Thursday, January 31, 2008

DC: The New Frontier #3 (2004)

As much as I enjoy my television, the movies are a far richer experience. I’ve been waiting all week for this picture to premere. It should prove most interesting. My telepathic abilities let me “connect” with the humans around me. It allows me to experience their emotions in collective and primary colors. I have found romantic comedies and horror pictures are best for this.

The cartoon is fitting. It is an adventure of Superman, the nation’s hero and protector. Lucky fellow. He’s from another planet, but his face doesn’t scare people to death. It must be so easy for him. I can feel the crowd’s love for him. It’s like that of a child for a parent. Ah, the “newsreel”! So much better visual documentation than television news.

“Challenging The Unknown.”

Up until this moment I thought police detective was the most appealing thing I could be. But these men-- good blazes what spirit!

“Invasion From Mars”

I had hoped the feature movie would help me understand what humans know about Mars... Is there not some research process for a film such as this? That’s supposed to look like a Martian? It looks like a big green potato. For goodness sake, I can see the strings holding it up! It isn’t long before I begin to realize this must be a comedy. I mean, really-- the props and sets are so cheaply made, the dialogue so banal. It must be on purpose. The problem with this comedy is I seem to be the only one who thinks it’s funny.

On the way back to my shelter I realize that nobody here on Earth knows anything real about me or my home. The characters in the film, and even the more gullible movie patrons-- I could feel their fear of the unknown. Their hatred of things they can’t control or understand. I decide that it’s for the best that the world doesn’t know about me. If my real identity were exposed, it could be quite dangerous.

“Did you enjoy the movie?”
“!?!-- How did you get in here?”
“Cut the pretense. Don’t you mean ‘Why didn’t I sense his presence? Why can’t I read his mind?’ That’s my secret. And tonight, I’m here to talk about yours... I took this off the leader of that mob at the church. Some sort of medallion or charm. I believe you have a book. Whatever’s going on is... beyond normal. My research leads me to believe you are ideally suited to pursuing this investigation. This is not a request. I’ve been watching you, Mister Jones. I know all about you. Except where you come from. My instincts tell me you’re to be trusted, but make no mistake-- it took a seventy-thousand dollar sliver of meteor to stop the one in Metropolis. With you, all I need is a penny for a book of matches.”

-By Darwyn Cooke. “THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER surprised me and turned out to be one of my favorite characters to write. The idea of an alien watching a 50’s film depicting aliens had some obvious humor potential... Batman makes the scene, in all his creepy glory. This encounter is also the first real notion that I may actually be building a story. We see that the night in the PARIS STREET CHURCH had wider overtones that are affecting people’s minds.”

“Enter King Faraday. Originally, King was nothing more than plot device, but like J’ONN J’ONZZ, he grew on me.” Super-spy Faraday, cigarette smoking man, broke down much of the subplot buried beneath the character vignettes. Our government detected Dr. Erdel’s signal in ’55, which a covert Argent team traced back to a Gotham observatory and scientist’s body. They reconstructed a footprint of the Martian, and were searching for the rest of him. The U.S. suspected this might be the vanguard of an invasion force, and set about constructing a first strike option, a rocket ship bound for Mars.

Back to DC: The New Frontier #2 (2004)

Forward to DC: The New Frontier #4, Part One (2004)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Never fear, Marshal Manhunter is here! (2007)

From the site Apropos of Something...

For the record:
A) This is why DC is thinking of killing J'Onn J'Onzz, even though it's also why they shouldn't.

B) Incorrect, as "Martian Vision" includes x-rays.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gaslight Martian Manhunter Custom Figure (2007)

Ah the wonders you can find surfing the internet. I'll just keep quiet and let the artist explain...

Gaslight Justice League

"Inspired by the comic book, Gotham by Gaslight by Mike Mignola and Brian Augustyn. Set in 1880's , Batman attempts to stop Jack the Ripper, who has come to Gotham.

I attempted to re-design the famous members of the Justice League in the Victorian Era. I went for a darker look & tried to give them the right period feel, but also keep the feel of the original character."

"Martian Manhunter- This was a challenge. His classic look is a mostly naked green Martian running around in a blue Speedo, pirate boots, and a bandolier. The Manhunter name, made me think of Sherlock Holmes, and I liked the idea of a Martian in a Victorian suit. I used the classic colors to keep the right feel."

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Atomic Bomb

I like the Ray Palmer incarnation of the Atom a heck of a lot. He was one of the first super-heroes I was introduced to at DC through the Justice League, although in all honesty, I didn't pay him much mind until the 90's. It's not like he ever got a Super Powers figure or anything. The exact point I became an Atom fan was upon the release of a one shot special right before the big "Zero Hour" event. Tom Peyer and Steve Dillon did such a wonderful job of reintroducing the character and his myriad adventures that I was immediately taken with their effort. There was a quiet intellect and a fractured stoicism to Dillon's rendition that I especially enjoyed, and which has never quite clicked for me in any of his other efforts with super-folk. Peyer's rarely less than brilliant, with a dark-humored streak that suits my tastes nicely.

So DC scored a direct hit with this fan, only to proceed to allow Dan Jurgens to ruin the character by turning him into a whiny teenager in a bulky vest. I tried to give the kid a chance in a follow-up special, some guest appearances, and even the wretched "Teen Titans" series without a hint of reward. Thankfully, I also went backwards to his Suicide Squad, JLofA and "Sword of the Atom" special appearances, salvaging my newfound interest in a truly dynamite creation. Ray was eventually restored and reenergized, particularly through Morrison's JLA, and all was made right again. I even liked him in "Identity Crisis," though the big reveal and Ray's resultant disappearance left me colder than this winter.

I was unimpressed when DC announced an all-new Atom series. I just caught the all-new "Rambo" this weekend, and my favorite character in the movie was an Asian mercenary. He had a scraggly beard, did not wisecrack, never drove or used a camera, in no way referenced his esteemed ancestors, nor performed any martial arts maneuvers. Aside from what was plainly visible, he was in no way an "Asian" stereotype, just a character who happened to be Asian. Ryan Choi, based on my limited exposure from "Brave New World" and other previews, is a science geek from China with very much respect for the honorable Ray Palmer. I wouldn't go so far as to call him a sterotype, but nothing grates me more than the everyman nerd comic fans are supposed to relate to, and an Asian who's power is shrinking seems a tad ill-considered. Gail Simone had burned through a lot of my goodwill with her lackluster late period "Birds of Prey" work and the bait & switch recasting of "Villains Unite" with bad guys I mostly never liked before or since. John Byrne has been burning through the entire world's goodwill since at least 1990, and he joined Mike Norton in ruining Atom's outstanding costume design again. I just said no, and didn't stop.

Anyway, through Rob Kelly's excellent Aquaman Shrine daily blog I was introduced to Damian Maffei's awesome Atom: The Tiny Titan equally daily blog. Damian's efforts have improved my opinion of Ryan Choi, and allowed me to dig on Atom adventures from before my time. Further, all three of us have benefitted from association with Michael Netzer's Online Emminence. I got that swank new banner for this blog, Damian got the following swell pin-up, and Rob's got one of his own coming.

Part of the reason for this flurry of sketches is that Mike's trying to save J'Onn J'Onzz from the all too common malady, death by crossover. Further, he'd like to get the chance to illustrate a character he's been associated with since providing the art on a 1970's back-up series that resurrected the Manhunter's career (not to mention his now far famed brow.) I've tried to encourage this likely Quixotic campaign with various posts because a) I'd like to see Netzer's hopes realized, b) I've got my own daily blog to fill, c) I'm filling it for about twice as many hits and most importantly d) every team-up sketch means more Manhunter art for me! However, the aforementioned sketch gave Damian and I pause, not only due to its inventive loveliness, but because we both realized it may be the first true Atom/Manhunter spotlight team-up ever. Yeah, they were members of the classic JLofA, and there was an issue of the "Power of the Atom" series where J'Onn tried unsuccessfully to recruit Ray for the JLI, but the pair have hardly shared words after nearly fifty years worth of adventures. Plus, we both have daily blogs we could fill with crossovers, if they existed.

