Tuesday, June 30, 2009

JLA #119 (Late Nov. 2005)

The JLA appeared from nowhere to pile on Despero, but Black Canery was the first of several to join the Alien Atlas in putting Superman in a choke hold, or the Dark Knight in slugging Hal Jordan. All but Catwoman, Hawkman, and Superman were possessed, with the latter wavering. A reconstructed Red Tornado came to the rescue, followed by a Zatanna whose resolve in the necessity of her actions had been girded by Wonder Woman after a brief spell on Paradise Island. The League was freed and Despero frozen in place by Zee's power.

The Manhunter asked, “How should we proceed?”
“I’ll get John Stewart. We’ll take Despero to Oa for containment.”
“I think J’Onn meant in terms of the League.”
“The League? I don’t know about you, Superman, but from what I’ve seen...?”
Green Lantern critiqued, “...there is no League. Or if there is... this isn’t it.”
Manhunter unsurprisingly protested, “That was Despero’s influence, Hal.”
“Despero took advantage of the situation, but the damage was done a long time ago. Now Batman’s quit. Wonder Woman’s not coming back. Arthur, Ollie, Dinah, Red Tornado and I haven’t been members in years. And Carter works with the J.S.A. As of now, the League is you, John Stewart, Wally, and Superman.”

The notation prompted the Flash to quit on the spot, thinking in light of all this trouble and the recent birth of his twins, he needed time away. Manhunter was clearly troubled, but Superman asserted, “You’ve managed to rebuild the team more than once, J’Onn. And when you do, I’ll be there. Until then, if you need me...”
“It’s never a matter of ‘if,’ my friends... it’s always ‘when.’”

J’Onn had been in this place before-- of seeking out heroes without enough experience or power enough to take on world class threats without casualty... because the supposed “Big Guns” were too hung up on their own problems to serve the greater good. Perhaps that was why he invisibly snuck back into the Batcave...

“You might as well show yourself, J’Onn. I can hear your breathing.”
“I’m sorry to intrude... but I had to know the truth. This wasn’t just about you, was it? This was about her.”
You see, Catowoman had briefly been a member of the Secret Society, suddenly becoming an ally and more to the Dark Knight in the years that followed...
“I thought she’d changed, but... maybe it wasn’t her choice.”
Catwoman would later learn from Zatanna that in fact, no, it wasn’t entirely her decision, though mostly so.

Manhunter returned to the Watchtower, where he held a teleconference with Green Lantern John Stewart while scrutinizing monitors displaying League candidates. Zauriel, Nightwing, Vixen, Fire, Gypsy, Metamorpho, Huntress, Firestorm, Booster Gold, Hawkgirl, and Animal Man were all up, clearly showing J’Onn unwilling to compromise the League because of his own aversions. The list of options seemed to be arrived at in a past time, however, as J’Onn had to refile Blue Beetle as “deceased.”
“Ted should be here. Like a fool, I didn’t take his warnings seriously, and now... we’re being attacked by super-powered centurions... our longtime adversaries have been organized into an army... an intergalactic war has broken out... and the world of magic has been corrupted... Ted believed there was a conspiracy at work. Maybe he was right. Maybe none of this is coincidence. But who could have been powerful enough to have orchestrated--?”

At that moment, a figure arrived in the teleportation tubes the computers registered as, “Superman... I’m glad you’re here. We need to reorganize... I think there’s a possibility everything we’re facing is connected--“
“I know.”

Manhunter turned, “Wait... you’re...” J’Onzz raised his hands up in fear as energy erupted around him-- the Watchtower exploding entirely. The Infinite Crisis had begun...

"Crisis of Conscience, Conclusion" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

2003 Bill Willingham Convention Piece

Click To Enlarge

Bill Willingham got his start on The Elementals, and by 1987 was working at DC on books like Justice League Annual #1 (1987) He's currently writing Justice Society of America, as well as his popular Fables series.

Willingham did nice work on the first couple of JLI annuals, but didn't get to handle J'Onn J'Onzz during the "Bwah-hah-hah" years, so this is a look at what could have been. As an aside, I met Willingham in the mid-90s at a con, and we had a pleasant conversation about his recent work on the Huntress and Green Lantern. Good guy. His pencils here were embellished by fan inker Roland Reedy.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Martian Maze (1997)

I've been having fun with the mixed-up printing order in this coloring book, but I have to point out there is something of a linear story intended. While I was having scheduling issues last week, the book's writer, Richie Narvaez, left the following comment:

I actually wrote that book and may have some copies still. The gist is that the Justice League, including MM, upgrades their powers using "fractal armor." In this book, they fight Despero and Darkseid. Many hours of coloring fun ensue. There are also puzzle books and a series of children's books. The stories all tie in to each other. That's all I can remember for now.

To back him up, here's the text from this activity on page 21:

Help the Total Justice team. Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter have to save Steel and stop Darkseid. Show them the way through the Martian maze.

The team of Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Steel, as I'd guessed, landed on Mars/Mars II. Unseen here, Steel used an ocular sensor to detect the lord of Apokolips, then burrowed into the soil. Steel found his foe, but was caught at the waist by Darkseid's fractal pincer and knocked out. That's why GL and MM had to navigate the above maze, then burst in on Darkseid, who blasted Manhunter with eyebeams. So simple in hindsight, no?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

JLA #117-118 (Oct.-Early Nov. 2005)

Despero used his mind-controlling third eye to force Manhunter into his natural Martian form, then drew blood when he raked J’Onn’s chest with his claws. J’Onzz knew he was outmatched, and fled the Watchtower under his own power. As I long suspected, Despero too possessed some degree of flight, and trailed the Manhunter to terra firma.

Manhunter was aflame from the friction of reentry, plaintively casting out telepathically, “Are you there...? Can you hear me? I need assistance. He is coming.” J’Onzz struck ground in San Diego with terrific impact. Despero palmed the back of J’Onn’s head and lifted him off the ground. “Why cry for help when you know I’m the only one who can hear you? Even if I weren’t dampening your telepathy, there is no one to answer the call. The League is distracted. Too busy betraying one another and protecting their own to worry about the likes of you.” Despero dug his talons into the flesh of J’Onn’s face, then locked J’Onn’s arm within the vice grip of his other hand. “Face it J’Onn... there is no one left to save you. In response, a metal rod from a construction yard speared Despero’s right shoulder. Aquaman claimed, "That’s funny Despero... I was about to say the same to you."

Despero rent Aquaman’s flesh, but the Sea King hurled him through the bow of a boat into the bay, commanding “Make. Him. Bleed.” Despero was beset by sharks, their visage and ferocity a seeming match for his own. In his element, Aquaman went for Despero’s throat, and slammed the fiend into the midst of Sub Diego. Aquaman remained focused, despite mental communication with the extant Martian Manhunter.
“J’Onn... Where’s the rest of the League?”
“Out of range. I was barely able to contact you. Remember... Despero is a telepath. If he can’t subdue you physically... he will do everything in his power to take over your mind.”
“Let him try.”

As Despero’s third eye energy blast scythed the water, Aquaman pulled his fist back for a blow that sent the destroyer back up to the surface.

The Sea King rejoined the Manhunter. “You all right?”
“I will be, once we’ve disabled Despero.”
“Just tell me how.”
“We have to shut his mind down. That’s why I came to find you. Together, our combined psionic abilities might be enough to overpower him.”
The Destroyer of Worlds challenged, “Let’s find out, shall we?”
Our pair of heroes launched their stratagem, while the Leaguers who had been “distracted” by the Secret Society of Super-Villains returned home to find the Watchtower wrecked.

J’Onn J’Onzz had seen a lot of combat in the panel gutters, which might explain why, when he and Arthur next appeared in the Batcave, they were in thrall to Despero. “I have my king... I have my rook... and now... I have my knight. Let the game begin.”

