Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Death of Mongul

After devoting a month to the schemes of the Bronze Age Mongul, I hope readers retain an appreciation of the potential of the character as originally conceived. I've ended coverage in the Pre-Crisis era, but people who've followed DC Comics since 1987 are likely familiar with a different interpretation of Mongul than has been seen here. I'd like to offer a heavily editorialized rundown of the reworked Mongul.

Debuting in Adventures of Superman #454-455 (May-June 1989) and Action Comics Annual #2, the new Mongul was a conquering warrior of worlds. As revealed in Superman #32 (6/89,) "On each conquered world, the soldiers were interned and the literate put to death. The strongest of back and the weakest of mind became the slave labor of Mongul's empire... while the greatest warriors were transported to a desolate planetoid, there to fight to the death for the amusement of the emperor and his subjects." There were allusions made to this being the way of things for thousands of years. As re-conceived by Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway and George Pérez, Mongul was something of an extraterrestrial Caesar, and Warworld his traveling gladiatorial arena. Their take erased the memory of the Bronze Age Cube-Traps and Death Star, and has served as the basis for most interpretations since.

"You have vanquished my champion, slave! Now kill him and have the privilege of presenting to me his head!"

The now familiar story went that Superman was captured and sold into slavery, leading him to Warworld and victory against the champion Draaga. When Superman refused to kill the fallen fighter at Mongul's command, the emperor ripped off his robes to engage Superman directly. "He teleported here from Warworld instantaneously! But it must be thousands of miles away!" Mongul then began punching Superman, and trying to finish off Draaga. The Man of Steel held his own, considering he was at diminished power levels after weeks of space travel, but ultimately Mongul battered him unconscious. The conqueror suffered a heat vision-inflicted shoulder wound for his trouble.

"When your world of Krypton died, I was cheated of my right to conquer it! But this day, I shall claim the last Kryptonian!"

Fearing the "Krypton-Man" might shatter a blade if driven into him before the masses watching from afar, Mongul chose instead to have his guards carry the combatants away for secluded torture. Mongul taunted Superman by firing at the chained Draaga, prompting the Man of Tomorrow to melt Mongul's handgun. The flaxen fiend realized the heat vision could just as easily have crippled him, and clearly knew fear. Superman burst his bonds and attacked Mongul, whose chestpiece now fired destructive rays. The Kryptonian was forced to abandon his offensive to protect Draaga from a falling column, though he turned the debris against his fallow foe. Finally, Superman landed a series of blows that knocked Mongul out cold. Since Superman refused to kill even Mongul, an ancient cleric entrusted with the Kryptonian Eradicator teleported the Man of Steel to safety.

"You are strong... for your size. But I am stronger! And I, too, possess an inner fire! Dance, little one! Dance!"

These early reappearances were about the closest seen since to the original Mongul, and the gladiator angle helped set the character apart from contemporaries like Darkseid. However, I always saw Mongul as part-archeologist, part-gangster. Having already lost his empire before his first appearance, the original Mongul was clearly used to wielding power. He wasn't inclined to get his own hands dirty, so Mongul intimated others into working for his agenda. Mongul's motivation was always to restore his lost grandeur through new sources of power, and taking revenge on those who got in his way. Despite this, the original Mongul was calculating, would abandon failed plots as a pragmatist, and was already possessed of awesome might that humbled the Pre-Crisis Superman on multiple occasions. The Post-Crisis Mongul comes off somewhat cowardly and too quick to anger. Replacing the Cube-Traps with generic laser beams meant the sacrifice of a recurring story element in favor of blunt violence. It was very clear this new Mongul took everything personally, and his overreactions were an Achilles Heel. Finally, by having Mongul beaten by a clearly depowered Superman, the door was closed to his ever being a serious threat in the future, at least in terms of raw force. Mongul may have been back, but he was also spayed.

"Mongul still stands! What good is your quickness now, speedster? ...What the--? RAAAARGH! Stand still, damn you!"

Mongul didn't return until the summer of 1993, where he had been humbled to the point of kissing the ring of the Cyborg Superman during "Reign of the Supermen!" The pair of villains destroyed Coast City and began to convert it into a giant engine for a new Warworld. Mongul was eventually defeated and incarcerated by Green Lantern Hal Jordan. There's a sharp contrast between Gerard Jones' use of Mongul in Green Lantern #46 (10/93,) where he was at least a major foil for the seasoned Jordan, and Ron Marz's in GL #51-53 (5-7/94,) where Superman aides the neophyte Kyle Rayner in proving his mettle against Mongul. Like a common Flash villain, Mongul was thrown in the super-villain slammer. Little surprise he actually appeared in The Flash #102 (6/95,) to be soundly owned by a newly empowered Wally West also in need of strutting. Mongul had gone from a menace that could legitimately take on Superman, the Justice League and the Legion of Super-Heroes in one adventure to the punching bag of every kid hero on the block.

"No-- no more revenge. All I want is a chance to return to the life I knew. Raining terror and death on those too feeble to stand against me!"

Mongul's final stab at redemption was in a two-part story in Showcase '95 #7-8 (8-9/95) by Peter J. Tomasi, Scot Eaton and Pam Eklund. Taking his cues from the savage dream sequence from "For The Man Who Has Everything...", Tomasi recast Mongul as a homicidal maniac who slew his infant brother on the off-chance the boy might oppose him at some future date. In the present, Mongul was held in a space station prison, assaulted by virtual reality manifestations of his foes and failings. Mongul appeared to be completely passive under this conditioning, but the day a mass of additional prisoners arrived, Mongul went on a gory premeditated rampage. Ever the loner, Mongul even dumped his fellow convicts into the vacuum of space while making his getaway in a small craft. When the vessel failed, Mongul impotently smashed equipment as he began falling into a sun. However, benevolent pink-skinned aliens rescued him at the last moment, and were rewarded with rape and murder on a planetary scale. Mongul delighted at killing with his chest laser and working his new slaves to death erecting statues in his honor. The yellow beast showed a new found masochism, or at least was willing to accept pain as part of the exhilaration of battle, if only when against opponents he knows could be crushed at will.

"Ah, finally, some backbone! Yes! Yes! Let your anger loose... Take vengeance on the one who has crushed your people and stolen your dreams! Show me your hatred! Let me feel your pain!"

While a mysterious virus ravaged the native population, Mongul commanded all the world's finest minds to construct for him a new Warworld. The merciless menace also introduced a new arena game, in which his subjects were forced to dress as Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, the Flash, Superman and Steel. Any who resented this atrocity were simply blasted to smithereens with Mongul's laser. Mongul ignored the virus for as long as he could, then took steps to contain it too late. The germ had been unknowingly brought by Mongul himself, and unable to save even 1% of the populace, the scientists who found a cure destroyed it and committed suicide to escape his tyranny. All escape ships were destroyed, stranding Mongul on a world left dead by his actions. In the silence, Mongul was able to hear the cries of newborn infants. "A male and female. Sole survivors. A family resemblance. Immune, just like their father. Their mothers-- perhaps my chambermaids-- were not as fortunate." While the question was left in the reader's mind whether Mongul would exterminate his offspring as he did his brother, the disclosure served just as well as a contingency plan. Mark Waid, who had already sacrificed Mongul's credibility in that issue of the Flash, built up his new villain Neron by having him snap Mongul's neck in Underworld Unleashed#1 (11/95.) Mongul had refused an offer of power from the demon lord, and suffered the consequence.

"At first I thought it was snow. Every minute, every hour, the funeral pyres burn... and the ashes of the diseased dead cover the sun. The smell of burning flesh is sickening. The waste. The incredible waste."

In Superman #151-153 (12/99-2/00,) Jeph Loeb and Mike McKone reintroduced one of the twins as a full grown adult with daddy's taste in clothing and conniving. Superman turned Mongul Jr. over to Lobo, but he escaped to join his sister Mongal in being molested by Krypto the Super Dog. Mongul II appeared to die in "Our Worlds At War," but he was back to life the following year for the "Ending Battle" crossover. Junior joined Superman in "The Harvest" story, made a cameo appearance in "Infinite Crisis," and murdered Mongal after a two-parter against Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Mongul II is now a full-time Green Lantern Corps villain, as a leading member of the Sinestro Corps. Mongul Jr.'s primary writer is again Peter Tomasi, and as in the past, his stories tend to be exceedingly grisly and mean-spirited. This is clearly not your daddy's Mongul, and he has failed to be relevant to Martian Manhunter comics for years.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scepter of State

The Scepter of State is a sacred staff bestowed to the leader of the Martian survivors in exile. It is unknown whether this was a continuation of previous custom, or established by the colony on Mars II. The Scepter of State is controlled by the Keeper of the Sacred Martian Symbols when not in the possession of an elected leader. At least one Keeper, Re's Eda, used his role to assume control in the absence of an appointed holder of the Scepter as part of a devious coup. J'onn J'onzz was at least twice chosen leader by unanimous vote.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Superman Annual #11 (1985)

On February 29th, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin (Jason Todd) gathered at the Fortress of Solitude to present birthday gifts to the Man of Steel. Instead, they found Superman standing stiff and blank-eyed, a bizarre plant attached to his chest. Wonder Woman and Batman agreed that there must be some magic to the plant, as it grew through Superman's costume and into his person. Kal-El's breathing was faint, and the plant's thorny tendrils were securely wrapped about his torso, neck and arms. It appeared Superman had opened a gift box, and found a trap inside. "Listen, it has to be alien in origin. I know that a lot of alien cultures send him gifts," and it likely arrived through some teleportation channel, possibly from a benevolent party unaware that it could do harm. A voice bellowed from behind the trio, "How remarkable. You animals really are almost intelligent, aren't you? That's exactly what happened... except for one or two minor details."

