Saturday, December 27, 2014

Podcast: The Debut of Despero (1960)

Episode #2



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This week, we look at one of the primary villains of Martian Manhunter and the Justice League of America, Despero of Kalanor. Starting with a brief glimpse at the JLofA's earliest issues and foes, we progress to a synopsis of 1960's Justice League of America #1 (02:38,) Frank discussing his first exposure to and thoughts on the Silver Age Despero and his supporting players (06:41,) a synopsis of 1964's Justice League of America #26 (08:58,) further analysis on the character (11:46,) his current lack of a role in the films Justice League Parts 1 & 2 (14:17) and listener response on the first episode (17:07.) We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Martian Sightings for March, 2015



Martian Manhunter
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #10
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN
Cover by ANDREW ROBINSON
MOVIE POSTER Variant cover by MARCO D’ALFONSO
1:25 Variant cover by DAN HIPP
On sale MARCH 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

“The Infinitus Saga” reaches its stunning conclusion! The combined might of the JLU, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Rannian War Fleet and the Thanagarians learn the true meaning of sacrifice as events unfold that will change the DC Universe forever!
The "penultimate chapter" was solicited two months ago, so my question is, which issue(s) were padded out to take the story up through to the "Convergence" break?

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #8
Written by JAMES TYNION IV and HEATHER NUHFER
Art by NOELLE STEVENSON and RYAN BENJAMIN
Cover by JAE LEE
On sale MARCH 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Teenaged Diana comes to Man’s World and discovers a “Wonder World” where she makes new friends. That part’s great, but her Amazon bodyguards are busy tracking her down and scaring everyone she meets! Then, in “Sabotage Is in the Stars,” Wonder Woman aids India’s space program, making it safe for them to launch their new SpaceCrops platform. But when Diana discovers that LexCorp caused the problem, she takes matters into her own hands!
It never occurred to me that I could get a pre-52 Martian Manhunter out of this title. Glad I'm already buying it.

ORION BY WALTER SIMONSON OMNIBUS EDITION HC
Written by WALTER SIMONSON and others
Art by WALTER SIMONSON, FRANK MILLER, JIM LEE and others
Cover by WALTER SIMONSON
On sale MARCH 25 • 688 pg, FC, $75.00 US

Legendary writer/artist Walter Simonson takes on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World! These tales star the heroes and villains of the Fourth World as Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation and Orion battles to stop him! Collects ORION #1-25 and stories from JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD #9-11 and 13!
I've had the one issue of this series J'Onn and the JLA appeared in unread and unbagged in a box for over a decade. Read the first few issues. They were a'ight, but $75?
SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A DC COMICS ADVENTURE TP
Written by JOSH ELDER
Art by ADAM ARCHER
Video game art cover
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The sequel to the video game SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED arrives in this title collecting SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A CRISIS OF IMAGINATION chapters #1-9, plus a digital short never before available in print! Following the events of Scribblenauts Unmasked, Madame Xanadu and Phantom Stranger enlist the help of Maxwell and Lily to save the DC Universe as we know it.
I didn't bother listing the individual issues, but I'm sure J'Onn J'Onzz is in there somewhere, right? Right? Actually, he wasn't listed on any of the breakdowns at Comic Vine, so maybe not...

Miss Martian
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11: CONTINUITY #4
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art by IG GUARA, MARCELO DI CHIARA and JULIO FERREIRA and RUY JOSE
Cover by CAT STAGGS
On sale MARCH 11 • 40 pg, FC, 4 of 4, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Superman has defeated the Monitors, but what can he possibly do to keep the Universe safe from them in the future? The people of Earth pick up their lives as best they can, and our heroes make some hard decisions about their own futures. As Season Eleven ends, new lives begin.
I also bought the trade paperback where Smallville Wonder Woman debuted, and haven't read that, either. This one's got M'gann, J'Onn, and Diana, so I guess I'll get that trade, too.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Martian Sightings for February, 2015



Martian Manhunter
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #9
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN
Cover by ANDREW ROBINSON
HARLEY QUINN Variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
1:25 Variant cover by MATTEO SCALERA
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

“The Infinitus Saga” continues as the team joins the Legion of Super-Heroes, a Thanagarian war fleet and a Rannian war fleet to battle the endless forces of Infinitus!
I've been taunted for months with the prospect of an Andrew Robinson Alien Atlas cover, and when it finally happens he not only knocks it out of the park, but offers a perfect pairing with the Maid of Might! I love Supergirl, and think she goes great with uncle J'Onn.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 2: SURVIVORS OF EVIL TP
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by DOUG MAHNKE, TOM DERENICK, EDDY BARROWS and others
Cover by KEN LASHLEY
On sale MARCH 4 • 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US

As the smoke clears from TRINITY WAR, the JLA is dead, betrayed by one of their own. But Martian Manhunter and Stargirl live to fight another day, only to find themselves trapped on an alien world under the control of a group of Super-Villains. Collecting issues #8-14!
I read a couple of these issues, realized the whole arc was spinning wheels as "Forever Evil" played out, and left the remainder of the run sitting in a box without even flipping through them.
BATMAN BEYOND: JUSTICE LORDS BEYOND TP
Written by KYLE HIGGINS and CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by THONY SILAS, DEXTER SOY and others
Cover by KHARY RANDOLPH
On sale MARCH 11 • 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

Wonder Woman is back, but what secret is she hiding? Meanwhile, Batman’s journey through the dystopian world of the Justice Lords takes a deadly turn as he faces Lord Superman! Collects BATMAN BEYOND #9-12.