I really like Ray Palmer, and its just as likely he'll face the editorial hatchetmen as J'Onn J'Onzz and Arthur Joseph Curry in the near future. We're all sticking together in our hopes for the best for each of our favored characters, and I'm especially concerned, as these are three of my top ten favorite DC characters (as revealed here) As Michael Netzer noted in his current blog, the original Al Pratt Atom faded into obscurity and remained unpublished for something like a decade before Ray Palmer made the scene, taking only his name from the original interpretation. It seems to me dressing up a new person in nearly the same costume with exactly the same powers for adventures evocative of Palmer's own only divides fans of the concept into factions. Beyond tokenism, why kill and replace Palmer? Choi's book certainly hasn't sold any more copies, and how much mileage is there in killing any of the Atoms? Is it really so hard to just tell good stories with established characters, and if that fails to capture an audience, just leaving well enough alone? Is it so important to continue to alienate old readers with morbid sensationalism, while simultaneously turning-off new readers by forcing them to understand the dead's archaic history in order to appreciate the loss? If you succeed in telling the death well enough to hook the new readers, where can they go with a dead hero or a new incarnation, anyway? It's all so pointless and self-defeating, especially when you can't even claim you're following the author's intentions, other than through the obfuscations of work-for-hire contracts?

Regardless, when made aware of our shared preference for Ray Palmer, Michael Netzer whipped up a second piece, teaming both Ray and Manhunter, and through a sort of inherent continuity, Ryan as well. We. Are. Family. Added bonus: the second appearance of Diablou© Brand Cream-filled Chocolate Cookies, and the hope that at the least Ryan and J'Onn will live to form a friendship of their own. We shall see.

Also, while I've gone hotlink happy, I'd like to pimp Diabolu's sister blog, NURGH! I don't have the energy for the number of spin-offs Kelly's known for, so NURGH is my catch-all gateway to geekdom. My efforts there have been eratic so far, as I've posted whatever, whenever, but I plan to give it more attention in the days to come. The next time I feel like going off on a mostly non-Manhunter related rip, expect it there.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

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.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

WWMNzD?... with Judd Winick?

So Michael Netzer threw down the gauntlet at DC to allow himself the chance to become professionally reacquainted with J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars. That's great, but I don't see DC having faith in veteran talent to produce quality stories. No, we're going to need a gimmick. Death-- resurrection-- new costume-- turning toward the dark side-- hot button issues. Who, we must ask, is the best possible candidate to write tales that inflict agendas on characters and readers alike, without regard for continuity, character voice, decorum, logic, or any discernable talent? When ick hits the comic page, I think we all know who's to blame. Now, all we have to ask is, "What Would Michael Netzer Do, should he be saddled with... Judd Winick?!?"

When ick is too small to read, we click to enlarge...

Friday, January 25, 2008

DC: The New Frontier #2 (2004)

I swear, the damndest night I’ve ever spent. I was with a cop. Name’s John Jones.

“Blast it, Slam, What kind of world is this?”

Y’see. That’s John. It’s all BLAST this and BY GOSH that. Corny as a comic book. But it could be worse. Near as I can tell, John is the only honest cop in Gotham other than the new guy, Gordon.

“Blazes! I realize that my fellow cops are all on the take... but this is a child’s life!”

The son of a prominent financier had been kidnapped. No note, no ransom demands, for five days now. John was the only real detective assigned to the case, and sensing the cops were less than enthusiastic, the kid’s dad hired me. John and I ended up pooling our efforts. So John, who looks just like one a’ them movie detectives by the way, he calls me tonight. He’s located the kid, and we have to act fast. John’s like that. He has these half-assed “hunches” and “sources” that are never wrong. So he’s positive the kid’s in this church and we haven’t a moment to lose. How John finds all this crap out is a mystery to me, but here I am charging along behind him.

What the hell does this guy eat? He plowed through that oak door like a Japanese screen. If there’s anyone inside they know we’re here now...

“There’s no time for being cute, Bradley. The kid’s on the hotseat!”

We round a column and there it is. It’s the kind of scene you have to take in for a second-- A Catholic church filled with rejects from the Saturday matinee. They’d be laughable it it wasn’t for the weapons and sheer numbers. And holding his own in the eye of this storm is the vigilante. The so-called Batman... A brace of weirdos rush me as my eyes race around the cathedral looking for the boy. A mass of men in front of the cross tumble down the stairs-- And there he is... Then I see John-- how did he get up there so fast? I’m not sure what happened next--It looked like John was suddenly poleaxed from behind. He went stiff as a board and his eyes near popped out of his head-- Great. Now the church is on fire too. What the hell is wrong with John?

“He’s gonna knife the kid! John! For God’s sake John, get up!”
“You are the tribute! Without the Centre, all must fall away!”

Now you know me. I’ve seen my share of hard candy. I was a jarhead in the Pacific. There was even a time I collected for the juice man to make ends meet. But this-- this bat-guy. He made my blood run cold. The look on his face-- the sounds that came out of the creep underneath him... It’s the sound of the wrists breaking that finally does it. The remaining freaks run blubbering into the shadows...

“John! Can you hear me? John, are you okay? Someone clip you from behind?”
“Clip me? Uhhh... yes that must be it. I think I’ll be fine in a moment.”
“...Let’s get this poor kid home and-- what’cha got there?
“Some sort of book... It’s locked.”

And that’s John, see? Cults, kidnapped kids, beatings and even the sight of the Batman... and he’s mooning over a friggin’ book.

“Can’t open it. I’ll bet there’s a clue of some sort within these pages.”

-By Darwyn Cooke. “This scene with J’ONN is narrated by my favorite DC character, Slam Bradley. Slam is talking to JIMMY, THE BARTENDER at JIMMY’S 24-7.”

Back to DC: The New Frontier: Part 1 of 7 (2004)

Forward to DC: The New Frontier #3 (2004)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who's Who Vol.V: The Cadre (7/85)

And now for something completely different...

I've been debating on a Cadre spotlight for months. There's no way these chumps were getting into the Vile Menagerie, and they're not really Martian Manhunter characters. Yet, they are (if I recall correctly) the only super-team created specifically for the Detroit-Era Justice League. As with JLI and the JLTF, J'Onn J'Onzz is so associated with the team, it's difficult to disassociate their foes from him. Also, the Martian Manhunter is the only hero to confront Overmaster and his forces on all three of his visits to Earth (the initial JLD arc, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the infamous "Judgment Day" crossover.) That ought to count for something.

While most of the Cadre belong in that dark place where truly wretched characters go to die, I kind of like Overmaster, and even more, the walking cliche that is Shatterfist. The dude punched a crowbar-- in half! This guy would have Powned Chuck Norris' Karate Kommandos. Word.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WWMNzD?... with Frank Miller

So Mike Netzer threw down the gauntlet at DC to allow him the chance to become professionally reacquainted with J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars. That's great, but I don't see Denny O'Neil going the same route. Someone's got to write the thing, and if we're going to go the "Post-Crisis" revamp route, it ought to be a big name. Well actually, it ought to be a small name, like a Len Kaminski or a John Arcudi. Barring that, maybe a J.M. DeMatteis, who also professes undying love for a character he reinvigorated decades back. However, that would not be a hopefully amusing and pointed satire of modern DC Comics, which is what I'm shooting for with the new, likely multi-part feature: "What Would Michael Netzer Do?" Well, he'd get a really famous scripter, who'd add major heat to the project (in some sense or another.)

This time, I've repurposed dialogue by that lovable scamp and close personal friend of Denny's, Frank "G@#D@~^" Miller, for ALL-STAR MARTIAN MANHUNTER!

Warning: Enlarged version features mild profanity:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Xavier... Marco Xavier...

According to writer/editor Mark Waid in Millenium Edition: House of Mystery #1, "By the early 1960s, HOUSE OF MYSTERY had surrendered it's claim to the macabre, opening its doors to science fiction and super-heroes, eventually giving berth to J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, and, later, the decidedly unmysterious Dial "H" for Hero. Sales were slipping; HOUSE OF SECRETS had been canceled, and MYSTERY wasn't faring much better. After seventeen years, the venerable house was nearly condemned..."

Trying to save the title (not to mention a long-standing paycheck,) everything began to change at the House. The Super-Sleuth finally tracked down the Idol-Head of Diabolu, not to mention its origins. After fourteen appearances, beginning in the Manhunter's last issue as the back-up in Detective Comics, on through most of his starring run in HoM, the Idol-Head was destroyed. Dave Wood no longer supplied scripts for the J'onn J'onzz strip, focusing on the odd Robby Reed tale. Perhaps to balance the juvenile wackiness of his own work on the "Dial 'H' For HERO" feature, sole writer Jack Miller took the adorable Zook from J'onn J'onzz's custody. Not unlike Batman, the absence of a sidekick made our hero much more grim and resolute in his campaign against the forces of evil. Joe Certa, never afraid to attempt new approaches in his artwork, began to reflect the aesthetic of the swingin' 60's. His figures became more lean and angular. He concentrated detail to more realistic effect in some areas, often contrasting this intensity of linework with more abstract surrounding elements. A whole new narrative contrivance would replace the Idol-Head, bringing the Manhunter from Mars more into the times. J'Onn J'Onzz learned the existence of a worldwide criminal organization called VULTURE, run by the evil Mr.V. To confront this menace, the Martian assumed a new alter ego, and moved to Europe!

