Thursday, March 31, 2011

Manhunter from Mars Annual #12 (1995)

Patrick Starling's mother was the heiress groomed to take over one of the most profitable corporations known to man, with its fingers in as many pies as there are nations. This was how she met Starling's father, who had been a diplomat, but quit to help bulldoze over obstacles in the corporation's various unscrupulous enterprises across the globe. Patrick's brother grew up to become an engineer, and his sister a world-renowned heart surgeon. Both sides of Patrick's family were stocked with exceptional individuals.

Patrick Starling flunked out of the finest schools in the world, and never expressed any interest in becoming anything. His parents tried to teach him the family business, but Patrick simply, passively, refused to take to it. As his siblings became progressively more accomplished, Patrick remained doggedly disappointing. His one abiding passion was birds, as Patrick longed to finally soar free above all the expectations that hovered over him while earthbound. He did become a very capable amateur pilot, but couldn't be bothered to seek professional certification.

Despite all of this, Patrick Starling was used to the finer things and unlimited access, so when he proved unable to earn means of his own, he was at least clever enough to swindle largely and routinely from his family's corporation. Of course, his family was filled with brilliant minds able to untangle his web of deceit and betrayal. While they were putting the finishing pieces of his plot together, they missed the one where he invited his immediate family for a private plane ride, then intentionally crashed. Patrick Starling escaped relatively unharmed, and made sure that the icy, inhospitable crash site would stall search and rescue efforts long enough to see to his family's demise. Part of Patrick's escape from his clan over the years was routine trips to the great outdoors, and he was physically quite sturdy, so it was understandable that he would be the only one found alive. Still, it was a national tragedy.

Starling manipulated evidence to implicate his parents in all wrongdoing against the corporation, and wanting no further obligations, the board was only too happy to help Patrick divest himself of all company holdings. His family's estate was liquidated and divided amongst extended surviving kin. No one was surprised that Starling dropped completely out of sight once everything was resolved, given the terrible circumstances he'd lived through.

Starling enjoyed his freedom and liquid assets for a number of years, but fortunes dwindle and indulgences grow tiresome with repetition. Starling held fast to his fantasy of being as carefree and self-determined as a bird, simply diving out of the sky to scoop up anything they desired from the lowly things below. Patrick developed a second passion-- studying the old time "super villains" of the 1940s. With his remaining funds, Patrick Starling modified an airplane, scouted and stocked several "secret headquarter" caves to work out of, and briefly partook of a crime spree as "The Falcon." For the first time in his life, Patrick Starling was an overwhelming force, able to take whatever he wanted, without regard for the welfare or machinations of others. Unfortunately for him, the same unseen, suffocating force that had hung over Starling like a Sword of Damocles throughout his life brought his adventure to a swift, seemingly inexplicable end.

Patrick Starling was imprisoned, not just for his crimes as the Falcon, but through the renewed investigation into his past embezzlement and implications of fratricide. During his many years at Grayton Prison, droves of brilliant criminals came and went. Starling's innate intelligence made him a natural in conversations with the likes of Alex Dunster, Professor Proxon, Mr. Moth, Mike Miller, Monty Moran, Mr. Mastermind, and Professor Arnold Hugo. It was deduced that based on the strange occurrences during his apprehension and his targeting of Middletown, the Falcon must have been brought low by J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, during the days when he still operated in secret as a crime buster. Trapped in a situation from which there was no escape, Patrick Starling finally put his mind to use in an exceptional pursuit: devising a means by which he could destroy the Martian Manhunter and take flight as the unstoppable bird of prey he wished himself to become. With the idle minds of mad science at his disposal, a suit of armor was designed which could, conceivably, go talon to tentacle with an Alien Atlas.

Acting as his own attorney, Patrick Starling pursued "discovery" that would shed new light on his case. Evidence planted by escaped "friends" from prison incriminated several members of the corporate board in "framing" his family, "engineering" their deaths, and "strong-arming" the mentally unstable Starling out of the company. The media picked up on his riches-to-rags-to-redemption story, and before long, Starling was out of prison with several settled civil suits netting him hundreds of millions of dollars. Starling had a book of his version of events ghost written, including the persecution of the mentally ill by self-appointed "super-heroes," that made the best-seller lists. Finally, Starling had the means and mobility to complete his revenge.

The super armor was put together by various companies based on those prison plans, without any one having knowledge of the whole. Starling decided on the new villainous identity of "The Osprey," as a nod to his past without tipping his hand publicly. In his super suit, Starling trailed J'Onn J'Onzz at various sightings, usually alongside his new team of heroes, the Justice League Task Force. Not happy with those odds, the Osprey lay in wait for the perfect moment to strike at J'Onzz when he was isolated and vulnerable.

The opportunity arrived when the JLTF's headquarters was destroyed by Vandal Savage in retaliation for their involvement in one of his schemes. While J'Onzz left the unit to pursue the immortal villain, his young charges began an investigation of J'Onzz himself, leading them into a distracting conflict with a mysterious figure named Baron Von Mauler. Thus preoccupied, the Osprey shadowed the Martian Manhunter to Greece, far from any other heroes who could lend aid. While the Sleuth from Outer Space operated in his identity as American private investigator John Jones, attracting the attention of counter agents, the Osprey stalked. Finally, with great force and grace but little strategy, the Osprey simply plucked Jones off the ground.

What followed was a fierce battle. Thanks to psychic shielding in his helmet, J'Onzz could not penetrate the mind of his foe. The Osprey's energy wings depolarized the Martian's cells, making it an act of incredible will just to move as a humanoid, much less shape-shift. The warbird's armor afforded him great strength and durability, in the event the Alien Atlas did make contact. Laser Vision reflected right off of it, endangering civilians on the ground, a distraction J'Onzz could ill afford. Trapped in one form, J'Onzz took great bodily punishment from the Osprey's talons. The Martian Marvel thought a change of venue was in order, and forced his foe into the Mediterranean, but the seahawk was fully equipped with an aquatic mode. In a last ditch effort, the Manhunter from Mars went to the other extreme, pushing himself and the Osprey up through the outer reaches of Earth orbit. Starling hadn't bothered to equip flame throwers in his armor, figuring he had the means to create fire and exploit a known Martian weakness if he needed to do so. He had never imagined J'Onzz could tolerate the heat of ripping through the atmosphere at impossible speed, toward the vacuum of space and devastating radiation exposure that would surely kill them both. The Osprey managed to break free from J'Onzz's grip, and the pair plummeted limply back to Earth.

When J'Onn J'Onzz awoke, he was floating off the African coast. It would take a day or so just to return to the United States in his current condition. Using his vision and telepathic powers, the Martian Manhunter was unable to detect a trace of the Osprey.

Patrick Starling sat motionless, blessed to have sunk only to an ocean depth within his armor's tolerance. He wasn't sure how long he could survive trapped in this place, so it was a lucky turn that an automated crane latched onto the armor and hoisted Starling back to the surface. As he dangled in the air, his sensors barely operational, Starling learned that his motion had been tracked from a satellite with great interest since leaving the JLTF's headquarters. Vandal Savage was very curious to know why the Osprey was after the Martian Manhunter, and what he could do to help...

Mark Waid may have left Justice League Task Force abruptly in the hands of Christopher Priest after a brief stint in 1994, but he made sure to return to a dangling plot thread with this annual in the summer of '95. Artist Sal Velluto had been with the JLTF since their beginning, but also used the "Year One" tale of his co-creation the Osprey as a swan song. It's a shame Priest never brought the villain back into his series, but as with his Vandal Savage subplots there and on The Ray, I suppose unheralded cancellation wrecks the best laid plans.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

JLA #90 (Janury, 2004)

“'Peace is found within.' No one understands that better than I do…but actually finding said peace is significantly more complicated than that simple aphorism implies.”

“I know, J'Onn. I know. Your machine is just a tool, not a panacea for the ills of the soul. The Martian equivalent of the Oracle of Delphi.”

Wonder Woman had decided to use a device of the Martian Manhunter's to determine the full extent of her recently emerging romantic feelings toward Batman, this time under the Manhunter’s supervision. J’Onn warned that “The Transconsciousness Articulator does not tell the future, Diana. It's not a gateway to divine knowledge. It's a window to the subconscious... Walking your dreams is no alternative to living your reality.” J'Onzz acted as an unseen hand to help guide Diana through several possible realities in a relationship with Batman, most less that ideal. Afterward, both Diana and Bruce decided to call the whole thing off.

