Friday, July 31, 2009

Who's Who Vol.XI: Jemm Cover Detail (1/1986)

There were so many of these massive, George Pérez-style multi-character images in the '80s, it was easy to lose individual aspects under their weight. For instance, here's a nicely drawn Son of Saturn carrying Justice Society of America member Johnny Thunder for no discernible reason. Johnny doesn;t look too happy about it, either. Is everyone running from the Infinite Man as though he were Galactus? Did one or both of them come out of Infinity Man's Boom Tube? Is this all a prelude to the Infinity Gauntlet? Absolutely not, but I was on a roll, and this seems like the great untold Jemm story! Anyway, dig the art by Paris Cullins & Dick Giordano!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

DC Sampler #2 (Jemm Ad, 9/1984)

From the same free sampler comic that introduced the new Justice League of America, a.k.a. the Detroit team, came Jemm, Son of Saturn! Jemm's maxi-series premiered the same month, and this was an interesting way to promote it. Panels from the first issue were cut and arranged together to create a sort of "trailer," which offered more story and a better feel for the title than the usual pin-ups or text heavy expositional hype. Well, there was a bit of that too...

This is JEMM SON OF SATURN... the exciting story of an alien and an Earthling as they explore their friendship in places new to both of them. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter Vol. 3 TP Fan Mock-Up Version 2.0 by Tom Hartley

By the end of today, especially with our recently elevated hits from this Blackest Night business, the Idol-Head of Diabolu blog will reach 100,000 page views. I'd like to thank everyone for coming, especially those who visit daily, even when I myself don't and fail to post anything. That's also 5-10 times the total hits over the life of my old Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA site, which tells me either the Justice League cartoon/Smallville were really good to J'Onn, or the format switch was a very good idea.

All this considered, I'd like to introduce the blog and myself to the newer readers. I currently go by the alias "Frank Lee Delano," though it's far from my first, and likely not the last. I've enjoyed Martian Manhunter since the mid-1980s, but not obsessively until the tail end of the '90s. It just so happened I was first getting into the internet at that time, and feeling there wasn't enough representation for the awesomeness that is J'Onn J'Onzz, I took matters into my own hands. I built one of his first and largest "shrines" to the character, and after a five year hiatus, I revisited the Manhunter from Mars with this blog-- now 1 3/4 years and very nearly 700 posts in.

The Rock of the JLA, as evidenced by the title, heavily favored "modern age" material from 1984-1999. That was my area of expertise and interest, though I felt driven to investigate older work. My first reaction to the Silver Age stories was revulsion, and so I openly ridiculed them. Some of the earlier posts from this blog reprinted my sarcastic and comparatively brief coverage from the old site, as can be seen here, here, here, here, here, and here. My coverage has become more respectful, not because the stories suddenly improved, but because this blog has been geared more toward detailed reference than soapbox ranting. Also, I found better Silver Age stories as I dug deeper, and became more endeared to the strip's eccentricities besides. The old blog also offered more message board-type fodder, like looks at his greatest fights with other heroes, characters who were knock-offs of the Manhunter, and so on. Where the old site offered sweeping historical overviews, this blog has been more concerned with the minutia of each given comic. The Idol-Head has also focused on the more obscure and older comics because I worked under the assumption everyone had already read most of his appearances in the Justice League International and JLA years.

Anyway, I'm now looking to the future of the blog. Changing circumstances in my life forced me to rely very heavily on quick posts, usually pin-ups and the like, which are readily available elsewhere through Google images searches, Comic Art Fans or Comic Art Community. On the plus side, this allows me to insure there's a central, sustained, and expanding Martian Manhunter internet archive... but still, lame on my part. I'm working on my time management skills to do better by the blog. I rarely get direct comments on what folks want out of this place, but your answers to current and future polls look to be a big help. Later in the week, I'll go into greater detail on what's coming up around here.

What I will say is that I've heard the demand for more modern coverage, and will work to satisfy it. Summer of Saturn will return. Gypsy and DEO Agent Cameron Chase will follow. Ostrander/Mandrake will be better represented. I will be stepping up my additions to The Vile Menagerie considerably. I'll update my indexes again. I'm also going to try to loosen up more, and remember there were fun things about the Rock that could serve well here. It'll be a long road to 1,000,000 hits, but I'll do my best to take the Idol-Head of Diabolu there and in style...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2000 Warner Bros. Studio Store Exclusive JLA Mug

