Monday, January 24, 2022

Action Comics #1038 (February, 2022)

The Martian Manhunter told Mrs. Heath to run from this rookie Human Flame, not the original and "first super-villain I ever fought." He made short work of the suit's flame jets with laser vision, as even though this Flame had been told of the Martian vulnerability to fire, he didn't exactly wilt at the sight of birthday candles. The Alien Atlas carried the imposter "ten thousand feet" in the air, then dropped him as an intimidation factor to get the facts. Apparently, telepathy wasn't an option anymore? He'd only met his benefactors once in person, to get the suit. It was all set up on an online forum. They wore white face masks, and had offered him half a million dollars to kill the Manhunter. As least he could still verify the store with his mental powers, seeing only those familiar featureless masks.

Metropolis Police Department Lieutenant Certa was soon knocking on the door of the parent of another teen taken in by the site. He was met at the door by his protesting (and all-too-similar looking) partner, Ostrander, who still believed that there were times when he wasn't on-duty. Sarah Garber's dad didn't know anything about Katharsis Aureus, respect her boundaries. Was he wrong for that?

Back to the Metropolis Museum. "Elements of my past, previously unrelated, now parts of the same puzzle." Shredded bits of white cloth on an air vent to small for a "normal-sized person" to access. In an alley outside, a young girl brown-haired girl in a orange hoodie claimed she'd seen kids perform the break-in. "I kinda patrol this area... Name's Zoey, but most people call me Zook. And you're Martian Manhunter. Big fan."

"A Face in the Crowd: Part Two" was by Shawn Aldridge and Adriana Melo. This is the part where the inevitable tweaks begin. Not my Zook, but better than a flower, at least. Getting used to the quirks of the art, and still appreciating that Pugh vibe. Good fit for the material. I'm calling Ostrander as the bad guy, but that may just be my bias when it comes to the Sleuth from Outer Space.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2021 “The Legend of Isis” fanfic commission art by Jean Sinclair

Click To Enlarge

I got so into my fan fiction 2021 “DC Comics 1999 Editorial Presentation: Countdown To The Millennium” project for an appearance on Who’s Editing #14: No Man Escapes the Editors that I solicited several commissions to be produced to support it. Where I asked Brad Green to do specific characters for “Lords of the Ultra-Realm” and “Primal Force”, for my first piece ever from Jean Sinclair, I gave him the stacks of reference I'd accumulated and let him have his picks.

One of his choices was Mary Marvel, and since the premises at the back of the "book" were less formed, I figured to mostly work backward from his art to expand upon her entry. That said, I wanted the members of the Marvel Family to have new identities, and asked Sinclair to make Mary a hybrid with The Secrets of Isis from the Filmation "sister show" to Shazam! While I made some suggestions, really Sinclair came up with his own amalgamation on display here. As you can see, there's a lot of crossover between his character selections and the ones already in the other commissions, which gave everything continuity, and guided the writing end of it. So glad the Big Red Cheese was available to, as the Dude would attest, tie the room together.

I was of course pleased when he chose the Martian Marvel to join Mary, especially after research I was doing for the project uncovered Karmang, the perfect bridge between the properties and a happy surprise for me. It just now occurs to me that I could have worked The Gray Man in there somewhere, but things were already pretty crowded, and I was just glad the artist could oblige my requested inclusion of the sorcerer. You know I'm happy with all this Red Planet representation, especially that big Manhunter recalling EVS (especially since the actual guy is now persona non grata.) I was also happy with Garn Daanuth and Maaldor the Darklord, who I really wanted to work in, but hadn't asked for.

The Demon is among my favorite DC characters, and he tangled with J'Onn J'Onzz during the '90s Ostrander/Mandrake series. I confess to struggling to find Etrigan's role in the larger story, but I was still pleased to have him, and an angle finally presented itself. This is a fun piece that pleased me, and Sinclair was a joy to work with. He enthusiastically tackled oodles of characters, more than I ever expected, and totally delivered. I recommend him for your own future commissions, perhaps via the links below?

