Monday, October 26, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
You may recall that J'onn J'onzz only returned to mainstream comics in 1984, so it's curious that less than a year later, he was offered a cameo in a licensed comic copyrighted by the gaming company Atari. It was a DC license, at least, in the brief time period that Warner Communications also owned Atari.
Atari Force started as a series of relatively self-contained episodes in the adventures of near-future space explorers featured in "mini" comics packaged with certain Atari game cartridges. The comics were closer to digests than what we generally consider mini-comics today, running 48 pages on high quality paper with dimensions similar to a thin TV Guide. The ongoing Atari Force standard edition comic book series launched a couple of years later, set a couple decades later. It featured a ragtag second generation team drawn together by circumstance and the original team leader's obsession with the mini-comics' main villain, the Dark Destroyer. It was a fun book by talented creators who bailed after about a year and whose overarching story was carried meekly across the finish line by lesser hands. The book limped along less than a year before getting the ax, and most of that second year was handicapped by truncated lead stories and filler back-ups of varying degrees of amusement value.
For instance, a three-parter was dedicated to a prequel story for Pakrat, a reluctant Atari Force member that was a cross between Rocket Raccoon and... actually, pretty much just a toned down and cowardly Rocket, as depicted by Marvel Studios. Pakrat is arguably cuter, with more mouse and monkey-like features (he's an alien, not Splinter.) Pakrat's whole species likes to steal, which is how he ends up pulling a high stakes burglary of one world's crown jewels with the rodent equivalent of Paris Hilton. This occurs at a sort of royal ball, and Martian Manhunter can be seen in one panel, hobnobbing at the party.
"To Catch a Pakrat" was by Andrew Helfer, Mike Chen, & Joe DelBeato. I'm not familiar with the art team, but I was amazed by their similarity to early Longshot period Arthur Adams as inked by Whilce Portacio. Most of the inker's other credits was over Herb Trimpe on G.I. Joe Order of Battle, which was... nah. So I assume the spark came from Chen, but he didn't have much of a career beyond some Robotech and Elementals material. A shame, based on the effort put into this three-parter.
Monday, October 5, 2020
The best thing for me to do, if I'm not going with a literal representation of the comic book imagery for the villain, is to think outside that box. Cast backwards both from the actors that I've already selected and by finding a character for performers I'd like to see in any production of this sort. For instance, I enjoyed watching the full series of The Good Place over the last year or so. Chidi Anagonye was my favorite character on a show that plays heavily with themes of philosophy and existentialism. Chidi is the moral center of the show, thoughtful and concerned to the point of near total inaction. William Jackson Harper was excellent in that role, but he was also a rare point of interest in the mostly interminable Midsommar, playing a duplicitous toxic academic douchebro. It wasn't a complete departure from Chidi, as both characters are academics focused on observation, but it did demonstrate range and Harper's ability to make me turn on him while playing an unsympathetic character.
Parker also has elven, slight otherworldly features, including a severely arched brow-line and intensely puckish smile. In a better world, he could have been a perfect Captain Marvel/Shazam with those Howard Porter eyebrows of his. When he smiles, he radiates joy, goodness and warmth. Unfortunately, we're on Earth-Zachary Levi, one of the really crappy Earths, and so I'm instead casting for subversion. What if you took the expectations that come from this guy's presence and prior roles, and employ those qualities for the charismatic demagogue Commander Blanx? Though both men are in great shape, Jonathan Majors has nearly half a foot on Harper, but Blanx was never played as a major physical threat. His whole thing was that he was a charming fascist who bullies and connives his way into a position to commit global genocide for his sole personal gain. I think Harper could act the hell out of that, and I'd love to see his malevolent glee played against J'Onn's quiet virtue.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Super-heroes wear masks. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't point out that this is a coronavirus safety message that explicitly notes the year is 2020 despite the JLI being on-model for 1987. I do like that all of the masks are branded, especally Bat-Mask 'natch, but it's a bummer than Martian Manhunter's is the most "there." I guess it's a view of Mars from space, and it's better than that man-symbol they floated in the Morrison JLA, but it's easily the worst of the lot (and Max Lord just has a green mask with a dollar sign.) I wish my mask had an atom symbol on it, though I'll admit the best one is Blue Beetle's.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Monday, September 28, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
** I know that stings, Snyder-stans, but it's no less true.
*** It's so sad that I have to copy and paste my posts into a WordPress comment now that Blogger doesn't offer spellcheck, but you get what you don't pay for, I suppose.