Marco Xavier was Mr. Suave-- mustachioed with slicked back black hair, giving him the appearance of a lothario. "Secretly the Manhunter from Mars! The original Marco Xavier, whose place he took, was actually killed in an auto accident!" In his smart jet suits, he very much resembled the classic Tony Stark at his most debonair. Was there ever any doubt that this guy was more than a match for Mr. V.? After all, he was an "internationally-known playboy and man of mystery!"

Mr. V was an odd bird...his face and hands rendered nearly featureless by tight-fitting white gloves and mask. His "costume" consisted of a black sportjacket over a white t-shirt with a vulture caricature in a circle upon his broad belly. He looked like a portly fanboy doing his best, if laughable, Bond villain impersonation. "Worst... Blofeld... ev-er!" Mr. V was only to be seen by his men on a large video monitor, from the considerable waist up. Secretly within thought balloons in Mr. V's presence, "Marco Xavier" ridiculed the leader with the nickname "Faceless," while conniving his end. Next to the fury of Professor Hugo, Mr. V looked a little tame.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Super Powers Anti-Coloring Book (1984)

I've always been a big believer in the "Melting Pot" notion of America, seeing as I was a white boy growing up in the barrio within ghetto apartments. This meant while there were other crackers in houses that went to my school, my neighborhood consisted of apartments filled (often quite literally) with a Latino majority. As a matter of survival, this meant I hung with mostly black and sometimes Vietnamese kids as a minority clique. It also meant that I had a sense of personal identity formed under such adverse conditions with such diverse influences that no place on earth can quite replicate them, and I'll always be amongst people "other" than my singular myself. Might help explain a few things, eh?

Anyway, in the late 80's I moved from Houston to a suburb of Las Vegas for a year. I went from being among the poorest of the poor in the pot to being the poorest of the poor amongst affluent white kids who though ah tahlked funny. This was where my misanthropy and true outsider status was born. One example of culture shock was the "Pic 'N' Save" retail chain. Being poor white trash, I was no stranger to second hand thrift stores, flea markets, and upscale establishments like K-Mart and Woolworth's. What was unfamiliar was a discount store selling brand newish product like our spotlighted $3.95 squarebound activity book for just 98 cents. A steal, I tell you!

Conceived by Susan Striker, initially with Edward Kimmel, there was apparently a whole line of these suckers, but you know I was all about Super Powers. Each page featured partial illustrations by Jose Delbo, with large gaps intended to be filled by a child's imagination with mild coaxing from the author. Wonder Woman stands on the wing of her invisible jet on the upper right corner of a page wrapped in a star scape bordered by the wide berth of a magic lasso. "I've flown into outer space to capture an alien. What does it look like?" Green Lantern, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Arrow, Robin, Supergirl, and Flash encircle a page. "The Super Powers hear an important bulletin on their wrist communicators! What is it?" The Front Page of the Daily Planet shows nothing but blank lines, space for a photo, and the headline, "Latest News Scoop!" by Lois Lane. You were given a two page spread to design the new Robinmobile, Aquaman discovers new undersea life, you could create a board game, add your fingerprints to the Bat-Computer, and much more. Great fun, though I was a wretched artist and insisted on filling the text sections with inane and cryptic continuity linking disparate pictures to a "story" complete with indicia indicating "issues" reprinted in this "trade." I missed my true calling as a frustrated assistant editor, clearly.

Sadly, J'Onn J'Onzz received attention that could be measured in millimeters, as last guy on the right in the front page group shot (which I'd swear was swiped from Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.) This sad little appearance is featured below, larger than originally published and colored by one of those silly four-slot ink pens (black, blue, red, green) you never see anymore. Whoever thought I'd be nostalgic for one of those poorly functioning contraptions?

Speaking of the melting pot, dig that cover. The kid with the bangs could pass for Latino, so the only way to make this thing more diversity friendly would be to have him wearing the tiara...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Detective Comics #226 (December, 1955)

Det. Jones' first recorded assignment saw him track four crooks were hold up in a barred room. John Jones snuck in using "the simple Martian procedure of attuning the molecules of his body to those of a solid wall--and walking right through..." Although he captured three of the thugs right off the bat, Jones had a tougher time with Trigger Tom Taylor, but still brought in his man.

Returning to the precinct, Jones heard the story of "Big Bob Michaels" from his lieutenant. After serving a prison term, Big Bob went straight, pitching for the minor leagues. The major leagues were looking to scout him, but his shady past potentially haunting him could blow his chances. Clearly, a bygone era. Jones was asked to watch over Michaels, and soon learned through telepathy that Big Bob's former "pals" were blackmailing him. They wanted him to throw his first game with the Flamingos against the Wonders, or they would expose him to the press. J'onzz then used his powers of precognition for the first time... "I see the end of the game tomorrow! Michaels would win it one-to-nothing, with a home run in the ninth... If those crooks weren't molesting him." Wouldn't that mean J'onzz would see Michaels lose the game, since he pierced the veil of time after the harassment began? What is he in his spare time, a Watcher from the Marvel Universe? Jones wasn't content to simply ask what if... "He's going to need some help--so I think I'll be on hand at the game."

Like Jack Webb auditioning for the Michael Landon role in "Highway to Heaven", Jones busted out with divine intervention from an unusual source. "Now we'll see what happens when I use a little Martian molecular hypnosis..." A real slow ball, is what. "Let's see how the crowd reacts to this one... Martian mind-over-matter!" The way most folks react to a no-hitter, I'd guess. I wonder if Jones used a Martian booking agent on the side? "It's time to make the game exciting! With a 0-0 score, a run would perk things up! Michaels is at bat! So... here goes a little more mind-over-matter..." Enough with the damned Martian ringer already! Even after Michaels sent the ball straight to the catcher, Jones covered his butt! Was this guy kissing up to his lieutenant, or what? No wonder he made detective so fast!

An invisible Jones eventually set up the three mobsters who had plans to punish Big Bob for his unearned game. The detective arrested "the Devon mob," collected compliments from his commanding officer... and just maybe even collected his winnings from a bookie off-panel?

"The Case of the Magic Baseball" was written by Joe Samachson and drawn by Joe Certa.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mike Netzer: "Take Me... But Don't Kill J'Onn"

Last night, after finishing up my long delayed spotlight on the "Martian Manhunter Fotolog," I checked my email. As promised earlier in the week, there was a message from comic book artist/proposed messiah Michael Netzer, titled, "The Movement to Save the Manhunter from Mars." Within, Netzer gave a brief overview of his multifaceted approach to potentially redeeming J'Onzz J'Onzz from editorially-decreed damnation, as reported by noted muckraker/raconteur Rich Johnston in his latest "Lying In The Gutters" column at Comic Book Resources... Those interested in the fine details and motivations should click here, if only to see the image below in a larger format...

Now then, Mr. Netzer included the request in his email, "Any thoughts you have for spreading it around the blogosphere, run with them." Now see, maybe back when I had the old site and a somewhat memorable presence on the DC Comics Message Boards, my words might have had some slight sway with anybody. Today, I run a Manhunter blog that gets double-digit hits per day. Nobody, thy name is "Frank Lee Delano," or at least an assumed alias. Further, like Valerie D'Orazio of Occasional Superheroine, I've also come to view DC Comics in general with a combination of disdain and disinterest. Specifically D'Orazio, criticized the killing of the multi-racial and sexually ambiguous Connor Hawke as a sales ploy to inspire continued interest in his all-honkey, heterosexually-assured father, the Ollie Queen Green Arrow. The future of comics is clearly multi-media, so it seems a pretty chowderhead play to wack a character with crossover potential in favor of an outdated hippie with deeply unfortunate facial hair.