"Perchance..." was by Joe Kelly, Chriscross & Tom Nguyen. For Wonder Woman's side of the story click here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 4 Wrap-Up

Anyone else having trouble with Google converting scheduled posts to drafts for no good reason?

Man, this has not gone the way I thought it might. It isn't as though the Evil Eight were entirely unexpected, but the Sinister Sixteen were even less so, and I've had more headscratcher results on random matches than I could keep up with.

B'rett vs. Commander Blanx: This is a painful round as hopes are dashed against the rocks. B'rett has walked a long hard road and proven himself a stone cold bastard by killing his way into the top eight, but the final four means someone has to put Ol' Yeller down. It's sort of like in a zombie movie where the best friend volunteers to shoot his bitten buddy in the head as he begins to turn into an undead threat. Blanx and B'rett never met, but I like to think that they would either get along as boss and thug, or better still, sparks would fly between overlord and mercenary renegade. Either way, they're two obscure and long unseen Martian menaces who changed the game with their too few appearances, but only Blanx has an army of minions and a full armory of super-weapons. I thank those who handed B'rett sympathy votes, but he sleeps with the Bloodworms. (2-11)

The Hyperclan vs. Ma’alefa’ak: I knew when I set up this match that Malefic would win, and I'm fine with that, but it's very nearly nonsense. Yes, if Malefic took on the White Martians when his lack of telepathy offered him immunity from H'ronmeer's Plague, some gasoline and a book of matches would be just as effective in his hands as Batman's. However, Malefic's mental abilities were turned back on before he "died," which means he would take on a whole team of beings as powerful as himself with a shared vulnerability. That would play out far different, seeing as he was ultimately defeated by J'Onn J'Onzz, who got his ass kicked by Primaid alone.

That said, this was Malefic's to lose on popularity, and I had planned a final showdown with Commander Blanx next round, but other results mean that has at least been pushed back, if not canceled outright. I hope not, as I even had that poll posted for about two minutes before deleting it to rearrange the line-up. (4-10)

Mr. V vs. Professor Arnold Hugo: I was hoping it would come down to these two. Prof. Hugo debuted in the pages of Detective Comics, but three of his four battles with our hero were in House of Mystery. The latter is the only comic Mr. V ever appeared in, but he did so multiple times more than Hugo, acting as the featured villain in the final year of Martian Manhunter stories. Hugo was J'Onn J'Onzz's first major reoccurring human foe of the Silver Age, and Faceless was his last. Both have minions and high tech gadgets, and each acted internationally against "Marco Xavier." Mr. V has vastly more resources at his disposal, but is hampered by the size of his organization, misinformation, and his primary ability being his avoidance of direct conflict. The Wizard of 1,000 Menaces is much more agile and ingenious, but spends an awful lot of time in prison because of his failures while taking the battle to the Alien Atlas. Faceless indirectly dealt damage to Hawkman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but Hugo actually managed to subdue Batman, Robin, and Superman (before getting beaten by Aquaman.)

While he's far and away my favorite of the two (not to mention most of the Vile Menagerie,) Hugo was objectively only the ninth most important Martian Manhunter villain, as he debuted in a Batman story, introduced no radical changes to the John Jones comic strip, and is basically just J'Onn's Luthor/Sivana generic mad scientist. Mr. V ranked fourth, because he was created for the Manhunter franchise, has fought J'Onzz exclusively, and I suppose brings more to the table. Just not the manic charm, which is why this one was so narrow.(6-5)

Bette Noir vs. Despero: I thought this would be an elemental battle between a guy powered by the Flame of Py'tar and a girl known to Scorch. Instead, we ended up with a psychic conflict between the telepathic third eye of a Kalanorian and a woman whose mental manipulations overwhelmed Dubbilex and vexed the Manhunter from Mars. Even under those terms, I figured this would be lopsided in Despero's favor, but the results came down to a wisp of Bette's hair. Finally, I thought it would be really fun to see Professor Hugo in the Jasonar/L-Ron role, pitting gadgets against the otherworldly tyrant. When Mr. V came up in the rotation instead, I had to switch fighters to keep things interesting at the last minute. Weird round.(6-7)

Round 5: Polls close on the evening of the 30th. Round 6 will only last the 24 hours of March 31st, and will not be preceded by a wrap-up post, so don't dawdle.


Next-to-Last Sons: Mars Attacked!

Commander Blanx



What's Pink & Green & Red All Over?





Mr. X X vs. Three-Eyed Jack

Mr. V



Mister & Commander!

Commander Blanx


Mr. V


Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 "Teen Vogue" Miss Martian by ArtNerdEm

Click To Expand

I was going to run another installment of the "'60s Martian Manhunter movie" so that I could get one in for the month of March, but it's been kind of quiet lately, so I hesitated. I also remembered that I've been meaning to have a Miss Martian Monday for a couple of weeks now, but kept missing my window. Corrected, and I'd better get on the ball from now on. With Young Justice on the air, there will probably be a avalanche of material to cover.

The complete piece above features Koriand'r, Raven, Kara Zor-El, Barbara Gordon, M'gann M'orzz, Mary Jane Watson, Doreen Green, Laura Kinney, Kitty Pryde and Jubilation Lee. Without the S-shield I would have guessed Halo, I very much needed the Magen David, and especially the X symbol, because I almost called out Nico Minoru instead. The DC diehards might think some of that was migraine-induced gibberish. There certainly were a lot of hyphens and apostrophes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2001 Justice League Animated Art by Tommy Tejeda

Click To Enlarge

Andrés Tommy Tejeda is an Emmy-winning character designer and occasional director who has worked on most DC-related animation since the mid-90s. In this blog post, Tejeda discusses an effort for the Justice League cartoon...

I was asked to do this poster by the producers of the show but they never did anything with it. So I decided to finish the job and color it myself.

For more by Tommy Tejeda, check out his blog, Vibrational Frequencies. I'm also having a spotlight at my blogs, so give 'em a look.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wizard World Texas Exclusive JLA Liberty and Justice Preview (May, 2003)

Representing for the Lone Star State, I was pleased to learn this Wizard World Texas convention premium featured Martian Manhunter, even if it is just a blown up crop. My Comic Shop dot com, which also physically resides among the mockingbirds and bluebonnets, sells the book for six bucks and describes it such:

WRITTEN BY PAUL DINI; ART AND COVER BY ALEX ROSS. The original members of the classic Justice League are back in an original graphic novel told in sequential storytelling by Emmy Award-winning writer Paul Dini and Eisner Award-winning painter Alex Ross! The JLA must confront a threat from space in the form of a deadly space-borne virus that sets off a chain reaction of worldwide fear and panic. Soon the JLA itself is under suspicion. Are they ultimately responsible for this alien danger? Can the JLA keep the world from tearing itself apart? 8 page color preview.

Comic is autographed by writer Paul Dini and includes a Lone Star Comics Certificate of Authenticity.

Rob Kelly at the Aquaman Shrine clued me in, and he's got the set of five variant covers up at Treasury Comics.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 3 Wrap-Up

Despero vs. TOR: Congratulations to the Robot Criminal of Mars for holding a solid tie for the first couple of days, and this was a fun match to picture in my head, but the end result was pretty much inevitable. Despero is a popular villain outside Manhunter fandom whom I've done theme months around several years running. I just got around to adding TOR, one-shot bad guy, to the blog's rogues gallery. Math's easy, and with TOR's innate fire weakness, the Kalanorian simply overwhelms. (12-6)

Commander Blanx vs. Vandal Savage: This was a dicey proposition, because Blanx is the more important Martian Manhunter villain, but Vandal Savage is vastly better known and more popular. Thankfully, this is a Martian Manhunter blog, so relevancy won out, even among those that only know Blanx by reputation. (11-6)

The Hyperclan vs. The Devil Men of Pluto: This was in no way the closest of the matches, but it was the last one I did a write-up on, because I've learned to never underestimate the Devil Men. Those guys are gnarly, but it took a gang to take on one relatively sedate Desert Dweller, and the Hyperclan are a bunch of raging White Martians, so no.(11-7)