Monday, September 14, 2020
I had another one of those "manically active without actually working on projects that are coming due" weekends, and instead of having multiple posts in the can, I'm typing this single one up at 2:23 a.m. on Monday morning. I never made anybody any promises, since I'd undoubtedly break them, and I have no aspirations of maintaining a daily schedule. We'll see how Tuesday goes.
While searching for reference, I stumbled upon this fun piece featuring the original Malibu comic book Men in Black looking on at an aerial battle between Lobo & Rocket Raccoon, Superman & Gladiator, Hawkman & Thor, and Martian Manhunter & Silver Surfer by former Thor artist M.C. Wyman. Since the default image size for this blog is 400px and I'm now using Google as my exclusive image host, I just took the relevant snippet of the piece to save on bandwidth. There's a link to the whole shebang at Comic art Fans if you click on the pic.
Friday, September 11, 2020
I was away from posting anything but podcasts for so long that I wasn't aware that I had a years long queue of unmoderated comments. Out of the 30-something I reviewed after it occurred to me to keep any kind of track, a good quarter or so weren't trying to sell me imitation Viagra in Sanskrit. By the way, when did Google decide to take away spell check? My receiving eleven years of free web-hosting still entitles me to all the frills, right? Oh wait, it's in compose view. I guess that makes sense.
Where was I? Oh yeah, it also occurred to me that I could milk a free post out of answering a few of those comments from people that probably will never read them or visit this blog again. For posterity.
So one guy wanted to let me know that Mongul is a weak villain. That was before I was saving the names or posts. He made sure to tell me exactly that in two comments. Counterpoint: I like Mongul. I think he's cool. He's in competition with Lord High Papal for my favorite knock-off of Thanos, and I'm counting all the Thanos rip-offs, not just Starlin's home-brewed ones (side-eyes Synnar the Demiurge.) He's also the villain in one of the best ever Superman stories which hinges on his villainy, so that's not weak. I feel like I should end with some sort of white dad rap, but that would take effort and rhyming, so I'll just end this statement with "Word."
On the post Martian Manhunter in the 1980, Anonymous said, "Hi. I think you missed JLA 228-230." Well Ann (may I call you Ann?) the truth is that I started my coverage of the Detroit era with Justice League of America Annual #2, and planned to work up to the "War of the Worlds: 1984" arc as the conclusion of my Silver-To-Bronze Age coverage. Then I never finished, in large part because I got podcasting. But as a consolation, my very first ever podcast appearance was to cover those issues with Rob & Shag on The Fire and Water Podcast.
Amusingly, Doppelgänger asked of my Comrades of Mars bios in 2018, "Where are the obvious ones like Zook and Diane Meade and Miss Martian?" It was a literal copy & paste of the same request made by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg in 2013. The seventh anniversary of that request is in three months, so I guess that's a goal to work towards? My answer remains, "I haven't written their profile entries yet." I'll add that I would need to reread a bunch of comics, and I already got a bunch of other comics in line way ahead of them. G'way kid, ja bodderin' me.
On a more constructive note, The Time Trust offered in early 2019 that "I think it's worth noting that Patrolman Slade may have made a rare second appearance, as John Jones is partnered with a policeman named Slade in Detective Comics #268, just 8 issues after Patrolman Slade's initial appearance. This second Slade looks identical to the first." I can probably read a single eight page story to follow-up on that. Thank you, T.T.T.
Ahead of the most recent Martian Manhunter maxi-series, I groused on Martian Manhunter Returns In New Series Canceled With Twelfth Issue To Soften The Inevitable Blow! about how I didn't really like anything done with the character as a soloist for the previous dozen years and was tired of supporting all those misfires financially. Full disclosure, I only bought several different versions of the first issue or so, didn't appreciate that take, and abandoned it to trade-waiting.
Dr. Anj & Martin Gray both commented at the time, but I had nothing to add to the dialogue. Four months later, Slimmy did, saying, "First time I read your post I thought you were unfair to Williams and Barrows'run, called "Epiphany" and "Red Rising". I thought I kinda enjoyed it.