Miss Martian
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11: CONTINUITY #3
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art by IG GUARA, MARCELO DI CHIARA and JULIO FERREIRA
Cover by CAT STAGGS
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 40 pg, FC, 3 of 4, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

An alien device streaks toward Metropolis and the Watchtower. As Chloe freezes in fear, her friends rush to her side! And no man escapes the Manhunters – but will Nightwing find a loophole?
I bought the comic with the debut of Smallville M'gann, but still haven't read it.
TINY TITANS: RETURN TO THE TREEHOUSE TP
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale MARCH 11 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

The Eisner Award-winning series is back in this new title collecting the six-issue miniseries! Superboy and Supergirl return to the treehouse to discover...it’s missing! Or is it just...really small? Who could have done such a thing? Find out as all your favorite Tiny Titans search for answers!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Podcast: 60 Years of Martian Manhunter - 1953

Episode #1




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The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, is revived in podcast form ahead of the Alien Atlas' Sixtieth Anniversary year. Acting as a prelude, this episode covers the prototype of the Sleuth from Outer Space. Meet Roh Kar, Lawman of Mars...



We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Martian Manhunter #150 (Winter 1976)


The Making of "The Martian Manhunter #150"


In 1970, the co-architect of the House of Ideas left Marvel for the seemingly greener pastures of DC Comics. There he would edit his own line of books, while also performing nearly every creative chore on the individual titles, which he would of course create for himself from scratch. While the concept looked good on paper (in more ways that one,) various factors led to the cancellation of his Fourth World titles, most within two years time. While discouraging, the King was still under contract, and set about generating new works. Most fared even worse that the previous batch, with titles like Kobra, Atlas, and plain vanilla Manhunter yielding only an issue each under Kirby's pen. Only "Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth" enjoyed real longevity. Kirby began making plans for a return to Marvel, but would potentially be hindered by a contractual clause stipulating a set number of pages be produced by the King before he would be free to pursue other work.

Midyear, Gerry Conway was hired as an editor at National/DC, and set about putting together his own line of new books. He soon began trying to persuade Kirby to produce pages for "Conway's Corner" as a means to burn through his contractual obligation with inventory material. Kirby was by this point used to editing his own work, but their acquaintance led to Conway taking over editorship of Kamandi after Kirby left, plus the eventual extended life of a partially finished debut issue of "Kobra" to a short-lived series in the hands of new creators. Further, at the start of 1976, Carmine Infantino was let go by National, and incoming publisher Jeanette Khan made Kirby nervous about the shortfall in his page count. By this point, Conway had already staffed his titles, but suggested to fellow editor Murray Boltinoff that he take advantage of Kirby's availability to perhaps improve the numbers on the floundering "Manhunter from Mars" series. Boltinoff was on his way out, however, but agreed to surrender the reins to Conway. By April, Kirby had worked up material enough for three issues of "Manhunter," fulfilling his bargain just as Gerry Conway was quitting DC to become Editor-In-Chief at Marvel (for all of three weeks.) Regardless, Kirby was out the door, leaving "Manhunter from Mars" without an editor or follow-up creative team.

The title went on a brief hiatus before being handed off to Tony Isabella. Emulating the cover of New Gods #1, Isabella had Kirby's original art reworked to incorporate actual photos of Mars taken by the Viking probe that summer. A short-lived retitling of the series began with "The Martian Manhunter #150," released that winter, and ironically became one of the best-selling single issues Kirby produced for DC in the 70s. Drawing from the Biblical allusions made by Denny O'Neil in several earlier tales, Kirby continued the portrayal of J'Onn J'Onzz as an extraterrestrial Moses guiding his exiled people through the galactic wilderness in search of a new Mars. Unlike O'Neil, Kirby delved into the more mystical fare, beginning with "The 10-In-1 God of Mars."

In a holding pattern just outside the Sol system, the nomadic Martians argued about their next course. Some wished to return to Mars, regardless of the certain death that awaited them there. Others proposed the conquest of Earth, a direction science leader J'Onzz strictly forbade. However, J'Onzz himself felt the pull of both his former home planets, and took a brief sabbatical to answer their call.

The Alien Atlas was drawn to most of the solar system's planets and several moons en route, each of which presented him with an aspect of the unnamed supreme being of the Martian people. In each encounter, J'Onzz would confront aspects of Martian faith: Eternal Destiny, Understanding of Death, Widom of Dream, Destructive Power of Judgment, Desire for Love, Understanding of Despair, and Delight of Beauty.

