Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Brightest Day's Done
One Year Later... and we find ourselves on the eve of the conclusion of one of the best selling and most important series of the decade... BRIGHTEST DAY! Twelve characters resurrected at the end of Blackest Night, including our own Martian Manhunter, sent on missions by a benevolent force that would evoke shock waves throughout the DC Universe! Professor Zoom, Jade, Osiris, Maxwell Lord, Captain Boomerang, Hawk and Deadman each used to launch new series, relaunch old ones, or elevated to a level of prominence never before seen in their history! Four more heroes were broken down and remade into elementals by the White Lantern to combat the greatest evil of all time, and their individual fan blogs have chosen today to celebrate!
The Aquaman Shrine has been there every other week, chronicling the glorious resurgence of the Sea King! After literally decades of abuse and neglect, Aquaman and Mera are the power couple of the DCU, with an upcoming spin-off series by the white hot creative team of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis! There's also a new Aqualad who expands the racial diversity of comics and co-stars in the Young Justice cartoon series!
Being Carter Hall has also regularly championed the Winged Wonders' adventures in the title! The version of Hawkgirl made popular in the Justice League Unlimited animated series is finally back, and married to the classic interpretation of Hawkman! The curse that has haunted the characters since their first appearance in 1940 has finally been lifted, their oldest foe served his ultimate defeat, and revelations about Hawkgirl's mother will surely echo for years to come!
Firestorm Fan may well have the most to be excited about of us all! The Nuclear Man of both the '80s Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians and the '00s Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoons have combined to form the perfect matrix! Ronnie Raymond has moved beyond being an alcoholic hero, and out of the shadow of his partnership with Martin Stein! Jason Rusch, who has already proven himself as a solo act, is now the brains behind Ronnie's experienced brawn, and the pair have made Firestorm strong enough to face the Black Lanterns and the Anti-Monitor!
Finally, there's the Manhunter from Mars, who now has pants! That's right, we all know who wears the pants now, and it's J'Onn J'Onzz! Pants... and a cabochon! This is the most radical reworking of the character since 2006! Not as radical, but the most since!
Back in November, Newsarama ran a poll asking BRIGHTEST DAY Halfway Point - What's the Best Story? The top spot went to "Aquaman, Mera, Aqualad, and friends" with 1,789 votes taking 44.94%. They were followed by Deadman, Firestorm, then Martian Manhunter with less than 8% and 314 votes. I guess we're lucky they didn't run Hawk & Dove as an option to pull a Ralph Nader on the Alien Atlas. I can't really argue with the results, because I pretty much agree that the Manhunter story was the single most pointless of the lot.
What really came out of J'Onn J'Onzz's appearances in this book? A new villain, once hyped as his greatest ever? Aren't they all? At least once a decade another "unique" survivor of Mars shows up to try their hand as an arch-nemesis. Commander Blanx in the '60s, Re's Eda in the '70s, the Marshal in the '80s, the Master Gardener and Malefic in the '90s, Cay'an in the '00s and now D'Kay D'Razz? Hell, even of that dubious lot, D'Kay is the least. Malefic and Blanx took on the JLA. The Master Gardener defeated the Justice Society and briefly conquered the world. Even Cay'an managed to ace some White Martians. What did D'Kay D'Razz do? Kill a bunch of random humans who existed solely to be killed? Beat up Miss Martian?
Actually, how sad is it that the first meaningful interaction between M'gann M'orzz and J'Onn J'Onzz in the five years since her creation was the result of D'Kay banging the woman's head into the refrigerator a few times? That was good for a handful of dialogue balloons and a splash page between a couple of issues. How about the way D'Kay cast an illusion over J'Onn's mind for an issue or two? When you work it out by page count, how much longer did D'Kay have a grip as compared to, say, Bette Noir? Plus, she was pretty unambiguously and unnecessarily graphically endeadened, so the time wasted in her build-up to nothing would only be topped by the grating stupidity of explaining a return appearance. Why bother, when General B'add A'zz is coming in 2021?
Oh wait, how about that daring new wrinkle in the origin of the Alien Atlas? Like how we found out that J'Onn was actually an exiled political leader during a civil war? Or that Professor Erdel didn't have a heart attack from shock, but was actually murdered by the robot brain? Or how Erdel was actually alive, and that every solo Manhunter story before 1985 was a false mental implant? Or that Erdel really was dead, but he was killed by an explosion after using Martian technology he'd excavated rather than invented to teleport J'Onzz? So now Erdel accidentally brought a different Martian to Earth first, then intentionally brought J'Onzz to stop the first one, and Erdel did die, but he secretly had a daughter who didn't, but she had a brain injury keep her under wraps all these years until she could serve as an expository device? That's the ticket! That's gold, Jerry! Gold! True daring would be to leave the damned origin alone instead of complicating and contradicting it at every turn. True daring would be to tell an actual new story, unburdened by baggage!
Remember the episode of That 70s Show when Donna gave Eric a huge ring as a present, and then there was the dream sequence where the gang appeared as quasi-Super Friends? From a monitor screen, Batman learns Lex Luthor is deploying an army of cyborg were-zombies on Washington D.C., and the Justice League has gathered to stop them, but first he has to talk to the Martian Manhunter about that enormous cabochon! "If it gets knocked off your chest in battle, the weight could throw the Earth off its axis!" Then Superman grabs J'Onn by the collar and demands "Bloodwynd, give up this game!" Then the lawyers for the owners of Speed Racer serve a cease and desist notice on the unauthorized use of the Mach 5's stylized "M" in the latest attempt to come up with a marketable Martian icon. I guess after co-starring in House of Mystery with Robby Reed, somebody subconsciously drew a parallel between the H-Dial and the Mach Five's steering wheel hub. It's like playing "Six Degrees of Derivation."
I guess three out of four major features coming out of Brightest Day improved is a pretty good ratio, and I'm happy for my fellow bloggers. Geoff Johns became a fan darling by looking at the whole of iconic characters and their history, taking a holistic approach to each property. He balanced the science fiction of Katar Hol and the immortal warrior of Carter Hall. His Aquaman favors the Silver and Bronze ages, but the modern is clearly acknowledged. He's the guy who got all the Firestorms and Flashes and Green Lanterns to work together. It just bums be out that his Martian Manhunter might as well have been created in 1996 by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, and forget all the rest of it...