Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Vile Menagerie: BEL JUZ

For Valentine's Day, I felt it was about time for the first lady of the Vile Menagerie to make an appearance, the femme fatale Bel Juz. She's the unlucky seventh inductee of the Idol-Head era, and the first in about six weeks. I'll try not to go that long without a spotlight again. Since she never received a Who's Who entry, I hope ya'll like my facsimile.

UPDATED 10/7/08: I was unhappy with how I had written Bel Juz's "Who's Who" entry, and was unwilling to recreate the whole image. The trimmed artwork and revised text is now below...

Art by Dick Dillin & Joe Giella; Alan Kupperberg & Pablo Marcos.

Alter Ego: Bel Juz
Occupation: Conspirator
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood
Base of Operations: Mars II
First Appearance: WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #212 (June, 1972)
Height: Well above average (5'10"+, variable)
Build: Shapely (variable)
Eyes: Yellow (variable)
Hair: Lilac, later blond (variable)

After her home world of Mars was rendered uninhabitable, Bel Juz fled to the planet Vonn with the remnants of her fellow Desert Dwellers. Bel betrayed her people to the Thythen, invaders who had driven out all the known natives of Vonn. The Thythen employed cybernetics to enslave the Martians, then used their life-force to drive Robo-Chargers. Only Bel Juz remained free among her group.

J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, discovered his nomadic people's fate, after having searched them out following Mars' devastation. Manhunter was joined in confronting the Thythen by Superman, who was temporarily displaced on Vonn. Bel Juz was dispatched to greet the heroic pair, and lead them into a trap. Superman detected duplicity in Bel's words, and ordered Manhunter away in order to confront the Jezebel alone. Superman managed to wrestle Bel Juz unconscious, then piloted a spacecraft in a kamikaze run on the Thythen stronghold. Martian Manhunter, believing Superman dead, went on to liberate his people. Bel Juz rejoined the Desert Dwellers, with no one aware of her treachery, so long as Superman remained out of contact on Earth.

Fearing the Manhunter would eventually uncover her true nature, Bel Juz left his company to become the lover of the enigmatic Marshal of the Red Brotherhood. To protect herself, Bel encouraged the Marshal's coup against the New Martian government. Bel Juz counseled the Marshal throughout his campaign to conquer Earth, including his conflicts with the Justice League of America. Finally confronted by Martian Manhunter, Bel pressed the Marshal into one-on-one combat with their mutual nemesis. The duel ended in dishonor and defeat, as Bel Juz attempted to gun Martian Manhunter down, before being stopped by Firestorm. Both Bel Juz and her Marshal were taken into Martian custody, and have not been seen since.

Powers & Weapons: Bel Juz was presumably born with all the innate Martian powers and vulnerabilities. She has only been shown employing limited flight and a degree of super-strength to date. It is likely that she would lose all powers, and eventually her life, through exposure to flames. Bel Juz has made use of laser guns in the past, as well.

Quote: "To protect myself, I started a war..."

Created by: Denny O'Neil & Dick Dillin.


Luke said...

It's always hard to do female baddies for male heroes, especially ones with super-strength like the Manhunter. Because unless the gal also has super-strength (like Giganta, or Rampage, or such), then the fisticuffs become a no-no. Which is not all bad, of course, but does require a solution that doesn't involve punching... so I guess in that sense Manhunter works well. What the hell did I just do there? *brains hurt*

Diabolu Frank said...

Curious you should mention that, as Bel Juz had little-to-no strength advantage over Superman on Vonn. As I recall, the red sun negated Superman's powers, and something inherent to Vonn did a similar number on the Martians, or else J'Onn would have taken the Man of Steel's head off. Anyhow, Bel Juz's only real advantage was flight, which didn't stop Superman from putting her in a sleeper hold. Does Kal-El gotta choke a bitch?

Anyway, Manhunter never has had many female foes, which helps explain Bel Juz's late entry. Gotta space 'em out, donchaknow. Off the top of my head, there's the witch Strega, the mentalist Bette Noir, and the femme fatale from the first JLA annual. Commander Syn was a very capable fighter for Jemm, but I think she only faced J'Onn as part of the polysexual gestalt juggernaut Cabal.

Diabolu Frank said...

So long as no one tries to brings "Rick James" back, you're welcome.