Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 (September, 1984)

"Remember, my prince, that in the tiniest of seedlings rests the promise of renewed life-- and hope! Nothing is more precious than this! It is the reason why even the most vile men remain not untouched at the vision of a child!"
--from the teachings of Rahani

In a Harlem slum back alley, Luther Mannkin pretended to be a space ranger battling an octo-beast with his plastic laser pistol. The boy dropped his "weapon" and turned tail at the sight of a slender 6'6" half-naked red-skinned alien with a glowing yellow gem on his beetle-brow. "GRAMPAAAAA!" Inhumanly long fingers encircled the crying child in flight, then drew him in to face the alien. "Awe! It fills Luther's mind, silencing him. And then, from the weird pulsating jewel embedded in this creature's forehead... comes something bright and hot-- something that cuts through Luther's very soul."

Meanwhile, Luther's older brother Lincoln was assaulted on his way home from work by a knife-wielding mobster named Reginald. "...My boss, Mr. Claudius Tull, he financed your fancy dude education. He provided you with Grade A smack to sell for a profit! And you ain't paid the man back in over three weeks!" Reginald expected to collect by the following night, "...or the next time you fall, you won't never get up no more!"

Lincoln Mannkin wandered the streets, contemplating his troubles, until returning home at half past midnight. He was greeted by his worried grandfather, who hoped it was the missing Luther who was returning. Gramps wanted Lincoln to help find his little brother, but Lincoln swatted the blind old man's hand away. "You ain't never paid no attention to me before. It's always been Luther this an' Luther that... an' don't notice me never!" Gramps did care, but Lincoln was more interested in phoning his buddy Vin. "You ain't gonna call that scum, are ya? You ain't gonna bring that Vin back into this house!" Lincoln sure was, more concerned about saving his skin than his kin.

Lincoln left the apartment to conspire, leaving Gramps to his thoughts. "I've failed, ain't I, Lincoln? Even though I tried and tried. 'Course, bein' blind all my life, you never did look on me as a whole man-- someone you could turn to-- confide in. How could you? I can't provide for you. Lord help me, I can't even see the agitation in your face when you come home worried and scared. So here I sit in the dark-- knowin' only the voices of my two grandsons. One voice is full of hate, the other's been gone too long. Where are you, Luther? Where's my dear sweet youngest in this hellpit of a neighborhood?"

Back in the alley, the heat of the alien's beam subsided, leaving Luther and the being linked through the sharing of "their deepest, innermost emotions." Luther realized how frightened and alone the alien was on this planet far from his own. Luther pressed the alien to come back to his apartment with him, but the alien resisted. It made a gesture to allow itself a moment alone in the darkest recesses of the alley, then emerged wearing a cape...

"New Jersey. Only hours ago, U.S. Government seismographs in three states were awakened by an unusual disturbance here-- the impact of a plummeting craft from the stars!" NASA scientists Phil Wheatly and Deidre Johnson were sent inside to investigate with C.I.A. operative Charles Brigham Dade. Charles was on edge the whole time, fearing something bad might happen to his fiancée there. Deidre looked over a partially decipherable piece of writing she'd found that indicated a flight pattern from Saturn, while Dade studied a holographic portrait of a proud Saturnian family of three. Outside, the craft's entrance was guarded by a pair of troopers, until Willie and Sid were killed by a couple of towering monochromatic Saturnians. Deidre ran to the entrance to check out the scene, and was murdered by an energy blast. Wheatly and Dade were knocked unconscious, a metallic Saturnian noting, "Scan of ship interior reveals only human life-forms. Mission incomplete."

Gramps didn't quite believe Luther's excuse about getting lost, and was curious about the name of the mute foreigner who was supposed to have led the boy home. After taking in a bit of "Me Tarzan, you Jane" between Gramps and Luther, the alien gestured toward himself and said, "JEMM!" Gramps smiled, "Jim! Well, that's not so hard! Glad to have ya, Jim. Luther'll spread you a blanket on the floor. And tomorrow, we'll give you a proper introduction to Luther's brother!"

Dade awoke to find the corpse of "DEEEEEEIIDRE!" With both blood and tears flowing, Dade swore, "You never got to see your aliens, did you, hon? Don't worry. I'll find them. I'll find every last one of them.

The next evening, Luther hid Jemm before his brother returned home, intending on surprising him. Gramps could smell Vin with Lincoln, "just as clear as I can smell a roach." Lincoln lifted his hand to the old man again, and told him to keep his mouth shut until he and Vin could "greet" anyone Claudius Tull planned to send after him. In the bedroom, Luther figured he and "Jim" should lay low until Lincoln cooled off.

Hours later, Reginald showed, and Vin pushed a gun into his face. Regg didn't exactly wither at the sight, instead calling his own back-up, the towering honky called Bouncer. In seconds, the Mannkins' front door was off its hinges, Vin thrown against a wall, and Lincoln about to make a lethal plunge. Luther cried, "Don't you hurt my brother!" Jemm flew into Bouncer. "Regg! The red man! He hurt me, Regg! Bouncer don't like to be... hurt!" Bouncer threw bureau at red man. Lincoln "split while the splittin's good." Bouncer planned "never to be hurt... no more!" Mice and men, as a trapped Jemm was still able to lay Bouncer out with a beam from his gem. Reginald had seen enough, and exited with Luther in tow.

Gramps could hear "Jim's" labored breathing from the exertion of his energy blast; Reginald's heavy footsteps running upstairs; a threat from Bouncer; and Luther's screams. So could Jemm, who tossed the bureau and Bouncer through a wall to the street below, calling "LOOOOO-THEEER!" Jem flew through the hole he'd made up to the roof, where Regg held Luther at knifepoint. Either through a plunge of the blade or off the roof, Reginald would kill Luther if Jemm didn't back off. Gramps caught Regg from behind with his cane. "Ain't no way you're gonna hurt that child!" However, all three parties went over the ledge, Jemm only having the ability to rescue the boy.

"All is suddenly quiet on the street where Luther Mannkin lives. But within Jemm's head pounds the rhythm of worried blood pushing rapidly at his temples. Slowly, a red hand caresses tender brown skin. A feeling of deep helplessness wells within a mighty chest." Luther came out of his haze, only to pound at Jemm's chest, horrified the alien had let Gramps die. "There is sadness then. And hurt. And fear within an alien heart that the one friend he has on this strange world is a friend no more. But at the sight of Jemm, something stirs within little Luther Mannkin. He realizes that true heroes are never perfect. That sometimes, choices must be made. And when it came to choosing between saving Gramps and saving his only friend, Jemm chose his friend. Can Luther really blame him for that?"