Catwoman’s claws revealed a “third eye” beneath the cowl of the suddenly adversarial Caped Crusader. “Batman is under my influence. Just like the others. Their conflicting emotions have left their minds fractured and vulnerable. Like yours, Selina Kyle. You’re fighting on the wrong side.”

“Gee, a chance to team up with an alien dictator? As tempting as that sounds-- I think I’ll pass.”
Selina managed to signal the League via the Batcomputer. Meanwhile, “I’m going to have Batman do things to you... that he never knew he was capable of. “

"Crisis of Conscience, Parts Three & Four" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Fear To Tread (1997)

Page 70: Presumably, Steel had gone off alone after Darkseid on Mars, leaving the Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner shocked/concerned/etc.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2008 "The League: Past & Present" by Marcio Takara

Click To Enlarge

Art by Marcio Takara. The artist is currently working on BOOM! Studios take on Disney/Pixar's The Invincibles. Pictured (right to left) J'Onn J'Onzz, Batman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond,) Superman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, a particularly nice Aquaman, the Flash, and the Atom (Ray Palmer.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

JLA #115-116 (8-9/2005)

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
Belle Reve Prison.
Frenchwoman Deborah Camille Darnell has lain here in a coma since her short stint as Star Sapphire ended with the Secret Society’s mindwipes. Red eyes appeared in the darkness of her room, a blue-caped figure commanding her, “Wake up.” Her costume and consciousness psychically restored, the villainess had her own demand. “You!?! Tell me! Who did this to us?”

Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Red Tornado was nearly destroyed by animated plant life.

Opal City, Maryland. Ralph Dibney was pulled from his home before it collapsed in on him.

Gotham City. An invisible Martian inadvertently comes between Batman and a flirtatious Catwoman, in the literal sense. After apologizing, J’Onn explained, “We need to talk.”

Bodies of Justice League members that had arrived on scene to the aforementioned hot spots fell limply from the sky to the trio’s feet. Sapphire, Felix Fault, the Wizard, the Floronic Man, Chronos, and Matter Master had arrived to continue their reunion tour, with a vengeance! Batman shielded a Manhunter set on telepathically reviving his fellows while Catwoman wielded a convenient flamethrower against the Secret Society of Super-Villains. J’Onzz accomplished his task, but between Zatanna’s revelations and attacks from the Society’s warlocks against him and his, the Manhunter proclaimed, “There will be no more magic today,” eyes ablaze. “One last trick,” Felix Faust assured. “Now you see us... now you don’t.” The Society vanished without even a psychic trace. Green Arrow bemoaned the effect of even more magic there, but Manhunter wasn’t so sure.

Batman took off for the Batcave with an injured Catwoman, and was none too pleased when he was followed by a Martian and League set on making things right for the betrayal against the Darknight Detective. Batman was unforgiving, going so far as to slug Hawkman for attempting to vindicate their actions. Clearly failing here, the Leaguers suddenly remembered the threat posed by a team of superhuman criminals who knew their secret identities. “You should all go home to your loved ones. We’ll regroup later at the----Watchtower.” Manhunter’s voice had trailed off, aware of the horror of Red Tornado lying in pieces before him.

Returning to the moon, Manhunter found a terrible, corrupting presence waiting in the Monitor Womb. “J’Onn. I’m so glad you’re here. Someone has given the Secret Society their memories back. I wonder who that could’ve been...”

“I know what you’re thinking. How could the Justice League----the people trusted more than anyone in the world----how could they have altered someone’s mind? Even I’m disappointed. After all these years of trying to destroy the League... the League will end up destroying itself. And this time, you won’t be around to fix it.”

“You underestimate me, Despero. You underestimate the League... You have from the very beginning.”

“...You violated my mind the same way Zatanna did Dr. Light’s.”

“I didn’t alter your mind. I allowed you to see what you wanted to see.”

“No need to be defensive, J’Onn... Don’t bother trying to get inside my head. Or contacting the League telepathically. I’m ready for you this time, J’Onn. And I’ve made sure your friends are otherwise engaged. So, now... it’s just you and me.”

"Crisis of Conscience, Part Two" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reabsorb The Absorbascon

Over a year ago, we took a look at The Absorbascon blog, and more specifically, its author Scipio's many posts related to the Martian Manhunter. Scipio has been all over Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter Vol. 2, collecting the last solo stories of the Silver Age, since its release in May. Based on the sheer quantity of material relating to the Alien Atlas since our last visit, I figured it was about time for another link post here at the Idol-Head to direct ya'll.

Do NOT read Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter Vol. 2!
Vol. 2, and remember, you were warned!

Compassion is a human emotion, referencing House of Mystery #161.

Zook Gets No Love, which is true. The stinkin' Human Flame, who appeared in only one story for nearly fifty years, has a Wikipedia page. Zook, co-star of dozens on Silver Age tales, does not.

The Human Flame has a Mike Miller LE custom Heroclix figure. Zook does not. Instead, we have just Haikuesday with Zook.

The Story of the Human Flame, an hilarious, multi-part over-analysis of Detective Comics #274. This is so great, I've refused to do my own write-up to date.

"You think I'm scared of you?" A look at the Human Flame in Final Crisis: Run! #1.

The Villainous Tarot, a collection of a character's villains who assume specific roles that help secure the hero's place in the comic book pantheon. Basically, the opposite of Scipio's Theory of Dynastic Centerpiece. I drafted my own Tarot here, as well as a Martian Manhunter Dynasty.

Martian Manhunter Demostrates Some Heroclix Powers for You

Where in the World is the Martian Manhunter? Scipio had his conclusions about the location of J'onn's Silver Age base of operations, while I had mine.

Apex City: The Martian Manhunter Heroclix Map

The Justice League of Arcana, placing Dr. Occult in Manhunter's boots.

The Martian Manhunter is a Skrull.

The Real Reason J'onn J'onzz will Die, illustrated with flow charts.

Harvey "Two-Face" Dent argues both sides in the trial for the life of the Martian Manhunter:
The Case for Mr. Jones
The Case Against Mr. Jones

Meteorology in Apex City, a.k.a. Middletown, which suffered from a terrific amount of phenomena in the 1950s. Continued in Weather for J'onn's Funeral Services.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Dark Backside (1997)

Page 45: Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner plow through something earthy to catch Darkseid from behind, as the Lord of Apokolips surveys a treasure chest in some sort of cave/underground temple. I expect the duo first landed from above, possibly as part of a team featuring Steel. This may eventually involve fire, or perhaps J'Onn getting blasted with eyebeams.

It's all starting to come together now, isn't it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

JLA #115 (8/05)



A long time ago, my family--my entire race--was wiped out by a psychokinetic plague. I keep coming back here--searching for some trace, some remnant of my past.”

J’Onn J’Onzz stopped walking the barren red wasteland, knelt down, and scooped up a handful of sand. Rising to his feet, he allowed the granules to slip through his fingers. “But Mars doesn’t feel like home anymore. My home is somewhere else now.”

At the JLA Watchtower, Hawkman and Green Arrow were ready to come to blows. Since the death of Sue Dibney, an increasing number of people were learning of abuses carried out by the Satellite Era league, specifically as it stood from the induction of the sorceress Zatanna until that of the young and naive Firestorm. When a villain knew too much, crossed a certain line, this group would vote on performing magical alterations of personality, or worse, virtual lobotomies and forced comas. Catwoman and Flash villain the Top became “heroes” for a time due to this process. Dr. Light, on the other hand, was turned from a brilliant threat to a bungling idiot. Now, this fact had come back to Light, and by extension members of the now more far reaching Society of evil-doers. Other heroes, like the third generation Flash and Green Lantern, were also becoming accomplices after the fact as they learned the truth about their forebears. The Batman had discovered the conspiracy as it was performed on Dr. Light, and he too fell victim to a “mindwipe” of his knowledge. Wally West, after much consideration, could no longer accept that. He called most of those complicit in this string of human rights violations, and declared “...if you’re not going to tell Batman... I am.”

