Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2008 Martian Manhunter Convention Sketch by Phil Hester

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This is a great head shot that I could have sworn I'd already run at an earlier date. Makes me wish I'd gotten Hester to knock out a B'rett for me at this last con, but I had an even better character in mind...

Tuesday With Hester

Monday, May 30, 2011

How To Commission Drawings The Martian Way

M'gann M'orzz's Miss Martian Monday has been preempted by the following holiday special public service post...

I came to the realization many years ago that I lack the talent and perseverance to ever draw comic art professionally. I also lack interest in acquiring the original art for pieces which have seen publication, because why buy the cow when the milk is in a polybag, or something like that? Finally, as best as I can tell, if I ever want to see characters from the world of Martian Manhunter comics other than J'Onn J'Onzz himself interpreted by different artists, I will have to pay for them myself. However, before March of last year, I had never commissioned a piece of art in my life, and had to learn on the ground at my largest local convention last year. I made my share of mistakes, some of which I am still paying for, and feel I made a much better effort this year. However, I'm still learning, and I thought I'd help others by teaching from my own experiences.

  1. Go Early. Ish.
  2. I've heard of folks who treat conventions like a rock concert, waiting in line to get first dibs on a commission list. Well, some comic artists think they're rock stars, and your tolerance for those types of shenanigans are probably higher than mine. For instance, I held up getting some prospective commissions because I had a specific poor man's J. Scott Campbell in mind, and wanted to see his rates. Unfortunately, the guy didn't show up until over four hours after the doors opened, and was charging more for a head shot than most artists were for a full figure plus background. I never saw anyone at his table, so he seemed to be game most of the con, and I do know of one guy who got a really nice piece by him. Point being, unless you're a hardcore fanboy, you don't have to kill yourself for a commission.
  3. Order Early.
  4. Some artists can turn out an awesome piece right in front of you within fifteen minutes. Those guys are not common, and they're not always easy to get access to. I had one major name artist do a piece for me with 15-30 minutes of actual work, but it took four hours for him to get started on it because of other commissions. Other artists will actually spend an hour or two on your job, through complex design, intricate detail, and sometimes just plain killing time in between gigs while giving you extra attention. However it breaks down, make sure you're prepared to allot at least three hours for any given piece, and likely more. This is especially true if the artist tells you it will take three hours, because so far, Marat Mychaels is the only guy who has come in under his quoted time. Artists are notoriously "optimistic" about making deadlines.
  5. Consider Going on "Off" Days.
  6. My local con was held over the Memorial Day weekend, and the city is trying to get the convention organizers to keep that date next year. Apparently, Friday was horrible for business, so there was probably plenty of potential for access to artists (not to mention haggling with dealers.) I went on Sunday, so I got free parking and a reduced ticket price. The downside to that is I missed one artist who was Saturday only, and another who blew off the rest of the show after that lousy Friday. Weigh your own pros and cons. Be sure to get permission first, and negotiate a rate before producing a scale.
  7. Do Not Let A Commission Become Homework.
  8. If you get a weekend pass, it isn't a big deal to order a commission on Friday and pick it up the next day. On the other hand, I'd be very cautious about letting that same commission carry over to Sunday, especially if you were told it would be done on Saturday. If you give an artist a foot, they will often take a mile. Also, their eyes are often bigger than their stomachs. You need to figure out how much time you're willing to give the artist to get their work done, and hold them to it or walk away.
  9. Never Offer To Pay Up Front
  10. The actual exchange of monies is an uncomfortable issue. Some artists do not want anything from you until they are done, because that places them under no obligation. These guys tend to be the ones who will give you the most bang for your buck, not only because they don't have your money yet, but also because they were conscientious about pleasing themselves and their patrons. Artists who want money up front are much more common, and because their first priority is to get paid, their quality isn't as consistent. That doesn't mean you won't get a spectacular commission, and with some artists you won't get any at all without upfront payment, but let them be the ones who bring it up. Some won't, and that gives you hand.
  11. Beware of "Favors."
  12. I paid an artist $100 up front for a single figure piece late on Saturday, and was told it wouldn't be ready that night. I couldn't come back for it on Sunday, so I gave the artist my mailing address. The artist had already volunteered without any suggestion from myself to do a second figure essentially for free, and he would even ship the finished art to me at no charge. Sounds too good to be true? That was fourteen months ago, and after agreeing to have the piece ready for me to pick up at the following year's convention, he "forgot" it. I was told it would be in the mail on Monday. Meanwhile, I'm saving my emails and wondering how long to wait before contacting someone about fraud charges and/or seeing if Rich Johnston would be interested in an article. See also: Lessons 4 & 5.
  13. Remember the Project Triangle
  14. Good. Fast. Cheap. You can reasonably expect two of the three, and will often face receiving only one of the three, but hat-tricks are longshots.
  15. Better the Devil You Know.
  16. You've contracted for a piece of art, and been pleased with the result. This will not always be the case. The artist that delivers has earned your trust. Take advantage of that reliability. I paid twice as much for a piece from the same artist a year apart, but didn't mind, because I feel I underpaid the first time and was happy with the results on the second.
  17. Do Your Research.
  18. There may be great artists at the show that you'll miss out on if you don't take the time to look up their art online. Alternately, there are some otherwise great artists who do mediocre to terrible convention pieces. Figuring out who you want in advance saves time, money, and disappointment. Comic Art Fans is a swell place to see what artists actually produce at a con, as opposed to cherry-picking their best work for presentation.
  19. Money Does Not Equal Quality.
  20. I paid $100 for a piece of art that is not in my possession and in all likelihood has not been created in the past fourteen months. I paid $25 for a head shot from a guy who recalls Geoff Darrow and Frank Quitely. I am consistently amazed by getting excellent work for chump change and saddened to pay a premium for crap. See lessons 8 & 9.
  21. Don't Be Afraid To "Lean" On An Artist.
  22. A.K.A. time does not equal quality. For instance, I ordered a commission sometime between noon and one. There were other pieces ahead of mine, include at least one due by two. I had a lot of pieces getting juggled, so I didn't apply any pressure. I came back at 2:30 to check on his layout as we'd agreed at his suggestion, but he hadn't started yet. Same for 3:30. At five, he finally did the layout, which I watched him finish at his request. Giving my approval, I left for another hour. When I came back, all that he'd down was trace his blue lines in black pencil and throw down a chicken scratch "background." I saw that 2 o'clock piece, and it was better than mine. The piece was not up to the standards of his displayed work by far, and wasn't even comparable to a piece completed by his tablemate hours earlier for $20 less. Customers were being escorted out of the area by security, because these guys were in the dealer's section instead of artists' alley, so I didn't have the time or energy to argue. Next time, I make demands or dismiss outright. Fortune favors the firm.
  23. Bring Reference.
  24. This would seem obvious if you're asking for a Bel Juz commission, but seriously, artists cannot recall every detail of Batman's costume from memory, and that's before getting into the issue of which Batman costume. I saw an artist using one of those big hardcover DC Encyclopedias, and single issue comics work too. Personally, I take printed out color full body scans to maximize my options.
  25. Hire a "Sitter."
  26. My first year, I was getting pieces all willy-nilly and having to fret over each one I collected as I bounced around (or at one point, bellyflopped going up the down escalator) the convention. How comfortable would you be propping an Ethan Van Sciver original on a urinal side wall? Instead of rushing back to get your finished piece, just let the artists watch your babies until you're ready to pick them all up and mind them yourself. Also, do bring something to protect the art once you collect it. I use a treasury size polybag, myself.
  27. Be Enthusiastic.
  28. Comic books are a lonely profession, so artists respond to positive reinforcement. If you're excited to get a piece, that enthusiasm can be infectious, and often leads to getting better work done.
  29. You Cannot "Flip" Martian Manhunter Artwork.
  30. The good side of that is that artists know you're looking for work for your personal pleasure, driven by admiration for their efforts, and not as a mercenary pursuit. Otherwise, you'd get Wolverine or Spider-Man or something. On the other hand, please don't hesitate to make me an offer on any past or soon-to-come commissions on this Martian Manhunter blog, because I do not love my children equally, and may be sorely tempted to put a red-headed stepchild up for adoption. ;)

I hope this article is helpful to others in their pursuit of comic art, and I'm also happy to have the opportunity to vent some shade about some of my less that thrilling encounters without attaching names that could get me into any hot water.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Art Links (Revised)

I'm off to wrangle commissions at the convention today after being out of town, so sorry for the bare bones posts and non-commenting of the last few days. No guarantee I'll get any of these guys, but I wanted easy access to the reference...

