Sunday, July 27, 2008

Super Powers Collection #14: Martian Manhunter (1984)

Secret Origins Matter

Here it is: the first Martian Manhunter comic book I ever owned, though not for long, as it's only 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 and couldn't be held onto by a stripling. It came packaged with the Super Powers action figure I bought discounted, likely a year or so after release. As best as I can tell, that would make Dr. Fate (#15) my second, though I no longer own nor recall it, and I never possessed Mantis (#16,) on whose cover Martian Manhunter appears. I did have Darkseid and a Parademon, but I don't know if J'onzz appearances reached that far. As tends to be the case with these things, no credits were published, and I couldn't find any online. It's also worth noting that this is the first ever eponymous "Martian Manhunter" comic book, as his only time as a lead feature was in anthology titles. I believe the "Martian Manhunter" logo seen here was designed specifically for the line. Aside from popping up in the "Showcase" collection of Silver Age Detective Comics stories and Martian Manhunter's first "Who's Who" entry, this is the only place I've ever seen it.

Martian Manhunter was on a fly-along beside Wonder Woman as she tested the new aircraft/line accessory the Delta Probe One over New York City. Below, at the United Nations Plaza, Darkseid's underling DeSaad caused security guards and bystanders to see horrible illusions. When Martian Manhunter appeared, he was comically misperceived as an only slightly more fearsome version of his normal self. Recognizing the circumstances, Martian Manhunter turned intangible (and seemingly invisible) to pass harmlessly through the crowd.
"Manhunter-- There's no way to battle them now. Let's go!"
"I don't like giving up, Wonder Woman."
"Believe me, we're not! Listen to my plan..."

The pair returned to the Hall of Justice for help, specifically Firestorm, who was interrupted in telling a joke by a gruff Amazon. Manhunter was no less abrupt: "Listen, we need your atomic powers now!" Martian Manhunter filled Firestorm in on their plan. "No problem, Greensleeves! This'll be a snap!"

At the U.N., DeSaad had used a machine to take over the ambassadors minds to serve Darkseid's will. Firestorm turned a wall of the building to gas so that he and Wonder Woman could easily pass through. Manhunter warned, "Careful youngster-- he's tricky!" DeSaad taunted, "You don't know the half of it, Manhunter. Not even the likes of you can escape my vertigo grenades. As the heroes fell from the sky, Firestorm turned the floor into a giant trampoline, and made me start to wonder who's name was on the cover again? Firestorm constructed a shield against DeSaad's nerve beams for himself and Wonder Woman, who observed, "Merciful Minerva-- The Manhunter's in the open!" The sadistic DeSaad agreed, "Which allows me to turn my fear machine on that alien pest! When I'm through with him, he'll wish he had remained on Mars! Hah! Your teammate is helpless! And now I shall use my powers to command the ambassadors to slay themselves with their doom machines!"

On his knees, Manhunter struggled against the pain to reach and smash DeSaad's mind control device. "My homeworld has... faced tyrants before... and we, uhhh... fought them all... I... I can't allow my... uhh... adopted planet... to fall before... Darkseid's power. There! Y-your machines are useless now! When will you dictators learn you cannot enslave free men against their will? We will always fight back! And we will always be free! Perhaps now you should get a taste of your own medicine, DeSaad." Martian Manhunter turned the fear machine against its cowering former master, who was to be escorted to the Delta Probe's Criminal Capture Pod (sold seperately.) "I don't think Darkseid's going to be all too pleased when DeSaad's returned to him." Wait-- what? Why?!?


Luke said...

I must have had this minicomic (along with Dr. Fate's, which actually is a better showcase for Manhunter, ironically), but I have no memory of actually ever reading it. The only minicomic I remember distinctly is the one for Flash, and his fight with Brainiac, and I know I got that one at a weird time -- not Christmas or my birthday, so it was more "special" I guess.

Diabolu Frank said...

Those mini-comics must have sucked, because I kept none of them, and only remember a few scant details. I bought the Manhunter one again as an adult, and I suppose I'll have to go slumming for those follow-ups eventually...