Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Vile Menagerie: THE CONJURER

Alter Ego: Unknown
Occupation: Thief
Group Affiliation: None known.
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #263 (January 1959)
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

Using "magical devices," the Conjurer began a string of robberies in the city of Middletown, bringing him to the attention of the Manhunter from Mars. In his role as Detective John Jones on the local police force, the Manhunter requested the Conjurer's case, but was saddled with a documentarian during his pursuit. Stymied by an inability to use his Martian powers while being filmed, Jones was repeatedly thwarted by the Conjurer's chicanery, as the criminal made off with a variety of ill-gotten goods. During a final heist at the Yardly Toy Company, the Conjurer knocked out the filmmaker with a model airplane, allowing the Martian Manhunter to bring his full power to bare. The Conjurer was beaten unconscious by giant Jack-In-The-Boxes guided invisibly by Manhunter and taken into custody by Det. Jones.

Powers & Weapons:
According to Martian Senses, the Conjurer possessed no actual super-powers, just slight-of-hand. Regardless, the Conjurer's skill as a magician and paraphernalia were impressive. Smoke bombs enabled him to "vanish," his top hat could release dozens of blackbirds, and he could move any number of objects at once through no clear means.

Quote: "Ha, ha-- So a detective has come here in the vain hope of stopping me, eh? We shall soon see about that!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Monday, September 29, 2008

House of Mystery #173 (3-4/68)

This is it! After months of vaguely homoerotic cat and mouse games between Mr. V and Marco Xavier, the final encounter commences! Both men will stand naked before one another-- all their secrets revealed! Prepare for the last solo Martian Manhunter story for nine years: "SO YOU'RE FACELESS!"

In an underground VULTURE unit, "Marco Xavier" was once again in teleconference with Mr. V, who offered a one million dollar fee for, "...This! The ultimate weapon!" Developed by the Carré Company, the futuristic pistol would surely be attainable by an old friend of Pierre Carré himself! "With that weapon, Xavier, I can at last realize my life-long ambition to control the world!" The faux Marco thought to himself, "*Whew* That's all the world needs right now!"

Xavier did indeed exploit his friendship with Carré to see the "ultimate weapon," switching out the real thing for a model he'd brought with him. Xavier then turned the pistol over to VULTURE members, whom he followed by air as Manhunter. "That's it... Keep going-- straight to Faceless! This time, it's got to work-- It's just got to..." Boy, it's sure a good thing I placed that line in an acceptable context, huh? It's not like J'onn J'onzz sounded like an over dramatic schoolgirl with a crush, right? Manhunter followed the car to a "broken-down farm shed," but was rendered powerless by a grass fire caused by a discarded cigarette butt. "I'm so weak right now, I couldn't fight a bunny in a fixed fight!"

"By the time the hapless alien recovers his strength..." the VULTURE goons were long gone. "I really gummed up things this time-- putting the most powerful weapon on Earth in the hands of the most evil man on Earth!" Well now, I think that's a tad bit of an overstatement, seeing as Mr. V was more like a precursor to Dr. Claw. Marco Xavier hoped to recover the gun when his payment came due, but was instead pursued by French police. "Do not let him escape! Ze whole world hangs in ze balance!" Xavier rounded a corner, then transformed into a gray house cat. "Okay-- this gambit saved Marco Xavier from being arrested, but unless I keep my identity as Marco, VULTURE will never be able to contact me." The cat hilariously swatted its head with its paw. "...That means-- I can't contact FACELESS!!"

Wearing a black and white fedora recalling the earliest Detective John Jones stories and slinking through exotic streets recalling early Dr. Strange, Marco Xavier hoped VULTURE would find him before the authorities did. No such luck, as Xavier grasped a pole overhead to evade one French officer's leap, then swung his feet forward to kick two more in their faces. Xavier fled, with the police in hot pursuit, but ran straight into a pair of VULTURE agents with a car waiting. "Well, well, well-- will wonders never cease?" One explained, "Mr. V never forgets his friends, as well as his enemies, Mr. Xavier!"

Xavier was escorted to a boat and taken to a minuscule island he had overlooked in previous searches for VULTURE bases. An elevator hidden in a tree trunk would take Xavier underground, "With more pleasure than I can say! And I'm not kidding!" Xavier would finally meet Mr. V in person, whose face no one had ever seen. Xavier thought, "You soon will, buddy-- Just stick around!"

"A moment later-- the confrontation..."
"Well, Mr. V..."
"Well, Marco Xavier-- or should I say... MARTIAN MANHUNTER?"
"WHAT??! Y-you knew--?"
"Yes, I knew-- all the time! But fair is fair, Manhunter-- and you deserve to know my identity as well! Go on-- tear off the mask!"
"MARCO XAVIER! B-but this is impossible! You died!"
"Not quite! The so-called 'gendarme' who pronounced me dead was actually one of my own men, Manhunter! I permitted your masquerade to continue, in order to lure you into the perfect trap!"

Ingenious! Xavier pretended to be dead this whole time, insuring Manhunter would never suspect who Faceless truly was, and fed him pawns until he could determine Manhunter's weakness! Except, Xavier just sat behind a desk and invited an Alien Atlas to rip the mask off his face? How perfect a trap could it be if Xavier was at risk of leaving his neck a bloody stump? Plus, look at how slack Mr. V's uniform hangs off Xavier's lithe frame? He isn't even wearing a fat suit? How could this possibly be the true Faceless? Wait-- the cornerstone of Xavier's "perfect trap" was to draw a blowtorch from under his desk? Wha-aat?

Manhunter thought, "Great suns! Not only is my career as Marco Xavier finished... and also my value as a crime-fighter on Earth... but worst of all-- MY VERY LIFE!"
"HA-HA! And now, while there still remains a breath of life in you, I shall test the ultimate weapon-- on my favorite target-- you!"
"F-fool! Wait! The weapon-- it isn't perfected yet!"

"But, insane with power, Marco Xavier fires... And instantly..."
As he laughed madly, the weapon backfired, causing a massive explosion!

"Amidst the wreckage stands a sole figure..."
"Ironic-- my life was saved by the very weapon Marco Xavier hoped would enable him to control the world!"

So ended Martian Manhunter's thirteen year run of solo adventures, as he would appear only sporadically for the next fifteen years. Was Marco Xavier actually dead this time? Was he really Mr. V/Faceless? What became of VULTURE? Zook? Questions largely unanswered to this very day, forty years hence! Will we ever know the truth?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

House of Mystery #160 (7/66)

Alright, let's play the numbers game right quick: House of Mystery began reporting circulation numbers in 1959, averaging 208,000 copies a month. The title peaked the following year at 225,000; plummeting to 175,000 as super-heroes began to dominate the scene. The inclusion of the J'onn J'onzz feature had helped lift the title to 196,677 copies circulated on average per month, with the issue nearest to the 1965 filing date selling 209,720 copies. Admittedly, the book had dipped to an average of 183,934 over the course of the run of Manhunter from Mars. Still, it seemed like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to drop him from covers and surrender the lead feature to newcomer Dial H For Hero. The issue nearest to filing date '66 was at 197,220 after all. Meanwhile, the "H" experiment was such a disaster, average paid circulation sank to 158,500 and the format of the magazine was changed entirely.

Now, in my opinion, the "Mystery" and Joe Certa "Manhunter" covers were far superior to Jim Mooney's initial "H" offerings, which were often composed of four small segmented illustrations that, as a group, are difficult to distinguish from one another. Perhaps returning to a single, more eye-appealing image on covers helped the book climb back to 173,600. Alternately, it could have been the presence of Marco Xavier...

"It's new! It's different! The fantastic crime-fighting career of the Manhunter from Mars takes a sensational turn, as the Alien Ace pits brains and brawn against the most sinister criminal organization on Earth... Read the amazing story behind... 'Manhunter's New Secret Identity.'"

"In the vault-like headquarters of a special secret department, Manhunter listens grimly to a startling revelation..."

This organization had contacted Manhunter with the goal of dealing with VULTURE, a world-wide criminal organization on which virtually no information was known. In fact, the VULTURE insignia shown to Manhunter by the mysterious Mr. Steele was never seen in the series again, indicating even that slight fact was either outdated or flat incorrect. "It's a tough assignment, Manhunter-- but we're counting on you to crack the organization!" The only lead Mr. Steele had to offer was Marco Xavier, "the internationally famous playboy," who had been "linked with some underworld characters!" Manhunter promised, "I'll do my best, Mr. Steele!"

Manhunter flew across the Atlantic and disguised himself as an old beggar in front of Marco Xavier's home. "High iron gates shield the villa... from intruders." Xavier eventually exited, telling a servant, "Jeffers-- I'm taking the Jag out for a spin! I'll be back in a few hours, in case anyone calls!" Manhunter followed from the air, though minutes later, Xavier drove his Jaguar off a cliff! "Yes... Not even Manhunter's blinding speed, as he hurtles earthward, can save the doomed man..." Manhunter assumed Xavier died instantaneously, with the explosion that followed leaving little of him to find. Fearing he'd lost his only "hot line" to VULTURE, Manhunter contrived to take Marco Xavier's place, assuming his form while hanging from a branch. French police soon "rescued Xavier," who experienced trauma from the incident. "Pretty ingenious of me-- putting on that loss-of-memory-act-- to cover up any slips I might make!" Manhunter swiftly memorized "every word found in the late mystery man's letters and papers!"

Before long, "Xavier" was visited by Senor Mendez, who wanted Xavier "to discover for me which one of his ships Apollo Magnus is using very soon to transport a large gold shipment!" Advanced $10,000, which "Xavier" would donate to charity, Manhunter first invisibly followed Senor Mendez to a VULTURE base hidden under a small souvenir booth. A teleconference was taking place, and Manhunter spied on a large viewing screen, "That insignia on that faceless criminal! So VULTURE is behind this little caper!" Manhunter learned the gathered criminals were part of Section T2, who this masked villain described as having "the worst record of our organization!" This "Mr. V" was pleased Section T2 had enlisted Marco Xavier's help, "A very stubborn man... a lone wolfer! He refuses to join us-- but he is dependable!" Manhunter considered busting the present goons, but decided it best to feed them information to get closer to "Faceless and the heart of VULTURE!"