The Martian Manhunter came to realize through these conflicts that the universe itself was broken. In guiding his people into the vast nothingness of unknown galaxies, they would gain access to the remaining three of the ten aspects of the endless, and the tools to elevate the Martian survivors to heroic stature in pursuit of universal justice. J'Onzz returned to his people elated with new found purpose, only to discover Bel Juz had guided the elevation of an entirely different (and ultimately artificial) spiritual leader for the Martians, the young madman Z'vi Z'har.

Even within the confines of a presupposed truncated run, Kirby couldn't help but introduce mythology that would influence future creators like J.M. DeMatteis and Neil Gaiman. He truly was the King, and we're all poorer for his not having continued this tale beyond his three issues.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Martian Knock-Offs: Superman



Hey there kids! I'm Johnny Jones! You may remember me as the Silver Age Manhunter from Mars. You know what the term "Silver Age" means? It means I predate a bunch of rat faced punks who want to trade off my marketable uniqueness! This section is devoted to people who will be hearing from my lawyers! I call it...

"Martian Knock-Offs!!!"

Speaking of the eels, I've been warned by my attorneys to note that this is a satirical essay. It's intent is not to defame any characters, their creators, or their owners. It is here to whimsically point out observed similarities between the Martian Manhunter, and characters who are not the Martian Manhunter.

Alright, I'm not so arrogant that I think I sprang out from the void fully born. Obviously, I've got my own influences. First off, there's Superman... like I'm not reminded of that every stinkin' day of my existance. Yes, we're both aliens. Yes, we were both stranded on Earth while our home worlds were destroyed. Yes, we're both super-heroes, with the powers of...

  • Super-strength™
  • Super-breath™
  • Super-speed™
  • Super-hearing™
  • Heat Vision™
  • Telescopic Vision™
  • Invulnerability
  • Flight
...but cut me some slack, will'ya? I've got my own unique attributes that seperate me from Big Blue. For most of my life, my Martian race continued to live, and I even led them for several years. My personality and methods are totally different from his. I even stopped using most of the more Superman specific powers, and have plenty of my own! And it's not like Superman never ripped anybody off, huh? Do the names Moses, Hercules or Solomon ring any bells? Religion doesn't count? Try Hugo Danner, John Carter and Flash Gordon. That's pulp fiction, you say? How about when he stole The Marvel Family from Fawcett, and turned it into Superboy/girl/dog/cat/monkey/horse/etc.? Turnabout is fair play, you say? Well up yours, buddy! I'm trying to make a buck here, Mr.Righteousness!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Manhunter from Mars #201 (April, 1981)




An enormous starship the size of a small city hovered over the Spacefort. A twenty foot wide flat saucer floated out of a bay in the ship down to the surface. Lying on top of the disc was Mongul, flat on his back and unconscious. A servitor robot accompanied the body. When Martian guardsmen approached, swords drawn, the servitor explained that his master was in need of medical attention. If this care was not received within ten minutes, captive hero J'onn J'onzz would be crushed to death inside a cube-trap. After another five minutes, the starship would automatically launch a limited assault against the Spacefort. Should Mongul die, the entire planet of Mars II would be forfeit. A guard guided the disc to the nearest medical center, while the available members of the All-Martian Council swiftly decided to accept Mongul's terms.

The healers found that Mongul was suffering from a massive cerebral hemorrhage, requiring immediate surgery. Martian science determined the exact point of blood vessel rupture, and with their most powerful instruments working over the course of an hour, managed to cut out a 6cm square hole in Mongul's skull. Blood drained out as the healers repaired the damaged vessels, followed by replacing and sealing the skull extraction. Mongul's condition stabilized, and he was moved to a care room for rest and observation.

The servator remained outside the room to stand watch, but was unaware that Mongul's roommate had awoken in the middle of the night. On his last visit to Mars II, Mongul had savagely beaten J'en as part of a trap laid for J'onn J'onzz. J'en's face was swollen and her arm was in a cast as she stared at the comatose Mongul and contemplated revenge. She thought of her lover J'onn, and his certain disapproval of murder. She wasn't even sure that she could kill him if she wanted to, and feared the consequences of an unsuccessful attempt. Eventually, J'en limped back to her own bed.

The next morning, Mongul regained consciousness, and spoke with representatives of the All-Martian Council. "So you're the shriveled olive 'chiefs' of these sword-wielding savages? I'm surprised your surgeons didn't treat me with sharpened sticks and coconut shells. Had there been any other nearby options in this armpit of the galaxy, I would have destroyed the whole planet just to clear my course. No, I don't believe I'll bother with the likes of you. A backwards tribe like yours puts their craven idols above insignificant bureaucrats. Bring me your god, or whatever passes for one in these parts."

The closest thing to Vrom available was the messianic Z'vi Z'har, who despite protestations, agreed to meet with Mongul. Z'vi had hoped for gratitude after the Martians had saved Mongul's life. He was instead given the choice to either renounce Vrom and accept Mongul as his living and merciless god, or have his severed head announce it for him. Looking at the glowing red eyes of Mongul, who was fully prepared to vaporize him for dissent, the mentally unbalanced Z'vi Z'har legitimately recognized him as the divine. Z'vi joyfully began to proselytize in the streets that the golden age of Mars II had finally arrived. From his sick bed, Mongul smirked at the horrified J'en.



