Project : Rooftop has always struck me as a good idea shepherded by the wrong people. If you've been a comic book fan for any length of time, you've probably at some point tried your hand at "Superheroes, Redesigned" to your specifications. It makes perfect sense, like those special edition letter columns from the '70s, to find a venue to showcase these fan efforts. Unfortunately, from its inception in 2006, Project : Rooftop catered to hipsters too cool for form fitting spandex, and specialized in putting your favorite super-heroes in sneakers and hoodies, or overwhelming the costumes with over-emphasized translations of real world elements in the characters, or just mocking obscurities. Of course, in the interests of full disclosure, I went from mild distaste to a full-on axe to grind after their ReVampirella contest, but I'll stand by my opinion regardless. Beyond the once yearly cosplay contest and the occasional gem in the rough (spread far apart by the site's lax publishing schedule,) I couldn't even justify maintaining it in my bookmarks.
This explains why when folks started emailing me about All-Ages All-Stars: Jon McNally’s Martian Manhunter, I initially groaned. Still, it was nice to see a professionally presented reworking of the sort of B/C-list character the site often overlooks. Then I read the copy...
From the streets of Apex City to the farthest reaches of space, all fugitives from justice fear-- the Martian Manhunter.
Right off the bat, if my rant against Apex City over half a year after The Absorbascon shuttered its doors seemed random, it's because all that vitriol bubbled back up again when I saw this less than a month ago, and I decided to get it out before covering this. Otherwise, I would have been likely to take a cute, clever image and make it my punching bag.
Well, more so.
My first issue with this thing is that yet again, a costume redesign amounted to making the John Carter of Mars influence more obvious. The actual character of J'Onn J'Onzz has very little in common with Tars Tarkas beyond his origin being a reversal of Carter's, and it would make more sense to move far from that reference point, but that's usually not the case. Next, there's the gauntlets/bracelets, which I've hated on at length elsewhere. From there, the presumed "John Jones" is once again a brown-haired white guy, this time unnervingly sporting a mustache and day old stubble. All of that, not my speed, but then we reach the point of anger...
John Jones has been demoted to a K-9 unit. No longer a plainclothes detective, the
On the bright side, at least Project: Rooftop seems to have upped its regularity and broadened its focus. I appreciate this "All-Ages All-Stars" initiative as well, so maybe I'll have to reconsider my negative opinion of them.