Update: I wanted to make a clarification, in that the images featured in the first draft of Sunday's post were put up to provide me with new/expanded reference to print out for the commissions I sought. However, they were only part of a fairly extensive catalog of reference sheets I take to conventions. As a sign of good faith, I've replaced the previous images with some representing characters I do in fact have fresh commissions of...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2010 DC3: Brightest Day by TJ Frias

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A very cool group shot of J'Onn J'Onzz, Aquaman and Firestorm in their post-Blackest Night gear!

Friday, May 27, 2011

2002 DC Direct Justice League Animated Poster

Advance-solicited; in stores February 27, 2002.

Based on the eagerly anticipated new Justice League animated series debuting on the Cartoon Network in November, 2001 from WB Animation! Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl are united to protect the world from whatever may threaten it as the Justice League! Now the heroes of the League have come together in this 24" x 36" poster, a force to be reckoned with...on a poster to be proudly displayed!

Retailers, please note: The JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED SERIES POSTER is manufactured to order, so only limited quantities may be available for reorder. Final product may differ from image shown. This item is advance-solicited. Orders must be placed with those for November-released product, solicited in this month's issue of Previews.

FC, Poster $7.95

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Martian Sightings for November, 2001

I've been following order catalog solicitations since the early '90s, and online ones since late in that decade. I tossed out all me old catalogs in the early 2000s, and I've noticed that online queues tend to dry up and blow away after a while. As both a means of preservation and an easy generator of daily content, I think I'll begin reaching back as far as I can for Martian Sightings before I started doing them in 2007...

Written by Jeph Loeb; art by Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund; cover by Ed McGuinness and Cam Smith. In stores November 7.

Troubled by disturbing visions from his time at war, the Man of Steel seeks professional help. Meet Dr. Claire Foster, Superman's psychiatrist! But can therapy erase the disturbing thoughts racing through Clark's head?
I'm sure I tossed through this issue back in the day, but I don't really remember it.

JLA #60
Written by Mark Waid; art and cover by Cliff Rathburn and Paul Neary
In stores November 28.

After much anticipation, and in celebration of the holiday season, the League finally elects a new member. It's daring Yuletide action for the World's Greatest Heroes' newest teammate…Santa Claus?!? But will the Red-Nosed Ranger pay the ultimate price on his first mission? Only Plastic Man knows for sure. Find out in a story we could only call "Merry Christmas JLA...Now Die!"
For some reason (maybe the Last Laugh crossover) I stopped reading this book for a few months before the Joe Kelly run started. This has been sitting unread in a box for almost a decade.

Written by Ashley-Jayne Nicolaus and Matthew P. Schuster; art and cover by Ariel Olivetti
In stores November 7.

A new era for the DC Universe begins here! When a city filled with alien super-beings crash-lands in California, only the World's Greatest Super-Heroes can hope to contain the damage. Struggling to control their path across hundreds of miles of cities and towns, where can the combined heroes of Earth and Haven find a safe place for the space-born city to stop its incredible journey? For more information, see the feature article.
FC, 48 pg. Prestige Format $5.95
I really enjoyed this series, and tried covering it here a few years ago, but became overwhelmed by attempting to summarize all the subplots and introduce all the characters. It's a sprawling book, and I always wanted to see J'Onn J'Onzz play around in Haven some more.

Written by John Ostrander; art and cover by Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins
In stores November 14.

The current (and some would say greatest) incarnation of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes is the focus of our climactic issue! The newest League faces the JLA's oldest threat: the shape-changing Appelaxians, the very first foes the JLA ever faced! At the same time, the Earth is being overwhelmed with natural disasters as Gaea, the spirit of the earth, sick of being poisoned by humanity, declares war. Earthquakes, floods, tidal waves all threaten to scour humanity from the Earth. It's epic action as only the modern day JLA can bring you!
FC, 48 pg. (7 of 7) $3.50
I gave up on this series halfway through, because I hated the art and the wimpy continuity tweaks within. I did finally buy this issue for about twenty cents a while back, but haven't read it.

Written by Alan Grant; painted art by Carl Critchlow, Simon Davis, Glenn Fabry, Jon Foster, Rafael Garres, Doug Alexander Gregory, Alex Horley, Herman Mejia, Jim Murray, Andrew Robinson, Liam McCormick Sharpe, Gregg Staples, Saverio Tenuta, John Watson, and Martin T. Williams; designs by Michael Wm. Kaluta; painted cover by Justin Sweet
ELSEWORLDS. Advance-solicited; in stores December 5.

A fully-painted hardcover featuring fantastical recreations of the JLA! In a universe of darkness, a world without a name struggles to heal itself after generations of war. And against murderous odds, a solitary boy must lay claim to his heritage, and topple walls of ignorance and fear in order to save his home. For more information, see the feature article.
FC, 104 pg. Hardcover $24.95
I covered this book here. I don't recall liking it very much, as it was a poor fantasy story with DC characters inserted willy-nilly.

Written by Ty Templeton; art by Min S. Ku and Dan Davis; cover by Bruce Timm and Alex Ross
In stores November 14.

A new ongoing series based on the Justice League animated show on Cartoon Network begins! When a meteor lands in an American suburb, the League is called on to investigate. Soon they are drawn into an intergalactic conflict, but it seems as if the real threat may be one of their own…Green Lantern! For more information, see the feature article.
Check out the original Bruce Timm pencils, before Alex Ross painted over them! This was an okay series.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2001 "Bizarro X-Ray Two" by John Kerschbaum

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Bizarro Comics! was a 2001 hardcover anthology which allowed alternative creators to play around with DC characters. It won the 2002 Harvey and Eisner awards in the Best Anthology category, and I'm going to cover it off and on across my blogs on Wednesdays for a

An rather lengthy bridging story tied all of the individual portions into one narrative, including the pin-ups. Mr. Mxyzptlk inadvertently selected Bizarro as his champion in a cosmic game with the 5th Dimension as the prize. However, Bizarro had to be taught how to be a hero and the rules of this specific contest. To insure his lessons were sinking in, Mxyzptlk performed "x-rays" which offered views of what was on Bizarro's mind. "Bizarro X-Ray One" was a splash page of Bizarro World by Gregory Benton. "Bizarro X-Ray Three" saw Gilbert Hernandez presenting a two page spread of the DC Universe as a kid's club. In the middle was John Kerschbaum's Bizarro interpretation of what super-heroes are, and is so rich in detail that I decided on a reasonably large and (appropriately?) imperfect scan for readers to pick through themselves.

Pictured are Hawkman, Robin, The Usurper (Red Tornado,) Batgirl, Starman, Black Lightning, the Huntress, the Creeper, Superman, Mr. Miracle, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Steel, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Oberon, Dr. Fate, Adam Strange, Phantom Stranger, Big Barda, Green Arrow, Blue Devil, Lightray, Nightshade, the Ray, Batwoman, Metamorpho, Aqualad, Black Canary, Green Lantern, Mr. Terrific, Blue Beetle, Lobo, the Spectre, the Flash, Orion, Peacemaker, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, the Atom, Batman, Booster Gold, the Guardian, and Plastic Man. I think that's everybody, and they're generally in their original incarnations for maximum goofiness. Do note that J'Onn J'Onzz was kind enough to lend Princess Diana his cape to help warm her as they toasted marshmallows over a brain cube. Wai-wah?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Martian Knock-Offs: Red Tornado

This is a very special day for the blog my friends, because I have decided to finally discuss the Red Tornado in detail.

You see, when I started my first Martian Manhunter fan site, The Rock of the JLA, I had no particularly strong feelings about the fellow. He was this guy who appeared on the covers of a bunch of Justice League of America comics I never read, because you'd get past that George Pérez surface and find Don Heck or George Tuska underneath. There was a mini-series I never read, but the full page ad was nice, and a Super Powers Collection action figure I never owned. Basically, the Red Tornado was on his way out before I really came into the DC Universe in a big way after cutting my teeth at Marvel. Plus, he stayed away until Primal Force, where I went, "oh hey, I remember that guy." Then in 1999, I began doing serious research into the Martian Manhunter for my site, and like Jim Garrison, I could not deny the many and ominous connections with Red Tornado.

Don Markstein offered "Answer: A red-skinned android invented in 1968 by a master comic book villain as part of a plan to defeat the publisher's most prominent superhero team, who winds up joining the team instead, and named after one of the publisher's more obscure 1940s characters." The question? "Who is The Vision?" Markstein went on to explain that Red Tornado and the Vision debuting within months of each other was probably sheer coincidence, then moved on to one of the shortest biographies I've ever seen on his site. The problem isn't so much in the seeds, but in how the Red Tornado's garden was tended. R.T. took on a human identity like The Vision, began a romance with a human woman like The Vision, and even became a parent like The Vision. Each had big villainous turns in the '80s, followed by being disassembled and spending most of the '90s metamorphosing into different forms. Both were given needlessly overcomplicated retroactive origin stories meant to tie into the continuity of previously unrelated characters. The one trail Red Tornado blazed was being downgraded from team player to mentor figure for a bunch of under-aged heroes.

