $75?
Written by JOSH ELDER
Video game art cover
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The sequel to the video game SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED arrives in this title collecting SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A CRISIS OF IMAGINATION chapters #1-9, plus a digital short never before available in print! Following the events of Scribblenauts Unmasked, Madame Xanadu and Phantom Stranger enlist the help of Maxwell and Lily to save the DC Universe as we know it.
I didn't bother listing the individual issues, but I'm sure J'Onn J'Onzz is in there somewhere, right? Right? Actually, he wasn't listed on any of the breakdowns at Comic Vine, so maybe not...

Miss Martian
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
On sale MARCH 11 • 40 pg, FC, 4 of 4, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Superman has defeated the Monitors, but what can he possibly do to keep the Universe safe from them in the future? The people of Earth pick up their lives as best they can, and our heroes make some hard decisions about their own futures. As Season Eleven ends, new lives begin.
I also bought the trade paperback where Smallville Wonder Woman debuted, and haven't read that, either. This one's got M'gann, J'Onn, and Diana, so I guess I'll get that trade, too.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Martian Sightings for February, 2015

Martian Manhunter
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
1:25 Variant cover by MATTEO SCALERA
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

“The Infinitus Saga” continues as the team joins the Legion of Super-Heroes, a Thanagarian war fleet and a Rannian war fleet to battle the endless forces of Infinitus!
I've been taunted for months with the prospect of an Andrew Robinson Alien Atlas cover, and when it finally happens he not only knocks it out of the park, but offers a perfect pairing with the Maid of Might! I love Supergirl, and think she goes great with uncle J'Onn.

Written by MATT KINDT
On sale MARCH 4 • 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US

As the smoke clears from TRINITY WAR, the JLA is dead, betrayed by one of their own. But Martian Manhunter and Stargirl live to fight another day, only to find themselves trapped on an alien world under the control of a group of Super-Villains. Collecting issues #8-14!
I read a couple of these issues, realized the whole arc was spinning wheels as "Forever Evil" played out, and left the remainder of the run sitting in a box without even flipping through them.
Art by THONY SILAS, DEXTER SOY and others
On sale MARCH 11 • 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

Wonder Woman is back, but what secret is she hiding? Meanwhile, Batman’s journey through the dystopian world of the Justice Lords takes a deadly turn as he faces Lord Superman! Collects BATMAN BEYOND #9-12.

Miss Martian
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 40 pg, FC, 3 of 4, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

An alien device streaks toward Metropolis and the Watchtower. As Chloe freezes in fear, her friends rush to her side! And no man escapes the Manhunters – but will Nightwing find a loophole?
I bought the comic with the debut of Smallville M'gann, but still haven't read it.
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale MARCH 11 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

The Eisner Award-winning series is back in this new title collecting the six-issue miniseries! Superboy and Supergirl return to the treehouse to’s missing! Or is it just...really small? Who could have done such a thing? Find out as all your favorite Tiny Titans search for answers!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Podcast: 60 Years of Martian Manhunter - 1953

Episode #1

To permanently save this episode's MP3 file to your computer or other listening devices, right-click the link below to bring up sub-menu and select “Save Target/Link As...” Pick where you want it to save to, and you're set.

Look for us on iTunes, or just Download MP3

The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, is revived in podcast form ahead of the Alien Atlas' Sixtieth Anniversary year. Acting as a prelude, this episode covers the prototype of the Sleuth from Outer Space. Meet Roh Kar, Lawman of Mars...

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Martian Manhunter #150 (Winter 1976)

The Making of "The Martian Manhunter #150"

In 1970, the co-architect of the House of Ideas left Marvel for the seemingly greener pastures of DC Comics. There he would edit his own line of books, while also performing nearly every creative chore on the individual titles, which he would of course create for himself from scratch. While the concept looked good on paper (in more ways that one,) various factors led to the cancellation of his Fourth World titles, most within two years time. While discouraging, the King was still under contract, and set about generating new works. Most fared even worse that the previous batch, with titles like Kobra, Atlas, and plain vanilla Manhunter yielding only an issue each under Kirby's pen. Only "Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth" enjoyed real longevity. Kirby began making plans for a return to Marvel, but would potentially be hindered by a contractual clause stipulating a set number of pages be produced by the King before he would be free to pursue other work.

