Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Commander Benson's Notebook: "...By Any Other Name..."


When I was first putting together my fan site "Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA," U.S. Navy Commander Adam Benson became my guru with regard to the Manhunter's Silver Age stories. I ran a series of "articles" culled from his message board posts from 1998-2000, and thought it would be nice to return the pieces to the web. If you'd like to read more current and thorough offerings, visit the index of his Commander Benson's Deck Log columns at Captain Comics and the Legion of Superfluous Heroes.

This is the final post in the series...

I can tell you exactly when the Martian Manhunter's name was spelled with the "O's" capitalised, as "J'Onn J'Onzz". It's easy to pinpoint, since it was during a time when the Manhunter was a character more or less consigned to limbo; so it was unusual to see any mention of him. I was an inveterate DC reader in those days--I bought every magazine DC published that wasn't romance or supernatural (as opposed to now, where I buy nothing it publishes).

The change occurred on the back cover of 100-Page Super-Spectacular # 6, subtitled "The World's Greatest Super-Heroes", from the summer of 1971. This was the hundred-pager which reprinted the first meeting of the Justice League and Justice Society.

The cover was a wrap-around drawn by Neal Adams, and featured a line-up of all of the JLA/JSA members, plus significant supporting characters. The inside back cover provided a legend, identifying all of the cover-featured characters. This was the first occasion where the Manhunter's name was written "J'Onn J'Onzz" with the "O's" capitalised. I remember thinking this was kind of a neat idea, and was willing to accept it as gospel, as opposed to writing it off as a mistake. Since the lettering on the pages of comics--the captions, word balloons, and so forth--was always upper case, my first thought was that there was no reason to believe the Manhunter's name wasn't always spelt like that.

Shortly after that, however, I remembered the letter columns of JLA, and during the Manhunter's tenure there, his name had always appeared in the letter columns as "J'onn J'onzz", I realised that this was the intended original spelling. Without the capital "O's". I continue to use the original spelling, since I feel that the "J'Onn J'Onzz" version was an error which has since perpetuated itself as the "right" spelling, much in the same fashion that Denny O'Neil's error in calling Snapper Carr the JLA mascot (as opposed to honorary member) or the mistaken concept that the Earth-One Batman stories started when he first adopted the yellow circle around his bat-emblem have become considered as "fact".

Edited by Frank Lee Delano from posts made by "Commander Steel" on the DC Comics Message Boards. All material used with the written consent of the author.

4 comments:

Sarah The Anime Librarian said...

Funny enough, I guess I never really noticed that sometimes it's spelled with the O's capital. Must be the dyslexia. :)

Luke said...

I like the capitalized O's myself. Makes the whole thing look even more alien than just the apostrophes. When I see J'Onn, I think "John," when I see J'onn, I think "Zhan," like on Justice League. And I like John better than Zhan.

Frank Lee Delano said...

When I had the old site, I began using both variations, to distinguish between my Post-Crisis J'Onn J'Onzz and the Bronze/Silver J'onn J'onzz. Works for me.

Sarah The Anime Librarian said...

Ah, see I always thought of his alien name as sounding French, like they do on JLU. I guess it just adds some flair in my own mind. Je'han Je'ones Kinda i guess.