How does this relate to the Martian Manhunter? Well, J'onn J'onzz was introduced into the Justice League as their Superman stand-in, because editor Mort Weisinger wouldn't sign off on the Man of Steel being a regular for fear of diluting his brand. When the team book began dipping in sales, Jack Liebowitz asked why they didn't use Superman more, and upon receiving the answer, explained that Mort didn't own Superman, so use him. This led to the Martian Manhunter slowly getting pushed out of the book due to redundancy and more popular solo characters coming onto the team. Besides, the Manhunter from Mars had his own book with its own editor, so why bother with the headache? When Denny O'Neil took over writing JLofA, he preferred the less powerful, more realistic characters, and packed the Martian Manhunter's bags for good... in 1969.

After his two issue debut in 1968, Red Tornado returned the following year in the very next issue after J'onn J'onzz's big send off. He turned up for another couple of issues in 1970, then was joined by Martian Manhunter (in a cameo) upon the book's hundredth issue. That was in 1972, the first year J'onn J'onzz was seen since '69, and was now tending to his people as they settled on a new planet. By 1973, Len Wein was writing the book, and The Avengers had changed the game so that teams were most popular when they mixed major heroes with their own books that couldn't be altered in a major way with characters "owned" by the team title that could offer melodrama and significant changes over the course of their adventures. Since Wein was comfortable with more powerful heroes and the Martian Manhunter now lacked a series of his own, there was no reason he couldn't come back to the team and the scene in general... except for Red Tornado.

R.T. had been appearing at regular intervals in the book, and served as DC's parallel to the Vision, something '70s creators seemed to dig on. Red Tornado was a bald-looking, solid red guy with a blue cape. He was somewhat morose and withdrawn, struggling to relate to humanity. He took the rather generic name of "John Smith," and disguised himself as a thirtysomething white male prone to donning trench coats to blend in. His supporting cast consisted of an attractive blond woman who acted as a romantic interest and her adorable adoptive daughter. R.T. had anger management issues, but was a stalwart member of the team throughout the Bronze Age.

Detective John Jones had an adorable adopted pet/sidekick, and spent years working with an attractive blond co-worker/romantic interest. When not disguised as a human, he was a bald, solid green guy with a blue cape. Before reintroducing Red Tornado as a more volatile character, Denny O'Neil wrote the Martian Manhunter as emotionally unstable, morose, withdrawn, and irrationally hostile. Len Wein wrote a more even-tempered take in the one issue Martian Manhunter got to guest star in after Red Tornado had taken his place in the Justice League. He could perhaps have made more, but what's the point of having two characters of similar looks and demeanor who function in a similar capacity in the same book? Only after Red Tornado left did J'Onn J'Onzz become a stalwart member of the team from the end of the Bronze Age through to just a few years ago.

Amusingly enough, like the Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado was demonized before dropping out of the comics scene for about a decade with few appearances of note, before returning as part of an ill-fated multicultural super-team. R.T. never enjoyed his own JLI, jumping straight to his own Justice League Task Force as a supervising adult amongst Young Justice. Also, after decades without any collar and another fifteen years with a folded one, Martian Manhunter began popping his vampire style in emulation of the Vision, right around the same time Red Tornado began folding his collar like J'Onn J'Onzz.

You might ask why I would hold up one character as worthy of admiration, and another as a despicable rip-off, if they are in fact so similar. You might even ask why John Smith couldn't perhaps be invited into the unofficial John Jones "family." This gets back to the other reason I developed strong feelings about the Red Tornado: he sucks.

For instance, J'onn J'onzz's debut was preceded a year earlier by Roh Kar, First Lawman of Mars, a slightly goofy character with potential that was reshaped into a more commercial form for the Manhunter from Mars strip. While few would count him as the first Silver Age super-hero, J'onn J'onzz certainly anticipated Julie Schwartz's sci-fi detectives, who would soon revive the genre. Red Tornado was preceded by Ma Hunkel, a slightly goofy character from nearly thirty years earlier. However, the original Red Tornado was one of the few DC heroines of the early Golden Age, a tough husky woman who made up for her lack of abilities and resources with moxie. The android Red Tornado was yet another fit white male in appearance to come out very late in the Silver Age with incredible inborn powers he used to be a whiny, ineffectual "hero" granted near immediate access to the JLA. While few would count him as the first Bronze Age super-hero, John Smith certainly anticipated the worst tendencies of "feet of clay" heroes the fan-writers of the "Me" decade adored.

Part of the appeal of the Alien Atlas for many is that he seriously has more powers than Superman. Red Tornado, meanwhile, blows. He creates tornadoes that can gust at others or propel himself. Even when he became the "Wind Elemental," the only difference was that Red Tornado blew more. Both the Martian Manhunter and Red Tornado are "jobbers" who get knocked out to make other heroes look good. J'Onn is known for getting back up again, or continuing a losing battle to the brink of exhaustion. Smith is known for getting shattered to pieces, then skipping runs of issues until someone bothers to put him back together again. J'Onn is always solemn because of the deaths of his family and race, but he is known for his quiet dignity and droll wit. Smith is always moping because he's a little wimp, even though he has a loving girlfriend, adoptive daughter and supportive teammates (despite his being such a lousy, unreliable, frequently treacherous super-hero.) Yes, J'Onn needed pants for a very long time, but at least the most distinctive aspect of his costume isn't bright yellow directional arrows like one would expect to use as a guide to the nearest freeway entrance. Finally, the Martian Manhunter has the simple, elegant origin of being accidentally transported to Earth and trapped here, but deciding to make the best of things by helping his adoptive home. Red Tornado was a robot built by a mad scientist who often fought the JLA to infiltrate the Justice League, but decided to do good against his programming, except it turns out he was really an alien Tornado Tyrant who had fought Adam Strange, and there's something about a Tornado Champion, but he's an air elemental of the Earth and... Let me be honest. I still don't understand what the Red Tornado's origin is supposed to be. I just know that he crawled out of the four color primordial slop to plague us all.

Unlike Rob Kelly's Grudge Against Shazam, I don't just resent Red Tornado for being "The Usurper" who helped cape-block Martian Manhunter's return to comics throughout the 1970s. I genuinely feel that the Red Tornado embodies much of what was and continues to be wrong with comics books. He has a terrible set of origins dependent on ties to impenetrable continuity, a lousy personality, lame powers, an ugly costume, he wipes his rust hole on his legacy status, and exists in opposition to racial and gender diversity in comics. Red Tornado is a character who makes a comic book worse simply by being in it, but is perfectly willing to actively push a book over the abyss with his distasteful activities. He was, is, and will forever be "The Usurper" to me, irredeemable and begging to finally be destroyed to make way for a better use of the trademark.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Miss Martian Sketch by David Hahn

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"Always good to see David and get a sketch from him in my sketchbook."

David Hahn is probably best known for his art on the two Bite Club mini-series and on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

IGN's Top 43rd Comic Book Hero of All Time: Martian Manhunter

In 2009 or so, the comics department of the popular video game website IGN.com put together a list of their Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time, from which I culled their Top 7 Martian Manhunter Villains with the help of liberal standards. Idol-Head regular mathematicscore alerted me to the fact the site finally compiled IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time. I love deconstructing these types of lists, and did so line by line on a sister blog, DC Bloodlines. You can see those posts here:


A brief summary of those posts: These guys are twits. I watched all their videos, which totaled over an hour in length, and it was just two guys saying nothing substantial to explain poorly reasoned groupthink. Really, it was only one guy with a good stage voice and a crumby attitude with a slacking sidekick who only spoke up once or twice for favored characters amidst batches of twenty. The other editors involved in the list were presumably hiding in shame out on their ranch, or are writing memoirs that doggedly hold to indefensible positions and refuted intelligence. The list sucks, and the Martian Manhunter entry actually used the dated as frig art above from the short-lived (no pun intended) Coneheadhunter period. How'd our boy rank?

