Friday, March 12, 2010

52/WW III Part Three: Hell Is For Heroes #1 (June, 2007)

Week 50, Day 5. Once again in the guise of an adolescent white girl, the Martian Manhunter surveyed the terrible destruction wrought by Black Adam in Pisa, Italy. Far from overwhelmed by the psychic agony surrounding him, "None of it more than a distant, faraway static in the back of my mind. Jumbled bits of colored ash that I quickly blink away." J'Onzz assigned those arbitrary, non-Corps-approved colors to the following emotions: Green- Heartbreak, Black- Natural Human Evil, Muted Gray- Despair, Red- Anger, Gold- Courage, Blue- Strength, Yellow- Compassion. While Little Girl J'Onzz was painting the world in his jumbled head, the Justice Society of America showed up to actually help people in the disaster area. Some victims were distrustful of Adam's former teammates, though.

Despite already establishing Black Adam's psychic defenses (and the left field mental offensive that turned J'Onn into a jerk,) Manhunter telepathically sought out the mass murderer at the Parthenon in Greece. An interim cannon fodder Teen Titans team met the villain, resulting in Young Frankenstein's (literal) disarming death and the serious injuries of Zatara II and Offspring. Beast Boy, recalling every Titans writer since Geoff Johns, didn't bat an eye at the casualties. Manhunter arrived too late to the scene, disguised as a haggard EMT, compelled by "curiosity." J'Onzz mentally shared Young Frankenstein's final moments of life. "Humans, Martians... it matters not the race. At the end of things, we all die alone."

Junior high profundity. Boo-hoo. No seriously, this is me crying over John Ostrander writing Martian Manhunter again. Oh, the missing humanity.

King Faraday and Sasha Bordeaux made the scene and argued about the inevitable intervention of black ops aficionado Amanda Waller. Jones observed, "Amanda Waller. Two sides of human nature combined in one soul. Among humans, few are so comfortable doing good with evil hands."

In Detroit, MI, "No surprise then, that when my mind locates Ben Turner... I'm already two steps behind Amanda Waller." Why J'Onzz chose to peek in on Turner, beyond his being a certified badass in the Motor City, I don't know. Turner kicked down the door of his own apartment, prepared to face an unwanted intruder. The Wall replied, "That's one door that'll never piss you off again. Me, I usually just put an extra key under the mat." Turner wasn't having any of it. "Answer's no. Leave. Now." An argument ensued between two great characters Ostrander can write, but Waller as always got her way. The Wall revealing that Turner's old Task Force X leader Rick Flag Jr. was alive and a prisoner of a hostile nation. One assumes these two pages were gifted to Ostrander, as they were only relevant as a lead-in to the great Suicide Squad: From The Ashes.

Week 50, Day 6. The Teen Titans caught up with Black Adam in the Himalayas. The killer punched the heart out of Terra's chest, killing her once again. Since this was a character Beast Boy and people who were teenagers in 1984 actually cared about, mourning commenced.

Back to Martian Manhunter, "I ghost into Director Bones' D.E.O. inner sanctum, silent as a thought." With Checkmate boxed into a corner, the D.E.O. had stepped in to fill the void in the pursuit of Black Adam. Bones was also handling prosecutor Kate Spencer, whose double life as the vigilante Manhunter (no relation) had begun impacting her profession. Martian Manhunter had met Spencer during the investigation of Shadow Thief's involvement in the death of Firestorm, and later connected her to Not Martian Manhunter. The Manhunter from Mars eavesdropped into the meeting where Spencer resigned under the scrutiny of Federal Prosecutor Andrew Bates to start her own defense practice under Bones' guidance. "Theft. Lies. Deceit. All in the name of justice. The two sides of human nature, once more represented. Smaller acts of malice performed in service of the greater good. It is not the Martian way. It is not my way. Or... is it?"