Photo by Pekita Trotamundos
This embossed coffee mug was bought for me as a present from the late, great WB Store. It has stored loose change and/or pens ever since. For the record, only the figures are raised, not the JLA logo, but this is some of the most pronounced embossing I've ever felt. Very lumpy, at various degrees, that could almost be measured to a centimeter at the most extreme points. Photo by Pekita Trotamundos
Art appears to be by Eduardo Barreto, who was pretty much the Martian Manhunter artist of the '90s when it came to any type of merchandising. Pictured left-to-right, top-to-bottom: Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Wonder Woman, the Flash (presumably Wally West,) Batman, Superman and Golden Mullet Aquaman. Photo by Pekita Trotamundos

Monday, July 27, 2009

2006 "The JLA" painting by Rhiannon Owens

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Finishing up our series on acrylic painter Rhiannon Owens' takes on the Justice League of America is this 18" X 24" group shot. Featured are Aquaman, the Atom, Batman, Black Canary, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Superman, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, and of course the Manhunter from Mars. For more, check out her MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2008 Justice League of America painting by Rhiannon Owens

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Here's another piece by Rhiannon Owens of the founding members of the JLA, this time painted in acrylics on canvas at 11" X 14" piece, advertising at $125.00. For more, check out her MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

2008 "The Original Seven" painting by Rhiannon Owens

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I've never heard of Rhiannon Owens within the industry, but she keeps popping up on the net, with a painted style that reminds me of Nick Cardy. Here, she depicts the founding members of the Justice League of America on a 18" X 24" piece painted in acrylics on canvas, which she's advertising for $225.00. For more, check out her MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Friday, July 24, 2009

John Ostrander Needs Your Help

John Ostrander's work on the Martian Manhunter ongoing series was directly responsible for a great number of visitors caring enough about the character to come to this blog on a regular basis. I myself remain fond of his acclaimed work on Grimjack, Suicide Squad, Hawkworld, Firestorm, Starslayer, Legends, Manhunter-- and those are just ones I've read. He's currently among the longest standing Star Wars comic book scripters ever, and remains the only writer who could handle The Spectre for any length of time, doing so marvelously. In fact, I consider Garth Ennis' Preacher a failure because Ostrander had already written the most appropriate ending for that series into The Spectre, leaving Ennis to comparatively limp toward the exit doors. Ostrander's finale to Grimjack was also one of the most barn burning nihilistic spectacles in comic book history. He's one of the greats, and remains vital to this day.

John Ostrander has been battling glaucoma for years, and despite improvements in the treatment of comic creators by this industry over recent decades, health insurance is a luxury few enjoy on their publisher's dime. Ostrander pays for his out of pocket, but after undergoing several very expensive surgeries to preserve his sight, the disparity between his insurance and personal debt has become crushing. The Comix4Sight Committee is seeking donations on his behalf, and is also hosting a series of benefit art auctions featuring the work of Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Tim Truman, and more. If you've ever enjoyed any of Mr. Ostrander's efforts over the years, please pass by the page, and perhaps contribute to the fund.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tom Mandrake "Batman and Friends" Commission

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The Spectre, Bruce Wayne, and J'Onn J'Onzz by an artist associated with all three.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1985 Grenadier Models Justice League of America & Adversaries Miniature

Photo by Pekita Trotamundos

This Martian Manhunter pewter figurine was produced as part of the set 9501 Justice League of America & Adversaries, for use with Mayfair Games DC Heroes role-playing system. The ten figurines were sculpted by Andrew Chernak and John Dennett, and stand roughly 1.25" tall on average. You can see them all in this PDF of Grenadier's 1987 Photographic Compendium.

Photo by Pekita Trotamundos

Good luck making out the individual figures. Based on past knowledge, fuzzy online references, and supposition, I came up with Darkseid, Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Brainiac, the Joker and the Flash. Surprisingly strong company for a fairly obscure J'onn J'onzz in 1985, but maybe someone demanded at least one current member of the League appear in the set. I bought a three piece "set" off eBay in the late '90s. I got two Martian Manhunters, one of which was to be painted for me by a former customer/friend, but was never seen again.

I managed to find the original box art on the internet, as well as views of what the interior packaging looked like. I also stumbled onto an expired eBay auction with nine of the figures, and swiped the pictures below.

The other figurine I got in my own auction was Darkseid, who was just becoming a big deal in the '80s through his prominence in the Super Powers Collection, and would later be treated as a primary Manhunter foe in the Ostrander/Mandrake ongoing series. I figured a combo shot of these adversaries was in order.