Nearby, the Saturnian robots watched the sad duo begin to brave a world neither truly knew. "Unit RT-36Z58 reports sighting of Saturnian life-forms. Request preattack back-up units."

"The Arrival." Beginning a new chapter in the epic story of the DC universe, brought to you by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson.

Friday, June 29, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Al Milgrom

Click To Expand & Enlarge

Don't try to tell me that Milgrom didn't draw Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Hawkman then go "oh crap, how am I going to fit any other heads?" Excuse me, but I've got a touch of bateye. Hmm, got a bit of Wonder Woman in my teeth. How about Firestorm floating like a Sword of Damocles over J'Onn's head? That's just cruel.
In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at:
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DCU Heroes Secret Files & Origins #1- Martian Manhunter Profile Page (February, 1999)

Click To Enlarge

I was over at Anj's Supergirl blog the other day when he mentioned having bought one of the Secret Files & Origins specials DC put out from 1997-2010, and planned to post a page. I asked him to wait a week or so, in order to round up a quick crossover to mourn the series. You see, we old school comic nerds really loved The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe when it came out in 1982, as it was basically a bible of Marvel history with all the biographical and statistical data one could want to know about their favorite heroes and villains. Michael L. Fleisher had compiled more literal text-driven encyclopedias for Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the 1970s, but comics are a visual medium. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, DC came up with their own monthly universal handbook, Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, which ran from 1984-1993. Marvel still puts out sporadic Handbook update mini-series, and even though there hasn't been a Who's Who's edition in nearly twenty years, there's still enough love remaining to warrant a new podcast series.

Secret Files & Origins, on the other hand, does not seem to inspire a lot of emotion in fandom. For double the cost of a standard comic, readers usually got a redundant full length lead comic story that re-canvased origins as familiar as Superman's and Batman's, or tried to insert some asinine bit of retroactive continuity in service to the "next big event" that would soon whimper out of the public consciousness. It was also a dumping ground for short filler material related to some fatiguing bit of minutia, often executed by "not ready for prime time" rookie talent or over-the-hill hacks. The main draw was of course the Who's Who style profile pages, which typically failed to satisfy fans of the original due to the rigid format, sparse text, and by simply being inserted as back matter in a quasi-annual.

There were of course exceptions. The very first one starred the JLA, and came out in the year that book exploded onto the comics scene as a surprise hit. The lead story, "Star-Seed", was a thrilling introduction to the team by the series' regular creators, firing on all cylinders. "A Day In The Life: Martian Manhunter" is one of the character's best short stories, and made a huge impression on new fans first introduced to him through JLA. Writer Mark Millar offered a faux magazine interview with J'Onn J'Onzz to go with the comics. Don Hillsman did swell illustrations of the Alien Atlas throughout the book that hit the internet hard, and still linger fifteen years later. The issue sold over 75,000 copies, and if the line had kept up that kind of quality and momentum, perhaps it would be better thought of today.

Thanks to JLA and its many ancillary books like the SF&O, Martian Manhunter received his own solo series in 1998. The profile above was by its main artist, Tom Mandrake, with text by Matt Brady. DCU Heroes Secret Files & Origins #1 sold a third as well as the first JLA one, and was a spotlight for lesser lights like Blue Beetle, Hitman, and Resurrection Man. I suppose it's a tribute to Lobo and the Alien Atlas that they were expected to anchor the book, though neither of their series lasted all that long after this came out. Still, while likely never to be all that fondly remembered, I believe Martian Manhunter fans owe a debt to Secret Files & Origins, so I hope you folks will take a moment to check out today's selection of profile pages and commentary from participating blogs...

Secret Files of the DC Blogosphere

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Professor Arnold Hugo Comicpalooza Commission by Johnny J. Segura III

Click To Enlarge

While I focused a lot of attention on the online galleries of announced special "guest" artists scheduled to attend the con, I also tried to keep an eye on the multitudes slowly lining up in "Artist Alley." Unfortunately, the alley attendance really got away from me towards the end, and I wasted a lot of time studying the galleries of "guests" that ended up canceling. I realize day planners and paper calenders seem outdated, but how professional is it to double book cons? Anyway, Johnny Segura was confirmed early, kept his appointment, and I had the chance to give his work a thorough looking over. The more I saw, the more I liked, and knew I'd end up having to whittle down a whole list of prospective subjects.

Speaking of those "guests," I wanted to get the "high dollar" guys out of the way, either by paying them or by deciding from day one to sidestep them. That way, I would have a better idea of what kind of money I had to spread around the alley. Having dealt with that (and having dealt out entirely too much bread in a span of time so short I still get nauseous thinking about it,) I finally started to settle in and start talking to people. Segura was one of the first I approached, because I had such a clear idea of who I wanted him to draw. I had initially considered the Human Flame, since Segura had shown an eagerness to draw thick dudes with thicker mustaches on fire in his Kickstarter-funded graphic novel Pipe Dreams: A Tale of 2 Plumbers. However, I found another artist even more tuned in to Mike Miller's wavelength. See, to my mind, Segura's at his best when he's drawing lanky, high energy characters. He's also great at displaying broad comedy, exaggerated features, and has a slightly sinister edge to his otherwise bright, buoyant style. Then there's the obvious influence of Humberto Ramos, who had drawn me a sweet Professor Arnold Hugo bust two years earlier that I really wished was a full figure. I thought Segura could bring the same manic glee to the Wizard of a Thousand Menaces, and told him so.

I gave Segura a few pieces of reference, including a scan of the Ramos, and a brief description of the character. Professor Hugo is your basic mad scientist bank robber who used a device to expand his brilliant mind, as well as the head it came packaged in. He'd fought Martian Manhunter, Batman, and Robin in his day. He wore nice suits, and usually used a gadget of some kind in his heists, often a high-tech firearm of some sort. I wanted so much for Segura to capture the spirit of the character, I even loaned him my copy of House of Mystery #153, featuring my first and still favorite Hugo story.

Segura asked me a few questions about the character. I made it clear that his dome really is supposed to be that big, with a long lean body propping it up, since he's sort of like a criminal Peter Pumpkinhead. I figured Hugo should have some kind of doohickey to play with, and I think we decided on a rifle. Segura had free reign with the body posture and suit, though I secretly hoped he would not follow Ramos' lead on the plaid, because I think Hugo's a bit too stylish for that. Segura asked about what I wanted the piece drawn on, and I happened to have a bundle of industry standard 11 x 17" boards that he was willing to work with. I swung back by the table a few hours later, and beheld a piece far and away exceeding my best hopes. Segura had perfectly captured the freak nerd gangster vibe of Professor Hugo, who looked extra sharp in his suit, and improvised an excellent tommy-ray-gun that was ideal. A lot of the color dropped out in my scan, so you can't appreciate how vibrant this piece is, and I especially regret that facial pallor seen here but not in the physical art. My hosting site also couldn't handle how tall my scan was, downshifting it from 800px x 1306 to 537px × 878. It's just too big and bad to handle.

