Sunday, September 30, 2007

Firestorm #6 (12/04)

Jason Rusch flew to the moon to enter the JLA's lunar base. In their meeting room he detected, "--Oh my god. Someone's in our head." He was greeted by Batman and the Manhunter from Mars. "Hello again, young man.Welcome to the Watchtower... We have completed our investigation... and you should know what befell your predecessor." J'Onzz explained how Ronnie Raymond was mortally wounded by Shadow Thief using the Shining Knight's mystical blade. The previous Firestorm erupted into pure energy, the essence of which seemed to activate Jason's powers. J'Onzz regretted his inability to detect any trace of Raymond's mind in Jason's, while secretly planting a "psychic tracer." After Batman warned Jason against vigilantism and the youth departed, J'Onn confirmed, "Wherever this new 'Firestorm' goes, I will be aware of him. His precise thoughts are difficult, though..." Jason's friend and then-current partner in the Firestorm matrix, Mick, gushed, "That was Batman! And, and, and the Martian Manhunter, I've been collecting his action figures for years! GAAAH!"

By Jolley, Batista & Green.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Firestorm #4 (10/04)

Shortly after Identity Crisis, Green Lantern John Stewart confronted the unidentified young man who had displayed an appearance and powers similar to the fallen Ronnie Raymond's. This new Firestorm explained while hovering midair that he was essentially struck by a bolt from the blue, and his new powers just manifested on their own. Confirming the story, John asked, "J'Onn?" "Huh? Who's 'John?'"

Red eyes appeared to Firestorm's side, before a familiar visage developed. "I am," said the Manhunter. "I believe he is concealing something. But it is not about our friend. As far as Firestorm goes, he is telling the truth. This has all come upon him very unexpectedly. Hmm. Tiamat's forces are preparing to attack. We are needed."

John Stewart explained that the League understood a super-hero's need for secrecy, "which is why my colleague didn't probe any further than he had to," and presented the rookie with a mechanical means of contacting the JLA.

"John?" "J'Onn." And off they went. What the Manhunter detected was likely the new backstory for Firestorm created by Dan Jolley and ChrisCross, this time with inker Rob Stull. Jason Rusch was an underprivileged teenager reared by an abusive father. Rusch was struggling to enter college and forced by dire straits into a one-time drug run that turned sour right around the time he inherited the Firestorm Matrix. Early on, he unintentionally killed the drug dealer that first coerced him into the run, after said pusher tried to kill Rusch himself. All matters best not detailed to an already suspicious Justice League.

By Dan Jolley, ChrisCross & Rob Stull.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Identity Crisis #7 (2/05)

As occurred earlier when J'Onn and Arthur vanished in pursuit of a villain of interest who wouldn't appear for another four issues in other heroes' custody, the Manhunter and Batman stopped mattering after a major build-up. One panel saw J'Onn exclaim "By H'Ronmeer..." while in another Batman assured, "Ray? It's not Ray..." and the book was turned over to the aforementioned Mr. Palmer in his bedroom with ex-wife Jean Loring. Perhaps it's a limitation on my frame of reference, but I've always known the Atom as a scientist and adventurer-- not so much as a detective. That might explain my pet theory that when J'Onn J'Onzz reached out to find Ray's mind, he perhaps influenced or even usurped it as Palmer began grilling his once and present lover on the death of Sue Dibney.

We learned Jean used one of Ray's leftover size-changing belts from their divorce to attack Sue in a bid for both Ray's attention and for the benefit of neglected significant others of super-heroes everywhere. She inadvertently killed Sue, then began to cover for her crime with further indiscretions that led to the more deaths. Ray committed his clearly insane ex to Arkham Asylum and went into isolation, whereabouts unknown for many years. Surrounding events led to another heroine turning in her cape, as Manhunter stated before a gathered JLA, "So that's Atom and Firehawk off the reserves... Anyone else?" While he tried to have Flash act as liaison for a training session with the Teen Titans, West was distracted by thoughts of what exactly Batman remembered about the League's betrayal of him. New cracks began to show...

Again, Rags Morales and Michael Bair provided gorgeous interiors, though word has it Rags was scarred by his involvement with the book. Just as his star was ascending from cult favorite to star, he himself went into seclusion, with little output beyond a very brief run on Wonder Woman in the years following. Brad Meltzer eventually launched a new Justice League of America series that again favored the "Satellite Era" to the exclusion of J'Onn J'Onzz and inclusion of more Pre-Crisis elements. The effect of the mini-series was undeniable, as the entire DC Universe took a turn for the dark and twisted interlaced into its continuity.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Identity Crisis #6 (1/05)

Believing the murder spree over, our heroes breathed a sigh of relief and buried their death. Green Arrow explained, "...we... mourn in our own ways..." Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter's involved remembering their lost children together while look out into space from the Watchtower. Arthur explained, "...just the sound of his laugh..." to which J'Onn consoled, "Believe me Arthur-- I understand." However, just as Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite were astonished by the results of their autopsy of Sue Dibney, Batman deduced the only possible portal of entry for her killer... tiny footprints on her brain which blocked her bloodstream. Batman called out from the Bat-Cave, "J'Onn, I need you to find Ray!" Surprised by his telepathic cry, Manhunter responded, "Is everything okay?" Batman scowled, "J'Onn, get out of my head! Just find him! Now! And keep him where he is!"

As the book fast tracked to it's conclusion, I as a reader was placed in a difficult position, which was repeated in Mark Millar's similar "Civil War" event at Marvel Comics. Here was an unoriginal premise, in this case a locked door mystery, reinvigorated when told in a new mileau that profoundly effected long-established concepts. An exceptional creative team was highly effective at telling a compelling story which would have intriguing ramifications for years to come. I really enjoyed a new perspective being brought to sometimes hoary old chestnuts. Unfortunately, the circumstances and editorial interference caused heroes to act both decidedly unheroic and painfully out of character, while events in the tale are off-puttingly sordid and borderline inappropriate for the medium. As a result, I'm to this day conflicted about the story, though for certain elements I reserve a dedicated loathing, the big reveal being one...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Identity Crisis #2-5 (Sep-Dec. 2004)

Veteran members of the Justice League of America had secrets the Wally West Flash and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner wanted revealed. In the early years of the League, teams of super-villains had a dangerous habit of learning the heroes' true identities, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. The pair of legacy heroes learned this was because, once the World's Finest duo left the scene, the other Leaguers would wipe the memories of their foes to protect themselves. This practice reached critical mass when Dr. Light managed to board the Justice League satellite at a time when only Sue Dibney was present. He proceeded to rape her, until he felt the combined wrath of the Barry Allen Flash, Batman, Hawkman, Zatanna, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, the Atom, and her husband, the Elongated Man.

The heroes decided they'd had enough, and as Light projected a holographic representation of his recent transgression, they voted on whether to not only wipe his memory, but alter his personality. The deciding vote was cast by Barry Allen, and through Zatanna's magic Dr. Light was reduced from a nefarious arch-foe to a blundering idiot coward easily managed by the Teen Titans. However, Batman was not a party to this decision, and discovered his fellows' intentions midway through the process. The Caped Crusader immediately moved to stop his friends, but he was subdued and mindwiped himself. This final betrayal of the heroic ideal created a fault line within the group, and retroactively explained the infighting of this era's League, which led to its dissolution in the mid 80's. While Kyle Rayner seemed fairly accepting, these revelations and more regarding his beloved mentor sparked a whole new crisis of conscience in Wally West, who was forced to question his own decisions about keeping secrets and facing a now shady history. This included another confrontation with Dr. Light, which caused his memory to be restored, and the League's conspiracy to be illuminated upon the super-villain grapevine.