From the doorway of the meeting room, a Martian queried “Tell Batman what?” Hawkman tersely replied, “Nothing.” Too late, as the Manhunter suspected, “It doesn’t sound like nothing.” Flash relented, “Read our minds, J’Onn. You tell us.” His eyes pinpricks through the shadow cast by his brow, J’Onzz paused, then grimaced. “I can’t. Why?”

From out of nowhere, Hal Jordan’s voice answered, “Magic.” This Green Lantern hadn’t been a member of the Justice League since the Parallax entity had possessed him, launching him on a mass killing spree. At one point, Jordan as Parallax nearly allowed entropy to destroy the known universe as part of his plan to “fix” everything. Now free from the parasite’s influence, Green Lantern had not only returned to his original position against the mindwipes, but reconsidered his part in the conspiracy to keep the practice secret regardless.

For those keeping score, the original vote had Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Black Canary against; Zatanna, Hawkman, and the Atom for; with Flash Barry Allen breaking the tie in favor. Elongated Man abstained to care for his wife, while latecomer Batman clearly objected with batarang in hand. Retroactive continuity clouds matters a bit, as Wonder Woman would have been involved as a member at the time, but her 1987 “reboot” had the character arrive in “Man’s World” well after the stories took place. Further, in actual publishing history, J’Onn J’Onzz had quit the League (and pretty much all comics appearances) nearly a hundred issues before these events took place, but had “always” been a member Post-Crisis. How to handle the inconsistency? Bless their hearts, Zatanna’s magic kept the Manhunter in the dark and far from blame. She was an established member alongside J’Onn right through to the end of that series. J’Onzz rarely had contact with conspiracy Leaguers for another decade, and the reformed “JLA” consisted of newer or mostly unrelated teammates. High five for all the fans of characters kept clear of this moral boondoggle!

Back to the story, an increasingly agitated Manhunter demanded, “What did you have to do?” Hal told J’Onn everything, including the mass mindwipe of a whole incarnation of the Secret Society of Super-Villains who had discovered the heroes’ secret identities. Zatanna, head hung low, confessed, “But it didn’t end there. Batman tried to stop us...”
“So you did it to him, too. And to me?”
“We knew you’d never read our minds without our consent--“
Hawkman interrupted, “But we couldn’t risk your picking up the stray thoughts of some of our weaker minds...”
“So you hid the memories from me.”
“I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“And we didn’t want you undoing what we did.”
“I would never alter another person’s mind. There is no greater violation--“
Hawkman offered justification without apology, while Flash noted Batman’s increasing alienation. “We have to tell him before--“
Manhunter grimly asserted, “He knows.”
Canary found her voice to ask, “J’Onn, what are you going to do?”
“Fix it.”

"Crisis of Conscience, Part One" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Landing (1997)

Page 39: Martian Manhunter, his weak sauce fractal tech armor, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, and Steel at an unidentified location. Based on the two moons floating the sky though, I'm going to guess Mars II, even if it was a dozen years out of continuity by that point.

Friday, June 19, 2009

DC Challenge #8 (6/1986)

Note: In the absence of Martian Manhunter-related material in DC Challenge #7, it was not covered on this blog. You can read the full length synopsis here, or a streamlined version highlighting Detroit-Era JLA members here.

Finally, after eight issues, Batman said plain exactly what the heck had been going on. "Earth and the planet Rann are under attack by mystical forces... demons inhabiting long-dead human beings, and creatures risen out of ancient mythology. At the same time, Earth is being invaded by aliens from some cosmic organization called the Greater Galaxies... I found three 8-figure numbers scrawled on a wall at a power plant... I ran these numbers through my computer here in the Batcave... and got a result that seemed to spell a formula to bring about the end of the world. The numbers, decoded, are electro-magnetic vibrational frequencies... [if] put into operation... the resulting wave-front could crack the Earth like an eggshell." The Dark Knight Detective knew demons were involved, and headed in his Batplane for their nearest concentration point, Metropolis...

Unbeknownst to the Dark Knight, his nemesis the Joker had helped orchestrate attacks on Earth's heroes with the Greater Galaxies organization. The Clown Prince of Crime worked under the turbaned alien Kaz with the promise of kingship over Earth. Kaz explained the situation as follows:
"Project X involves the disruption of physical reality... the merging of this reality-plane with that of the netherworld. Bork and his fellow renegades of the Black Council have discovered a weakening of the cosmic fabric here in this locus... on the world you call Earth. A similar, parallel weakening is taking place on the planet Rann, of the star-system Alpha Centauri.

Bork has developed a device known as the Probability Disruptor, which feeds on red sun radiation, relayed to this world from a base on Earth's satellite, Luna. The Disruptor is destroying the protective barrier between realities at this locus. The result is an increase in the manifestation of demons on Earth... manifestations that occur normally at this locus, at periodic intervals related to phases of the moon. Bork's disruptor, however, has increased the number of manifestations a thousandfold.

Project X is upsetting the natural cosmic balance... a balance we of Molanto have worked long and hard to maintain. To save reality, Molanto, in conjunction with the Greater Galaxies organization, have invaded Earth. We have done this for the simple reason of expedience. Bork must be found. Project X must be halted. The fastest, simplest way to accomplish this is through the conquest of Earth."

Earth's super-heroes were likely to interfere, so Kaz engaged the Joker to assist in distracting them. The Joker stated, "Capturing all the heroes who'd been born off world, like Superman and J'onn J'onzz, among others-- and threatening to execute them as traitors to the Greater Galaxies-- that was my lovely idea. See, it's what we call a red herring. Now all the other heroes will be wondering what the alien heroes have to do with the alien invaders. It'll drive 'em nuts, giving us time to strike! Which brings me, oddly enough, to my final plan... I need three million tons of rubber cement, Kaz..." The Joker wanted to gum up the works in Washington. D.C., but Kaz was done with this insanity, and had the Joker locked away.

Meanwhile, Space Cabby and his passenger had made their way to Earth's moon with a message from Alanna and Sardath of Rann. The cab was struck by an energy blast, and skipped roughly across the lunar surface. Mongul then lifted the downed space cab over his head and demanded, "You will explain who sent you, human, and how you discovered the rebuilt relay station. Answer quickly... or you risk the wrath of Mongul, Master of Worlds!"

The narrator noted that without air to carry sound, it was understandable Mongul wouldn't hear a Boom Tube opening behind him. Mongul shouted, "Lies, lies! You say you come from Rann with a message for Earth-- do you take Mongul for a fool?" From behind, Metron argued, "Only a fool would disbelieve an obvious truth, Mongul. Ergo, you are a fool." The merciless former monarch asked, "Who are you?" His reply came in two forms; physically being knocked over the side of a ledge, and verbally: "I am Lightray of the New Gods, Mongul. Hello... good-bye!" A third member of the New Genesian party, Orion, caught the falling space cab with the aid of his astro-harness. Metron noted that his calculations had led the heroes to this relay station, which functioned similarly to a boom tube and allowed New Gods passage through the disrupted Plane of Holes. The group had arrived too late, however, as Earth was doomed to be shaken apart by the already broadcast destruction frequency.

"If This Is Love, Why Do My Teeth Hurt" was by Gerry Conway, Rick Hoberg, Dick Giordano and Arnie Starr. This synopsis has been edited for Martian Manhunter fans. The unabridged version is available here.

