Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scary Monsters #2 (June 2003)

“The Martian Manhunter can fly. He can bend steel in his bare hands and change the course of mighty rivers. In fact, he can pretty much do anything Superman can do. With two significant additions. He’s a shape-changer. And more important right now, he’s a telepath. Something attacked and critically injured two of his Justice League colleagues... J’Onn J’Onzz is going inside their minds... the forest around them bursts once more into flame. The Manhunter bares his teeth in a reflex of defiance... writhing in the heart of those flames is something far worse, so great and terrible that [GL & Flash’s] minds deny its existence, for their own survival.”

“That’s when we arrived.” Rayner and West were carried back to the lodge and put under observation, while Kishana Lewis was given her own room. There she was visited by John Jones. The narration read, "This is a challenge the Manhunter's faced many times before in his career as a detective. His Martian telepathy makes the human mind transparent. Knowledge comes easily to him. Proof is hard."

Introductions were in order. “Ms. Lewis? I'm John Jones. I’m a detective. I used to be with homicide. I’ve been asked to help... Is something wrong... you’re staring.”
“I’m sorry... it’s just your skin-- looks green.”

Manhunter was stunned, thinking to himself, “Incredible. Impossible. My replication of the human form is perfect, yet somehow she sees through it! I can deny it, but this might prove the way to get her to trust me.” J’Onzz revealed his alter ego to Lewis, who was unafraid of his form. “I mean, you’re a hero—one of the Justice League. Why should it matter what you look like?” Given permission to peer into Lewis’ mind, J’Onzz found her astral self to be a being of flame. “A very rare woman indeed-- by the twin moons!” Lewis' fiery astral form created a wall of fire to protect the lodge from demonic entry, then urged the Martian Detective to evacuate, before it was too late. The flames were too intense for J'Onn, forcing his mind to leave the astral plane, only to find Kishana was consciously aware of none of this.

Back in the valley, Superman and Batman found that the forest had special regenerative properties that allowed it to redevelop at an astronomical rate. “I think I can tell you why this forest burns so easily. The wood is super-saturated with a kind of resin. Once it ignites, the fire would burn as intensely as white phosphorus. And the shape of the valley, like a bowl, makes this a natural blast furnace… From the looks of the subsoil and organic residue, about one hundred-plus years ago the valley was burned down to its bedrock. Evidence suggests another fire, equally devastating, better than a thousand years previously. And yet another, even further in the past. But this is old-growth timber… the kind of trees you’d expect to find in an eco-neighborhood that’s been untouched for centuries. No way should this have grown in just a hundred years. Or even two. “ Then, as Superman himself felt the cold and a blizzard set in, the Man of Steel tossed the Dark Knight to safety just before a creature attacked. The magical monstrosity assaulted with a wealth of speed outdistanced only by its mass. “These punches hurt! The creature’s claws are drawing blood! So much for being invulnerable!” Superman managed to defeat the one abomination, but he felt the presence of a legion. Batman noted, “His uniform’s badly torn. There’s blood all over. I’ve never seen him take this kind of punishment before.”

By Chris Claremont, Joshua Hood and Sean Parsons.

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