Tuesday, March 25, 2014

(Late) March Madness of Diabolu

When jimmypulv first suggested a March Madness brackets for Martian Manhunter villains in 2011, it gelled perfectly with the blog's earliest origins as a response to versus threads on the late '90s DC Comics Message Board. It's hard to believe that there was a time without Wikipedia or YouTube, where a dude who'd recently become interested in the Martian Manhunter had to learn about the character on the back streets of the Information Superhighway. Most of my initial education came from U.S. Navy Commander Adam Benson (Ret.) and back issues of House of Mystery that I was slowly accumulating off eBay. Benson characterized the Diabolu Idol-Head as a gimmick, and the stories I was exposed to firsthand were typically not the best (and in fact they were among the worst.) This not only led to my having a negative opinion of the device, but also an essential misunderstanding of it.

For many years, I thought that the beasties from out of the idol-head were like soulless spells that the Alien Atlas "broke" when he defeated them. It was only after I read the Diabolu origin story that I realized these were living beings from ancient times who were captive within the sorcerous container. They were mostly semi/non-sentient monsters on a path of destruction, rather than properly motivated adversaries of the Sleuth from Outer Space, which is why I prefer to list them under an eventual Diabolu Head group listing instead of The Vile Menagerie. Still, there was no good reason for my initial and ongoing exclusion of the beasts from the annual March Madness brackets.

I had to read up on March Madness for the 2011 edition, because I'm not a sports fan, and it was a bit of a mess. The first year's victor was Malefic, but there seemed to be some shenanigans that played into that. The second year offered up Despero, who had been in contention previously, but I'd have figured Ma'alefa'ak would have done better just a few months after his role in the animated film Justice League: Doom. It seemed likely that a cycling between Malefic and Despero would continue, so to give the event an opportunity to surprise in 2013, we flipped the script to force Martian Manhunter supporting characters to battle to death, our Final Girl being Miss Martian.

With the Idol-Head of Diabolu hitting its fiftieth birthday this year, I thought it would be nice to make up for their previous seclusion by offering a spotlight "Weird War of Gilgana" where Diabolu's monsters were the only competitors. It gives some classic, wholly "owned" Alien Atlas adversaries a chance at a title, and it gives me a break from organizing a larger competition. After two years off, I figure the 2015 contest will return to the model of the first two, but hopefully better structured and more diverse. I suppose the teased "The Isle of Diabolu" will have to wait a while, though...

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