Mongul strode past the heroes to eye his handiwork, wearing a pair of massive gauntlets. "Firstly, I knew precisely what it would do to him. Secondly, it was not intended as a token of gratitude... Do you like it? It's called a 'Black Mercy.' I traveled a great way into the tangled zones to locate it... It's something between a plant and an intelligent fungus. It attaches itself to its victims in a form of symbiosis, feeding from their bio-aura... It gives them their heart's desire... It's telepathic. It reads them like a book, and feeds them a logical simulation of the happy ending they desire. Of course, its victims could shrug it off... They just don't want to. I delivered it to him, and when I was certain that it had done its work, I followed it along the teleportation channel. Poor little creature, I wonder where he thinks he is? Perhaps he's playing happily as a child in whatever sordid aboriginal backwater he was raised in..."

In fact, Kal-El was seeing his potential existence on Krypton, had the planet survived, and he had remained on it throughout his life. Rather than a fairy tale though, Kal-El suspected something was wrong with his world, as his father became a political extremist, and there was rioting in the streets. While Superman dreamed, Batman asked who this massive alien sandman was. Sitting on his heels just to see the Dark Knight eye-to-eye, Mongul dismissed him. "If you don't already know my name, then you're not worthy of an introduction. I'm the new manager around here. Naturally, I shall need time to settle in and adjust to your many interesting customs... I know, for example, that your society makes distinctions on a basis of gender and age. Perhaps, then, you could advise me... which of you would it be polite to kill first?" After a silent pause, Mongul urged, "Well?" Wonder Woman leapt up to punch him in the jaw, but did more damage to her hand. "Hmm... Thank you. I think that's answered my question.

Mongul knocked the Amazing Amazon through a wall to the Hall of Weapons. "Well, you're certainly lasting longer than I anticipated. You're a female, I think. You wouldn't be the Kryptonian's mate, by any chance?" Just a good friend, and now one arming herself. "Oh, dear. Is that a Neural Impacter? Do they still make those? I'd advise you to try the Plasm Disrupter. It's smaller. More of a female's weapon." Mongul grinned as Wonder Woman's attack proved ineffectual, then shoved the side of her face against a wall.

Outside, Batman focused on the Black Mercy. "Because whatever's going on through there is way out of our league." While Superman was coming to terms with his dream world, and saying goodbye to the son he never had, Batman noted his real tears and the loosening grip of the plant. Robin wished to use Mongul's discarded gauntlets, but Batman insisted on ripping the Black Mercy free while the opportunity presented itself. The plant released Superman, but latched onto the Caped Crusader, whose parents were imagined to be alive. While Robin fretted, Superman was revived. "Who... did this... to me?" Jason Todd replied, "I... I don't know. A big yellow guy. He's through there hurting Wonder Woman now... Superman? Are you okay? You look sorta, uh..."

Todd may have been thinking of an impolite way to say "peeved," as a scowling Kryptonian howled for the first time in the story the name "MONGUL"

The jaundiced giant was holding a limp and bruised Amazon by the hair, pulling his arm back to deliver another punch, when the "voice like Armageddon" reached him. Mongul let loose of the unconscious princess to reach for his armor's weapon systems, but was struck by 400mph wind before the Kryptonian flew into his backside. Mongul was on his belly when he heard "Get up. Get up, you vermin! Do you understand what you did to me?" As Superman tugged at his shoulder straps, Mongul backhanded the Man of Steel through the room's ceiling. "Perfectly. I fashioned a prison that you could not leave without giving up your heart's desire. Escaping it must have been like tearing off your own arm... and now I'm going to kill you anyway. Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion." As Mongul prepared to snap Kal-El's head back, Superman's eyes lit up with heat vision, as he simply said "Burn."

While Mongul screamed in pain at the rays crossing his chest, Robin used the gauntlets to remove and contain the Black Mercy. Furious at the "insufferable... little... speck" that hurt him, Mongul's "muscles shift like continental plates, roiled under a hide of jaundiced leather." The benevolent and malevolent aliens engaged in combat that caused death and destruction throughout the Fortress of Solitude. His chestpiece destroyed, Mongul indulged his raw savagery, but eventually found himself on his back. However, Superman was briefly distracted by traumatic recent "memories" of Krypton, and was leveled by Mongul. "There... do you know, I almost believed that you were going to kill me. How stupid of you to hesitate like that... Not a mistake I'll make, I assure you..." As Mongul prepared to finish Superman, Robin called out from a hole in the ceiling. "Uh, excuse me... but I think this is yours. Almost intelligent, huh?" The latest Boy Wonder dropped the Black Mercy onto Mongul's chest...

"...and he swats the thing aside, reducing the boy to ash with the twist of a circuit... and then he rips the Kryptonian's head from his shoulders, laughing at the way that the eyes roll for long seconds after death... and then he places it upon a spike and goes out to trample the world, carrying it before him, his hideous standard... Like an insatiable virus he sweeps out across the universe, and his enemies are as dust beneath his feet. Suns shudder at his coming. The great powers of the cosmos kneel before him and kiss his fingertips. Vast and implacable, a resurrected Warworld wheels through the bottomless night, reducing galaxy after galaxy to smoking ruin. The stars run red. The nebulae echo with the screams of the dying... He is content."

In his Black Mercy-induced vision, Mongul saw the Martian Manhunter, a Branx of the Citadel, Hyathis, Adam Strange, Bolphunga the Unrelenting, Brainiac and more line up to give him tribute. In reality though, Superman had other plans. "I'm going to put him somewhere secure... Have you ever noticed that black hole as you come in via the western spiral arm of the galaxy?... It's quite large. I think I'll drop him into it."

"For The Man Who Has Everything..." was by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Manhunter from Mars #199 (February 1981)

An unnamed Martian soldier was on monitor duty when an urgent message came through from a Rannian space craft approaching Mars II. The pilot was the panicked Adam Strange, desperately seeking J'Onn J'Onzz. It seemed his wife Alanna had been kidnapped, taken by a towering brute with a sloped brow reminiscent of a Martian. Combined with the superhuman strength required to rip apart her father Sardath's lab, Strange thought a criminal from this world may have been responsible.

Just after Adam Strange was given permission to land, a Thanagarian ship was detected on its way to Mars II. A transmission from the craft made by police officer Shayera Hol offered that she was in pursuit of Adam Strange for questioning. Hawkgirl explained that the Absorbascon from her ship had inexplicably teleported away-- while her fellow officer and husband Katar Hol was attached to it! Radiation scans indicated the man and machine had been extracted with a Zeta-Beam, the noted invention of Alanna's scientist father Sardath. When the Martian soldier hesitated to admit Hawkgirl, he was informed that she was just ahead of a full Thanagarian assault squadron.

Hawkgirl touched down at the Spacefort in time to spot Strange and give chase. Shayera noticed a small sphere following her prey, as both parties evaded fire while pleading for the safety of their spouses. Shayera and Adam assumed the other had initiated the gun battle, until a stray blaster shot struck Strange's sphere. As it rolled lifelessly to the ground, the Manhunter from Mars came out of hiding, explaining that it was he who had fired the first shot.

The poor unnamed Martian soldier was being read the riot act by a superior for allowing Adam Strange to land. This was interrupted when Thanagarian squadron commander Yuddha Bechane hailed the Spacefort and demanded Adam Strange and J'Onn J'Onzz be turned over into his authority. Bechane cited the Manhunter from Mars' previous attack against Hawkman as implication that J'Onzz was working in concert with Strange. Unfortunately, no one had heard from the Martian Marvel in weeks. Before a reply could be given, Adam Strange's starship ascended from the surface of Mars, with Hawkgirl's craft close behind, and attempted to make a run through the Thanagarian squadron. Though masterful at evading fire, the Rannian craft took significant damage, and was forced to land just one planet over from Mars II. However, all seemed to be going according to plan, as Hawkgirl's ship had slipped away in the dogfight, while Adam used his jetpack to fly directly toward a small crypt planetside.

Outside the crypt, Adam Strange was met by another sphere; the silhouetted holographic visage of a beetle-browed head barely visible. A voice emanated, suspicious of the loss of the first sphere and demanding a Crystal Key. Adam Strange assured his taskmaster the key was within, and began using his keen scientific mind to solve a series of puzzle traps prohibiting his entry into the crypt. Finally, the last barrier before him, Adam Strange refused to go any further until his wife was returned to him. At that, a mammoth starship the size of a minor metropolis approached the crypt's site. A small shuttle dropped from a bay and sped to Adam's location, until its pilot landed and slowly disembarked. "You presume too much, Rannian. Mongul takes orders from no man."

Adam Strange asked after the safety of his wife and the purpose for this grand scheme. Mongul explained that he was in exile from his home world, and sought a means to return there under his own terms. For this, Mongul needed the key to a fantastic vehicle of legend, last known to be in the possession of the peaceful alien Largas. Intelligence had placed the last Largas in the star-system Cygnus, but in order to narrow his search, Mongul would need resources. The merciless alien first raided the planet Rann, kidnapping Alanna and securing one of her father's Zeta-Beamers. Mongul then zee-beamed an Absorbascon from a remote Thanagarian ship orbiting the planet Earth, inadvertently capturing Hawkman along with it. Mongul next used the Absorbascon to scan a series of planets beginning with Earth, and moving on to inhabited worlds orbiting Cygnus. The Absorbascon pointed to J'Onn J'Onzz knowing the location of the crystal key, but the Manhunter himself had gone missing. Mongul then decided to use Alanna and Hawkman's predicament to help him flush out the Alien Atlas, by directing Strange once Thanagar was aware of the Absorbascon's means of theft.