Midyear, Gerry Conway was hired as an editor at National/DC, and set about putting together his own line of new books. He soon began trying to persuade Kirby to produce pages for "Conway's Corner" as a means to burn through his contractual obligation with inventory material. Kirby was by this point used to editing his own work, but their acquaintance led to Conway taking over editorship of Kamandi after Kirby left, plus the eventual extended life of a partially finished debut issue of "Kobra" to a short-lived series in the hands of new creators. Further, at the start of 1976, Carmine Infantino was let go by National, and incoming publisher Jeanette Khan made Kirby nervous about the shortfall in his page count. By this point, Conway had already staffed his titles, but suggested to fellow editor Murray Boltinoff that he take advantage of Kirby's availability to perhaps improve the numbers on the floundering "Manhunter from Mars" series. Boltinoff was on his way out, however, but agreed to surrender the reins to Conway. By April, Kirby had worked up material enough for three issues of "Manhunter," fulfilling his bargain just as Gerry Conway was quitting DC to become Editor-In-Chief at Marvel (for all of three weeks.) Regardless, Kirby was out the door, leaving "Manhunter from Mars" without an editor or follow-up creative team.

The title went on a brief hiatus before being handed off to Tony Isabella. Emulating the cover of New Gods #1, Isabella had Kirby's original art reworked to incorporate actual photos of Mars taken by the Viking probe that summer. A short-lived retitling of the series began with "The Martian Manhunter #150," released that winter, and ironically became one of the best-selling single issues Kirby produced for DC in the 70s. Drawing from the Biblical allusions made by Denny O'Neil in several earlier tales, Kirby continued the portrayal of J'Onn J'Onzz as an extraterrestrial Moses guiding his exiled people through the galactic wilderness in search of a new Mars. Unlike O'Neil, Kirby delved into the more mystical fare, beginning with "The 10-In-1 God of Mars."

In a holding pattern just outside the Sol system, the nomadic Martians argued about their next course. Some wished to return to Mars, regardless of the certain death that awaited them there. Others proposed the conquest of Earth, a direction science leader J'Onzz strictly forbade. However, J'Onzz himself felt the pull of both his former home planets, and took a brief sabbatical to answer their call.

The Alien Atlas was drawn to most of the solar system's planets and several moons en route, each of which presented him with an aspect of the unnamed supreme being of the Martian people. In each encounter, J'Onzz would confront aspects of Martian faith: Eternal Destiny, Understanding of Death, Widom of Dream, Destructive Power of Judgment, Desire for Love, Understanding of Despair, and Delight of Beauty.

The Martian Manhunter came to realize through these conflicts that the universe itself was broken. In guiding his people into the vast nothingness of unknown galaxies, they would gain access to the remaining three of the ten aspects of the endless, and the tools to elevate the Martian survivors to heroic stature in pursuit of universal justice. J'Onzz returned to his people elated with new found purpose, only to discover Bel Juz had guided the elevation of an entirely different (and ultimately artificial) spiritual leader for the Martians, the young madman Z'vi Z'har.

Even within the confines of a presupposed truncated run, Kirby couldn't help but introduce mythology that would influence future creators like J.M. DeMatteis and Neil Gaiman. He truly was the King, and we're all poorer for his not having continued this tale beyond his three issues.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Martian Knock-Offs: Superman

Hey there kids! I'm Johnny Jones! You may remember me as the Silver Age Manhunter from Mars. You know what the term "Silver Age" means? It means I predate a bunch of rat faced punks who want to trade off my marketable uniqueness! This section is devoted to people who will be hearing from my lawyers! I call it...

"Martian Knock-Offs!!!"