The problem is that DC under Dan Didio keeps trying to set the Wayback Machine to 1991. This is despite the over reach of "Infinite Crisis" and "Countdown," coupled with the soulless bloodlust in the wake of "Identity Crisis," leading to a readily apparent backlash that has seen DC's line sales tank. Of course this DC would try to kill off a "major character" like J'Onn J'Onzz, but just as obviously, the move will end up an utter failure. You see, just enough people like the Martian Manhunter to be annoyed by his disposal, but not so many as to even garner a "Ted Kord" level of teeth gnashing. Its simply too easy to write the death of such a character off as a hoax, and impossible to replace him with anyone that will hold an audiences interest without the kind of superstar team you'd do just well with in employing in service to the original incarnation. Also, Martian Manhunter is now, thanks to "Justice League" and "Smallville," a recognized brand within the merchandising machine. Whatever circumstances might befall the character in the short term on the comics page, J'Onn J'Onzz is "safe" in the long haul, so why should I get upset about this development? Better the Manhunter from Mars lay low for a few years than parade around looking like a constipated Skrull with a vinyl fetish. I refuse to feed any sort of "hype" related to the matter.

However, I will gladly feed into Michael Netzer's hyping of the matter. You see that banner at the top of the page. I'm certainly biased, but it is my opinion that is one of the finest banner images on the internet. I regularly visit websites that receive hundreds... thousands... even million of hits per day that don't look as attractive as my silly little fan blog. That's because Michael Netzer set aside a couple hours to knock out that piece-- rendering, coloring, and lettering inclusive. Only a complete moron of an editor would not want to take advantage of that kind of ability. So much emphasis has been placed on how poorly written "Countdown" has been, not nearly enough notice has been made about how bland the art happens to be. If you've got an artist as distinctive, versatile, and dynamic as Mike Netzer sitting on the sidelines when someone with his speed and talent could be contributing to a weekly comic, you're failing yourself and your book with your lack of vision. In an industry that hypes thirtysomethings with years in the field as "Young Guns," there should be no stigma to bringing in an illustrator with three decades experience who just hasn't scored the right project to become a big draw.

In recent months, Michael Netzer has made a new name for himself. First, there was the Messiah business, which raised his profile considerably. Next, there were some notable cries of ageism, but publishers have no use for a Norma Ray type, so that track was wisely abandoned. Finally, and most slyly, there has been the cultivation of a relationship with the internet comic community. How canny is it to rate repeated mentions in one of the most read columns in comics, "Lying in the Gutters," without even having any major projects in the pipeline? Netzer first rates an appearance as part of a gag strip Johnston circulated, then entangles himself in a rumor Johnston reported in the same week as the strip's public appearance, only to assure a follow-up mention in the next week's column. If there were a betting pool, that would be easy money, and that's brilliant marketing of the sort Mark Millar utilized to become one of the hottest writers in comics after years in obscurity. We all know talent isn't nearly so important in this industry as connections, visibility, and marketability. Netzer is clearly aware of these factors, and is in the process of manipulating them masterfully. DC Comics don't just need Michael Netzer as an artist, but as a guide toward much needed positive spin. He's certainly shown more of a gift for the skill than DC marketing over the past couple years.

Now look here: even with absolutely nameless talent and the company of seriously under-performing "Brave New World" spin-offs, the last "Martian Mannhunter" series sold in the 40K range for most of its run. Before the writing torpedoed the title, the last Manhunter ongoing series debuted to exceptional numbers as a JLA spin-off. The character has some inherent value these days, but it has yet to be fully exploited. It seems to me pairing a veteran as pleasing to the eye as Netzer with a hot writer that has an affinity for the character on short term duty (Morrison, Waid, Giffen) followed by a veteran or upstart with cache (Matt Fraction, Phil Hester, Peter Milligan, Joe Casey, J. M. DeMatteis, Peter Tomasi, Tony Bedard) could pan out far better than the slash-and-burn technique of a character death. Wouldn't it be poetic to marry a character and creator that are both historically undervalued and dismissed into a team that caught fire (pun intended?) More importantly, when your greatest success stories of the past year have been reconstitutions of classics (Green Lantern, JLA, JSA, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) rather than deconstructions (Wildstorm, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Brave New World titles,) what kind of bloody fool must you be to continue a Scorched Earth policy?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Not long after starting this blog, I received a message from a fellow under the alias "Zoiber," a Spanish "Detective Marciano" fan. Zoiber seems intent on collecting every Martian Manhunter image on the internet, and he was hoping it was okay with me if he started taking mine. I explained my belief that no one has the right to withhold a scan of a copyrighted image, so of course any of mine he cared for were fair game. Of course, a link is always nice, and bandwidth theft is just that, but you figure that goes without saying.

So anyway, Zoiber's been running an online catalog of these images since the start of 2007, and it just might be a bit of a task to get through them all, though I'm sure the process would be rewarding. Since I've been wanting to start spotlighting J'Onn J'Onzz-related internet happenings, It seems appropriate to start here.

January 2007 highlights:
Presentado a-- John Jones, Manhunter de Marte
Zook debuts (with commentary)
Final battle with Blanx and tearful farewell to Earth.

February 2007 highlights:
Pieces of Overmaster
with the Atom!
with Green Lantern!
with Aquaman!
with Batman & Robin!
with Jemm & Infinity Inc!

For more, visit Martian Manhunter Fotolog

Thursday, January 17, 2008

March '08 Martian Sightings (2 of 2)

Archival Footage of Alien Landings:

Written by Adam Beechen and Paul Storrie
Art by Carlo Barberi, Rick Burchett and others
The latest volume of tales from the comic based on the hit Cartoon Network series is here! TIES THAT BIND collects JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #16-22.
Advance-solicited; on sale April 2 o 144 pg, FC, $12.99 US

No mention of dimensions, so I assume they're doing these in standard format now?

JLA PRESENTS: AZTEK - THE ULTIMATE MAN TP Written by Grant Morrison & Mark Millar Art by Stephen Harris, Keith Champagne, Drew Geraci and others Cover by Howard Porter and John Dell From writers Grant Morrison (52, BATMAN) and Mark Millar (Ultimates, Civil War) comes Aztek, the visionary hero from the 1990s! In these stories from Aztek: the Ultimate Man #1-10, Aztek fights the forces of evil in Vanity City, where he meets costumed characters including Green Lantern and The Joker! Advance-solicited; on sale April 30 o 240 pg, FC, $19.99 US

This one is on the bubble. I read a couple or three issues, and never took an interest in the character so much as the premise. The art wasn't the strongest either, but I still think the format and price will win me over. Unless I'm missing issues from the new Question trade, that is...

The newly formed Teen Titans must face off against the possessed Justice League of America to the death! And in this battle, there are no winners.

No mention of a full founding League, and no Zook surely, so who knows? Man, that cover looks awful familiar, eh? Better have an "after" credit in the signature...

The Countdown ticks down as storylines converge and collide - a Great Disaster is clearly proving to be unavoidable!

This one seems likely to have EVERYBODY, but in which issues, and to what degree?

Written by Robert Loren Fleming and John Ostrander
Art by Colleen Doran, Tom Mandrake and Ray Kryssing
Cover by Ryan Sook
Collecting stories from Eclipso #10 Spectre #17-18, shedding light on these pivotal characters from COUNTDOWN!
On sale March 19 o 80 pg, FC, $4.99 US

J'Onn J'Onzz does not appear in this special, and that irks me. You see, the Martian Manhunter was in the final (admittedly terrible) issues of Eclipso's solo series (I actually have a set.) Those books led directly into the Spectre two-parter, by the creative team that later put together the Martian Manhunter series. Would have made for a nice connection for the blog there, except DC instead decided to throw in a mostly unrelated Eclipso one-off instead of the actual tie-in books. I'd say for shame, but those final Eclipsos really were a part of DC's early 90's nadir in pretty much every creative aspect. I'd have to double check on the lettering, but the rest? Sub-amateur I could produce a better comic, entirely on my own, in 24 hours... even if only by virtue of not having done one at all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

March '08 Martian Sightings (1 of 2)

Better late than never, hopefully. Plus, this month was so weighted with goodness, it broke in two...

Written by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Cooke, J. Bone & David Bullock
Cover by Cooke
Celebrating the DVD release of the New Frontier comes this collection of never before seen stories including "New Frontier: The Lost Chapter," with script and art by Darwyn Cooke! This tale provides a first-hand look at Faraday's quest to outlaw masked vigilantes, culminating with the day Superman goes to Gotham to bring down Batman. Also included are two back-up stories featuring Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Sgt. Rock and others, as well as behind-the-scenes bonus material from the movie!
On sale March 5 o FC, 48 pgs, no ads, $4.99 US

I'm really looking forward to this one. I hope we get to see more of the Faraday/J'onzz friendship. More John Henry is a must! No mention of Catwoman, but I hope her proposed team-up short with Canary shows up here. People who bought the Absolute Edition have got to be ticked, though, since you just know DC will inevitably double-dip with this material.