Return to DC Challenge #5 (2/1986)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Blasted by Darkseid (1997)

It's been 32 pages since the Manhunter from Mars valiantly attempted to hose down a flame. It's been twenty pages since that didn't pan out. Seven pages passed since J'Onn postured for Oracle with Steel and Green Lantern. Now, finally, the Alien Atlas is going to show what a Martian Miracle Man can do by... getting shot with the Omega Effect by Darkside? Yay? Completely understandable reaction from the Lord of Apokolips though, seeing as he's holding the remains of the largest Oreo ever made in his hand, and J'Onn's always up for a Choco binge!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2005 John Watson VS Trading Card Original Painted Art

I'm playing catch-up on my blog and others' since my computer went down over the weekend. Rob at The Aquaman Shrine posted a neat image of the Sea King fighting the Ocean Master by John Watson, and one inspired Google search later, I found the above Martian Manhunter piece. This was for the Upper Deck VS collectible card game, and features a nice homage to Darwyn Cooke's natural form Martian splash page from the previous year's DC: The New Frontier #2 (2004) Here's what Watson had to say:

A strong, heroic looking image. I've always thought the Martian Manhunter was a nice green.

I opted for a basic design as cards are small and often the images on them don't stand out.

For more, visit The Watson Website!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Martian Sightings for August, 2009

Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Mike Mignola and Carlos Garzon
Cover by Mike Mignola
Don’t miss this new printing of the classic 1988 miniseries from Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola! COSMIC ODYSSEY assembles Superman, Batman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Martian Manhunter, Starfire, The Demon and others — at the behest of Darkseid!
Advance-solicited; on sale September 2 • 200 pg, FC, $19.99 US

The only classic Martian Manhunter appearance this month, but it's a great one from 1988. Still a favorite of mine, even if the overall story was only so-so. J'Onn's interactions with Green Lantern John Stewart are priceless, and I really wish their relationship had been expanded afterward.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Cliff Chiang, Amanda Conner and André Coehlo
Cover by Cliff Chiang
Green Arrow and Black Canary are ready to exchange vows — but can they make it down the aisle alive? This new trade paperback collects the GA/BC WEDDING SPECIAL and the first five issues of the happy couple's monthly series and guest-stars the Justice League of America.
Advance-solicited; on sale September 16 • 176 pg, FC, $17.99 US

Conehead cameo filled with meh.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Mauro Cacioli
Sketch variant cover by Ivan Reis
The event of the summer continues! The dead rise across the DC Universe, bringing terror and darkness with them. What are the Black Lanterns? What do they want? Will Earth's greatest heroes survive long enough to find out – or will they join the Black Lantern Corps?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Mauro Cascioli). For every 200 copies of the Standard Edition, retailers may order one copy of the Sketch Variant Edition (with a cover by Ivan Reis). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale August 12 • 2 of 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Variant cover by Francis Manapul
BLACKEST NIGHT continues! The Black Lanterns descend on all the Corps throughout the universe! Sinestro's assault on the Star Sapphires’ homeworld of Zamaron is interrupted by another Sinestro Corps – one made up of those who died during the Sinestro Corps War! And while the War of Light flickers, deep in the darkness of space, John Stewart comes face-to-face with his deceased wife – and longtime Green Lantern – Katma Tui.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Francis Manapul). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale August 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The Human Flame
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by KAKO
In this issue, someone dies! Actually, in this issue, tons of people die! If you thought RUN! was full of trashy humor and unnecessary violence before this issue – you ain’t seen nothing yet! We cause more property damage and hideous disfigurement in the first half of this issue than any other comic you’ll read this year (besides RUN! #5 and #6, because those are pretty ridiculous too). Join in the fun!
On sale August 5 • 4 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Miss Martian
Written by Bryan Q. Miller; co-feature written by Sean McKeever
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson; co-feature art by Yildiray Cinar & Júlio Ferreira
Cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
The assault against the Teen Titans continues this issue as the team struggles to even the odds. Will they be defeated by a foe with superior leadership?
And in the co-feature, Ravager is attacked in her arctic hideaway. Who wants her dead? That’s what she wants to know…
On sale August 26 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

WEDNESDAY COMICS, DC’s spectacular 12-issue weekly series, continues to offer a comics experience unlike any other this August. In its second month, don’t miss the action in these continuing features:
• THE METAL MEN encounter a deadly guest-villain in a story written by Dan DiDio with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.
• THE FLASH battles Gorilla Grodd and tries to date Iris West in a story written by Karl Kerschl (TEEN TITANS YEAR ONE, THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE) and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl.
• SUPERGIRL attempts to deal with Streaky and Krypto gone bad in a story written by Jimmy Palmiotti (JONAH HEX) with art by Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL).
• GREEN LANTERN must help a fellow test pilot whose space mission has transformed him into a monster in a story written by Kurt Busiek (TRINITY, ASTRO CITY) with art by Joe Quiñones (TEEN TITANS GO!).
• SUPERMAN questions his heroic mission while on a trip to Smallville in a story written by John Arcudi (The Mask) with art by Lee Bermejo (JOKER).
• ADAM STRANGE takes a truly twisted journey into space in a story by writer/artist Paul Pope (BATMAN: YEAR 100).
• WONDER WOMAN is lost in a dream world in search of her lost tiara, bracelets and magic lasso in a story written and illustrated by Ben Caldwell (Dare Detectives).
• THE TEEN TITANS are attacked by Trident in a story written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway.

• BATMAN, WEDNESDAY COMICS’ weekly cover feature, by the Eisner Award-winning 100 BULLETS team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso.
• METAMORPHO, written by New York Times best-selling writer Neil Gaiman with art by Eisner Award-winner Michael Allred (Madman).
• THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN, written by Walter Simonson (Thor, MANHUNTER) with art by famed DC cover artist Brian Stelfreeze.
• DEADMAN, written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck, art by Dave Bullock.
• KAMANDI, written by Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN, GREEN LANTERN CORPS) with art by Ryan Sook (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL).
• HAWKMAN, written and illustrated by Kyle Baker (PLASTIC MAN, Special Forces).
• SGT. ROCK, written by Adam Kubert (SUPERMAN: LAST SON), ilustrated by legendary comics artist Joe Kubert.
WEDNESDAY COMICS will arrive in stores folded twice to 7” x 10”.
Issue #5 on sale August 5; Issue #6 on sale August 12; Issue #7 on sale August 19; Issue #8 on sale August 26 5-8 of 12 • 7” x 10”, 16 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Mission Team (1997)

Page 29 continues to bring the confusion. The fourth page had J'Onn fighting a fire while the sixteenth page had him overwhelmed as a troubled Green Lantern Kyle Rayner sat safely in a power ring bubble. It could be argued Martian Manhunter just suffered from catastrophic failure in the hero department, but clearly from this picture you can tell the pages are just out of order. You see, Oracle has only just sent the team of J'Onn J'Onzz, Green Lantern, and Steel on their mission. Steel was present with the DC Trinity in the First Group Shot, and had a pin-up shot of his burrowing through the earth. Why? Search me!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Legends of the DC Universe 3-D Gallery #1: Chase (12/1998)

Department of Extranormal Operations agent Cameron Chase performed well in our poll, Which Obscure Supporting Characters do you want to read more about on this blog?. How much more can you get from a fictional character than the third dimension, I have to ask? The art is by J.H. Williams and Mick Gray. The color hold doesn't work very well, but the forced perspective is solid. Also, I recently rescanned the Legends of the DC Universe 3-D Gallery: Martian Manhunter by Tom Mandrake pin-up, which works much better with the brighter colors/higher contrast, especially when enlarged. You do still have a pair of old school analog 3-D specs in the back of your closet/garage/desk drawer, right?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jemm, Son of Saturn #2 (10/1984)

"Home, my son, is not a place. It is a feeling. It is a gathering of hearts that give comfort. It is heaven on earth." --from the teachings of Rahani

The snow fell heavy in Harlem that night, as derelicts sat around a drum fire to keep warm. Bertie was their coarse leader, and when Luther tried to take in some of the heat, Bertie pushed the boy to the ground. Bertie claimed "...there's only fire enough for four," and his fellows began to wonder if the boy had some money they could poach. Jemm slapped his large hand over Bertie's shoulder, then tossed the brute so far into the sky he would certainly never return intact. The derelicts drew weapons on Jemm, who screamed in his alien tongue and launched himself at the crowd. Jemm's body contorted and extended in an eerie manner as he stalked the men, but one turned over the drum, igniting Jemm's cape.