But then I realized that I actually disliked what it was : There was no Martian Manhunter in it for quite a while. I only enjoyed it because it was an inconsequential bad story that gave the character a new origin that I kinda enjoyed. I foolishly thought that this new origin would allow the character to get a fresh start, and was different from Ostrander's stupidity. (Yes I preferred when the epidemic was just a disease going around, like Dematteis implied, rather than a biological weapon and Malefic is a ridiculous concept and who the [expletive deleted] writes evil twin brothers unironically ?). I enjoyed this origin story, I really did. I thought it had greater tragedy than ever before while still building up the world and culture. Nonetheless, we share a common hatred of this new book. I grew up with Carl Lumbly as the Martian Manhunter, and picturing him as black was the norm for me. But a freaking corrupt cop ? The origin story retconned AGAIN ? The atrocious art style ? Just cease and desist."
I did buy the trade, as I did with the Williams/Barrows series, after supporting that entire run in floppies. I've finished reading neither. I love Barrows' art, full stop, and Riley Rossmo was very not that. However, I actually enjoyed his quirky visuals and they suited the story Orlando was telling. It's just that the story wasn't intended for me any more than the Williams one was, but in different ways. They both let their freak flags fly, which I encourage on a Martian Manhunter book, but those stories didn't involve a version of J'Onn J'Onzz that I recognized or cared to associate with. Issue for issue, I preferred what Orlando did, if only by virtue of a guy named J'Onn in a familiar setting being present. I wasn't feeling it, and I was tired of throwing out good money after bad, plus I simply lost interest in reading after issue #3 or 4. I couldn't even muster a hate-read. Just decompressed meh.
Finally, kevin from new orleans has let a series of supportive comments on the recent posts that I appreciate. I really do need to at least watch the Carl Lumbly scenes from Supergirl. I was not aware that Ma'alefa'ak was on the show until recently, and was didn't know at all about the additional stunt casting. That could be really fun. I have the Blu-Rays through season 3, so I should get on that already...
Thursday, September 10, 2020
My buddy Derek WC of Fanholes Podcast alerted me that noted Swamp Thing alum Steve Bissette had of his own volition contributed the rare Zook rendering to the world of fine art. You can see a larger version on his Facebook post, as well as some new additions to the piece.
Bat-Mite! Zook! Mister Mxyzptlk!
When J'onn J'onzz (the Martian Manhunter) is away, Zook finds a place to chill, right alongside a couple other Silver Age reprobates... I added 'em to the original sketch... And this makes me giggle.
Brush, pen, archival ink, whiteout pen, Meanstreak on 8 1/2" x 11" light board; $175 for this is pretty esoteric Silver Age DC memory lane monkey-business—or Best Offer—(plus shipping) to first to PM me here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still fundraising for dental surgery (October), fall/winter work on TYRANT® and other projects. I'll be offering more traditional-for-Bissette fare later in the week/weekend, but had some odd "just for fun" pieces I wanted to offer to mix it up a bit. Many thanks!
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Like so many other online outlets, we seem to have pivoted to video. Just kidding. I'm totally going to drop the ball on this blog revival entirely any minute now. Best hope is that I get some weekly art posts lined up before I lose interest again. Anyway, as I was going through the relatively short list of Martian Manhunter trailer fan edits, I tumbled onto this video and thought "Mortal Engines, huh?" The anticipating of 2020 facewear aside, this is actually an (almost) entirely newly produced fan-acted short feature (I think they borrow some audio from Supergirl?) Cool use of limited means to show off J'Onn's telepathy, plus we get an in-continuity co-star instead of secondhand Jeff Goldblum. I'm more enthused about this take on Martian Manhunter than the rest of the Snyder Murderverse influenced stuff this week. They also did one for Detroit Justice League teammate Vixen...
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
This one owes an enormous debt to the 2010 “Martian Manhunter - Theatrical Trailer” by SouperboyX, but (mostly-- whoops!) switches out Phil Morris for David Harewood. J'Onn's big reveal on the first season of Supergirl really lit a fire under people four years ago. I wonder why nobody has gone back to this well in the years since? I didn't quite finish Supergirl season 2, but I know there's been a lot more Alien Atlas lore mined since then that could serve as extensive trailer fodder. Is everyone just holding their breath for Harry Lennix in 2021? Funny, you could describe the entire Snyder Cut saga as "General Swanwick."