Mr. V vs. Mr. Moth: As you might have guessed, this here was a killin' round. I'm never going to fill in the blanks on the March Madness score card this year, because we've had too many ties and triple-headers to compensate. I've groused about Mr. Moth causing a number of such incidents, and he initially looked to be doing it again here, then it passed, and then he almost did it again. I've got to say that despite my complaints, Mr. Moth's esteem has risen in my eyes, as sort of the David Lynchian gonzo surrealist super-villain of the set. Still, Mr. V is one of the big guns, so he deserved to progress without any namby-pamby close calls. Despite my confidence in Faceless, this was a squeaker! (9-8)

Bette Noir vs. Doctor Samedi: I have not developed a respect for Dr. Samedi. If anything, his vexing me with ties and progressing far beyond his worth made me dislike him all the more. However, Bette's finally offing him for me by such a wide margin certainly makes me appreciate her more. I thought losing Scorch was going to be a major blow for the female spoilers in a sausage showdown, but Bette may just have some legs. It remains to be seen whether they're illusory... (14-3)

Doctor Trap vs. Professor Arnold Hugo: I've been looking forward to this match, because I feel Dr. Trap is the grim n' gritty Post-Crisis take on Prof. Hugo, with regard to how his abilities play out against the Martian Manhunter. Hugo was a mad scientist in the Luthor/Sivana mode, but much lower rent. Trap pits murderous devices from his garage against super-heroes, with a decent success rate. I don't care to see an adulterated, gory Arnold Hugo in comics, especially when Trap can accomplish the same ends while originating from a dark place. That said, Prof. Hugo was J'onn J'onzz first real archenemy, and a whole lot of fun, so I'm much more excited to see him advancing. (6-11)

Asmodel vs. Ma'alefa'ak: I like Asmodel, and he's done very well based on appeal and raw power, but he's come about as far as he's earned. J'Onn J'Onzz hasn't fought him in something like a decade, and while Asmodel might just kill Malefic, the lord of the Bull Host's star has fallen far enough that it would hardly be assured. (6-13)

B'rett vs. King Zeus: Damn, but I'm loving B'rett more and more. The yellow bastard has killed the hell out of some competition, and he's never had a "gimme" match. I think he's a big deal, and I'm glad folks are seeing what he brings to the table. I've already got him cast in the 1960s fake Martian Manhunter movie sequel... (12-5)

Round 4: Polls close midday on the 28th, so get cracking:


Clan of the Fiery Plague!

The Hyperclan




Murderers of Mars!

B'rett (Criminal Yellow Martian)


Commander Blanx (Genocidal Pale Martian)


Master of the House!

Mr. V


Professor Arnold Hugo


Eye of the Beguiler!

Bette Noir




Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: THE HUMAN FALCON

Alter Ego: Unknown
Occupation: Thief
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: A cave atop Hawk Mountain near Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: DETECTIVE COMICS #265 (March, 1959)
Height: Approx. 6'0"
Build: Average
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black with gray streaks

Described as "a twisted genius with a penchant for birds," the Falcon was a winged thief who engaged in a one-man crime wave in the city of Middletown. Among his many heists were priceless Bird of Paradise plumes, the first Giant Golden Eagle ever held in captivity, and a large bronze casting of "The Griffin" owned by J.P. Harvey. The Falcon managed to thwart conventional security and police officers at every turn with his well planed jobs, which often imperiled innocents as a distraction ploy, and were executed with the aid of high tech equipment. However, an invisible Martian Manhunter was eventually carried to the Falcon's secret mountain lair "nest" as part of a looting, and easily apprehended the Falcon with his super powers.

Powers & Weapons:
The Falcon possessed no super human powers, but was athletic enough to swing from grappling lines and easily outrun security personnel. The Falcon was in possession of a vast array of specialized equipment presumed to be of his own devising. The most impressive of these was his Falcon Plane, which could deploy several sturdy grappling hooks shaped like a bird's talons with stunning precision. Falcon carried a wand which could project feathers as a concealing screen for many yards in his general area. Finally, the Falcon had a pet parrot named Peter who was quite fluent in English.

Quote: "You can say that again, Peter, my boy! For years I have prepared for my career as The Falcon! Now-- I'm ready for the big payoff!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mighty Ool of Saturn

Ool was the green-skinned ruler of the planet Saturn circa 1939. Reigning from a great city which shared his name, Ool was quick-tempered and generally unreasonable. After the great waters of Saturn dried up, Ool sent Gorla to Earth to determine its suitability as a new home for his people. Ool was warned off from Earth by the magician Zatara, who caused the city of Ool to vanish as a demonstration or power. Despite his returning the city, Ool repeatedly tried to murder Zatara out of anger and fear of his power. A final spectacle convinced Ool that he was no match for Zatara, and he vowed to live in peace with the planet forever. Zatara in turn helped show Ool how to make Saturn inhabitable again.

The green-skinned Ool's large white mustache and temperament strongly resembled the Red Saturnian military leader Jogarr of modern times. Ool wore a golden helmet, and red-orange cape with a blue cabochon. Ool had blue gloves, belt and sash, while his legs were covered by maroon skirt.

First Appearance: Action Comics #16 (September, 1939)
Quote: "Such insolence! I'll tear your tongue out!"

Golden Age Day

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2006 Upper Deck VS System World's Finest Game Card DWF-101 "Technocrat, Geoffrey Barron" Card Art by Cat Staggs

Click To Enlarge

Technocrat was a member of the 1990s Outsiders team who is probably best remembered for getting drawn by Travis Charest on that one cover (of two!) He somehow managed to appear in the final issue of Infinite Crisis without getting killed, and as a fan of New Bloods and Pantha alike, my soul weeps at the injustice. The Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern Hal Jordan randomly appear on this card, even though Jordan was likely on his way to mass murder and Bloodwynd might have still been in play contemporaneous with the Technocrat age of comics. Let's pretend Geoffrey Barron was an alias for Dale Gunn so I can legitimize the time out of my life spent discussing Technocrat in some small way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 2 Round-Up Second Half

Doctor Samedi vs. The Osprey: I hope you'll forgive a bit of arrogance on my part, especially over such a piddling matter, but I feel like I "made" the Osprey. He was one of the earliest entries in the original incarnation of the Vile Menagerie from my late '90s site, which got him referenced elsewhere on the net, and he was also one of the first villains back in after the launch of this blog. Whoever created the Osprey page for Comicvine swiped my scan from here, and I figure my adoption and disproportionate coverage of the character has lent him greater credibility than he actual earned in his sole cameo appearance foreshadowing a confrontation that never arrived. At least Doctor Samedi has the goodwill of Ostrander fans from his two page confrontation with the Martian Manhunter and Fire. The Osprey has literally done nothing but talk a bit of smack and take flight. Each of these characters has survived initial qualifications and 1-2 additional rounds of combat, but they also fall into the category of dudes with exceptionally weak opponents and bogus tie matches. The Osprey didn't fall until the final hours of voting, by a single ballot, or else I'd be stuck finding opponents for both of these losers in Round 3 (says the guy who has an Osprey fanfic brewing...)

S'vor vs. TOR: I should be more accepting of the lesser characters here, because there really should be multiple weight classes. I've spoken at length about heavyweights like Darkseid and Despero, who are difficult to schedule for lack of comparable opponents, so that they often end up middleweights like Mongul and the Marshal who deserve to go more than one round. That's probably why I get so irate when I have to keep juggling nobodies like S'vor, who could have been gobbled up long ago by bigger dogs if I weren't such a bleeding heart liberal about this thing. The Robot Criminal of Mars' absence has long been one of my biggest slights on this blog, so TOR has been something of a secret weapon in clearing out the dead weight. I'll salute S'vor for lasting so long, but I can't help resenting him for the finer foes who fell before him. Um, not actually before him, like in front of him, because he beat them. Other even better guys beat the better guys before S'vor got beat. Didn't we talk about this? (4-8)

Scorch vs. Bel Juz vs. Bette Noir: I apologize for this match, which was thrown together out of frustration. In a contest full of Martians with a weakness to fire, Scorch's flames make her a major pain in the ass to place. She really tended to be a heavyweight in the voting, and easily led this match for most of its run. I think she had further to go, and I was looking forward to rounds against Asmodel or Despero. Bette Noir pulled a one vote win in the last couple of hours after a latter day surge of votes that leads me to suspect ballot stuffing. We'll see if Bette has Scorch's strength in these final rounds.