A fifth wino was Crazy Freddie, who had stolen a bottle of bourbon from Bertie just as Luther had arrived at the fire. Now, Freddie threw his coat over Jemm, smothering the flames and earning Luther's affectionate thanks.

Elsewhere, a beaten and bloodied Bouncer had made his way to his ma's apartment. "Bruno? Oh, God!" Ma tended to Bouncer, and on learning the injuries were from a job for Mr. Tull, explained, "you should be proud of your wounds, Bruno!" Bouncer explained what happened at the Mannkin apartment, and how it was perhaps only right he'd been hurt, since Mr. Tull only ever sent him to hurt others. When Bouncer said he wanted to quit and stop hurting people, Ma began to repeatedly slap and enjoin Bruno not to speak ill of Mr. Tull. As Bruno began to cry, he promised his mother to keep working and bringing home Mr. Tull's fine money.

Crazy Freddie noticed there wasn't a mark on Jemm. "The fire didn't burn him-- just sort of tried to smother him! Like his body reacts differently to fire than yours or mine would." Jemm went to fetch Gramps' broken body, and Freddie claimed to know just the right place in the sewer to lay the old man down. After the group descended, a Saturnian robot requested back up from outside the manhole. "Repeat: I am ready to meet Saturnian life-form in battle!"

Dade showed up at a senator's house in the middle of the night, with photographs of the U.F.O. and information on the massacre of "forty U.S. special troops and two NASA scientists..." The senator had a house guest present, who was declared a trustworthy patriot. Though the senator thought Dade delirious, the guest saw the value in exploring the unusual "opportunities" should Dade's account prove true. Dade was less generous toward the guest, but the senator demanded, "Hold your tongue, Dade! This gentleman pays more to Uncle Sam in taxes each year that you'll ever make in a lifetime! No one I have ever known has been a better adviser to me, nor a more staunch supporter of this country's government... than Mr. Claudius Tull!"

Crazy Freddie had stolen some hothouse flowers to lay on Gramps' chest, and Jemm allowed the old man's body to drift off into waist deep water. Jemm's thoughts turned reflective, to a ghostly pale figure in a hooded purple robe that sat in a garden with the young Jemm. This was the priest, tutor and friend Jemm knew as Rahani...

"But teacher, are not Red Saturnians fighting White Saturnians just outside the walls of this palace? And if we were outside rather than in, would we not be mortal enemies?"

"Aye. All of Saturn is one great battlefield, and the generals on either side are bigots who cannot see beyond the color of their brothers' flesh! But you are different. You must not hate either the Reds or the Whites."

"And if a white were to breach our walls and kill my father simply because he is Red, would I not then hate all Whites forever?"

"No! You must be above all that! You must swallow all hatred that wells up within you! For you were born to be different, young one! You carry the birthstone upon your forehead-- an omen not seen on Saturn in over twenty eons! It is the sign that you are the special one sent from the creator of all things to be a protector and savior of all Saturnians, White or Red! Remember this always. You must never turn hatred upon any form of life from your homeworld. For you are unique among all Saturnians. You are Jemm, Prince of Saturn!"

Jemm's revere was broken when he was attacked by the towering robot. Jemm briefly sank underwater, then emerged with a stunning intensity, ripping the robot's head off in one swift motion. "Unit RT-36Z58 reports mission failure... Request back-up force commence attack." So it went, as the very water formed into a pummeling fist against the Son of Saturn. Pipes pulled free from the sewer walls to entangle and choke Jemm. A disembodied voice spoke in a tongue only our hero could understand:

"Greetings, Prince of Saturn! My name is Kamah! I am a warrior of the Whites. A Koolar-- shape-taker! And I am ruled by her supreme commandership, Synn! Surprised? Did you really believe you were the last living Saturnian in the entire universe? How vain you are! But how like your father, and your father's father, and every member of every generation of the pompous, strutting Saturnian royal family! For eons, you ruled our planet with an iron hand... but now, every last relative in your pious gene pool has been exterminated-- except for you! And soon, even you shall die!"

Concrete dislodged from the walls to assail Jemm's body. "It is then that Jemm decides to ignore the pain, and he concentrates. From the sparkling jewel on his forehead, a yellow beam shoots upward, probing for Kamah's heart-- searching for a black concentration of pure hatred!" Jemm felt a sick feeling in his gut, and knew he'd located the agent. Jemm withdrew briefly, them released an energy blast that revealed Kamah's true form. The White girl landed in the water, floating upright but lifeless.

Jemm took comfort in Luther's embrace as he slumped wearily. At first he hoped this White, who threatened to kill him and his friends, was dead. Then he shed a tear over the continuing violence between the few surviving Saturnians, and his role in this play.

Bouncer awoke to the sight of Ma standing next to Claudius Tull, a man who pressed Bruno to remain prone with the butt of his cane. Tull wanted to know about the Red Man, as he slowly invaded Bouncer's personal space, forcing the side of Bruno's sweaty face into a pillow with his palm. "You're afraid I won't believe you-- that I'll think your story too fantastic-- and that I'll have Earl and Sid beat you for lying to me. But believe me, Bouncer... I've listened to a number of fantastic stories tonight, and I have every reason to believe they're true..."

"The Tunnel" by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Comic Reader Number 159 (August, 1978)

OUR COVERS: Manhunter From Mars by Al Milgrom, back again and probably slated to appear in DETECTIVE, and two new additions to ADVENTURE, Power Girl and The Huntress by Rick Taylor. ©1978 DC Comics Inc.
DC NEWS What happened on June 22, 1978 may possibly be the most significant events of the year. This is undoubtedly the most complicated story we've ever had to report, and the ramifications from it will be felt for the foreseeable future if not beyond. It started ten years ago when Warner Brothers took over Kinney National Service, which owned DC Comics.

The corporate heads of Warner Communications had stayed pretty much out of the picture as far as creative decisions go, the significant actions being the instatements of Carmine Infantino and Jenette Kahn as publishers and the budget and price increase okays over the years. Recently, however, the people upstairs began to take long looks at the downward trend sales have taken since they inherited their branch of the comics industry and a decision was made to attempt to halt the plummet by some drastic means. The first of these we mentioned last issue, which involves massive overhaul of the distribution process. Basically, this involves getting a much greater percentage of the copies that are printed displayed on the nation's newsstands, working more closely with local distributors and wholesalers. We will only be able to see the results of this step since few of us are wholesalers. The second step they have taken will hit much more closely to home and we will all feel its impact.

DC has eliminated their shortlived 50¢, 40 page line, after only three months' trial. Obviously, the reason has nothing to do with sales. The people at Warner feel that the new system of distribution should be given a chance with DCs looking like the rest of the industry's books, since there will be some risk of alienating wholesalers without the more expensive books. So, beginning in September (books cover dated December), all DCs that are not dollar books will be 32 pages with 17 pages of story again, but now for 40¢. And that's not all.

All non-dollar-sized bi-monthly books have either been cancelled or upgraded to monthly status. Hereafter, only monthly titles will be published in the regular size.
The article went on to list the cancellation points of seventeen then-ongoing comics, in what would later be dubbed the "DC Implosion." For example, "FIRESTORM with #5... STEEL with #5," and so on. An additional five issues of other titles previously announced were not to be published, as well as two reprint books. "...THE DESERTER, the dollar-sized STRANGE ADVENTURES, SWAMP THING and THE VIXEN have been indefinitely postponed... DC published an office-only comic book entitled CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE which features 35 completed comic books we'll never see." A variety of supporting features were left looking for a home, "though the new characters that have yet to be introduced (NEVERWHERE, the VIXEN back-up to feature Matt Treadway, etc.) may not. Some of the writers have inquired about buying back their characters, and DC is not entirely adverse to the idea."