"Marco Xavier" attended a party thrown by Apollo Magnus, who was glad to see he was well enough to attend. So were the dames: "Mais, oui! Ze girls would be broken-hearted if you stayed away, Marco love!" The brown-haired girl was brushed aside by a redhead. "Stop making eyes at Marco, Marie! It is me he truly loves! ...Remember those moonlit nights on Apollo's yacht, my darling?" Assuaging some of the questions regarding his sexual preference, the faux Marco thought, ""I-- er-- wish I did--!" Marco used the reference to the yacht as an opportunity to to pry information from Mr. Magnus. Tugging his bowtie, Apollo confided "I promised the yacht to another friend, who is taking it out at dawn, Saturday!" Manhunter determined it was there that Magnus was transporting his gold, and informed Senor Mendez.

Manhunter maintained a sharp vigil over Magnus' ship on Saturday, his Martian Vision spotting a bandit sub nearby. Mendez was aboard, and ordered a torpedo fired on Magnus' yacht, despite Manhunter's presence. The Martian Marvel figured, "I could let that torpedo explode against my chest-- but even the blast might affect the yacht! So-- I'd better mount this iron fish, and--" yes, lose whatever heterosexual points I awarded him last paragraph. Manhunter straddled the bright red phallic object in an ambiguously gay fashion and rode it back toward the sub! Mendez cried "Caramba!" However, the Alien Atlas chose not to wantonly execute the criminals. "Now that I've scared them out of a year's growth-- I'll send the torpedo to the sea's floor, where it will explode harmlessly!" Manhunter plucked out the submarine and carried it to a small island nearby, where he ripped it open. Inside were the same four Section T2 members from the teleconference.

"All right, talk! Who is Faceless? Where's his headquarters?"
"We do not know, Manhunter! Each section is kept separate! Only Mr. 'V' himself contacts us secretly!"

Manhunter gave Section T2 a story to cover for his new alter ego, "Because, if I hope to smash VULTURE, I'm afraid I'll have to go on masquerading as Marco Xavier for some time to come!"

"Do you like the Martian Manhunter's new secret identity, readers? Then watch for his next spectacular adventure!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Martian Meteorite

The Martian Meteorite was a fairly blatant swipe of Red Kryptonite, though it thankfully made only one appearance. A Martian meteorite caused the Manhunter to switch bodies with a VULTURE hatchet man in House of Mystery #172 (2/68). According to J'onn J'onzz, "It must be a Martian meteorite-- and it would have the effect of fouling up my transformation powers! What's more- I'll remain fouled up, as long as it keeps burning!" The meteorite and flames emitting from it were a strange green shade. Once the meteorite was cooled through Martian Manhunter's pet/sidekick Zook's ability to turn its body temperature to 10,000 degrees below zero, the Martian meteorite ceased to be an issue.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cuentos de Misterio #61

The mysterious proprietor of the Martian Manhunter Fotolog sent in some more information relating to international comics, which sent me on another web search, and here's the results.

Editorial Novaro produced comic novellas of DC reprints, including "House of Mystery." Beginning in 1960, "Cuentos de Misterio" would eventually feature the adventures of Julio Jordán, Detective Marciano. The Fotolog has a great splash page of the Venomee here, so check it out!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who's Who Update '87 Vol.5: Vibe (12/87)

Sure, poor Vibe didn't get a Who's Who profile until the second series, but he also got a logo! Pretty good one, too! I can't honestly say I cared for Vibe, and I don't think his death was exactly a waste. In fact, I think he was a blight on all minority super-heroes, and an embarrassment to Latinos the world over. Still, he was a Detroit Leaguer, a very special honor/shame, and so rates a memorial post. Art by Luke McDonnell.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Justice League of America #258 (1/87)

Martian Manhunter: Following their defeat by Brimstone during "Legends," the team returned to their Secret Sanctuary to regroup. A fight broke out between Vibe and Elongated Man, which Manhunter broke up, and speaking of breaking up: "That will be enough... We've all been through quite an ordeal these past hours... and although I can't condone it, I understand why you two have reacted this way. But it doesn't make what I'm about to say any easier. Our League was once a much-needed and much-respected organization. I think we were well on the way to being that again. But, considering the President's recent statement ordering all so-called super-heroes to withdraw from public life-- I see no alternative. Until further notice, I am disbanding the Justice League... It's only temporary... till the President rescinds his order... I fully intend to keep in touch with all of you in the coming weeks. Just because we can't function as a team doesn't mean we can't function as friends. And in the end, it is your friendship that I've come to value most. Believe it or not, Vibe-- that includes you. For some months now, I've had the pleasure of watching you all grow... evolve... reach toward your full potential... You've made me very proud."

Elongated Man: Vibe began to openly disparage the team, sending Ralph into a rare fit of rage. "Vibe-- shut the hell up!!!" Elongated Man snared and punched Vibe, under protest from J'Onn J'Onzz. "Forget it, Manhunter! I've had it with this arrogant punk!" Vibe tried to fend off Ralph, but continued to be ridiculed until Martian Manhunter broke up the pair. After things cooled down, Manhunter announced the disbanding of the team, to some relief from Ralph. "Maybe it's time we all got our personal lives together." Ralph tried to apologize to Vibe, but was rebuffed. Ralph said goodbye, and left.

Sue Dibney: Not featured, but Ralph assured, "I, for one, owe my wife a vacation. A long one. Starting right now."

Gypsy: Protested the disbanding. "No! The League's too important to the world... to us!" Settled down by Vixen, then tried to console Vibe. "My friend Pam's waiting for us. Maybe the four of us could go out to eat or something."

Vixen: Took the news the easiest. Talked with Gypsy about reuniting with her parents. Tried to calm Steel and Vibe, to no avail.

Steel: Shattered the meeting room table. Stormed off.

Professor Ivo: Completely insane, Ivo blamed the Justice League for the physical deformity caused by his own immortality formula. Ivo had created an army of android duplicates with his former, human appearance. Bolstered by the rhetoric of the demagogue G. Gordon Godfrey, Ivo unleashed his automatons with murderous intent. "My dear old comrades, Batman and Superman and Aquaman and the rest, thought they could escape me by resigning from the League-- and leaving those untrained babies in their place." Ivo decided to kill the League's "children" with his own.

Vibe: "We blew it!! Firestorm came to us for help-- and what do we do... get our butts wiped all over the street!" Vibe verbally assailed his teammates, until Elongated Man delivered a beating. An invisible Manhunter separated them. "Hey-- Where'd you come from?"

Vibe wandered the South Bronx, reminded of home and his own failings. "Man, I coulda killed Elongated Man for sayin' what he said. 'Specially since it was true. I've been nothin' but a loud-mouthed, whining brat since I hooked up with the League." Vibe met a Latino boy on a stoop drawing Superman, whom he first criticized for not idolizing one of his own people ("Vibe, man!") then let alone. Vibe was attacked by one of Professor Ivo's robots, as the kid shouted, "Vibe? You mean-- you're a real super-hero?!" Vibe tried to send the kid away and fend off the robot, but wavered. "I can't stop a guy who ain't human! I can't! I'm not Batman... or the Martian Manhunter... I'm just Vibe! I'm just a joke!" Vibe rallied as he thought of the boy and others. "...What about JJ? ...I'll be damned if I'm gonna let him down! Maybe I wasn't ready for the League when they took me-- but I'm ready now!"

Vibe ripped into the robot, causing it to malfunction, and earning a devoted fan in the kid. As the boy departed, Vibe prepared to cart the android back to League headquarters. Suddenly, its hands detached from its body and choked Vibe to death. The automaton left a mask resembling Ivo's human face over Paco's as a calling card. "Father will be so proud."

The Creators: J.M. DeMatteis begins one of the greatest League epics of all time, and certainly the best Vibe story ever. The humble, somber figures of Luke McDonnell compliment the tale of a League revealed in its inadequacy.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: "JJ" -Vibe

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "What's with this Superman thing everybody's got? I've seen the guy-- he ain't nothin' special."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who's Who Vol.XVIII: Professor Ivo (8/86)

Click To Enlarge

Professor Ivo will inevitably get a listing in the Vile Menagerie. Some might protest, but this is one of those instances where, thanks to the variety of Leagues Martian Manhunter has been involved with, he's uniquely positioned to claim Ivo as a personal foe. This is largely due to Professor Ivo's role in the deaths of several members of the "Detroit" Justice League, a horror which left J'Onn J'Onzz as one of the few surviving members capable of responding to his threat. J'Onzz was one of the first heroes to face Ivo, and among the few to thwart him one-on-one, which we'll explore at a later date.

In the meantime, here's Ivo's first Who's Who biographical page, as a reminder of where the villain had been up to tomorrow's first look at "The End of the Justice League of America." Click image to enlarge. Art by Irv Novick & Rodin Rodriguez.

Monday, September 22, 2008

House of Mystery #172 (2/68)

"On a narrow highway leading to his posh Mediterranean villa, Marco Xavier, notorious playboy-- secretly the Manhunter from Mars, engages in a favorite pastime..."

That's right kids-- driving a gold convertible full of beards he will never, ever have sex with! "Oh, Marco- if you only spent more time with us! But no, you must always go running off on some secret, mysterious mission!" Marco's mouth said, "Cheer up, chicks... some day will be different!" Marco's heart sang, "But not until I get my hands on Faceless, wherever he may be!" Not the first Mary to utter that phrase on club night, I assure you. Alongside the road, Xavier spied an important figure looking under the hood of a sedan: "Great suns! That man next to the chauffeur... he's Mr. V's personal hatchet man, Ivor Sandez, the only one in the entire syndicate who knows Faceless' identity! Most likely, he's even on his way to Mr. V now!"

Xavier dumped the trio of skirts at his villa. "Er... sorry girls... but I've got a little pressing business to attend to! Make yourselves at home while I'm gone!"
"Oh-h... we knew it was too good to last!" Or rather, start. Livin' la vida loca, ladies...