Over the next several days, Mongul made a remarkable recovery. He was soon on his feet and exercising to regain use of an affected arm. His senses temporarily diminished, Mongul amused himself by "correcting" the gospel of Vrom and enlightening Z'vi Z'har to his own "testament." Mongul demanded that the Robo-Chargers that had been cannibalized for the Spacefort be reconstructed. There was a great schism amongst the Martian people between those who continued to believe in Z'vi Z'har following his conversion and those who condemned him as a false prophet for a diabolical being. No one dared question Mongul directly, as his temperament was labile and his fury lethal. One day, Mongul announced that his spaceship was the ark that would lead the Martian people in exile to their ultimate destination. Mongul felt that enhancements needed to be made to make the Robo-Charges more effective as he plotted his next conquest, and seeing as he had every Martian life at his disposal, a power source shouldn't be a problem. In his eyes, it was a reasonable sacrifice for "his" people to make.

Before the ark could land to carry away the Martians, it simply kept flying over and beyond the spacefort. The ship would not respond to Mongul's remote orders, so he teleported after it. Mongul found himself sitting on top of his zeta-beamer as it plunged off his ship into the Mars II desert. Landing roughly, Mongul struggled to pick himself up from the ground, still plagued by partial weakness. The Robo-Chargers followed him into the desert, and opened fire. Though battered by their blasts, Mongul wielded his own devastating energies against them. Just as Mongul disabled the last of his mechanized foes, an armed Martian Manhunter set on him with guns blazing.

Mongul didn't know how J'onn J'onzz had escaped his trap, but he did know that the surface of Mars II robbed its inhabitants of most of their powers. Mongul easily disarmed J'Onzz, and slapped him about once the fight turned toward hand-to-hand. Martian citizens raced to the scene, to see if their champion could prevail over the abomination their former messiah had given them over to.

Suddenly, in an explosion of light, J'onn J'onzz and Mongul were outside the crypt that once contained the Crystal Key. J'onzz explained that he wanted his people to see a Martian stand up to Mongul, to debunk him as a deity. However, he recognized that he needed to shift locations with zeta-beams in order to utilize his own powers. Suddenly, between Mongul's compromised condition and the Alien Atlas' renewed strength, the match was no longer remotely in Mongul's favor. However, Mongul was still the stronger of the two, and held J'onzz by the throat while blasting him in the face with eyebeams. J'onzz had one more trick up his sleeve, as extraordinary pain erupted inside Mongul's skull. Through meditation while held in the cube-trap, J'onzz had somehow recovered the telepathic and telekinetic abilities lost to Martians for decades. This was J'Onzz's method of escape, and he was now using them to provoke another stroke in Mongul's brain. Growling in pain and anger, Mongul raced to the zeta-beamer and disappeared under its power.

The Manhunter from Mars recalled Mongul's former ship, and returned to Mars II. Landing, he emerged to great applause, and declared that the ship would be torn apart and used to expand the spacefort. However, an epilogue ended the story on a down note. Z'vi Z'har had disappeared with a small band of zealous followers. The All-Martian Council, wishing to insure nothing like this ever happened again, planned to turn Mongul's ship into the basis for a small fleet of powerful "defensive" craft. Further, their experiment in creating a perfect warrior to truly guide the Martian people to glory was secretly progressing. Finally, J'onn and J'en were reunited, only for J'en to express her disgust at her personal weakness and her disdain for J'onzz's suffocating personal code. J'en had decided to leave her lover, in hopes of finding a version of herself that she could live with.

Under the guidance of editor Len Wein, co-writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway with guest artist Jim Starlin ended this epic in fine form!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Making of "The Martian Manhunter #150"


The Martian Manhunter #150 (Winter 1976)


As the glow of initial pride over "Manhunter From Mars #100" faded, I realized I wanted to do a better job on the next anniversary. When I thought of the 70s, I though of Jack Kirby's "New Gods #1" cover, and had to ape it. I tried harder this time to keep everything plausible. Since I was set on using a photo background of Mars released in 1976, around the time Kirby left DC for Marvel, that got a bit convoluted... but no worse than, say, "Hawkworld" continuity.

I went through a longer debating process on this cover than any other to date, as I had a nice selection of images to choose from... both of Mars and Kirby Manhunter. I also experimented with mix and match, as I was teaching myself how to paste in disparate pieces to form a single image in Microsoft Paint. I decided that I definitely wanted to use the "Face of Mars" picture, which was a landscape, and thus handicapped me in a big way when it came to selling the completed image. I played around with the photo to give the "face" as great a comic-booky definition as possible. I wanted to fill as much space with Kirby art as I could manage without obscuring the "face," so I picked a shot he'd done of Manhunter from 1985's "Super Powers #1" where he really flared that cape out. The inks were by Greg Theakston, by the way. Unfortunately, the picture pushed the UPC box to the wrong side. I soon learned that resizing an image in Paint really louses up the quality, but figured I'd leave the artifacts in this instance, as those 70s photo hybrids always printed a bit wonky anyway.

