Thursday, February 28, 2008

Adventure Comics #451 (May-June, 1977)

Continued from Adventure Comics #450: "Return To Destiny"

As the Manhunter from Mars flew unaided just within Earth’s atmosphere, he thought, “I’ve eliminated Supergirl from my list of suspects... and I can’t believe Superman or Green Lantern would kill--- and only they knew the location of Mars II--- They and two others...”

Meanwhile, N’or Cott looked on from his spaceship’s monitor: “J’onzz must die! But perhaps I will be spared the chore of slaying him! He’s approaching a Thanagarian police ship! My duty as a peace officer is to eliminate J’onn... but I am perfectly willing to let the Thanagarians perform the task for me!”

Hawkman and his wife Shiera greeted the arriving Manhunter warmly, only for the former to be sucker punched and the latter needlessly battered. "...One or both of you murdered my friend! You're returning from Mars II, aren't you? Your ship is slower than mine! The journey took you longer!" Hawkgirl protested, No! We've been visiting Thanagar," but that didn't stop J'onzz's shoving her into a wall and her husband out an airlock. J'onzz and Katar Hol continued to verbally argue in a near vacuum, with Hawkman surprisingly passive, but the Martian kept striking him while shouting, “I’m sick of listening to you!” With Hawkman beaten unconscious, J’onzz planned to “wring the truth” from his wife before the whole “nearly in outer space” thing sucked the air out of him. So Hawkgirl held her breath (“I won’t last more than a few seconds in this vacuum!”) and flew out to drag the men back to her ship.

N'or Cott was displeased. “J’onzz has the luck of the ancients! I’ve got to use my final ploy. A Superman robot left on Mars I... and which I was clever enough to save... The robot... and a fire bomb in its chest-- these will finish off the cursed J'onzz!”

Back with the Thanagarians, whose Visiglobe ship’s log verified that they hadn’t been near Mars II, J’onzz acknowledged, “Yes... and sorry! Since Re's Eda’s death, I haven’t been thinking clearly!” The group was joined by the grinning, clearly evil phony Superman, about to detonate...

So what’s wrong with this story? Manhunter assuming on the least convincing hunch ever that one of his super friends murdered another Martian without the slightest hint of a motive? That of all the heroes, Manhunter was convinced Hawkman was that killer? That when confronted, Katar Hol would just roll over without taking a single swing? That Martian police are bloodthirsty fascists who would slay a respected leader for temporarily breaking ranks? Even the artist of the tale, Michael Netzer, had issues, which he discussed at his website and in a comment thread here:

"The 1970's were an innocent time indeed for the comics. Even with the advent of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series at DC and the Spider-Man Comics Code Authority defiant drug issue controversy, it's safe to say that there seemed to be such little credence given to this form then, that even Denny O'Neil may have slipped into a creative slumber while handling the writing and editorial chores of the post GL/GA era, without anyone really noticing or saying anything about it."

"And how about the idea that Hawkwoman goes out of JL headquarters to bring Hawkman back, from space, while holding her breath so she can survive the no air conditions.

When Neal [Adams] saw me working on this at the studio, he called Denny imploring him to change it because holding one's breath doesn't help them not to explode in space because of lack of air pressure. Denny cordially declined.

Needless to say, I was too young and new to wage such editorial crusades on the work I did. I became caught in the middle of a historic conflict between Neal and Denny, that goes back to when Neal changed his ending to the Speedy heroin story.

You're right though, these stories must be seen in the context of their time where such inanity was perfectly normal and very few people seemed to notice."

Oh boy, just wait until I really dig into those Silver Age Justice League stories. Thanks again to Mr. Netzer, whose outstanding artistry with Terry Austin on these back-ups was essential to returning J'onn J'onzz to the public eye in a fashion that would attract the most positive attention.

Continued in World's Finest Comics #245: "Today Mars, Tomorrow... The Universe"

1 comment:

Luke said...

“J’onzz must die!" sounds like either 1) a punk band or 2) a line from a really, really messed up version of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So what’s wrong with this story?

So, so much. This just sounds so... what's the word... incoherent? Art sure is pretty though, in an off-beat, Martian way.