In his private chambers, Zook sprung out to greet Manhunter. "Sorry, Zook, but I can't stay! I just spotted the one guy who can lead me straight to Faceless!" Oh Marco, I'm afraid there's no guy who can lead you straight, no matter what Exodus International says.

Marco Xavier transformed into the Manhunter from Mars and flew to the mountain road Sandez's car was climbing. Suspecting this might be the secret headquarters of Mr. V, Manhunter waited for Sandez to exit the car before jumping him, intent on entering a cave in Sandez's guise. Curiously, a blinding light flashed as Manhunter altered his appearance, and the Martian found he had instead switched bodies with the thug. Ivor Sandez shook off his own disorientation quickly, picking his former body up and tossing it into the rocks! "Ha! Ha! How does it feel, Manhunter, being a helpless Earthling-- at the mercy of a mighty Martian?" The Sandez-Manhunter realized he no longer needed VULTURE, just as his former cohorts sealed stone doors in his face. "But they can't shut me out now! No one can! Mr. V! Where are you? You can't hide from me! I'm about to make you my hatchet man! Yeah- from now on, I'm the big boss of VULTURE!"

J'onn J'onzz recovered swiftly in Sandez's body, and quietly followed the former henchman as he cut a swath through the inner-mountain headquarters of VULTURE. J'onzz realized he was in quite a spot, seeing as Sandez was fingered as having led the Manhunter there. "If Sandez doesn't kill me with my own body... Faceless will!" Mr. V seemed to escape to another of his main bases, so Sandez-Manhunter set aside his desire for retribution against his former heavy-handed boss and focus his power on conquering the whole world.

Meanwhile, Zook was worried. "Manhunter say he be back soon... but it already past soon! Maybe something happen to him! I better find out!" While Sandez-Manhunter began a reign of terror, the disembodied J'onn J'onzz ran from VULTURE agents looking to bump him off. "What a humble comedown for the Mighty Martian!"

Zook's directional antennae led him to the ravaged mountain headquarters. There he learned from investigating police that a falling star emitting "strange green flame" had struck in the area just before Sandez-Manhunter's rampage began. Zook continued to track Manhunter, who he found hiding in a trash can. In the first hint of telepathy in years, "Sandez" seemed to read and finish Zook's thoughts, despite being in human form. J'onzz explained the circumstances of his sorry state, while Zook mentioned his own findings. J'onzz determined it must be a Martian Meteorite responsible for his plight, which would continue to cause problems so long as it burned. Sandez-Manhunter overheard this while flying over the city, and decided to take care of his old body for good, before Manhunter switched back with him. Zook threw his own naked frame at Sandez-Manhunter's face, giving the disembodied J'onzz a chance to bolt. Sandez-Manhunter swatted Zook aside. "Out of my way, mosquito!"

"Even a Manhunter can trip, Sandez-- if he's not careful!" While the clumsy thug recovered, the Earthling J'onzz lit a match from a book in his pocket. The fleshy human landed an effective blow against Sandez-Manhunter, but found the rest of his matches were too worn out to use. Just as Sandez-Manhunter rose to attack, the hatchet man and Manhunter traded places again. It seemed Zook had rushed back to the mountain and used his powers on the meteorite. "Hee, Hee... Hiss-s-s-s... My ability to turn myself 10,000 degrees below zero is freezing fire out!"

Zook returned to Manhunter's thanks, as he drug Ivor Sandez into custody. "But now I'm afraid I've got a lot of explaining to do... to clear my reputation!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Vile Menagerie: B'ENN B'URNZZ

B'enn B'urnzz was a criminal Martian hiding out on Earth in the year 2062. With a special "Anti-Martian Multi-Weapon," he was soon "smoked out." Futuristic policemen pursued B'urnzz into a laboratory containing a new time machine, which B'urnzz used to escape to one hundred years into the past.

B'urnzz enlisted a gang of Earthlings to rob a bank with him in Middletown. The Martian simply smashed through a wall, then swatted the security guards' bullets away like flies. B'urnzz ripped the floor out from under the guards, sending them reeling out of the bank. To open the vault, B'urnzz spun in place at incredible speed until reaching a sonic frequency that shattered the feet-thick steel door. B'urnzz's men grabbed all the money that they could carry, but as the party exited, they were confronted by J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

B'enn B'urnzz scoffed at the Manhunter's demand that he turn himself in, and the Martian Gladiators sparred on a street for hours without either gaining ground. Finally, the Martian Manhunter broke away to inhale a mouthful of gasoline, with which he drew a circle around B'urnzz. A police officer who had traveled from the future in pursuit of B'urnzz then lit the circle, and it was into the custody of this "Futureman" that J'onzz released the unconscious Martian criminal. B'urnzz's human posse were similarly led to jail.

Click To Enlarge

Real Name: B'enn B'urnzz
Occupation: Criminal
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Mid-21st Century Earth
First Appearance: Detective Comics #305 (July 1962)
Height: Approx. 6'7"
Weight: Approximately 250 lbs.
Eyes: Dark
Hair: None

B'enn B'urnzz has been confirmed to command super-human strength, speed, and stamina. B'urnzz can fly, is nigh-invulnerable and can create a sonic blast by spinning in place at fantastic speed.

Presumably, B'enn B'urnzz possesses all the powers and abilities of the Martian race. However, as a criminal, it is possible B'urnzz was at some point exposed to Formula Z6 or a future equivalent, stripping him of the ability to use any powers while invisible.

As with all Martians, B'enn B'urnzz swiftly loses all of his incredible powers in the presence of open flame. B'urnzz will almost immediately collapse if exposed, and prolonged exposure can be lethal.

Distinguishing Features:
B'enn B'urnzz bears a striking resemblance to J'onn J'onzz in height and build. However, his eyebrows are much bushier, while his cheekbones are higher and more pronounced. He appears older than J'onzz due to wrinkles and a generally more worn appearance.

"And now, Earthlings, I shall demonstrate the wisdom you showed in joining forces with me!"

Created by: Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Manhunters Around The World Index

There were Manhunters before, after, and alongside J'onn J'onzz, published by DC Comics, other companies, and in other mediums entirely. "Manhunters Around The World" is where we'll cover all of these characters, as the subject comes up. We'll also take a look at the various characters that are, shall we say, "suspiciously similar" to the Martian Manhunter.

Above are covers from the 1930s pulp magazine "World Man Hunters," which bears no known relation to any of the comic versions, but is an early use of the term.

Man Hunt (1941)

Manhunters Around The World (Various, DC Comics, 1940s-1950s)

Paul Kirk (DC Comics, 1942)
Detective Comics #437, #438, #439
2009 Manhunter Paul Kirk by Chris Stevens

Starker: Manhunter 2070 (DC Comics, 1970)
Why does Starker do it?
Showcase #91, #92, #93

Mark Shaw (DC Comics, 1975)
1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Manhunter Character Card

John/Jon Starker (DC Comics, 1990)
Twilight Book I, Book II, Book III

Kate Spencer (DC Comics, 2004)
52/WW III Part Three: Hell Is For Heroes #1 (June, 2007)

Current as of 11/24/11

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baltaz's Council

The ruling council of the buried city of Baltaz. As depicted, the council consists of five male elders. As with most individuals shown, the members of the council of Baltaz have light blue skin and white hair. Only one citizen, murdered by the Martian N'or Cott, was given the variant hair coloring of reddish-blond.

The council abide by traditional laws passed down since at least the founding of the city, as inscribed on the Tablet of Tal, and keep faith in the "Old One" who protects the city. The council supports no army or defense industry, and is characterized as being peaceful and highly civilized. "We have never wasted our wealth on weapons... but use it for our people! Their city appears clean, advanced, and generally well managed. There are ample roadways for motorized vehicles, sidewalks, and towering structures.

See Also: Baltaz, Crystal Mountain, World's Finest Comics #245 (1977)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Universo DC: Detective Marciano Nº 01 & 02

It's funny-- I'd seen the covers to these two comics many times on the net, especially lately, but never made the connection that these were the only two "Detective Marciano" editions I tended to spot. You see, the Spanish know how to show the Manhunter from Mars love, so they took the unusual (even for them) step of collecting the entire Ostrander/Mandrake series into two "omnibus" style editions for just 19,95 € ($30 American.) I want one of these, but at 464 pages each, the international shipping weight alone would kill me. Volume One covers Martian Manhunter #0, 1-17, & 1,000,000. Volume two contains Martian Manhunter #18-36. According to my calculations, there's still some pages unaccounted for, so maybe they got the two annuals in there as well. From what I understand, the books were praised by critics and fans alike. Eh, Jerry Lewis is a genius in France and David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany, so whatever. On the other hand, the Spanish also recognized the genius of "Secretos Americanos" and collected that in a trade paperback, unlike us stupid Americans who let the individual issues sit in discount bins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Justice League America Kellogg's Cinnamon Mini Buns Mini-Comic (1993)

I tried to research this little guy online, but the only site with real information was Lone Star Comics out of Austin, or as you non-Texan types know it, MyComicShop.com. They called it "Justice League of America vs. Amazo" which is pretty close to the cover text, and as there is no title in the indicia, I suppose the matter is up for debate. They also claimed, "These were mailed in a flat, white envelope with a thank-you card," but I got my copy straight out of the cereal box, sans card. I was also somewhat dismayed that I didn't get the comic I was shooting for at the time, Wonder Woman and the Star Riders. Today, I'm ever so pleased with the one I got, as I can now write a synopsis for it here, and because I found scans for the Wonder Woman comic cover it elsewhere. I'd have never paid the $30 they want for the League book on eBay, so all to the good. Besides, it could have been the lousy Flash or Superman issues. Yech!

Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Ice, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and the Wally West Flash raced toward a collapsing bridge lined with traffic. Amusingly, Hal was carrying Ice on a yellow energy construct at first. Flash initially took charge: "Haven't much time, Martian Manhunter! You weld the cracked girders with your heat vision-- while Wonder Woman and I pull people to safety. Ice and GL noticed their powers were fading, only to learn the culprit was "Amazo-- the Power-Stealing Android!" J'Onn J'Onzz angrily proclaimed, "You destroyed the bridge! It was a trap to draw us here!" Amazo stole some of the Manhunter's power (clearly more akin to the Superman foe "the Parasite" than Ivo's creation,) then tossed the Martian on his butt.