DC's Mike Gold feels that the delay of the SUPERMAN film had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision. His opinion is that the decision came as a result of fifteen years of declining comic sales, possibly spurred on by the low winter sales (figures seriously out of wack because of the blizzard), and the new size would not have been saved even if a phenomenal sales push had been garnered from the film.
THE COMIC READER was published monthly by and © Street Enterprises. It was begun as a fanzine in 1971 by Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz, both later of DC Comics. It ended in 1983, a couple years after dutifully reporting on the debut of the magazine that would succeed it, Fantagraphics' Amazing Heroes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Mars-Earth Comet

Martian Manhunter:
"This is the annual two-hour period when the Mars-Earth Comet passes between the two planets... and whenever its rays penetrate a high ore content on Earth, it cancels out Martian powers! These grounds must have a high lead or iron deposit beneath them-- which means I have no special protection! I-- I'm just another Earthman..."

First Appearance: Detective Comics #238 (12/1956)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Detective Comics #277 (March, 1960)

"One day, as a crowd flocks to the newly opened Ace Time Company Building," onlookers spied a moth-themed helicopter stealing a decorative timepiece off the structure's face. The numbers and hands were reported to have been painted with $10,000 worth of pure glowing radium. Police in a squad car that tried to interfere were blinded by a large spotlight. Martian Manhunter arrived to grind some coal from off the back of a truck into dust to shield the officers' eyes from the beam, allowing Mr. Moth time to escape.

Later at police headquarters, Detective John Jones was asked his thoughts on the Mr. Moth case. All indications pointed to this being a repeat offense, as Jones and Captain Harding knew Mr. Moth by name from the beginning of the story. "He likes to steal only precious objects that relate to light, Captain Harding! And he must be stopped without delay!"

At a remote lighthouse, Mr. Moth surveyed his ill-gotten gains. "Ha, ha... another light-giving prize to add to my collection of rarities!" A hostage chided, "You fool! How long are you going to use this place as a hideout and keep me a prisoner? Sooner or later, the police will catch up with you!"

Mr. Moth's next target was a statue of Atlas coated with phosphorus located in the city square. John Jones had the place staked out, and turned into an invisible Manhunter when Moth's copter made the scene. However, machine gun tracer bullets were fired at a billboard, threatening a busload of people underneath. Martian Manhunter became visible in order to access his full powers, and though heralded as a savior by the townspeople, again lost Mr. Moth.

That night, John Jones read in the Daily Herald that the planetarium would be displaying a gold model of the solar system, complete with a miniature glowing sun. Sure enough, the menacing Mr. Moth snatched the sun as it was being transported to the planetarium. The copter flew the model to the lighthouse lair, where Mr. Moth ordered his men to smash open its display case. From out of an orb leapt the Sleuth From Space, so Mr. Moth drew a special ray-gun and pointed it at his hostage. "I haven't been swatted down yet!" Manhunter exclaimed, "Great Rings of Saturn!" as Mr. Moth led the lighthouse keeper away at gunpoint. J'onn J'onzz noticed colored light bulbs near where Mr. Moth stood, and vibrated his hand behind his back in such a way that it "set up a powerful and controlled air current which tore the bulbs from their sockets and is causing them to spin!" Mr. Moth was transfixed by the bulbs swirling about his head, allowing Martian Manhunter to cinch his capture with a punch. Mr. Moth hadn't even hit the floor before his men surrendered.

A prison guard announced "Lights out in all cells!" Captain Harding and John Jones stood outside Mr. Moth's cell, within which he was still wearing his outfit and resting his absurd mask in his lap. "Better get used to the dark, Mr. Moth! You're going to be in there a long time!"

"The Menace of Mr. Moth" was a brain cancer formulated by Jack Miller and Joe Certa.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Vile Menagerie: MR. MOTH

Alter Ego: Unrevealed
Occupation: Thief
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #277 (March 1960)
Height: Average
Build: Average
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Bald

Through unrevealed means, Mr. Moth came to use a high tech aircraft to commit a series of daring heists. Mr. Moth managed to evade capture by the Manhunter from Mars over several confrontations. Finally, the Manhunter tricked Mr. Moth into taking the Martian Detective to his "cocoon" lair-- the local lighthouse where Moth had been holding its keeper hostage. Martian Manhunter easily subdued Mr. Moth, and the villain's henchmen immediately surrendered. All were promptly sent to prison.

Mr. Moth did not appear to have any inherent powers, but had access to a moth-themed aircaft. This winged helicopter employed a high strength cable for grappling heavy items, and was armed with a machine gun. Mr. Moth also carried a special ray-gun pistol on his person.

Like the moth that is attracted to light, Mr. Moth had a penchant for valuable objects that glittered. Mr. Moth was seemingly delusional, and was fixated on luminescent items of any kind.


Quote: "The shining planets will bring added illumination to my cocoon!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

See Also:
Detective Comics #277 (March, 1960)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Detective Comics #238 (12/1956)

On the outskirts of town, two alert police officers chased "Booby-Trap" Bagley into the abandoned circus area where he had been holed up. "...Lieutenant Saunders ordered us never to pursue him into a possible booby-trapped locale! I'll contact headquarters!"

Detective John Jones was feeling shaky from his proximity to a blaze firefighters were bringing under control. He then made his way to headquarters, where he was met on the steps by Lieutenant Saunders and several other plainclothes officers. "You're just in time, Jones! It's finally happened... We've got 'Booby-Trap' Bagley, cornered! Let's go..."

At the circus grounds, Saunders ordered the brake of a squad car released, so he and his man could push it down a decline to test for traps. "He hides like a mole behind his barriers of gimmick! Let's see what happens when we invade his hideout with an empty patrol car!" Abruptly, the car struck an explosive and was sent flying through the air. "He's up to his old tricks, men! Surround the grounds! Saturate the area with tear gas bombs!"

Twenty minutes later, Bagley was chuckling to himself in hiding, while Saunders observed, "It's no use, men... He must've prepared himself for this, with a gas mask! It's too dangerous for all of us to close in... but one man might have a chance of sneaking through and nabbing him. We'll draw lots for that assignment..." John Jones knew his secret Martian powers would keep him out of jeopardy, so he volunteered to draw first, and used his x-ray vision to insure he pulled the marked slip of paper out of a hat.

Jones wasn't concerned about personal injury as he stalked through the grounds-- only revealing his Martian identity. "Hmm... what's he up to with those balloons? Shades of Saturn! They're filled with a gas that's deadly to Earthmen! I'll make it appear that I held my breath and clutched my nose just in time! Ah-- there goes Bagley now..."

Jones chased "Booby-Trap" onto a working roller coaster, where the Sleuth from Outer Space had to concentrate with "a strange force" to fuse a split rail and maintain his secret identity. It was almost dusk now, and Jones felt compelled to nab the crook before dark. The Detective attempted to de-materialize himself, but found himself slamming into a door. "Great Sunspots! My Martian powers don't work! ...Wait... of course!" Jones realized he had lost his powers for a two hour period due to the passing of the Earth-Mars Comet (not to be confused with the Blazer Comet!) "I-- I'm just another Earthman, seeking out 'Booby-Trap' Bagley! Must watch my step!"