Photo by Pekita Trotamundos

For more large pictures of Darkseid, click here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2007 Tom Mandrake Mid-Ohio Con Sketch

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I very much prefer this more svelte take to the stockier look Mandrake gave J'Onn in the ongoing series. It accentuates his brow and gives him a more athletic feel.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2007 Unpublished Batman & The Outsiders #1 Cover by Koi Turnbull

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Way back in the earliest months of this blog, I ran an editorial criticizing DC Comics for revamping their relaunch of Batman and the Outsiders before the first issue had even shipped. The first three issues were solicited with a different plot, creative team, and even group membership than the books which actually shipped (on time, as I recall.) Heck, even the earliest promotional piece was altered before they even reached the public! I thought it might be nice to take a second look at what might have been, and compare it to what actually was...

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Koi Turnbull & Art Thibert
Cover by Turnbull
Variant Cover by Ryan Sook

Tony Bedard (BIRDS OF PREY, COUNTDOWN) and Koi Turnbull (Fathom) launch a bold new direction for the DCU's misfit heroes! The rules have changed all over the DC Universe - but for the Outsiders, they're still just things that were made to be broken!

It's a fresh game of dirty pool for the Outsiders as the Dark Knight sends his new team to the frontlines of a massive assault on metahumans. Batman and the Outsiders must fight even dirtier than their enemies...and risk becoming the supervillains they despise!

Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers that may be ordered separately. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (featuring a cover by Koi Turnbull) ordered, retailers may order 1 Variant Edition (featuring a cover by Ryan Sook). Please see the Order Form for more details.
On sale October 17 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The book's description was later changed to "The new era for the team begins with Catwoman, Metamorpho, Katana, Grace and Martian Manhunter called into investigate a potential time bomb at Jardine Enterprises – but will the new team’s first mission also be it’s last?" You can read more about it here.

by Tony Bedard; Koi Turnbull and Art Thibert
DC Comics, 32 pgs., $2.99, available November 21, 2007
Diamond Code SEP070151
The team attacks London for a high-profile abduction that marks them as Super-Villains in the eyes of the entire world — but that's exactly what Batman wants!

What was actually published.

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Koi Turnbull & Art Thibert
Cover by Eric Battle & Art Thibert
Batman's dual loyalties are tested as the Outsiders and the Justice League clash over SALVATION RUN - but the Outsiders' underground work has already brought an architect of the Run over to their side!
On sale December 5 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

What was actually published. Note that the solicited cover remained, and partially reflected the changed membership of the team.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2007 Unpublished Batman and the Outsiders Promo Page by Ryan Sook

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While the Outsiders series was being revamped into a Batman & the Outsiders relaunch, there was a lot of mystery surrounding who would stand as the actual line-up of the group. A series of one-shot specials was released pairing current Outsiders with their potential replacements, including Black Lightning's retconned adult daughter Thunder and the Brave New World Conehead Skrull take on the Martian Manhunter. Curiously, the artist of the promotional piece which seemed intended to reveal the new team, Ryan Sook, failed to get the memo on the J'Onn J'Onzz redesign, and drew him old school here. Nice as it is to see his take on "my" Manhunter, the Alien Atlas certainly looked out of place in this crowd. Not to worry, as the image would be altered twice over again to reflect sweeping changes in the project.

Friday, July 17, 2009

2007 Upper Deck VS System DC Comics Legends Miss Martian Card (DCL-080)


The last collectible card game I played was Overpower in the '90s, the shortest bus of the genre, so I can't tell you much about this modern, new fangled, complicated thingamajig. According to a few resources I dug up on the intarnets, the card works like this:

Miss Martian
M'gann M'orzz
Team: Teen Titans
Concealed - Optional
Cost: 5
Flight: Ranged
ATtacK: 9
DEFence: 9

Activate arrow exhaust target character with cost less than the number of face-down resources you control.

A peaceful rebel among White Martians, Miss Martian pretended to be a Green Martian to avoid prejudice.

The card is apparently rare, though it can be easily purchased for just a few bucks online. It was lovingly rendered by Ryan Sook, who includes several version of the piece on his site, including preliminary, uncolored, and finished versions.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Justice League International #7 (11/1987)

Green Lantern Guy Gardner finally woke up from Batman's punch, only to bonk himself out again against a desk.

Dr. Fate teleported the Gray Man to a meeting with the Lords of Order, who reduced the villain to ash. Fate returned to Earth, and everything was restored to its normal stare. Dr. Fate had "questions to ponder," and declined regular group membership henceforth. Fate disappeared out of the book, to be replaced by another in his role during a solo mini-series. Fate's spot on the team would not be filled by the Creeper though, as he scurried off. Everyone else piled into Blue Beetle's Bug craft to return home.