If there's been one character I've tried to shield in this contest, it has been Bel Juz. She's come a long way from being completely disowned by this blog's readership in last year's villains poll, but the lack of reprints of her appearances and her tendency to manipulate rather than act directly hurts her effectiveness and affections. I busted up the obvious match of D'Kay vs. Cay'an to give Bel a chance of at least qualifying, and even then I wasn't sure of her survival, but she made it to round 2. However, I got tired of finding people to sacrifice to facilitate Bel's ambitions, an amusingly poetic position to find myself in. I could have had her try to woo one of these twits that keep surviving like cockroaches, and I was particularly amused by the prospect of trying her potency against B'rett, but that guy has won his place by way of the hard road. At this point, Bel's inability to directly attack anyone was screwing up good potential matches, so I decided on a catfight. Bel still had a chance if Bette and Scorch divided the modern vote, not unlike how Beyonce lost to Taylor Swift at the VMAs that year Kanye showed his ass because the country vote held after the pop vote got diluted by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Ah, who am I kidding? I got tired of carrying Bel, and threw her under the bus. (7-4-8)

Vandal Savage vs. Gorilla Grodd: The Immortal Savage had a good run for several years as the main guy Martian Manhunter tangled with before getting a solo series, and even then DC One Million was a reminder of their animosity. Grodd has fought J'Onn a few times, but it still feels more like throwing together the leftovers of two teams (see also: Dr. Light) rather than an organic animosity. Both of these villains are favorites, so I couldn't do them the disservice of lesser opponents, but it always pains me to see quality get the cut. (10-8)

Commander Blanx vs. Kanto: I was sweating this one, and before a reshuffling, Kanto would have been up against Vandal Savage instead. Kanto has a solid fan base among Manhunter fans, so he was going to be a major threat either way. I'm still not sure how much Blanx's win involved first hand knowledge versus his reputation preceding him, but I'm just glad he didn't end up tasting the assassin's blade. (10-7)

Despero vs. Darkseid: Whew! Talk about a clash of titans. The Lord of Apokolips has been the 800 lbs. gorilla of this competition (sorry, Grodd,) with power levels and visibility far greater than any other Martian Manhunter villain. I've often expressed my issues with his even being counted among them, but someone will always point to Martian Manhunter defeating Darkseid in a potential future many centuries from now as a triumphant moment. I was afraid I was sending Despero to his death, but he managed a narrow victory, slaying the mighty dragon. I would have been so disappointed if March Madness had come down to Darkseid vs. Malefic. (10-9)

VULTURE vs. The Devil Men of Pluto: Man oh man, somebody has to bring the Devil Men back from the dead. Every time I put these guys in front of readers, they get a standing ovation. I guess the exact same line-up of Devil Men wouldn't be necessary, as a whole new batch of Plutonian scoundrels could be rounded up. I nominate the Ayatollah Khomeini, Idi Amin, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot as figure models for the next batch. As for Vulture, well, they're an international crime organization. There were a few exceptional members that could have carried their own matches, but they were mostly ineffectual goons in cheap suits with devices supplied by Mr. V. That will only take you so far. (7-8)

Round 3

Martians vs. Plutonians!

The Hyperclan (White Martians!)


The Devil Men of Pluto


Machiavellian Misanthropes!

Commander Blanx


Vandal Savage


Head Like A Bowl!

Doctor Trap


Professor Arnold Hugo (Wizard of 1,000 Menaces)


Mister Mister!

Mr. V


Mr. Moth


Black Magic, Woman!

Bette Noir


Doctor Samedi

Exodus To Revelations!

Asmodel (Corrupt Angel of the Bull Host)



The Body Snatchers!



Tor, the Robot Criminal of Mars

From A Jack To A King!

B'rett (Yellow Martian Criminal)


King Zeus

Sunday, March 20, 2011

JLA/Cyberforce (2005)

In Budapest, Hungary, a cave-in revealed catacombs under the city lower than any recorded that had been sealed off for ages. The military was called in to investigate, and an entire unit was slaughtered by an unknown force...

Carin Taylor was literally on the run as Velocity, haunted by the memory of her loving friend and mentor Robert Bearclaw, who had betrayed their super-team Cyberforce. Ripclaw had been reported as active in Budapest...

The Flash was freaking out at the Watchtower on the moon, trying to figure out where on Earth the Martian Manhunter was, as he was meant to relieve him on monitor duty. "He's never late!" Batman was also present, and asked, "Did you happen to check a calender? The Martian calender?" Flash felt like a selfish jerk for having forgotten K'Don-Fete...

In his natural form, J'Onn J'Onzz was having one of his "bad days," the holiday forcing him to recall in meticulous detail times and places forever gone. "His loss is too deep... his pain as endless as the great deserts that became graveyards to his people... his family." An alarm shook J'Onzz from his revere. "Good. Work is good."

Innocents in Budapest were being slaughtered by "the reanimated corpses of the crew of the Russian vessel Karpovskaya, returned to a godforsaken semblance of 'life' by viral organic technology. Resurrected to serve a monster... who was once the spiritual center of a close-knit family..." Ripclaw was that monster, and Cyberforce were set on returning his minions to their graves. The team of cyborg heroes fought their way into a church above the catacombs, where they found the JLA were already engaging the robo-zombies.

The Martian Manhunter mentally requested, "Status report, people... and quickly please... you know how well I do with fire." Superman doused the flames, Wonder Woman addressed the incoming Cyberforce, and Flash wondered what they were fighting. With tentacles full of the abominations, J'Onn confessed "I cannot say. They have no true thoughts to access telepathically... They do not appear to be alive." While various Justice Leaguers took issue with some of Cyberforce's more extreme tactics, the groups managed to work together against the common threat.

The Manhunter from Mars continued to extend his arms into inhuman shapes to toss, slash and bash the creatures when Velocity raced by. "I have the last of the civilians. There's a safe zone outside! I-- you're touching my mind."
"No... only your sorrow... it reaches out to me. Like finds like." The unintentional contact seemed to inspire the Manhunter, who decided then to expend the JLA's telepathic link to Cyberforce. "The Martian has been a telepath for the entirety of his long life. With the dexterity of a surgeon, he sifts through only the surface histories of those connected to his mind... and shares them all... in the span of a single breath." Through these Cliff's Notes of the two teams, the Sleuth from Outer Space discovered discordant truth, and was asked by Velocity not to reveal what she had hidden from her teammates. Ripclaw having been driven mad by a virus was an outright lie, and his search for immortality through an army of undead technoslaves a half-truth.

"You love him."
"Yes. And I-- I made him the monster that he is now... I made them all. Please don't tell them. Please." While it was not revealed in this special, Cyberforce had apparently been around long enough to suffer through an ill-considered retcon during the Image Anniversary Hardcover (solicited as the 10th, released closer to the 15th after production delays) involving the team actually being duplicates of aliens, and Ripclaw having died but been resurrected as evil, and some other convoluted nonsense. Velocity didn't think it was any of our "damn business," and J'Onn was inclined to agree. "No, it is not... but you are not the only one who has been foolish in the name of love and loss... I would not see you repeat my mistakes... To live in the past is to invite madness into your heart, child."

The two teams made their way to the depths of the catacombs, where they found Ripclaw commanding his forces to prepare for the utilization of a massive alien corpse spewing energy. "Friends make good food." Ripclaw somehow managed to slash Superman's belly open, while Velocity was frozen in a trance from the same "song of creation" that had called Ripclaw to the scene. Martian Manhunter stopped a technoslave from bashing her head in with a boulder, then shook Carin back to her senses. "You must not think of that thing as Robert Bearclaw, girl! Your obsession with the past will--"

Velocity stopped him short, explaining that the orb spewing energy out of the alien's chest was the same organic technology that had (unbeknownst to the team) created Cyberforce and resurrected them body and soul (except for Ripclaw) at an earlier date. Again, T.M.I. for DC readers. The important thing was to keep Ripclaw away from this "godtech." J'Onn realized Velocity's motivation for wanting to attain the orb. "H'ronmeer... you mean to save his soul?"

The goal was moot, as Wonder Woman severed Ripclaw's left arm with her Lasso of Truth, which was autonomous enough to reach the orb while the rest of him distracted the two teams. The Martian Detective was unable to read Ripclaw's mind, but deduced the play just in time to fail to stop it. Ripclaw became a giant-sized version of himself and began producing normal sized clones. Velocity pleaded for help in saving Bearclaw, but the Manhunter couldn't see what good could be done with the godtech in Ripclaw's possession. Also, he didn't see the prehensile circuitry that infected him with some thinly-veiled rip-off of Marvel's techno-organic virus (as if the entirety of Cyberforce wasn't a blatant X-Men franchise swipe.)