The Martian Manhunter returned to the Denver, Colorado* precinct where he began his impersonation of deceased detective John Jones*. "Peter Santorelli. Diane Meade. My first partners.* My first friends.* In spite of never knowing who I really was.*" The still active Santorelli walked up to J'Onzz and burst out laughing uncontrollably. John Jones revealed himself as J'Onn J'Onzz, as well as "I'm inducing laughter in your mind to lessen the shock of learning my true identity. It is cowardly of me. I apologize. This is who I am, Peter. This is who I have always been. Many were the times I manipulated this truth. My motives were pure, my methods less so." Why come out now? "To make certain I never do it again, my friend. Goodbye."

* All of the above is per John Ostrander, who knows continuity like he knows the secret of cold fusion. The Silver Age Manhunter invented the John Jones persona to join the Middletown, U.S.A. Police Department, while Post-Crisis it was Middleton, CO, which is about 250 miles from Denver. As far as I know, this was Peter Santorelli's first and only appearance. Jones' first friends on the force were Capt. Harding in the Silver Age, and an unnamed retired beat cop in the modern era. If I recall correctly, Ostrander himself wrote a story where Diane Meade knew about Jones' dual identity. The real corker follows...

"The Terrel Building. My base of operations when I left the police to become a private investigator. After long decades of use, it now stands empty and condemned. I shared this office with Diane Meade. She selflessly bore the weight of both our partnership and our friendship while I... I failed her. She died."

Um, no. Ostrander killed Jones' p.i. partner Karen Smith. Diane Meade not only survived Ostrander's lousy series (my sanity didn't,) but her last modern appearance was alive and well a year later in Harley Quinn. Ostrander can't even keep his own continuity straight.

J'Onzz started whining about how everywhere he looked he saw lies, and used his Martian Vision to level the building in a terrible fire. That's fire. Y'know, fire. Please don't write anything but Suicide Squad, Grimjack and stuff I don't want to read for the rest of your life, okay Johnny O.? I'd really appreciate it. The art was by Tom Derenick and Norm Rapmund, which while not the best pairing of styles, maintained the surprising quality of art throughout this curse of a mini-series.


LissBirds said...

"Um, no. Ostrander killed Jones' p.i. partner Karen Smith." I think that's why I keep getting the two of them mixed up. Now that finally makes sense.

I didn't quite realize it until I saw the dialogue written out like this (I get distracted by pictures), but J'onn does an awful lot of snooping and heavy-handed philosophizing in this miniseries.

"I'm inducing laughter in your mind to lessen the shock of learning my true identity." That scene really didn't sit right with me at all. Not only didn't it make sense, but carelessly manipulating peoples' minds like that?

Oh, wait. Destroying the building tops that. Did he own it or rent it? Who's going to pay for that?! How do you claim Martian Vision on your insurance forms after your abandoned building burns down?!! Why is he destroying property?!

Diabolu Frank said...

It was a House of Lies! Damn it woman, have you no poetry in your soul? But seriously, Ostrander made a point of condemning the building, even though John Jones was working out of it, like, a year and change ago in comic book compressed time. It was due for demolition anyway. The Martian Vision wasn't offensive, but to check for derelicts, gas and water mains before blowing it up. Do I get my No-Prize now, or does the lithium I took to come up with half of that and not punch myself in the head count?

carelessly manipulating peoples' minds like that?

...happened every damned month in Ostrander's series. I was drowning kittens back in '99 on the DC Message Board over that with a couple of other haters against a walk-in closet full of apologists... and I just know I'll eventually kill again when I get to synopsizing that crap.

LissBirds said...

"It was a House of Lies! Damn it woman, have you no poetry in your soul?" HA HA HA! Well, then, if that building owner had the standard House of Lies rider on his insurance, I'll be able to sleep well tonight.

Yes, you get the Non-Prize, but I think all of this would probably make more sense if it involved some sort of head-punching, because if I was delerious all those times J'onn violated his ethics just might make sense to me. Maybe.