Segura sells commissions to order on eBay, from a $40.00 8.5 x 11" to a $120.00 11 x 17", always in full color with extras. Segura was a super cool guy that I had an easy rapport with, and it didn't hurt that his wife took such a liking to Professor Hugo, I let her hold on to the House of Mystery issue for further reading. After all, I wasn't done getting commissions from Segura that weekend, as you'll see in future posts...

Upcoming commissions:
A glimpse of this Professor Hugo commission is on the bottom row, number six from the left. The Human Squirrel by Kiriska was teased on the second row, fourth from left. I already unveiled Thom Zahler's Roh Kar from the top row, number five from the left. You might also like Dave Johnson's New 52 Martian Manhunter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2010 Young Justice art by TJ Frias

Click To Enlarge & Expand

Accidentally scheduled two posts for Monday, and one already had a comment, so M'gann's got to move up one...
"Here's a Young Justice piece I started about a month ago. Then forgot. Just locked down the finishing touches. Anyway, it's the first time I've ever drawn these guys. Well, in this Young Justice animated incarnation anyway. It's such a great show.

Many of you are fans, but for those that aren't: Kid Flash, Robin, Miss Martian, Aqualad, Superboy, and Artemis.

.5 B mech pencil on sketchbook."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Motivating the Manhunter from Mars

I had a nice "I'm feeling down, let's go buy some stuff" Friday, which included purchases of the new Fiona Apple album (not feeling it yet,) the much less new two disc Blu-Ray of Grindhouse, and a book on writing from archetypes that I'm sure I'll get a lot of mileage from around here. I'm not a big fan of Robert McKee style writing from formula, any more than I like the pointless meandering inconsistency of modern comics, but I love putting concepts into a box to see whether they fit well or wiggle out in compelling ways. It's good to know what the rules are, so you can figure out how, where, and why to break them.

Linda Seger's Making A Good Script Great apparently outlines seven options for essential character motivations. I initially groaned over the immediate realization that they were clearly adapted from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, until I noticed that two levels were added that do reflect the needs of characterization. What interested me enough to point them out here is the realization that Martian Manhunter can be found lacking in these basic motivations.

In the Silver Age, J'onn J'onzz was teleported from Mars to the lab of Professor Mark Erdel. The Martian immediately demonstrated that his physiological needs were reasonably accommodated by Earth atmosphere. In the 1988 revision of his origin, inventor Saul Erdel brought J'Onzz to Earth cradling the body of his deceased daughter, and was nursed back to health to keep J'Onn from expiring from the same plague. However, that was established in the span of a few pages, so the Martian Manhunter's larger story is not motivated by survival as a pressing concern.

In 1955, J'onzz swiftly shapeshifted into human form. Despite the sudden death of the man responsible for his displacement, John Jones could walk amongst humanity, and had incredible powers that allowed him to do things like extract gold from the ocean. From 1988, J'Onzz's acclimation was shown to be a bit slower and more reliant on the power of telepathy to allow Jones to earn a living in his chosen field. Therefore, safety and security just aren't a major issue for an Alien Atlas.

John Jones' first job was as a policeman, exactly what he wished to be under the circumstances of having to build a life on Earth. He was readily embraced as a rising star in the department, so any alienation J'Onzz might have felt was at least partially related to his desire to keep humans at arms length over ill-defined concerns. Only since the late '90s have writers delved into issues Jones had with relating to humans, and vice versa. This worked alright in a "Year One" setting, but his modern appearances had already established him as one of the most universally beloved members of the Justice League. How would a need for love and belonging stand up to that kind of acceptance?

In most stories, the Martian Manhunter has been portrayed as self-sacrificing and bereft of ego, which helps him take his licks as a jobber trampled under more powerful villains in service to glorifying more popular heroes. There's never been any indication that J'Onzz is insecure in this role, and has in fact expressed disdain for heroes who in any way seek glory, or see the job as anything more than a necessity for the greater good. He's too together for esteem & self-respect to be a goal rather than fully attained.

Writers like Mark Waid and Gerard Jones spent a lot of their time handling J'Onn J'Onzz within the scope of his early years on Earth, confounded by humanity and his fellow heroes. However, the job of a Sleuth from Outer Space is to figure things out in a big way. After decades stuck on this planet, J'Onzz is typically portrayed as a sardonic optimist; someone who recognizes our foibles, but has faith in our ultimate good. He is neither naive nor confused, his opinion validated within his continuity. While J'Onzz has tended toward meditation and spirituality, as well as reflection on the tragedies that have plagued his existence, he still tends to be more of a calm wise man than a seeker into mystery. The need to know and understand isn't the compulsion for the Green Guru the way it is for, say, Batman.

To skip a step, when you have more powers than Superman allowing you to become pretty much anything your mind could conjure, self-actualization is a routine option, not a drive.

That leaves perhaps the best (but far from seamless) motivation for the Manhunter from Mars as aesthetics. "The need for balance, a sense of order in life, a sense of being connected to something greater..." That fits the religious zeal of his membership in the Justice League from Crisis on Infinite Earths through Infinite Crisis, and his aimlessness since 2006, although his embrace of the "Others" in the mini-series from that year also fits. A similar approach was taken in his New 52 alignment with Stormwatch, which is of course undercut by that association's not surviving a year in print.

As I've stated in the past, I feel the Martian Manhunter has been developmentally stunted by his decades on super teams, and needs solo space to grow beyond the status of a well liked also-ran. The eponymous 1988 Ostrander/Mandrake series suffered from the sense of J'Onn J'Onzz as a college graduate who moved back in with his parents. Instead of charging into the greater world and defining himself, J'Onzz just hung out with his JLA buddies and got into fights with his brother. He hooked up with this one chick from Saturn, but she was like, dating this prince, and nobody even met her. Booster and Beetle thought J'Onn made her up, then pranked him out of some Chocos. J'Onn was always talking about stuff that happened years ago, instead of what he was doing with himself today. It was pretty sad, but to quote Wonderfalls, J'Onn as the aesthetic created for himself a "pressureless, expectation-free zone."