Meanwhile, the death toll mounted. Vixen shed tears as she watched Firestorm meltdown after receiving a mortal wound. The current Robin's father, Jack Drake, and the Flash villain Captain Boomerang were killed by one another in a confrontation. The Atom's ex-wife Jean Loring was nearly hung, and Lois Lane received a death threat.

Despite repeated assertions by Green Arrow that other Leaguers, specifically Superman, knew only as much as they were willing to acknowledge about what was happening, J'Onn J'Onzz was left utterly blameless for their crimes. Best-selling novelist Brad Meltzer is an unabashed fan of the 70's "Satellite Era" League, one which despite retroactive continuity, J'Onn J'Onzz had no part. I'm thankful for this, as his participation in these psychic rapes would have turned him into an unforgivable hypocrite after his many assertions of respect for the privacy and integrity of other beings' minds. On the other hand though, J'Onn's unwillingness to molest the thoughts of others once again allowed him to be blindsided by the revelation of treachery in his midst, leaving him ineffectual in averting tragedy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Identity Crisis #1 (8/04)

Sue Dibney, loving wife of the Elongated Man, was murdered in her Opal City apartment after sending her husband out on patrol to distract him from her planning his birthday celebration. Somehow, her killer managed to enter undetected an apartment safeguarded by "Thanagarian, Martian, and Kryptonian technology. Not to mention all the upgrades Steel stole from a Mother Box." J’Onn J’Onzz attended the funeral, alongside many of his and the victim's shared acquaintances. This included much of the JLI and all of the surviving members of the Detroit-based League. Afterward, Green Arrow noted, "J’Onn and Arthur (who both buried children) search for Mirror Master. The mood they're in, he better hope they don't find him.) Though Mirror Master was a potential suspect, a secret cabal of JLofAers had someone specific in mind they intended to visit while everyone else was on fool's errands.

Among the creative credits given to Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales and Michael Bair was the much smaller notation of assistant editor Valerie D'Orazio. After a stormy departure from DC Comics, D'Orazio began a series of posts on her Occasional Superheroine blog which noted the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to create a series where one of the rare happy, healthy marriages in comics ended in the brutal murder of a pregnant woman. Allusions were made to the trauma inflected on both characters and the creators forced to depict increasingly aberrant actions in what was marketed as a mainstream "event" comic.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Flash #208-209 (May-June ’04)

Martian Manhunter was part of an assemblage of heroes who forcibly teleported the Flash onto the JLA Watchtower for questioning. After the murder of Flash’s unborn children by the new (no-longer-Professor) Zoom, the Hal Jordan incarnation of the Spectre wiped the memory of the the Flash’s secret identity from the face of the earth, including within the very mind of Wally West himself. Batman deduced and informed West of his own alter ego, and demanded West explain the situation to his teammates. Among them were Firestorm, who wondered aloud why the Manhunter didn't simply read the Flash’s mind to gather information.

“Superman wants to give him the opportunity to open up freely to us, Ronnie. The Flash has his reasons for what has happened, and as a longtime friend, I am sure they are inculpable.” West recognized, “I can feel the Martian Manhunter lingering on the outer edge of my mind. The back of my scalp is numb, but I keep my distance. J’Onn lost his family a long time ago. I think he can ‘see’ the same kind of sorrow and pain in my eyes—because I hear three words float into my head. ‘I am sorry.’” More concerned about finding his estranged wife than clearing matters up, Flash had to be convinced by Superman to again unveil his visage to his teammates. J’Onn tried to console Wally, verbally this time. Also present at this "mindwipe intervention" were Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Green Arrow, Zatanna, Hawkman, Elongated Man, Black Canary and the Atom. This specific assemblage would foreshadow dark revelations to come. Geoff Johns, Howard Porter and Livesay tell the tale.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984)

While Aquaman and his fellow Leaguers sifted through the wreckage of the Justice League Satellite, floating dead in space, he declared this the end. Sickened by the state of his super-team and disheartened by his wife having left him after years of emotional absence, Aquaman came to a startling decision. Before a U.N. assembly, he disbanded the Justice League of America, citing the absence of the League's most powerful members in Earth's time of need.

"During what's come to be called the Earth/Mars War... Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern-- all were absent... The world deserves something more than a part-time organization of uncommitted dilettantes." He suggested the formation of a full-time League, made up of individuals with no other duties placed before the team. "In a hundred and more languages, the world's representative react with shock-- as one quiet observer in the shadows nods slowly in thoughtful agreement with Aquaman's words." This lone Martian continued to look on as Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, and a deeply reluctant Firestorm refused the demands of Aquaman's re-conceptualized defenders. Zatanna rose to the challenge, as did Elongated Man, but only with the stipulation that his wife, Sue Dibney, would be along for the ride. A tear rolled down Ralph Dibney's face as he considered, "We should have seen this coming months ago... when the Batman quit, and Flash took a leave of absence... and the Atom disappeared in South America... the old gang's been breaking up for almost a year now."

Finally, the long-lost Leaguer who's return proved the catalyst for this dynamic change decided it was time to step out of the shadows. "If it is a commitment you seek, may I offer mine? I stayed on earth, because I am no longer wanted on the world I once called home. Every living creature needs a home, my friends--and I would be proud to share yours." Aquaman replied, "We'd forgotten--when the war ended, you stayed on Earth--! J'Onn J'Onzz, the honor is ours." While Elongated Man had been an official member since 1973, he'd barely ever encountered J'Onn J'Onzz, who went into exile to guide his people to a new homeworld several years prior. "The Martian Manhunter, hey? Now we're cooking!" The announcement of a new League had attracted the attention of Mari McCabe and Hank Heywood Sr., which would pay off in short order.

The heroes held up at the Hilton until they could make other arrangements, which afforded John Jones the opportunity to fully embrace the 1980's with his poofy hair, brown windbreaker, and blue jeans. He asserted, "...We must find a headquarters here in New York, or in another large city. Only by living among the people we are sworn to defend can we maintain our sense of purpose and commitment." It was then Arthur introduced John to Sue Dibney, who nearly dropped the drinks she was serving when the Martian dropped his disguise. "Yoick! This is gonna take getting used to!" Zatanna reassured with a hug, "You'll be fine, Sue. Your unaffected, totally human outlook will keep us honest." At that moment, Zatanna spotted a feminine yet bestial prowler outside their window, who was seized by a Martian Manhunter combining his flight, intangibility, and giant elongated hands. A likely deflated Elongated Man asked, "Neat trick, JJ. Going through walls. Mind telling me how to do it sometime?" J'Onzz replied, "You'd have to have been born on Mars, my friend. Now, female, explain yourself." The response was a snort and laughter."...Big, green and handsome. You're much too cute."

"Cute? Woman, who are you?" She was former Metropolis super-heroine and fashion model Vixen, and she had come to join the team. McCabe was soon joined by Steel, but this was not the Black Superman of Shaquille O'Neal vehicle fame. This was the grandson of Heywood, who was himself known in the 1940's as Commander Steel, before becoming a millionaire industrialist. Heywood Sr. supplied the team with a base, equipment, and they also got L.O.S.T. (Low Orbital Supersonic Transport), providing plenty of fodder for pundits. On the support side was Dale Gunn, who'd met General Heywood in Vietnam and become his chief designer, technician, and the inventor behind the League's new toys. He could also handle security if it came to that, with his body armor and sophisticated weaponry. When J'Onn J'Onzz wasn't suffering from Vixen's unwanted advances, he traded barbs with the nineteen year old street kid Paco Ramone, soon to be better known as trash-talking Latino breakdancer Vibe, one of the worst stereotype characters in modern history. "Told chu people...Gill-Man! Chu like my new costume? It's so chill, it's bad!" It sure is Paco. It suuuure is...