Adam Strange continued to deny Mongul further aid without seeing Alanna, and was swatted aside with lethal force. The murderous despot bullied his way through the crypt's final defense, only to find the sanctuary empty. Turning back toward what should have been Adam Strange's corpse, Mongul discovered another vanishing act. Lumbering toward his shuttle, Mongul found himself evading fire from his own super-ship. Just managing to dock, Mongul was confronted by Adam and Alanna on their way out. Firing eye beams at Strange, Mongul was shocked by the site of the "Rannian" reverting to his true form of the Manhunter from Mars. "Alanna-- use the jet pack to return to the crypt!" The Alien Atlas and jaundiced juggernaut sparred while Alanna used her husband's pack as recommended. The Martian Manhunter then broke off hostilities to follow, as the pair reached the crypt just in time to catch a Zeta-Beam.

Materializing on another planet, Alanna was warmly greeted by the loving embrace of the real Adam Strange. J'Onn J'Onzz meanwhile gave Hawkgirl the exact coordinates where Hawkman and the Absorbascon were soon to rematerialize once their exposure to zeta radiation wore off. The Manhunter had pulled the relevant information from Mongul's ship's computers, a vessel J'Onzz had been tracking since it first entered the Cygnus system weeks earlier. The Manhunter began a sting operation, shadowing Mongul's path, and contacting Adam Strange with a plan after the strike on Rann. Hawkgirl was brought into the fold on Mars II, as she piloted her ship to where she was informed Warworld had been hidden, the key to which having been entrusted to Adam. As Hawkgirl sped for Earth, the Manhunter activated Warworld, and made his way back to Mars II.

Living in poverty and nearly defenseless against aggressive forces, the Martians were fearful when Yuddha Bechane threatened an air strike if at least one of his suspects was not produced soon. Clearly not careful about what he wished for, Bechane was stunned as Warworld approached. Although Bechane blustered over the absence of Katar and Shayera Hol, he found discretion the better part of valor, and fell back toward the outer reaches of Cygnus. Mongul, having regained control of his vessel, shuddered at the thought of being targeted by his own prize, and went into hiding.

J'Onn J'Onzz suffered from a dizzy spell as he disengaged from Warworld's psychic piloting interface. The Manhunter allowed the reunited Hawkman and Hawkwoman access to the artificial planet, so that they could ferry Adam and Alanna back to Rann. Along the way, Strange was asked to drop off the Crystal Key at the crypt of the last Larga. The Martian Manhunter had found another hiding spot for the terrifying satellite, and awaited the zeta radiation in his body wearing off. This would return the Sleuth from Outer Space to the crypt himself, where he would have to begin devising new defenses from Mongul and any others seeking to possess Warworld.

Julie "B.O." Schwartz always encouraged his writers to "Be Original." That was the appeal of the idea for a bifurcated team-up story in DC Comics Presents; Superman and Hawkgirl on one side, Martian Manhunter and Adam Strange on the other. In the second chapter, Superman would face Martian Manhunter, leading them to call in their previous co-stars for a group adventure. The art would be provided by hot Italian newcomer Luigi Bugia, sure to be the next Neal Adams. However, Bugia's pages came in too slowly, and seasoned editor Schwartz immediately assigned freelancer Jim Starlin the second issue to pick up the slack. Seven beautiful pages later, Bugia vanished off the face of the Earth. Realizing that with some slight reorganizing, Starlin's second chapter could stand on its own, Len Wein's continuing story began mise en scène. Because of this, Adam Strange and Hawkgirl were dropped from the tale, replaced by appearances from Supergirl and the Spectre in a massively altered plot.

It just so happened Len Wein had assumed editorship of the Manhunter From Mars from Ross Andru. Once the lame duck creative team of Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, & Trevor von Eeden finished out their term on the title, Wein began burning through inventory stories set on Mars II, intent on taking the book in a new direction. With Schwartz's consent, Wein rewrote his original DC Comics Presents plot into a "prequel" in J'Onn J'Onzz's title. Of course, this also painted him into a bit of a corner for the next issue, but for now he had a super Jim Starlin cover, with interiors by the great Steve Ditko (and yes, of course Mongul looked appropriately contorted!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Superman Official Annual 1983

Click To Enlarge

I found this Brian Bolland cover to the 1982 London Editions Magazines collection of the the Warworld story at the Gad, Sir! Comics! blog. This British hardcover reprints DC Comics Presents #27-29 and some random Superboy story. This was Bolland's second depiction of Mongul, after his cover art for DC Comics Presents #43. Also featured are Superman, Supergirl, the Spectre and likely Bolland's first shot at Martian Manhunter. Ain't it grand?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

DC Challenge #3 (1/1986)

A bald, pointy-eared alien had viewed recent goings on in this series through a monitor. "I am not pleased. Let him in." A merciless despot was allowed into the alien's chambers for a dressing down. "Mongul, you not only failed-- you left another clue for subject Superman. " Mongul replied, "I warned that these Earth super-heroes would not be easy to--" but was cut off. "Never mind the excuses, Mongul! I want you to get back to their moon with another relay device at once-- or Project X will never be successfully completed. Now go-- the next crew is already waiting to leave."

On the moon, Superman somehow determined the symbol left in the crater referred to Deadman, though I'd say it more closely resembled half a pretzel, or maybe the letter "D" (hey-- wait!)

In Metropolis, Floyd Perkins underwent hypnosis to recall he'd reached the mystery floor at the Daily Planet by pushing the lobby button while on that floor. With the help of Jimmy Olsen, Superman learned of this, and detected radiation traces on the Planet's roof that were also strongly present at the WGBS broadcasting antenna...

In the Sahara Desert, Aquaman snatched a vulture that intended to feast on him from the air, and turned the intent against it. Rejuvenated by the 97% water found in its blood, the Sea King rose to carry on with his trek. Less than an hour later, another seeming oasis proved real, and Aquaman emerged from it to find the classic Justice League of America had homed in on his signal device. As an aside, among them was a Green Lantern John Stewart that was clearly a recolored Hal Jordan.

Aquaman explained, "I was on duty in the JLA Satellite [even though it had been destroyed once or twice by that point in continuity]-- when I detected unusual transmission beams originating from the moon, and teleported myself down to the beams' target point-- an excavation site here in the Sahara. From hiding, I overheard the Arab diggers say they were looking for 'cuneiforms of Allah's sacred words' which would give them 'the power to defeat all' ...When I snuck into one of the tents to steal a burnoose disguise, I discovered a device [duplicating Mongul's] of apparent alien technology... and I also saw that the diggers were not really Arabs."

As the Sea King continued, he told of running into the desert after being detected, only to find he'd just given the full skinny to aliens of the type commanding Mongul, disguised as the JLofA. Resuming their true forms, the aliens directed their ray pistols at the Sea King...

"Viking Vengeance" was by Doug Moench, Carmine Infantino and Bob Smith.

Return to DC Challenge #2 (12/1985)

Continue to DC Challenge #4 (2/1986)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blackest Night Series 2 Action Figures: Black Lantern Martian Manhunter

As anticipation for the BLACKEST NIGHT event continues to build, DC Direct introduces the second series of action figures based on this storyline!
Black Lantern Martian Manhunter • 7” h
Indigo • 6.5” h
Green Lantern John Stewart • 6.75” h
Sinestro Corps Member Kryb • 7” h

Included in Series 2 are Martian Manhunter, the second named member of the lifeless, emotionless Black Lanterns to be revealed; John Stewart, the Green Lantern charged with the task of protecting Earth; Kryb, the sinister, infant-stealing Sinestro Corp member; and the nameless, mysterious Indigo, who personifies compassion.
All four figures feature multiple points of articulation and include a display base. John Stewart and Indigo each come with their own version of a lantern, and Kryb comes with a baby accessory that fits into the cage-like sack affixed to her back.
4-color clamshell blister card packaging. Advance-solicited; on sale November 4, 2009 * Action Figures * PI

I tried to avoid spoilers in the past, but with the new DC solicitations posted online, the cat is pretty much officially out of the bag. Rather than wait for next month's "Martian Sightings," I'd like to discuss this toy.

Now, "Darkest Night" is meant to resurrect a bunch of dead super-heroes (and possibly villains?) as a new variation on the Green Lantern Corps. Some expect this to amount to a Marvel Zombies for the DC Universe, but I don't believe they'd go down such a well trod route. However, that "emotionless" bit bothers me. I'm not sure that there's confirmations these Black Lanterns will be evil, but even if they're not plainly so, it's hard to expect them to be more than drones. More likely, given that they represent death, and are tied into the armor of the Anti-Monitor, I wouldn't be surprised if they spread entropy/anti-matter or devoured energy/life-force. I'm picturing a Crisis On Infinite Earths Shadow Demon Corps, basically. That m.o. also ties into the first Black Lantern, the old GL foe Black Hand.

I hate when heroes' deaths are confirmed in this manner, as it makes their inevitable resurrections that much more gratingly convoluted. You'd think the guy who wrote Hal Jordan out of mass murder and a stint as the spectral wrath of God would be more wary of that sort of thing. Then again, I'm in the minority who thought Green Lantern: Rebirth's script was absolute dreck with pretty artwork, and I generally like Geoff Johns. In concept and image, this is not the caring, dry humored Martian Manhunter I came to love, so I can't say I appreciate the association.