In his origin story, J'onn J'onzz decided to secretly police the Earth when he realized that he would be stranded here for the foreseeable future, and that we were so backwards as a civilization that we needed whatever help that he could give. The various other unruly alien invaders demonstrated the need for an extra-terrestrial protector, while the Master Gardener demonstrated the danger of J'Onzz taking his governance into the realm of dictatorship. The Martian Manhunter did not share scientific discoveries or in any other way try to advance humanity. He followed Star Trek's prime directive, never interfering with "the internal development of alien civilizations." Martian Manhunter sought only to maintain an equilibrium within which he and the people surrounding him could continue their separate existences peacefully without widespread chaos and destruction taking hold.

The DCnÜ's Stormwatch has to date held that to be their own mission statement, which was why J'Onn J'Onzz was such an excellent fit for the team. Acting in secret, snubbing their noses at gaudily costumed "amateurs," defending Earth from extra-terrestrial and paranormal threats. However, of late the team's line-up and command structure has destabilized, and their effectiveness has been compromised as a result. Looking at his prior conflict with the Justice League, perhaps this imbalance will be the cause of his upcoming departure from Stormwatch. Perhaps the aesthetic will continue his personal mission alone, or with better disciplined company. So far, the New 52 has not been all that unkind to J'Onn J'Onzz, so maybe with a little clarity of purpose, the Manhunter from Mars can find resonance and increased significance to a broader audience.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Martian Manhunter Convention Head Sketch by Howard Porter

Click To Enlarge

I've got some lengthy posts in the pipeline, but I don't like to try to push them through one after another, especially over a weekend. As I've been doing with Miss Martian, I'm trying to go through and link to every Martian Manhunter related piece on Comic Art Fans. I can't believe I hadn't gotten to this one yet, since Howard Porter is one of my favorite J'Onn J'Onzz artists, and this went online back in 2005.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Doctor Light

Despite a last minute rally, Professor Amos Fortune earned only 33.33% positive votes out of 18, and has been escorted off the island like a card counter out of a casino.

The reason I push the Vile Menagerie so hard is because I want creators to recognize, utilize, and respect the foes of the Martian Manhunter. Doctor Light's occasional inclusion in this rogues gallery runs counter to all these goals, because he's a toxic slut. Debuting in 1962's Justice League of America #12, Light's gimmick was to teleport each Justice League member to a world representing their greatest weakness. At this point, the team was still pretty much the Founding Five, so Dr. Light didn't account for Superman and Batman, who helped rescue the rest of the team. The defeat wasn't humiliating, and a better villain could have come back from it to plague the team again, but not Dr. Light. Instead, he became a guest villain in the Leaguers' various solo titles, starting with perhaps the least impressive option, the Atom. Green Lantern, the Flash, the World's Finest duo-- everyone got a turn.

The first time anyone ever thought of Dr. Light as a Martian Manhunter villain was due to the cover of 1968's JLofA #61, which featured the bifurcated faces of heroes and matching foes. Tattooed Man, Captain Boomerang, Lex Luthor, the Penguin, I.Q. and the Floronic Man were all matched with appropriate Leaguers, while Aquaman was deemed sad enough to get a terrible new and rarely seen since archfiend, Cutlass Charlie. Unfortunately, no one could be bothered to extend the same courtesy to Green Arrow or J'onn J'onzz, so they were stuck with a pair of League leftovers, Dr. Destiny and Doctor Light. The Alien Atlas and Arthur Light had a brief fight where each of them won a round, but no "final battle" action, though good obviously won the day.

Dr. Light continued to alternate run-ins with the League as a whole (often with other villains) and appearances in solo titles. Martian Manhunter checked out for most of the Bronze Age, so they had no further contact in that period. Burning through his credibility before the end of the '70s, Light was downgraded to a Teen Titans foe, and not even one they took terribly seriously after a throwdown or two. By the time Martian Manhunter returned to the League in the mid-80s, Light was all washed up, and only began appearing again in the book super-villains literally went to die, Suicide Squad. While he managed to survive the experience, Light hardly thrived, never gaining the cult cool cache of other Squaders.

By the late '90s, Dr. Light was an occasional Green Lantern foil, which landed him on an Injustice Gang where he functioned in that capacity, while Jemm was pitted against J'Onn J'Onzz. In the nostalgic retcon mini-event The Silver Age, Dr. Light impersonated Martian Manhunter to battle Robby Reed's H-Dial heroes. A few years later, it was revealed that Light had once raped the Elongated Man's wife, and a subsequent mindwipe by Zatanna had rendered him the pale shadow of a threat he'd descended into decades prior. The revelation caused the Martian Manhunter's signature JLA incarnation to split up, and he hasn't been a member of the team since. However, Dr. Light's impact on Martian Manhunter's career was tangential to his becoming DC Comics' official super-sodomite, licking his lips as he made sexual threats to female characters. Ironically, Light's most persistent foe in these years was the womanizing Green Arrow, who'd been stuck with Dr. Destiny decades earlier on that one JLofA cover.

Dr. Rapist wasn't really a tenable position in mainstream comics, especially after he went back to fighting adolescent girls in the Teen Titans. Light was part of a whole group of villains who assisted in the kidnapping and execution style killing of J'Onn J'Onzz. Arthur was one of two lesser lights involved with the murder who were ironically dispatched by the Spectre, and aside from his reanimated corpse causing trouble during Blackest Night, that was that. Dr. Arthur Light has impacted on Martian Manhunter's life a number of times, but he's done so as the veritable embodiment of a particularly painful kind of villain. He is the preexisting "game" villain arbitrarily assigned to a hero by an ill-informed and uncaring team book writer who couldn't be bothered to do any research into a matter as basic to comics as who normally fights the protagonist. Worse, Light's a well known incompetent whose deviancy has been detrimental to the integrity of comics as a whole. Despite a handful of consequential but dispassionate encounters, there's no real relationship between the hero and villain, and Martian Manhunter is only diminished through reference to any association with such a scumbag.

Friday, June 22, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Franco Aureliana

Click To Expand & Enlarge

In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at:
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Launch Trailer

I heard about the launch trailer for the new Justice League Lego video game at Comics Alliance, which noted it's especially for "those who've been eagerly awaiting the Lego debut of the Martian Manhunter (You know who you are)," which I expect means us. I was pleasantly surprised that J'Onn J'Onzz was included, and they even re-skinned what was probably a Brightest Day body with the New 52 costume. He looks good and has a nice sized role in the trailer.