Clearly horrified by what his decision had wrought, Aquaman whispered, "J'Onn, this is not what I had in mind for the new League." The reply? "Life is full of the unexpected, Arthur. Accept it. You've no choice." Another such surprise came when, while impersonating a piece of machinery, J'Onn J'Onzz caught the invisible Gypsy sneaking around in the League's new base. "My vision embraces a broader spectrum than your Earthborn eyes..." Gypsy managed to cut and run, but would join the team in a later issue. In the meantime, neighborhood residents alerted to their newly resident super-team pulled together a street party in front of their not-so-secret headquarters, where J'Onn downed a brewski with a Motown native and other Leaguers got their groove on. "Let's boogie!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jim Maddux Sculpt

I collapsed into a heap after the concert last night, and I'm about to head out for a double feature at the movies, so I need another stopgap quickie. While searching for an entirely different, commercially available piece of J'Onn J'Onzz merchandising, I stumbled on a website spotlighting one-of-a-kind sculpts. There I found a piece guaranteed a blog slot by Jim Maddux, a professional who's done many outstanding works, muchly for Randy Bowen's design company on Marvel Comics characters. Here Maddux has produced a series of JLA waist-ups based on the painted posters for DC Comics by Alex Ross. Clearly, Maddux's work here is extremely faithful to the original piece, realizing an already noteworthy effort in full three-dimensional glory. Click the picture for more of Maddux's work.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Damage #7 (11/94)

J'Onn assisted Damage's defense in the city of Atlanta's criminal case against the young man, after he had accidentally leveled a large portion of his hometown upon first discovering his powers. The Manhunter from Mars appeared out of of nowhere when he was called as a mystery witness, so as not to incite the angry crowd outside the courthouse. An angsty Grant Emerson (as opposed to the ever jolly Damage of Bizarro World) protested J'Onn's aid, wishing to be punished for the harm he'd caused, but both his lawyer and judged intervened on his behalf. After J'Onn J'Onzz was sworn in, he testified that he had never met Emerson, but knew of his courage through Superman and the Ray II. As heresay is inadmissible, J'Onzz was instead allowed to speak as an expert on adolescent super-heroes. He noted the stress and responsibility placed on super-heroes, and delivered a rousing speech on the most important thing he's learned about inexperienced powerhouses like Damage.

"...Whatever their powers, they are still young. Their abilities challenge them to grow up even faster than their non-metahuman peers... and whether we admit it or not, nurturing neophytes is important, because the world isn't going to be any safer tomorrow than it is today... the next generation needs heroes too. But more than that, these young heroes need to be guided, respected and validated simply because they are here... When things go wrong, they need to be steered away from self-pity and reminded they have a responsibility. If we can help them to realize that responsibility and become willing to act on it, then we've helped them become worthy of the power they've been given-- and we've made ourselves worthy of them."

Emerson's attorney concluded, "Thank you, Mr. J'Onzz." The Manhunter was persuasive, but this was only a hearing. The U.S. Government stepped in to bypass a trial, instead allowing Sarge Steel to forcibly assign Damage to the New Titans. By Tom Joyner, Bill Marimon and Don Hillsman.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Martian Manhunter Paperweight

I'm super busy tonight and will head straight to a Bloc Party concert from work tomorrow night, so this one will be brief followed in an hour by a great J'Onn J'Onzz guest appearance I promised last week. I don't own this one, although it's inexpensive (MSRP:$12.99) and looks pretty nice. I don't have a great deal of affection for the animated "Zhon Zhowns," because I've only seen a handful of first season episodes of "Justice League." Those failed to impress, and the Manhunter from Mars barely appeared in the vastly superior first season of "Justice League Unlimited." Also, I already own way too much MM Merch. So anyway, keen, so if if you dig it more it's readily available. I'm still tempted to pick up the Atom one though, as I really dig Ray Palmer, and the scale kind of works for him...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Vile Menagerie: THE OSPREY

You want to know about this character? So do I! I read through back issues and the web, and only came up with a one line biography for my trouble. Darn it, I'll at least quadruple that effort!

For some reason, Mark Waid wrote several team books around the time of Zero Hour, going so far as to create dramatic new line-ups and status quos, only to abandon the titles to other hands within a few issues. Such was the case with Justice League Task Force, for which he wrote only two scripts featuring the book's final group constitution on his own before co-writing another pair with Christopher Priest, who then finished out the series' run. Waid introduced a new villain in his last solo issue with Sal Velluto and inkers Jeff Albrecht and Romeo Tanghal. The Osprey seemed to be intended as a nemesis for the Manhunter from Mars, but the accompanied image notwithstanding, never got off the ground. The character looked very cool, and even rated his own logo. Personally, I've always wondered if maybe Glenn Gammeron became what The Osprey was intended to be, but I expect somebody would have to ask Priest about that. Below are his only lines ever.

First Appearance: Justice League Task Force #17 (November, 1994)
Quote: "'Green Guy'? J' and gone. Seems I'm forever a step behind you, J'Onzz. That will change. Soon, you and your Task Force will be the first to know the fury of--The Osprey."

Beyond that, the only background lies with the word itself. The osprey is a bird of prey with colors that run toward black and white (with blue & brown in the mix.) It is medium-sized, a fish monger, and is found on all continents except Antarctica. The raptor is highly adaptable to different environments, so long as they are near enough to water to provide food. Said bird also inspired the V-22 Osprey, a troubled U.S. military project dating back to the mid-80's. This osprey is the first helicopter with both VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) and STOL (Short Take-Off...) capabilities. Basically, it can work as either a long-range turbo propeller aircraft or a standard chopper.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Elseworlds: Justice Riders (1997)

"In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places - some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow."

Finally, a prestige format Elseworlds release devoted to the JLA! Except it was a western. And Chuck Dixon's script was pretty bad. And it starred guys like Blue Beetle and Guy Gardner against the villainy of Max Lord and Felix Faust. Come to think of it, this book is kind of like the western episode of The Brady Bunch, or whichever episode of a sitcom (say, The Facts of Life) where the cast goes to Europe/outer space/etc. See, once you get over the initial thrill of seeing Indian Brave Hawkman or quick-draw Kid Flash, there isn't much done with the characters.

The saving grace was the somber art of J.H. Williams III, which lent the book a grit the script alone never touched. When Deputy Oberon and the entire town of Paradise was wiped out in a blinding flash, you're spellbound. That is, until you learn the flash is just a really big flamethrower. Woooo! Seeking justice, Wonder Woman gathered a posse of supertypes to battle robot cowboys. Uh-huh. Worse, characters like WW just stood around, while Booster Gold ended up saving the team in the only two gunbattles fought over the 48 pg. story. Without the gorgeous art, it's a sleep aid.

As for John Jones, he snuck up on the group about halfway through the book. WW was honored to ride with him. Why? He contributed nothing-- not even taking out his share of robot cowboys. He pretty much hung out in the background, then got knocked out by that flamethrower I mentioned (big surprise.) After Gold rescued the team, John spirited away the alien Dominator who was supplying Lord with his weapons. Some twist. Oh yeah, western John took on the Man with No Name/Clint Eastwood role, at least in his choice of clothes. However, he was about as driven as Sandy Duncan on The Hogan Family. You know, the western episode.