Jean Sinclair

Monday, January 3, 2022

2021 “Gypsy Zook and Cry'll - In Color” commission by Val Semeiks & Tom Ziuko

Click To Enlarge

I had planned to finish out running original material commissioned for the fake DC Editorial Presentation this week, but I felt like the artist didn't get the traction his work warranted on social media due to the holidays and so many people being on vacation. Also, I only got one day off each of those weeks, so I didn't set aside the time to draft those posts. Thankfully, derekwc alerted me to this delightful work.
So love Val's version of Detroit Era Gypsy and asked him for a commission. I wild idea came to mind to add Zook and Cry'll the alien sidekicks of Martian Manhunter and Space Ranger. Val said it was very unique commission but think he had fun with it. I asked him to add a small Space Ranger in the background as he already had Martian Manhunter.
Lots of fun choices made here, and I'm always up for an untold adventure of Zook in the right spirit. Here's the original black & white art. By the way, there's no apostrophe in Cryll... or Zook for that matter, and don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
My crazy commission piece - by Val Semiks now in glorious computer color. Tom Z knocks it out the park again.

Monday, December 27, 2021

2021 “DC Comics 1999 Editorial Presentation: Countdown To The Millennium”

Click To Digital Catalog

Since 2020, Siskoid has co-hosted with various guests Who's Editing, "the show where armchair editors re-imagine the DC Universe based on single issues of Who's Who!" Basically, the participants have to pitch a new ongoing series for every protagonist (and an optional antagonist) featured in a given 1980s issue of "The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe." I took to the podcast like a pig to slop, creating my own fan fiction universe of titles with running mock Previews catalog-style solicitation blurbs for every entry (and then some) in the comments section of each episode. I figured with the round robin guests, Siskoid would eventually get around to me, with the natural assumption I would get tagged for the Martian Manhunter edition. Then he called me up way earlier than I had planned or prepared for, Who’s Editing #8: Flashes in the Pan. I made my initial intentions toward Vol XIV clear, and since Siskoid figures to cycle through most of his first run of guests twice, that about suited his own needs.

Since I'd called dibs, I wanted to make this one extra special, so I glommed onto the old 1992-94 DC Editorial Presentations as a template. To compete with all the better selling flibbertigibbets in the Chromium Age, DC would outline an entire year's worth of titles in two page spreads, one of art, and the other copy. There were some that fell through the cracks or were altered, but more or less, you could reliably see what a given year had in store for DC readers. I also wanted to do a line devoted to the Alien Atlas, because look around the page, man. I got a little work in early, other matters demanded my attention, and then a few months ahead of deadline I committed hard to producing the mock catalog linked above. While the Manhunter from Mars maintained a strong presence, the demands of the other subjects sent things into more of a fantasy direction favoring the Marvel Family and sword & sorcery types. For instance, The Warlords of the Ultra-Realm. But hey, more on that later...

Monday, December 20, 2021

DC Comics 1999 Editorial Presentation: Manhunter



The first ever ongoing series devoted to the Manhunter from Mars launched out of DC ONE MILLION with an innovative campaign. Debuting with a special #0 issue detailing J'Onn J'Onzz's earliest days on Earth living as an African-American, and why he ultimately instead chose the role of a white male authority figure; continuing into a premiere GHOSTS Annual; followed by the #1,000,000 issue co-written by GRANT MORRISON accounting for the Alien Atlas' far future. Finally, the #1 edition, examining the sole Manhunter's decision to drop part of his title following repeated White Martian incidents, and his position as the most prominent super-hero outside the United States.

In this initial story arc, the International Ultramarine Corps have assumed an aggressive role in defending South America, naturally bringing them into contact with the Manhunter. The U.S. government still views many of them as military deserters, and their push back against Latin exploitation in the wake of the tragedy in Montevideo has earned them vicious enemies. When a despicable new incarnation of corporate metahumans The Conglomerate perpetuate a horrific assault upon the team in Superbia, the Manhunter's response places him at odds with the U.S.