Anyway, speaking as someone who has spent a lot of time trying to redesign Martian Manhunter's costume, it's funny for me to see some stuff I played with myself in the past, like the "floating" pie symbol (sans belt.) Since I feel the "X" strap on a bare chest is a Hawkman trademark, I'm glad to see it altered here into a variation of the Black Lantern icon. Pants are always a plus, and some flesh showing on the arms is good, but the essential color scheme is kind of boring. Elements of the José Ladrönn redesign are present, which is a shame, because it was also rather blah. I hate the boots, and never understood the phenomena of Manhunter's disappearing/reappearing occasional wristbands. On the other hand, I love the folded collar and the "Ming the Merciless" skull-pan. The design overall reminds me a lot of the Black Terror, and I appreciate the red eyes and visage recalling Manhunter's nastier moments.

In conclusion, this is not the peacenik Martian I dug under J.M. DeMatteis, but if it invokes memories of Christopher Priest, I can live with the new Manhunter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

DC Challenge #2 (12/1985)

On the moon, Kal-El's merciless foe returned to his device. "I know not how Superman found me here-- but he was a fool to challenge me! In none of our previous encounters has he ever truly been a match for the power of-- Mongul, Master of Worlds!! And now that I'm certain the relay mechanism is undamaged-- I can finally finishe the cursed Kryptonian once and for-- eh? He's disappeared-- but that's impossible--! He should have been powerless against the red-sun energy of my Enervating Ray--! He shouldn't have had strength enough to breathe, let alone escape me--! And if he has escaped, where has he gone--?" The Man of Steel had used the last of his heat vision to burrow into the moon rock, then leaped out to punch Mongul! Superman again decked Mongul, sending his flying into his relay device. The resultant explosion seemed to obliterate master and machine. Little trace was left for Superman, except some sort of writing that materialized at the center of the bomb crater. "Great Krypton! It can't be--! I know that symbol-- but the one to whom it belongs is dead!"

In the Sahara Desert, a robed figure wandered the wasteland. At the sight of water, Aquaman cast off his protective garb, only to be crushed by the realization it was just a mirage. Delirious, the Sea King collapsed into the sand, vultures circling overhead.

"Blinded By The Light" was by Len Wein, Chuck Patton and Mike DeCarlo.

Return to DC Challenge #1 (11/1985)

Continue to DC Challenge #3 (12/1985)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

DC Challenge #1 (11/1985)

Floyd Perkins, Daily Planet copy boy, had been deposited on a floor of the building that shouldn't exist. Men in strange outfits held a meeting, and at the head of the table, a fellow who resembled Nosferatu demanded he leave. On the way out, Floyd ran into Humphrey Bogart.

Three miles away in Metropolis, a demonic entity rose out of a man's body to fight Superman. Someone sent the Man of Steel a mental message telling him the creature was vulnerable to low air pressure, which the Man of Steel produced. As Jimmy Olsen looked on, Groucho Marx stood beside him. The "demon" vanished, so the Last Son of Krypton took the man from which it was emitted to an iron lung in Gotham City. Clark Kent learned from Commissioner Gordon that the man was small time crook James Hoyt, presumed dead in 1967.

Superman flew to the JLA satellite, where Aquaman had abandoned monitor duty for parts unknown. Kal-El determined his was not the first recent "possession" through the ship's computer, and that the demonic releases were tied to phases of the moon. Traveling there, Superman spied a light coming from a crater, itself produced by a device of alien origin. "It's powered by solar energy... but not from our sun. I can feel that it's energy from a red star. It looks like it's some sort of relay device, taking in signals and sending them out again... towards Earth!" A figure walked up behind the Kryptonian, then fired a crimson ray that drained him of his energy. There was no sound as Superman collapsed in defeat. As for the unknown foe wearing purple boots, the intruder turned and nonchalantly walked off to go about his business.

Floyd Perkins and Jimmy Olsen compared notes, but could not relocate the hidden floor. They returned to the staff room, where they found Perry White arguing with a plainclothes Adam Strange about reaching Superman to protect a stone tablet. "In fact, the whole world needs it."

"Outbreak!" was by Mark Evanier, Gene Colan and Bob Smith.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wonder Woman #177 (2/2002)

The Paradise Island of Themyscira was restored by the returned Amazonian goddesses, who had been incommunicado while battling evil gods. Wonder Woman was impressed, but not so much as to be unable to ask more of the goddesses. Diana wished to incorporate more of what good Man's World had to offer.

"And soon, the invisible jet goes forth across the globe... handing out invitations to some of the greatest minds and powers on the planet... to contribute to the triumphant rebuilding of the Amazons' island home.

Architect Henri Claude Tibet... Harvard professor Julia Kapatelis, spiritual daughter of the Amazon Pythia... J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and Kimiyo Hoshi, known to some as Doctor Light... Decorated pilot and engineer Steve Trevor, after whose mother Diana was named... all come together with ideas, technologies, and powers, under the Amazon master designer Kaleeza Fashed."

Weeks later, with the help of the sentient alien Wonderdome's techno-biology, Themyscira was reborn as a hi-tech hovering kingdom. For her efforts, Diana had her title of princess restored, and her deceased mother Hippolyta returned briefly to grant her blessings.

By Phil Jimenez

Friday, March 20, 2009

DC Comics Presents #43 (March, 1982)

In the future, a band of youths will become a galaxy-spanning legend! Now... Superman and The Legion of Super-Heroes"

From the Daily Planet offices, Clark Kent used his telescopic vision to view space, and what he saw mortified him. Unable to explain his unease to Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Clark excused himself to become Superman and investigate. The Man of Steel was terrified at the prospect of a monstrosity approaching our solar system far beyond even his ability to handle-- a Sun-Eater! Recalling his days as Superboy, Kal-El's first experience with a Sun-Eater took place in the 30th Century, when his fellow Legionnaire Ferro Lad sacrificed his life to end the threat with an Anti-Energy Bomb. Today, a bolt of red solar rays flew from the Sun-Eater as it devoured a world, flinging the Man of Tomorrow like a rag doll down toward the moon. Still shaken by his exposure, the last thing Big Blue wanted to hear was "Your timing is impressive, Superman!"

Our hero thought, "Oh no-- it can't be! Not now! MONGUL!"
"I am truly pleased at the tenor of your thoughts, Kryptonian. My telepathic abilities are limited, but they should prove ample. It will not take a great deal of ability to sense your pain as Earth dies. HA HA HA HA Do you see the beauty of my revenge, Superman? Twice you have interfered with my plans-- an insufferable act. To make you pay for it, I shall use this creature-- this Sun-Eater-- to destroy you and your world. No lesser punishment would do."

Superman thought, "You're as much a monster as it is, Mongul!"
"Monster? Not I, Superman... merely a conqueror using a weapon. And what a perfect weapon it is! When I found it on the outer reaches of the universe, I knew the Sun-Eater would fulfill my ambitions. I destroyed the one who had charge of it... and took it! Despite you, Superman, I shall rule... rule over all!"

As noted by editor Julie Schwartz, that deceased "one" was a Controller, "one of a superior race from another universe." Despite this, Superman was yet prepared to tackle Mongul for a third time. "Perhaps on your tiny world, Kryptonian-- not on mine!" In a nifty transition, a close-up of Mongul's fist shaken at Superman becomes the Man of Steel sitting in the palm of his hand, within a Cube-Trap. "Oh no-- before I could even move at super-speed he's surrounded me by one of those crazy cubes!" Mongul then dropped the Cube of Steel into the moon's dirt. "The phrase is trapped you, Superman! Farewell."

Lois and Jimmy observed all of this from a scientific observatory telescope, including the Sun-Eater, and Lane was already writing Superman off. Though Jimmy thought his pal could break out of the cube, Lois argued that "He couldn't break into it to save us when Mongul caught us in the cube! If Mongul now has the power to shrink Superman and trap him in that...?" Lois headed out to line up her story and super-help, while Jimmy remained to consider the possibilities. Olsen knew Supergirl had helped against Mongul in the past, and "maybe even the Justice League... No point kidding yourself... There's no one alive who stands a chance against Mongul and that planet-eating monster! If Superman can be defeated by them so easily, the Justice League wouldn't last ten minutes." Just then , Jimmy remembered his honorary membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, complete with a ring that could signal the team, even in the year 2981. "They've got a couple of members in Superman's class-- Mon-El, Ultra Boy-- and a squad of them could take out the whole JLA before breakfast."

In the far future, the Legion debated the need to intercede in a past event when their very existence confirmed the Earth wasn't destroyed in 1981. Fearing an alternate timeline emerging, Brainiac 5 persuaded a team consisting of Wildfire, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Element Lad, and Shadow Lass to go back in time.

On the moon, perched upon a large flying disc, Mongul had already beaten Black Canary and Red Tornado, though Supergirl and Green Lantern Hal Jordan still stood against him. "HA HA HA You did not truly think your powers would be sufficient to defeat me, did you, humans? Not one of you is the equal of Superman-- and he is helpless before me!" Supergirl believed in the power of teamwork, while Jordan ringed-up a Power-Beam Shield, but "Bah! The temerity of your insolence in awesome!" Mongul's fist shattered the shield and swept across the Maid of Might and Emerald Gladiator. Inexplicably, the four member heroic team recovered in unison, but "Enough of you all... I have the power of the Sun-Eater, here in my hands! The power to make you die!" Mongul fired energy beams from his fists at the Sun-Eater, which reflected and intensified to strike out the Justice League.