43) Martian Manhunter

I referenced J'Onn J'Onzz at various points on the list response posts in a somewhat disparaging light. I love the character enough to have devoted 3 1/2 years of my life to something approximating daily blogging about the guy. My words of praise and promotion will appear early in most web searches related to the character (besides Microsoft's Bing, which is about as relevant as AltaVista.) My credentials clear, I must confess, the Manhunter from Mars is B-list on his best day. Compared to Marvel's Hawkeye, he's like a Neil Diamond level star, but one summer blockbuster will overturn that applecart/mix that metaphor. There is no feature film in development. His ensemble cartoon has been off the air for years. His longest headling gig was three years. His action figures keep store pegs warm. I'm sure I will find fault with many of the characters that precede him, but the first is Storm, and she's the more important, successful figure. Silver Surfer? Fills one with envy.

You guys like this blog, and I'm happy about that, but let's run some numbers. I've got about 64 followers and less than 300K page views. Supergirl ranked 94, but her Comic Box Commentary Blog has twice as many views and thirty more followers. Aquaman rank 52, but his Shrine has 245 followers and millions of page views. Those are just two examples of fan initiatives for just those two characters. Each has multiple fan sites between them, as well. J'Onn J'Onzz? I pretty much cornered the market. It wasn't a difficult thing to do.

I hope someday the Martian Manhunter does something cool enough that people would reference the character after an Olympic athlete broke a world record, or in top 40 radio hits, or pie shaped air fresheners for your car with matching floorboards. These things are not near. The general public has only had the opportunity to be aware J'Onn J'Onzz even exists for about a decade. He's never held down a series longer than three years, took most of the Bronze Age off and cannot make or break a title. The Alien Atlas is defined by his appeal as a supporting character with great potential, but he isn't quite there yet as an upfront hero. I look forward to the day, but lets not kid ourselves, especially with a poorly rigged list like this that is so laughable J'Onzz's placement gives cause for ridicule. Who could blame him for eying the rafters for a bucket of pig's blood?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Idle-Head of Diabolu, Vol. II

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For the longest time, I've been meaning to come up with a menu to collect all the ephemeral posts accumulated over the last three years that I don't have the good sense to treat as such. I've also wanted a forum to get credit for updates or menus in progress, because they cost a lot of time without much reward. In that vein, I ran the "first volume" of what will likely be an erratic series in January, and now we're back again. I also think I'll use this as an "items of interest" section for other people's work.

Lissbirds is both a regular commentator here and has her own blog to address Mars (or by her own stated preference, a Martian Manhunter wholly without a Mars to mind.) Here are some recent related posts from Comics Make Me Happy!:

Comics Should Be Good (which typically translates to "Brian Cronin") did a piece earlier this month on the Five Goofiest Moments in the First Five Martian Manhunter Comics. Pat at Silver Age Comics ran with that lead over a series of information posts:

I finally got around to watching Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths today. I put it off for so long because I thought it would be an ordeal to cover it here. In the early days of this blog, I would spend hours writing up an anal-retentive summary of a half hour Justice League episode, pulling my own high-res screencaps and everything. These would of course get no comments, and my caps would be shrunk down and compressed for the blog. I was such a dope. When I do cover the movie here, it'll be a comparatively breezy review with caps stolen off the internet. It'll still probably take a few hours, but will also provide posts for multiple blogs, and the thing is three times the length of a television episode, after all.

You'll notice the above image is one of many I lazily threw up as wee embeds from Deviant Art. I hate those embeds lingering, so I've gone back and done them as standard 400 pixel wide images hosted in the Idol-Head's Photobucket account. I also updated the "Pictures of Martian Manhunter" menu to be current as of this time last year, but that's better than nothing. The new links are offered below, but I thought it worth mentioning that I actually removed at least as many links from that menu. There was too much Vile Menagerie stuff cluttering things up, so I'll work on giving the Martian Manhunter rogues gallery their own separate... er... gallery.

Josh Allar
2007 "Manhunter Inked"

Craig Cermak
2007 One Year Later Martian Manhunter

Darwin Cooke
2004 "For Robert!" Convention Sketch
2007 The National Colored Pencil Convention Sketch

Ulises Farinas
2009 “Rise” Lego-Style Blackest Night Art

Adam Hughes
1991 Martian Manhunter Convention Sketch

Adam Hughes & James Lyle
2003 Convention Sketch

Jamal Igle
2010 Head Sketch

Mark Irwin
2000 Martian Manhunter Convention Sketch

Mike Nasser/ Michael Netzer
1979 J'onn J'onzz Convention Sketch
1980 Whizzard Fanzine Cover Art by Michael Nasser and Terry Austin
2004 Hawkgirl, J'Onn J'Onzz & Hawkman Convention Sketch
2009 "J'onn J'onzz R.I.P." Pin-Up
2010 Martian Manhunter Commission Pencils by Michael Netzer

Jon McNally
2010 All-Ages All-Stars: Martian Manhunter art

Oliver Nome
2006 One Year Later Martian Manhunter

George Pérez
2009 Autograph Doodle

Tom Valente
2007 Watercolor Painting
2009 Rittenhouse Justice League of America Archives Sketch Cards

Sal Velluto
2010 Wonder Woman & Martian Manhunter Commission

2010 Young Justice Animated Series Promo Art

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2010 Martian Manhunter Commission by Michael Netzer & Joe Rubinstein

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Last year, I ran this commission's pencils by Michael Netzer credited as though they had already been inked by famed embellisher Joe Rubinstein. I recognized the error some time back, but while doing some organizing on the blog, I finally decided to get this corrected. It's always neat to see two artist's interpretations of the same piece.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Green Light (Unpublished)

In 1996, writers Jean-Marc Lofficier, Randy Lofficier and Roy Thomas joined artist Ted McKeever in creating Superman's Metropolis. Retroactively set on DC Multiversal Earth-1927, this Metropolis merged the familiar DC continuity with that of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent science fiction film of the same name. Jon Kent was the Great Architect of a thriving future city build on the toil of the lower classes after "The Time of Smoke and Soot." Jon Kent was in love with Marta, as was fellow scientist and architect Lutor. Marta was murdered and Jon Kent mesmerized to Lutor's will. Clarc Kent-son was eventually exposed to the inequality of Metropolis by schoolteacher Lois Lane. After much struggle, Clarc became the Super-Man, succeeding his father as Master of Metropolis following the killing of Lutor.

In 1999, without Roy Thomas, the same creative team produced a second mash-up of public domain German expressionist film and DC heroes with Batman: Nosferatu. Along with the unlicensed Dracula adaptation of yore, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was also an established influence. This one involved the murders of various members of the Batman supporting cast by the Laughing Man under the direction of the evil Dr. Arkham. Bruss Wayne-son was eventually turned into the Nosferatu by the sentient machines under Metropolis, and did battle with the insane cyborgs originally crafted by Lutor. The Nosferatu killed the Laughing Man, committed Dr. Arkham, and was hailed as the master of the lunatics. The Super-Man was against such shadowy figures in Metropolis, and engaged the Nosferatu in mortal combat, until both were saved by the sentient computers. The Super-Man recognized the need for Nosferatu.

2003's Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon picked up threads from the two previous installments while playing very loosely with threads from the films The Blue Angel, Dr. Mabuse the Gambler and seemingly The Island of Dr. Moreau.

According to the Lofficiers' web site, "A fourth and final volume was proposed, entitled The Green Light, which would have introduced counterparts of The Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter (based on Leni Riefenstahl's The Blue Light (1922) and Arnold Fanck's Weiße Rausch - Der Neue Wunder des Schneeschuhs (a.k.a. The White Flame) (1931) (which also starred Leni Riefenstahl), and a female Aquaman (based on Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Die Herrin von Atlantis (a.k.a. The Mistress of Atlantis) (1932)). The book would have dealt with the rediscovery of Earth."


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Martian Sightings for August, 2011

mathematicscore's theory about the true identity of the Flashpoint Batman was disproved, so ignore all the Dark Knight coverage here as we move on to the next likely suspect...

FLASH FACT: The Outsider’s greatest enemy is revealed.
On sale AUGUST 17 • 3 of 3, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
B'rett? Well, it is a bit jaundiced for J'Onn, right? There certainly is not enough Kevin Nowlan Martian Manhunter art circulating. Things would have gone differently had he drawn the '88 mini-series...

Art and cover by RON RANDALL
Between their traditional Silver Age incarnation and the tongue-in-cheek Giffen/DeMatteis run, there was…JLA Detroit! Series scribe Gerry Conway revisits what may have been the most controversial lineup of DC’s iconic team book ever. (Who can forget the breakdancing Vibe?) Then experience a classic tale reprinted from the ‘80s!
ONE-SHOT • On sale AUGUST 10 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
I'm ridiculously enthusiastic about Gerry Conway getting to write one more JLD tale, and add Felix Faust to their rogues gallery. I'm considerably less into the art, but it's not like the team had an unvarnished artistic legacy.