Meanwhile, a curiously multi-racial trio of boys still on the bridge spied a little Asian girl dangling off the side, hanging by her fingertips to a girder. They formed a human chain to reach the girl, but she slipped, falling into the the arms of the Manhunter from Mars. J'Onn J'Onzz rejoined the battle, where Wonder Woman had kept Amazo occupied, and told her the kids had inspired him to a solution. "Like them, we'll never succeed-- unless we work together! Come on Ice! On my signal, let loose with your frost-power to hold up the bridge." Martian Manhunter carried the ice princess below the bridge in preparation, but she was so weak she was unsure what good she could do. Seemingly irritable, as he'd scowled throughout the adventure, he replied "Just be ready!" Then again, while imperceptible at print size, blown-up art above suggests a sudden outbreak of Martian impetigo, which will louse up anyone's day.

Martian Manhunter rallied the collected heroes: "It was a mistake to battle Amazo one at a time! If we attack as a team, we'll force him to drain all our abilities simultaneously!" Continuing the assault from afar with laser vision, "Just as I'd hoped! The sudden energy surge has overloaded Amazo's robotic circuits! They're burning out-- releasing and restoring our super-powers in one burst! Now, Ice! NOW!"

All ended well, and Martian Manhunter was far and away the star of the book. He appeared on 12 of the 15 story pages, spoke nearly all the dialogue, had the only visible battle, conceived the victory strategy, and led the team. Come to think of it, I can't think of any other Justice League comics ever produced to portray J'Onzz totally owning a team of A-listers like this. I'd love to thank the creators, but there were no credits. The pencils looked pretty old school, but someone of the Image school inked the living tar out of some panels...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ambush Bug: Year None #2 (10/08)

Zook made another appearance in a modern comic recently, after a good 35+ years of being ignored by DC Comics. I don't even recall Zook appearing in any reprints over those years. Anyway, while it's nice that Keith Giffen remembered Zook and drew him in his classic appearance, his use of the character was, shall we say, less than flattering?

Ambush Bug has a new enemy in Go-Go Chex, a mod '60s throwback who speaks in dated slang and calls everyone "Wonder Chick." Chex enlists Zook as a suicide bomber, which makes me really glad I checked the date before making this my 9/11 post. Anyway, Zook is last seen running toward Mr. Nebula, a parody of Marvel's Galactus, but rather that devouring worlds, he redecorates them badly. Our pet screams "Zook despise new chichi breakfast nook! Me rather die than eat in there one more--"

Zook went "POOOM!" Mr. Nebula was in no way disturbed by this. Ambush Bug observed, "Wow, this time it really was personal!" Don Gaye Apparel, a sort of herald to Mr. Nebula, covered his face with a dainty handkerchief and moaned, "Yes, he made quite a stink!" One more dead sidekick for DC Comics.

The main problem I had is with Robert Loren Fleming's script, as he doesn't know how to write dialogue for Zook. Put simply, Zook speaks in broken English, dropping most articles/determiners. Let's examine this.

Robert Loren Fleming Dialogue: "My name be Zook!"
Zook is not a pirate, but an other-dimensional pet/sidekick. A correctly incorrect Zookism could read "I Zook," or perhaps "Me Zook." To say "Me am Zook" is a Bizarroism, while "I am Zook" is too close to proper English to be appropriate.

Robert Loren Fleming Dialogue: "Me do it if you shut your trap!"
Zook should probably refer to himself in the third person here, and should always refer to other characters by name. Being an exposition monkey, repeating the intended action is also best. In addition, "trap" seems a bit too informal. I would suggest "Zook blow up Nebula if Go-Go Chex shut mouth!" Since Go-Go Chex has no visible mouth, "be quiet" would be all the better.

Robert Loren Fleming Dialogue: "Zook save universe, be big hero!"
I have no real complaint here, although I'd substitute the comma for an em dash. That's how Jack Miller would have done it.

Robert Loren Fleming Dialogue: "Death to infidel!"
There are three syllables in "infidel," making it quite a mouthful for the typically mono- or duo-syllabic Zook. The Arabic "kafir" would be more wieldy, but likely too obscure. For the sake of the joke, "Die infidel" may work, though I'd go with something like "Godless Mister die," or better still, "Tee-hee! Zook make bad Mr. Nebula go boom-- get into paradise with Manhunter and Latka Gravas!" A Balki Bartokomous reference might work better, but dropping the surname would be best.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crystal Mountain (Baltaz)

According to the Tablet of Tal, a sacred artifact of the underground city of Baltaz, the Old One is their people's ancient protector. "He lives in the Crystal Mountain-- above ground-- and has protected Baltaz since its founding." The Old One controlled a gyrometer that could destroy Baltaz via underground shock waves when activated. This aspect was unknown in modern Baltaz, as its people no longer had knowledge of the ancient alphabet the tablet was drafted in. It is also unknown if the Old One had truly lived since the founding of Baltaz, but such a being was present during an invasion attempt made by Martian forces. "It is my sacred duty... to fulfill the ancient law of the Tal Tablet! Then I, too, can die... unconquered, like the innocent city!"

The Old One was protected in his home within Crystal Mountain by a blinding glare that reflected off its slopes, and the crystal's ability to regenerate itself nearly instantaneously. In order to prevent the activation of the gyrometer, Superman flew through Crystal Mountain, shattering it and the mechanism within. The Old One was found in the rubble, but it is unknown whether he survived the devastation. However, the Martian invasion was successfully routed by other agents.

See Also: Baltaz, Baltaz's Council, World's Finest Comics #245 (1977)

Sunday, September 14, 2008


An underground city located in the Primitive Zone of the planet dubbed Mars II, billions of miles from Earth. Founded a thousand kilibars ago, or roughly 2,000 Earth years. Superman described it as "a legendary city of peaceful, highly civilized beings." It has been further said to possess riches and a "fabulous civilization." Baltaz is governed by a ruling council, and lacks an army or other obvious defenses. Baltaz benefits from two natural sources of protection, its concealed nature and unique atmosphere, as well as the oversight of the Old One, as written on the Tablet of Tal.

The first Martian to discover the city was military chief N'or Cott, while on a scouting mission. Cott murdered a citizen to keep his presence a secret, but the native cursed Cott with his dying breath, saying the city's "very air shall avenge my death." The city's atmosphere did indeed prove highly allergic to Martians, causing their flesh to mottle and cells to die after contact. It is presumed the atmosphere would be similarly deadly to other invading races, though the Kryptonian Superman suffered no ill effects from exposure.

Baltaz was the subject of an invasion attempt by Re's Eda and an army of surviving Martian immigrants. The invasion was halted through the efforts of Superman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter prior to any forces entering the city.

See Also: Baltaz's Council, Crystal Mountain, World's Finest Comics #245 (1977)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Justice League 1.9: Paradise Lost, Part 2 (1/28/02)

Disclaimer: Knowing full well there is a wealth of resources available to fans of the "Justice League" animated series, I have no intention of doing a bunch of dry story synopsis with the occasional new screen grab. I will chronicle, within reason, J'Onn J'Onzz's specific journey over the course of the series, but chiefly I will be reviewing the episodes through my own jaundiced perceptions.

Batman joins the battle, teaming with Manhunter against Felix Faust on Themyscira. J’Onn J’Onzz is able to use his intangibility to evade sorcerous blasts, but for some reason is still snared by disembodied tentacles. Faust succeeds in his goal to release the dread Lord Hades from Tartarus, but finds his master an ingrate as treacherous as himself. The League falters before Hades' might, both directly and in battle with his undead legions. J’Onzz once again draws attention to himself, then uses intangibility to turn a swarm of attackers against one another. Faust tries to revenge himself against Hades; a fatal decision, but one that allows Diana the chance to seal Hades back in his eternal prison. The truism about no good deed going unpunished is again validated, as Queen Hippolyta is forced by law to exile the Princess for the crime of having brought men, even superman, to the Amazon isle. Robert England and John Rhys Davies were both excellent as Faust and Hades, while Susan Sullivan made for a solid Hippolyta. The script by Joseph Kuhr sidestepped many of the pitfalls of a Wonder Woman episode, and was fairly exciting.

After all that I said previously, you must think I hate Wonder Woman. Nothing further from the truth. My first issue was from the early 80’s, a Gerry Conway number teaming the Amazing Amazon with Animal Man, and featuring a Huntress back-up. I fell for both girls, but newsstand distribution was nil in my area, so I couldn't find her regularly until the Perez series began. I enjoyed that for a while, but lost interest by the time George quit the art chores. I was lured back during the Messner-Loeb run, and fell so hard Wonder Woman became my favorite character for much of the 90’s. I read many a back issue, which were pretty dodgy, but still enjoyable. I read forward, through the painful Byrne work, the worse Eric Luke run, the pretty but tedious Jimenez issues and the okay Rucka closing. I love this character, and I see value in several distinct variations of the heroine, but so few creators “get” her that being a fan is a real chore.

For all dabblers in Wonder Woman writing, I have these words of advise: What Would Lynda Carter do? As Christopher Reeve and George Reeves are to Superman, so too is lovely Lynda. I’m not saying she was a great actress, nor that there aren’t valid interpretations that stray greatly from her “type.” What I’m saying is, when in doubt-- and most of you damned well seem to be in doubt-- speak the mantra. If you can’t say something nice with Wonder Woman, don’t say anything at all. She should always be likable, and preferably admirable. She should be wise, capable, and well integrated within whatever circle she is placed. She is “the” super-heroine, by virtue of reputation, if nothing else. You must respect the tiara. The easiest way to do that is to just remember, What Would Lynda do? And the first man who says “down a fifth of gin” gets the tiara. It’ll cut your fool head clean off... but with the utmost diplomacy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Justice League 1.8: Paradise Lost, Part 1 (1/21/02)

Disclaimer: Knowing full well there is a wealth of resources available to fans of the "Justice League" animated series, I have no intention of doing a bunch of dry story synopsis with the occasional new screen grab. I will chronicle, within reason, J'Onn J'Onzz's specific journey over the course of the series, but chiefly I will be reviewing the episodes through my own jaundiced perceptions.

