Thursday, March 12, 2015

Podcast: Strawmanhunter from Mars

Episode #6

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This episode, we look at the solicitation copy for the 2015 Martian Manhunter (mini-?) series, as well as a fan rumor about Vile Menagerie favorite appearing on the upcoming CBS Supergirl show (we know better than to even hope without confirmation.) Then we answer your comments from previous shows at length, including which Marvel Comics heroes he most resembles (The Vision isn't even mentioned) and more on J'Onn J'Onzz's solo viability related to that Comics Alliance article discussed last month.

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


Count Drunkula said...

Despite being ten percent news roundup and ninety percent listener feedback/rebuttal against Siskoid, I think this was your best episode yet. It sparked a lot of thoughts this morning, so I'll try making sense of them.

1. Ben Oliver's art was the most enticing prospect of the new Martian Manhunter series. I've enjoyed Eddy Barrows' stuff in the past, but to have so much creative turnover before the release--I'm hard pressed to think of a time in recent history when that didn't signal the death in utero of a series.

2. I don't know where this memory came from but when I began exploring more of DC's pantheon a couple years ago I conceived of a sort-of fan-fiction story where Supergirl appears to Superman for the first time, only to be revealed by J'Onn at the end that Supergirl was Miss Martian all along, not trying to hurt Kal-El, but just selfishly trying to glom onto her hero (Superman) whilst rejecting her Martian heritage. Yeah, I have no idea where that idea came from.

3. I'm of two minds regarding J'Onn J'Onzz being the last surviving Martian. On one hand, it adds a layer of tragic nobility to his character, and opens the door for survivor's guilt stories and positioning J'Onn as a harbinger character with a cautionary message for Earthlings. On the other hand, it's yet more fodder for the second-rate Superman comparisons.

I think I prefer J'Onn being part of a surviving (though not necessarily thriving) Martian race, either stolen away to Earth by human technology (slave narrative themes?) or banished by his own either because he's too progressive and forward-thinking for a stagnant traditionalist culture or possibly too stubborn and hardline for a changing culture.

Count Drunkula said...

4. A total Martian Invasion is my favorite story DC never told. The Marshall's attack in Justice League #228-230 and the first arc of Morrison's JLA came close but failed to deliver. Marvel's Secret Invasion had a year of incredible setup for a mediocre event and tie-ins.

However, what if J'Onn became the steward of a group of Martians on Earth. I thought New Krypton was awful and putting the Kandorians on Earth with Superman-level powers was ill-advised and poorly executed, but could that type of story work for J'Onn? Would it be too similar to Diana and the Amazons of Paradise Island, or Arthur and the Atlanteans, or... that time the Green Lantern Corps was based on Earth? I think in order to differentiate it from those other subcultures, the Martians would have to pose as humans and assimilate into humanity. Would that turn J'Onn into their case manager then? Or something more like Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black?

5. I agree that J'Onn should be the only hero called "Manhunter" but I think I prefer the alliteration of Martian Manhunter. The word "Martian" as an adjective seems more pulp and superhero-y to me, like BLACK Panther, BLUE Beetle, GREEN Hornet, etc.

6. I loved and agree with your comments that J'Onn--and indeed many superheroes--shouldn't necessarily be relatable. It goes back to my feeling that the DC heroes created in the Golden and Silver Age would be superior men and women even if they didn't have powers, whereas the Marvel heroes are all basically antiheroes--they use their powers for good despite physical and social character flaws.

If Clark Kent didn't have alien physiology, he would still be a world class journalist fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. If Barry Allen never got struck by lightning, he would still put criminals in jail using forensic science. If Hal Jordan never got a ring, he would still risk his life in experimental aircraft. The rest of the League are all monarchs or millionaires. These are SUPERIOR men and women; they're not easy to sympathize with or relate to.

I think that's why, for me, I was so drawn to the DC heroes as a child, then turned off by them as an adolescent, and then attracted to them again in adulthood. They are bigger, more symbolic, more aspirational. They remind us of our past and our future, whereas Marvel, well, Marvel is all about NOW.

Anj said...

Another great show covering a number of topics. Loved it.

1) I doubt that The Commander on Supergirl will be a Kryptonian. I bet that race (outside of Kara) is sequestered in the cinematic universe.

2) Great discussion about J'onn as a character. I think the word 'alternative' is so perfect. I see that in Supergirl too ... she isn't Superman or Wonder Woman. She's other. In fact, when I look at all the character blogs and sites I enjoy, they all focus on a littler known, less appreciated character with a site owner pointing out how much these character should be appreciated.

As for 'wanting popularity', I am in a weird place right now. There are lots of people talking about Supergirl right now. That should be good ... right?

I have been yelling for 7 years for people to recognize how great Kara is. So now what?

3)I also love the name Manhunter. As you point out, the history of the name in the DC universe is huge. He should use it!

And like Count, I also left superheroes in my adolescence, drowning myself in Vertigo and indy stuff. I rediscovered them in my adulthood because I needed to see inspirational heroes again. I don't know if comics have that a lot nowadays. I don't need to relate to these characters in any other way than saying we all should be helping each other. But I don't need to see characters struggling with work deadlines, filling their gas tank, etc.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for another top show. I actually don't think the traditional costume can be beaten, although I generally do like a chap in a flappy crotch thing. I do hate the current scalloped head. What's that all about?