I loved those bombastic Kirby cover blurbs, and had space to fill, so I stole a big honking number from Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth #1. I believe the banner running along the top was taken from, or at least modelled after, issues of "Secret Society of Super-Villains." DC briefly experimented with Marvel-style corner box figures, so I took one by Dick Dillin off the cover of World's Finest Comics #212. I blew it up, doctored it, and shrank it down for use here and as a permanent sidebar on this web page.

The groovy "Martian Manhunter" text and logo came from an interior page of the same "World's Finest" issue as the Dillin figure, digitally "bleached" and recolored. I'd actually intended on using all the various "Martian Manhunter" logos for fake covers over time, but then remembered that between the eponymous 1988 mini-series and late 90's ongoing series, that might seem redundant. That presented a problem later on, as there really aren't many "Manhunter From Mars" logos floating around, and one of the best is too big to play around with oftimes. I got some of my logo jones out of the way with the history-by-decade buttons on this web page, though.

"The 10-In-1 God of Mars" was directly referenced from House of Mystery #168's "Thantos-- the 3-In-1 Man!" I thought it sounded very Kirby, besides. The "10-In-One" is also intended to reference the ten Sefirot in Kabbalah. A Jewish upbringing influenced much of Kirby's work, but in a medium swimming in Jewish influence, it's easy to miss. Beginning in the late '60s, Kirby really seemed to focus on religion as a running theme-- be it Galactus and his heralds, the Fourth World, the Eternals and so on. It made sense to me that at some point Kirby might have played around with Jewish mysticism. Also, in later stories, Martian society seemed to be pantheistic, with an emphasis on H'ronmeer, but also tied to Neil Gaiman's seven member "Endless" family. I thought it might be interesting to see a Martian Pantheon consisting of the Endless and three native "Gods" that could parallel attributes within the Sephirotic model. I never worked it out in great detail, but thought an allusion in the "Kirby" work might be fun.

The inability of Kirby to reach an audience to sustain his DC titles was true, just as it proved to be on returning to Marvel. However, I'm not familiar enough with his deal at DC to recall if there were any contractual obligations of the manner I used to rope him into my "project." There is a lot of truth in my references to Gerry Conway, but anything related to a relationship with Kirby was totally bogus. Conway did end up working on a number of Kirby revivals after the King left DC, however.

The story's plot should be familiar to anyone who ever read the Biblical "Exodus." If you're gonna steal, might as well go with the classics. I assumed at the time that the Martians had actually settled on the planet Vonn from World's Finest #212, but massive inconsistencies about the planet from 70s and early 80s stories make their continuing to trek likely. Since there were no other inhabitants revealed on "New Mars" until 1977, I understand why they might take carte blanche and rename Vonn, but its just as plausible they discovered a whole other world. Vonn/New Mars really wasn't much of a planet for generating stories, and I can't imagine spending the entire 70s there in an ongoing series, at least if you hew to what was established canonically. If nothing else, let's say they shopped around for a bit, then settled on Vonn as the least awful option.

Getting back to the Kabbalistic elements, I thought the episodic nature of hitting ten planets/aspects/commandments/sefirot/Endless served an additional duty in recalling the structure of old Gardner Fox tales. It gave the Manhunter a mission beyond leading the Martians about: "Tikkun Olam," preparing himself and his people to repair the broken universe. Meanwhile, that scheming Jezebel, Bel Juz, was at it again. In the place of the golden calf was "the young madman Z'vi Z'har." This was a reference to Shabbethai Zevi, the false messiah of the 17th century, and an easy Martian name conversion if ever there was one. The "Z'har?" Zohar. Oy!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Rock of the JLA

We're still in the early stages of his blog, so I'm still trying to line up ducks and wade into the undertaking. As part of this process, I'm looking to expand on the number of links and interesting topics by taking a gander at the world wide web. In this pursuit, I stumbled upon Michael Kooiman's excellent DC Cosmic Teams site, presumably named for the early '90s card set and acting as an in-depth reference source for related characters. This in itself would be noteworthy, especially between the cute super-deformed versions of DC heroes and their synopsis of the most recent Manhunter mini-series I bailed on after one issue. What really left me thunderstruck though was that while skimming J'Onn's page, I spied the header "Rock of the Justice League."

Now see, around the same time I was working on my website, I was also beginning my rather slow and presently lapsed conversion to Judaism. In the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) are references to our God being a "rock" that supports us throughout time. After moving away from the site's original "Z'Onn Z'Orr" title, I wanted a phrase that would showcase J'Onn in my favorite role, as the "heart and soul" of his super-team (but without the mushy long-windedness.) Also, I though I might pull a few hits from WWF fans googling Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I didn't expect much Sean Connery/Nic Cage traffic. Anyway, after I collapsed the site and canceled my WebTV subscription, I figured there'd be no memory of the joint beyond the odd dead link on webrings. I contacted Michael, and while neither of us are unquestionably certain where the term originated, I still enjoyed knowing it has some life in these Meltzer/revamp/Didio years.