Art and cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
It’s time to “Bwah Ha Ha” all over again as this classic JLA team tells a lost tale from one of the JLA’s most popular eras. The Injustice Gang is back! Not the truly menacing, more recent incarnation, but their not-so competent predecessors. Still, when they stumble upon a device they should never be allowed to have, the results might prove more disastrous than if they actually knew what they were doing! A previously released story from the era rounds out the issue.
ONE-SHOT • On sale AUGUST 24 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Dang it! Months of getting stuck with red herring Batman art, and this month I have to choose to spotlight one of three awesome covers featuring Martians? Cruel fate!

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
1:25 Black and white variant covers A by ANDY KUBERT
Issue #4 Variant cover B by IVAN REIS and GEORGE PEREZ
Issue #5 Variant cover B by RAGS MORALES
FLASH FACT: The war between the Amazons and the Atlantians has arrived. The battle between Diana of Themyscira and Emperor Aquaman will tear this world apart – unless The Flash can fix it!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because of its impact on the DC Universe, FLASHPOINT #5 is the only title that DC Comics is soliciting in this catalogue to arrive in stores on August 31.
Retailers please note: These issues will ship with three covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Issue #4 on sale AUGUST 3
Issue #5 on sale AUGUST 31
4 and 5 of 5, 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
I was already put off by this thing, but now that I know I wasted space here promoting Batman, I'm really pleased to welcome its end. Nobody is coming out of this looking good, from my side of the fence.

Superman’s power fluctuations are out of control, and while he’s battling everyone around him in a mass of confusion, a surprising figure tries to intervene! But can anyone – or anything – stop an enraged Kryptonian?
And in issue #14, it’s a tale of tragic proportions as an unexpected character falls in the line of duty...but who and how will forever change the course of the series.
Issue #13 on sale AUGUST 3
Issue #14 on sale AUGUST 17
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Woof. Anybody still buying this? If so, why?

Written by MARK WAID and RON MARZ
The powerful graphic novel from 2000 is reprinted, along with GREEN LANTERN #1,000,000!
When the Earth is wrenched from its orbit and transported into a massive alien craft, The Justice League quickly begins an investigation to discover the identity of the culprit and his scheme. Earth’s greatest heroes soon learn that an eons-old race of scientists on the verge of extinction is acquiring planets in the hopes of finding a homeworld. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and The Atom must save these disparate worlds while aiding the godlike race in their quest.
And in the story from GL #1,000,000, also illustrated by Bryan Hitch, Kyle Rayner must adapt to a challenge in the 857th century when a rampaging interstellar menagerie is set loose. During the struggle, Kyle learns that there’s a traitor among the future JLA!
On sale AUGUST 24 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
Good Lord, this will be my heaviest ordering month in a while. This came out when I still had my shop. I sold out before reading it, sold through my reorders, and never bothered to buy a copy for myself. I hate the unwieldy Treasury format, so I'll finally buy this thing as a standard comic (even with the unnecessary Green Lantern issue, especially when Martian Manhunter #11 would have been a better choice.)

The legendary 1990s JLA series written by comics mastermind Grant Morrison (FINAL CRISIS) with stunning art by Howard Porter and others is now collected in trade paperback, including issues #1-9 and JLA SECRET FILES #1.
The action begins as the JLA reunites to stop the Hyperclan, who have come to Earth posing as a new group of Super Heroes. But as their true nature comes to light, only the World’s Greatest Super Heroes can stop them! Standing side by side, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter take on alien posers and come to realize that Earth needs a protectorate made up of only the mightiest icons.
This new trade paperback includes several issues written by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Ultimate Fantastic Four) that were not collected in the hardcover JLA DELUXE EDITION series.
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 256 pg, FC, $19.99 US
A wonderful collection of stories, now at an affordable price.

Miss Martian
Absent this month, presumably because of DC's stunt of only shipping the final issue of Flashpoint on the last week of the month. That's also likely the reason why we have two issues of each Retro-Active to punch us in the wallet.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Miss Martian C2E2 Convention Sketch by Jamal Igle

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I love the pose Jamal drew for her here. It fits the character perfectly!

I agree! The former Supergirl artist does right by M'gann M'orzz.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


From DC's The Source Blog:

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

By David Hyde

We’ve already announced the full creative teams for the ’70s and ‘80s books in this summer’s blockbuster RETROACTIVE series. Throughout the day today, we’ll be announcing the artists who will be joining the previously announced writers for the ‘90s books and we’ll also be teasing at what these titles will be about. As we mentioned before, each of these new 26-page stories will be followed by a classic story from its era by the same writer.

John Ostrander shared exclusively with THE SOURCE, "I've been very lucky in my career that I usually don't have series canceled out from under me. Tom and I did GRIMJACK for two years together before I ended that series with Flint Henry, and then Tom and I saved FIRESTORM until we decided to leave with the hundredth issue, and then we got to do THE SPECTRE for the five year story we had worked out. MARTIAN MANHUNTER was a book where we had more editorial considerations because of the ties to JLA and we were sidetracked repeatedly so that we never got around to everything we wanted to do before Tom left and I had to end the book. An example would be that I got a lot of flack for my characterization of Beatriz da Costa on the message boards where no one gave me the benefit of the doubt. Fire was intentionally misleading DEO Agent Cameron Chase as part of a plan devised by J'Onn J'Onzz that was meant to build until the fiftieth issue. I also revealed a brand new archenemy that was meant to take the place of Malefic called The Pyre in the early issues, but I never was able to properly introduce him into the book. Tom had already committed to another book, but his wife and my longtime artistic partner on STAR WARS: LEGACY Jan Duursema plan to treat this special as an opportunity to take care of that last bit of unfinished business between J'Onn, Bea, and the Pyre."

Joining writer John Ostrander is artist Jan Duursema to tell a defining story that shows why J'Onn J'Onzz is the Manhunter from Mars.
ONE-SHOT • On sale AUGUST 17 • 56 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1989 Animal Man #9 Original Cover Art by Brian Bolland

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Back in December, I rummaged through the various galleries at BrianBolland.net, which was by no means a chore. I found a lot of Wonder Woman material, thanks to his three-plus year stint as her cover artist, but Martian Manhunter pickings were pretty slim. Hoping to wrangle a theme day for one of my favorite artists, I break from my norms and offer a published cover. It's a great image, and is seen in the purity of black and white. The story is certainly one of J'Onn's best guest appearances, and I hope to cover it if I can ever get my blogs synchronized to 1989.

Brian Bolland Roughs Day

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Situation Room Super Heroes

May 2, 2011
Obama's Osama Bin Laden Mission Captured In Historic Situation Room Pictures (PHOTOS)

May 5, 2011
Clinton: Allergy led to my Situation Room photo

May 9, 2011
Hillary Clinton, Audrey Tomason go missing in Situation Room photo in Di Tzeitung newspaper

May 10, 2011
Picture of the Day: Superheroes! The Ultimate Situation Room Meme

It takes a mighty big picture to get this weird. I love how prominent they made J'Onn J'Onzz, because all that green draws your eyes right to him. This is also the best executed mash-up, with Robert Gates totally looking the part. This could very well end up being one of the most widely circulated Martian Manhunter images of all time once it's done making the rounds. I've sure seen it enough times without trying. Despite previous associations with Superman and Spider-Man, I'm really glad Obama ended up as Captain America. Not only do the colors suit him, but it's a nice zing after all that Birther nonsense (while anticipating the inevitable "Osama isn't really dead" push back.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2006 Gir and Martian Manhunter by J.Mitchell

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After a harrowing week or so, I am done with finals and the last few months of awful classes. Onward and upward to the championship round after a brief summer break. Plus, none of the posts I worked on over the last few days are available to me from Google, so I'm glad I had the foresight to back up that material before their cloudware evaporated for a couple of days.