Written by Roger Stern
Art by John Byrne & Mark Farmer
Cover by Josh Middleton
Concluding the 5-part "That was Now, This is Then"! The JLA finally figure out how to defeat the threat before them…and bring closure to this reopened chapter from their early years!
On sale March 12 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US o Final Issue

A real shame to see this title go, but it was something of an artifact of the Morrison era, now bygone, blast it! Ten years, people... TEN YEARS!) But hey, Stern & Byrne, what a way to go.

Written by Keith Giffen
Art by Christopher Jones & Dan Davis
Cover by Jones
An untold tale of the Justice League by 52's Keith Giffen! Meet the early Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, who want to join the League - because that's where the big money is! They have much to learn…
On sale March 5 o 32 pg, FC, $2.25 US

Yeah, this one is coming home, too. Giffen, y'know?

Written by Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
Cover by Kalman Andrasovfsky
As the edges of Kobra's plot are discovered, the scale and the stakes continue to rise, jeopardizing millions of innocent lives around the planet. But is this all cover for something far more terrifying - something that even the biggest powers of the DCU may be powerless to stop?
On sale March 19 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

J'Onn is still in this title, right? The concept is there, but after reading the first trade, the execution left me cold.

Note: Per (much) later comment, "Hi. Nice blog. But I just checked your Martian Sightings and in the Sightings for March I see Checkmate #24. He is not in that book any more since #21 where Waller got fired. So I guess you have not looked into the other doings of Amanda Waller, like Salvation Run? Confirmed Martian Sightings in #3 and #5. He is in a lot of trouble right now."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

J'Onn J'Onzz (and maybe Aquaman) is DEAD!?!?

"DEAD ON ARCHIVAL" item from Rich Johnston's latest "Lying In The Gutters" column at Comic Book Resources...

"So. If Warner won’t let DC Comics kill off Batman in “Final Crisis," who can DC get away with introducing to the Grim Reaper? I mean it has to be decent names, but it also has to be someone that a major franchise license isn’t totally resting on.

From Geoff Johns’ CBR interview: “There are still tons of characters to write. Aquaman is a big one. I have very specific ideas for him. Very specific."

From the letters page of this month's Johnny DC "Justice League Unlimited," in response to a young reader who doesn't like the changes made to Aquaman: "Fans of Aquaman's original look can look forward to a new comic book later in 2008."

May be the original look, but will it be the original character?

I only ask, because the two names marked for karking I’ve been given by a DC source are Martian Manhunter and Aquaman."

I suppose I'd rather run the "J'Onn J'Onzz Memorial Blog" than the "Remember the days when Martian Manhunter was a good guy?" shrine. Hope K'Yle R'Ayner has fun during his run before some geek inevitably brings the O.G. back. That's right y'all! Roh Kar in da hay-ouse!

Meanwhile, banner wonder Mike Netzer also makes an appearance at Lying in the Gutters this week, so check it out!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Banner Day!

I spent most of my summer off work while I took a two month nursing program. I had a lot of downtime, much of which I spent goofing around on the internet. One of my regular haunts become The Aquaman Shrine (link at right amongst the Teleportation Tubes.) Now, I'm fond of the sea king, but more so, I just really enjoyed Rob Kelly's daily posts and format. Seeing what he was doing with Arthur Curry got the juices flowing to revive and rework my old "Martian Manhunter: Rock of the JLA" fan site in a similar manner.

Unfortunately, I didn't come to this realization until after I went back to work. Further, I decided to jump in immediately, rather than plan things out with any care or the foresight to develop a lead time on posts. Kelly had a gorgeous, finely colored, classic image of Aquaman and spotlight comic covers as his banner. I meanwhile cobbled together a handful of low-res, poorly executed scans obscured with a basic Microsoft Paint font. Where Kelly had a batch of adorable little Aquaman icons surrounding his various well organized links, I had a slew of unwieldy tags and a slapshot detail crop of one washed-out Art Adams scan taken in the previous decade. Rob has legitimate press coverage for an undervalued super-hero recognizable throughout the world. I just kind of hum along with whatever traffic the search engines send my way for my thoroughly B-list favorite that's only just recently become a blip on the pop culture radar after 52 years of service (if you count the entire 1970's, which you probably shouldn't.) Rob's blog has its own street team/organized fan club. I can name pretty much everyone who's ever left the slightest trace of a presence on my blog in fairly short order, and they ain't gettin' no Friends Of Our Martian novelty certificates. If J'Onn and I weren't such a pair of under-achieving isolationists, you could see a case of blog envy developing.

Darn it though, J'Onn J'Onzz still deserved better than I'd given him, and one of the only creators to bother with him in the 1970's knew it. Mike Netzer had stumbled upon a passing mention of his work on this blog, though the specific reference related to a misattributation, and he felt obliged to correct the error. I was very pleasantly surprised by his attention, and made a point of mentioning it. Better still, he even noted, "Very nice blog. I enjoyed reading through it. It does give the itch to work on MM again, and I'd sure like to, among other possibilities at DC. But they seem to like young blood, I suppose. Almost everyone I know from my time just can't find work in the comics anymore. So, we build eccentric web sites and shoot our mouth off about the injustices of the world and other silly things." By God, but I would be glad to see Mr. Netzer return to the character someday, and my Hanukkah hope was bestowed upon me. "You know, the only thing missing from your logo is an Oreo Cookie. And Christmas is around the corner. So watch out for Santa this year."

Easily the best present I got this year was the above banner, lovingly crafted by Mr. Netzer in just a couple hours from scratch. I remain stunned by his generosity and skill, and it pained me to sit on it for nearly a month while we went through all that Crisis on Infinite Earths material and the "origins" week I was set on ringing in the new year. Ultimately, the intention was to take care of a lot of unpleasant but (I felt) necessary business in one big chunk, so that I'd have the opportunity to give the blog something of a fresh start in '08. I hope my few but dear readers enjoy the changes I have planned, and I have no doubt everyone will love the work Mr. Netzer has done to beautify the page. If not, hey, here's a cookie from the Idol-Head of Diabolu. It's quintuple stuffed. Dig it!

Also, do take a gander at Michael Netzer's own regularly updated family of blogs, starting with rEvolution/Messiah Complexity. In fairly short order, I'll be getting around to his 70's work here. I had intended to start by day/decade scheme here this week, and there'll be some evidence of it. However, I think all these lengthy synopsis and the rigid structure of late has been punishing for everyone, so I'll try to cool it down a tad. In the meantime, I'm going to wallow in the restored greenness of my favorite blog, staring lovingly at my precious and very permanent logo. Precious... my precious...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Great Evolution (Detective Comics #225, 11/55, part 2)

This is Part 2. Part One is here.

“Until that day--- the day of my release from Earth--- I am doomed to be just another Earthman! But meanwhile, I shall explore my new planet home...” The first stop was a visit to the seashore, to deal with the first cure of humanity. “GOLD-- the greatest bartering material on Earth! By my concentration of mind over matter, I am able to extract the gold particles from Earthian seas, thus! This should suffice for now!”

J'Onzz decided to make the best of his stranded status by taking in the sights in a literal globe-trotting exploratory trip on foot. In France, he commented at the Arch of Triumph, “Mars saw it's last war a thousand years ago!") His observations continued on skyscrapers (“Unlike on Mars, so many of the denizens here live in a small area that they build their structures into the skies;”) cars ("...ancient-wheeled vehicles! Hundreds of them, crawling along the same streets where people walk! In another century or two, this will all be changed;”); and most importantly, crime: "Earth is far behind Mars in many ways--but that is natural, since it's a younger planet! But this evil they have--called crime... Mars once had crime--centuries ago! Until the Great Evolution, we had wicked men who preyed on the good. But our enlightened science made all crime obsolete! There seems to be much crime here-- so perhaps, while I am stranded on Earth, I can help the Earthians by fighting this crime! Yes--I think I shall do that!"