As the new creative team take over, Bloodwynd alerts Manhunter to strange activity in the Guyana of Venezuela. Soon joined by Swamp Thing, Aztek the Ultimate Man, and Rima the Jungle Girl, they discover a source of the Endless Energies of Entrop, indicating it as one of the twelve prime mana sites on Earth. Despite his status as a fallen angel, Asmodel and a fraction of his Bull Host will make for strange company in defending the reserve from the forces of Grendel, a new player in the Underworld. Next, we'll see Manhunter guard the Watchtower against the cybernetic assault of Lord Havok, as J'Onn tries to reach the humanity in his old friend, inflaming his awkward standing with former JLA teammates.

Manipulated by the psychic residue of Despero into believing that he's developed a soul, and romantic feelings for the illusion casting Gypsy, L-Ron becomes an increasingly brazen stalker... violently colliding with his friends in a clash of wills. Soon, sharing his base in the frigid Martian city of Z'Onn Z'Orr with a new super team, J'Onn's supporting cast is joined by Oberon, Gypsy, and L-Ron. When Castle Carnage is rediscovered by the Star Hunters along the shores of the Weddell Sea, J'Onn recalls a 1970s adventure involving retiring veteran policeman Dan Richards, playboy Marco Xavier, the international crime cartel of Vandal Savage, and an army of Paul Kirk clones led by the soulless Stalker.

A new incarnation of the Hyperclan is formed from the handful of White Martians that had previously escaped capture, guided by an ancient evil far more deadly than the Manhunter has ever known. Closing out the year, "Alex" Luthor succeeds in creating a bridge to Earth³, but attracts the CSA, whose Ultiman enjoys amplified abilities in the presence of magic... a major modern hazard for the Martian Marvel!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Vile Menagerie: KARMANG THE EVIL

Alter Ego: Karmang
Occupation: Sorcerer
Base of Operations: Castle Karmang, Mount Olympus, Mars
First Appearance: All New Collectors' Edition, Vol. 7, No. C-58 (1978)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: None
More than a thousand millennia ago, an exceptional White Martian sought immortality at any cost. "Like Ancient Greece on Earth, [Mars] was a civilization of thought and wonder... and of all thinkers, of all its men of science, one was there who dared more... who probed the farthest realms of the imagination... One there was... named Karmang the Good..."

Despite protestations from his friends and fellows, and supposedly in the name of science, Karmang engaged in forbidden experiments that tampered with the forces of sub-nuclear energy to disastrous result. Whether through cruel fate or merely his close proximity to the source of the energy storm that he had ignited, the "would-be wizard" survived while one billion surrounding Martians perished. The "sorcerer" gained the immortality that he had sought, but as a consequence, would be haunted by the spirits of the multitudes that had paid the price for his arrogance.

For what seemed like a million years, far beyond sanity, Karmang sought a means to reverse the tragedy that he had caused. Driven mad by his endless existence, Karmang devised a plan wherein he would cause the multiversal worlds of Earth-One and Earth-S to collide, supposedly releasing a specific, incredible amount of energy which would allow him to resurrect the wraith-like Martians that haunted him. To this end, he summond Black Adam and the Sand Superman, forcing them to do his bidding upon pain of torture. Each planted destructive devices on a given Earth, then used violence and devices to provoke combat between Superman and Captain Marvel, the only beings who could stop Karmang.

As the powerful but bedeviled heroes fought for hours across Earth-One, Supergirl, Mary Marvel, and the wizard Shazam joined forces to end the contest, restore sanity, and ambush Karmang at his castle on Mars. Karmang was so engrossed by the clash of titans that for the first time, he felt ecstactic relief from his haunting. When the heroines attacked, he cast spells powerful enough to thwart even the Maid of Might and World's Mightiest Girl. However, Supergirl used her knowledge of advanced Kryptonian science to analyze Karmang's equipment. She uncovered a button that would send Castle Karmang into a state of limbo, and with her superhuman speed, managed to escape beforehand with Mary in her arms. When last seen, Karmang was screaming endlessly, unable to escape the spirits that tormented him.