Jones spotted a wall of clocks once intended as games prizes, and noticed one was set at the correct time. He ducked just as it exploded. Next, he saw Bagley climbing up a center ring platform, but also realized he was in the shadow of a falling aerialist's platform to be evaded. Jones followed his prey, literally walking a tightrope after Bagley, who himself reached for a trapeze swing. "Booby-Trap" swung himself at the lawman, who could not keep his balance, and faced certain death from the fall should he miss an open water tank below. As it turned out though, the tank was filled with gasoline, which Bagley ignited!

Jones was horrified, until he realized his previous handicap as an Earthman was now a strength. Neither afraid of nor weakened by the flame, Detective Jones performed a perfect dive past the fire. With both men now on the ground, Bagley thought to himself, "Th-that detective's amazing! I must put a quick end to him!" However, Jones had a trap of his own in mind, using his superior marksmanship to snap the support ropes of the trapeze net above with gunfire. Having netted his catch, the rest of the police were called in to untangle "Booby-Trap" Bagley...

"Great work, Jones! We were really afraid that one of his booby-traps had gotten you!"
"They very nearly did, Lieutenant Saunders... but I was lucky enough to defeat a surprise I wasn't prepared for!"

That night, John Jones returned home to his apartment. "Well-- my Martian powers have returned! Next year, I'll be mighty careful where I operate when that Mars-Earth Comet arrives again!"

"Earth Detective For A Day" was written by Jack Miller and drawn by Joe Certa. Garish “pop art” coloring by Frank Lee Delano.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2008 Justice League #1 (1987) Custom Cover Recreation by Shag

Everyone should be familiar with Kevin Maguire's iconic and oft-imitated cover to Justice League #1 (May, 1987). I love the piece, and it has already popped up several times on this blog, as when I criticized the approach of The Revisionist JLI by modern writers who seem to think the only essential members of the team were Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice. More recently came the 1988 Justice League International Postcards: JLI Group Shot, a post which prompted reader and fellow blogger The Irredeemable Shag of "Once Upon A Geek" to offer up this recreation using DC Direct action figures. I think he did an awesome job, and the only anachronistic element improves the image: replacing Black Canary's awful period costume with her classic original. DC Direct has also done swell work with these figures (I especially like the Ed McGuinness inspired Captain Marvel.) Click here to enlarge and view the original article.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 (9/1984)

"Remember, my prince, that in the tiniest of seedlings rests the promise of renewed life-- and hope! Nothing is more precious than this! It is the reason why even the most vile men remain not untouched at the vision of a child!"
--from the teachings of Rahani

In a Harlem slum back alley, Luther Mannkin pretended to be a space ranger battling an octo-beast with his plastic laser pistol. The boy dropped his "weapon" and turned tail at the sight of a slender 6'6" half-naked red-skinned alien with a glowing yellow gem on his beetle-brow. "GRAMPAAAAA!" Inhumanly long fingers encircled the crying child in flight, then drew him in to face the alien. "Awe! It fills Luther's mind, silencing him. And then, from the weird pulsating jewel embedded in this creature's forehead... comes something bright and hot-- something that cuts through Luther's very soul."

Meanwhile, Luther's older brother Lincoln was assaulted on his way home from work by a knife-wielding mobster named Reginald. "...My boss, Mr. Claudius Tull, he financed your fancy dude education. He provided you with Grade A smack to sell for a profit! And you ain't paid the man back in over three weeks!" Reginald expected to collect by the following night, "...or the next time you fall, you won't never get up no more!"

Lincoln Mannkin wandered the streets, contemplating his troubles, until returning home at half past midnight. He was greeted by his worried grandfather, who hoped it was the missing Luther who was returning. Gramps wanted Lincoln to help find his little brother, but Lincoln swatted the blind old man's hand away. "You ain't never paid no attention to me before. It's always been Luther this an' Luther that... an' don't notice me never!" Gramps did care, but Lincoln was more interested in phoning his buddy Vin. "You ain't gonna call that scum, are ya? You ain't gonna bring that Vin back into this house!" He sure was, more concerned about saving his skin than his kin.

Lincoln left the apartment to conspire, leaving Gramps to his thoughts. "I've failed, ain't I, Lincoln? Even though I tried and tried. 'Course, bein' blind all my life, you never did look on me as a whole man-- someone you could turn to-- confide in. How could you? I can't provide for you. Lord help me, I can't even see the agitation in your face when you come home worried and scared. So here I sit in the dark-- knowin' only the voices of my two grandsons. One voice is full of hate, the other's been gone too long. Where are you, Luther? Where's my dear sweet youngest in this hellpit of a neighborhood?"

Back in the alley, the heat of the alien's beam subsided, leaving Luther and the being linked through the sharing of "their deepest, innermost emotions." Luther realized how frightened and alone the alien was on this planet far from his own. Luther pressed the alien to come back to his apartment with him, but the alien resisted. It made a gesture to allow itself a moment alone in the darkest recesses of the alley, then emerged wearing a cape...

"New Jersey. Only hours ago, U.S. Government seismographs in three states were awakened by an unusual disturbance here-- the impact of a plummeting craft from the stars!" NASA scientists Phil Wheatly and Deidre Johnson were sent inside to investigate with C.I.A. operative Charles Brigham Dade. Charles was on edge the whole time, fearing something bad might happen to his fiancée there. Deidre looked over a partially decipherable piece of writing she'd found that indicated a flight pattern from Saturn, while Dade studied a holographic portrait of a proud Saturnian family of three. Outside, the craft's entrance was guarded by a pair of troopers, until Willie and Sid were killed by a couple of towering monochromatic Saturnians. Deidre ran to the entrance to check out the scene, and was murdered by an energy blast. Wheatly and Dade were knocked unconscious, a metallic Saturnian noting, "Scan of ship interior reveals only human life-forms. Mission incomplete."

Gramps didn't quite believe Luther's excuse about getting lost, and was curious about the name of the mute foreigner who was supposed to have led the boy home. After taking in a bit of "Me Tarzan, you Jane" between Gramps and Luther, the alien gestured toward himself and said, "JEMM!" Gramps smiled, "Jim! Well, that's not so hard! Glad to have ya, Jim. Luther'll spread you a blanket on the floor. And tomorrow, we'll give you a proper introduction to Luther's brother!"

Dade awoke to find the corpse of "DEEEEEEIIDRE!" With both blood and tears flowing, Dade swore, "You never got to see your aliens, did you, hon? Don't worry. I'll find them. I'll find every last one of them.

The next evening, Luther hid Jemm before his brother returned home, intending on surprising him. Gramps could smell Vin with Lincoln, "just as clear as I can smell a roach." Lincoln lifted his hand to the old man again, and told him to keep his mouth shut until he and Vin could "greet" anyone Claudius Tull planned to send after him. In the bedroom, Luther figured he and "Jim" should lay low until Lincoln cooled off.

Hours later, Reginald showed, and Vin pushed a gun into his face. Regg didn't exactly wither at the sight, instead calling his own back-up, the towering honky called Bouncer. In seconds, the Mannkins' front door was off its hinges, Vin thrown against a wall, and Lincoln about to make a lethal plunge. Luther cried, "Don't you hurt my brother!" Jemm flew into Bouncer. "Regg! The red man! He hurt me, Regg! Bouncer don't like to be... hurt!" Bouncer threw bureau at red man. Lincoln "split while the splittin's good." Bouncer planned "never to be hurt... no more!" Mice and men, as a trapped Jemm was still able to lay Bouncer out with a beam from his gem. Reginald had seen enough, and exited with Luther in tow.

Gramps could hear "Jim's" labored breathing from the exertion of his energy blast; Reginald's heavy footsteps running upstairs; a threat from Bouncer; and Luther's screams. So could Jemm, who tossed the bureau and Bouncer through a wall to the street below, calling "LOOOOO-THEEER!" Jem flew through the hole he'd made up to the roof, where Regg held Luther at knifepoint. Either through a plunge of the blade or off the roof, Reginald would kill Luther if Jemm didn't back off. Gramps caught Regg from behind with his cane. "Ain't no way you're gonna hurt that child!" However, all three parties went over the ledge, Jemm only having the ability to rescue the boy.