J'onn J'onzz became John Jones-Police Detective, and as an afterthought, the lighting of a desk attendant’s cigarette introduced the final key element that defined the Silver Age Manhunter. “FIRE! The enemy of all Martians! I can do many things that Earthmen can’t do--- but I am vulnerable to FLAME! It is my one weakness!” Much later, John Jones was introduced to his superior officer, Lt. Saunders, at the office of the Chief of Detectives. Another titular error (Dr./Prof?) Lighting another cigarette, Saunders affirmed, " All right, Mr. John Jones--- you’re qualified to become a detective! You’ll be on the force tomorrow!” In his private thoughts, Saunders considered, I've got a very interesting case for him to go on right away! I'm wondering just how this rookie will make out?" Fairly well, I'd say.

This first story established J'onzz's telepathy, invisibility and intangibility powers, as well as his aversion to fire. His annoying bristling at cigarette smoke was present, but at least he became a cop through semi-proper channels. These days, he'd have just used telepathy to cash in on the now popular "memory implant.”

Part two of "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" was written by Joe Samachson and drawn by Joe Certa.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


"I came to warn you, but I was captured and imprisoned here. They wouldn't listen...

We first encountered them a thousand of your Earth years ago. It was a golden age. Our Martian civilization was at the height of its peace and prosperity-- and then, they arrived. Where they came from, no one knew, but they were determined to make our planet their own. We Martians were a peaceful people, and the taking of any life was abhorrent to us... but we quickly learned the ways of war. For centuries, the battles raged on. Every trace of our once great civilization was obliterated. We fought valiantly, but the invaders were parasites who fed on our psychic energy. As we grew weaker, they grew stronger. They even absorbed our shape changing abilities.

Finally, a small group of Martian survivors planned one final, desperate attack. Inside their underground stronghold, we unleashed a powerful nerve gas, which paralyzed them. The attack was successful, but the cost was dear. I was the only survivor, the last of my kind. I sealed up their their citadel to keep them in a constant state of suspended animation. For over five hundred years, I stood guard over them... but then, while I was in a hibernation cycle, astronauts from Earth unsealed the stronghold and accidentally revived the invaders...

With all the Martians gone, the invaders had nothing left to feed upon, so they turned their sights to Earth. I narrowly escaped, and came here to warn of the coming danger. While I was being held against my will, the invaders sent advance agents to disable Earth's defenses...

It may already be to late... It's begun..."

Friday, January 11, 2008

DC: The New Frontier: Part 1 of 7 (2004)

“I’m so sorry... But your appearance gave me quite a scare. My heart... I fear the strain was too much... There isn’t much time. I’m not even sure if you understand me. My experiment was intended to send and hopefully receive a radio signal from deep space... How it brought you here to me is a mystery. I-- uunnh... My time is almost up... There is so much you need to know. You must be very careful. This world isn’t ready for... you. Mankind is a suspicious, violent creature. You must not reveal yourself. I’m... I’m sorry. Whoever you are... please... forgive me.”

My telepathic abilities and a thorough examination of Dr. Erdel’s device led to the conclusion that I cannot return to my Martian homeworld. My immediate concerns turned to survival and concealment. Compared to these “human” beings, my Martian form was extremely powerful. Invisibility, flight, and telepathy were advantages I had over these creatures, and in this knowledge I was secure I would be able to survive. As a shape-shifter, I was able to assume the likeness of Dr. Erdel to venture into this strange world. He had enough currency on his person for me to secure lodgings in this Gotham City. The only threat this new world afforded me was elemental. Fire. The very sight of it fills my Martian soul with dread. For now I am safe, but if I choose to try to live here, I will need to know more about this curious planet.

My immediate needs for food and shelter had held back the heavy tide of grief and loss that now surrounds me. My memories of my home planet are vague and distorted. I can only wonder if Erdel’s device has damaged that part of my consciousness. Particles of recognition in the form of sense memories fuel my sense of dislocation. To lift this confused darkness, I resolve to focus on the new life I am confronted with. For several weeks now, I have studied life on Earth with the help of this charming device they call television. It is giving me all the information I need to act like a typical citizen of this nation called America. So many types of people... animals... and the foods! Delicious, sweet and savory foods unlike anything on Mars. I ingest the news programs, current affairs and the popular game shows. Even brilliant achievements in art that feature fantastic creatures called “cartoons.”

Two things become clear to me. The first is that this is a world where good and evil struggle in all levels of existence. I want to be a force for good. The second thing is that I need to find employment if I want to obtain any more currency. As I’m sure is the case for many Earthlings, I find my answer on the television. My Martian name is J’Onn J’Onzz. Here on Earth I shall be known as John Jones. Police Detective John Jones. I’ll be one of the good guys.

-By Darwyn Cooke. “This type of story usually has an overarching narrative by a single character that helps hold the story together. The photographer in MARVELS, the priest in KINGDOM COME and Johnny Quick in THE GOLDEN AGE are some examples that spring to mind.

I decided it might be more interesting (and for some readers, frustrating) to let the story emerge slowly, and to look at our cast’s disparate lives in a series of blackout scenes that were provocative stories on their own. It isn’t until these stories start to gain momentum and overlap that the narrative intent becomes clear... now we land on J’ONN J’ONZZ, THE MANHUNTER FROM MARS... For the series, it was taken for granted the reader knew J’ONN’s and BARRY’S origins. In order to make this [Absolute] edition “complete,” this page [86] and page 90 were added to fill out their backstory...

The notion of J’ONN mistaking television for an accurate portrayal of life in America really grabbed me... J’onn as GROUCHO MARX... BUGS BUNNY...NATIVE AMERICAN...”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Martian Manhunter #0 (Oct.'98)

Tom Mandrake illustrated John Ostrander’s new Martian Manhunter origin story "Pilgrimage," in which a present day J'Onn J'Ozz returned to Mars (now called Ma'aleca'andra by the natives, referencing “Out of the Silent Planet” by C.S. Lewis) "for the first time." Were that true, a slew of Manhunter’s Post-Crisis solo comics would be thrown out of continuity, as well as a Darkstars appearance ON MARS! Anyhow, we learned in flashback that H'Rronmeer's Curse was both a physical and telepathic assault, sticking MM permanently with the second lamest weakness (fire) in comic history (after Alan Scott's problems with wood. Try not to read anything into that.) Well okay, Manhunter's tied with Power Girl's "unprocessed materials" and Hal Jordan's classic "yellow" vulnerability. You could take out half the DCU with a gas soaked #2 pencil, but I digress...

Before I get started, please note that nothing from this origin's telling has been corroborated outside of the Ostrander series. Also, this version of the origin was being told to Superman by J'Onzz. Later in the series, J'Onzz had some fun with Kyle Rayner by "revealing" his horrendous narcotic addiction to cookies, followed by confiding in Wonder Woman the story's untruth. Maybe J'Onn was just pulling Kal-El's Leg of Steel?

As revealed in Martian Manhunter #8 (July '99,) "The source was a plague called H'Ronmeer Curse--named for our god of fire and death and art. It was telepathic in origin. The Martian weakness to fire is both physical and psychological. We are telepathically drawn to the flickering uncontrolled image of chaos. Our thoughts become fire at the expense of all else--even the beating of our hearts. In the case of H'Ronmeer Curse, our very bodies erupted into flame." While Green Martians were spontaneously combusting all around him, J'Onn J'Onzz (now his real name again) returned home to his wife M'yri'ah (Maria? Mariah?) and daughter K'Hym. To avoid the telepathic disease, they had shut themselves off from The Great Voice (Star Trek's The Great Link) of the community. He comforted his bride by "merging" with her, becoming a tendrilled thing (just like Star Trek's Changelings). When K'Hym showed signs of "The Curse" (Alan Moore fans chuckle here,) her mother rushed to her, despite J'Onn's protest. Both mother and child disintegrated into flames.

With his family lost, J'Onzz reverted to the role of hardened policeman (kinda like the shapeshifting Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.) "In my world, we all had our functions. As with our forms, outward functions as well as inward. Innermost, I was a philosopher- Seeking wisdom, seeking to understand, seeking to explain. Outwardly, I was what on Earth we would call a manhunter. Seeking those, within society and without, who would bring it's downfall." J'Onzz had ignored the warning signs that his evil twin brother created H'Ronmeer's Curse to wipe out his own race, to y'know--give him the benefit of the doubt n'all. This sibling was not telepathic, so the plague had no effect on him... Which was kind of like what The Federation did in Star Trek:DS9--engineering a disease transmitted from Changeling to Changeling when they merged, nearly wiping out the whole race. Not that I'm calling anyone derivative, mind you.