Meanwhile... "No use-- no matter how hard I try, I can't even affect the cube! I don't know what it's made of, but it's Superman-proof. I never thought I'd have to sit on the sidelines watching Earth get murdered!" Just then the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared from a Time Bubble, "Because you needed us, Superman... Because we love you, and your world!" Brainiac 5 determined the cube-trap's nature, and that its probable fuel was red-solar power, "which would explain your progressive weakness." Though Superman's heat vision could shatter the cube at full size, in his diminutive form it was worthless. However, Sun Boy was good for heat, as "the fire of stars burns for an instant." The cube shattered, and Superman returned to his normal size. When asked how he so quickly doped out the cube's nature, Brainy explained "Basic research-- I experimented with it as a potential alternative to my shield. It was much too unstable, though." Superman couldn't thank the cavalry enough for coming.

"Touching, Superman... extremely touching. My knowledge of your primitive tongue is limited, Superman. You must elucidate for me-- did the 'cavalry' usually come charging to their doom? I have no concept of who you fools are, but you may flee now if you have enough wisdom! It is only the Kryptonian who needs feel my wrath! I wish him to watch as his adopted planet dies-- and then to feel death's touch himself!" The Man of Steel refused the Legion's help as he set against Mongul one-on-one. Superman landed the first punch, but Mongul's was a crushing blow to Kal-El's spine. "Superman, you have never beaten me in battle! Why try again? Can it be that you enjoy pain?!" Another thrust destroyed the Legion's time bubble, and after Superman scored a painful sock that threw Mongul's head back, the Legionnaires retaliated. "You stand by the Kryptonian-- now you will die by him as well!"

After slapping the Legionnaires about, Mongul's uniform was shredded by Wildfire's energy blasts. "Whatever that force is, human-- it burns! But it cannot stop me!" Element Lad stated, "Wildfire's power is anti-energy, Mongul. But now try mine-- transmutation! Feel the molecules around you change-- into inertron-- the hardest substance on-- H-he broke through like it was p-paper!" Mongul swung again at the Legion. "Of course, you fools! Did you truly think to hold Mongul in mere metal-- no matter how strong?"

As the Sun-Eater headed straight for Earth's own solar center, Superman cried "NO-OOO!" Smoke wafted from Mongul's chest console, and he chastised "See what your foolish resistance has done! You have ensured the destruction of Earth! The devices I had built to control the Sun-Eater were concealed on my person-- and now they are destroyed! I shall rebuild them-- regain control of the creature-- but first, it will devour the nearest star-sun-- YOURS!" Element Lad announced his team must deal with this greater threat, even as Shadow Lass protested, "But what about Mongul? He'll kill Superman!"

"So, your allies desert you, Superman. A shame. I had hoped for an audience for your demise." Brainiac 5 had figured out how to destroy the Sun-Eater through teamwork, though Wildfire erupting into pure anti-energy at its core was the deal maker. The explosion thrust Mongul and Superman across the moon's floor, before leaving their backsides on it with a thump. Both combatants then struggled to their feet, though Mongul looked the least steady by far. "I... I grow tired of this game, Superman! Whether that shock was the beginning of your star's death-- or my creature's end-- I would have you die at my hand now." The Man of Steel wasn't having that. "I chased you half across the universe, Mongul... watched you laugh as you planned murder... stopped you again and again... How stupid can you be if you think I'm going to let you get away now! You're big, Mongul-- and very tough. But that's my second home up in the sky-- and I'm not letting it go the way of my first one!"

Superman angrily pushed Mongul to the ground, and punched him in the head for several panels. "You might be stronger than I am, Mongul-- but in my time on Earth I've learned that doesn't matter much. Not when you're fighting for something you believe in-- and, Mongul-- I am! You're death, Mongul-- death incarnate-- and you can't have Earth!" Mongul lay unconscious on the ground, while Superman collapsed on his belly at the beast's side. "Not now... Not ever..."

The Kryptonian awoke to find himself cradled by Shadow Lass, while Element Lad built a cage for the still napping Mongul that would "hopefully" be strong enough to hold him until permanent arrangements could be made. Superman teared-up in the belief Wildfire had sacrificed himself like Ferro Lad, until the Legionnaires reminded him Wildfire had no actual body, and simply burned through his containment suit. Everyone, even the fragmented energy residue of Wildfire, had a hearty "closing credits freeze frame" laugh.

"In Final Battle" was by Paul Levitz, Curt Swan and Dave Hunt

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who's Who Vol.XVI: Mongul (6/1986)

Featuring art by co-creator Jim Starlin, this profile covers Mongul's entire Bronze Age/Pre-Crisis history... sort of. It's nice to see Starlin on Martian Manhunter and Superman again, even if my guy is visibly getting clobbered. We also see a reference to a story Starlin had nothing to do with, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' revered "For The Man Who Has Everything." The out-of-continuity DC Challenge is understandably ignored in the text, but I didn't remember Who's Who pages being so... dubious?

Lacking much origin information beyond the scant reference related to the misspelled "Arkymandyte," the profile writer seems to just start winging it. "Though no data exists on Mongul either before or immediately after the above-stated events, it is assumed that he gained his vast superhuman powers sometime after escaping his homeworld, otherwise he would have been able to utilize them suppress the revolution." Ignoring the run-on sentence, that was quite a wad of supposition on the writer's part. There are more runs, the Largas are referenced without being named, and no mention of Superman's battle with J'Onn J'Onzz for the Crystal Key is made. The entry just jumps from telling you the Manhunter was meant to guard the key, then "Superman and Mongul engaged in combat for possession of the key, and Mongul proved himself a worthy foe against Superman, nearly besting the Kryptonian in battle before escaping with the key." Try saying all that in one breath, while wondering how shooting Superman with eyebeams and running away with the key counts as besting combat.

The next paragraph gives a much clearer synopsis of DC Comics Presents #36, a better but less important story. Contributing profile writers for this edition of Who's Who included Paul Levitz, who wrote that comic. Hmmm? On the other hand, Levitz wrote a later DC Comics Presents appearance featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes, where Mongul displayed powers not mentioned here. Other potentially responsible parties on the entry include Mike W. Barr, Gary Cohn, Barbara Randall and Greg Weisman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Justice League 1.10-11: War World (2/24 & 3/3/02)

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.

Superman and the Martian Manhunter are working to redirect a meteor bound for Earth when they’re caught in an explosion. Their unconscious forms are picked up by some especially well designed random aliens, who take the pair of heroes back to their master on Warworld. The atmosphere there effects J’Onn J’Onzz negatively, leaving him nearly helpless. Superman has no such affliction, as he saves J’Onn from a massive “croc” and aids him in escaping a slave pin. The heroes fly outside, but while the weakened Manhunter sails past, Superman smashes against a force field, confining him in a coliseum. The Man of Steel demands the Martian leave him and seek help, which J'Onn does only after Superman is recaptured.

Who rules Warworld? Mongul rules Warworld! The jaundiced tyrant hews closer to the Post-Crisis revamp of the character than the original Darkseid/Darth Vader/Yellow Peril hybrid, the main plot borrowed liberally from the first major Post-Byrne story arc in the Superman titles. However, as with his first appearance in the comics, the pair of Manhunter and Superman seem poised to battle Mongul, but it becomes swiftly evident this is really just a Superman story.

Mongul believes that he can overlook social issues on his artificial planet, so long as he distracts the masses with brutal arena competitions. Unfortunately, no one can truly challenge his champion, Draaga, until a certain Kryptonian is forced into combat. In the crowd, a concealed Martian queries, “So many spectators... don’t they have families or jobs to tend to?” On learning that no, they do not, he exclaims, “How dreadful.” J’Onn repeatedly expresses concern as Superman is increasingly bruised and bloodied, but the Kryptonian is ultimately victorious. More importantly, Superman refuses to slay Draaga, against Mongul's direct order, and thus earns his enmity.

From the stands, in a particularly awkward reading from Carl Lumbly, Manhunter leads the audience in a chant of “Superman!” To avoid inciting the masses further, Mongul spares Superman’s life, though still making him a popular symbol of rebellion. To save face, Mongul threatens to destroy a world unless Superman throws an arena fight against him. A stealthy Manhunter overhears the extortion demands, and sets about disarming the planet smashing laser by impersonating Mongul. The gambit encounters misfortune, as the Martian is too hobbled to maintain the form, and barely escapes with his life. The tide turns, however, when Hawkgirl and Green Lantern finally locate their wayward cohort. The laser is destroyed, and with it, Mongul’s hopes of defeating Superman. Draaga returns to knock out the former ruler of Warworld, and Superman convinces him to assume the role himself.

Per his filmography, Eric Roberts seems inspired casting for Mongul, but his drawl in my opinion tended to diminish any presence the villain might have had, reducing him to little more than an overconfident crime boss. William Smith fares better as the distinctive Draaga. Stan Berkowitz's script guides Superman into the welcome embrace of Gladiator machismo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Arkymandryte

An ancient holy man from an unnamed world who, after decades spent hiding in the mountains, shuffled down to reclaim the hearts of his people. Using their religious fervor, the Arkymandryte turned a populace of billions against their ruler, Mongul, forcing him to flee the world. In the absence of Mongul, the Arkymandryte took tyrannical control. Although the Arkymandryte was an important part of Mongul's Bronze Age origin story, his sole appearance was in DC Comics Presents #28 (12/1980), though he was referenced in DC Comics Presents #36 (8/1981).

