Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Martian Manhunter: American Secrets 1.5 (9/92)

At the forensics convention, Jones talked a bit about his odd case, to general derision as a misguided yokel from Denver. "I've been following a trail... but not an evidence trail. A trail of references and hunches. Game-shows, lizard-headed devils, comic books..." That line got the attention of a lean, mustachioed, plainclothes officer named Jim Swift, who insisted on knowing where Jones was staying while in town.

That night, the Martian sat in his hotel room, watching a detective show on television, while in his natural form. "This is why I became a cop. Stranded on this world, I wanted to be among its heroes. These were the heroes the culture showed me. There were other heroes before, I've heard. During Earth's last Great War. But like all war heroes, they've faded. Except the ones who chose to become something other than heroes. There is so much they don't tell. Is that why I became a cop? To learn what they don't tell?"

A knock came on the door from Swift, offering information on Jones' case. From behind the door, J'Onzz repeatedly refused Swift for the night, at which point the officer announced, "I'm coming in, Jones." A lizard-like version of Swift joined two reptilian uniformed officers in bursting through the door. The policemen released twin saurian hounds from their leashes to seize the lanky Martian's arms.

"What are you?"
"No, John. I'm the local cop. I ask the questions. So what the hell are--What?"
The Martian transformed from his natural form to the familiar Manhunter visage, tossing the hounds into their masters. "I am a police officer." In the struggle that followed, a smashed television set the hotel room ablaze, revealing J'Onzz's weakness. The Manhunter flew through the roof to make his escape, then did some digging to find Phil Jerry at Royal Records. That same night, J'Onzz overheard mafia thugs commanding Jerry in his office, "Need another Preston Platter... for the jukes... Word's come down... All the way from Cuba... We'll tell Mr. Gioconda you're working on it."

When the thugs left, Detective Jones entered to grill Jerry. Apparently, he did too good a job, as Jerry spontaneously combusted once he began leaking information. As Jones backed away from the flaming corpse, he bumped into an excited Perkins Preston. "The lizards! They--Oh Lord! They did it to Mr. Jerry!" Detective Jones hauled the young rocker out of the building by his arm, asking questions the whole way. Suspecting a police dragnet in the works, the pair needed a discreet way out of town. What they got was Preston's pink Cadillac, complete with "The Big Question's" Patty Marie hiding in the back seat. While narrowly evading a pursuing car and lizard-police gunfire, Patty confessed, "Mother was going to give me to the lizards! I ran out of the booth! I had to hide!"

Hours later, Patty Marie had cried herself to sleep, and Jones contemplated the group's future course. "Strange. The first thought that crosses my mind is the trouble I can get into by taking a runaway minor across state lines. Maybe I've learned my police codes too well." Preston noted a freeway exit to Leavitzville, and took it. "My mama talks about the suburbs all the time! Like a small town--Only new and improved! Nothing'll hurt us there."

Back to Part One

Forward to Part Three

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