Monday, September 17, 2007

House of Mystery #144 (7/64)

J'onzz tracked the Idol-Head to a seacoast town's scrap pile in House of Mystery #144 (July 1964), but with a mighty "WHOOSH", Diabolu opened up a can of funkiness before falling into the ocean. Manhunter (as he was simply called back then) and Zook had to halt their fruitless trash digging when a purple hole appeared in the night sky. A beam was emitted through the aperture, pulling a milkman into the air. Manhunter blocked the hole with a wooden plank, then caught the milkman in midair. The pair landed just as the force of the skyhole broke up the plank. J'onn shouted, "Out of the way!" as the renewed beam snagged him. "Great Jupiter! I'm trapped myself--and this fantastic force is stronger than any I've encountered!" That didn't stop him from breaking free, then trying to rupture the side of the, er, rupture by slamming into its cloud-enshrouded edge. J'onzz was soundly rebuffed, and while he recovered, a poor unfortunate was transported into "The Weird World of Gilgana" . The gash disappeared with a "PLOP", much to Manhunter's dismay. "I seem to recall a legend from the Book of Diabolu, Zook--a grim legend! 'Enter the Gateway of Gilgana--and you are doomed for an eternity!" A shaken Zook replied, "Poor man! His family never see him again!"

A determined Manhunter waited for the reappearance of the void, which arrived an hour later. As a construction work was pulled through the dawn sky, Manhunter followed. "Now--now two men are doomed!" J'onzz replied, "Yes, Zook--and there'll be many more unless the world of Gilgana is destroyed!" The Alien Atlas found himself in a land of yellow skies, pink sand, and massive crystals jutting from the ground. He found the building worker attacked by a creature that looked like a giant, purple, shell-less armadillo with tusks. A unicorn type horn jutted from it's forehead, which could be fired and regenerated at will. A horny barrage shattered against J'onzz's skin as he carried the worker to safety. The twosome found Gilgana's first captive running from "a series of deadly eruptions" that peppered the ground until he dove into a lake. Protection eluded the man, as a "giant watery hand" rose against him. Manhunter tackled the hand, which dissipated in a massive explosion, shaking even the Mighty Martian.

With both men in safe hands, J'onzz was confident he could get himself and his charges out through the next fissure. "...But what's the good?" More hostages would be taken, unless a final resolution could be found. The immigrant detective determined that the pink sand that clung to his arm after he saved the construction worker caused the explosion when he came into contact with Gilgana's water. J'onzz built a retaining wall along the lake, then heaped tons of sand along it's edge. As a new aperture appeared, the Martian Marvel sundered his bearing wall with a boulder, then escaped before Gilgana was blown to smithereens. The gape closed behind the trio of survivors, much to Zook's relief. This one was from the (cult) classic(?) creative team of Jack Miller and Joe Certa.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Transconsciousness Articulator (JLA #83 & 90)

In case you've missed it, I've been spotlighting instances of J'Onn J'Onzz interacting with his fellow founders of the JLA (as in "Rock of the...") So far, there's been Superman (Doomsday Wars, Muhammad X,) Aquaman (a Comrade of Mars,) Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (Darkstars #30,) and Batman (Detective Comics #714-715.) While some of these instances were minor, they do highlight important aspects of their relationships. To Superman, J'Onn plays sounding board and cannon fodder. With Kyle, there's both mutual respect and wariness, as Rayner is somewhat put off by J'Onn's demanding and foreign nature. With J'Onn, Batman is oddly more comfortable and agreeable than he is with pretty much anyone, like-minded professionals with a curious fraternity. The Aquaman post was about nothing but their contentious friendship, and the non-relationship with the Wally West Flash is upcoming. That leaves Wonder Woman, for whom J'Onn brings out an affectionate candor to refute her painfully misguided but reoccurring Ice Princess characterization. I can't recall a single instance where J'Onn has played mentor or commandant to Diana, a rarity, and I feel J'Onzz is perhaps one of the only men Diana feels comfortable around. Maybe it pays to not have a monkey in your evolutionary chain. I'll get back to these two at a later date, but for now, two quickies.

In JLA #83 (9/03), Superman had a terrifying vision of Lex Luthor initiating aggression again the nation of Qurac as a parallel to our own President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The whole thing was generated in Superman’s mind by Manhunter’s “Transconscious Articulator” device, something like a telepathic virtual reality generator. J’Onn told Wonder Woman Kal-El owed him a new one after the damage wrought by the Man of Steel’s spastic reaction to the nightmare, “…and that Chocos will help the headache, but not to touch his private stash in the commissary. He also said you were lucky. Forcing your conscious mind into the realm of your subconscious without a telepath to help maintain balance can be very dangerous.” Superman noted that J’Onn had used his invention to help Kal unburden his mind of anxieties in the recent past. By Joe Kelly, Chris Cross & Tom Nguyen.

“’Peace is found within.’ No one understands that better than I do…but actually finding said peace is significantly more complicated than that simple aphorism implies.” Wonder Woman had decided to use the Transconsciousness Articulator to determine the extent of her recently emerging romantic feelings for Batman, this time under the Manhunter’s supervision. J’Onn warned that “Walking your dreams is no alternative to living your reality.” Afterward, both Diana and Bruce decided to call the whole thing off. By Kelly, Cross & Nguyen. (JLA #90, 1/04)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2005 DC Direct Martian Manhunter Statue (Alex Ross)

I believe this limited-edition, hand-painted cold-cast statue was released sometime in 2005, based on a design by Alex Ross and sculpted by Mike Hill. It stands approximately 12" tall x 9.25" wide x 7" deep, includes a rather tacky Martian skull at the base, and was limited to 1,200 figures. This came out in the time period when my will to collect all things Martian Manhunter-related had been burned out along with my old website. It doesn't help that, with occasional exceptions like that new t-shirt, I kinda hate Ross' take on the character sometimes. His proportions here are closer to the medium build Bronze Age incarnation, with a sort of Sal Velluto stiff/awkwardness, and a prune-face that reminds me of Stuart Immonen's 30th century J'Onzz from "Legion of Super-Heroes." Basically, he brings out some of Ross' worst inclinations here toward the dour, haggard, and demystifying "realism," though his slight costume is spared the "seams n' wrinkles" treatment. For the same reason, I've avoided his Marvel life-sized busts, despite my love of Captain America (although I ordered a case of the Spider-Man one, but I closed the comic shop before they were released.) That constipated expression on his face makes me ponder the question, "is he flying away from piles of rock, or fanning the stench of rocky piles?" Why no, I didn't feel the slightest urge to kick out the $195 for this thing, but I held the new 13" doll at Bedrock City this afternoon, and I definitely twitched then.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Idol-Head in the House (of Mystery!)

"While it may be hard to imagine today, in the early 1960s there was talk about canceling Batman. After an amazing run of popularity in the 1940s, interest in the character seemed to dwindle with each passing year. Editor Jack Schiff tried to vary the formula, sending Batman to other worlds and other times, and introducing new threats. Following the model established by Superman editor Mort Weisinger, Batman was soon joined by Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Ace the Bathound, and even Bat-Mite, a magical imp who worshipped the Caped Crusader."-Robert Greenberger; Millennium Edition: Detective Comics #327.