The warlock Felix Faust inserted himself onto Themyscira, turning all the Amazons to stone, and using their dilemma to extort Herculian labors from Wonder Woman. The Amazing Amazon tries to appease Faust, but is wary of his predictable treachery, and is convinced to accept the aid of Superman, Flash, and J’Onn J’Onzz. As Flash openly articulates his fantasies about Paradise Island, Manhunter observes: “I fail to see the attraction,” to which Flash retorts, “Man, you really are from Mars.” The pair are attacked by a giant, fire-breathing serpent, which initially humbles Manhunter. The Martian regroups, and puts the reptile down with one blow. Meanwhile, chicanery forced the duo of Superman and Wonder Woman to trade their own blows...

If I had to single out one character most slighted by the first year of Justice League Animated, I would not hesitate to say Wonder Woman. What else is new? If any icon has ever proven more elusive within comic book circles, it would have to be the Amazon Princess. Her origins are decidedly inorganic: editorial decided they ought to have a female Superman, didn’t trust their in-house talent, so they hired out to Dr. Phil. That is, if Dr. Phil were a polymonogamous devotee of femdom, and I’m not assuming he isn’t.

Now, Wonder Woman is sold to the public as the girl-friendly super-hero, but I think we can all admit now her largest audience could be found not on the playground, but in the barracks after lights out. All super-hero comics took a hit after the War ended, but Wonder Woman has never, for any significant period of time, returned to best-selling status. Again, in all honesty, her audience had turned to racier fare, leaving her a middling pseudo-romance title with middling sales for the next twenty years. She saw a spike when she traded in her increasingly skimpy outfit to impersonate Emma Peel, and a popular tv show never hurts. Since the 70’s though, her sales have been dictated pretty near solely by the draw of talents assigned to her.

Boys never liked her. Girls only like the idea of her, and only some, as she’s typically seen as a threat more than a role model. Where boys can look at Superman and be swept up in male aggressive power fantasy, girls look to Wonder Woman and—what? Are diminished by her perfect proportions? Are turned off by her series of deeply unhealthy relationships, when she’s not entirely frigid? Horrified by the outfit, the bondage imagery, the relative lack of quality in that aforementioned TV show, her obvious but supposedly entitled tokenism, or her tendency to be a ball-busting bore? Wonder Woman’s core audience is gay men and the few who managed, with great effort, to find redemption in the character.

So which version of Wonder Woman did we see in the animated show? Pretty near the worst. She’s got a lot of the naivete of the early Post-Crisis version, unfortunately coupled with an arrogance and austerity that is fairly off-putting. Her powers are considerably less spectacular than pretty much anyone else’s. Her fighting form is played up, but not nearly to the extent of Hawkgirl’s, against whom her charisma falls to negative numbers. Unlike Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman’s role in the overall series is negligible, and she is allowed no hint of sexuality. She’s an obligatory cypher, when not out-and-out irritating, and her voice actress, Susan Eisenberg, stinks. I dread her appearance in any given episode.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Imaginary Stories

Comic book stories are only as real as you allow them to be, but some are intended to be even less "real" than most. These are flights of fantasy, where creators are free to play with everything the reader knows about a character, such as the Manhunter from Mars...

9-11 - The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories To Remember (2002)

Adventures in the DC Universe #5 (8/97)

Alter Ego #1: Rediscovered Treasures (Spring, 1998)

Ambush Bug: Year None (2008)
#1, #2, #5

Justice League of America vs. The Avengers (1983)
JLA/Avengers #1 (9/03)
Avengers/JLA #2 (2003)
JLA/Avengers #3 (12/03)
Avengers/JLA #4 (2003)
The JLA/Avengers You Never Saw (2003)
Avengers/JLA Compendium: Vs. Page 12 (1983/2004)

Batman: Mitefall (1995)

Comic Book Artist #1: Rediscovered Treasures (Spring, 1998)

DC: The New Frontier (2004)
Part 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5 , 6 , 7

Hembeck #3 (1980)
Strips Day 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, Epilogue

JLA: Liberty and Justice (2002)
JLA: Riddle of the Beast (2001)
JLA: Seven Caskets (2000)

Justice (2005-2006) #1, #2-3, #4, #5, #6, #7-8, #9, #10, #11, #12

Justice League America Annual #10 (1996)

Justice League America Kellogg's Cinnamon Mini Buns Mini-Comic (1993)

Justice League Unlimited
#24, #34, #37

Justice Riders (1997)

Let's Be Friends Again: October 14th, 2009

Martian Manhunter #24 (2000)

Paradise Press Inc. Justice League Unlimited (2007)
Martian Manhunter Origin
Martian Manhunter Story Pages

Super Powers Collection (1984)
#14: Martian Manhunter
#15: Doctor Fate
#17: Mantis
#18: Green Arrow

Superman/Batman #14-18: "Absolute Power"(2005)

Superman Annual #11 (1985)

Twilight (of the Superheroes)

Current as of 12/11/09

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

House of Mystery #171 (December, 1967)

"Dawn over the Mediterranean, as the Martian Manhunter returns from a fruitless patrol in his never-ending search for the criminal syndicate known only as Vulture..."

"Another wasted trip! Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever catch up with Faceless! So far, I've been lucky in one respect... no one has suspected my secret identity-- as Marco Xavier, internationally-known playboy!"

Just then, Martian Manhunter's other-dimensional sidekick Zook appeared in Xavier's villa, and they shouted one-another's names excitedly. "I decide to pay you visit! It nice being with you again, Manhunter!"

"Tell you what, Zook-- I'll take a few weeks off, so we can be together for a nice long visit!" Unfortunately, the radio reported a strange, giant creature rampaging near Deauville Beach. "Uh-oh... this sounds like a job for the Manhunter from Mars! Stand by, Zook! I'll be back as soon as I can!"

"Great Stars! That creature is a Martian Mountain M'mannix-- wild and deadly!"
"Hey-- that Martian Mountain M'mannix is kicking sand in our faces!"
"A-and tossing a row boat across the water, oars and all!"
"Oh, don't let it bother you, little boy!"
"Darn it, we Earthlings are sick of being treated like scarecrows by rampaging Martian menaces who mysteriously appear on our planet! We're sending off for the Alien Atlas, available in 'House of Mystery' every month for just twelve cents! That extraterrestrial monstrocity won't push us around again!"
"Oh J'onn, you are a real Manhunter after all!"

Manhunter repeatedly referred to the creature as a dumb beast in his thoughts, as that was his primary advantage over the towering sasquatch of the stars. Well-- except Manhunter seemed to fare unusually well in the brute strength department, as he gut-punched the M'mannix and tossed him on his butt. Meanwhile, it was the Martian Mountain M'mannix with the smarts to toss a log at children on an amusement park ride, distracting Manhunter as it made an exit. The log also fullfilled any Ambiguously Gay Quotient for the issue that Zook's appearance failed to cover, as Manhunter straddled the log and humped it clear of the kids. "WHOA, THERE!" Indeed.

Detecting something was amiss, the Sleuth from Outer Space uncovered a single seater space ship, too small to fit a Martian Mountain M'mannix inside. Manhunter first heard, then spotted the M'mannix approaching, presumably with Martian Vision, though drawn as if he were projecting fire from his eyes. Joe Certa must have been in a weird mood that month, as he also drew the Martian Mountain M'mannix shooting flames out of its nose on the splash page, though nothing of the kind appeared in the story.

Again showing the brains to recognize the jig was up, the "M'mannix" verbally greeted the Manhunter, revealing that he was a regular Martian that only took the form of a beast. "Yes... we Martians have definite advantages over Earthlings, don't we?" The xenomorphic furry had six comrades waiting on the moon while he tested the mettle of Earthlings, and socked the Manhunter to reach his ship and inform them we're wussies. "That evil Martian may be my match-- but his ship isn't!" Shame some random old man (Monty Moran?) was lighting his pipe somewhere in the distance, causing our hero to lose all his powers and whimper.

Marco Xavier was up for another bottle of whine back at his villa. "Think of it, Zook... seven evil Martians... enough to control all the Earth!" Zook reminded Xavier of the old man, which gave him a plan...

The evil Martians couldn't have been too smart, as they landed their ships in the same field as the one first departed from. However, they did employ Martian abilities to turn two ships into clown cars that fit the seven of them, then emerge from them in the form of Martian Mountain M'mannixeses. Why? Manhunter refers to each as his equal, they can all shapeshift, and the previous battle made it clear that if anything the M'mannix seemed weaker than a regular Martian.

"Do you really expect to stop us all, fool?"
"If you think I can't, come and get me!"
"Invitation accepted!"
The Manhunter then promptly beat the snot out of the lot of them. Really, I'm as surprised as you are.

"S'tor-- you told us that each one of us was his equal in power!"
"I was not lying! I fought him to a standstill myself!"
S'tor, you're so totally lying! You sucker punched J'onzz once, then ran back to your buddies!

As it turned out, Zook was hiding behind a log with a lit candle. "Tee-hee! That great idea of Manhunter's-- to weaken bad martians before they reach him!" Manhunter couldn't pursue the other Martians because of the flame, not that any of this made sense, including Zook's holding a candle when he has heat-based powers. Other nonsense included Manhunter again trying to pull a space ship down, this time to no clear end. The first alien craft took a sharp evasive action that plowed it into the second, apparantly killing everyone inside both.

"Too bad space ships get wrecked, Manhunter!"
"Yes, Zook... it might have been nice to hop into one of them-- and pay an unexpected visit to my family and friends on Mars!" Just wash the bits of Kennedy's skull off the trunk and go for a spin, huh? That's cold man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Detective Comics #236 (10/56)

Shades of Saturn! J'onn J'onzz is going to combat a band of laser-packing Martian raiders? No, of course not. He instead dove into the harbor after a crook, only to find the thief had vanished. Nothing was found using sonar in this third incredible underwater escape, and "nothing passed through our harbor net except the S.S. Stateside!"