Powers & Weapons:
Karmang commands significant magics, which he casts via rhyme. He can project fireballs that immolate foes, while summoning a shield to protect himself. Karmang once cast an "illusion spell" to make Black Adam appear to be Captain Marvel that was capable of deceiving Superman. Through unknown means, Karmang culd monitor actions from worlds away. Karmang provided his unwilling agents with the Judgment Ray, a green palm-sized device, which among other things emitted red sun radiation. The ray could temporarily blind and distort the reality of mortals as mighty as Superman and Captain Marvel, allowing them to be provoked into hours-long irrational rages. In his bid to bridge the dimensional gulf to cause a cosmic catastrophe, Karmang crafted a space-time engine that would cause parallel-reality Earths to collide. An engine would need to be correctly placed on each affected world, and once the control-nodule had been activated, a magnetic aura would surround the device that was capable of repelling all but the most awesome physical forces. Within two hours, the space-time engines would theoretically become acclimated to their host world, adjusting their magnetic fields until the worlds would be attracted to one another across all known boundaries. Disrupting the engines once activated would still cause untold destruction through the altered magnetic field's impact on climate and geothermic structure.

It is unclear whether Karmang is able to leave his sacred citadel, or if he is trapped along with the billion Martian ghosts inside Castle Karmang. He has been driven insane, causing him difficulties in concentration and linear thought. He does not appear to suffer from the vulnerability to flame that plagues most Martians, and in fact displays none of their typical superhuman abilities.
Distinguishing Features:

Karmang's eyes are asymmetrical

Quote: "The Undying Ones! By all our ageless gods-- let me be! Why won't you ever let me be?"

Created by Gerry Conway & Rich Buckler

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Action Comics #1037 (January, 2022)

In Metropolis, a variety of people of different races, ages, and genders all end up at Middletown Apartments, unit 225. They are all explorations of J'Onn J'Onzz, who wonders about whether the harder choice is just being himself, "But what the hell does that even mean?" As the Martian Manhunter, he feeds his housecat Double Stuff, reflecting on his own time in that role (along with Isobel de la Rosa, also deriving from the 1998 series, plus Bloodwynd.) "An endless list of endless aliases. Of endless lives. Yet none my own. I'm more vagabond than manhunter." Next he pours himself a bowl of Chocos cereal, and plops on the couch to watch a news program on the television. He reflects upon his disconnectedness from his adoptive world, still moored to lost Mars, and wonders if it's time to finally settle in.

Under the identity of Certa, essentially still John Jones, he's a plainclothes officer with the Metropolis police. Another brown haired white man named Peters visits his desk to discuss an ongoing investigation. Something to do with unconnected young people from all walks of life being linked to some crime, presumably the museum theft from the TV. A break in the case-- they visited an internet sub-forum called "Katharsis Aureus."

It's the Martian Manhunter who visits the Metropolis Museum. Admiring the painting "Lost" by Kyle Rayner that seems perhaps inspired by J'Onn himself, he's met by a stylish Black woman named Gwendolyn Heath. The Museum Director, she reports that the only items missing were pieces of an artifact they had been storing. The Sleuth from Outer Space perks up on learning that the "worthless" pieces were from "a large bust known as the Idol Head of Diabolu," which J'Onn confesses to having broken himself.

The discussion is interrupted by a brutish man in a sealed protective uniform featuring a series of bilateral small flaming jets running vertically up the chest. "Enough talk, nerds. I didn't come here to learn... I came here to burn! It's me, ya boy, HUMAN FLAME."

"A Face in the Crowd" was by Shawn Aldridge and Adriana Melo. I was passingly familiar with the Brazilian artist, who did work on two runs of Birds of Prey with Gail Simone, recalling Ed Benes and Terry Dodson. I'm a bigger fan of Steve Pugh, who she seems to be taking more cues from these days. I must confess to being completely unfamiliar with the writer, whose credits in the industry seem mostly in the lettering department. There was a four-parter in the Dark Horse Presents run that I've had sitting unread in a box since 2015, so that's on me, as well as the mini-series Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella and The Dark and Bloody. According to the podcast playing in the background, he's from Kentucky. For what it's worth, I tried to buy a physical copy of this issue from one of the biggest Houston comic shops, but they only had copies of previous issues left on the shelf. I can't speak to the Mongul lead story, as I've bought almost no new DC content this year, but am waiting for the trade of this arc.