Ahem. J'Onzz went ape-poopies on brother Ma'alefa'ak (which translates into English as "Venom," : ) believing him dead at the end of their battle. J'Onn wandered the desert for an undetermined period of time, impersonating dead Martians, or conversing with a hand puppet simulation of K'Hym. Eventually, he was struck by a white light, and found himself on Earth. On his home world, his people had their private forms (Gumby), and public (individualized.) The form we know best is The Manhunter, which is as J'Onzz appeared to Dr. James Erdel, an aged Professor of Archaeology. I do have to say that it was a nice touch to give Erdel his 3rd first name (Mark per Samachson, Saul per DeMatteis) for his 3rd major origin revision, and finally making him an actual doctor instead of professor, though this time he’s both obscure and seems a bit of a nutter. This Erdel used unearthed, millennium old Martian equipment to teleport MM, before it blew up in their faces. The fire caused J'J' to fall apart emotionally, and revert to his private form. Realizing there's another life at stake, J'Onzz rose above his fear, and rescued Erdel. Telepathically conversing with the doctor, J'Onzz learned he was on Per'elandra (Earth.) Manhunter eased the doc's pain until he died, then investigated the equipment, rendered unsalvagable.

Earthling Denver Police Lieutenant John Jones arrived on the scene with the fire department. J'Onn J'Onzz recognized a kindred spirit, and followed John Jones to learn about our society. Eventually, John Jones was called to testify against a major crimelord, but two corrupt cops were sent to assassinate him. J'Onn J'Onzz stopped Officer Kawicki, but the murderous impulse was so far out of the Martian's experience that he was distracted and surprised by the violence unfolding before him. This allowed Officer Morgan the chance to kill John Jones. J'Onn J'Onzz assumed John Jones' role in order to give the much needed testimony, and continued John Jones' life from there. J'Onn J'Onzz liked being John Jones, so J'Onn JOnzz stayed John Jones while on John Jones' Earth, instead of J'Onn J'Onzz’s Mars. John Jones likes the spicy chicken. J'Onn J'Onzz is getting upset.

Luckily, this entire story was being told by J'Onn to Superman. Later in the series, J'Onzz would also tell young Green Lantern Kyle Rayner a completely apocryphal anecdote, by his own later admission to Wonder Woman. Perhaps this whole sordid mess was a similar joke played on the Man of Steel.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Adventures in the DC Universe #5 (8/97)

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
Martian--K'C K'Rlzzon

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!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Secret Origins #35 (1988)

"I just couldn't sleep. My wife was snoring like a chainsaw and a radio down the street was playing white noise by something called "The Crue," but that wasn't the problem. It was this dream that came out of the blackness, like a thick fog lifting. I kept seeing my old friend, John Jones, and beside him a creature I knew only as the Martian Manhunter- It didn't make sense. John had been killed in the line of duty during a police raid in '68, and I'd never met the Manhunter - Why would I suddenly-? My God, I remember. I remember."

Now a retiree, the dreamer was once a thirty-year-old beat cop who chanced to work with the one-man police force that was John Jones, who "collected commendations like postage stamps," but, "I can never remember him smiling. He accepted the accolades and the awards, but John wasn't in it for the glory." Doing paperwork alone in the squad room, the unnamed narrator was startled when Jones stumbled in looking much worse for wear. Collapsing into the young officer's arms, John Jones was replaced by a green-skinned Martian.

"It was about then the movie started." Images filled the narrator's mind of J'Onn J'Onzz's arrival on Earth, and the presumption of death that befell a younger, now anonymous Erdel than we'd seen before, clean-shaven and sporting a crewcut. Left alone in a world not his own, what was this Martian to do? "He was equipped with a basic sense of right and wrong, and Erdel had left him with a functional grasp of language and custom. But the late fifties and early sixties were a strange time. For some reason- or maybe for no reason- Americans were afraid of almost everything... Conquest and world domination had no special allure for J'Onn J'Onzz. Still, good intentions or no, it just wasn't the right time for super-powered Martians."

Aware of the threat he would pose to others, and they to himself, J'Onn J'Onzz sought sanctuary and knowledge from the reigning media, television. "With Martian telepathy... you can peer into the storyteller's mind... Maybe that was why he was so intrigued with the tube. It brought back the joy of surprise. There were no minds to read, no instantaneous give and take. He was forced to accept the vision at face value." Who did Earthlings, specifically those that surrounded him in the United States of America, most value? From television, it would appear to be tough talking, sharp-dressed police detectives. J'Onn J'Onzz could see justice done, and he would be respected for his contribution to society, in assuming this role.

The Manhunter from Mars was born, initially in secret, taking notes on actual police procedure and interceding on their behalf when necessary. Eventually, J'Onzz came out of the shadows, looking to serve. "So, using telepathy, he created detective John Jones. Suddenly. Duncan and John had been acquainted for years. Family barbecues, the bowling team- you name it! Bill Ralston and John had gone to the same high school.... And me- well... John and I were pretty close."

Recently, Jones had begun investigating the case of the mayor's daughter having been kidnapped by the mob. Unfortunately, the crooks had taken her to a steel foundry, where flames had driven off the Martian Manhunter. "Maybe he'd planted that 'best buddy' business in my mind, but as time passed, I'd developed a real kinship with John. He was forced to tell me of his past so I could understand his fear of fire, but there was more to it than that. I think he needed the help- and trust- of a friend."

The narrator returned to the kidnapper's hideout, where he was wounded while shutting down as many of foundry's operations as he could manage, allowing the Martian Manhunter entry. "If he'd wanted, he could have turned those two hoods into supersonic greasespots. He satisfied himself by slamming them backward at 60 miles per hour... Then he cradled the mayor's little girl like a robin's egg and carried her gently to freedom. When it was over I woke up in a local hospital with a painful bullet wound and a nasty case of amnesia... Why was I remembering it all now?"

"John had made me forget. To protect me from the Manhunter's enemies, to protect his secret- he probably had dozens of reasons. I sensed that he'd been discovering some frightening truths about his own past and realized how important our memories can be. Maybe that's why he decided to unlock my- our- little secret. Or maybe he just wanted to see a friend- for old times' sake. My God, I remember. And so does he."

During a text piece biography in this issue's letter column, it was noted "Now, let's go back to our discussion of DETECTIVE #225 for just a moment. Late last year, when editor Mark Waid originally scheduled the Martian Man­hunter for this issue of SECRET ORIGINS, he wasn't aware that that character's beginnings were to be re­capped in the then-ongoing MARTIAN MANHUNTER mini-series by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Badger. The chal­lenge, then, of what more to say about J'onn J'onzz in ORIGINS was settled by an offhand question by JLI plotter Keith Giffen: "How did a super-powered alien from another world end up as a police detective, anyway?" Thanks, Keith, writer Mark Verheiden had the answer, and we had a brand new story."

Change was the norm at DC Post-Crisis, and the alterations to the Martian Manhunter's background made in the DeMatteis mini-series would take far too long to detail here. Suffice to say Verheiden's dialogue-free excercise turned out to be influential in its own right, not to diminish the awesome art from Ken Steacy here. It's just that so much that has come to be taken for granted about the character's origins, specifically the McCarthy era paranoia and the influence of television, came directly from this supposedly minor piece. True, Steve Englehart pioneered the 50's Red Scare angle in a Justice League of America #144, but no one else picked up that ball for eleven years. It seems unlikely the criminally under-valued "American Secrets" or some of the best parts of the much lauded "New Frontier" would have existed without this tale as a touchstone. Meanwhile, Giffen and DeMatteis followed up this story with "The Man I Never Was."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Introducing--JOHN JONES Manhunter From Mars (Detective Comics #225, 11/55, part 1)

"Inspired by public taste, editor Jack Schiff had tried a lawman from Mars in BATMAN #78. The green-skinned hero solved his case and went home, but the idea resurfaced two years later, in 1955."-Robert Greenberger

The book was the November cover dated Detective Comics #225, in which a second and considerably more enduring Martian investigator first appeared as a back-up feature in Batman's comic. While his creation is credited by DC Comics editorial to writer Joe Samachson and artist Joe Certa, the specifics of his birth and parentage were not well documented. Samachson initially developed the character with infamous editor Mort Weisinger, best known for heralding the creation of Superboy, girl, dog, cat, horse, and just about every other conceivable variation on the type. His input may have led to the overabundance of powers heaped upon the alien, in true Superman family fashion. The Manhunter was probably seen as an opportunity to cash in on the then-growing enthusiasm for science fiction. Why he was saddled with the then-moribund trappings of a super-hero, we'll never know.