Attempting to salvage the book, favored son Julius Schwartz was handed the reigns of the Bat-Family. After starting the Silver Age of super-hero comics with his revamping/co-creation of Flash, Green Lantern, and Justice League of America, who better was there to edit Batman back to greatness. Schwartz brought along GL writer John Broome and Flash artist Carmine Infantino to work on Detective. The outgoing Schiff didn't leave empty-handed, however. As Shwartz himself said in Detective Comics #327, "Gone is the Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz ( gone--but not forgotten, for JJ's new stamping ground is another DC magazine, House of Mystery) and in his stead is the Elongated Man--the sensational stretching sleuth whose highly acclaimed appearances in The Flash have earned him a solo series of his own." Notice the proprietary nature of old school editors, their talent, and their characters? In this case, it made the difference in Manhunter moving on to his own title.

The end of Manhunter's run in Detective, issue #326, launched the ongoing gimmick that was the Idol-Head of Diabolu, and saw the Martian abandon his identity as John Jones. Elongated Man moved into MM's Detective Comics back-up spot, while J'onzz took on the role of cover featured star in The House of Mystery, beginning with #143 (June 1964).

Who would have thought so much evil could be found within a square foot ancient novelty head? The medieval sorcerer Diabolu created the Idol-Head as a prison for a plethora of evil creatures. When the Idol-Head was discovered and opened by a hood named Vince Durskin in the present era, it activated a cycle wherein a new threat would be unleashed upon the world...or at least a bunch of small towns in the New England area, unless stopped. Once aroused, the Idol-Head plagued J'onn J'onzz for most of his first two years in HoM, spewing out bizarre monsters from it's "skull" on the full moon(s) of every month. From growing the Martian Manhunter's kid sidekick Zook into a rampaging monster to producing the "Doom From Two Worlds," that little bugger was trouble.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Detective Comics #714-715 (Oct.-Nov.'97)

John Jones paid a visit to Gotham in two Chuck Dixon scripted issues of 'Tec. "American Secrets" penciller Ed Barreto inked over series artist Graham Nolan, but made the book very much his own.

Harvey Bullock, Rene Montoya, and geeky Wiley Dalbert waited atop a parking garage for a nighttime meet. The GCPD officers were there to place Dalbert into the custody of Special Federal Agents Reilly and Felder (or Scully and Mulder, if you read between the lines.) "This guy gets picked up on a drunk driving beef and a federal warrant pops up. What'd he do? Steal a paper clip from the White House?" Wanted for trafficking in national security secrets, Suddenly, a blinding light bathed the area, into which Dalbert strolled away. Batman and Robin were brought in to investigate. The Dark Knight knew there had to be an explanation, to which his sidekick chided, "You mean one that doesn't involve close encounters? Who was this guy selling secrets to?"

Dalbert popped up in a seedy Gotham hotel, flashing a wad of bills. "I was told I could find accomodations here. I was told that you allowed your guest a certain level of... privacy." The dump was still full of bodies, so the landlord tried to evict resident Batman foe Firefly. "You have an interest in pyrotechnics and thermal dynamics, Mr. Lynns?" Dalbert decided an arsonist might come in handy in the near future. Wiley was looking to do some... traveling, and needed jewels more than cash. Somehow, all of his current currency was dated two years from the present, yet wasn't counterfeit. A heist was planned.

Meanwhile, P.I. John Jones introduced himself to Harvey Bullock as working the case as an assistant to Denver P.D. Along with Renee Montoya, they tracked Dalbert to "some kind of hostel for wanted criminals," but he again disappeared. "Last time, this Dalbert disappeared like a flying saucer snagged him. You believe in little green men, Jones?"

"Not little ones." Jones plowed through a door to follow Dalbert, but found instead a room on fire. Severely burnt, Jones realized Firefly would complicate his case, which only made him more determined. "He just got crisped and he's still keepin' on. What a cop." Still, the fire overcame Jones, and Harvey had to carry him out. Montoya was less impressed. "What a nutjob."

Bullock and Montoya figured he was off the case, considering he had burns over 50% of his body. Jones' opinion differed, feeling fine, but did request that Harvey not light up a cigar in his presence. When Jones learned Jim Gordon was with Batman discussing the case, the two friends finally teamed-up. "Nobody told me you were in Gotham, John... Wherever he is, I think the Firefly will follow. Now I understand why you're looking for my help," said Batman. The pair of uncommon detectives headed out, leaving Gordon talking to himself. "I can't believe someone else can do it, too."

"I appreciate you keeping a low profile while you're in my town." "I have no desire to overshadow you, Batman... After this robbery he will escape to a place where we can never find him." "Nobody can disappear forever." "I can assure you we won't be seeing this man again for a long, long time." "Sometimes I forget your talent for speaking in enigmas, John. But I respect your need for secrecy"

Jones caught Dalbert inside a bank vault, much to Wiley's shock. "I've been here for hours. You're not the only one with a mystery about him." Dalbert still seemed to know the future, like the fact that Firefly was about to enter the vault as well. Jones went down after a blast of fire struck, but Batman covered him with an extinguisher from his flame-retardant suit. Still, Dalbert escaped. John explained that Dalbert was a scientist from the future, working backwards through time. He wanted to live in a simpler time, and escaped to become a philanthropist in the 1800's.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

November '07 Martian Sightings

Every month, sooner or later, I'll get around all the prominent J'Onn J'Onzz merchandise solicited by Diamond Comic Distribution in a given month. I've included various links, but I personally get all my comics here.

Justice: Martian Manhunter T-Shirt
Graphitti Designs, S-XL $17.95, XXL $20.95, XXXL $23.95, available November 28, 2007
Diamond Code SEP074347 - SEP074352
J'onn J'onzz make a rare merchandise appearance on the new Justice: Martian Manhunter T-Shirt. Features the art of Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross screenprinted in full-color on a black 100% cotton shirt. Check out all of our shirts featuring art from DC Comic's JUSTICE series...Justice is endless! NOTE: available for sale only in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands only. Also available in XXXL!!"

"M" falls right around the middle of "A-Z":
The DC Comics Action Figure Archive (Hardcover)
by Scott Beatty
Chronicle Books, 208 pages, $40, available December 27, 2007
Diamond Code SEP074172
For the legions that collect the immensely popular DC Comics action figures, we have good news: the official visual compendium of more than 1,400 characters has finally arrived. The DC Comics Action Figure Archive is the definitive reference for the serious enthusiast. Assembled by lead collector Scott Beatty and the experts at DC Comics, this sturdy hardcover features more than 600 full-color photographs and an easily navigable A-to-Z structure. Here, too, are previously impossible-to-find release dates, variants and "redecoes," as well as detailed information on action figure scales and articulation points. From Ace the Bat-Hound to Zauriel, with lots of Batman and Superman in-between, this collector's must-have guide doesn't miss a beat.

Featuring Miss Martian:
Teen Titans #53
by Sean McKeever (writer), Alé Garza (artist), Marlo Alquiza (inker), Alé Garza & Scott Williams (cover)
DC Comics, 32 pgs., $2.99, available November 28, 2007
Diamond Code SEP070204
"The Titans of Tomorrow...Today!" goes full throttle in its penultimate chapter! As Robin descends into darkness, it falls to the rest of the Teen Titans to take on not only Starro and its minions, but also the Titans of Tomorrow…and their newfound friends!