Associating the Martian Marvel with the Man of Tomorrow goes back a long ways, but I still tend to chafe at stuff like basing the character in Superman's city. That said, the scripter goes further out of his way than anyone I've ever read to accommodate me specifically as an entitled fanboy. I considered various ways of highlighting all the fan service in the synopsis, but decided it would look like a heavily redacted transcript. One of the complaints I've heard about movies I've chosen not to see like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and The Rise of Skywalker is that filmmakers appeased hardcore audiences by just cobbling together images of all those things they like, so that they can point and say "look at that thing I like on the screen, making me happy by association with the familiar." I usually poo-poo such a thing, but I'm a whipped dog monkey after nearly a quarter century of creators thinking that naming a plant "Zo'ok" was all they needed to do to nod toward my character's history. To me, this story is like the comics equivalent of Lilly's brain mapping experiment. Ook! Thing I blogged about on WebTV! Ook! I'm fully recovered from Ma'alefa'ak's torture! Decades of stink weed traded for a tiny eight page bag of black tar heroin. Get in my veins!

I wouldn't have pegged J'Onn as someone who keeps pets, as I myself don't, but then he also had children, so maybe that's me projecting. He's definitely more of a cat person (same,) and I just spent too much time looking at pictures online to hazard a guess at its breed being Ragdoll (???) So I suppose I'm into it. It's fun, something sorely lacking in Manhunter comics, and I hope he gets to do some straight comedy in this serial (a stated goal in the podcast.)

Other things I'm not into? I didn't make it halfway into the last maxi-series, a prequel that featured a costume much closer to his Silver Age look. I don't know if that was used to pivot back to this '80s JLI look in the current continuity, which I'm sure many fans have missed since Infinite Crisis. Meanwhile, I always had an issue with the old costume, and wholeheartedly embraced the New 52 design, which I think would better fit Melo's style besides. The references to some momentous change are lost on me, and mentioning it without any context is vexing. I doubt every issue is somebody's first anymore, but it's my first in a long time, and I miss the brief recaps of comics in my youth. "Certa" is way too on the nose for me, and we don't need a white John Jones in the comics when he's now invariably portrayed by African-American performers in other media.

Yeah, that's about all I've got. It's been decades of my banging the drum for a representation that respects and builds upon the Alien Atlas' lore. This story intentionally draws from as many well loved eras of the character as could be reasonably expected within the space and then some, with direct references to Silver Age stories entirely erased for decades. I'm super-duper gun-shy about having any expectations going forward, but for at least this brief shining moment, I'm Montgomery Brewster and "This is the room I could die in."

Monday, November 29, 2021

“Interview: Martian Manhunter” from JLA Secret Files #1 (September, 1997)

As I discussed in previous weeks, JLA Secret Files and Origins #1 was a key book for neophyte Alien Atlas allies turned on by the surprise success of JLA. You had a new Starro story by the hot creative team of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, bridging the gap between Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare and the relaunch. You had "Lost Pages" from between JLA #4 & 5. You had profile pages of the individual team members by the creative teams of their solo titles. You had "A Day In The Life: Martian Manhunter", probably the first J'Onn J'Onzz solo story for many. And finally, this mock interview by Mark Millar & Don Hillsman for the fictional in-universe "The Brave & The Bold" magazine.