I've never seen Invader Zim, so I had to research Gir at Wikipedia:

Gir is an Irken SIR (Standard Information Retrieval Unit) who was assigned to Zim in the series. Voiced by Rosearik Rikki Simons, GIR is Zim's only companion. GIR is a malfunctioning robot built by The Almighty Tallest out of SIR unit remains and whatever they could find in the trash and their pockets. GIR's creation was the result of a cruel joke the Tallest played on Zim when the other invaders were receiving their SIR (Standard Information Retrieval) units, which serve as their personal assistants. Rather than waste a perfectly good SIR unit on Zim, though, the Tallest instead gave Zim a "top-secret model", which they constructed on the spot, behind Zim's back. Shortly after being built, the junky robot activates and announces himself as GIR. The name "GIR" is a self-applied moniker that is never explained in the show. The most notable of visible differences between GIR and your typical SIR unit is his mouth, something that average SIR units lack. Because GIR's head contains various odds-and-ends (rather than artificial intelligence hardware), GIR displays a wildly erratic personality. He is almost completely irreverent, and rarely obeys Zim's commands, mostly due to distraction, disinterest or disobedience. When GIR does comply, the teal-colored parts of his body (most notably, his eyes shoulders and belly) glow red like normal SIR's, and he will usually refer to Zim as "My Lord" or sometimes "My Master", even "Vermin Lord" in 'Mortos Der Soulstealer'. GIR disguises himself in public by wearing a green dog suit which fools most humans, despite looking and acting almost nothing like an Earth dog. He also does things that a real dog would not do, such as talking, dancing and using jet rockets. A prime example of GIR's uselessness is his pre-programmed "defensive mode", which for normal SIR units is to repel hostiles. When GIR's defensive mode is activated on the other hand, he usually responds by assisting the enemy; in one case offering the enemy ice cream, and in another voluntarily jumping into a sack for abductors. Despite GIR's manic insanity, he sometimes displays a degree of competence higher than Zim's; such as correcting his master who announces to have succeeded after a failed scheme. Or in 'Walk For Your Lives' when he warns Zim that increasing the speed of a really slow explosion engulfing the city in an attempt to save it would just make matters worse. GIR continually annoys Zim, notably with his waffles, piggy, and love of "The Scary Monkey Show".

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

JLA Classified: Cold Steel #2 (2006)

The JLA mechs briefly engaged the Voruk warships in outer space, but Green Lantern pointed out the pointlessness of it, and Superman agreed, "You're right. This is stupid. Let's move." The League flew down to Penumbra, where the Voruk lacked shielding to follow. Only armed scouts could handle the "Infinity Coil," so they were sent in, while Mhak-Lord Gordoruk ordered the creation of "our beloved God-of-Storms."

Aquaman's shields had been damaged, so his ship fell to Penumbra in a heap. Superman struggled to fly "a bloody skyscraper, here." Everyone managed. Maiko deployed from Batman's ship in a probe to repair Aquaman's shielding. Green Lantern discovered his "power ring's gone all funny," not functioning effectively. Flash noticed flying "black snakey things" floating amongst the still world.

In space, the Voruk's many warships were sacrificed to create one massive craft, but not without sorrow and salutations.

J'Onn J'Onzz was concerned about the snakes. "I can't touch them telepathically. It's like there's nothing out there." They were "spooked" by fire from the Voruk scouts. Tsaru ordered the Ghoji to fall back, even their outcasts, but Maiko refused. "I won't run away, Tsaru Kar. I am not-- not afraid." She chastised, "Death without Shai-Tar's blessing? You compound your crime!" Superman protected them with his four arms and twin blades. Wonder Woman noted Maiko's bravery. Batman observed, "He's got nothing left to lose." Aquaman's shields and consciousness were brought back online.

Kyle Rayner rescued and revived Green Lantern Shiera Vaas, who thanked him with a kiss. The Flash unsheathed "superconducting myomer" which basically turned his mech into a War Wheel. Martian Manhunter took a hit, terrifying his young co-pilot, Gaida. Light emanated from her eyes and mouth, until her mind exploded. J'Onn melted into near nothingness before struggling to collect herself. "She went off like a bomb. I've never felt such a powerful mental attack... If I had been slower erecting a defense--" It was Wonder Woman who checked in on J'Onn, and quizzed Tsaru Kar on what had happened. "She was just a child... Her noble heart would not be restrained."

The Ghoji had long tried to telepathically probe Voruk ships, but "protective scarring" had foiled them. Using her magic lasso as a conduit and a psychic pulse from the Martian Manhunter, an "oscillation pattern" was broadcast that saw the Voruk probes rain down limply from the sky. This afforded Wonder Woman time to press the resistant Tsaru about Gaida's death.

The God-of-Storms arrived, providing plentiful distraction. Batman managed to blind it, while Aquaman penetrated the craft. Wonder Woman used her lasso to draw information from the organic behemoth to feed Aquaman. The Sea King exited his mech to swim within. Batman transformed into a fighter jet, while Flash's shields were blasted by the God-of-Storms. The Green Lanterns continued to worry about the snakes, and rather intimately shared their powers and wills to affect the creatures. Superman focused his attention on the snakes, including a giant one bearing down on him.

Aquaman fought his way to Mhak-Lord Gordoruk, who detected his telepathy, cursed, and tried to eat him. "Mouth-Breather!? On my world, I am the lord of the sea. And you, you murderous piece of filth, have the audacity to call me a mouth-breather!?" The Mhak-Lord's guards promised to get him. "You'll try." The Martian Mech tore through the chamber walls. "About time, J'Onn." J'Onzz exited in an amphibian form, and tried to reason with the Mhak-Lord. Gordoruk explained of the Ghoji that they worked very much like H'ronmeer's Curse, telepathic suicide bombers who could infect the minds of their oppressors. "In the hours before you kill yourself, you'll know a pain you never imagined possible. If you're strong enough, you'll survive to infect your mate and your broodlings. Everyone you love. You'll watch them chew off their tentacles in their death agony. You'll kill them yourself, in the end-- as a gift... Imagine spending the rest of your life as an exile. Swimming in a sea of pain and madness."

"Aquaman, I require your assistance. This creature is in pain. Can your mental abilities get to it?" Aquaman could, while the Manhunter from Mars revealed, "It began to dawn on me, when Gaida died, what the Ghoji's Shai-Tar really was. Not a god, but a psychic weapon. Gaida harnessed the energy of her own body to fuel a violent psychic attack. The ultimate vengeance for a powerless people." With the red mist lifted, Gordoruk knew such relief that he immediately sought redemption.

The Infinity Coil collapsed, and all hell broke loose. It was revealed that it had been a gate, but instead of connecting two points in space, it looped one back on itself, causing a compression in time. Too long destabilized, it was now rending reality. The snakes were shadow anomalies, and the best hope (suggested by Manhunter) was to redirect the gate. It would require "a stardrive of massive proportions," and Aquaman pointed out, "We're swimming in it." The God-of-Storms had existed in some form for nearly nine hundred years, so Tsaru Kar had to telepathically convince it to sacrifice itself, against Wonder Woman's protestations. "Shai-Tar is the only way. The Ghoji god and the Voruk god. Together they will cast down the shadows." Mhak-Lord Gordoruk refused to abandon ship, and would pilot the God-of-Storms to its death alongside Tsaru Kar.

Superman and Batman had been grounded by the snakes. The other mechs looked on as the deaths of gods ended the threat of annihilation. Wonder Woman ripped open her hatch. Martian Manhunter passed through his. Heroes and survivors looked out at the new dawn, while a bird sang.

Let me just say that I hate giant robots. The mechs were the least interesting thing about Robotech, I only liked the puzzle aspect of forming Voltron and I could not be less interested in Transformers turning into cars, planes, and other devices I've always seen as mere conveyances. Despite having adored JLA: A League of One, I passed on this book when it was released. I don't seem to have been alone in that, given its ranking of 111 in ICv2's Top 300 Comics for December of 2005 with sales of 20,543.

That's a shame, because the admittedly silly giant JLA robots don't show up until page 35 of 45 in book one, and there's plenty of Star Trek grade science fiction preceding them. Book two is a little dodgier, dominated by mech action and exposition, so I'd recommend reading both in one sitting. I love the savagery of the aquatic aliens, a dominant aspect of sea life that makes the jungle look fit for pussycats. It makes for an exciting milieu which remains unexploited in the various Aquaman and Sub-Mariner series. Most of the Leaguers got their spotlight moments, and after an overabundance of weirdly eyeless Batman in the first book, the second was good enough to de-emphasize the World's Finest Duo. The Flash probably had the least to do. It doesn't hurt my feelings a bit that personal Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman have plenty to work with, especially since in a more perfect world Moeller would have painted the covers to Martian Manhunter #1 and 2, and created one of my favorite Wonder Woman stories.

"Chapter Two: The Sleeping World" was by writer/painter Chris Moeller

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2011 "It's Elemental!" Infographic by Rob Kelly and George Pérez

Rob put this infographic together for the four blog Brightest Day Finale crossover from a few weeks back, but I felt it warranted its own (belated) post.

Monday, May 9, 2011

2007 Miss Martian by brandokay

I lined something quick up for today, forgetting it was supposed to be Miss Martian Monday. One quick change later, and...

"The Squirrel Girl picture turned out well enough that I wanted to do another, and Miss Martian is a newish DC character who's just adorable. She's currently in Teen Titans.

