Sunday, October 21, 2007

Inside? Outside? Upside-down?

So I'd built this massive Martian Manhunter site, maintained it for a couple of years, and took it all down again. Editing and hosting the site on WebTV was so arduous, tedious, and expensive, the thought of trying to rebuild from the HTML up was frankly a horror to me. I was also burnt out on the character specifically, and comics in general. Marvel had improved greatly in the Quesada years, but my passion wasn't there anymore, and I was sick to death of DC's pandering to their World's Finest over the rest of their library.

At first, I was impressed with Dan DiDio, who seemed inclined to shake-up the status quo and focus more on secondary characters. I certainly applauded his initiative to promote cultural diversity in the super-hero line. However, both came at the expense of established characters, who were dispatched in increasing numbers and in increasingly malicious manner. A notable target were former members of Justice League International, despite the success of two mini-series that reunited both team members and creative team. The focus was much more on the molestation of these characters and turning back the clock with an eye toward early-90's event hype and third rate Moore/Miller knock-offs than producing entertaining comics. I'm still waiting for Sinestro to turn up as Kathleen Turner to Hal Jordan's Michael Douglas, serving a rockin' pâté made out of G'Nort at a Green Lantern dinner party.

Anyway, I found myself dropping DC Comics one after another, with "Infinite Crisis" serving as the final, painful straw. With the "New Look" Martian Manhunter to follow, I figured I would pick up the heavily discounted first issue of his mini-series, dislike it, and allow it to stand as my official "jumping-off" point for Martian Manhunter fandom.

A few months later, I found myself wishing I had fewer comic boxes around, and making peace with chunks of my collection. A major part of that was dealing with all these Martian Manhunter appearances I'd cataloged over the years. Sorting thorough what I intended to keep and discard, I was seized with the realization, "this too shall pass." Someday, I'll look back on the redesigned look and costume and find nostalgia rather than contempt. Really, it wasn't such a bad uniform, if only it showed a bit more skin and allowed J'Onn J'Onzz's classic beetle-browed look to replace the Natural Martian/Skrull hybrid thing he's got going on. This also led to the previously noted creation of the blog you're reading now.

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My acceptance of this new period of Manhunter adventures even managed to fuel interest in Tony Bedard and Koi Turnbull's intended relaunch of "Batman & the Outsiders." While DC was a bit dodgy on the team's line-up, advance solicitations all but confirmed it to be J'Onn, Bruce, the new Aquaman, Catwoman, Katana, Grace, Thunder, and Metamorpho. The first three formed an unlikely but historical friendship with J'Onzz at its center, and I thought it might be fun to see a new dynamic between the Dark Knight and Selina Kyle. I always hated the Outsiders as a team, but with the additions to the roster, I figured I'd at least pick up the trade. Score one for the new DC, right?

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No. Stopping them now. Because you see, with very little notice or fanfare, DC Comics has changed everything. Chuck Dixon and Julian Lopez are the new creative team. J'Onn J'Onzz is still in the first issue or so, but his image was removed from Ryan Sook's original version of the promotional piece/variant cover, replaced by Geo-Force (with Batgirl bumping Catwoman and Green Arrow theoretically offing Captain Boomerang Jr.) Dixon states, "By editorial fiat and the demands of continuity the line-up will change with issue #3 and #4. Some jaw-dropping additions to the team will occur then." Considering Manhunter's appearance as a murderous Judas figure in a Countdown-related teaser image, there's no telling what the future holds. Yet, the book it still hitting its announced November 14th ship date, so DC knew their solicitations for at least the third issue were utterly fraudulent advertising and accepted orders anyway. I'm just glad I was wise enough not to pre-order the book. Wait for the trade shall remain my mantra, excepting Jim Shooter's upcoming run on Legion of Super-Heroes. It's funny, because Jim Shooter was seen as at least as much of a tyrannical presence in his editorship at Marvel twenty years ago as DiDio has proven today. The major difference, I suppose, was that Shooter also happens to be one of the greatest writers the industry has ever produced, often providing well-considered rationals for his interference with other creator's work. DiDio? Not so much, but hey, thanks for saving me the cost of another DC trade and additional fortification against purchasing any future wares under your editorial stewardship, Dan.

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