Along with a series of Playboy style headshots at the top of the piece, there was the full figure above, which served as "the" Martian Manhunter image of the turn-of-the-century internet. Despite the weird organic foam finger action, there is perhaps no greater example of broad fan rejection of Tom Mandrake's years toiling on the ongoing series than the ubiquity of this picture in the same time frame. An editorializing quote from Who's Whose DC Timeline: "John Ostrander’s Martian Manhunter delves into the soul of the only founding member of the JLA never to have his own title, much to the disgust of fanboys who apparently expected something else. Lots of punching and kicking maybe? Still, the series lasts 36+ issues." Well, as a fan who was kicking and screaming by the end of those three years, perhaps it was because everything in this issue geared readers for a title about the Pacific Rim's greatest protector, and the actual ongoing tossed that aside with a single issue robotto manga pastiche?

The piece opens with the interviewer acknowledging J'Onn's sensitivity to their possible concerns over being seen in public with a Martian, offering to change for discretion, though the admitted clout-chaser declines. They then discuss the JLA's internal conversations regarding nations' discomfort with a Justice League of America following the dissolution of the U.N. sanctioned international operation, their commitment to preserving their humanism, protests against perceived League authoritarianism, and the Martian Marvel's specific efforts to address the imbalance of metahuman protections outside the Anglo-Saxon West. Clearly saving all that deep "my evil twin brother, Gumby Venom," for Ostrander. Nothing communicates the sociopolitical impact of superhumans like writing a one-off of Beatriz da Costa talking like Charo while battling a racially caricatured voodoo doctor from a '70s Blaxploitation Bond movie. But I'm not bitter.

There's talk of Z'Onn Z'Orr, the ancient Martian city destroyed in the first extended arc of the series in favor of... a generic pyramid? There's a multiplicity of international identities offered, with endless story possibilities teased, replaced by the tired exploration of duality in a super-hero comic, itself abandoned for the monotony of simple Martian Manhunter Team-Up. TIL there's a sly reference to actor Gregory Reed playing J'Onn in a potential movie. There's acknowledgement of his loneliness as a widower, but also his deep religious convictions and romantic incompatibility stemming from his alien nature. Unlike that time he shagged Jemm's fiance, centuries his junior, from a race still suffering the effects of slavery and colonization by Martians, coloring his long history of mentoring young girls? We're still having fun, right? Considering what could have been? Yeah, this is fun.

Monday, November 22, 2021

“LOST PAGES”: The "new" Superman meets the JLA from JLA Secret Files #1 (September, 1997)

The JLA Watchtower. All but two of the "Magnificent Seven" were seated at their meeting table. "When Superman gets here... like we agreed. Batman's busy on a case of his own right now, but he said we could download the results of the membership drive to him later." Wonder Woman wanted to see the electric blue Superman's new capeless costume, and Kyle Rayner expressed his belief that it's good to keep things fresh. "You would say that," chided Wally West. Superman appeared as a bolt from the blue, with the expectation of having his altered powers tested to determine his continued fitness for service.

Manhunter supervised as Green Lantern created energy constructs to test Superman's "strength," though his lifting was now accomplished via generating electromagnetic fields. He could also disrupt the electrical impulses in Kyle's nervous system, inhibiting his ability to control his power ring. Next was an international race with the Flash, which Superman easily aced. Aquaman determined that water wasn't an issue for Superman Blue, and he could even detect electric eels in the vicinity. Sparring with Princess Diana in the arctic was pathetic, since he could become immaterial and convert the Amazing Amazon's kinetic energy into force beams.

"Well, Superman, you've passed the written test, the VR simulations and the Martian mind-probe. All we have to do now is download your results to Batman and see if Batman will make your membership unanimous." The Dark Knight couldn't be bothered with the details, or even to look up from whatever he was saudering at a workbench. "Of course he's in. He's Superman." The Martian Manhunter shook the hand of the renewed member. "I suppose that makes everything official. Welcome back to the Justice League, Superman. Somebody apologize to Damage for the wait." Nice nod, that.

