Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Zook Year!



Welcome to the year 2012 A.D. It marks 57 years of Martian Manhunter stories, ten years since I ended my old Rock of the JLA fan site, and in September, five years of running this blog. I've tried to do right by J'onn J'onzz over the years, and staying true to the title The Idol-Head of Diabolu, I believe that this is the most comprehensive (though hardly complete) reference source for Alien Atlas adversaries anywhere on the planet Earth. However, one area in which I feel I have been much too lax relates to the comrades of the Martian Manhunter-- his friends, allies, and assorted members of his supporting cast. Given that we're well into a global recession, and we'll be facing unholy negativism leading into the U.S. presidential elections, this seems like a perfect year to try to focus on more positive features on the blog.

I can't think of a single aspect of Martian Manhunter mythos more grinch-proof than Zook, the adorable baby-talking/pidgin-english spouting other-dimensional pet featured in a run of adventures from 1963-1968. Sure there are Zookphobics Anonymous meetings for the haters, but you know, you have to learn to love yourself before you can love quasi-yellowface-minstrel/ space-monkey/teddy bear/ toddlers with super-powers. Peace must be made from within, and it begins with not pronouncing the name as "Zuck."

Zook was presumably created in 1962, debuting in the January 1963 cover-dated Detective Comics #311, which was actually released on November 29, 1962. That would make this year the fiftieth anniversary of the character in print, which like last year's Despero ½centennial will likely be treated as commemorable only by myself.

Let me tell you, Zook would have owned the Teen Titans and led the Legion of Super-Pets if anybody had ever bothered to use him outside of the Manhunter from Mars strip, and the little guy was made for animation. Zook is essentially the embodiment of everything about the Martian Manhunter abandoned Post-Crisis-- the whimsy, the nonsensical plot developments, sequelized planets, teleportational radio waves, a scientist bandit with a head the size of a watermelon, an evil criminal mastermind wearing a Graphitti Designs t-shirt under a blazer -- the works. When I see things like CSBG's "The Greatest Martian Manhunter Stories Ever Told" not featuring a single comic published before 1990, it reminds me that our community won't let J'onn J'onzz have his Silver Age, nor the Bronze, and I just can't allow that without a fight. Martian Manhunter solo stories did not begin and end with Ostrander/Mandrake, and there are just as many delightfully embarrassing skeletons in J'onn's closet as any other old time super-hero.

In 2012, expect to see a lot more of Captain Harding, Idol-Head monsters, Diane Meade, creator biographies, Gypsy, cartoons, the JLI, toys, Cameron Chase, and just plain more fun stuff. We could all use that, right? Before the Mayan-predicted destruction of the world, I mean...

8 comments:

Rafa Rivas said...

I think we all need to read silver age comics with the same weed glasses great authors like at least Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid and Paul Dini do. That era was full of mind blowing concepts portrayed as if they were barely special. I got the honor of reading the late Dwayne McDuffie telling me that I have to train myself to read those; I guess maybe kids back then were able to see that greatness without making an effort.
Zook would definitively ruin MM if he returned to be on every new story, but as and arc or a recurring character there is a lot of surreal potential.

mathematicscore said...

I'm always down for fun stuff.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

I'm really not very familiar with MM's old school supporting cast, so I'm looking forward to your posts in 2012!

The Irredeemable Shag
http://firestormfan.com

Anj said...

As always, I learn so much from this blog. While I can talk at length about Streaky the Super-cat (my own oddity) I know almost nothing about Zook.

So I also look forward to these supporting cast posts!

Sarah The Anime Librarian said...

Love to see more supporting cast, especially Gypsy. I had a good frend get married last year (and showing our geek here) her whole wedding was DC themed, with her dressing as Black Canary and her groom as green arrow. Her wedding party was all JLA characters. No Martian Manhunter alas, but guests were given the option to dress, and I went as Gypsy (old Detroit JLA costume) LOL. I know geeky as heck, but it was a lot of fun.

Diabolu Frank said...

It sounds better than any of the stuffy weddings I've been to. Fly your geek flag proudly!

LissBirds said...

I feel so bad for saying this, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't warm up to Zook. Maybe I'm still bitter that J'onn's canine pal only lasted one issue. Or maybe I just liked seeing J'onn work solo. I've tried really hard to like the little...guy...space monkey?...but it never clicked.

Maybe you can warm my cold, cold heart, Frank.

Diabolu Frank said...

I tease, but I can totally understand not liking Zook. It's just that I first started delving into the Martian Manhunter's Silver Age in the Diabolu Idol-Head period, and I think those stories were terrible. My only enjoyment came from the goofiness of Zook, so I was immediately endeared. Had he hung on into the Marco Xavier stories, he would have ruined them, so for me he was around just long enough to be a saving grace rather than an albatross. For other readers, I expect he was just the punctuation point on a misguided creative direction.