Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Podcast: The New 52 Martian Manhunter

Episode #7

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or download art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

In light of DC Comics' official discontinuation of the "New 52" brand just as they finally announce the now-not-New 52 Martian Manhunter series we've been waiting for since 2011, Frank looks at the history of the Alien Atlas within the context of the current publishing continuity.

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


Anj said...

I love the "Jan Brady" reference. I can picture Dan Didio yelling 'Marvel! Marvel! Marvel!' in a Jan voice.

I think companies like this or franchise characters are difficult to nudge in new ways. You say that the New 52 made J'onn a blank slate continuity-wise and DC could go in a new direction for him. But that ignores the 60 years of character inertia that is linked.

I will always try to make a Supergirl analogy so here it goes. The New 52 Supergirl was a blank slate for continuity. So they went in the dark, bitter, angry, loner direction. And ... because of history ... that just won't work for the Supergirl character.

Daniel Craig was a new James Bond, freed from continuity. But if you made Bond a celibate pacifist ... well that isn't James Bond.

I think the core of an established character is often set. New directions and new continuities can tinker with the edges, can nudge one way or the other. But the core has to remain intact or else you get something so foreign, so completely different people might not get it.

That said, if the story is fantastic, people will accept new histories. Moore's Swamp Thing or Milligan's Shade were very different from their inceptions but accepted. The angry Supergirl stories weren't good ... it made it even harder to accept.

Count Drunkula said...

There aren't many characters whose New 52 redesigns I thought actually improved on what he or she previously looked like. Katana's new look was pretty good, though perhaps too extreme? She never had much of a character before 2011, so maybe the total overhaul of her appearance was needed to simply alert readers that there was anything of value in her at all.

J'Onn's New 52 design was acceptable, though I preferred the Ivan Reis-designed mod that debuted at the end of Blackest Night. I remember at the time comparing his look to Brother Voodoo. That gave him a slightly weird, paranormal feel that enhanced his outsider-ness, whereas the New 52 look feels more like an alien uniform, as in a uniform worn by police or military.

Maybe the best thing DC can do at this point to salvage this Nu Martian Manhunter is to embrace the idea that he betrayed the Justice League and tell that story. He doesn't need to be a villain, but he could be a powerful antagonist, essentially a Despero-type with a personal connection to the League members. A story about the League hunting the Manhunter would be an excellent showcase for not only his various powers but the themes of paranoia ala the Red Menace and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" that work with his origin.