I've talked up Mark Millar & Don Hillsman a lot while covering this book, so I'll offer more criticism in this particular case. Millar was generating a lot of copy for this comic, which should explain some of the dodgier dialogue here. Hillsman has mostly worked as an inker, perhaps his most notable pencils being for the first Malibu Street Fighter mini-series a few years prior. I have a fondness for his dynamic take on the Alien Atlas, but the other characters don't fare as well, and the storytelling is pretty basic. To this day, Millar's longest run in comics is presiding over the cancellation of Swamp Thing, the house Len & Berni and Alan Moore built. Maybe Superman wasn't the only talent being tested in these pages, and not everybody performed as confidently as the Man of--er, Static? Millar & Hillsman were unproven unknowns, so it makes sense that when the former Spectre creative team were looking for a follow-up project, they were the ones chosen to produce the high profile Martian Manhunter spin-off series.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

“The Manhunter from Mars” profile page from JLA Secret Files #1 (September, 1997)

I can carbon date my J'Onn J'Onzz fandom to August 7, 1996. As I've discussed many times before, my familiarity with the character went back about twelve years earlier, to house ads from the time of the Martian Marvel's 1984 return in Justice League of America, and I bought his Super Powers action figure the following year. That was one of my favorite toys growing up, and I had plenty of experiences with the Alien Atlas in the comics. I consider them near misses-- instances of my liking and having an interest in exploring the Martian Manhunter, but still not quite connecting in a significant way.

I was working at a comic shop in 1996, so I would have taken Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare #2 home on its day of release. I recall reading it in bed, reaching that glorious gut punch of a splash page by Jeff Johnson, in a sequence co-writer Mark Waid credited to Fabian Nicieza. In period parlance, it was Agent Kujan finally deducing the identity of Keyser Söze, Neo suddenly knowing kung-fu, or Cher Horowitz realizing that she loved Josh. A switch just flipped. I stole a car, drove west, played an 8-track at full blast until it stopped, got out of the car, got in a fight, got back into the car, drove back to town, went to the Cargas Club, and then got into the most prestigious hotel of all time. I was a Martian Manhunter fan, man.

A quarter century later, with admitted gaps and lots of burn out, I'm still here plugging away. But a journey of a thousand miles begins with baby steps, or some such. I was still a Padawan with much to learn, from older fans like Commander Benson on the DC Message Boards, or from scavenged back issues. There were no wikis back then, and very few fan pages. Virtually all of them referenced Don Hillsman's art from JLA Secret Files & Origins, as I was surely not alone in a newfound appreciation of the Martian Manhunter amidst the explosive success of JLA. For many of us, this was the gateway.

"All Who's Who pages written by Mark Millar and colored by Tom McCraw" if you can believe it.

Monday, October 11, 2021

2015 Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues: "1000th ISSUE SPECTACULAR!" featuring Martian Manhunter and Drax the Destroyer

In the long life of The Brave and the Bold / Marvel Two-in-One: The Lost Issues, Ross has surely reached a lot of numerical milestones by posting every weekday. #1000 has to be among the most memorable though, since in 2015 no American super-hero comics had made it to that many issues, far eclipsing the combined runs of the various team-up titles that inspired the project. Also, people still paid attention to blogs in 2015. For the occasion, Ross did a real tour de force post, including scan of childhood hand-drawn team-up comics, how-to tutorial, best of gallery, and more! This is clearly a lifelong passion project, as evidence by his still going another half-dozen years since.

Ross also produced a special 1000th edition speculative comic in the tradition of DC Comics' 100 Page Giants, offering seven different pairings involving Batman, Deadpool, The Thing, Firestorm, The Hulk, Black Lightning, Superman, Gladiator, Ant-Man, The Atom... The primary story involved the Avengers and JSA, but for the purposes of this blog, a (crudely) foregrounded a back-up with J'Onn J'Onzz and Drax titled "Riot on the Red Planet!"

I just noticed that I screwed-up last week's link for Tars Tarkas, but another entry in my short-lived Martian Knock-Offs series of posts was Drax the Destroyer. Even by 2011, the characters had diverged sharply, to the point where the similarities ended with broad physical characteristics. Certainly, no one who has seen Dave Bautista (and of course James Gunn's) portrayal of an obtuse, brutally violent, fairly misogynistic MCU anti-hero would confuse the character with the more empathetic and pensive live action Alien Atlas. That said, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made Drax a full blooded alien mourning a deceased wife and child with deep wells of sadness detected by his psychic cohort Mantis, so in some ways they're even more alike today.