Ah nuts. You've figured out the whole story already, haven't you? Nothing worse than when a reader is smarter than the lead character. "I-- I'm stymied! Even the extraordinary skills I brought from outer space seem useless against this thief! Guess I'd better relax-- try to get a view beam through to home again..." Oh hey, perhaps I misspoke, since I doubt you've been working on an interplanetary communication monitor in your free time (96" screen to boot!) "G-Great Scott! ...I'm getting through! After months of trying, I've finally established contact! Mother... Dad! Of course-- these recent solar explosions... they must have created space energy that carried my radio waves to Mars!"

Mother asked "J'onn-- our lost son! Where are you signaling from?" The reply, "I'm now a detective on Earth... I miss you... but I'm happy!" Mother inquired as to when J'onn would be coming home. "It may take years to find a way, mother! Meanwhile, I devote my time to fighting Earth criminals with super-powers!" Funny how he kept mentioning that, like he was trying to impress, either with his accomplishment or the lawless land too primitive to offer a means of escape. Father J'onzz established, "Strange... we could use a super-detective here, too... Canal raiders have been terrorizing the Mother City... they have been stealing the priceless relics from our Martian Memorial Halls!" As a random Martian shouted, "Stop them! They are plundering the very soul of our planet," the raiders escaped via immersion in water, from which they then vanished. "Only the giant canal carp and the food barges have passed the [Great Canal Locks!] Raiders could not escape through the irrigation outlets without being seen!" J'onn J'onzz considered the dual problems before him, taking note of the giant carp, "which swim by means of pilot fish attached to their bodies!" Father J'onzz, wringing his hands, said, "Thank you for trying, son... thank you!"

Aside from the solution being totally obvious to a grade-schooler, it all came down to simple deductive reasoning. "Shades of Saturn! If only the barges and carp use the canal" [major premise,] "and the raiders escaped" [minor premise,] the conclusion is "their can only be one answer! Father-- listen to me closely... I may have the solution! This is what you must do..."

In Det. John Jones' case, that was to visit his "Chief" on stakeout early. The "Chief" was wearing a hat, eliminating the major distinction between Saunders and Harding, but based on build I'll guess the latter. Also Saunders never seemed to leave his office at this point. Wow, I totally lost interest in the "mystery" on the second panel of page two.

Okay, Jones spied a crook with his "super-eyes," then dove from atop a building into the harbor, all directly after expressing concern about tipping his super-hand around the chief. Arriving ahead of the crook, Jones found a small submersible that would have attached to a passing freighter to escape the dragnet. "Here he comes... and since that tiny craft has a plastic nose, there's one sure way to get my man out of it! I'll ram it! No more free rides to safety, mister!" Jeez, watching that nose shatter against the ship's hull, I hope the dude was wearing his seat belt and a separate breathing apparatus. The chief congratulated Jones, who thought, "How could I tell him it was the giant Martian carp, with their unique pilot fish, that tipped me off-- and helped me solve a crime on both worlds!"

"The Great Earth-Mars Mystery" was written by Jack Miller and drawn by Joe Certa.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Year Two

Well, by the end of the Idol-Head of Diabolu blog's first year of existence, primary subjects Martian Manhunter and Zook were both dead. You might be wondering what kind of horrors will be visited in the deuce (hint: global recession,) and while that's out of my hands (as for as you know,) I thought folks might be interested in the shifting gears of this engine of destruction for the next 52 weeks:

  • Fewer Issue Synopsis: I've made this a primary feature of the site in the past, as I'm a big believer in knowing your history. This has been especially true since the Martian Manhunter Memorial Month, where I hit what I felt were issues in dire need of visitation, and never quite stopped. However, issue synopsis are a massive time suck, hits drop the more I employ them, comments are sparse, I get burnt out, and the focus tends to be too narrow. To be honest, I myself often skip issue synopsis on other people's blogs, either because it's a book I've already read, one I intend to read and don't want spoiled, or one I plain don't care about. I figure a lot of visitors here are the same way, and I don't want the page becoming a slog or something to scroll through and pass. I'll post synopsis for as long as this page exists, but I don't think anyone wants them 5-6 days a week.
  • Fewer Anniversary Posts: Sure, there's a tendency to mark the earliest milestones, but between post 350, the Annual, and post 400, that'll be three fan fiction indulgences inside two months (four if you count the two-part "Annual.") I personally hate fan fiction, and don't want to inflict it on anyone, especially in excess. Expect three more, 400, 450, and 500-- and maybe 550 to bring us to the "present," before those switch to more like a yearly appearance.
  • More Information: This connects to the first two cutbacks. While writing (and rewriting) the anniversary pieces, I found myself having to dig deep and re-reference material that should have already been covered here. Specifically, I decided to use hotlinks in the "Annual," only to find I was sending people to other sites for reference they should find here. I'll be focused less on specific issues and more on overarching information to make reference browsing easier on everybody
  • More Buttons: Folks seem to get a lot of use out of the Vile Menagerie and history-by-decade buttons on the sidebar. I like them quite a bit myself, and will be adding more.
  • Better Organization: I want to make it easier for folks to navigate through issues in sequence, hotlink to additional resources, and so forth.
  • Return of the Michael Netzer banner: I felt the Memorial Month warranted a somber header, and as the issue synopsis run toward depressing times like the end of J'onn's first solo series and the deaths of the Justice League Detroit members, it continues to apply. I had the crumby original banner up for anniversary week, and as we move toward Justice League coverage in happier times, that gorgeous piece of Netzer art created for this blog will be restored.
  • New Features: I've been wanting to start a "Wizard of 1,000 Menaces" column for a while now, in which Professor Arnold Hugo will display and discuss technology appearing in Martian Manhunter comics-- sort of an irreverent, egomaniacal Eliot R. Brown. As I've noticed shortcomings in other areas, I'm planning a full-on, work-in-progress Martian Manhunter Encylopedia to complement it. Finally, once my synopsis of the House of Mystery run goes on hiatus (to eventually cover the issues I missed the first time,) I'll represent "Commander Steel/Benson's Notebook," a series of pieces by the noted Silver Age authority that were once featured at "Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA."
  • More Icons: I had trouble getting Google to accept new art for a while, but the problem seems to be fixed. I never intended the sidebar icons to be so Silver Age specific, but was waiting to reach other periods of history before adding more. That will be changing, as I've mentioned.
  • More Stuff: I've focused on comics to the exclusion of all else, so expect more toys, trading cards, videos, etc.
  • More Interactive Content: I'm going to try to use more polls, ask more interactive questons, and hope more people will comment. I've noted the difference between Martian Manhunter and other characters in the past, and expect that carries over into the personalities of their fans. Hopefully, I can work to get more people to open up to what's working and not regarding the character and this page.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Twilight Book III of III (1990)

Prologue: Homer Glint argued nature vs. nurture with his seeing-eye cat F'tatatita, who refused to stop denying its feral nature by stalking lizards and birds.

Space Cabby: A tubby, smarmy, sweaty, cigar-smoking ethnic type who tried to run up Star Hawkins' meter, and made the mistake of assuming his robot Ilda was also his lover. The thought revolted Hawkins.

Star Hawkins: "Poor Ilda-- a Greek heroine in full metal dress... stuck on a bastard nobody could ever mistake for a hero..." She joined Hawkins on the planet Jerkwater 18, in search of Jon Starker and in anticipation of Tommy Tomorrow's arrival.

Tommy Tomorrow: "What Jerkwater 18 was... was a cesspool... collecting the assorted dregs... A toilet for the indiscriminate lowlife and biogenetic misfits... In other words, the perfect breeding ground... for the Sound of Thunder Wonder Show." The deified Tommy temporarily appeared as miles high, nude, and gold-skinned. He called the people of Jerkwater 18 the "Heartland" and "Tomorrow People," demanding they help carve up the remaining Karelists and unify in praising him. Also launched a homecoming parade/nuclear strike on the Chinese.

Knights of the Galaxy: The former Planeteer and Knight Brent Wood took personal responsibility for the death of Karel, which drove him mad. Homer Glint kept him sedated so that he wouldn't hurt himself.

Star Rovers: Homer Glint led the surviving Karelists in hiding. He noted Brenda Tomorrow also felt guilt in Karel's demise, manifest in her search for the Methuseloid mother race.

Space Cabby: Took part in seeing-eye cockfighting.

Manhunter 2070: Jon Starker was sleeping through a bender in the stands. Starker awoke under the mistaken impression he was back assisting suicides, and shot a gamecock dead. Participants were out for his blood.

Star Hawkins: Rescued his brother and hauled him into another Space Cab. Tolerated Jon's drunken pawing at Ilda.

Star Rovers: Homer Glint captured by Tommy Tomorrow's forces. Most of his fellows slaughtered. Tommy Tomorrow wanted to bring him on to write his bible.

Manhunter 2070: "Poor Jon Starker... All eternity ever did for Jon Starker... was give him more time to lie in the gutter." Had his system flushed out by his brother, who wanted to use him to assassinate Tommy Tomorrow. This would mean going bio-mechanical to get close. "Why in hell should I want to be part of any machine-- or be melded with a ro-- ah... hmmm... yes... well... I'll do it... on one condition... that I meld with Ilda... body and soul"

Star Hawkins: "EEEUUWW!" Hawkins had to convince Ilda, stroking her neck and explaining the melding would make her like family, as she carried his brother's essence. Ilda swooned. "...Hawkins was a loathsome slug who found himself on the side of right... only by accident..."

Tommy Tomorrow: Hot to find a "consort" and have his image refined by Homer Glint. "Spare me... you've either accidentally incinerated them when you ejaculated-- or you've simply murdered them in a fit of pique..."

Space Museum: The Ilda-Starker meld paid the Space Cabby extra to drop it off as close as possible to where Tommy Tomorrow's big rally would be taking place.

Knights of the Galaxy: Brent Wood was also in attendance, and was spotted by Brenda, who in his deluded state he imagined as Karel. Brenda enlisted him for a second assassination plot.

Manhunter 2070: A riot cop tried to push Starker-Ilda behind a set perimeter. "I know how important it can be for you fanatics to get close to the Eminence... even you freaks he's never going to let in the Kingdom... but rules are rules-- no two ways about it..." Manhunter punched his crotch out.