With the redesigned Martian Manhunter as a member:
by Tony Bedard; Koi Turnbull and Art Thibert
DC Comics, 32 pgs., $2.99, available November 21, 2007
Diamond Code SEP070151
The team attacks London for a high-profile abduction that marks them as Super-Villains in the eyes of the entire world — but that's exactly what Batman wants!

and finally, the only classic Manhunter from Mars comic this month:
by Justin Gray (script); Rick Leonardi and Sean Phillips (art); Cover by Walter Simonson
DC Comics, 32 pgs., $2.99, available November 14, 2007
Diamond Code SEP070197
The last chapter in the "Ghosts of Mars" storyline finds J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, destroyed from within by his malevolent brother's memory! Luckily his new family — the JLA— and his old Martian family have ways to help him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 (2002)

I recently started a new job with a wonky schedule, so I stockpiled blog entries over the weekend to avoid any gaps. I'd just posted a summary of J'Onn J'Onzz's defense of Damage's unintentional destruction of a chunk of Atlanta. Admiring my handiwork, I noticed the date. You know, the date. So much for that post. Instead, I quickly wrote up this summary from 9-11 - The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories To Remember (2002)...

Among those creators were Dan Jurgens, Alan Davis, Robin Riggs, Mike Collins, Todd Klein and Lee Loughridge, who contributed the JLA story "If Only..." to the trade paperback anthology collection honoring the victims and heroes of the tragic 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In the story, a young boy imagined Superman, the Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, the Flash, and Batman rebuilding the Twin Towers three-- no, ten times-- wait, twenty times taller; after having evacuated all it's occupants to safety prior to the first plane's impact. Just as Flash was promising to join the Teen Titans in their work at the Pentagon, the boy's mommy called him away from his crayon drawings to eat dinner. The child protested that he wanted to finish his story for daddy before he returned from work giving aid at ground zero. His mother read his comic, and assured him, "Finish your story, sweetie. Dad will love reading it."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Superman #179 (April, 2002)

After a visit to Dr. Foster’s office, Superman foiled an armed robbery in Harlem. His efforts were ridiculed by local militant black hero Muhammad X. This “X” verbally ran the Man of Steel out of town with his guilt trip rhetoric. Kal-El looked first to his wife in Metropolis, then Natasha Irons and Star-Spangled Kid, and finally J’Onn J’Onzz in the Watchtower for solace and feedback.

“I recognized some of the names. Black Lightning, Mr. Terrific…” J’Onn consoled, “It’s hard to keep track sometimes…Look, Clark, it’s only natural that someone Natasha’s age would respond to someone she sees as more like herself.” “Then you agree with Muhammad X.” "Not exactly." “But Natasha, a black girl, looks up to black super-heroes—and the Star-Spangled Kid, a white girl, looks up to…well…me.” “As she should. Not because you’re white, but because of your deeds and legacy. Heroes, by definition, are heroes.” “J’Onn. Why don’t we have more black members in the J.L.A.?”

“Speaking as a green man, I don’t think it has anything to do with color. We’ve had plenty of members from all parts of the world…and the universe. We’ve offered membership to Black Lightning a half-dozen times. Some have other goals, other lives. Some heroes don’t want to work in groups—but I’d like to think that someone—anyone—who was qualified, he, she or it would be nominated. This man’s words bother you so much, not because you don’t care—but because you do care so deeply about doing the right thing.” Writer Jeph Loeb seemed to like having J'Onn around as a sounding board for Superman, and his appearance in this issue was drawn by frequent Manhunter artist Ariel Olivetti.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

2002 Green Arrow "Ollie's Stupendous Chili Recipe (Just Like Mom used to make!)" Pin-Up

Click the pic to expand...

Scott McCullar's recipe illustrated by Patrick Gleason & Michael Bair for Green Arrow Secret Files & Origins #1 (12/2002.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Darkstars #30 (April 1995)

The Martian Manhunter was contacted by his Justice League colleague Wonder Woman, who had spotted something landing on Mars while on monitor duty. Imagine his horror when he saw Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) and Darkstar (Donna Troy) "...frolicking on the graves of a venerable old race." J'Onn tackled the startled couple, already addled from a previous encounter with Darkseid's son Kalibak.

Once the dust settled, J'Onzz told the duo, "Believe me... I have no great desire to be here. My memories of this place are anything but joyful." Perhaps that's why he was so irritable on this adventure, which led the three heroes to track down the uninvited spaceship that first caught the Amazing Amazon's attention. It belonged to "The Syndicate," an interstellar criminal operation often at odds with the Darkstars. "...They've razed an entire quadrant of my people's dwellings... Clumsy fools. Don't they know what they're destroying? This is all I have left! All my people ever wanted was peace... and it eludes them... even in death." The Manhunter launched into the hoods, but was repelled shortly thereafter by an energy cannon. Donna chided, "Damn it, J'Onn-- I never thought I'd be the one telling you to chill out. These syndicate-types aren't your garden-variety space goons. They pack a punch." Under Darkstar Troy's leadership, the group brought the Syndicate's operation down.

This was the first true meeting of J'Onn J'Onzz and Kyle Rayner, discounting passing glances during crossovers. At first, the Martian Manhunter questioned the new Green Lantern's courage and penchant for jokes, comparing him unfavorably to Hal Jordon, but acknowledged "I stand corrected," as the mission wound down. For Kyle's part, while he related to J'Onn's survivor's guilt after the death of his girlfriend, he still felt J'Onn was too tense and unfriendly. "Even a Martian's got to let off steam now and then. Doesn't he?" Manhunter departed with a curt, "My method of relaxation is my own business-- just as this Syndicate installation is yours. All I ask is that you remove them as quickly as you can. I don't relish the idea of coming back here." As for Darkstar Donna Troy, "J'Onn's not half-bad once you get to know him. Remember, this was his planet once--before his people were wiped out. I think he feels the weight of all those ghosts."

"To Wake The Dead!" was by Michael Jan Friedman, Mike Collins, and Ken Branch. Collins would of course return to J'Onn J'Onzz in Martian Manhunter Special #1 (1996). No love for the Alien Atlas on the cover, where his guest appearance went completely unacknowledged.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Quotable Martian...

Back in the day, when I found a great line of dialogue that really wasn't necessary in a story synopsis, I'd group them in sorta kinda sequential order and post them in a section devoted to J'Onn's pearls of wisdom. Since the last-- well, pretty much all-- of the previous posts have run long, I figured a stopgap shorty was in order (though no longer presented that way...

Policeman: "But how do you know the suspect has a scar on his wrist--and a laundry mark in his clothes that gives him away? You've never seen him before and you've only been on the force 24 hours!"
John Jones: "It's just that I know! I can tell you no more!"-Detective Comics #225, Martian Manhunter's first written words.

"No--you're not going to be safe here...You're going to be safe behind bars!"-Detective Comics #226

"We are wrapped in an enigma, all of us. I suggest we unravel the mystery, and quickly, before it strangles us..."-JLofA #200

"You'll have to excuse me for a moment... I need to find a quiet room in which to practice an ancient Martian meditation technique... It's called screaming."-JLI #8

"Still, I wish there was some other way we could have stopped [the Khunds] without taking so many lives...Where's the pride in war, Sir? Where's the pride in wholesale slaughter?-JLI #22

"We did not get involved in this line of work for fame, fortune, and ego-inflation."-JLQ #1

"You would do well to look into those minds you control--and study the information they contain about me! My strength is second to none. I have the ability to change my shape at will! To become invisible! To read minds! I'm not just another costumed human--I'm the Martian Manhunter!"-JLI Annual #1

"...Enough..."-Quoted from too many comics to list.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Rock of the JLA

We're still in the early stages of his blog, so I'm still trying to line up ducks and wade into the undertaking. As part of this process, I'm looking to expand on the number of links and interesting topics by taking a gander at the world wide web. In this pursuit, I stumbled upon Michael Kooiman's excellent DC Cosmic Teams site, presumably named for the early '90s card set and acting as an in-depth reference source for related characters. This in itself would be noteworthy, especially between the cute super-deformed versions of DC heroes and their synopsis of the most recent Manhunter mini-series I bailed on after one issue. What really left me thunderstruck though was that while skimming J'Onn's page, I spied the header "Rock of the Justice League."

