Sunday, April 10, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie Madness Mitigated



Back in February, blog reader jimmypulv offered the suggestion of running "March Madness" with Martian Manhunter villains. After a flurry of initial qualifying rounds, we saw the following breakdowns of bad-on-bad action:

The plan was to finish on the last day of March, to not have a whole bunch of ties, to not have eBay style "strategic voting" in the last moments of polls, and for Google to not create instabilities that affected scheduled posts, reset polls, and basically make something fun a bit of a headache. It was also a bit of a bummer that March saw a readership slump, increasingly low vote turn-outs, and a general drop in comments posted. I don't blame the poll for this, because I figure its been a trend since the blog's peak during the "death and resurrection" phase, but it reminded me that I'm playing to a smaller though dedicated crowd. C'est la vie. I'm glad to have folks around who care about the character, and if I wanted a large audience, I'd have created a Wolverine blog. Speaking of which, I would stack the Vile Menagerie against the pantywaists Logan scratches at vigorously any damned day of the week. Now that is a pathetic lot.

Round Five

Commander Blanx vs. Mr. V: I don't think anyone was particularly excited about this match. Faceless has his fans, but at the end of the day he's the dorkiest looking international crime boss around, with some reasonably competent goons and a few gadgets that haven't really stood the test of time. Meanwhile Blanx only appeared in two comics from over forty and thirty years ago, only one of which has ever been reprinted. However, folks know he's a Pale Martian that overwhelms Mr.V in raw power, accomplishments and intellect, plus his reputation precedes him thanks to folks like me clucking over him. This came close, but I expect that was mostly due to any contest involving only seven respondents likely not to end in landslide. (4-3)

Despero vs. Ma’alefa’ak: After Google's reset on March 31st, I went through my referral queue, and got reasonable, familiar numbers on those old polls... except on Despero vs. Malefic, which showed 4-3 in Despero's favor. My original poll number favored Malefic, so he was the one to progress to...

Round Six
Malefic/Ma'alefa'ak vs. Commander Blanx: There are three major competitors for the role of the Martian Manhunter's nemesis. In the sixties, the Diabolu Idol-Head, Professor Hugo, nor Mr. V had the ability truly challenge the Martian Manhunter in the way a "big bad" should. Blanx was the only villain from that era to reappear in continuity, and had a massive impact on all J'onn J'onzz stories written since. However, Blanx has been treated as deceased since 1968, and has ceased to exist in the hero's canonical history since the late '80s. Malefic had far more opportunity to show off his powers, made an impression on modern fans, and since his creation in the late '90s has served the same role Blanx had been created for. The people who like Malefic generally do so with a real passion, and those who dislike him are rather dismissive. Those who like Blanx tend to do so based on his potential and a desire for more, rather than his scant presence in published works, and I don't think they're as likely to rally to his defense in a scene like this. Malefic has simply been embraced in a way Blanx hasn't, and he's dealt more intimate damage to J'onn J'onzz of the two. Taking on the JLA alone and faring well where Blanx and his men were bowled over in a few pages doesn't hurt Ma'alefa'ak, either. (5-2)

Once I lost my poll numbers, the ones I had became contradictory, and things went pear-shaped, I decided to let a final rematch play out over a long duration...

Malefic/Ma'alefa'ak vs. Despero: The final of those three potential nemeses got to take on the reining champion. In the twenty-some-odd years between the final Commander Blanx appearance and the first Malefic one, Despero was the closest thing J'Onn J'Onzz had to an archrival. Despero has most of the same powers, often bigger and better, and he's managed not to die in a way that had any permanence over the past fifty years, unlike Blanx ("dead" in debut) or Malefic ("killed" within the first year of his appearances.) I have no doubt Despero could kill the hell out of Malefic, or at least batter him the way he does J'Onzz. In fact, Despero held the lead for most of the contest, until two votes in the final hours placed Malefic first. Had Despero won, I'd have declared a tie, an entirely appropriate end to the boondoggle. Instead, I award Malefic the crown, with a bit of a cocked eye. (9-7)

I'd like to thank everyone for participating, especially those who contributed comments. We'll likely do this again next year, but a lot differently. I'd like to be able to fill out that scorecard, for starters...


7 comments:

James said...

Thanks for doing the bracket. I thought you did a pretty good job. I also thought it was fun reading your summaries after the fights.

I only had one problem, in the final match despero vs malefic 16!? people voted. where were all these people for the other fights fights. I agree with you, awarding malefic the winner with a strange look. It seems like either a lot of people found your blog, or people voted more then once. Weren't the results usually around the 5-4 ranges in previous battles?

Diabolu said...

Some of the middle battles got up to near 30 total votes, but it really petered out toward the end, and there was all sorts of strangeness related to Google, as well. I like comments, so I think next year polls will handle the preliminaries, then "written ballots" will kick in.

mathematicscore said...

Despero takes it 8 times out of 10, but this time Darkseid steps in in Malefic's favor to avenge is earlier loss to the Despot from Kalanor.

Diabolu said...

... plus that off-panel knife thrown by Kanto...

mathematicscore said...

Totally!

will_in_chicago said...

I enjoyed the brackets, and cast my vote in favor of Malefic. He is primarily a Martian Manhunter villain, while Despero often has been a JLA villain. Also, I think that the dueling brothers theme can be done well and has some mythological resonance.

Furthermore, Malefic seems to be in a circle of evil beyond most villains. The Flash's Rogue's Gallery ranges from people who want cash to global domination. Darkseid's motives can be understandable. Yet, Malefic's raw hate that lead him to harm his family and his people is truly frightening and alien to the thoughts of many of us. He is one of the few DCU villains who could probably frighten/creep out almost any other character.

Diabolu said...

Yeah, I figured Malefic was going to come up on top, and J'Onn should "own" his nemesis in a way he never could with Despero. I still put Blanx in my #1 spot, because he did the Malefic scene first. In Blofeld terms, Blanx was Donald Pleasance to Malefic's Telly Savales.