Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There Is No New Mars

I've been reading Martian Manhunter critically for years-- ever since I worked on the old site in the late '90s. The thing is, it took me years to finally put most of J'Onn's adventures before my eyes, and they most certainly arrived in an order that was not remotely chronological. In much the same manner as I work on this blog, my knowledge came piecemeal, and connections that would have been drawn otherwise were lost.

For instance, there is no "New Mars." I've been referencing this so-called planet forever, using it interchangeably with Mars II. As I've been working to finally pin down synopsis and other important information related to the years in exile (1968-1984,) I've covered and recovered old and new ground in hopes of working out the inconsistencies. I've worked under the assumption that writers couldn't even keep the name of the Martians adopted planet straight, whether it be Vonn, Mars II, or New Mars.

There's truth in that. Dick Dillin kept the look of Vonn consistent from its first appearance in World's Finest Comics #212 (6/1972) through a one-panel cameo in Justice League of America #100 (8/1972). The planet was less distinctive in Justice League of America #115 (1-2/1974,) and this is where the conflice begins.

In that first Vonn story, it was established that the planet orbited a red sun, stripping Superman of all his powers. However, in JLofA #115 Superman is shown using his flight and super strength. How could this be the same planet? The problem also crops up in World's Finest Comics #245 (June-July, 1977), where Superman has the use of most of his powers. Meanwhile, it was established that on Vonn J'onn had limited flight and super strength, which vanished in his Adventure Comics series and WF #245. So Martian Manhunter has powers, Superman doesn't, and then they flip. Wah?

The kicker for this post was DC Comics Presents #27 (11/1980), where Superman and Martian Manhunter fight one planet back from "New Mars." Superman clearly flies past a yellow sun, and both heroes appear to be at full power. The wheres and whys boggle my mind. Worse, in one line of dialogue in one panel of the book, Superman refers to "New Mars." Except their is no New Mars, because the term is never used again in the three part DC Comics Presents story. Just a few months prior, in JLofA #177-178, it's still Mars II, and remained so in JLofA #228-230, the planet from which the Martian invaders launched their attack on Earth.

So here's my problem: for years I've treated an apparent slip of Superman's tongue as gospel, though hey, it was Superman after all. Meanwhile, variances in Superman and Martian Manhunter's powers make it appear as though Vonn and Mars II are not the same planet. How does all that work? I don't know. I just wanted to make clear once and for all that there is no New Mars, even if Alan Moore referenced it in Twilight (of the Superheroes). D'oh!

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