Psylocke Cyblade managed to stab super-Ripclaw in the brain, and Velocity nabbed the orb, but another priority stood in the way of restoring Robert Bearclaw. Superman explained, "Ripclaw's technology... it looks like... like it tried to bond with J'Onn's cells... There's no movement. I'm staring into mitochondria and... nothing's moving. I can't hear his thoughts." Velocity and Cyberforce selfishly tried to argue for saving Ripclaw, while the JLA wanted J'Onn cured. Superman played the guilt card over J'Onn having saved Velocity's life, and after Stryker insisted it was Carin's call to make, Flash basically said screw that. A rumble between the two teams began which should have ended in picoseconds, as the JLA wanted something from Cyberforce, but inter-company contract negotiations sprawled this out over eight pages.

Velocity lost the orb, which rolled to J'Onn J'Onzz. While attempting to retrieve it, Carin was drawn into J'Onn's mind, where she saw him ascending
The Golden Pyramid. "Traveler... peacekeeper... Protector... Husband... Father... Beloved. In a painfully sobering instant, Carin Taylor realizes that J'Onn J'Onzz is exactly someone who Robert would have called a 'true warrior.' A man of honor... with treasures to offer the world."

J'Onn reached the top of his pyramid, and was reunited with his family. Carin began calling him back to life, but J'Onn refused, until his wife explained that his lifesong was not yet finished." The Martian Manhunter came back to life with Velocity in his arms and a gentle smile on both their faces. All was forgiven.

Outside the Watchtower, J'Onn J'Onzz took a stroll "in the cold vacuum of space." Wonder Woman paid him a visit, as the team was concerned about this unusual behavior. "For a few minutes, my consciousness was no longer tied to physical realms... I guess I needed some 'fresh air.' Watchtower felt like a coffin." Diana wondered why J'Onn had returned to his friends after being with his family again in the afterlife. "Words do not do it justice, Diana. Even my thoughts, if I could translate them for you... would be but a shade of it. The Golden Pyramid. Ta'-Dun." Despite the contentment he felt, J'Onn's wife told him, "Your life is like a song, and you honor us with everything you do... every note you play. We would hear more, if you can bear it... for it fills us with joy and pride to watch you sing your life. Now go home, J'Onn-- and sing."

Velocity also had a touching moment with her family, but nobody cares about Cyberforce, and rightly so. Among their many crimes was to help bury a very revealing and insightful Martian Manhunter story in an overpriced, largely ignored one shot. The book was at the very bottom of the top 100 comics released in July of 2005, selling 20,782 copies. That month's issue of JLA was ranked twelfth at 87,644 copies. Kudos go out to the creative team for incorporating Cyberforce's screwy mythology into a relatively painless crossover with clearly redeeming qualities. It was by the former JLA creative team of Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke, with inconsistent but sometimes stellar inks by Norm Rapmund. I managed to avoid mentioning Ballistic even once, but she was present. Apologies to Aquaman and Green Lantern for getting left out entirely, but so was Faith, so more kudos to her creators for that.

Top Cow Productions is Cyberforce's company, and was created by Marc Silvestri, who supplied this book's cover. Top Cow spun out of Homage Studios, as was Jim Lee's Wildstorm Productions, now owned by DC.

Homage Studios Sunday

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 2 Round-Up First Half

The Hyperclan vs. Antares and the Clanetary System: The former is a super team of individually branded White Martians from one of the most well regarded JLA arcs of all time. The latter is a largely faceless force of sentient machines that turned up in a couple of early Ostrander/Mandrake issues of Martian Manhunter. The results of pitting one against the other seem like a foregone conclusion.(15-4)

Doctor Trap vs. Mr. V: Frankly, most of the tie matches we've had so far have ticked me off, because if we can't manage to eliminate one of two negligible, ultimately doomed candidates in a sweeping competition, what's the point? It also bugs me when really strong characters are taken out in major matches, while some bottom feeder makes its way through multiple rounds. This would be an exception, as Dr. Trap and Faceless are both significant threats that have played major roles in Martian Manhunter history, whether factual or through retroactive continuity. I'm perfectly happy to have the chance to set either of them up with other cool villains, or use them to exterminate some of the more tenacious vermin... (7-7)

The Master Gardener vs. Ma'alefa'ak: ...Which segues nicely into a discussion of the Master Gardener, who could have been a contender. Unfortunately, the rapacious appetite of Malefic must be slaked at least once per round, and no puny morsel will do. The Gardener held his own in the short term, but there was little hope against the most popular Ostrander villain, whose inclusion in the final four is a foregone conclusion. (5-13)

King Zeus vs. Mr. Moth: I never gave him much thought before, but I've developed a grudging respect for Mr. Moth. Having beaten the Falcon and the Human Squirrel, Moth has earned the right to be considered the official representative of geeky old school animal/bird/insect-themed villains in the Martian Manhunter rogues gallery. That might seem like a small thing, but if you think about it, that's a pretty important subgenre in comics. Most Spider-Man villains fall into that category, and fellow company includes the Penguin, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, and Titano. However, what I cannot respect is a tie against King Zeus, who has limped along against the sorriest of competitors. No more! Round three shall see them either truly prove their worth, or leave them limp and broken. (8-8)

Professor Arnold Hugo vs. Professor Ivo: The JLofA isn't exactly known for originating "name" villains with their own following, so Professor Ivo is sadly a relative headliner in that category. No flies on Ivo-- I like the guy myself, but I wouldn't pit Prof. Hugo against Lex Luthor, y'know? The Wizard of 1,000 Menaces, multiple story Manhunter threat and onetime Batman & Robin foe, barely beat the rather obscure (and non-credentialed) Alex Dunster, so I took a dim view of his survival chances here. Hugo pulled an extra 50% over Ivo, so some face was saved there. Next round, we'll have to give Arnold the chance to earn his keep... (9-6)

Asmodel vs. Brimstone: Everyone remembers the part where Superman wrestles with an angel of the Lord, but they tend to forget the soldier who was asked to stand down after holding the line before the Man of Steel tagged in. You know, the Martian who fought Asmodel while batting down flames, and was later murdered by the rogue leader of the Bull Host in disguise before teaming up with Zauriel to bring the battle to Heaven itself? Them's stakes, ya'll.

On the other hand, M.C.'s enthusiasm for Brimstone, the acolyte of a dark lord, saw my vote go his way. I see the value in Brimstone's clarity of mission and inherent commentary against evangelicals. Regardless, I think both characters are powerhouses that bring up the Manhunter's game, so I'm good either way. (10-5)

B'rett vs. The Magician-Thief Who Had Super Powers: This is a match I've been looking forward to, as it's the first bad Green Martian foe in the strip vs. the only Yellow Martian to date. I think they're both fun characters that I've revisted in fan fiction here, with the distinction that I turned the ineffectual Thief into a helpful supporting character, and played up the ruthlessness of the thoroughly sociopathic B'rett. You don't bring a pickpocket to a gunfight. (10-6)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poora of Saturn

Poora was the son of Ool, ruler of the planet Saturn circa 1939. Poora bore a strong resemblance to the classical green-skinned Martians, but he possessed no powers to speak of. Poora was good with a lasso, was much more even-tempered than his father, and carried a knife strapped to his belt. Poora wore a red-orange cape with a large white clasp and a blue cabochon in the center. His shorts matched his cape, and he had blue gloves, boots and chest straps.

First Appearance: Action Comics #16 (September, 1939)
Quote: "I like this not, father... You have angered the Earthman!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gorla of Saturn

Gorla was the green-skinned Saturnian sent to Earth to determine it's suitability as a new home for the Saturnian race. Gorla claimed to be one of the handsomest of the royal princes, but neither Ool nor Poora displayed any strong familial bond with him. Like Ool, Gorla was extremely arrogant and prone to rash violence. While on Earth, Gorla transformed into a "triangular thing," due to the effects of cosmic rays. While in this form, Gorla could communicate telepathically, levitate, project psychic attacks, and manipulate solid objects through energy appendages. Gorla threatened to burn an Earthling with his touch, but never actually demonstrated this power.

Gorla managed to get the better of Zatara after a failed assassination attempt, sending the magician back to Saturn for study. Zatara proved more than the Saturnians could handle, and Gorla was called back home, where he was restored to his normal appearance. Gorla dressed similarly to Poora, but had a full head of brown-purple hair.