Tommy Tomorrow: Preached before the masses, Homer Glint and the spirit of Karel in tow. It seems her consciousness came with her power, allowing Karel to manipulate Tommy from the great beyond. Karel drove Tommy to tear his own eyes out.

Manhunter 2070: Tried to capitalize on Tommy's distraction, but was torn in half for the trouble.

Knights of the Galaxy: Brent Wood tried to capitalize on Tommy's other distraction, but was blasted dead for the trouble.

Manhunter 2070: Capitalized on Tommy's other other distraction, shooting him in the chest.

Tommy Tomorrow: Forced by Karel to allow Manhunter's blast through his defenses, killing him.

Star Rovers: "Most of the crowd had fled the scene when the fur started flying... suddenly, the few that remained joined voices in unison... singing the first verse of Karel's favorite hymn..." Glint was escorted away by his only real friends, Brenda and F'tatatita.

Epilogue: For months, a hailstorm of metal appeared on every known world, from when all of Tommy's space vessels spontaneously disintegrated in orbit. Homer married Brenda, who died at some point thereafter, alluding to a sequel that never came into being. The aging process was reinstated. Homer Glint was an old man with a talking cat, and "if someone had told me the collapse of civilization was the middle of the story, and not the end-- I'd've gotten off right there."

Twilight: Howard Chaykin - Writer. José Luis García-López - Artist. Steve Oliff - Color Artist. Ken Bruzenak - Letterer. Andy Helfer - Editor.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Showcase #93 (9/70)

"On his way back home, Starker is loafing along through space... when..."

"Arky here-- with a big one, boss-- An embezzlement case-- Milton Wallen-- 20 years with Trans-Planet Mining Co. decided to suddenly quit! After checking his books TPM found out he left with two million credits belonging to TPM. TPM is offering 30% reward for the return of the two mill-- 25,000 for Wallen... Wallen has been reported being seen on the planet Zodan, 4th galaxy from Sol... He'd have been a fool to land... with anything valuable... Because of the peculiarities of the Zodanians-- or Greenies-- as they are called... They are compulsive thieves... Every last one of them down to the toddlers! They think-- believe-- it's an honorable thing to do... Be especially careful of red-haired Greenies-- They're the worst!"

Once again, in the same breath, Starker questioned Arky's consistent infallibility, this time with his stereotyping of Minorities "Greenies." As soon as Starker arrived on Zodan, his bag was stolen. He quickly determined and tackled the perpetrator, but the bystanders who helped him up tried to pick his pocket! Starker started whaling on the lot of them, again claiming "I'll never doubt Arky again!" Starker took to pulling his pistol at the first sign of a hassle, so that the thieving Greenies politely smiled and backed off whatever scam they were running. "From the way some of these citizens are eyeing me-- I'd better keep my money in my mouth for safety--"

Starker roamed from place to place, asking after Wallen, until he finally turned up a lead. "Aye, I did see such a man-- hardly got off the space ship afore someone tried to snatch his satchel! Turned white as a ghost, he did-- ran right back into the ship-- never got off here at all."

After collecting his things, which required more threats of bodily harm to secure, Starker recalled his ship from planetary orbit by remote control to follow Wallen's course from Zoldan to Zoldar. However, two stowaways clung to the belly of his ship...

Starker wandered into the nearest town after nightfall, and strolled into the local saloon. "These types look like they wouldn't give me the right time-- let alone information! Best get back to the flyer and move on to-- hold it-- I can't believe it-- Nobody can be this lucky! --It's Wallen!" Starker's bounty was sitting alone, a sad sack nursing a drink, so the Manhunter strolled over and bought him another. Unaware of Starker's intentions, Wallen told his sorry story of being taken for everything by dirty dealing card sharks. Three other bounty hunters had recognized Starker, and assuming there must be a reward on his company, tried to take Wallen off his hands. Starker tossed booze in the face of one, then beat all three unconscious.

Starker made Wallen aware outside that he knew all about the embezzlement, and intended to continue tracking the missing millions. "Stop whining! Start talking!" Wallen pointed him toward the city of Chandor, requiring a desert trek on glyphs, which looked like relatives of the kangas from old Paradise Island. As Starker and Wallen trailed their hustlers, they themselves were followed by the pair of stowaways...

Starker and Wallen's glyphs were shot out from under them by the hustlers, who lay in wait once they spotted their tail. Starker made Wallen act as a decoy to draw fire, then gunned down one of the sharks. Wallen shouted a warning as Starker took a shot from behind, but Manhunter managed to roll and return deadly fire. Starker found the pair's glyphs, which offered both escape from the desert and the recovered two million. "For what you did Wallen, I wish I could let you go-- but I can't--"

The pair were within two miles of Chandor when they spotted a beautiful red-haired girl lying in the desert. The green girl's glyph had been shot dead, but she was alive, so Starker began carrying her to his animal. A voice from behind ordered Starker to turn slowly, which proved to be another lovely red-haired Greenie, this one armed. "We've heard how fast you are-- so we thought up a gimmick to keep your hands full-- and it worked! All right, Sis-- you can cut the act now!" The girl in Starker's arms had pulled one of his pieces out of his holster and held it on him. Starker dumped her on her butt. "Nobody's hijacking me! Sorry, baby--"

Sis barked, "What kind of gentleman are you-- throwing a lady to the ground?" She then shot Starker twice with his own gun, her partner following suit. The girls mounted the glyphs, and made off with the money and Wallen. Incredibly, Starker yet lived, but could not summon the strength to fire his blaster. Lying unconscious, Starker was approached by a group of cavemen: "--with a grunt of anger one suddenly raises a crude stone axe--"

"--and-- but you'll find out in the next Manhunter 2070-- if there is one! That depends on you-- the buying public!"

That's right, Manhunter 2070's story ended on a cliffhanger lasting 38 years and counting. Starker appeared in Showcase #100, which featured virtually every character from the series. However, between temporal considerations and the story being considered apocryphal at conception, Starker most likely died in that desert at the hands of Red-Haired Greenies and cavemen. Or Howard Chaykin, perhaps...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Legends #2 (12/86)

Zatanna: Left the team. Missed out on Darkseid minion G. Gordon Godfrey whipping the nation into anti-superhero frenzy. Absent when President Ronald Reagan issued emergency executive order banning super-heroic activity. Nowhere to be seen when League faced a titan on a city street.

Batman: No longer on the team. Blinded during riot before he could save Robin, who was later hospitalized from the severe beating he received from an angry mob.

Sue Dibney: As if.

Vixen: Stood near Vibe, and previously heard the warning of a towering being composed of molten plasma terrorizing the United States, "the fallen angel-- come to purge this frail Earth of false gods and graven idols!"

Steel: Stood near Firestorm, who alerted the Detroit League to the threat of Brimstone.

Gypsy: Stood near Cosmic Boy, the temporally-displaced Legion of Super-Heroes member who tried to help against Brimstone.

Vibe: The only member of the Justice League to launch an offensive against foe. Used vibratory powers to knock Brimstone off its feet.

Elongated Man: "J'Onn-- wait! You're not thinking straight! That monster is composed of living fire-- and fire is a Martian's greatest weakness!"

Martian Manhunter: "If you're looking for a fight, behemoth-- the Martian Manhunter is more than willing to oblige!" Flew at Brimstone, but changed course at the last minute. "I allowed my emotions to overwhelm me for a moment-- and that could have proven disastrous!" Saw Brimstone level a somewhat indirect attack. "He's bringing the entire building down on top of us-- more rubble than even I can handle! Take cover, Justice League!"

Firestorm: "Too late--! Nowhere to hide--! We're all gonna be buried-- alive!!"

The Creators: The Detroit League get the chance to be drawn by John Byrne in his prime, with Karl Kesel on inks, and perspective leaves most of them the size of ants. At least Manhunter and Paco looked good. Plotter John Ostrander gave Vibe a rare spotlight moment, but Len Wein's dialogue was all exposition.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: "J'Onn!" -Elongated Man

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "You are one ugly sucker, amigo-- and too hot to get close to!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Being Carter, Thal, J'Onzz & Frank

A year ago, I started my daily Martian Manhunter blog. Not long after, the actor Damian Maffei started a really killer daily Atom blog, The Tiny Titan. Ray Palmer was one of my favorite characters, and J'Onn J'Onzz was among Damian's favorite characters, so we cross commented/promoted/etc. It was all great fun, and since Hawkman was closely associated with Atom, Damian included him in the Atom blog.

Damian Maffei was never heard from again.

Okay, that's not true, as his IMDB page lists him as being involved in pre-production for LiveMansion: The Movie as a lead actor. Still, we lost a good blog there.

Luke has been a regular commenter here at the Idol-Head, as well as serving duty on his own comic blog El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker. Luke has also decided to start a regular Hawkman blog, which I'm now cross-promoting/commenting at/etc. Hopefully, this effort turns out to be long lived, rather than Luke disappearing into the ether. Hawkman has a really unlucky history with abrupt cancellations, so I wanted to give as big a push here as possible, now that Luke's had a chance to build up the page.

It's worth noting that while I like Atom and Hawkman, J'Onn J'Onzz barely had a relationship with one, and a sometimes tense dynamic with the other. If Being Carter Hall doesn't do well, I may begin to wonder if the curse of the Idol-Head of Diabolu lives on.

Speaking of cursing, I wasn't a happy camper when I realized there wasn't a Captain America blog I could find on Google. Captain America is possibly my favorite super-hero ever, and while I know he has tons of sites and message boards-- no blog. I have a dream you see, where every major comic book hero has one Google-based daily blog. You pick your one hero, and blog your heart out as a member of some weird geek blog coalition. Luke took Hawkman, Adama chose Green Arrow, Rob Aquaman, and so on. I already staked my place with Hawkman, and since I'm a mere mortal, unlike Rob Kelly, I'm holding to that. Thankfully, Rick has stepped up with Let's Rap With Cap. Now if only someone would get around to Captain Comet...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Manhunter From Mars Annual #1 (Conclusion)

Bel Juz refused to confirm B'rett's guess that she must be involved with the failure of the Guard Belts. "Something this big keeping quiet so long? That's got your prints all over it!" B'rett had joined up with the Pole Dwellers as they slowly collected themselves in the plains outside the city. B'rett felt no loyalty to the Desert Dwellers, who did little to save his own people from the Blue Flame's path of destruction. Besides, B'rett was always looking out for himself, and it was the Pale Martians who had scavenged the downed maintenance droids that had sustained the convicts while in orbit.

