Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Aborted Martian Manhunter Debacle
Alright, let's set the Wayback Machine to the early 90's, when the Superman died, the Batman was broken, and editor Ruben Diaz hinted at Wonder Woman getting the treatment next in an editorial column. Being a DC lemming at the time, I started picking up the Amazing Amazon's book, which blessedly turned out to be quite to my taste. In fact, it converted me into a die hard Wonder Woman fan who, after being disappointed by the lack of innovation that came with the Artemis switch, wanted to see something really sensational done with the character. This led to years of developing a multi-title mega-arc in the back of my mind, until I once again blessedly matured enough to realize what a horrific conception I'd concocted. I'd like to share a bit of it with you, to point out how misguided I was and to set up tomorrow's column. If fan fiction makes you cringe brother, I'm with you. Stop reading now, and tomorrow will be a better day...
Okay, first I'd have had to write a Superman title for long enough to insert a new villain and pull a "Dark Phoenix" on the Man of Tomorrow that would be seemingly reversed. Next, I'd have to be writing the Justice League title, in which Bloodwynd would temporarily join, only to be vaporized before the Martian Manhunter's eyes by some mystical threat (let's say Dreamslayer.) J'Onzz would take up his costume in tribute to the fallen hero, though it would slowly be altered down to a new Manhunter suit. Then I'd have to also be writing the Wonder Woman title, in which Diana would be forced through Doom's Doorway as part of a mission from the Gods, only to end up skewered by a sword in what amounted to a locked door mystery. Yes, the misogynistic rape imagery was intentional, and would become relevant in a later WW story.
Moving on, lots of doings led to the Martian Manhunter finally reading and projecting the last thoughts of Diana into the minds of the Justice League, revealing Superman as her killer. The Manhunter's profile would be elevated as he spearheaded a Superman Hunt, since Kal-El went fugitive to prove his innocence. All the Man of Steel found were doors closing in his face and visitations from ghosts, until he intuits that Diana's spirit was in fact the Martian Manhunter in disguise, as he was when he murdered the real thing. A vicious battle between Martian and Kryptonian suddenly went mild as J'Onn J'Onzz was taken into custody. Queen Hippolyta demanded blood for blood, so J'Onzz agreed to be immolated in a lake of fire.
That new major foe of Superman popped back up again, as part of a series of reversals in fortune that turned the surviving Justice League elite into mind-controlled villains. This forced the second tier heroes to step up and defend the DCU against a newly organized Secret Society of Super-Villains that turn the Earth into quite the grisly battlefield. This all occurs due to the will of a terrifically powerful cadre of puppet masters so fearsome, villainous elements feel they must join the remaining heroes in a last stand to save themselves. Both Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter turn up alive to help, but both are looked upon with suspicion and concern, binding seeming victim and victimizer. J'Onn J'Onzz would get a new series out of the deal though, teaming up with a Batman tipped off by newly-discovered "falsified accounts" in the League database (that would have represented the entire John Ostrander Martian Manhunter series) that his big green buddy had been framed. Solving the mystery of who was behind the conspiracy would have filled up the first year, not to mention the story where Dark Knight and Alien Atlas teamed-up to defeat a JLA once again possessed.
Acquitted, the Manhunter from Mars would have winded his way through more adventures, until settling as a Christlike teacher of Pale Martians tired of their people's warlike ways. In the meantime, J'Onzz had come to better understand and tap the powers innate to Martians, and overcome the weakness to fire. Through a telepathic Judas, this knowledge would have spread to all the Pales, forcing J'Onzz and his apostles to defend their adopted world against legions of Superman-level soldiers bent on conquest. In the end, the psychic manipulations of the now Supermartian Manhunter would return the flame vulnerability to all, including himself... or did he?
You might ask why I'm telling you all this nonsense, and its being nonsense is part of the point. I'd have to have pulled a Grant-Morrison-During-DC-One-Million just to attempt this byzantine terror logistically. Further, the results would have been similar to a lot of other now published storylines that just drained the life out of DC Comics with its gloom and muck. There was a time when Martian Manhunter was pegged as the perfect longtime Terra-style traitor of the JL of A by insiders, so I wanted to spring that trap early with a goal toward eventual redemption. However, it would still require a couple years worth of Martian Manhunter character assassination toward dubious ends. Finally, my understanding of all the characters has grown to the point that I now realize all this mess would have done was harmed the participants reputations and continued erroneous directions taken with them prior and since. This would have been most especially true of the Martian Manhunter-turned-Adam Warlock, ruining what makes the character unique and precious. As soon as you turn him into a jade Superman/Silver Surfer powerhouse, it's all over. But we'll get to that tomorrow...