According to the book "DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes" by Les Daniels, he was "suspiciously similar" to Superman, "and he was a hit." As then Detective Comics editor Jack Schiff put it, "We used to get a lot of mail on that." Samachson’s stay with the strip was a brief three outings, immediately succeeded by Dave Wood. Ultimately, Jack Miller has been credited as the writer of the majority of the Manhunter's Silver Age solo adventures. About the illustration, writer and editor Mark Waid said in Secret Origins #35, "...while no records currently exist [circa 1988] naming the writer(s) of J'onn's long-running first series, the artist, Joe Certa, managed something unheard of in today's comics series-he stayed with the feature from the first-for a remarkable 13-year run."

In Manhunter's original origin, "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" (an odd title, considering the "doctor" is called Professor Mark Erdel in the story), the world-famous scientist's "robot brain" searched through space and plucked a certain alien from off the planet Mars and into this observatory-lab. "I read your mind well, Earthman--And I understand your every thought and word!" While happy that the doctor's invention worked, being a scientist himself on his own world, J'onn J'onzz was in a bit of a rush to return home. Since recalibrating the machine could take years, J'onzz decided to shapeshift through his "chameleon-like powers" into a human form. “You meant no harm, I realize that! But I must adapt myself to this planet until I can return to mine-- so that my appearance won’t frighten others! This is easily done!” All this was too much for Dr. Erdel's weak heart. On his deathbed, J'onzz was still promising a curative Xymo serum in exchange for a return trip, but it was no use. “I am really sorry, J’onn J’onzz! I am dying... and I am the only man on Earth who can operate the robot brain! I--I have made a prisoner of you here on Earth... Farewell... Forgive me...”

"The Earth scientist is dead! Truly, as he said, I am a prisoner here on Earth... Millions of miles away--my people are working on project 'Star-Ride'...a rocket ship that will carry them to other worlds! Until that day-- the day they reach Earth-- I am bound to stay here, disguised as an Earthman. How many years will it take-- How many centuries?"

Follow link to Detective Comics #225, Part Two: "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel"

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Batman #78 (Aug.-Sep. 1953)

"The most formidable criminal ever to strike at Gotham City was known only by a name of mystery..."

Who robbed the Gotham Gun Company? Who vanished with both loot and a new machine-pistol model from within a sealed vault? Who appeared from inside a locked armored car to make off with powerful new tommy-guns? Who can scale a sixty foot wall like a human fly? "That incredible new bandit---THE STRANGER!" The Caped Crusader surmised, "From all indications, this Stranger is some thwarted scientific genius, using his knowledge for crime! Nothing else could explain the incredible things he's done!" Or could it?

Using sophisticated technology within the Batplane while flying over the woods from which the Stranger first appeared, Batman and Robin uncovered a small spacecraft! While examining its unearthly metal exterior, a second starship set down in the woods! Suspecting this may be an accomplice to the Stranger, the Dynamic Duo tackled the figure that emerged, and he wasn't human! Their weird prisoner defended himself with words in their native tongue! "Yes, Batman... we Martians are quite familiar with your great career! ...We've kept our scientific civilization secret from Earth inhabitants, because we want to keep our peaceful world unchanged! Only to pursue a dangerous Martian criminal have I, Roh Kar, first Lawman of Mars, come to Earth!"

From their televisioscopes the Martians could view the lives of Earthlings-- the Dark Knight Detective's being a feature attraction. However, the Lawman of Mars' fellows consoled, "You too are great, Roh Kar, but there is so little crime on Mars, you have small chance to prove it!" That changed when the distorted genius Quork took advantage of the situation, embarking on "a career of evil." Roh Kar pursued Quork as he stole an invisibility belt, jet pack, and finally an experimental space ship. Unable to follow Quork to Earth, Roh Kar had to wait until a second craft could be built, allowing Quork time to become the Stranger. The Dynamic Duo and the Manhunter from Mars decided to team-up, although Roh Kar had to take care on this other world. "The rich oxygen of Earth's atmosphere makes me dizzy, after the thin air of desert Mars." Batman helped Roh learn a breathing technique to compensate.

The Stranger proved easy to find, thanks to the Martian technological marvel, the human compass. "You see, every human brain radiates a faint electric wave--- never the same in different people! This compass is tuned to Quork's wave, and is now pointing directly toward him!" The trio were led to Science Hall, where the Stranger continued his crime spree, clocked Robin on the noggin, and smashed the human compass. "Hold it! So you came after me to Earth, eh, Roh Kar? Well, neither of you move, or this Earth brat will die! I'm going out of here with him! ...Ha, ha... this is a real triumph, defeating both the Lawman of Mars and Batman of Earth together!"

Roh Kar managed to slip a tracking device onto Quork's person, so that he and Batman could give chase from a safe distance via jetpack. At the end of their search, they found Robin strapped to a giant missile, while the Stranger prepared for his return to Mars with his newly acquired arsenal. "So that is your plan! It's diabolical, to take weapons to peaceful Mars!" What the Stranger didn't know was that Batman had flooded the hanger with pure oxygen, making Quork "slaphappy." Though pacified by oxygen intoxication, Quork taunted, "No---you haven't won! Hear that roar? I also had a time-fuse set to detonate that missile outside, after I was gone---and it's going up now, with your young friend!" Batman saved his young ward via jet pack, while Roh Kar declared "We're going back to Mars, criminal! You'll never escape the moon prison there!" The Lawman of Mars took all evidence of this adventure home with him, so the Dynamic Duo didn't even try to explain all the alien daring-do to Commissioner Gordon, only assuring him the threat of the Stranger was no more.

Roh Kar is typically dismissed as irrelevant by comic historians, but one look at his sole appearance muddies the question of who exactly created the Manhunter from Mars even further than previously thought. The story wasn't cover featured, so it's altogether possible that writer Edmond Hamilton conceived the basic premise himself, though the probability of editorial suggestion remains high. Regardless, the tale establishes the mostly pacifistic notion of Mars, steeped in science fantasy and a fascination with humanity. Though technologically enabled, Martian powers of flight and invisibility are on display. Nearly all Martians are shown wearing variations on the X-shaped chest straps, short pants, and cavalier boots upon their green-skinned forms. However, a second "X" design, made from four separated black pie slices, is a recurring image here (as opposed to the eight integrated white divisions on J'onn J'onzz's belt.) Deviations from the familiar Silver Age DC Martians include large pointed ears, emaciated frames, mildly Satanic short antennae, and the occasional scales. These visuals were credited to Lew Schwartz, inked by Charlie Paris.

In the internet age, I've often seen Roh Kar dubbed the "Golden Age Manhunter from Mars." This is untrue for two key reasons. The most obvious is that few consider DC Comics from 1953 as part of the Golden Age, which is usually considered to have ended within a few years of World War II's resolution. The second is that Roh Kar is only referred to as the "Lawman of Mars" in a story titled "The Manhunter From Mars," except when both he and Batman are twice dubbed a pair of "manhunters." While the story title is clearly alluding to Roh Kar, he doesn't bear the actual title of a "Manhunter." That was reserved for another guy, two years later...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Martian Manhunter Rogues Gallery Revisited

One of my first posts on this blog involved announcing the reopening of one of my favorite wings of the old "Rock of the JLA" site: "The Vile Menagerie." Also, it became one of my favorite early crutches, as I could toss out an old scan with a dated entry of some one-off foe whenever I was stuck for a daily entry. Well blast it, while none of those posts involved terrors like Vandal Savage or Despero, these were among the elite few villains created for the express purpose of fighting the Manhunter from Mars. They deserve the best possible scans, with the coolest art and most vibrant colors. In my humble opinion, comparing the old and new is like the difference between VHS and DVD. Also like DVD, I've rewritten the text on all of the entries since their early 00's debut, and even cleaned up some from their initial blog posts for the "Special Edition." The Prophet specifically has just had a complete rewrite for your infotainment needs. Since I had a lot fewer readers them (as any, "not any,") this if first run to many. Besides, I had WAY to many tags up in here, so they've been incorporated into the "Vile Menagerie" umbrella post.

So what exactly is a "Vile Menagerie?"

Who is the mad Prophet I spoke of?

Who is the Marshal of Mars II responsible for ending the Satellite Era of the JLA?

Seriously, who the heck is the Osprey?

PLUS, these unaltered entries...
Monty Moran: The Getaway King / Getaway Mastermind
The Pyre
The Devil Men of Pluto

Emmissions from the Idol-Head of Diabolu:
The Doom Shadow
The Weird World of Gilgana
Iwangis--Creature King
The Venomee