First Appearance: Action Comics #16 (September, 1939)
Quote: "I command you, Earthman, to render obedience unto me, or I shall burn you to a crisp!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Martian Sightings for June, 2011

There are seven damned Blackest Night trade paperbacks out this month, so you can forget individual listings here.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Art and cover by DAN JURGENS and NORM RAPMUND
Booster knows that the Flashpoint world isn’t his own. But how does he get back? How does he make things right?
On sale JUNE 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED
When particularly uninspired alternate takes on Captain Marvel and Sandman dominate your cover, might as well just call it Flashpoint: Arena II.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by ANDY KUBERT and SANDRA HOPE
1:25 Black and White Variant cover A by ANDY KUBERT
Variant cover B by IVAN REIS and GEORGE PÉREZ
The world-changing miniseries continues! Where are the World’s Greatest Super Heroes? Barry Allen is on a mission to find out or die trying – and that may be what’s happening as he tries to make lightning strike twice! Meanwhile, around the submerged Paris, the pirate Deathstroke confronts Emperor Aquaman!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for FLASH promotional rings.
On sale JUNE 1 • 2 of 5, 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
I'm not going to read either of the Big Two's summer events involving alternate timelines and bad character redesigns, but how is it they always manage to do the same crap at the same time? I know Flashpoint has been in the works for a while, so I assume Fear Itself is the rip-off, but it also seems the better of the two by virtue of not looking like a particularly bad Elseworlds.

FLASH FACT! He spends his days running Wayne Casinos!
Retailers: Please see the Previews Order form for special FLASHPOINT promotional buttons.
On sale JUNE 1 • 1 of 3, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Since M.C. made the call on J'Onn as Batman, the "subtle hints" seem like slaps in the face obvious. I wonder where Firestorm will show up, to finish the Brightest Day set?

FLASH FACT! He won’t join the war! (It could dirty his new suit.)
Retailers: Please see the Previews Order form for special FLASHPOINT promotional buttons.
On sale JUNE 22 • 1 of 3, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Mildly miscolored Metamorpho?

1:10 Variant cover by TBC
Following the events of Brightest Day, the new protector of Earth has been chosen. But one reluctant hero making his return to the DCU is trying to convince Batman, Superman and the others heroes of the DC Universe that this may not be a good thing, because he can see that things are not right and mankind’s brightest days are indeed over.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale JUNE 22 • 1 of 3, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
I have my doubts J'Onn is in this, or that this even has anything to do with anything, but I figured I've covered this title twice a month for a year. By the way, has DC just completely given up on professional writers, because these Geoff Johns-related spin-offs are staffed with complete enigmas to the point I half expect they're either pseudonyms or complete script lackeys.

When the World’s Greatest Heroes learn that a family of mobster demons called the Diablos have declared a gang war on the Sentinels of Magic (Dr. Fate, Zatanna, Deadman, and others), the JLA split up to protect the mages of the DC Universe. Collecting the four-issue miniseries from 2001.
On sale JUNE 15 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
I already covered this mediocrity as a four issue mini-series: #1, #2, #3, #4

Written by LEN WEIN
Acclaimed writer Len Wein chronicles the DC Universe’s epic history in this title spanning five generations of heroes, from the dawn of the Mystery Men before World War II through the present day, starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Justice League of America, The Teen Titans and more. Collecting the ten-issue series!
On sale AUGUST 24 • 336 pg, FC, $34.99 US
Seemed like a ridiculously long and largely unnecessary History of the DC Universe retread without the ancient stuff.

Miss Martian
Art and cover by MIKE NORTON
Aqualad, Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy and Miss Martian are ready for their first mission as a team. To get to know each other better, they decide to trade stories around the campfire, revealing how they all started as crimefighters. Will this bring them together or underscore their differences?
On sale JUNE 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Guest starring Martian Manhunter!

Gorilla Grodd
Written by SEAN RYAN
FLASH FACT! Africa belongs to him!
One-shot • On sale JUNE 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Seriously DC Comics: get a black friend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 1 Round-Up, Part 3

Round 1 Final Assessments

Gorilla Grodd vs. Ryx vs. Thantos, the 3-In-1 Man: Two characters that I really like, are fairly popular, and had great potential to crush Vile Menagerie subjects while having somewhat questionable credentials in that department are Gorilla Grodd and Vandal Savage. These factors made their placement in the contest problematic. At one point I was going to have the aforementioned David and Goliath match of Grodd against the Human Squirrel. "Big Game" could have made the '90s stubbly Weapons Master a gorilla poacher. I kept juggling possibilities, but my responsibilities in balancing things out kept screwing up the lines.

Then I had Ryx, a military leader of an invading alien army repeatedly tricked by J'Onn J'Onzz into believing all human males were like Superman. Like a lot of characters, Ryx benefited from low vote turnouts ending in ties/narrow victories. Pitting him against other minor villains seemed unfair, since he did have an army, even if its mettle had never really been tested. Finally, there was Thantos, a goofy looking creation that was nonetheless very powerful and a legitimate threat wholly owned by the Martian Manhunter franchise. In the end, I decided to have the Three-In-One have a DC Three-In-One fight with the other two square pegs I had left over. Thantos had done well in qualifications, so he had a legitimate shot against Grodd, but I figure Ryx watered down the Silver Age vote. In the end, Grodd managed a win at six to Thantos' four and Ryx three, but I still figure it for one of the dirtiest matches.

The Magician-Thief Who Had Super-Powers vs. Vulkor: The Capsule Master reminds me of the Ghost Rider foe The Eye with that giant orb on his head, and unless you happen to be Mysterio, that kind of dome tends to be a serious liability. While Vulkor's debut remains one of the most often reprinted Martian Manhunter stories, and he was probably the most widely exposed of that rogues gallery in the Silver/Bronze Ages, his omission from the two Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter volumes had to hurt. While Vulkor made a lot of history, the "Magician-Thief" was still the first Martian villain in the John Jones series, and that means a lot. Also, while M-T may have worn pink, at least he didn't look like a marital aid gone rogue. (8-4)

The Headmaster vs. TOR: The Robot Criminal of Mars should have been a much earlier entry into the Vile Menagerie files, but a) I figured I was going to synopsize his debut "soon" a couple or three years ago & b) I didn't have any color reference to work with. As this March Madness bit got started, and wanting a break from school pressure, I knocked out three easy entries in one night. It might have seemed like ballot rigging to post TOR's during the contest, but it didn't have any impact on a deadlocked vote. What actually happened was that I don't like stalemates, and I hadn't voted because I think Headmaster is a solid newer villain, but gave TOR the nod. The thing with the Headmaster is that his "zombie"/robots hybrids and spaceship were trashed by Martian Manhunter in his only story. TOR was another rare early villain who could not only meet J'Onn J'Onzz on the field of power, but did so through a human host. We only have TOR's dubious word that his robot form was disabled, and he already displayed body-hopping abilities, so he could be revived at any time with power enough to tangle with the big boys. (6-7)

The Saturninan Criminal vs. S'vor: To be honest, I've only skimmed either of these guy's stories, and I was rooting for the Mercurian against the Saturnian in the pre-season. S'vor seems like the dopiest looking of the lot, so I kind of wash my hands of the whole thing. (6-7)

The Martian Marauders vs. The Devil Men of Pluto: I knew this would be a massacre. The Marauders were just another gang of all-bald, all-boring red planet hoodlums causing trouble on Earth. The Devil Men were vicious bastards who marked the turning point when Martian Manhunter became a dark character who dismissed the value of their evil lives. One looked like a demonic Adolph Hitler, and what part of "Devil Men of Pluto" does anyone find unappealing in their villains? (2-11)

Scorch vs. The Human Flame: Two of the most highly visible Manhunter-related adversaries whose fire-based powers prevented them from fairly tangling with Martians. In other words, two pains in my ass I had to have face off, because where else could I place them? I wasn't at all sure which way this would go, as Scorch has her fans, but the Human Flame had his own mini-series and old school credentials. I didn't vote, and it wouldn't have mattered, because J'Onn's old flame made this a cakewalk. (9-4)

The Osprey vs. Weapons Master: One of these guys literally appeared in a few panels of foreshadowing in one comic book that was never followed up on, which goes to show nothing is more open to fan projection than a blank canvas. Just ask Neil Gaiman's Morpheus, or the Phantom Stranger. Then again, Weapons Master was only the 198th high-tech mercenary who could afford full body armor but couldn't scrape the stubble off his own chin in 1994. It never helps to be a Bloodwynd villain, either. (8-4)

The Marshal vs. Commander Blanx: Part of me really wanted the genetically altered leader of the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood to play Pac-Man with lesser lights for a round or two, but how boring would it have been to see the Marshal murder B'rett and Commander Blanx batter Bel Juz? Nope, let's cut to the chase, and have the two great militaristic evils of Mars in ultimate combat. The Marshal put up a struggle, and there's some honor in that, but the odds were never in his favor. (5-9)

Despero vs. Doomsday: The prospect of the three-eyed Kalanorian going out in the first round horrified me, but there was no one else to potentially tackle Doomsday, and you always have to kill your babies in this sort of thing. Well color me surprised (or fuchsia) that not only did Despero destroy Doomsday, but it was the single greatest annihilation to date. There was a time when Doomsday seemed unstoppable, but I guess the Superman creative team thoroughly poisoned the well after so many tainted dips in its waters. (15-1)

That does it for Round One, and here are the final matches for Round Deux....