It also occurred to me that while I've often droned on nostalgically, I haven't posted much information about why anyone should care about a J'Onn J'Onzz blog, specifically mine, in the first place. With that in mind, I'd like to re-present the "sales pitch" from the old homepage to help explain the matter, after the pic...



NO MAN ESCAPES THE MANHUNTER FROM MARS...
J'Onn J'Onzz is the rock upon which the Justice League of America was founded. Trapped on Earth thirty-seven years ago, The Manhunter was one of our planet's few protectors before the coming of Superman heralded a new age of super-heroes one dozen years ago. A detective, leader, teacher, and friend, J'Onzz has left an indelible mark upon the DC Universe. Any history of the Martian Manhunter is a history of the Justice League, and vice versa. The two are forever intertwined. In the Martian's own words...

"...In the solitude and beauty of this place, I could lose myself in meditation...find my center again.

For so long I've wanted to get away from the League...From the pressures and pretenses of my life as the so-called Martian Manhunter. And yet--now that I'm here...I can't stop thinking about the others. Nor, it seems, can I avoid assuming this beetle-browed shape the world has come to know me by. I've been with the Justice League so long... Before I even knew my true heritage...My true identity...I knew the League.

From the triumphs of the first League...through the tragedies of the second...and the wild absurdities of [the third] incarnation--the Justice League has been my home... Her members, my family. There's so much I want to do...Need to do...for myself. So many questions about my personal destiny that need to be answered...but I can't leave my family... Not until I help it back to it's feet... Not until it's healthy and strong and alive again."

...and so he did...

Why a Martian?

Why in God's name should anyone care about a second stringer like The Manhunter from Mars? Well, he's a favorite of writers, because of his versatility. If you need a Superman-level powerhouse, with a new ability to match any situation. you can use J'Onn. If you need a somber detective with the presence of The Batman, J'Onn's available. If you want to capture the stranger in a strange land feel of Wonder Woman, commentating on the new world around them while bringing the traditions from the old, call J'Onn. Want to get Green Lantern-style cosmic, with aliens and space stations? J'Onn can do that. Straight forward super-heroics with a Silver Age hero featuring a Rogue's Gallery as recognizable as The Flash's? Oh yeah, I think MM can do it. Got a vacancy for a skilled tactician and leader who can handle a team as well as a sovereign like Aquaman? Martian calling!

J'Onn really is a one-man JLA, since he can fill in for nearly any character type needed. He can be the gruff stiff with a dry sense of humor in a funny-book. He can be morose and obsessive. He can be determined and strong. He can be believably vulnerable. For most of his existence, he's been the main character that a writer fully "owned" in JLA, giving him the most character development of any "big gun" in that series. In a book that can be editorially stifling, he's a breath of fresh air.

The same is true with artists. All eyes are on them when they draw Superman, and it had better be just perfect. It has to meet with fan expectations, and match all the important licensing and stay in line with all his other comic appearances. With J'Onn, you can cut loose. He's been reinterpreted by nearly every artist who's ever drawn him. Besides, how can you not have fun drawing a freaky green giant dressed like Conan?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Martian Manhunter Blogging eaten away by The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast



I've been a terrible, terrible Martian Manhunter blogger this year. As much as I want to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of J'Onn J'Onzz in 2015, my enthusiasm for blogging has been very much on the wane, and I doubt I'll get my stuff together for a proper December of Despero this calender year. I've also been working really hard on the Marvel Super Heroes podcast with my friends Illegal Machine and Mister Fixit, which has garnered a steadier and more vocal audience than I've been able to muster here in too long of a time. Enthusiasm helps, and it's a two-way street, so if I wasn't posting stuff folks responded to it got harder to motivate the work it takes to keep posting anything of quality on a daily basis. Anyway, I suck, and sorry to the Alien Atlas audience I'm failing.



On the other hand, I killed myself pulling together the latest feature length (nearly 90 minutes) episode of The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast, "Reintroducing Patsy Walker: 70 Years of Marvel’s #1 Hellcat Heroine." It's garnered some very positive notices that makes that effort feel worthwhile, and since I've officially stooped to outright reruns to fill the days this blog failed to offer anything of late, I figured I might as well throw in a plug for a project I'm still passionate enough about to get done. Below are images advertising recent episodes from newest to oldest, and I hope you'll give them a try...

Episode 018-- Reintroducing Patsy Walker: 70 Years of Marvel’s #1 Hellcat Heroine


Episode 017-- To Hell with Mockingbird


Episode 016-- NYCC 2014 FYI


Episode 015-- Tigra, the Were-Woman! (1974)


Episode 014-- Annihilation: Nova (2006)


Episode 013-- The Origin of the Incredible Hulk


Episode 012-- Beware! The Claws of… The Cat! (1972)


Episode 011-- Annihilation: Super-Skrull (2006)


Episode 010-- Iron Man #247 & Incredible Hulk #361 (1989)


Episode 009-- Iron Man Is Born!


