Sorry to have passed over posting the last couple days. I lapsed due to my being called away from what was intended to be an all-encompassing post-BN #8 opinion piece, but ended up as just a 2010 Brightest Day #1 Promo Ad by David Finch. I never made it back to do more than approve other folks' unread comments, so I'll have to do some reading and replying later tonight.
Due to my being wiped out, I failed to detect an html error that twice converted a paragraph I'd written about the new Martian Manhunter costume into gobbledygook. Since I doubt I'll have many readers here until after the holiday weekend, I'll break my intended post (third rewrite) in two and indulge in some R&R afterward.
To start things off, let me make I direct comparison...
Brightest Day Martian Manhunter
Steve Epting's 1990s The Vision design
So, head-to-toe, we're all happy to see the Conehead bite the dust, right? That sort of thing is fine in Natural Martian form, but looks silly on a super-hero. Worse, artists often gave J'Onn a Skrull chin, making him look like that most homogeneous of evil Marvel alien races (not to mention their direct alternate dimension parallel to J'Onn is the "Skrullian Skymaster.") Never let your knock-offs dictate your style, y'know?
Now, J'Onn J'Onzz and... what's that rarely used alias again... Victor Shade have long drawn comparisons as two characters with similar dispositions and powers who serve similar roles in their respective universes. It stands to reason they might have comparable feelings on fashion, but aside from a shared love for collared capes, it's really Red Tornado who has usually been Vision's clothing doppelganger (not to mention in far too many other areas.) I've always loved the folded down collar (of the 1980s-early 90s and the Mandrake take from the ongoing series.) This is especially true as opposed to the goofy Dracula collar of the late '90s, which sometimes blew up like it was auditioning for a Spawn comic. You'll note that in the Vision design, the pointed collar is a lot more reserved, but it also distinctly belonging to the Vision. I love when a character can be identified even in silhouette, which can be done with Vision's popped collar & Manhunter's folded one, so I hate to invite confusion by swiping from the synthezoid. You may also notice that instead of the heavy, thick cape Manhunter has worn off-and-on since Adam Hughes drew him, his drapery now looks more like thin sculpted vinyl, not unlike a Joel Schumacher Batman movie outfit. The Vision rocked that look in the golden age of Chromium, so coupled with a pointy collar, J'Onn threatened a real fashion faux pas. Point being, J'Onn owns the folded collar, it's back, and that makes me happy.
The cape clasps are pretty cool, and while at first I thought I'd prefer their having the old Manhunter belt buckle "pie slices," I now think that would be too busty. I don't love the red eyes, but I don't hate them either. Like the pointy "popped" collar, it's an established and reasonable artistic choice, and I'll gladly let one slide in favor of the other. Meanwhile, thank you Lord, for not allowing another artist to slap freakin' gauntlets on J'Onn J'Onzz. This weird anomalous addition has cropped up from time to time since the '90s, and I fail to see why a shapeshifter with strength levels rivaling most any comic character would be desperate for wrist support like a pro bowler, ancient gladiator, or stocker at Wall*Mart. I assume some artists find J'Onn's arms a bit bare, but just as with the Wonder Thong, I shouldn't thinking of girlie bracelets in association with the Alien Atlas. Similarly, gloves make me think J'Onn is going to do horrible, unspeakable things from, again, out of a Joel Schumacher production. Keep the gloves and the gerbils far away from my hero, please.
The clasp between the chest straps is dubious ornamentation for a no-frills character. If you look at the Hawks, especially in the dual gatefold from Blackest Night #8, you'll notice the designs are virtually identical. J'Onn & Katar have long had similar costumes, so I kind of wish J'Onn would set the straps aside, but that isn't the case here. The Vision also typically has a big red or yellow diamond right in the center of his chest, which invites unkind comparison. While I think Bloodwynd will be looking into suing to get his Blood Gem back, I like the Alan Davis style integration of the straps into the belt. That buckle is a total bore though, so let's put a nice round "pie slice" or representation of Mars there, please.
Prior to the Epting redesign, John Byrne reworked the Vision to appear entirely white, his costume consisting only of the cape and briefs. Epting retained that blankness in his chest area, making it seem like the bare chest of old, and adding full tights with a v-shaped dip in place of the briefs. The Martian Manhunter has always been among the nakedest male heroes in comics, and like Wonder Woman going from a full skirt to a thong, J'Onn's former boxers had at times been trimmed down to an unnervingly skimpy bikini brief. Rather that "treat" us to a Martian Wedgie in the near future, Reis also offers v-trimmed tights. I'm comfortable with male nudity when it comes to a Sub-Mariner, but it seems to me the descriptive "Martian Detective" demands at least pants, if not a full suit, so I applaud this cover up. As the Manhunter from Mars began his career in longish black trunks, I think the ebon tights are appropriate.
Finally, I'm pleased to see the cavalier boots, though that's based more on the warmth of familiarity than their working well with the design. In light of a flashier design, their antiquity seems out of place. We haven't gotten a good look at them yet though, so maybe they're heavier than they look, and run long, like the aforementioned Adam Hughes take. Regardless though, this is a very solid redesign, I like it, and I think it will serve the Manhunter from Mars a lot better than any other revamp we've seen to date.