Division III, Round 2

Mistresses of the Obvious!



Bel Juz (Green Martian Traitor!)


Bette Noir (Mind Manipulator!)

Rocket Ridin' Drrrty

B'rett (Yellow Martian Criminal)


The Magician-Thief Who Had Super-Powers


Cameo Combat!

Doctor Samedi


The Osprey


Gore S'more!

S'vor (Tec 267)


Tor, the Robot Criminal of Mars

Division IV, Round 2

Py'tar vs. Apokolips





Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Commander Blanx




Missing Links!

Vandal Savage


Gorilla Grodd

Have Ray-Guns... Will Travel!

VULTURE (International Mob)


The Devil Men of Pluto (Space Hitlers!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: DOCTOR SAMEDI

Real Name: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Honduras, Central America
First Appearance: MARTIAN MANHUNTER #10 (September, 1999)
Height: Approx. 5'4"
Build: Emaciated
Weight: Approximately 90 lbs.
Eyes: Dark
Hair: None

The Martian Manhunter and Fire (Beatriz DaCosta) were tracking the evil Doctor Samedi in Honduras when the villain managed to take physical control of J'Onn J'Onzz. J'Onn J'Onzz pleaded with Fire to escape, while Samedi used the Martian's powers to try to kill the heroine with Laser Vision and superhuman strength. Fire turned these attributes into a liability by hitting the Manhunter and Samedi with a burst of flame. The Martian Manhunter managed to withstand some of the blast, but Doctor Samedi was knocked unconscious, and sloughed off of J'Onn J'Onzz's back.

The slight Doctor Samedi has finger-and-toenails measuring several inches in length which are capable of boring into the flesh of a superhuman as physically dense as the Martian Manhunter. Samedi can then control the physical form of his victim like a puppet master, making them into "a kind of zombie" while riding upon their back. Samedi cannot command the minds of his victims, who are fully aware of the doctor's manipulation of their frames. Presumably, Doctor Samedi possesses some resistance to mental control himself, as the Martian Manhunter was unable to effect a telepathic response while under Samedi's power. However, while connected, any weakness inherent to one of his "zombies" is transferred to Samedi, such as the Martian vulnerability to fire.

Quote: "...A very bad man... nasty spider little man"- Beatriz DaCosta

Created by John Ostrander & Phil Winslade

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 1 Round-Up, Part 2

Mr. Moth vs. The Human Squirrel: Ever since Scipio's post lambasting Martian Manhunter's Rogues Gallery, I've worked under the impression that blog readers were enamored with the stupefying ridiculousness of the Human Squirrel. At one desperate early point, I was going to see if the magic of Marvel Comics' Squirrel Girl (who has defeated Dr. Doom, M.O.D.O.K., Deadpool, the Mandarin, Thanos, Terrax, Fin Fang Foom, Baron Mordo, Korvac and Ego the Living Planet) would carry over to a match against Gorilla Grodd. However, Squirrel Girl is a genuinely amusing character with a solid creative pedigree and a unique running joke that pokes fun at the entire Marvel Universe. The Human Squirrel is just a universe removed from being a '70s Spider-Man villain, too obscure to even rate Mort of the Month at Wizard Magazine. Factor in the identity confusion (The Trickster was only pretending to be the Human Squirrel in a frame-up) and Mr. Moth's being the more uniquely surreal of the two, and I can see why things went the way they did. (10-4)

Nemesus vs. King Zeus: I kind of doubt anybody really gives a rat's patootie about Nemesus, and I think he previously benefited from being the least boring of two options in my attempts at level field matches. I have my doubts about King Zeus, too, but at least he has something of a hook. I'd bet on him against Maxie Zeus at least. Maxie Priest would be more of a toss-up. (3-10)

B'rett vs. B'enn B'urnzz: 2010 had to be the best year B'rett's had in at least half a century. He was Andy Kuhn's first choice as a commission (before going with Dr. Trap because I didn't want a Natural Form Yellow Martian,) he got his own Custom Action Figure, and he was called as the Seventh Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary. Of course, I was directly responsible for every bit of that, and both he and B'enn placed among the "Second Least Interesting" in last year's reader poll of villains, but shut up. That's right, you just shut up. I'm just glad B'rett beat an identical duplicate of J'onn J'onzz, but eeevil. B'rett is yellow and has a pistol. Completely different! (12-7)

Libra vs. Brimstone: I tend to see this as something of a referendum on Final Crisis. While the event has its defenders, I think a real malaise set in after Countdown and the inaccessible narrative. Libra didn't exactly come out as a fan favorite either, and the impersonal nature with which he dispatched the Martian Manhunter left a lot of readers cold. Meanwhile, Brimstone has been puttering around since the better regarded if time worn Legends, and fell victim to the Alien Atlas in one of his all time great pimp issues. Sometimes, it's better to lose well than to win badly. (5-10)

The Lizard Men vs. VULTURE: American Secrets strikes again, buoying fairly generic alien invaders through association with a superior story. Vulture as an organization wasn't too hot, but they were quite prominent in the Silver Age, and that was enough to eek out a victory. (8-10)

The Hyperclan vs. The Thythen: I talk about a curse hanging over the Bronze Age villains, but the silly looking Thythen were a nasty bunch that fared surprisingly well in this competition. I think perhaps there's some disappointment in the poor usage of the White Martians after "New World Order," as well. (11-7)

Vandal Savage vs. Diabolu the Wizard and his Idol-Head: In all serious, the Diabolu Idol-Head was a force to be reckoned with, and I expect that a sorcerer powerful enough to put it together could do serious damage to Vandal Savage. However, the wizard Diabolu was a pretty unappealing character, looking like he stepped out of a Chuck Jones cartoon. The immortal Vandal Savage is rather cunning, and I expect more went into his outliving Diabolu than a miraculous meteor. (13-6)

D'Kay vs. Bette Noir: This was a real litmus test for D'Kay D'Razz. She's coming off of an extended run of appearances in one of the top-selling comic books in the country after having been hyped as a hugely important new villainess and serving as the focus of several incentive cover variants. Bette Noir's debut sold half as well as D'Kay's final apperarance, and it's been about a decade since she turned up anywhere. However, you know how every new Wonder Woman writer expects to reinvent the wheel by creating the greatest adversary ever for the iconic heroine, but the only people who care are the faithful fans, who immediately recognize all the ways in which the villain is just like the last five new writer's attempts? Yeah, we've all seen D'Kay D'Razz before, and it doesn't seem like she won any hearts and minds, because she only took in a fifth of Bette's votes. D'Kay's greatest impact seems to have been in generating lopsided votes against herself. (3-14)

Darkseid vs. Mongul: This was much closer than I expected, but still didn't turn out the way that I would have hoped. Mongul vs. Despero could have been Sophie's Choice for some, but that would have left us with the dull as dishwater Darkseid vs. Doomday, which has already happened in the comics. Mongul put forth a valiant effort, but Darkseid edged out a lead that never quite went away. See, if Mongul would have fought Martian Manhunter during Brightest Day, everything could have turned out so much better for all concerned. (10-8)

Alex Dunster vs. Professor Arnold Hugo (Wizard of 1,000 Menaces): Alex Dunster was a solid enough early Martian Manhunter villain with the hook of using Professor Erdel's teleportation technology for crime, but to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't even been referenced anywhere in print since. Maybe in an old Amazing Heroes retrospective/index?  Meanwhile, the Wizard of a Thousand Menaces was the closest thing to a nemesis J'onn had before Mr. V was created, and he only survives Round 1 by the skin of his teeth. This does not bode well... (8-9)

I'll finally be separating the matches into four divisions, and here is the first half or Round 2:

Division I, Round 2

Reap What You Sow!