Episode 008-- Annihilation: Silver Surfer (2006)


Episode 007-- Annihilation Prologue (2006)


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2010 "Manhunter" by Ajay Naran

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While hunting for references for the fake "Middletown" TV show online, I stumbled upon the blog of a gifted CGI illustrator/animator named Ajay Naran. The artist has a modest sized gallery of finished art, so I was especially surprised to find one of those pieces was this incredibly detailed rendering of a real life Martian Manhunter. I haven't been impressed with the "untooned" fad of transplanting cartoon characters into sickeningly "lifelike" form, but this is an exceptional piece that elevates that particular game. It doesn't hurt that he a) folds the collar how I like and b) comes up with an ornate new MM symbol that shames the rather pathetic attempts made by DC over the past decade. It even manages to evoke the classic (if generic) belt buckle pie, MMs, and chest straps, the JLU star. Very impressive, no?

The Martian Manhunter a big green dude from the DCU and like most aliens in the DCU he has a tragic past in that he's the last of the Martian race. Brought to Earth displaced from space and time Jonn jones as he's otherwise know as, he used his extraordinary abilities as the Martian Manhunter, and was a faithful member of every incarnation of the Justice League. This was a great project to work on, done mostly using Zbrush from a simple base mesh and I did the textures with a mix of photoshop and Zbrush too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Transconsciousness Articulator



The Transconsciousness Articulator is a Martian device which can read the mind of a subject and generate a virtual reality so convincing that it can fool the heightened senses of Superman. It has been described as forcing the subject's conscious mind into the realm of their subconscious.

A subject is placed in an isolating chamber while wearing a black wetsuit with various attachments. The chamber fills with a clear liquid, and the subject is induced into a state somewhat like REM sleep, but of indefinite length and elevated impact on the subject. In fact, the device is meant to be used only with the guiding oversight of an experienced telepath, and can endanger the subject if used without such supervision.

First Appearance: JLA #83 (September, 2003)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ta'-Dun (The Golden Pyramid)



The Golden Pyramid is a vision seen by Martians on their way to the afterlife. Not unlike "walking into the light," Martians step up from the red sands of Mars onto the first of many steps up the Golden Pyramid. As they ascend, the given Martian will sing the song of their life. At the top of the pyramid, the traveler may be greeted by their loved ones. If the Martian's song is complete, they may then rejoin their family in the hereafter. However, if the lifesong is discordant, or there are notes missing, the Martian's loved ones will hear. It may then be determined that the Martian should return to the material world to complete their work.

First Appearance: JLA/Cyberforce (2005)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2007 “A Knight of Shadows” Martian Manhunter fan art by tessa7338

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"... I think he's emo-ing.

Tried a bunch of new techniques on this, then totally couldn't decide on a background. Also realized that tree branches don't point down. XD much.

Mostly MS Paint, with a Photoshop'd background. Martian Manhunter (c) DC Comics"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2013 Martian Manhunter fan art by Chicherova Olga

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"As portrayed in "Justice League" animated series"
I must have missed that episode.

Monday, October 27, 2014

2013 The Line It Is Drawn Doctor Who Martian art by Nick Perks

Click To Expand & Enlarge


"Martian Manhunter and/or Miss Martian meet The Ice Warriors

Obviously I added a few other Martian realities - the Tripods, John Carter and Deja Thoris, and even the Pyramids of Mars in the background.

And one of the greatest Doctors - Jon Pertwee with his most famous phrase."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2008 Martian Manhunter fan art by Shaun Logan

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"Can't pronounce his name properly but it's the martian dude from Justice League."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2013 “Redplanet Doodpredator” Martian Manhunter fan art by Felix

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"I'm gonna draw Martian Manhunter (this guy above), Etrigan, Bizarro, Catwoman and Flash, because they're some of my favourite characters from DC"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Martian Sightings for January, 2015



Martian Manhunter
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #8
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN
Cover by ANDREW ROBINSON
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by KARL KERSCHL
1:25 Variant cover by ROD REIS
On sale JANUARY 14 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with three covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

The penultimate chapter of “The Infinitus Saga” is here as the fate of the future is decided in a battle between Justice League United and the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Given their druthers on this book, artists seem to spotlight Adam Strange. But hey, we'll get ours when that slew of MARTIAN MANHUNTER 60 Variant covers roll out. That should start any minute now. Any... minute... now...

JUSTICE LEAGUE #38
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by JASON FABOK
Cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by TONY HARRIS
1:25 Variant cover by MICHAEL CHOI
On sale DECEMBER 17 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • Combo pack edition: $4.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Please see the order form for details.

The Amazo Virus infects the last Leaguer standing: Batman!
I'd have to be a humorless stick in the mud to point out that J'onn J'onzz is the only hero obscured by the Flash on the variant cover. Who else though, y'know?