Monday, March 16, 2009

DC Comics Presents #36 (August, 1981)

"Born Prince Gavyn of a far-flung interstellar empire, he was executed as a sacrifice to a stable throne-- reborn a hero, he lives on as... STARMAN."

After a much lengthier recap of the history of Starman IV, we learned that his sister Clryssa had been murdered, and as such had passed her rulership of Throneworld on to the now-Emperor Gavyn. However, Starman returned to Throneworld to find it savaged, and his Lady Merria kidnapped. Only the loyal security officer Jediah Rikane stood to divulge what he knew. "...He certainly has no mercy for women! He took Merria! ...The monster knew of your power to track even a stray molecule in the vastness of space! It's got to be trap!" Regardless, Starman followed the trail to the garden world of Diplantha, where he was aided by the spirit of his deceased Mn'torr. Not only did Mn'torr teach Gavyn to allow his mystic staff to guide him directly to Merria, but also commanded it to fire a beacon of light towards Earth. Planetside, Gavyn was warned to flee by his lady love, but to no avail.

"It is far too late... You are a dead man, not a starman or an emperor! You became deceased the moment I decided I required your crown."
"So you are the monster that murdered Clryssa!"
"That is not precisely accurate. I am called Mongul, and the noun you are searching for is not monster-- but master!"

Mongul the Merciless disappeared into an embodiment of red Kirby Krackle energy, and benumbed Starman with one blow. "Interesting... his power seems to be based on stellar energies of some sort. A pity it is not effective. He might have made a good slave."

Starman awoke in a Cube-Trap, stripped of his staff and gauntlets of power. "...As a minimally sentient being, you should have gathered some information about your condition... In sum, reduced to a helpless tool useful only to me. I suggest you remember that. Shall we proceed to transfer the Imperial Crown to my deserving brow... whence it can be the seed from which my former domain may be recaptured? ...I have kept you alive with a purpose in view. My rule shall be entirely legitimate. You see, I am marrying the lady Merria-- and ruling as her consort... Silence, woman. I did not ask you whether or not you would." Mongul's plot involved holding Gavyn as leverage against Merria indefinitely, leaving him in the Cube-Trap on this distant world with a servitor robot to guard and tend to him forevermore. "You will die of old age before she disobeys me. Farewell."

Once Mongul and Lady Merria teleported away, Gavyn was left alone for potentially "hours, days, weeks... even months." Starman was released by Superman, who had melted the servitor into a puddle. "Judging from that cube you were caught in, I'd say you met Mongul. I came looking for him. A weird beacon light came to my fortress, telling me I'd find Mongul here-- and someone who needed my help... The first step is who are you-- and why is Mongul trying to make you into a paperweight?"

Starman provided the skinny, and the anxiety. "Between our special powers and the advantage of surprise, we have a chance against Mongul. Let's use it, before he hurts Merria." In stark contrast to his last conflict with Mongul, Superman was the calm, rational member of the team. Asking after details regarding the forces now at Mongul's disposal, Superman was surprised to learn the emperor had no real military to speak of. Emperor Rilsom the First simply showed up with a crown one day... and the mysterious means to blow up a planet at will within an hour's time. This control method was wielded sparingly by the generations of emperors that followed, some good, others not. "With just a thought... That's all it takes! The Imperial Crown is the key... Once Mongul becomes attuned to it in the coronation ceremony, there's no way to break that thought link... except death." Superman refused to kill, and instead directed Starman to use his royal knowledge to reach and destroy the crown's power source, while he took care of Mongul. "B-but he's so powerful! You said he'd gotten the better of you in battle before."
"That was before!"

Mongul was pleased, as in the interim he had become Lady Merria's consort, fully attuned to the Crown Imperial, and was all set to go to war. "Soon my destiny shall be fulfilled." Arrogance restored, Superman arrived to interject "Your destiny, Mongul, is to be a footnote in the history books!" Lady Merria rose from her kneeling position at Mongul's feet and, at Superman's urging, sought a safe hiding place. "You dare not attack me, Superman! Not only do I have the power to crush you-- but with a single thought I can annihilate one of the worlds of the Imperium." A Gaze of Steel fixed on the jaundiced giant, Kal-El smirked as he swaggered forward. "First of all, Mongul, I don't believe you. Second, this 'Imperium' means nothing to me. I don't care if you blow it all up. Third, I came to take you on, man-to-man, and nothing's going to stop me from doing just that!"

Though Mongul thought the Kryptonian had lost his mind, it was in truth a bluff to allow Superman to get close enough to start punching, in hopes a brawl would keep the Merciless One from wielding his imperial power. Thanks to his shock and hesitation, the jaundiced giant was knocked through the imperial throne, took another shot to the chops, and a jab caused his flailing form to collapse a pillar!

Meanwhile, Prince Gavyn made his way toward the power source for the doomsday device, hidden within the sun that shone on Throneworld. Only Starman could survive the plunge through his ability to absorb and redirect the solar energy pelting him-- and only just...

Mongul struggled to rise to his feet, but was hammered through the floor by another Kryptonian blow. Having had enough, Mongul let loose energy blasts from his hands that sent the Man of Steel flying backward. "You may have your wish, Superman-- we shall fight man-to-man, as you put it! Or as I would say, you may die at my hand! Are you ready for that, Superman?" Concerned Mongul might detect Prince Gavyn's progress toward the doomsday device, Superman absolutely let loose with his heat vision, and accomplished little more than disrobing his foe. "Great Krypton! He's still standing! I hit him with everything I had and he's still standing! That's never happeened before!"

The Last Son of Krypton dove into Mongul for another attack, but was soon rebuffed, as a flaxen fist drove his head into the ground. Another incredible blow knocked the Man of Tomorrow across the room. "If I am to inaugurate my reign as master of the universe by slaying you, so be it! But let it be done now!" Superman moaned as Mongul hovered over him, pounding endlessly, until the entire throne room collapsed in on the pair. Only Mongul the Merciless rose from the debris. "The Kryptonian was a fool. He knew I was the more powerful, yet he fought on! He should have known it was hopeless from the first. Still, even a flea may teach a dog with its bite. Superman wasted so much of my time that I am inclined to delay no longer. I will speak to the assembled worlds of empire-- now!"

Sitting in a chair, wearing only a makeshift loincloth and boots, Emperor Mongul addressed his subjects through video screens. "By the power of the Crown Imperial, I command you all to assemble the power of your worlds-- gather them together for my greatness! First we shall strike against the world of my birth, against the ancient Arkymandryte who made me flee my rightful throne-- then we shall bring the whole universe under my governance!"

The ruler of an imperial world snorted, "Uh, quite sorry to tell you this, old man... but that's simply impossible." Though Mongul threatened his globe, sensors had already confirmed the doomsday machine's destruction. Even when the malignant alien threatened the ruler's planet with his own power, this man was nonplussed. "You have our sincere congratulations on being the last of the emperors, Mongul... and we bid you farewell... Obviously you failed to study imperial history." You see, all the planets in the empire were mobile, "equipped with starship engines powerful enough to move worlds! And they are all running away from me! Even I cannot chase half a hundred worlds through space!"

Suddenly, Superman and Starman arrived in the conference room, aware Mongul had lost his imperial might. "There is power enough in my hands to crush you both! ...Bah! I have no time to waste on mortal fools like you! You have thwarted me for today, but the universe will soon be mine-- and you shall have a special place in it that day-- when you die calling me 'master'!" After Mongul teleported away with a "POOF," Superman dropped limply to his knees with a "Whew!" Starman slumped over a computer panel, confessing "Thank the stars he left! I don't have an erg of strength left after burning you clear of all that wreckage." As the Kryptonian prepared to stand, he observed "Mongul's a big bully at heart, Starman-- that's the kind that always turn and run."

Starman realized he'd served the purpose he was born for in destroying the doomsday device, though it meant the end of his empire. "So that means Emperor Gavyn is dead... Long live Starman?" In reply, "You've got it, Superman! I'm on my own again!" Merria reminded, "You're not really on your own, love. Not while I live." The lovers embraced as Superman smiled and flew off. "I guess the universe loses one empire and gains a very happy hero. Now that's a nice thought to keep me warm on the way home! ...And it's a l-ooooo-ng way home!"

"Whatever Happened to Starman?" was a fantastic effort by Paul Levitz and Jim Starlin.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Martian Sightings for May, 2009

Not one of our finest months, I'm afraid, with lots of satellite business I could barely be bothered to format...

Written by Grant Morrison, Peter J. Tomasi, Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann and Len Wein
Art by Doug Mahnke, Ryan Sook and others
Cover by J.G. Jones
As the FINAL CRISIS rages on, some of DC’s biggest heroes battle evil in this collection of important supporting issues! Featuring FINAL CRISIS #1: director’s cut, FINAL CRISIS: REQUIEM #1, FINAL CRISIS: RESIST #1 and FINAL CRISIS: SECRET FILES #1!
Advance-solicited; on sale June 10 • 160 pg, FC, $19.99 US

This one contains the pretty good death/funeral of Martian Manhunter one-shot, Requiem. I also liked the Secret Files spotlight on the guy that actually killed J'Onn, Libra. He sure amounted to a lot in the grand scheme, huh?