The Master Gardener




Jawless vs. Faceless

Doctor Trap


Mister V


Two Klutz Clans!

The Hyperclan (White Martians!)


Antares & the Clanetary System


Division II, Round 2

Tense Revival!

Asmodel (Corrupt Angel of the Bull Host)


Brimstone (Servant of Darkseid)


The Boldest Profession!

Professor Arnold Hugo (Wizard of 1,000 Menaces)


Professor Anthony Ivo (Amazing Inventor!)


Gods & Insects!

Mr. Moth


King Zeus

Friday, March 11, 2011

2008 Martian Manhunter Sketch Card by Evan “Doc” Shaner

Click To Enlarge

I considered using the Friday comment lull to assault people's senses with original artwork by yours truly from the inglorious '90s. However, I've got a ton of work due tomorrow, so you'll have to wait until next week to weep puss at the ebolic amateurishness of that troubling decade of excess.

Check out this "Doc" dude, instead. He's pretty cool. I dig the noble yet sedate and sweet looking J'Onn J'Onzz. Shame about the choch douchebag popped collar. It won't get you laid, 'bro.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2010 The Martian Manhunter Costume Redesign by Kyle Starks

Click To Enlarge

As mentioned the other day, Kyle Starks is a fan...

I re-did probably my favorite superhero Martian Manhunter. I adore J'onn J'onnz if, for anything, for how criminally misused he is - for one thing he's the only really, really notable psychi/mind power character in the DCU and it's forgotten or overlooked, or simply ignored ALL the time. Telepathy is crazy useful in the superhero game. But on top of that, you know, he's the archetypical DC power template... Essentially, he can do anything he wants. But no one ever cares...

I blame a lot of the disinterest in the Manhunter because his costume is awful. It's 50s simple, and therefore sort of iconic and it really stands out, but frankly, it's sort of dorky... I also wanted his new costume to look alien...

Starks gives more details about his feelings on the character and the source he drew from to create this costume on his blog. Starks clearly went through a lot of drafts to reach this final design, which I like. It's incredibly difficult to balance the "alien barbarian" fans like M.C. dig against the noir detective readers like Liss prefer, but I think going simple worked both angles. J'Onn J'Onzz is one of the few classic characters that can go all black without it feeling like selling out, and it in fact suits the dark city stalking of a Martian Detective. On the other hand, the x, scarf and rings are still science-fantasylicious, just more Frank Herbert than Edgar Rice Burroughs. There are things I would do differently, but any JJ design is such an aesthetic wrestling, you've won if you end up with anything you're happy with. I had fun just watching his process through the doodles. I dig it, but how about you?

By the way, I butchered the living hell out of Kyle Starks' name, even though it's his blog's URL. I'd love to be able to say I called him Kenny Sparks 32 times in a previous spotlight post because I'm a sports fan, but I don't even bowl more than once a leap year. I think it's because going to school makes me really stupid in every additional pursuit, and that all that "maturity" with age crap is just to help cover for when we pause to drop a load in our Depends undergarments. We're "contemplating."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 1 Round-Up, Part 1

Post-Game Review

The Master Gardener vs. Cabal: I knew from last year's poll that the American Secrets fans' love of the mini-series extended to the characters to a degree I hadn't expected, but I thought the Ostrander fans might rally around one of the better villains and stories from that run. Heck, there could even be some support for Cabal from a theoretical Jemm readership. Instead, the Master Gardener took nearly four times as many votes.

Bel Juz vs. Cay'an: I originally planned to pit D'Kay against Cay'an in the battle of the recent "Green Martian females to appear out of nowhere after all these years with stupid (apostrophe) names and not accomplish anything." That would have been cute, but that would have left Bel Juz to face Bette Noir. Bel was one of the very worst performers in last year's Vile Menagerie reader interest poll, and my art commission of her has been sitting in the artist's "to do" pile for nearly a year, even though I paid better than twice what I gave anyone else. I kind of figured she might have been plotted under a bad sign. However, I've made a concerted effort to promote a favorite Manhunter villain and point out her importance to his cannon, even if she lives in the black hole of fan interest that is J'onn J'onzz's Bronze Age. Maybe that helped, or maybe folks hated Coneheadhunter and Cay'an's lame last issue reveal more than I thought. Either way, Bel devoured Cay'an without any heartburn by the same margin as the Master Gardiner.

Doctor Trap vs. Monty Moran: The Getaway King: I thought maybe the Getaway Mastermind would get a bump from Silver Age readers or the unearthed archival footage from the 1967 Manhunter from Mars Movie, but Larry Trapp got four times the votes with a quarter fewer total than the first two matches. Honestly, I don't care all that much about Moran, either. Andy Kuhn would seem to agree.

Malefic/Ma'alefa'ak vs. Fernus the Burning Martian: The highest number of votes in any of these face-offs so far is 23, so I find the 300 or so daily hits Google & my other counter claim I get suspect. 18 of those were for Malefic, which means he got more than most of the other contests by himself. I was actual surprised Fernus did as well as 5, since they're very similar characters, with Malefic making much more of a lasting impression.

Kanto vs. Lobo: The Main Man may be the better selling character, but the 'Bo has his haters in droves, and Kanto proved quite popular with the Ostrander crowd. Hell, even I agree he's the most appropriate of the New Gods to be associated with J'Onn J'Onzz. I'd still have voted for Lobo if I did in fact vote, but I didn't, and the only difference would have been to cost Kanto the status of receiving more than twice as many votes.

Mr. V vs. Director Bones: I wasn't at all sure how this would go. The former Mister Bones was as well liked as Infinity, Inc villains got, and his switch to regional director at the Department of Extranormal Operations in a critically acclaimed series was more notice than Faceless ever got. However, even after becoming a semi-regular antagonist in the Ostrander series, Bones couldn't overcome the weight (*ahem*) of Mr. V. I would have been happy either way, but Faceless deserves the recognition. Readers agreed twice over.

Antares & the Clanetary System vs. The Bloodworms of Mars: Two Ostrander/Mandrake creations involving hordes of monstrous xenomorphs wrecking widespread destruction. The Worms took two thirds as many votes as Antares, which was pretty close, seeing as the Clanetary System showed up in early bestselling issues versus the Worms latter-day ("almost canceled") one-off appearance.

Asmodel vs. Inflict: The corrupt leader of the mutinous angels of the Bull Host killed J'Onn J'Onzz (under Mark Millar's orders, no less) after appearing in one of the most fondly remembered JLA epics Grant Morrison ever wrote. What does it say about how far Asnodel's fallen from grace that an intergalactic warrior who appeared in a handful of silent panels in a little read one-shot gave a serious run for the money. Inflict lost 6-9, but it feels like Asmodel saw a Pyrrhic victory.

The Conjurer vs. Doctor Samedi: One was inducted into the Vile Menagerie a year in (back when I did that sort of thing more than once a year) and has been a Martian Manhunter rogue for over half a century. The other appeared on two pages of one of the most blatantly racist comics from a major publisher in the past fifteen years. Still, the Conjurer was a forgettable poseur I killed off in an overlong fan fiction, and Doctor Samedi used the voodoo he do in the war of the "Guys Who Keep Stalemating" by nearly twice the votes. I already wrote his induction post.

Professor Anthony Ivo vs. Doctor Arthur Light: Besides being a classic Justice League of America villain, the final confrontation between Ivo and J'Onn J'Onzz at the end of the first volume of their book qualified the Professor for the Vile Menagerie in its first incarnation... by the lower standards employed by my old '90s fan site. They've had little to nothing to do with one another in the decades since, but I forgot to take Ivo off my old Manhunter villains list. I still like him a lot better than Dr. Light, who I grew up on as a silly, incompetent New Teen Titans foe. Raping and getting killed didn't exactly help Light's case, even if he did help kill J'Onn J'Onzz for slightly longer than Asmodel. This was a close race, but Ivo pulled ahead by three votes in the closing days.