Saturday, December 15, 2007

Of Hook Hands and Idol Heads

I was reading rob!’s “Aquaman Shrine” today, as I try to on a regular basis, and saw that he’d begun to address the “Pirate Aquaman” days of the Peter David series he’s on record as loathing. I was inspired to reply to his post summarizing the first year of that series, and as I am wont to do, ran full speed into a tangent that couldn’t fit comfortably in context...

Let us relate:

I've liked the Martian Manhunter since this lad bought the Kenner Super Powers action figure. However, as a comic book character, he was a curiosity for a couple more years. Mark Badger unfortunately torpedoed my interest in him as a soloist until well into the 90's. A specific case in point: much as I liked the guy throughout JLI, I bought the early issues of Justice League Task Force not for him, nor even Aquaman (who was a jerk in those issues,) and I didn't even know who Gypsy was at the time. I bought them for a painfully mis-characterized Nightwing (Michelinie, BTW.)

So anyway, I finally realized how much I'd under appreciated the character with "A Midsummer's Nightmare." My true Martian Manhunter fandom blossomed from then on, and led to my building the old "Rock of the JLA" site. It was only then I began to look past the Modern Era appearances of the character, the type of stuff I grew up on, toward his Silver Age origins... and I hated them. They seemed so garish and stupid, even for the times. This was neither the introspective stoic of DeMatteis nor the intense veteran of Morrison, but a simplistic dork in hacked out adventures clearly intended for the least discerning children. The Bronze Age wasn't much better, such as it was, with the violent reactionary take of Denny O'Neil. Thing is though, anyone or anything you come to truly love is an all-in proposition. That pretty young girl you married develops lines on her face and droops on you. You put on weight and hair disappears and reappears where it may. The love sees past that, not just to the person loved underneath, but into the "flaws" that become additional points of affection. It's not that Jack Miller scripts suddenly become literate, but you can't help but develop an affection toward even the lousy bits as a part of the tapestry.

I mean, I clearly came around to Diabolu’s opening up at regular intervals to spit out a new menace, as I altered the blue moon updating masses of the old site in favor of daily chunks of sometimes inanity. I always thought Marco Xavier was cool, and I do love both Zook and Professor Hugo. Reading Gardner Fox’s Justice League reminded me that J’onn J’onzz stories needn’t be singled out for exceptional disdain, as I broadly hate all DC Silver Age comics, and the Martian actually fares well (after a fashion) by comparison. Its like how you can cast Kyle MacLachlan in anything and it's automatically better for the inherent surreality of his presence. I'm even cautiously optimistic I can one day read Ostrander's run on the Martian Manhunter solo series and develop a "Fried Green Tomatoes" appreciation for the positive aspects of the days he threw the character a proverbial beating. I do clearly take some pleasure in a bit of backward glancing passive-aggressive ribbing. “Gosh, your face used to get so red when you got angry with me! Like a beet! Hah, beat! How’s Annie?” Okay, I may be a bit abusive myself, but I’m trying to own it, as opposed to disavowing aspects of the history I don’t whole-heartedly take to. I’m trying to bring the love, even if just the slap of love that keeps you coming around...

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