Friday, June 27, 2008

Justice League International #8 (12/87)

What we have here is another landmark issue in my personal road to Martian Manhunter fandom. The first Martian Manhunter comic I ever owned was the awful number packaged with his "Super Powers" action figure, which left no impression. My first "real" comic of his was Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, in which I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite toys taking part in action illustrated by George Pérez. Again though, J'Onn J'Onzz did nothing in the book itself that made him exceptional. Finally, I bought a damaged copy of JLI #8 from the cheapie rack at a comic shop in Texas, and read it in the bed of a pick-up truck headed for Nevada. Finally, I had a Martian Manhunter story in which the character did something to make me like him outside the context of an action figure.

The Justice League had just achieved "International" status as a United Nations-sanctioned outfit, and begun setting up embassies across the globe. J'Onn J'Onzz was in charge of the New York branch, which proved to be the poorest example of them all. While moving men worked their way through crowds of onlookers and media, J'Onzz directed their actions. One questioned the Martian as to why there was a crate of "Oreos" among the items being handled. "Captain Marvel introduced me to them. I like them." The mover protested, "But you're from Mars!" J'Onzz explained, "Martians do eat, you know. In fact, we had 'Burger King' and 'McDonald's' long before you had them on Earth."
"You're jokin', right?"
"Joking? Martians don't joke."

The crate of Oreos proved too heavy for mortal movers to heft upstairs to J'Onn's room. "No need-- I'll do it. Do you see what a man is capable of-- when he has his milk and cookies every day?" Martian Strength is of little use, however, if stairs in disrepair give underfoot. The Alien Atlas fell straight through the new hole into the room below, his arms still upright, though his load remained well above him. The movers decided to take a break. "I know where we can get our hands on a ton of Double-Cream 'Oreos.'"

"Yes, Captain Atom?"
"I couldn't help noticing that you just fell through the ceiling!"
"Oh. Is that what happened?"

Atom was trying to help Mr. Miracle install the security system, so Martian Manhunter excused himself to allow them to continue. J'Onzz's departure instead gave Captain Atom the opportunity to express his concerns about the Manhunter from Mars. "Y'know, I can't figure him out. He seems so cold-- and yet, I can't help feeling that underneath it all he's enjoying some very private joke." Scott Free replied, "The Manhunter's a complicated guy. I've given up trying to understand it. I just relax and enjoy him." Unfortunately for the New God, the Captain then took undesirable initiative that ruined hours of his Miracle work. J'Onn J'Onzz called down through the his hole, "What was that explosion? Are we under attack?"
"In a manner of speaking."

Scott Free stormed out, leaving J'Onzz to discuss the situation with Captain Atom and Mr. Miracle's little friend, Oberon. "Captain Atom aside-- this building is a badly-constructed nightmare! The walls are cardboard... the wiring is faulty... certainly in all of New York, the U.N. could have found--" Oberon tried to calm things down. "J'Onn, J'Onn, J'Onn-- don't get so emotional! It's not like you!" Just then, the power for the building cut out. "I just hope the others are having an easier time than we are. But, of course, they'd have to be."

Later, the quantum-powered bungler managed to raise the lights, prompting Manhunter to commend, "My compliments, Captain Atom-- you've more than atoned for your earlier sin."
"Hey, thanks, J.J. I think."

In a turnabout, Mr. Miracle returned to the New York embassy with a new team aircraft supplied by S.T.A.R. Labs, only to find the roof he landed it on could not support the weight. J'Onzz sighed, "You'll have to excuse me for a moment, Captain."
"Where are you going?"
"I need to find a quiet room in which to practice an ancient Martian meditation technique."
"Oh really? What is it?"
"It's called screaming."
"Oh yeah-- I know that one. Mind if I join you?"
"Not at all."

The League's first international mission came over the wire, sending them to Bonn, Germany. "No rest for the weary..." Mister Miracle was off to prep the new ship, though Martian Manhunter made it clear Blue Beetle would be the pilot for the next week or two. This prompted "juvenile snickering," and when asked by Manhunter to stop he mumbled, "Team leader for two days-- and already he's sounding like Batman!"
"I heard that!"

While J'Onn J'Onzz was technically the straight man for the increasingly humorous new League, his dry wit allowed him some of the best lines and biggest laughs. This issue and the many more I've enjoyed since endeared me to J'Onn J'Onzz and less-than-serious super-heroics. It's a real shame there doesn't seem to be a place for such simple pleasures in the modern DCU.

Back to Justice League International #7 (11/1987)

Forward to Martian Manhunter in the 1980's Index

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