Written by Dwayne McDuffie & Alan Burnett
Art and cover by Ed Benes & Sandra Hope, Mike McKone & Andy Lanning and Joe Benitez & Victor Llamas
Cover by Ian Churchill
The adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes continue in this volume collecting JLA WEDDING SPECIAL #1 and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #13-16! As the wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary looms, the new Injustice League forms!
Advance-solicited; on sale June 3 • 144 pg, FC, $17.99 US

This took long enough. I was hot for these issues upon release, between the wedding, J'Onn J'Onzz's appearance, and Dwayne McDuffie taking over as writer. By the hardcover announcement, Manhunter was doomed, the wedding a debacle, and my interest waning. Finally, the softcover hits much too late, and I could care less. No money for you, DC!

An age-old prophecy foretold the coming of the Blackest Night, and the war of light between the emotional spectrum! The Green Lantern and (yellow) Sinestro Corps are confronted by the Red Lanterns, Agent Orange, the Blue Lanterns, the mysterious Indigo Lanterns, the (violet) Star Sapphires and, ultimately, the Black Lantern Corps.
Now, for the first time ever, all of these Power Rings are collected together in one spectacular display!
Eight plated metal rings (each a different color, signifying the insignia of the various Corps) fit into a battery-operated, light-up resin display base. The rings are protected by a removable glass dome that sits on top of the base.
This special prop replica is linked to the highly anticipated “Blackest Night” storyline!
This mixed-media, hand-painted, limited-edition piece measures approximately 8” high x 5.5” wide x 5.5” deep and is packaged in a 4-color box, along with a 4-color Certificate of Authenticity and an instruction sheet. Batteries are also included.
Manufactured to order.
* Rings are removable but are prop replicas ONLY and are not meant to be worn.
Advance-solicited; on sale October 7, 2009 Prop Replica * $250 US

Too soon?

Lantern Corps Black Symbol T-Shirt
The final two Lantern shirt designs become available this month with the new Black Lantern Symbol and Blue Lantern Symbol T-Shirts. Black Lantern representing death, features a white imprint on a black shirt while the hope symbolized by the Blue Lantern is presented on a denim blue 100% cotton, heavyweight shirt. For those looking for something warmer, we also offer the new Red Lantern Symbol Hoodie powered by the emotion of rage, screenprinted on a deep red, Hanes heavyweight, 10 oz., 90% cotton/10% poly garment. Inspired by the biggest DC Comics editorial event of the decade...Blackest Night is felt by all. AVAILABLE for sale in the US & Canada only.
Release Date: May 27, 2009

One of the cooler designs, but I'm not buying it, on any level.


TRINITY #49-52
Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Art by Mark Bagley & Art Thibert, Mike Norton & Ande Parks, Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens and Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Covers by Jim Lee & Scott Williams and Mark Bagley & John Dell
The final showdown. The world hasn't just been changed, it's been destroyed. Can the Trinity still save the day? Not if Morgaine le Fey and Krona have anything to say about it. Answers, revelations and more come fast and furious in the mother of all action finales! Guest-starring just about everyone and featuring a final cover by TRINITY interior artist Mark Bagley!
Issue #49 on sale May 6; issue #50 on sale May 13; issue #51 on sale May 20; issue #52 on sale May 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I think an alternate universal Martian Manhunter is appearing in the book these days as well, but I'm positive I don't much care.

Written by Alan Moore
Art by Dave Gibbons, Curt Swan & George Perez, Kurt Schaffenberger, Murphy Anderson and Rick Veitch & Al Williamson
Cover by Brian Bolland
Legendary writer Alan Moore’s seminal Superman issues are collected in this Deluxe Edition hardcover featuring beautiful art from Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN), Curt Swan (ACTION COMICS) and Rick Veitch (SWAMP THING)! Collects the two-part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” from SUPERMAN #423 and ACTION COMICS #583 as Superman faces his greatest foes and his final battle! Also featuring the classic story “For the Man who has Everything” from ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #11 where Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman fight the evil warlord Mongul for the fate of The Man of Steel. And in DC COMICS PRESENTS #85, Superman meets Swamp Thing, a character fans have identified with Moore for over 20 years!
Advance-solicited; on sale July 8 • 7 1/16" x 10 7/8", 128 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I know Martian Manhunter is on the new Bolland cover, but I don't remember him in the main story at all, where Mongul is the best part of the reprinted Superman Annual. I wish that Wein/Starlin/Levitz Mongul material would get collected someday, as well. Might remind people he was once a good villain, instead of just a vicious thug. Well, okay, he was a vicious thug back then too, but smarter about it.

Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by Kako
The Human Flame is a dead man. Literally just waking up after the events of FINAL CRISIS, he realizes all the heroes in the DC Universe target him as the lowlife who taped the murder of the Martian Manhunter with his cell phone. On top of that, all the villains in the world want to kill him for selling them out to Libra. He's powerless and penniless, and his only chance for survival is to run! This 6-issue miniseries examines the underbelly of the DCU and what happens when the wrong choices catch up with you. Nothing can prepare you for this chase.
On sale May 6 • 1 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I might get this in trade. I might also get a vasectomy. I think the former would be more painful, though.

Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Howard Porter
Cover by Andrew Robinson
“Deathtrap” part 4! The Titans, Vigilante and now the Teen Titans all get roped into Jericho’s insane plot. Can their combined forces halt their foe’s master plan? This riveting crossover concludes in VIGILANTE #6!
On sale May 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Tom Lyle & Scott Hanna
Cover by Andrew Robinson
The horrifying conclusion to the TITANS/TEEN TITANS/VIGILANTE “Deathtrap” crossover! Vigilante takes matters into his own hands to stop Jericho once and for all – even if it means becoming a target himself!
On sale May 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Written by Sean McKeever
Art and cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
“Deathtrap” aftermath! The team picks up the pieces following their crossover with TITANS and VIGILANTE as Ravager returns. But is she friend or foe?
On sale May 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Wow, I think I've been totally cured of any interest in the Titans family over the last few years. Anyone got anything to say in Miss Martian's favor, at least?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

DC Comics Presents #29 (January, 1981)

"Superman and The Spectre-- Together in a confrontation that will redefine mortality!"

The Man of Steel reflected on recent events, including the "malevolent alien despot called Mongul," how he "reluctantly" defeated "my ex-Justice League comrade" J'Onn J'Onzz, his enlisting the aid of Supergirl to blow through Warworld, and how he'd reprogrammed the artificial planet to destroy itself. "The concussion from Warworld's death-throes blew me halfway across this stellar system-- but Supergirl should have rejoined me by now... unless, for some reason, she can't! Of course! That's the only explanation! Kara's collision with Warworld must have knocked her unconscious-- and she just kept flying through sheer momentum!" Fearing she might keep soaring through the void forever, Superman performed super-math to determine her trajectory and give chase.

Superman flew faster than he ever had before, breaking one barrier after another, bursting the bonds of infinity and reality. Just as he was finally about to reach Kara Zor-El, the Last Son of Krypton bounced painfully off the materialized chest of the Spectre. "I have merely done my duty, Superman-- nothing more! You were traveling too fast-- too far-- toward realms no mortal eye may be permitted to behold... and thus, I was dispatched to put an end to your flight!" As for Supergirl, she was "quite unconscious, and thus blissfully unaware of that which she might otherwise see!"

Superjerk wasn't "interested in whatever it is you're trying to protect," annoyed at the Spectre's warnings. "Just who made you boss around here, anyway?" The Dolt of Steel failed to realize the Almighty was trying to turn him away, and that even his arms were too short to box with God. The Man of Whine tried repeatedly and impotently to punch the Spectre, until the embodiment of God's Wrath swallowed him whole. Things got especially surreal at this point, as Superman tried for the 1,734th time to save Krypton, as well as flailing at the Grim Reaper as it again cut down his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent. Finally, Kal-El fought the embodiment of his dark side. Only when Superman realized he'd lost control of his id monster, fueled by his overwhelming arrogance and emotionality of late, did it vanish.

The Almighty's voice then boomed, "And admitting your foolishness is the first step on the path to true wisdom, my son!" The Spectre elaborated, "I know you only meant to save your cousin-- and yet, by pursuing her, you risked the ultimate destruction of civilizations beyond numbering," by piercing the final barrier, "that golden veil beyond which no living man may pass." Besides, the Spectre was able to materialize Supergirl in his ghostly arms at will. "That was all you ever truly needed to do, my friend-- simply ask!" Having learned his lesson, Superman took the Maid of Might to cradle, while the Spectre vanished as though he were a dream.

I've both enjoyed and been frustrated by this story arc since I was first exposed to it in the late '90s. I cut my comic reading teeth on team-up books, and especially love when two heroes can relate to one another in a meaningful way-- a necessary element that's eluded the writers of revivals since the mid-'80s. However, even for a Superman hater like myself, his overblown ego in this story was a bit off. I'd really like to know why J'Onn J'Onzz was rushed off the stage after the first issue, with the added torment of only seeing him beaten up in flashback sequences from then on. I was also wounded by being teased with the prospect of Jim Starlin in his prime drawing Martian Manhunter, as evidenced by the cover of the first chapter, only to have a slapdash round robin inking job make the interiors look like amateurish crap. While I'm no fan of Romeo Tanghal's overwhelming embellishment in general, compared to the awful work of "Quickdraw," his efforts on the latter issues was a relief.

On the other hand, Mongul was an outstanding introduction to Superman's ever weak sauce rogues gallery. He was that rare foe that could both out-think and out-muscle the Man of Steel, offering him a real challenge and stakes. Len Wein hinted at a back story for the villain, and I regret it was never elaborated on after he left the character behind for later DC Comics Presents writers. Paul Levitz at least kept Mongul's m.o., but it seems the writers who reworked the villain from the ground up Post-Crisis only ever bothered to skim the one Alan Moore story for reference. I wish the jaundiced giant had made it to this third chapter, but it was clear early on that the story was about Superman's ego more than anything. Finally, Supergirl came off very well in this arc, reminding me once again of her yet untapped potential as a solo star.