After being happy, I got a little down. For starters, the Alien Atlas seems to be in the Oracle role in the story, simply relaying information from the Monitor Womb. I think you can unlock him as a playable character, though. Next, Cyborg appears, waiting in the wings to take J'Onn's spot in a future installment. Third, with all the characters appearing in the game, odds are slim for an actual Manhunter Lego Minifig. My girlfriend collects the things, so I'd love to add him to the Wonder Woman and Captain America she passed my way. Fourth, it finally hit me that with a Justice League motion picture being rushed into pre-production in the wake of the success of Marvel's The Avenger, what are the odds that they'll also include a large green-skinned team member and beg for calls of plagiarism?

I'm a glass half empty kind of guy, clearly. Enjoy the video. You might also like to check out the Martian Manhunter Brikipedia Page.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2012 Human Squirrel Comicpalooza Commission by Kiriska

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Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week) continues! As I mentioned in a previous post, Kiriska was one of the many artists in the alley that veered toward anthropomorphics, and I have an admitted prejudice against the furry stuff. However, Kiriska's figures are more fully realized and better referenced than most, with her deviantART gallery demonstrating an aptitude for realistic portraiture, chibi, "manga" style, and is just plain diverse in its techniques. I knew I'd be looking to have many of the villains who put the "menagerie" in Martian Manhunter's rogues gallery drawn, so the main trick was to figure out who would draw whom. I thought it might be interesting to try a more "serious" take on the Human Squirrel, and since Kiriska seemed the least likely of the lot to default to "cute and cuddly," I'd try her on the project.

Kiriska worked out of her own "Fake Lemonade Stand," and had a sign up with with her quotes. Online, she's got a deal for a $35 8.5″x11″ Animal Fullbody in Color, but that is too time consuming for a show. Instead, the options were a $5 quick full body pencil sketch, or a $10 full color bust. I had my heart set on a full Human Squirrel, and I couldn't talk the artist into taking more money, so the Abe Lincoln bill would have to do. That being the case, I very concisely described the character, offered reference, and let her figure out what sort of angle to apply to him. Kiriska was backed up from doing a full set of Who Doctor busts, but said she'd text me when the Squirrel was done.

The text arrived not too terribly long into Friday, and I bounced back to collect the sketch. It's 8½ x 11" on tracing paper, fairly rough, and my girlfriend was rather critical of it. I'm somewhat frustrated by it myself, but I really like the layout, humor and personality of the piece. I'm pretty sure that's meant to be a rigid "helmet" mask, and I believe I can see the seams of a suit/gloves, but there's enough wiggle room that the Human Squirrel could be exactly as named. I get a kick out of the money bag with the huge (and well contoured) dollar sign on it. The way the sack hangs reminds me of that photo meme of the actual squirrel standing upright and display extremely prominent "nuts." All of this shows how good of an artist Kiriska is, putting so much thought and clever detail into a quick five buck sketch. That said, it feels like a great layout, whereas I want to see the completed piece, so "MOAR!"

The domino effect was that I got Kiriska to do a different, more fully rendered character within the established parameters of the convention menu, but I also needed to satisfy an ache to get a complete Human Squirrel elsewhere. Those are happy tales for other posts, though. In the meantime, check out the fun observations on "Kiri Yu's" twitter, don't miss her regularly updated tumblr sketch blog, A Question of Intent, and check out her Con Report: Comicpalooza 2012.

Upcoming commissions:

This Human Squirrel was teased on the second row, fourth from left. A preview of the second one is in the bottom right corner. I already unveiled Thom Zahler's Roh Kar from the top row, number five from the left. You might also like Dave Johnson's New 52 Martian Manhunter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stormwatch #8 (June, 2012)

The Engineer was wrestling with a minor mutiny from "Charlie," the Daemonite A.I. that ran the Eye of the Storm, and was in a foul mood. "Since I'm not in the habit of continually repeating myself, J'Onn, let's get to the subject of answers."

"My people had assumed the Gravity Miners were a simple legend-- propaganda created by the Daemonites to justify their position in the galactic hierarchy. I now believe we were mistaken. So the legend goes, thousands of years ago the Daemonite elite caste sent their drones to proliferate throughout the galaxy some ten million light years from ours. Needing to move quickly between worlds, the Daemonites theorized that the exotic sub-atomic particle we call the Pradesh Graviton would aid them in instantaneous matter transmission. Instead, the formation of these gravitons opened a doorway into 5-space, through which came the 'Chrszy-rr.' In the Daemonite native tongue, it means 'Gravity Miners.' The Chrszy-rr came directly to the Daemonite home world and began to siphon away their gravity. Within nine Earth days they had virtually destroyed that planet. Within ninety... they had obliterated almost one-third of the Daemonite Galaxy. Being of extra-dimensional origin, the Chrszy-rr do not function as we do. They have no language, no organized society. No ethics or morality. No motives. They just are. The Chrszy-rr will not bargain with us. They will simply take what they need.

The Engineer wasn't interested in pessimism, and didn't intend to see the universe end on the first day of her watch as team leader. Manhunter thought the Daemonites might have information on how they repelled the Chrszy-rr, so Engineer put the squeeze on Charlie. It didn't want to surrender the information, and Angela didn't have time to force it out. Instead, she located the coordinates of Daemonite home worlds, and threatened to send the Chrszy-rr after them if Charlie didn't offer a solution.

Midnighter and Jenny Quantum were observing the Gravity Miners' invasion point in Pripyat, Ukraine. Jenny saw a last resort possibility of closing it, because if she screwed up the attempt, it could destroy the universe. She also noted that Midnighter "liked" Apollo, and thought that was nice, even though she suspected that she would never have a boy of her own because of her powers. Midnighter did not like where this was going. "The galaxy's about to disentangle and you want to talk about boys. I'm just wondering if you understand the gravity of the current situation."

The Engineer had learned that the Chrszy-rr needed a physical connection to our dimension to maintain their access point, which was why they had kidnapped Apollo. J'Onn J'Onzz believed that if Stormwatch could enter the invaders' dimension to retrieve their teammate, they could then close the doorway to Earth. Using a device from the ship's armory, J'Onn explained that he could travel with Jenny, who would "introduce a randomization matrix" through the sort of quantum math he'd been teaching her. Midnighter volunteered to replace Manhunter, since he had the best knowledge of the Gravity Miners, and would be needed if the mission with Jenny failed. J'Onn objected, but the Engineer overruled.