Speaking of the eels, I've been warned by my attorneys to note that this is a satirical essay. It's intent is not to defame any characters, their creators, or their owners. It is here to whimsically point out observed similarities between the Martian Manhunter, and characters who are not the Martian Manhunter.

Alright, I'm not so arrogant that I think I sprang out from the void fully born. Obviously, I've got my own influences. First off, there's Superman... like I'm not reminded of that every stinkin' day of my existance. Yes, we're both aliens. Yes, we were both stranded on Earth while our home worlds were destroyed. Yes, we're both super-heroes, with the powers of...

  • Super-strength™
  • Super-breath™
  • Super-speed™
  • Super-hearing™
  • Heat Vision™
  • Telescopic Vision™
  • Invulnerability
  • Flight
...but cut me some slack, will'ya? I've got my own unique attributes that seperate me from Big Blue. For most of my life, my Martian race continued to live, and I even led them for several years. My personality and methods are totally different from his. I even stopped using most of the more Superman specific powers, and have plenty of my own! And it's not like Superman never ripped anybody off, huh? Do the names Moses, Hercules or Solomon ring any bells? Religion doesn't count? Try Hugo Danner, John Carter and Flash Gordon. That's pulp fiction, you say? How about when he stole The Marvel Family from Fawcett, and turned it into Superboy/girl/dog/cat/monkey/horse/etc.? Turnabout is fair play, you say? Well up yours, buddy! I'm trying to make a buck here, Mr.Righteousness!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Manhunter from Mars #201 (April, 1981)

An enormous starship the size of a small city hovered over the Spacefort. A twenty foot wide flat saucer floated out of a bay in the ship down to the surface. Lying on top of the disc was Mongul, flat on his back and unconscious. A servitor robot accompanied the body. When Martian guardsmen approached, swords drawn, the servitor explained that his master was in need of medical attention. If this care was not received within ten minutes, captive hero J'onn J'onzz would be crushed to death inside a cube-trap. After another five minutes, the starship would automatically launch a limited assault against the Spacefort. Should Mongul die, the entire planet of Mars II would be forfeit. A guard guided the disc to the nearest medical center, while the available members of the All-Martian Council swiftly decided to accept Mongul's terms.

The healers found that Mongul was suffering from a massive cerebral hemorrhage, requiring immediate surgery. Martian science determined the exact point of blood vessel rupture, and with their most powerful instruments working over the course of an hour, managed to cut out a 6cm square hole in Mongul's skull. Blood drained out as the healers repaired the damaged vessels, followed by replacing and sealing the skull extraction. Mongul's condition stabilized, and he was moved to a care room for rest and observation.

The servator remained outside the room to stand watch, but was unaware that Mongul's roommate had awoken in the middle of the night. On his last visit to Mars II, Mongul had savagely beaten J'en as part of a trap laid for J'onn J'onzz. J'en's face was swollen and her arm was in a cast as she stared at the comatose Mongul and contemplated revenge. She thought of her lover J'onn, and his certain disapproval of murder. She wasn't even sure that she could kill him if she wanted to, and feared the consequences of an unsuccessful attempt. Eventually, J'en limped back to her own bed.

The next morning, Mongul regained consciousness, and spoke with representatives of the All-Martian Council. "So you're the shriveled olive 'chiefs' of these sword-wielding savages? I'm surprised your surgeons didn't treat me with sharpened sticks and coconut shells. Had there been any other nearby options in this armpit of the galaxy, I would have destroyed the whole planet just to clear my course. No, I don't believe I'll bother with the likes of you. A backwards tribe like yours puts their craven idols above insignificant bureaucrats. Bring me your god, or whatever passes for one in these parts."

