THE FIRE THIS TIME
Written by S'Teev V'Nnce
Pencilled by J'Ohn D'Laney
Inked by R'Onn B'Oyd Lettered by G'sparr
Colored by B'Obb L'Rose Ass't Martian-- F'Rnkk B'Riozz
In Denver, a girl from Metropolis argues against her new locale and its local hero with two neighborhood boys. "Big Deal! He's just a Superman wannabe!" From the upstairs window of an apartment building, her concerned aunt looks on. "She's so-- unruly!" Her friend assures her, "Hey, Megan needs some stability while her folks hash out the divorce! Patrick and Derek will keep her from doing anything too crazy...Times change... a family is what you make it."
Looking down on Earth from a Watchtower observatory, J'Onn J'Onzz also looks on. His revere is broken by Flash and Green Lantern, covered in oil from a spill they'd dealt with, announcing Wonder Woman had arrived to replace him on monitor duty. The Martian Manhunter flew from the JLA's lunar base under his own power, still lost in thought. "Home... Sometimes, in the void of space, my instincts still pull me towards Mars. But it is a red desert-- a dead world. Earth is my home now--here in the Colorado mountains. And yet-- I am still uncomfortable revealing my true form to humans! Will I ever fully adjust to life on this planet? Hmm... only half a case of Oreos left. I'll have to go to the store soon. I've been on duty with the JLA for days-- fortunately, I set the VCR to tape "X-Files" before I left. Kyle had the right idea-- relaxing in front of the TV-- with a tall, cold--" Settled into his couch in natural form, swatched in a bathrobe, the Martian pulled a spit take with his drink. "I'd better add milk to the grocery list-- this has definately expired!" Worse the machine has eaten his VHS tape, forcing John Jones back out into the cold. He left his cabin, covered with sci-fi memorabilia, behind.
Meanwhile, Megan talks Patrick and Derek into joining her expedition into abandoned buildings set for demolition. Nearby, John Jones chats with video store clerk Quentin Tarantino about the merits of the classic "The Creature from Beyond the Time Barrier." Just then, a flying saucer begins attacking Denver! "I'll have to come back for this later. Don't let anybody else rent it." The Martian Manhunter took to the sky before the saucer, which launched flames at the alien hero. "As the flames engulf him, images fill J'Onn J'Onzz's mind-- images of his homeworld 10,000 years gone-- images of his wife-- his daughter-- He sees again the horror of the great Martian plague that killed everything he loved-- The huge funeral pyres that consumed the bodies of his friends, his family-- except the one he could not give up. And then came the awful moment when he was wrenched through time and space to the present-day Earth by experiments gone awry-- Do the flames truly sap his great Martian powers, or is it the memories they trigger that weaken him? Does it matter? The results are the same."
The Martian Manhunter landed dazed in front of the kids, warning them off while he turned invisible and returned to the air. Megan instead decided to ascend an abandoned builder for a better view of the conflict. The intangible alien wraith entered the saucer, where he found no occupants, and technology within earthly means. The ship detected his presence, and turned its arsenal on itself in a failed attempt to fend him off, instead crippling itself. The Martian Manhunter was content to let the vessel fall from the sky, until its trajectory revealed it would take the three hapless youths to oblivion with it. Fighting against gravity and flames, J'Onn J'Onzz labored to divert the craft to a safer landing. "Gods of Mars-- HELP ME! UNNHH! THANK H'RONMEER!" The building, however, was now ablaze! The Martian Manhunter had to fend off his aversion to fire to save the children's lives yet again.
Slightly blackened but otherwise unharmed, the quartet learned the "spaceship" was manmade, but not quite under control, but rather than continue investigating its owners' negligence, they instead saved the afternoon watching "The Creature from Beyond the Time Barrier" back at J'Onn's place, fresh milk and aunts in tow.
"I'll bet you'd take that monster with one punch, Mr. J'Onzz!"
"Probably-- it is only a rubber costume, after all."
"I love Denver-- I never had his much fun in Metropolis!"
"Told you so!"
"Ha! I guess you're right--a family is what you make it!"