Green skin. Something about it, man. Like chicks on vespas.

Plan on doing more of these!"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2010 Martian Manhunter by Nick Edwards

Click To Enlarge

J'Onn J'Onzz and an evil looking version of a form Frank Quitely drew him in during JLA: Earth-Two involved with Hector Hammond. Random much?

"character designs for a short about Martian Manhunter (featuring Hector Hammond of the Green Lantern comics) that will be a part of Ulises Farinas's UnDC project"

The original black and white art was colored by Jared D. Weiss...

"When Mr. Edwards submitted his original line art last month, I commented on how rad it would look in color, and he responded with "you do it". So one month later, I finally decided to do it, asked for the .psd, and here is the result. The actual size I colored at was about 13" x 16", so if you want to see a bigger version, just ask me."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2005 HeroChat Message Board Interview With John Ostrander

Originally conducted by "Highfather Izaya" on 04-14-05. Edited for clarity and relevance. For the complete interview, which covered Ostrander's origins, early career, interests, Grimjack and Star Wars work, click here.

What do you believe is the key to working with a character like Martian Manhunter? Inquiry about Ma' Alefa 'Ka what was your direction for this character?

Our goal with Ma'alefa'ak (Malefic) was to create an arch enemy for J'Onn that would be his "opposite number". Who could give J'Onn a severe challenge. To my mind, the "key" to J'Onn is that he is an ALIEN. He was born and raised and lived a lot of his life not only on a different planet but in a different culture. Superman/Clark Kent was raised on Earth and his values are of not only Earth but of America; indeed, of the Midwest and Kansas. That is the CULTURE in which he was raised. For Tom Mandrake and myself, J'Onn will always be an "outsider". The key is not in his powers but in his CHARACTER.

What were your goals in your title run on Martian Manhunter what did you want to accomplish with the character?

We wanted to show J'Onn as something other than a "green Superman". We felt he was a little unfocused as a character. He is a PART of this world -- the only world and "family" he now has left -- but he is, at heart, a Martian. We wanted to weave a tapestry of his existence around him; show him in context of both Earth and Mars. What makes him UNIQUE?

In MM #25, 26, and 27 it was shown that the gods of Ancient Egypt were actually Green Martians. These Martians remained on Earth and posed as gods, until some anomaly in the environment caused them to deteriorate and they were forced to transfer their minds into humans to survive. Doing so eliminated all of their previous powers, save their telepathy.

My question is, do you feel this is an ability all Martians could replicate, mind transference I mean, or were the Ancient Egyptian Martians an isolated incident that can't be replicated?

I haven't read that story in some time and it's hard to put myself back into what I was thinking at the time. I think I would treat it as a MUTATION that occurred for these particular Martians. Probably caused by environment. Contact with the planet Mars would be very important to a Martian, in our version. They literally draw their substance from it and cutting themselves off from it would have repercussions.

In MM #1, page 23, J'Onn says, "I am not as fast as the Flash or Superman." Since that issue, in several JLA issues it has been shown, both by J'Onn and by other Martians that they can reach speeds rivaling those of both Flash and Superman. Is your stance still that J'Onn is third best, and if so how fast would you say he is in comparison to the two aforementioned heroes? For example, would you say he is 80% as fast as Superman?

My theory comes down to this -- when you have a character like the FLASH whose super power really comes down to how fast he is, then he has to be the fastest man alive. Superman has to be overall better than all the other heroes; that's his place in comic's history and, IMO, the DC Universe. He shouldn't be quite as fast as the Flash but a close second. J'Onn can come in third; his primary powers, IMO, need to be telepathy and shape changing as this is what sets him off from the other characters. How fast he is doesn't really matter to me.

What are your thoughts on J'Onn's position in the JLA? Should he be the leader or remain in the advisor/tactical officer role he currently inhabits?

The JLA used to have a rotating leadership which I thought worked out pretty well. These days there appears to really be no central leader; the team comes together and certain people assume certain functions as is necessary and that seems to work okay, too.

If DC asked you to write another Martian Manhunter series would you be willing to? Just as a sidenote, I enjoy your version of MM more then anyone else's. I have often said, Ostrander is to MM as Simonson is to Thor.

There is always a tug to return to characters or books that you enjoyed (as I certainly enjoyed doing Martian Manhunter) but I don't know if that's always a good thing. With some exceptions, I think it's better to go on to the next thing. Still, never say "never".

In MM #13, after J'Onn merges with Martian soil, to regain his full operational body, after having severed his arm and transferred his soul etc. into it to escape Malefic's trap, J'Onn states, "There are some limitations, but I will explore this later."

Did you intend for J'Onn to experience problems or have less abilities due to losing so much of his original mass, and just never got to explore this further, or was this matter just pushed aside because it didn't mesh with what was to come?

I think the editor wanted to get past that and move on.

What are your thoughts on the Fernus story arc in JLA from a while back? What did you think about the introduction of "Burning Martians"and the statement that the Oans were responsible for the Martian fire weakness?

Different writer, different explanation. I think we linked it back to Darkseid. Somebody will come up and make their own explanation. It's the nature of the beast when working on characters that you don't own or control.

Did he have any stories in mind for Martian Manhunter's series that he never got to tell due to cancellation?

Nothing comes to mind.

Subquestion: Did you have future plans for any particular characters that had been introduced in the series?

Again, nothing comes to mind. It's been awhile since I did the series.

What is your general opinion on the basis of J'Onn's powers? Are they telekinetic used in conjunction with his shape shifting abilities?

It all stemmed back to his being an alien and that the Martians had certain things because that's how their species adapted to their world and its environment. J'Onn wasn't the only Martian to have these abilities; they were common to his species.

Does J'Onn possess the ability to breed with other species?

It would depend on how close that species was to him; how close the DNA matched. More likely with a Saturnian, less likely with a human, I should think. Again, just my opinion.

If you had another shot at doing an MM book Mr. Ostrander how would you go about building his support cast and villains? Would you bring back the White Martians? Would you create some villains? Or would you retcon some obscure villains into worthy MM villains?

Probably look more at building a Rogue's gallery and single support cast. The white Martians have been used a lot and I'd probably keep away from them for a long time. Easier to build new villains, IMO, than retcon old villains into something usable but it might work. I'd have to spend more time seriously thinking about it and that only makes sense if I was actually working on the character.

Do you keep up with J'Onn's appearances in JLA since MM's book ended? What were thoughts on Martian arc like Terror Incognita?

I've seen some of them. Like I said, different writers, different takes. I got the chance to do what I wanted with the character and other writers should have the same right without kibitzing from me.

What role do you believe J'Onn plays in the JLA? and what is MM's best asset?

I think his telepathy is his strongest and most useful power, especially in a team book.

Some people have posed that most J'Onn abilities appeared out nowhere sorta like out of continuity for example Martian super-speed and a host other powers what is your response to this? What about mind control is this a good power for a hero to have?

Superman developed powers that he didn't have when he first appeared in comics and those powers have fluctuated over the years. It usually happens when a writer needs the character to have a certain power in order to make a given story work. Lots of time, there was NOP continuity when these characters were first developed. Is mind control a good power for a hero to have? I don't know; is x-ray vision a good power for a character to have? Is the ability to bend steel with their bare hands? Depends on the character.

What do you think of MM relationship with the following characters..Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, GL(Hal) & Plastic Man?

We showed the basis of some of those relationships when we did the book. My guess is that he might have the closest relationship with superman since both were born on another planet and derive their powers from that; both are aliens. Leads to a certain amount of bonding. What's his relationship with Wonder Woman? Harder to define -- the character tends to change a lot. Plastic Man? Well, they're both shapechangers but J'Onn is outwardly a LOT more serious about it. Hal Jordan? Again, it depends on who Hal is this month.

MM's costume what up with that? Another what up with that.. the Zo'oks? If you could update his costume what would do with it?

I think the costume is a nod to Edgar Rice Burrough's MARS novels. Zook was a "pet" that J'Onn had in the earlier continuity. I decided to bring it in and update it -- make it a symbiote. Otherwise, the "clothes" J'Onn wears when he morphs is really just his skin which creeped me out a bit. I wouldn't update the costume.

Why did DC abandoned MM before and is reviving him now?

Best to ask DC that.

Who would you cast as Martian Manhunter in a JLA movie?

I would NOT cast David Ogden Stiers. The Rock might be cool.

Did you ever hide any Easter Eggs in run on Martian Manhunter that you care to tell us about?

Nothing comes to mind.

Had to ask Superman vs. Martian Manhunter who wins?

The Hulk.

As an extra, here's a brief excerpt from a later interview...