Now see, around the same time I was working on my website, I was also beginning my rather slow and presently lapsed conversion to Judaism. In the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) are references to our God being a "rock" that supports us throughout time. After moving away from the site's original "Z'Onn Z'Orr" title, I wanted a phrase that would showcase J'Onn in my favorite role, as the "heart and soul" of his super-team (but without the mushy long-windedness.) Also, I though I might pull a few hits from WWF fans googling Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I didn't expect much Sean Connery/Nic Cage traffic. Anyway, after I collapsed the site and canceled my WebTV subscription, I figured there'd be no memory of the joint beyond the odd dead link on webrings. I contacted Michael, and while neither of us are unquestionably certain where the term originated, I still enjoyed knowing it has some life in these Meltzer/revamp/Didio years.

It also occurred to me that while I've often droned on nostalgically, I haven't posted much information about why anyone should care about a J'Onn J'Onzz blog, specifically mine, in the first place. With that in mind, I'd like to re-present the "sales pitch" from the old homepage to help explain the matter, after the pic...

J'Onn J'Onzz is the rock upon which the Justice League of America was founded. Trapped on Earth thirty-seven years ago, The Manhunter was one of our planet's few protectors before the coming of Superman heralded a new age of super-heroes one dozen years ago. A detective, leader, teacher, and friend, J'Onzz has left an indelible mark upon the DC Universe. Any history of the Martian Manhunter is a history of the Justice League, and vice versa. The two are forever intertwined. In the Martian's own words...

"...In the solitude and beauty of this place, I could lose myself in meditation...find my center again.

For so long I've wanted to get away from the League...From the pressures and pretenses of my life as the so-called Martian Manhunter. And yet--now that I'm here...I can't stop thinking about the others. Nor, it seems, can I avoid assuming this beetle-browed shape the world has come to know me by. I've been with the Justice League so long... Before I even knew my true heritage...My true identity...I knew the League.

From the triumphs of the first League...through the tragedies of the second...and the wild absurdities of [the third] incarnation--the Justice League has been my home... Her members, my family. There's so much I want to do...Need to do...for myself. So many questions about my personal destiny that need to be answered...but I can't leave my family... Not until I help it back to it's feet... Not until it's healthy and strong and alive again."

...and so he did...

Why a Martian?

Why in God's name should anyone care about a second stringer like The Manhunter from Mars? Well, he's a favorite of writers, because of his versatility. If you need a Superman-level powerhouse, with a new ability to match any situation. you can use J'Onn. If you need a somber detective with the presence of The Batman, J'Onn's available. If you want to capture the stranger in a strange land feel of Wonder Woman, commentating on the new world around them while bringing the traditions from the old, call J'Onn. Want to get Green Lantern-style cosmic, with aliens and space stations? J'Onn can do that. Straight forward super-heroics with a Silver Age hero featuring a Rogue's Gallery as recognizable as The Flash's? Oh yeah, I think MM can do it. Got a vacancy for a skilled tactician and leader who can handle a team as well as a sovereign like Aquaman? Martian calling!

J'Onn really is a one-man JLA, since he can fill in for nearly any character type needed. He can be the gruff stiff with a dry sense of humor in a funny-book. He can be morose and obsessive. He can be determined and strong. He can be believably vulnerable. For most of his existence, he's been the main character that a writer fully "owned" in JLA, giving him the most character development of any "big gun" in that series. In a book that can be editorially stifling, he's a breath of fresh air.

The same is true with artists. All eyes are on them when they draw Superman, and it had better be just perfect. It has to meet with fan expectations, and match all the important licensing and stay in line with all his other comic appearances. With J'Onn, you can cut loose. He's been reinterpreted by nearly every artist who's ever drawn him. Besides, how can you not have fun drawing a freaky green giant dressed like Conan?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Vile Menagerie

The Martian Manhunter Rogues Gallery

vile ('vîl)

1: morally despicable.
2: physically repulsive.
3: degrading, ignominious.

menagerie (me-'na-je-ré)

1: a collection of wild animals, especially for exhibition.
2: the place where such animals are kept.
3: an unusual and varied group.

The Menagerie Census

The Diabolu Idol-Head The Hyperclan
Middletown's Most Wanted
The Others


  • Menagerie Viewing: An Art Gallery of Martian Manhunter Rogues

  • Spotlight Exhibits

  • SurVILEvor Island:

    Readers vote villains into & out of the Martian Manhunter Rogues Gallery

  • The Vile Menagerie versus the Legions of Doom:

    Readers vote in contests between members of the Martian Manhunter Rogues Gallery and villains from the greater DC Universe.

  • The Vile Corpus: Villains that elude the gallery

    Current as of: 9/6/2016

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007

    Comrades of Mars: Aquaman

    I'm still tweaking the page, and I decide I'd like one of those little pictures to pop up in the tab/favorites menu instead of a "B." This occurs to me while I'm at the Aquaman Shrine, another blog I visit on the daily devoted to the least loved JLofA original members. The fact is, Rob's site was the primary inspiration for my dusting off all my old references from the "Rock of the JLA" site and reworking it into a blog, and on mentioning this to him I snagged a free link and some insight into creating a "FavIcon." That much I managed on my own, but finding someplace to host the sucker, and failed work-arounds when I couldn't, have wasted a good chunk of my day. So no FavIcon for now, but I figured dropping a link to his page and highlighting Aquaman today was still in order.

    Fact is, the former sea king will make regular appearances here, not just because I'm fond of the hero. but because he's also one of J'Onn J'Onzz's closest friends. Both share the experience of being fathers who lost their families under tragic circumstances. They were lumped together from the onset as the social outcasts of the Justice League (with the lamest weaknesses.) Briefly, the pair shared solo features in Adventure Comics when neither had a self-titled series all their own. Years later, J'Onzz's return from Mars instigated Aquaman's disbanding of the Justice League, which was then reformed with Detroit-area outcasts around the two remaining founders. While there was friction between the two at this time, and in retroactive continuity always had been, J'Onn acted as Arthur's chief confidant and conscience until the Atlantean handed him leadership reigns of the team while Arthur sought to reconcile with his estranged wife, Mera.

    When Aquaman finally received a new ongoing series in the 1990's, the Manhunter monitored his friend in this turbulent time, and went to his aid when he collapsed from exhaustion. J'Onn was among the first heroes to question the changes Aquaman underwent after losing his hand to piranhas, and again allowed himself to be abused by his friend when Arthur needed a telepath to deal with an ancient Atlantean problem. The two continued to relate, commiserate, and agitate upon the formation of yet another JLA, and in being left out of same in it's most recent incarnation.It's to be expected, seeing as the book's latest writer favored the Satellite-era team Arthur & J'Onn dismantled. It's okay though, as the horribly redesigned Martian Manhunter will join the lame young Sword of Atlantis version of Aquaman in Batman's new collection of Outsiders. Brothers in infamy...

    Above is detail from a profile page by Phil Jimenez of our heroes in better days, ironically enough, the same Satellite era J'Onn wasn't really a part of. The pair is often pictured together, but all the shots I have handy are of "Aquaman the Crusty Pirate," which if you visit the Aquaman Shrine you'll know is inappropriate for the occasion. Click the pic for a better view...