Jack Hawksmoor asked Pripyat to create a new graviton, which confused the miners. Midnighter used the distraction to locate and rescue Apollo. Jenny left to plant the "bomb" that would seal the exit, and needed Midnighter to pull her back into the force bubble the trio were traveling in, but was refused. Midnighter felt that Jenny was too powerful to be allowed to continue existing in three dimensional space. "The power to determine the fate of a trillion suns in the hands of a twelve-year-old who may pull the trigger the first time a boy is cruel to her... that's too much of a risk for me to allow." Midnighter and Apollo returned to the Eye of the Storm, the gateway vanished, and a story was already being unfurled to explain the loss of Jenny Quantum, despite a valiant effort to save her. The Engineer explained, "Uh... that's all well and good-- but she made it back five minutes ago."

Later, the Engineer had a sit down with J'Onn J'Onzz over warm beverages to ask if Earth was truly in the clear. "For the moment. Or perhaps we never were... Time exists at all points in 5-space." The Chrszy-rr knew Earth was out there, and could simply start again at the dawn of time, which would only be a temporal paradox in linear 3D time. If that were to happen, J'Onzz felt there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

Elsewhere, Jenny confronted Midnighter. The only reason that she didn't turn him into a cockroach was because of Apollo. Jenny didn't agree with Midnighter's logic, and was free to make her own decisions. "For example, I made a decision about you. You're not going to like it." Midnighter wanted to know what that was exactly, but Jenny just grinned and left him hanging...

"Supercritical: Part 2" was by Paul Jenkins, Ignacio Calero, and Daniel Hor with Sean Parsons. While I disagree with the adversarial turn in Jenny's relationship with a Midnighter, who in the past continuity was her adoptive father, it makes sense in a New 52 where they barely know one another. This was a fun "big ideas" tale that suited the team and proved quite satisfying as a two-parter. I enjoyed the art and the characterization, although Engineer could dial down the verbal aggression a tad. I wish Jenkins was staying on, since he provided the first workable dynamic for this group, but he's gone and Martian Manhunter is soon to follow. It figures that this would happen just as I was finally digging the title, but that's another three buck I can put toward non-DC purchases.

New 52's Day

Monday, June 18, 2012

2009 “Martian Manhater” art by Lisa M. Hayes

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Back when I did a post on J'Onn J'Onzz's mother around Mother's Day, I figured I'd go the same route for Father's Day. Well, that was yesterday, I forgot all about it, and don't really feel like going whole hog with a biographical post today. I'm also tired of scrounging up Miss Martian art early on Monday morning because I'm too busy/lazy to do better. Finally, I wanted to go through Comic Art Fans and just line up all their remaining Miss Martian pieces, so I can move on to the tremendous task of attempting the same at deviantART.

Anyway, this Monday is a bit weird. I cast my net broadly, and though I skipped out on all the Dejah Thoris and most of the "random green Martian chick" stuff, I almost let an oddity like Lobo & Martian Girl By Tony Harris slip by for kicks. The alternative I chose is actually worse, because despite surface similarities, that is not D'Kay D'Razz up there.

The Martian Manhater was created by Lisa M. Hayes for her pornographic super-team Ultra Fem Five, from a blog of similar name. To say the least, the related images are graphic, and I decided against direct links there to keep this blog's mention within the bounds of internet work safety. I can't even mention her risque pun of an alter ego. Let's just say that arms aren't the only thing she has four of, and leave it to an unfiltered Google search if you want more... information.

Technically, despite the gender, Martian Manhater falls under the heading of Martian Manhunter Knock-Offs. She has most of the common Martian powers, except those related to intangibility and vision. Her actual sex is undetermined, and her planet of origin is most likely not Mars. She hit Earth sometime in the mid-90s, and, um, that's about all I can talk about on a PG-rated blog, especially in regards to other sorts of "hitting" she's gotten up to...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Conceptual Hall of Shame: The Vengeful Childhood Friend

While I was looking up analysis online of the various played out tropes indulged in during creators' usage of the crappy Batman villain Hush (short version: all of them,) I found an old post at The Absorbascon blog under the heading The Conceptual Hall of Shame. The subtitle was "The Vengeful Childhood Friend," and I assume it was intended to be part of a series. I actually posted a comment back when it was published, but I don't recall if the series was ever continued, and the blog has a horrendous archival system.

Anyway, the thrust of the post was noting that it's a lousy idea to retcon a childhood best friend into the cannon of a well established super-hero who then arbitrarily makes a heel turn into super-villainy. From Conduit to Cobalt Blue, the writer implant usually blows up in the project's face and becomes the subject of endless ridicule.

Curiously, though not entire unpredictably, Ma'alefa'ak bucked this trend. Likely due to the reading public's lack of knowledge about the Martian Manhunter's publishing history, John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake managed to check off every "not-to-do" box discussed by Scipio, and it was actually embraced by modern fans, to the point where he became the first true Manhunter rogue to make it into animation.

  1. Unlikely continued use of diminutive first name from childhood: His villainous name is Malefic, which is just an anglicizing of the Martian Ma'alefa'ak. Most Martians have relatively phonetic versions of Earth names, but the one born evil Martian is christened such by his own mother, and given a bogus translation like "one who turns to darkness." It may not be diminutive, but it is ridiculously on the nose.
  2. Vague and weak motivation against the hero: Malefic's motivation was that he was crazy and wanted to kill everybody on Mars, and he only got away with it by being J'Onn's brother. While every other Martian was going all Scott Evil on the matter, J'Onn defended his always obviously evil brother because he's just that good, gosh darn it.
  3. Knowledge of the hero's secret identity or other personal weaknesses: Evil twin brother. Done.
  4. Vague powers and abilities: Malefic had all the same powers as Martian Manhunter's notoriously ill-defined set, except telepathy, except when it turned out that he did after all.
  5. Nearly random noun for codename:
    ma·lef·ic (m-lfk)
    I. Having or exerting a malignant influence.
    II. Evil; malicious.
  6. Vague and inconclusive ending to their storyline: Malefic's story ended when he wasn't saved by Superman after Z'Onn Z'Orr was flown into the sun, be he keeps popping up as some psychic artifact/repressed memory thing.

Beat for beat, Malefic is this trope. He even replaced a preexisting younger brother, and made sure to sit through fifty years of Manhunter crime fighting before swinging by the Earth teleportationally (while J'Onn just wandered around waiting to get zapped by Dr. Erdel.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Lobo

Despero had won The Vile Menagerie March Madness 2012 by popular vote, and has been considered the The Fifth Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary. Ever the gamesman, he had put his own head first on the chopping block to determine who might be ejected from his present company, but a 92% mandate out of 25 votes affirmed his place among the rogues on SurVILEvor Island. His gamble had paid off, and now Despero could begin weeding out unwanted competition and the truly unworthy...