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED VOL. 1: JUSTICE LEAGUE CANADA HC
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by MIKE McKONE and JED DOUGHTERTY
Cover by MIKE McKONE
On sale MARCH 4 • 192 pg, FC, $24.99 US

In the aftermath of FOREVER EVIL, Adam Strange is caught up in an adventure across the far reaches of the cosmos that will unite an unexpected team of heroes including Supergirl, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Martian Manhunter and Animal Man – but if they’re on the team, who exactly is Canadian? And don’t miss the debut of the young Canadian hero known as Miiyahbin! It’s all here in stories from JLU #0-4, JUSTICE LEAGUE: FUTURES END #1 and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED: FUTURES END #1!
I bought and read the two Futures End issues, working under the assumption they wouldn't be collected in a normal fashion like this. Egg on my face. On the other hand, I bought the books based on fraudulent solicitation copy, so it wasn't entirely my fault I got stuck with these duds, unless you want to point out that I should have known better by now. Anyway, they weren't very good, and I'm now disinclined toward buying this trade, so maybe I'll save money in the long run.
ORION BY WALTER SIMONSON OMNIBUS EDITION HC
Written by WALTER SIMONSON and others
Art by WALTER SIMONSON, FRANK MILLER, JIM LEE and others
Cover by WALTER SIMONSON
On sale MARCH 25 • 688 pg, FC, $75.00 US

Legendary writer/artist Walter Simonson takes on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World! These tales star the heroes and villains of the Fourth World as Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation and Orion battles to stop him! Collects ORION #1-25 and stories from JACK KIRBY’S FOURTH WORLD #9-11 and 13!
I've had the one issue of this series J'Onn and the JLA appeared in unread and unbagged in a box for over a decade. Read the first few issues. They were a'ight, but $75?
SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A DC COMICS ADVENTURE TP
Written by JOSH ELDER
Art by ADAM ARCHER
Video game art cover
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The sequel to the video game SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED arrives in this title collecting SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A CRISIS OF IMAGINATION chapters #1-9, plus a digital short never before available in print! Following the events of Scribblenauts Unmasked, Madame Xanadu and Phantom Stranger enlist the help of Maxwell and Lily to save the DC Universe as we know it.
I didn't bother listing the individual issues, but I'm sure J'Onn J'Onzz is in there somewhere, right? Right? Actually, he wasn't listed on any of the breakdowns at Comic Vine, so maybe not...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

2013 “JJ” Martian Manhunter fan art by Rebekah KopyKunoichi

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"JJ: You have ten seconds to tell me what you did with the Oreos. One, two, ten.

Gotta love the Manhunter. Totally under-appreciated."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2007 Ajax fan art by Wellington Fiuza

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I like this piece and the international J'Onzz (he's called Ajax in Brazil,) but them gloves, dude? Shudder.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2009 “J.L.A. by Gaslight” fan art by Paul Keane

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"This was just a piece I worked on which came about after I saw a toy series based on the Justice League if theyed existed in the Victorian era of the "Gotham by Gaslight" story drawn by Mike Mignola. I loved researching all the clothing and costume from that period and would really like to work on some larger project sometime."
In a switcheroo from our norm, there's a colored version with digital background, but I prefer the original art.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Horn Firing Creature of Gilgana vs. Ignition


Horn Firing Creature
Debut: 1964
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: None.
Appearances: One comic story
Powers: See name.

Bio:
Big beast on a weird world that was territorial and stuff.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: The Cobra-Beast (3-1)
Lose: The Orchestra of Doom (2-3)
Draw: 0

Vs.

Ignition
Debut: 2000
Nemesis: Superman
Other Major Foes: Superman Family
Appearances: 15 comics.
Powers: Flight, invulnerability, and blast power.

Bio: Armored villain who debuted as part of The Joker League of Anarchy.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0


Idol Speculation:
So here's the thing about the Horn Firing Creature-- it's weak. It can't aim well enough to hit a chubby middle aged man rolling around on the ground without cover about a hundred feet out. It looks really big, but the perspective in the story it appeared in was screwy, and with a little investigating it appears to be maybe elephantine. Then the kicker-- its horns shatter harmlessly on the Martian Manhunter's chest. Now, the Alien Atlas is nobody to sneeze at, obviously, but the fact remains that the creature couldn't possibly injure the super-hero it was supposed to fight. Nothing on Gilgana was very effective at hurting Regular Joes, so even if Nightwing got sucked into a hole in the sky, he could toss some pink sand around and get loose inside a single issue. I was considering low level guys like Mawzir and Killshot, but that was going mighty obscure, and it seemed better to use this match as a teaching opportunity.

Scorch was created for the "Emperor Joker" crossover, then turned up in an issue of Action Comics guest-starring Martian Manhunter, before being given to that hero as a girlfriend in "Trial By Fire." Ignition was also created for "Emperor Joker," had a secret history hinted at, but only turned up for a bit working with a now abandoned version of Zod before joining him in oblivion. Maybe Scorch could re-team with Ignition, and they could both serve in the Vile Menagerie? Ignition is kind of nifty looking, and he might as well get some use.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

2008 “JLI: Everyone Hates Guy” fan art by Liezl Buenaventura

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"Liezl Buenaventura is an artist based in Manila, Philippines. She graduated from the UP College of Fine Arts (Majoring in both Visual Communication and Studio Arts), and is a big fan of classic, painterly styles. She has worked with various publishers and independently-published teams, which include Zenescope Entertainment, Arcana Studios and Ronin Studios. "