    Monday, September 3, 2007

    1966 Comic Book Foldees Card #15 (Topps)

    This may well be the first ever "Martian Man Hunter" toy. I use the term very loosely, as this appears to be the epitome of the "inaction" figure. You can a) fold the card into "amusing" mix-and-matches between J'Onn, a "Loud Singer" or (oddly appropriate) an "Indian Chief." Alternately, just cut him out of the sheet, and he stands up! Yep, standing there, just like in real life! Just standing away.

    You've got to remember, this was a simpler time-- before all those MTV video games, kids kept busy playing coke bottle cap table hockey games wearing freshly painted paper pirate hats. And they had cardboard foldees! Those were the days. Yes siree!

    The spawn of the "greatest generation" were poor and gullible. No more questions. Move along. Now.

    Further information from Jeff Allender's House of Checklists:

    "Notes: This series of 44 cards folds out to a size of 2-1/2" x 4-11/16": "Make
    9 Funny Pictures with Every Card". A larger (folding out to 3-1/4" x 6") set
    was produced later, without card #44 or the wording "Printed in U.S.A."
    after the Topps copyright mark. Thanks much to Mike Kooiman for the list!"

    A European version was available from A&BC Gum of the UK in 7 different languages: Dansk, Finnish, Swedish, Norway, German, French and Dutch.

    I'd like to know who was responsible for the art on these. The two I've had the chance to look at resemble Steve Ditko, but I suspect that's just wishful thinking...

    UPDATE: The cards were by Wally Wood, and you can see the full set here.

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    Superman: The Doomsday Wars #1-3 (1998)

    The Manhunter from Mars confirmed, "The distress call from the Georgia authorities was certainly warranted. Whatever tore through this area would present a formidable obstacle for any ordinary police force." Quite an understatement, as Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Huntress, Flash and Orion surveyed considerable damage to the landscape. A tanker truck suddenly flew through the air in the League's direction, so Manhunter immediately took charge. "Flash. I want a reconnaissance report..." Flash promptly complied, but was shaken before he could give a telepathic reply. Shortly thereafter, Manhunter dangled limply by his cape from a shard of debris, with all but Orion and Huntress having fallen before, as J'Onzz had put it mildly earlier, "Someone who presents a challenge."

    The Martian Manhunter thankfully came to at that point, noting, "I don't believe I've ever been hit so hard in my life. I was protecting a bystander, and I was hit before I could use my phase power. Where's Orion? I've lost my telepathic link with him... This isn't a fight. It's a war." J'Onn J'Onzz flew into combat while the League regrouped, Orion confessing, "Legs... too weak to stand..." Wonder Woman complained, "Bad enough Superman doesn't respond when I call him! But J'Onn shouldn't have charged off alone! The League should function better than this. Must be because we're not used to being beaten so badly!" Doomsday had come again, and it wore a battered Martian on its shoulder spikes like a trophy.

    Wonder Woman launched into an ill-fated attack. "I never, ever thought I'd see anyone do that to J'Onn. You must have found some way around his phase powers! ...Strategic fighting such as this is far beyond your capac--UHN! How--? J'Onn himself tried to contact you telepathically but found nothing there! There should be no sense of reason... no... mind!" Doomsday replied, quite eloquently, "My own mental defenses barred your overconfident friend from the truth."

    Earlier in the narrative, Brainiac had appeared to have been killed in a final battle with Superman, but he had instead been gravely injured, requiring a new body. Coluan time-travel technology had allowed Brainiac to save Doomsday from destruction at the entropy point after the events in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, and the villainous mastermind's intellect now resided in the behemoth's form. Trapped in customized restraints, the League were mostly unable to come to Superman's aid upon his arrival on the scene.

    With some help from Aquaman, the Man of Steel foiled Brainiac's plan to turn Earth into a new Colu, using Psi-Blockers from a previous encounter to drive the telepath from Doomsday's mind. Superman then lured Doomsday into a JLA transporter tube, which teleported the monster to the moon.

    Rescuing the League, Superman joined his team in battle. Although Green Lantern initially followed Martian orders, the Manhunter stated (while forcing Doomsday onto his back with a suffocating fist to the throat,) "Easy, Orion, Superman has a plan in mind-- and we would do well to follow his lead." Superman thought to himself, "One minute. That's about all I need. Harder than it sounds. Even for Orion and J'Onn, lasting a minute against Doomsday-- is practically impossible." In that time, the two Leaguers held their own, until Superman managed to divide Doomsday's form between four active transporter booths. "Never more than 25% integrated, unable to think or free himself." Manhunter immediately saw a flaw. "And if someone should try to take Doomsday?" Superman promised he would automatically be teleported, "to a location only I know of."

    Dan Jurgens provided story and art, with a nice Image veneer by inker Norm Rapmund. I wonder if Jurgens' constant trampling of all DC super-heroes to show how much better Superman was than all of them combined played into his inability to maintain his profile at DC after the entire Superman line had a forced creator turnover?

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Five Years Later...

    Infamous words, if you're a Legion of Super-Heroes fan, and appropriate here. Welcome hypothetical reader to my J'Onn J'Onzz fan blog. This is a long time returning. You see, back around 1999, I used my WebTV to build a website originally called "Z'Onn Z'Orr: Home of the Martian Manhunter." This quickly morphed into "Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA." I updated the site fairly regularly for two years, as it expanded to the point where it really taxed WebTV's capabilities to contain it. I built the site using a clunky program that forced me to do painful and lengthy editing any time I wanted to make changes. This process killed a lot of my passion, as did the crushing weight of transcribing the voluminous information I wanted to impart. At the same time, I was running my own comic shop, which I "inherited" with a good deal of debt that prevented me from pocketing much money. By the end, I was sick to death of the site, the business, my customers, poverty-- all of it. I closed the shop, took a vacation, and went into a more profitable profession (vague, since grounds keeper or school bus driver would qualify.) I bought an actual computer, dismantled the WebTV site, and swore to rebuild.

    Yeah, that was never going to happen. The thought of all that HTML coding and the years it took me to even begin recovering from burn-out made it a non-issue. I drifted away from most of my comic reading friends, and just did my own thing. I'd wasted a number of years trolling message boards and such, a place I don't want to revisit. However, in the last year the itch to talk comics has returned, even though most are rather dreadful these days. I also started visiting other people's blogs, and was inspired by the format. Instead of trying to will the website I dreamt of into existence, I could just knock it out piecemeal for whoever bothered to stop by. If you're still reading, that would be you.

    You might also wonder why I decided on another name change. For starters, while I still love the Martian Manhunter, he hasn't been my favorite comic book character in a long time. His three year long solo series was painfully bad for my taste, and things managed to get even worse since. It's also hard to be the anything of the JLA when you're not even on a division of that team anymore, a problem I faced when the secret headquarters Grant Morrison invented for J'Onn got tossed into the sun within John Ostrander's first year writing the character solo. I wanted something with permanence. I don't think any other character ever encountered the Idol-Head of Diabolu, a malevolent deus ex machina from J'Onn's 60's comics that would produce a new threat-of-the-issue every month as fodder for the Manhunter's adventures. It alludes to both an historical perspective (better days) and allows for tongue-in-cheek humor and snark. As I'm a bit of a Negative Nelly, it makes sense for my blog to take on the viewpoint of a villain, and it reads so much better than "Excerpts from the journal of Professor Arnold Hugo," don'tcha think?

    I figure I should post some kind of image on the regular, and for a first addition, this is as good as any...