The closest thing to Vrom available was the messianic Z'vi Z'har, who despite protestations, agreed to meet with Mongul. Z'vi had hoped for gratitude after the Martians had saved Mongul's life. He was instead given the choice to either renounce Vrom and accept Mongul as his living and merciless god, or have his severed head announce it for him. Looking at the glowing red eyes of Mongul, who was fully prepared to vaporize him for dissent, the mentally unbalanced Z'vi Z'har legitimately recognized him as the divine. Z'vi joyfully began to proselytize in the streets that the golden age of Mars II had finally arrived. From his sick bed, Mongul smirked at the horrified J'en.

Over the next several days, Mongul made a remarkable recovery. He was soon on his feet and exercising to regain use of an affected arm. His senses temporarily diminished, Mongul amused himself by "correcting" the gospel of Vrom and enlightening Z'vi Z'har to his own "testament." Mongul demanded that the Robo-Chargers that had been cannibalized for the Spacefort be reconstructed. There was a great schism amongst the Martian people between those who continued to believe in Z'vi Z'har following his conversion and those who condemned him as a false prophet for a diabolical being. No one dared question Mongul directly, as his temperament was labile and his fury lethal. One day, Mongul announced that his spaceship was the ark that would lead the Martian people in exile to their ultimate destination. Mongul felt that enhancements needed to be made to make the Robo-Charges more effective as he plotted his next conquest, and seeing as he had every Martian life at his disposal, a power source shouldn't be a problem. In his eyes, it was a reasonable sacrifice for "his" people to make.

Before the ark could land to carry away the Martians, it simply kept flying over and beyond the spacefort. The ship would not respond to Mongul's remote orders, so he teleported after it. Mongul found himself sitting on top of his zeta-beamer as it plunged off his ship into the Mars II desert. Landing roughly, Mongul struggled to pick himself up from the ground, still plagued by partial weakness. The Robo-Chargers followed him into the desert, and opened fire. Though battered by their blasts, Mongul wielded his own devastating energies against them. Just as Mongul disabled the last of his mechanized foes, an armed Martian Manhunter set on him with guns blazing.

Mongul didn't know how J'onn J'onzz had escaped his trap, but he did know that the surface of Mars II robbed its inhabitants of most of their powers. Mongul easily disarmed J'Onzz, and slapped him about once the fight turned toward hand-to-hand. Martian citizens raced to the scene, to see if their champion could prevail over the abomination their former messiah had given them over to.

Suddenly, in an explosion of light, J'onn J'onzz and Mongul were outside the crypt that once contained the Crystal Key. J'onzz explained that he wanted his people to see a Martian stand up to Mongul, to debunk him as a deity. However, he recognized that he needed to shift locations with zeta-beams in order to utilize his own powers. Suddenly, between Mongul's compromised condition and the Alien Atlas' renewed strength, the match was no longer remotely in Mongul's favor. However, Mongul was still the stronger of the two, and held J'onzz by the throat while blasting him in the face with eyebeams. J'onzz had one more trick up his sleeve, as extraordinary pain erupted inside Mongul's skull. Through meditation while held in the cube-trap, J'onzz had somehow recovered the telepathic and telekinetic abilities lost to Martians for decades. This was J'Onzz's method of escape, and he was now using them to provoke another stroke in Mongul's brain. Growling in pain and anger, Mongul raced to the zeta-beamer and disappeared under its power.

The Manhunter from Mars recalled Mongul's former ship, and returned to Mars II. Landing, he emerged to great applause, and declared that the ship would be torn apart and used to expand the spacefort. However, an epilogue ended the story on a down note. Z'vi Z'har had disappeared with a small band of zealous followers. The All-Martian Council, wishing to insure nothing like this ever happened again, planned to turn Mongul's ship into the basis for a small fleet of powerful "defensive" craft. Further, their experiment in creating a perfect warrior to truly guide the Martian people to glory was secretly progressing. Finally, J'onn and J'en were reunited, only for J'en to express her disgust at her personal weakness and her disdain for J'onzz's suffocating personal code. J'en had decided to leave her lover, in hopes of finding a version of herself that she could live with.

Under the guidance of editor Len Wein, co-writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway with guest artist Jim Starlin ended this epic in fine form!