An interview with
John Ostrander

Conducted by Highfather Izaya
July 30, 2009

You had an acclaimed run on "Martian Manhunter." What are some the hardest parts about making Martian Manhunter not appear just as "Green Superman"? And what would you consider your most proud accomplishment in that series?

John Ostrander: Figuring out what made him different besides the color green. Many of the powers were duplicated, so we looked at his CULTURE – what would that have been like? That would have helped shape him into who he was. [My most proud accomplishment was] working out that society and background. I also liked how we worked Jemm, son of Saturn, into the mix.

Any thoughts on the death of Martian Manhunter?

John Ostrander: Nobody stays dead forever in comics. Also, he’s DC’s character, not mine, so they can do as they like with him.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2002 Comic Books ETC! Interview With John Ostrander

Edited for relevance. For the complete interview, click here.

Speaking of teams and strong lead roles, characters like the Martian Manhunter seem to do well in teams, but not by themselves. Or, popular characters come together to form a team, like Heroes for Hire or Marvel Knights, and just don’t have the same following as an Avengers or a JLA. Why do you think some books fail?

I think there is any number of combination of things. And different people will give you different reasons. I think it depends upon the individual book. You have to realize, nowadays, unless it is one of the core or franchise characters, it’s going to have a shelf life of about 3-4 years. That is simply the reality of the marketplace. Martian Mahunter, for instance, lasted over 3 years. And in this market, that’s not a bad run.

In Hawkworld #23 you have J’onn J’onz (Martian Manhunter) reveal that his weakness to fire is a psychological rather than physical one, and seemed to be over coming it. Is that still the case?

That was first suggested in a Martian Manhunter mini-series years back. That sort of became part of the law of the character. When I went to go the book, one of the instructions given to me was that they wanted it be not just psychological, but a physical one as well. So, how do we blend the two? We explained it be sort of like a telepathic virus.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

JLA Classified: Cold Steel #1 (2005)

One alien spaceship was pursued by another on the surface of Earth's moon. Genshi Mian, a white-skinned alien in armor, figured he and his partner were doomed. Tsaru Kar, the pilot, wished he would "Show some dignity." They were pursued by the Voruk, amphibians who resembled various terrestrial sea life like manta rays and large piranha. "Go on, you mud-sucking minnow. Twist all you want..." Laser fire clipped the JLA Watchtower, as Superman and the Martian Manhunter worked outside.
"Did you see that?"

The pursued ship crashed on the lunar surface. "I'm making sure that scrawny mouth-breather stays down." Superman had something to say about that, as he casually ripped through the pursuer with heat vision. "Hull breach-- we're losing water!" J'Onn J'Onzz had taken their lasers, as well. "Superman. That ship was bio-engineered. This bit's still twitching." As the pursuers fled, the heroes delivered the two aliens in flight to a containment room within the Watchtower. Both wore armor which fed them an oxygen/nitrogen mixture, so J'Onzz felt they needed to come off, since the aliens could breathe their atmosphere. However, the aliens' thin bodies could not handle the gravitational pull of the moon, so J'Onzz reversed and resealed their encasement. J'Onzz detected telepathy, as the aliens scanned the heroes' minds to learn their language. Tsaru fretted for her companion, but upon learning that he was alright, introduced herself. "My companion and I represent the Ghoji-in-exile."

Tsaru did not believe in asking for help, but Councilman Genshi Mian had insisted, initially hoping to contact the defunct Green Lantern Corps. Instead, they explained how their peaceful but resolute Ghoji had refused to be enslaved by the Voruk, "the water-breathing filth that wrecked my cruiser." The Ghoji saw themselves as a peaceful, civilized people who neither made war nor were willing to submit to oppression. Despite torture and widespread destruction, "the Voruk got no labor out of us." After three years, the Voruk gave up, and instead deployed an "Infinity Coil" that basically put everyone to sleep for the last twenty years.

Aquaman had taken offense to the Ghoji's fish baiting, and didn't believe the JLA should get dragged into such a conflict. J'Onn J'Onzz protested, "War? They are victims of a crime, Aquaman! An entire planet has been... what, abducted? Imprisoned? You suggest we leave injustice of that magnitude unanswered? We're called the Justice League for a reason!" Batman felt that the alien was less than forthcoming. "If you doubt my ability to detect deception in her, there's always Wonder Woman." The Green Lantern of Ghoji had been caught in the Infinity Coil, so Kyle Rayner was set on investigating, alone if necessary.

Speaking of the Infinity Coil, scientists warned Mhak-Lord Gordoruk that it was threatening a dimensional implosion, with no means of containing a collapse of reality if it device continued operation. Mhak-Lord Gordoruk literally bit the scientist's head off, demanding a fix.

Superman contacted Mr. Terrific to have the JSA keep an eye on Earth while the JLA was off to the Lagoon Nebula for a week or less. "I hear it's beautiful this time of year. Sure, we'll keep an eye on things. The Martian Manhunter was first aboard the Ghoji's repaired ship, and accepted Councilman Genshi Mian's gratitude. A "gating" later, and the Ghoji were near their world of Penumbra, showing its still state from space. There was no expectation it would need guarding, but "Liong Ma'tek! A Voruk gunship! We're done for!"

Not necessarily, as the Manhunter from Mars understated. "I'll go on ahead, shall I?" Passing immaterially through the ship's hull, the Alien Atlas destroyed incoming missiles by hand. Superman and Green Lantern followed suit in deflecting "Implosion Vacuoles." However, the Ghoji ship was still injured by a shockwave, and spiraled toward Penumbra. Superman tried to catch it, but he and its occupants were knocked out by the Infinity Coil. Wrapped in emerald energy, Wonder Woman fended off lasers while Green Lantern rescued the League. The Martian Marvel was preoccupied with tearing the aggressors' ship apart. "Animated corpses for spacecraft... What sick mind dreamed that one up?" Recognizing that he was "killing my ship," the Ghadz-Commander ordered retreat. Drolly, J'Onn J'Onzz ordered, "...and don't come back."

The group arrived at a hidden refuge, where they were greeted by the sight of torture survivors who had been dropped into water to have their lower extremities gnawed off by the Voruk. Tsaru Kar insisted "Most victims died instantly, as was proper. These cowards chose to live with their injuries." Batman was silently revolted, as he watched the survivors walk on their hands with braces over their arms and chests.

The Flash (Wally West) and Kyle Rayner joked amongst themselves, and "met" the Ghoji Green Lantern through her power battery. Genshi confided, "Shiera Vaas. Wise and beautiful and brave. The greatest Ghoji in living memory. She would have become our queen if she hadn't left to join the Green Lantern Corps... Our society has always been inward-looking, more concerned with refining old ways than finding better ones... She challenged customs that she thought were unfair or harmful." Her progress was rolled back by the old guard in her absence, however.

Superman and Martian Manhunter discussed the effect of the Infinity Coil and how to deal with it. Aquaman confided his distrust of Tsaru Kar to Wonder Woman. "It's nothing I can put my finger on, Diana. Tsaru's attitude, maybe. Praising death as glorious-- then sneering at survivors as if they were morally defective. There's something sick about that." Diana had noted Batman's reaction, while the Dark Knight had snuck off to visit their topic of discussion: First the amputee Maiko, then Tsaru, who had followed him to the camp.

Aboard the Banished-Squadron Gunship Slasher, the Ghadz-Commander spouted paranoia as his ship was repaired, and believing plague had broken his mind, lieutenants devoured him alive.

Councilman Genshi Mian mentioned the shield technology that protected their haven from the Infinity Coil, which allowed the JLA to develop a means of using same to permanently address the problem. Giant mostly humanoid mechanized vehicles were outfitted with shield protection, and each was customized to reflect the strengths of their individual JLA pilots. This was mostly attributed to Batman, which is why the role of super-scientist often assigned to the Atom, Steel, or even J'Onn J'Onzz is so vital to the suspension of disbelief when crap like that comes up. The Flash laid down a super-heroic paint job, and the game was on. Batman would fly with Maiko as his co-pilot, Green Lantern Genshi, while Wonder Woman took on Tsaru Kar, although not without objection. "My people are philosophers... artists... not axe-wielding savages!"

Counsellor Tarngiri had tried to warn Mhak-Lord Gordoruk that the Ghoji might have hired mercenaries, but he couldn't believe the "skinnies" would fight back or mingle with other species. Tarngiri had a number of issues with his people's leadership, and as they prepared to descend on Penumbra en masse, he wondered if this was his last chance to extend reason...

"Chapter One: The Hidden World" was by writer/painter Chris Moeller

Imaginary Wednesday
Captain Atom: Armageddon #5 (April, 2006)