Every time I read a synopsis like this I go even deeper into the 1950's. Call it Silver Age Backlash.

Oh, and I can't WAIT for you to summarize the solo series. After just a few summaries, I'll be so far into the Silver Age I'll be sitting in a bomb shelter vacuuming in pearls and wearing an "I Like Ike" button, but the insights will be worth it.

Diabolu Frank said...

"Insights?" Vitriol, more like.

mathematicscore said...

Ok, your case against Ostrander is strong... That said, I totally just found for a dollar a piece and read from the ashes. Pretty darn alright. He just largely missed the boat on some (ok, a lot of) key MM themes in his run. I still think JLA Incarnations is good.

Tom said...

"...and used his Martian Vision to level the building in a terrible fire."

You will get your No-Prize when you can explain how a guy whose weakness is fire has heat vision.

will_in_chicago said...

Maybe what DC needs a continuity book for each character to avoid making mistakes. It is particularly bad when a writer can't even keep his own stories straight.

LissBirds said...

"You will get your No-Prize when you can explain how a guy whose weakness is fire has heat vision."

I always rationalized it as laser vision. Lasers aren't necessarily hot. (I don't think...?) Plus, there are "cold" lasers out there. They don't cut or incinerate anything, though, since they're used to treat pain. So it's not necessarily "heat" vision, just some type of non-specified energy vision.

Did I win?

Diabolu Frank said...

M.C., my case is strong? Bwahahaha! By the time I get around to writing up the entire Ostrander series, it'll read like the Mein Kampf of fanboy obsessive loathing. If I only had an archive of those old message board posts... but anyway, yeah, Incarnations was okay, if you're up for a really pale JLA: Year One imitation that fails to live up to its advertising. Dinosaurs with laser vision can GTFO.

Tom, Martian Manhunter doesn't have genuine heat vision. "Martian Vision" works broadly and is ill defined. It can be assumed that J'Onn's ocular energy projection is a refined, intense application of the telekinesis Manhunter uses to fly (per Priest,) in which the potential energy of an object becomes supercharged to combustion. While the result may be heat/fire, the cause is actually molecular friction. Alternately, as this application has been referred to as "Laser Vision," J'Onn could have some latent ability to manipulate light and the electromagnetic spectrum, though that seems less likely than its just being a misapplied descriptive. Point being, J'Onn's "heat vision" is most likely a byproduct of another power which in our atmosphere problematically generates fire. That, or maybe it was just artificially bred into the Martian genome to fight monsters. Then there's th' Fernus thang, but I'm not a'gonna talk about thet.

Will, books are only useful if someone bothers to read them. Overworked, underpaid editors haven't the time, and too many writers lack the inclination. My old Rock of the JLA was built on the assumption that it would provide a searchable database of Martian Manhunter information, and that goal remains an aspect of this blog. Otherwise, why synopsize comics easily obtainable as downloads (besides the illegality part?)

Diabolu Frank said...

Good God, Liss-- I guess I spent an hour on my reply...

Tom said...

Frank, Liss, check your no-mail.

will_in_chicago said...

Diabolu_Frank, I understand that editors lack the time to read books on their characters and that too many writers don't want to read the books. I know that continuity errors exist in a lot of places outside of the comics, but it would be good to see less of them. (I am not holding my breath for this aspect of an ideal world.)

Diabolu Frank said...

Tom, I checked my email. It was clearly too early/late for me to have my humor sense activated.

Will, I don't stand much for ceremony. I changed my online name because people were calling me Mr. Delano/Diabolu like it was a proper name. Just "Frank" or "Hey, you" will be fine (and less an underscore.) Anyway, we're on the same page with regard to continuity, and at least on the Martian Manhunter front, I try everyday (everyday) everyday (everyday) everyday (everyday) everyday to write the boooook...

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, I think J'Onn and Elvis Costello would approve of that sentiment.