"All is suddenly quiet on the street where Luther Mannkin lives. But within Jemm's head pounds the rhythm of worried blood pushing rapidly at his temples. Slowly, a red hand caresses tender brown skin. A feeling of deep helplessness wells within a mighty chest." Luther came out of his haze, only to pound at Jemm's chest, horrified the alien had let Gramps die. "There is sadness then. And hurt. And fear within an alien heart that the one friend he has on this strange world is a friend no more. But at the sight of Jemm, something stirs within little Luther Mannkin. He realizes that true heroes are never perfect. That sometimes, choices must be made. And when it came to choosing between saving Gramps and saving his only friend, Jemm chose his friend. Can Luther really blame him for that?"

Nearby, the Saturnian robots watched the sad duo begin to brave a world neither truly knew. "Unit RT-36Z58 reports sighting of Saturnian life-forms. Request preattack back-up units."

Beginning a new chapter in the epic story of the DC universe, brought to you by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson.

Friday, June 5, 2009

1988 Justice League International Postcards: JLI Group Shot

Art by Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein

They are among the most powerful beings in the galaxy. They come from many nations, from other worlds. They embody the noble traditions of the Justice League of America and the Justice Society. This team of heroes fights for the benefit of all humanity as the Justice League International!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Inferno (1997)

Okay, so Martian Manhunter was the first hero with a stand-alone pin-up*, appearing on the fourth page of this coloring book. That's great, except the above image appears eleven pages later, after other heroes were involved in another pseudo-story involving Darkseid and Despero. Does this mean the book is ordered out of sequence, and the rookie Green Lantern left J'Onn to pull out his own fire extinguisher... or does this mean the Martian's fractal techgear was FTL, and the irate Kyle Rayner had to save Manhunter's impotent tushy? The change in perspective also makes it clear J'Onn is wearing bicep and thigh pieces of ginormous Liefeldian proportions, with the requisite lack of any clear function.

* Though he missed out on the row of headshots from the title page, which included the Flash, long-haired Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Hawkman, Robin (Tim Drake,) mullethead Aquaman, Superboy (Kon-El,) and Batman.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Materializing on Mars Fan Photo Collage

As of today I have 700 posts in the Idol-Head's queue-- most published, many not, and in a variety of states. Seems like cause for some sort of celebration/bitter reflection!

Something like a decade back, one of my best friends scanned a whole heap of images for my old Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA web site. My internet access was off a lousy WebTV, which also hosted the site. As I had no computer, my friend was willing to indulge my excesses. One piece he scanned was from the original Kingdom Come hardcover of the mentally "broken" J'Onn J'Onzz, featuring art and (as I recall) brief commentary by Alex Ross (or maybe Mark Waid?) Later, he took that black and white sketch and manipulated it into two color photo collages featuring the Martian Manhunter standing on the actual Mars. I don't believe I ever got around to using them on the old site, so this is likely their first ever public exhibition. I think they're grrreat, and it's about time I shared them with the world!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Total Justice in Total Teamwork" Coloring Book: Fire Extinguisher (1997)

This is the first solo pin-up featuring the Manhunter from Mars in this book. For the most part, action figure accessories for super-heroes are pretty stupid, seeing as they are super and all. Equipping a Martian with a wrist-mounted fire extinguisher? Now that works for me just fine! I also appreciate the minimal alteration of J'Onn's costume, amounting to a "TJ" icon on his cape's clasp. Asymmetrical sure, but far less distracting than his Mr. Miracle collar, which I'll chalk up to artistic license.

There's an extremely vague set of stories that play out in silent pictures throughout the book. In fact, it's so scatter shot as to not actually run in sequence. Random pages are tossed together and repeated, as though each copy had a set page count, and seemed to be formed by just gluing whatever came down the assembly line together. I figure you don't need a context to understand what's going on here, but I also wanted to alert you that there was one regardless.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Saturnian Salutations, or how Jemm spends his Summer

The March of Mongul was our month long look at a villain that really should have beat up on the Martian Manhunter more, and vice versa. In such a concentrated space and after having recently dealt with other theme weeks, Mongul quickly became a chore to write about. I also knew it was about time to start doing write-ups on Jemm: Son of Saturn, who has been associated with the star of this blog since his creation, especially seeing as the two heroes have already been interacting in synopses I'd written for DC Challenge and Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, Jemm had a twelve issue mini-series to work with, plus more appearances in DC Challenge, JLA, and the ongoing Martian Manhunter series. Packing Jemm into a month would have killed me, but it occurred to me a weekly write-up on Jemm's series could spread out nicely over three months, with additional material offered up when available. Hence, the Summer of Saturn has been awarded to the most popular option in our May poll, Which Obscure Supporting Characters do you want to read more about on this blog? I figure 40% of responding readership is a pretty clear mandate, and I retain the ability to write about J'Onn J'Onzz for the other six days of the week, since "Saturnday" will be Jemm's for a while.

So who is Jemm and why should a Martian Manhunter fan care about him? That goes back to December of 1982, when Greg Potter expressed interest to his old editor Paul Levitz about returning to freelance writing for DC. Levitz had Potter meet with DC's Executive Editor Dick Giordano, who sent Potter home with an edict: "Create a new super-hero character. Plot the first story of that character. If what we see is good... well, we'll see." Potter mulled over ideas for a few days, determining that he wanted to tell a story steeped in human emotion that spoke of contemporary times, and offered a hero different from all others in the then-present market. Combining influences that included E.T., Star Wars, and Frank Miller's Daredevil, Potter came up with Jemm. Potter also decided to set his story in winter time, that his aliens wouldn't conveniently speak English, and "let's have some real, honest-to-God black people in the strip."

Jemm was initially going to be something of an update of the John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars strip, as the original had been in publishing limbo for years. "J'Em" was to be the green-skinned cousin of J'onn J'onzz, and fled from Mars II to J'onzz's old stomping grounds after a Pale Martian coup. While J'Em lived in exile, J'onn would have a supporting role in the book, dealing with the situation on Mars II and interacting with one of his old comrades in due course. However, after three issues if "J'Em" had been written and one drawn by artist Gene Colan, the editor of Justice League of America informed the creative team that his book had its own plans. The Martian Manhunter would be returning as a member of the League after sixteen years away, in a storyline setting him against his own people in a Martian invasion of Earth. That being the case, J'Em from Mars became Jemm, Son of Saturn. After that snafu, a planned appearance by Superman was rewritten as "The Patriot," just in case it was decided that Jemm's series would no longer take place in the mainstream DC universe.

Jemm did officially joined the DCU, though you could hardly tell, since his appearances dried up swiftly after the close of his maxi-series. As far as I know, Jemm didn't make a single notable appearance from 1989-1997, when Grant Morrison was casting about for a villain to serve as Martian Manhunter's counterpart in the Injustice Gang. Whether Morrison remembered "J'Em," or just noted his vestigial Martian brow, Morrison decided to use the Son of Saturn as an unwilling antagonist. Ironically, a book that may have contributed to Jemm's obscurity had rescued him from it.

A couple of years later, when an ongoing Martian Manhunter series was commissioned to cash in on JLA's popularity, creators John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake wrote Jemm into its first major story arc. Further, the Red and White Saturnians were revealed to have been created by ancient Martians, and the Manhunter was drawn into their politics in a second major story arc in his own book.

As you can see, Jemm and J'onn were made to play together, and so the Son of Saturn will be appearing here regularly for the next few months as we elaborate further. I hope everyone welcomes him warmly.

For those curious, "Saturnian Salutations" was the name of Jemm's letter column back in 1984, and the primary source for information of this post.