"Where No Superman Has Gone Before" was by Len Wein, Jim Starlin & Romeo Tanghal. Follow the link to read about this issue's back-up feature, "Whatever Happened To Dr. Mid-Nite?"

Friday, March 13, 2009

DC Comics Presents #28 (December, 1980)

"Superman and Supergirl-- Together in an adventure that spans the universe! They soar through the infinite vastness of space as if it were their natural element-- and perhaps in a way it is!" The cousins and survivors of doomed Krypton raced to stop Mongul from orphaning others by destroying their planets, should he find and utilize the mobile Warworld! "From what you've told me, that space-skunk plans ahead... he sends you... to obtain a certain Crystal Key... J'Onn put up a heroic battle to save the key-- but in the end, he was simply no match for you... just as you proved to be no match for Mongul! Even after you'd rescued your three friends, Mongul took advantage of your combat fatigue to zap you one-- then he and the Crystal Key simply... disappeared!"

So wait, Martian Manhunter was no match for Superman, but Kal-El used their fight as an excuse for getting owned by Mongul? Aaaand, it wasn't J'Onn but the "Man of Steel" who saved Lois, Jimmy and Steve? No wonder Superman liked to keep his cousin Kara sheltered as his "secret weapon" all those years-- helped her remain gullible before his lies!

"And that's why I came looking for you, Kara-- after I returned Lois and the others to Earth! We've got to find Mongul and the key-- before he can unleash Warworld!" Superman explained what Warworld was, until reaching an empty area of space where "according to J'Onn, this is where it was hidden!" Mongul had already used the Crystal Key to make off with Warworld, though Supergirl suggested following a stream of sub-atomic particles emitted from its nuclear engines to pick up the trail.

Superman continued to expound on how impressive and dangerous Warworld was, until the pair came into range for their telescopic vision to actually view the artificial satellite. Their eyes were filled by impressive sights, not the least of which being a six panel pullback to reveal one missile the size of a large city. They also spied Mongul just outside the Control Room, over a single "somewhat newer" grave among countless others, as he crossed the threshold to take command of his outrageous super weapon.

An alarm klaxon warned Mongul of the approaching heroes, even across a great expanse of space. The merciless alien established psychic rapport with Warworld's computer core through a headpiece, located the Super-cousins, and determined "They merely provide me the perfect guinea pigs with which to test Warworld's capabilities! It should prove a most interesting test indeed! This time everything has been taken into account! This time I must not fail! I've already known the bitter taste of failure once in my life-- and once was more than sufficient!" Mongul then launched into a one page origin sequence, the closest he ever came to a proper back story, until "Bah! Enough pointless reminiscing! Let the exercise begin!"

Superman decided to send Kara away and test his invulnerability against the first missile that came at him. "I've faced a lot of weapons in my time-- from Brainiac's Shrink Ray to Luthor's seemingly endless arsenal-- but comparing them to Warworld is like comparing the first club to the atom bomb! What if I'm finally in over my head this time?" The missile approached over another six panels, ending with the tip nearly as large as Superman himself while still at a distance. The Man of Steel ran away at the last second, while the explosion disintegrated small planetoids across countless miles, and nearly took Kal-El with them! Dazed, Superman asserted to a concerned Kara Zor-El "We could never survive a collision with two of those-- Oh... My... God."

The super-cousins were nearly killed by a pair of missiles before escaping. "We can't let our guard down, even for an instant-- or it'll be the death of us both! The death of us... Of course-- that's it! ...Kara, I think I know how to defeat Warworld-- but we'll have to face everything that satellite can throw at us to prove it! Are you game?" Supergirl replied, "Are you kidding? Who wants to live forever anyway?"

As Superman and Supergirl sped toward Warworld, Mongul exclaimed, "The incorrigible cretins! They barely survived a confrontation with the least of Warworld's weaponry-- and yet they persist in their suicidal attack! Very well then! If it's a war they want... then that's precisely what they shall have!" Supergirl was instructed to evade the macro-laser beams to the best of her ability, and remote detonate missiles with her heat vision, while both she and Superman continued to force Mongul to unleash as much of Warworld's power as possible. "Do you remember that mountain of graves we noticed on Warworld? That's what gave me the answer! The Warzoons weren't buried in a mass grave as there'd be if the race was destroyed by some great illness!" The Warzoons died one at a time, each burying the last up until the Largas found and committed their final member to the earth. The demands of the Control Helmet in the Command Console burned every one out in turn!

Mongul fell victim to the same psychic energy-drain, rising up and out of his seat before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. Though freed from the life-sapping helm, Mongul's jaundiced brow soon slammed into the floor with the rest of his massive form. Supergirl could see Mongul's unconscious body from space, and the direct attacks had ceased, but automatic defenses still rose up to prevent the super-cousins from reaching Warworld itself. While Superman continued to draw fire, Kara flew a galaxy distant, then fired herself at Warworld like a supra-lightspeed bullet. The Girl of Steel rocketed straight through Warworld, punching a hole in its computer core, though the damage was being repaired even as Superman followed Kara's pathway.

"Before Warworld can turn its inner defenses against me, I've got to reprogram the computers-- then I'd better grab the unconscious Mongul and get out of here-- fast! What--?!? The Control Room is deserted! Mongul isn't here! And I can't spare the time to search for him!" You see, the Last Son of Krypton had "redirected the satellite's defense-systems on itself!" Warworld self-destructed so thoroughly, no trace could be found of its existence. "The universe has been saved-- at least from this menace! Perhaps wherever they lie, the Largas will rest easier now... and perhaps J'Onn J'Onzz will someday forgive me! And that leaves me with just one small problem... What in blazes has happened to Supergirl?"

"Warworld!" was by Len Wein, Jim Starlin & Romeo Tanghal Follow the link to read about this issue's back-up feature, "Whatever Happened To Johnny Thunder?"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Idol-Polls of Diabolu: Love Interests

Comic book blogs, especially Google DC Universe comic book blogs, are pretty incestuous. It should come as no surprise when you look at a sidebar, see little character icons, and ask yourself, "Hey, doesn't Rob do that?" Or maybe you'll see a familiar button scheme, and go "that's Frank's design!" Not when it's too good an idea not to swipe, it isn't! So if you look at this poll results post with accompanying pie chart and think of Dixon's Flash blog Crimson Lightning, and its Quick Quiz, remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Also, I don't recall whose poll started first, but I actually didn't rip off his Love Interest topic. Oh, and if you happen to agree that Dixon's charts look way better, remember mine came free from the National Center for Education Statistics, along with this tangy government cheese...

As part of the Idol-Head's Valentine's celebration, I posted Mars Needs Women! There I covered a bunch of J'Onn J'Onzz's past *potential* lady loves, or in the case of Her-Who-Must-Be-Served, "potential" "lady" "loves." This was followed by the poll, where I exempted lightweights like Vixen and Claire Jeffers, as well as what seemed the obvious landslide victor if included, J'Onn's deceased wife M'yri'ah.

Which of the following Martian Manhunter love interests do you feel had the most story potential?

Apparently not Bel Juz, one of the nastier schemers in the Vile Menagerie. Then again, maybe the problem isn't the character, but the contestable application of the term "love interest?" I'll have to run a femme fateles poll sometime to see if she performs any better.

No one thought Kishana Lewis did either, even after I temporarily reposted, partially rewrote, and generally expanded synopsis for her six appearances in JLA: Scary Monsters. I even offered posts about her ancestor Abel Carmody, his house, and a profile of Kishana Lewis herself I'd put off writing for a half decade. Jeez, but her creator Chris Claremont was long-winded. I like the character okay, but as a love interest, not so much.

Most folks preferred Scorch, even though her relationship to J'Onn was very similar to Kishana's. Then again, a lot of folks read the JLA arc "Trial By Fire," and comparatively few "Scary Monsters." Like Mongul, Scorch spent most of her career as a Superman villain, but her ties to Martian Manhunter are actually much stronger. Truth to tell, I don't care much for Scorch, as fire-based foes are a bit too on-the-nose for my taste. Still, she's got that classic Coop-type devil girl design, and she's one of the few characters with an extended association with J'Onn in recent years.

Speaking of which, the strong second place showing of Princess Cha'rissa makes me wonder if a lot of youse guys favor post-1997 stories. I've mostly avoided Morrison/Waid/Kelly JLA and Ostrander Martian Manhunter series coverage, as they're well represented online, and I dislike a lot of it. Am I at odds with many/most of you, and if so, should I give this latter-day material more nods, or is the whole point in coming here to get exposure to stuff you haven't seen? Anyway, aside from the sordid nature of the relationship, Cha'rissa was among the least objectionable bits of the Manhunter solo ongoing for myself.

Patrolwoman Diane Meade and Hunter Commander J'en tied for third, which pleases me, as they represent the old school. Well, if you extend it to 1984, anyway. I dig both of these characters, but personally voted for J'en, as I long for more stories from J'Onn's time on Mars II. Obviously.

Rounding out the poll were single votes for Marie Fouchere (fan of international playboy days/natural blonds?) and Her-Who-Must-Be-Served (Futanari fan?) I hope folks had fun with the poll, and will explain their own feelings on the matter in the comments section...