Saturday, October 27, 2012

Suiting the Sleuth From Outer Space #1


I'd normally start another poll on a Saturday, but as you may notice from the sidebar, Google has had one of its occasional bowel movements in the bedding, and now none of the blog's poll results (past or present) are accessible. I sincerely hope that they aren't lost forever. It would be foolish to start any new polls until circumstances improve. Instead, I thought I'd fulfill a promise made a long time ago to explore some of the great many alternative Martian Manhunter costume designs I've come up with over the years.

While I've appreciated the character since the mid-80s, J'onn J'onzz's costume has always left something to be desired. Since human detective John Jones was meant to star in the original Manhunter from Mars strip, the Martian uniform was totally generic and highly inconsistent in the early days. I've long wanted to see him in something with more pizzazz, but have you ever tried to accessorize for green skin? Tricky business. Worse yet, the most complimentary color is purple, already firmly reserved by Marvel's Incredible Hulk, Super-Skrull, and Drax the Destroyer. This process would require a process of trial and error. In the late '90s, I took the Martian Manhunter figure sketch by Kevin Maguire I'd won on eBay out of my comic shop, walked across the street to a dingy convenience store, and ran off a bunch of nickle xeroxes. I would then color and otherwise alter the copies in a variety of configurations.

Previously and generally, I would do little doodles on notebook paper of my ideas for new costumes on various heroes. Often, they were little more than stick figures composed of different colored markers. I'd usually only do a handful before I had something that I was happy with, although Aquaman and Nightwing proved memorable, laborious exceptions. By the time I got to the Alien Atlas, I'd learned from these efforts, though I did knock out some hand drawn attempts beforehand. One of my launching pads for ideas was the notion that Bloodwynd could make a heel turn based on his Blood Gem actually being a large chunk of Eclipso's black diamond, the Heart of Darkness. The Martian Manhunter would get dragged down by the machinations of the self-described "God of Vengeance," and end up wearing a variation on Bloodwynd's costume. You can read/see more of that here and here.

Now that I've finally run the Maguire sketch, I can blow up this costume design grafted on to it. The basics are still Bloodwynd, but I reached back further to the Legion of Super-Heroes villain Pulsar Stargrave for further inspiration. Eschewing the excessive ornamentation of those characters, the main influence of Stargrave was to show more skin on J'Onn's arms, which I think is really set off by the muted costume. I kept the blue cavalier boots and cape, with a popped collar that suited the points of the Bloodwynd mask. While not as busy and conflicted as the Manhunter's usual color scheme, all that white seemed a bit loud for a Sleuth from Outer Space. While I liked how the "pie" symbol worked as a pendant, there wasn't enough going on in the trunk, and that baby blue wasn't doing any favors in the coolness department. This was probably my first Xerox costume, and a decent starting point, but by no means where I wanted to stay.

2 comments:

mathematicscore said...

This pleases me.

will_in_chicago said...

This is an interesting costume, and I have seen some that were fairly interesting. The current costume is better than the traditional costume, but I also liked the Brightest Day costume which was white and silver.