The Last Czarnian is perhaps also the last person to rate inclusion among the Vile Menagerie. As an anti-hero with his own relatively long running solo series and countless minis/specials, he isn't likely to ever be under any one hero's domain. If any, it would certainly be Superman's, and not the Alien Atlas'.

While Lobo was created in 1983 for The Omega Men, he only began to come into his own after he was overhauled and reintroduced in a 1988 issue of Justice League International. While the Martian Manhunter was one of his primary opponents in that encounter, the Main Man more famously sparred with Green Lantern Guy Gardner. Lobo would continue to play a major role in Gardner's life, facilitating his acquisition of a yellow power ring and continuing to have rows into the Warrior years. After his forced induction into L.E.G.I.O.N. in 1989, Lobo gained a monthly venue for appearances, butting heads with the likes of Captain Marvel, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and his boss Vril Dox. Lobo even turned up in the 30th Century, a time period Martian Manhunter also lived to see, but their paths never crossed during their separate appearances in Legion of Super-Heroes.

In the 1990s, the Main Man began to routinely battle Superman and the Demon. Lobo returned to Justice League International, but as an ally against Despero. After numerous successful try-outs, 'Bo got his own ongoing. Martian Manhunter appeared in its fiftieth issue, as part of a shared dream in which he and other heroes were murdered by Lobo.

Lobo and Martian Manhunter were both in the short-lived, altered reality Justice League of Aliens team, but otherwise, they've had only brushing contact over a great many years. It's been nearly a quarter century since their one real fight, and there are scores of other heroes who could lay greater claim to Lobo as a villain than that. Even Miss Martian fought Lobo more recenly, and she's only six years old! Including the Last Czarnian in the Vile Menagerie was an overreach in 1999, and it's outright laughable today. He'd be a great foil for the Sleuth from Outer Space, but too many years have passed for that to occur organically. Time to sit Lobo down on that enormous space bike of his and let him ride off into the sunset...

Friday, June 15, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Norm Rapmund

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In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at:
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 Roh Kar Comicpalooza Commission by Thom Zahler

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Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week) continues! This commission is a prime example of how, no matter the extent of my advance planning, you go where the con takes you.

I put a lot of thought and research hours into which characters would get drawn by which artists. I also knew that I wanted to get a lot more pieces this year, to diversify the character pool and augment my personal half-decade celebration of the blog. That meant I needed someone who could draw a wide range of really oddball, often retro characters for a reasonable price, preferably in color. Thom Zahler absolutely fit that bill. I went to his web site to check on his commission gallery and rates, and found that he offered digitally colored 8.5 x 11 pieces for just $50.00. That was such a great deal for such fine work, I actually started crunching the numbers on what it would cost to run a Thom Zahler here every week, and coming to my senses, considered one a month. I like my little sidebar directory of character figures leading to biographies/devoted sub-menus, and want Zahler to hook me up with some custom numbers. Zahler was supposed to be "my guy" at the con, the one individual I was confident that I'd get a piece a day from, and had the roll call of potential subjects hammered out to see it through.

True to my intentions, I approached Zahler the first day of the con, introduced myself and the blog, then asked for a commission of the original Silver Age Manhunter from Mars. You can read the full profile for Roh Kar, First Lawman of Mars, but the short version is that he was a goofy dilettante detective who ended up having to pursue an actual Martian criminal to Earth. Once there, he teamed up with Batman and Robin to catch his man. "The Manhunter from Mars" must have gotten some nice mail, because a couple of years later, elements from the single story were recycled for the introduction of J'onn J'onzz in his own ongoing back-up series.

As it happened, Zahler was doing so well promoting his comic Love and Capes at cons that he was getting low on stock, and anticipated doing a lot of commissions. As he would later note on his blog, "The show didn’t disappoint, and I got a bunch of really interesting requests. The 1940′s Martian Manhunter… yeah, I never heard of him either…" Regardless, Zahler did a swell job of capturing the ray guns & jet packs fun of the guy, and I fully expect that I'll add it to the sidebar in due time.

Zahler was the only artist to ask me if it was okay to tweet the picture, and I happily agreed. It's a nice place to immortalize comments like "I am drawing a commission of Roh Kar. Yeah, you heard me. I love the obscure ones." It also means I get to see the works in progress, like this uncolored version. Zahler's a real pro, and I look forward to scoring art from him again.

Therein lies the rub. One artist I had an online quote from was charging nearly half again that stated price, which meant I wouldn't be buying anything from him. Other artists had special "con pricing," which was significantly less than a planned commission runs (a.k.a. the normal direction prices go from advertised to cash in hand.) Zahler offers the exact same $50 price online or in person, and he's easy to contact on a dedicated, trustworthy web site. I could comfortably work out commissions from Zahler pretty much at will, and in fact by doing it over the internet, I get the black and white original and a computer colored print, the best of both worlds. The only hang-up would be shipping, but as I mentioned, I'm likely to get a whole batch of commissions at once, seriously minimizing the cost to receive each. As much as I dig this Roh Kar, the net effect was to disincentive getting more commissions in person in favor of pursuing a variety of artists. That also meant my sheepishly passing by Zahler's booth the rest of the weekend in pursuit of other commissions, hoping he didn't take it as a slight against his work, which I enjoy enough to happily buy in the future through the convenience of the world wide web. Zahler is friendly and reliably produces work of high caliber. He did a ginchy piece that overcame my shoddy reference, and check those sweet mountains in the background! I still have my grocery list of commissions perfect for his style, and now only wait for my wallet to cool down and heal up in the middle so I can talk to him again...

Top row, number five from the left. I played fair with these teasers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Martian Sightings for September, 2012

On sale SEPTEMBER 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
• The history of Stormwatch’s activities in The New 52 are revealed!
• A new villain arrives, and the safety of the team has never been more in doubt!
One last Martian Manhunter appearance before the book becomes the Authority. It's a shame Kirkham didn't include him on the cover, since it would have complimented the commission I got from him nicely.

Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale NOVEMBER 14 • 1,216 pg, FC, $150 US
”As addictive as any good TV series, any good mystery-novel series, any good comic book series.” — ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
”A compelling, epic story that wound up saving the world five times over.” — NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
• After INFINITE CRISIS, the DC Universe had its most eventful year ever. It was a year without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman…but not a year without heroes!
• This massive hardcover collects the entire year-long run of the weekly series 52!
J'Onn was mostly in World War III, which moronically is not included in this tome.