B'rett presented Bel Juz to Commander Blanx, who was far from pleased she had not been granted access codes to the weapons cache... nor that a scientist who had was dead "by his own hand." Blanx was in the process of rounding up and executing the Pale Martians who had renounced his leadership to live amongst the Desert Dwellers, and had little use for a treasonous Green. B'rett intervened on Bel's behalf, believing her keen mind might prove useful to him later. B'rett and Bel set off alone, as he explained that he and the Pole Dwellers had been watching movements with the city for weeks from afar. The occasional dressed-down Pole Dweller was also sent on spying missions, as the Desert Dwellers had grown to at least tolerate the presence of the occasional Pale in their midst. B'rett did make a point of parading Bel Juz in front of her fellow Green Martians, to insure her reputation with her own people would finally be ruined. "You're one of us now, and don't you forget it!"

By morning, the Manhunter's company had enlisted Vulkor's gang, and were on a foot march into Crystal Mountain. They were soon met by guards under Re's Eda command, who admired J'onzz audacity, and allowed him to proceed alone. The Manhunter found his way into R'es Eda's inner sanctuary, where he was surprised to find Quork had also taken up residence. R'es Eda and N'yth Cott were having a laugh at J'onzz's expense. The sister of the treacherous N'or Cott recounted how she had been secretly drugging J'onzz's food prior to his being framed for murder, accounting for his irratic behavior during that time. J'onzz was not amused, as he explained the dire circumstances of his visit. Eda resented J'onzz for having turned his own people against him, forcing him to live as an outlaw. The pair hurled accusations at one another.

"You were a decent, wise Martian once... my closest friend... All those years I spent away from my family, only to find them dead... our world lost... and to watch your betrayals mount."
"I'm sure it was easy holding on to your ideals while you were away on your precious Earth. Try living fourteen years under Blanx's rule, J'onn-- and then the Thythen. Condemn me, if you must... but I think your perspective would be quite different if you'd walked in my shoes. Maybe then you would have fed Blanx and his Pales to their fire, like they deserved... instead of bringing them here and holding them over our heads."

Eventually, J'onzz was able to play to Re's Eda's pride and sense of loss, not to mention the fury he felt for Blanx. As for making the journey to the city, Quork had been proving himself by constructing a massive assault vehicle from the unsalvaged remains of the Old One's Gyrometer, which had previously been wrecked by Superman. J'onn J'onzz returned to his party, where he found Re's Eda's guardsmen had formed a circle around the Marshal, who had been swaying them with an oratory about Martian superiority and the need for renewed empowerment amongst the stars. "I suppose simple minds think alike, as well."

Re's Eda armed the primaries on the expedition from his reserves. The Marshal and Vulkor rode on the assault vessel, while Re's had a pair of his men join J'onn J'onzz and his Countryman on the ATV. One of the new arrivals chose to confide to J'onzz en route, "Sir... during the march on Baltaz... that day you were shot... I was among those men."
"I know. I was there. Between the residual strength from my time in Earth's atmosphere and your blasters having been leveled at a minimal setting, I was on my feet in a matter of minutes."
"Those of us with blasters had spoken amongst ourselves, and chose to avoid lethal force if at all possible. We never expected to have to turn our weapons on you. I just didn't want to live the rest of my existence being thought of as a Martian who tried to kill J'onn J'onzz."
"I appreciate that."

A beat later, the Countryman leaned in:
"If I heard correctly, you returned me to years of imprisonment in the black emptiness of space for larceny, but he shoots you and walks clean? Count your blessings I didn't have a blaster-- then or now."
"I appreciate that, as well. That's why you got the sword."
"Say, Martian steel would do more than bruise you these days, right?"
"I'd rather not say, and anyway, that's why I have the blaster."

Returning to the caves, the Marshal was dismayed to find the Red Brotherhood had been smoked out and captured by the Pole Dwellers... at least, those not left too weak to escape the fire. The Manhunter feared for J'en, as well as their plan of attack, having lost a sizable portion of their forces. At twilight, J'onzz gathered the collective to plot a revised offensive.

Re's Eda and his men piloted the assault vehicle straight into the city at nightfall. However, the Pole Dwellers managed to disable the craft partway to its destination. Re's Eda's forces continued to use the craft for cover while firing on the Pales. This gave the Marshal, Vulkor's troop, and additional Crystal Mountain men time to form a second wave to rush toward the vessel. Amidst the confusion, Manhunter's crew on the ATV made a rush for the weapons cache, but were sent skidding out of control by blaster fire from B'rett, who had disarmed a Brotherhood trooper.

Having set the assault vessel ablaze from afar, Commander Blanx observed Re's Eda and his men rush for safety. The Pole Dwellers watched as the Marshal's weakened force doused the fire, then moved in for the kill. Vulkor and his men fled during the melee.

J'onn J'onzz returned fire, but he was at a disadvantaged position. The fellow who'd confessed to shooting him earlier volunteered to take the blaster rifle and lay covering fire. The Manhunter agreed, and while B'rett was distracted, used him limited powers of flight to reach the villain's nest. The foes struggled, and though J'onzz was able to disarm B'rett, it cost him in blood. "Hah! You always forget, Manhunter! You're just a scientist on his world-- not a killer like me!" B'rett had drawn a dagger on J'onzz, but just then, R'es Eda's man arrived with guns blazing. B'rett skewered the man with a knife throw, but was sent scurrying to regroup. "This
Martian saved my life, and I never even knew his name."

Desert Dweller casualties were mounting, as R'es Eda faced Commander Blanx in combat. Both the Marshal and Quork had taken their leave, while Re's alone was no match for Blanx-- but he would not go down without a fight.

J'onzz reached the weapons cache, but as he was entering, he was struck from behind by Quork, who coveted the arms for himself. In a turnabout, the Countryman bashed Quork in the back, and Manhunter finished him off. "I thought you had abandoned me out there. That was a pleasant surprise. I hope I can trust you at least once more." Unable to arm his losing troops, the situation had grown dire. Manhunter informed his fellow that there was a set of the protective suits developed to counter Baltaz's atmosphere on site, and that they had an interesting side effect. Within the sealed system, and with their surroundings artificially interpreted through visors, Martians were enabled to not only withstand but wield fire. The pair suited up, sealed the cache behind them, and ignited their portable flame throwers.

The Marshal recognized the likely outcome of the hostilities, and decided if he was to die this day, he would do so beside his own soldiers. The Marshal fought his way through the now thin guard to where the Red Brotherhood were being held, and released them. The sudden rush of troops jarred Commander Blanx before he could finish Re's Eda. Flames became visible from blocks away, forcing the Pale maniac's retreat. J'en gave chase, as the Marshal headed toward the source of the fire. Collapsing midway, he was approached by his Countryman. "J'onzz was right. You guys aren't very bright, are you?"

J'en followed Blanx to the water treatment plant, where Bel Juz was already waiting, trying to decide which side to choose for her greatest advantage. The decision was taken out of her hands, as J'en's hatred caused her to launch into an attack on her rival, allowing Blanx free reign.

The Marshal proved too large to fit into a protective suit, so he assigned several of his Red Brotherhood the task of burning the Pole Dwellers into submission. The Marshal himself led a clean-up crew to lock down prisoners in their weakened state. Suddenly, an explosion could be heard from the distance. Pressure had been allowed to build at the water treatment plant by Commander Blanx, until all seals had ruptured, flooding the city.

Bel Juz cursed J'en's stupidity-- allowing her vendetta to blind her to Blanx's course of destruction. The pair confronted the Commander, who fended them off until the arrival of a furious Manhunter. "You madman! When will enough lives have been lost to your schemes?" Still in his protective suit, Manhunter fended off blaster fire as he launched into a brutal attack on Blanx, beating him to a bloody pulp. The Marshal arrived, and it was all J'onzz could do to prevent his finishing Blanx for good.

The remaining Pole Dwellers were gathered up and secured. A scout was dispatched with a protective suit to the Baltaz Ruling Council, who were apprised of the situation and asked to contact Takron-Galtos to secure the wealth of prisoners. The Council agreed to pay some of the cost for such a large scale confinement, while the All-Martian Council was also ordered to contribute. J'onn J'onzz suggested that Martian troops should be offered as super-powered guards for the planet-sized penitentiary. Quork, Blanx, and his men were taken into custody, while B'rett and Vulko remained at large. Though no evidence could be presented against Bel Juz, her notoriety left her ostracized and powerless. In exchange for his forces' sacrifices, the Marshal was granted additional weapons and protective suits for use at their discretion.

Epilogue One: J'onn J'onzz prepared to disembark from Takron-Galtos, where he had traveled to see to his foes' captivity. He also congratulated Re's Eda and the former Magician-Thief, who had chosen to continue their rehabilitation as voluntary guards. "To have stood and fought for Mars... to again feel the pride of my people for me... I could not go back to life in exile. If this is what it takes to return to my Mars with honor, so be it." Meanwhile, from a dark cell, Despero looked on in anger.

Epilogue Two: Gazing out over the ravaged city, the Marshal considered the various gains and losses of his recent campaign. From out of the night, Bel Juz approached him. She reminded the Marshal of a story J'onn J'onzz told of his time in exile, when he helped apprehend a fugitive Martian from the future named B’enn B’urnzz, who was being pursued by Earth authorities. "Is that our fate, Marshal? To waste away on this hell-world? To be hunted by Earthlings for the crime of our presence, when the very powers that world grants us should be ours by the divine blessing of Vrom?" Bel Juz reminded the Marshal of all those young Martians on Crystal Mountain in need of a leader, and of the terrible years to be faced in attempting to rebuild the water treatment plant. "These suits will give us the hope we've lost, and the will to conquer... all at your command, my Marshal..."