The images here were taken, I believe, from a Phil Jimenez two-page massive group spread from JLA Secret Files & Origins and a Ron Lim cover for Silver Sufer when Drax was still in his imbecilic Hulk phase. I was a huge Adam Warlock fan growing up, but unless Jim Starlin were to do the project, preferably in 1977, I doubt this would be my bad today.

Monday, October 4, 2021

2012 Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues: Martian Manhunter and John Carter, Warlord of Mars

Click To Enlarge

As I got away from writing posts, I likewise more or less stopped reading blogs. When Ross Pearsall of Super-Team Family... The Lost Issues! recently made a guest appearance on The Fire and Water Podcast, it reminded me that I hadn't exploited his fanfic team-up efforts for easy content in years!

We regifted a Batman and The Martian Manhunter Mock-Up Cover in 2011, Beta Ray Bill in 2012, Marvel Two-in-One: The Thing in 2013*, Captain America Vs. The Justice League of America in 2015.

One that I passed on covering for nearly a decade was John Carter, despite once harrassing his buddy Tars Tarkas. I remember having ancient Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies playing in the background to my less than rapt inattention when I was a wee lad, but I never had much use for Edgar Rice Burroughs. Blame Spielberg and Lucas, but I was raised to appreciate the bravura loving tributes, not the clunky source material.

* and just for good measure, Mahunter Paul Kirk and Iron Fist

Monday, September 20, 2021

2021 Martian Manhunter art by Nick Bradshaw

"Martian Manhunter bust illustration in pencil, ink and acrylic ink. Portrait, 11 x 17". By Nick Bradshaw."
Sorry that I skipped out for most of September. I've been juggling a lot this month. Ironically, by hitting a wall on my more elaborate projects, like podcasting, I'm taking a breather this week that allowed for posting here. Depending on how things go, I may try to make up some of that missed time, or not. Anyway, here's a big name artist with a very pleasing Art Adams streak providing a rare take on DC's Alien Atlas!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

2021 Martian Manhunter costume redesign by Scott E. Hileman

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A few months back, I started receiving some friendly emails from one of our reader/listeners, and thought I'd share a sampling of his words to go with the art above...
I first encountered the Martian Manhunter back in my elementary school days in the early 70s in a reprint of an earlier JLA comic where Fox and Sekowsky had them fighting robots or statues that looked like them. I’d catch him at different times over the years in reprinted stories in 100-page giants, etc. I was very excited when he returned to earth and the JLA during the Detroit-era, perhaps the only good thing to come out of that time period. Then I pretty much followed him ever since until the early 2000s. IMHO, ever since Identity Crisis, the flavor of DC Comics changed for me to the point where I just didn’t buy new DC Comics. And as such some of the newer appearances of J’Onzz I missed except for the last outing. I bought the first couple of issues but I haven’t looked through them, let alone read them.

So that’s my relationship with the character. Obviously, mine isn’t as deep and passionate as yours. I hope that some day soon that DC will J’Onn J’Onzz book that hit all your buttons. You deserve it for trying to keep the blue flame of Mars alive...

Fan-casting for a 1950s style J’Onn J’Onzz story, I think Richard Bulgi would make for a great John Jones.

If you could warp time and space, I’d suggest the late, great John Huston would have made a great Monte Moran. Not just his look but his voice too. I can hear it in my head mocking J’Onn as he gets away...

Here’s my idea. I’m not re-inventing the wheel by any stretch but I think this looks pretty cool in my humble opinion. It is nothing more than basically taking the blackest night costume and adding the original MM color scheme to it. I tried to make his shirt more like a tunic for a subtle nod to Ancient Rome (the whole Mars-Roman god thing). Also I didn’t want to give him outer shorts like Superman, but it need some kind of break between the legs and torso would do that and look a little better shorts or loin cloth. The open neck and short sleeves shows off more of his green skin and gives him a causal air about him, like he isn’t afraid to face any menace.