Miss Martian
Art and cover by CHRISTOPHER JONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
• Following the animated series, it’s now five years later!
• ALIENS have infiltrated the Earth!
Nice cover. Interesting team.

Monday, June 11, 2012

2011 Miss Martian art by James Q. Nguyen

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Lay your eyes on this nifty piece featuring The Three Faces of Megan Morse: White Martian, Miss Martian, and Titans Tomorrow M'gann M'orzz.

See what I did there? "The Three Faces of Eve?" "Eyes of Laura Mars?" Nothing? Eh, I toss that kind of stuff in for myself anyway...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Salvation Run #3 (March, 2008)

Vandal Savage's daughter Scandal like to have killed Bolt over a bit of sexual harassment. Way to play down the lesbian stereotype. Lex Luthor did some more speechifying, having enlisted Thaddeus Sivana, General Immortus, and Anthony Ivo's aid in constructing a device to escape the Hell Planet. The Joker thought it was hogwash, and rabble-roused to avoid contributing to any society, even one made up of super-villains. A giant monster attacked, so the Joker told Super-Gorilla Grodd to command Chemo to fry the threat in a toxic bath. The Clown Prince then took all the credit.

Mr. Terrible called a lumbering worker a blockhead, but when the towering hulk corrected "Blockbuster," he backed down quick. Sivana thought that guy was dead, while Lex knew this was a different Blockbuster than the one he'd created.

Iron Cross yelled at some of the women to help with the building process, but they and other layabouts blew the Nazi off. Kid Karnevil went so far as to threaten the Aryan Brigade member, and got backhanded like the little boy that he is. A rumble started, so the Joker put a bullet through Iron Cross' head before ordering a previously scheduled mutiny. The chaos was short lived, as Grodd recognized Luthor had already prepared for Joker's sudden but inevitable betrayal, and laid a psychic whammy on everyone to "lay down your weapons and cease fighting... You are too tired to fight any longer." The end result was a division into two camps, with Joker leading an exodus into new territory.

Sivana criticized Luthor for this turn, but Lex had kept the irritating Clown Prince around specifically for the purpose of clearing out "the worthless half" of the camp and hoard all their once shared resources. Lex had even talked Iron Cross into instigating, thus creating an enemy for his camp to unite against.

Blockbuster remained with Luthor's group, but snuck away for a while into the bush. "The villains are beginning to crack under the pressures of this world. And I believe there is worse yet to come. Together, they stood a chance. Divided, they'll be consumed. Is that such a terrible thing? Would Earth not be better off without them? Or is leaving these villains to their fate the same as murdering them? I pray that the decision does not become mine to make. For now, my job is simply to observe." Pale blue caption boxes slowly turned green with a red x in the background. "Blockbuster" saw his long hair fade away and his morphing bare skin covered in a uniform. His secret transformation complete, a communication device was brought near to mouth. "Day thirteen. Martian Manhunter-- status report" The situation here is out of control."

"All You Need Is Love Hate" was by Matthew Sturges, Sean Chen and Walden Wong. The change in writers didn't cause the slightest blip in variation this issue, probably because he's a regular collaborator with Willingham, and the whole plot was probably editorially mandated, anyway. I can't stand it when a powerless, addle-brained and generally useless character like the Joker gets treated like a king based solely on his popularity. When the clown tried to get folks to eat the monster Chemo had contaminated, I wish Grodd would have forced him to follow through on it himself, so he could choke on poison like a cockroach.

Brave New World
Census: Abra Kadabra, Bane, Black Spider, Blockbuster (Martian Manhunter), the Body Doubles, the Brain, Brutale, Captain Cold, Catman, Catwoman, the Cheetah, Chemo, Cicada, Clayface, Deadshot, Dr. Light, Dr. Sivana, Effigy, Fatality, General Immortus, Giganta, Girder, Gorilla Grodd, Solomon Grundy, Hammer, Heat Wave, Hellhound, Hindenberg, Hyena, Ibac, Iron Cross, Jewelee, Jinx, Jongleur, Kid Karnevil, Killer Croc, Killer Frost, Leather, Lex Luthor, Lockup, Mad Hatter, Magenta, Mammoth, Man-Bat, Manticore, Meanstreak, Metallo, Mirror Master, Mr. Freeze, Mr. Terrible, Monsieur Mallah, Neutron, Phobia, the Prankster, Professor Ivo, Psimon, Rag Doll, Rock, Scandal Savage, Shadow-Thief, Shimmer, Shrapnel, Sickle, Silver Monkey, Silver Swan, Splitshot, Sterling Silversmith, Skorpio, Sonar, Hugo Strange, Tapeworm, Tar Pit, Tremor, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Two-Face, Warp and Weather Wizard.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Professor Amos Fortune

Years ago, I compiled a master list of all of the Martian Manhunter rogues that I could think of, supplemented heavily by the internet. I left a lot of monsters out, but I think I also overreached by letting too many other people in. For instance, Amos Fortune. Here was an early Justice League of America villain, debuting in the sixth issue, who happened to be defeated by the Martian Manhunter. Fortune's whole schtick was that he discovered a luck gland in human beings that he could remotely effect to cause them to have either good or ill fortune. As a Martian, J'onn J'onzz did not possess this gland, and was therefore immune to Fortune's gadgets. That's it. That's how he's ended up in two years worth of Menagerie March Madness contests.

In his third appearance, Fortune founded the Royal Flush Gang, one of the few villain teams to fight the JLA with any kind of regularity. However, the gang really flushed any royalty they could have laid claim to by being beaten repeatedly by the League and heroes far beneath their standard. Heck, the notoriously underwhelming Detroit League; prone to being battered by such non-luminaries as The Cadre, random Ivo robots, an Esimo-Amazo and a giant amoeba; involuntarily manslaughtered some Royal Flush gangsters. It's worth noting that the Gang debuted after the Martian Manhunter more or less stopped appearing with the JLA in the '60s, and his encounter with the group alongside the JLD was a retcon from a couple of decades after that team's dissolution.

Amos Fortune is a crumby, undesirable villain to begin with, but he's especially unnecessary in the Vile Menagerie. That lot is already filled with professors who specialize in gadgets and have hi-tech but lo-yield henchmen. His one trick gimmick specifically doesn't work on Martians, and he's had little to do with the Alien Atlas in the years since his initial defeat. Heck, it isn't even novel that he has an uncommon (for comics) overweight body type, given that Mr. V was an actual archnemesis representing for the plus set. I regret ever bringing the guy up, and with your permission, I'll deal him a bum hand so that he can crap out on a gambling yacht sailing far away from SurVILEvor Island...