J'Onn J'Onzz was unaware of the preceding when he arrived to meet with Maxwell Lord IV at the United Nations. "My teammates are missing... Captain Marvel is recovering from injuries... and I am not in a good mood... The events you've set in motion have forced me to come here, Max. I didn't particularly want to." For Lord's sake, some good needed to come of his manipulations, and Max assured it was forthcoming.

In a U.N. hallway, a security guard asked if the Manhunter was really from Mars, and when confirmed he said under his breath, "Yeah. Sure. An' my uncle Abe's a Vulcan!"

"This is big, J'Onn. Really big."
"I've been fully briefed..."
"The League could benefit greatly from this, J'Onn."
"I was thinking more of the benefits to the world."
"Well, that goes without saying--"
"Does it?"
"Step right in. My own private office. Impressive, huh?"
"Not especially."
"That's what I value about you, J'Onn. Your honesty. Now, just sit down... relax. Can I get you a drink?"
"A magazine?"
"Can we get on with this, please?"
Just as soon as Lord's surprise associate arrived-- teammate Mr. Miracle's longtime confidant Oberon. Speaking of whom, he and Miracle had come to the decision to join the Justice League without consulting the Mrs., and Big Barda wasn't at all happy about it...

Max Lord and Oberon spent time working on J'Onn J'Onzz to get his support for a proposal to the United Nations. Max claimed the success of the new League was just as important to him as to J'Onn. "It can never be as important to you as it is to me. The League, in all its forms, has been my life since I first came to this planet. It's virtually impossible for me to separate myself from it. Which is why I don't intend-- to let you damage us..." Oberon stepped in with assurances, and Manhunter could certainly see the benefits in their goal. So could Superman, who endorsed the proposal to then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel rejoined his team at their headquarters, only to find Green Lantern Hal Jordan had stopped by to lecture Guy Gardner about shaping up his act before the upcoming changes, and everyone was shocked when Guy heartily agreed. Guy's suddenly, exceedingly pleasant demeanor unnerved everyone.

The news finally reached a hostile media that the League was seeking international sanction for their activities through the U.N. In the face of criticism, odds were against the measure passing. A mysterious computer program found this unacceptable, and launched an attack from a satellite in Earth orbit. The League's monitors sounded a klaxon, with Captain Marvel hoping he would finally get to fend off an alien invasion. "Maybe it's little green men from Mars! Actually, J'Onn's from Mars-- and he's pretty big!" Reports showed the satellite was "spreading two mile wide heat-based beam across Indian Ocean." At the notice, Martian Manhunter left his meeting with Maxwell Lord, who found the timing of the incident questionable. "No. It couldn't. It wouldn't... Would it? It did. How come I'm always the last one to find out about this stuff?"

The beam was causing natural disasters, and was just hours away from hitting its first nuclear base on its current path. S.T.A.R. Labs managed to trace the satellite, and determine it was not of earthly origin. Batman asked, "What about Mars?" A negative from J'Onn.

S.T.A.R. was equipped to launch the team in a space shuttle within the half hour, but weapons systems modified by Mr. Miracle failed to put a dint in the satellite. A spacewalk was ordered for the super-heroes, during which Manhunter stated, "I assume you have some plan of attack, Batman?"
"Of course-- I just haven't figured out what it is yet."

The satellite launched defenses that threatened to massacre the League, but Manhunter seized one of the barrage of projectiles. "I believe I can deal with that problem-- like-- this!" As the Martian Marvel hurled the missile into a launch bay, Blue Beetle was concerned another volley was forthcoming. "Don't worry, Beetle-- it won't be launching anything ever again!"

Curiously, the remaining missiles failed to target Batman as he made his way to a television camera on the satellite. While studying it, the Dark Knight Detective was electrocuted, yet conveniently was mostly unharmed. Footage from the affair was being beamed back to networks across the globe. Mr Miracle began to add up the facts, and realized aspects of the satellite's design were very familiar, allowing him to disarm it without the slightest injury. Having flown directly into the heat beam, however, caused his fellows to assume he "sacrificed his life in the bargain. Rest well, Mr. Miracle-- you shall not be forgotten." Premature on J'Onn's part, that. The device was, after all, based on a model from New Genesis created to safely train warriors...

"Mr. Lord and Mr. J'Onzz" again met with the U.N., and with the public endeared to the new League, Max's resolution passing was all but assured. The only strings were the United State's insistence Captain Atom join the team, with the U.S.S.R. pushing for Rocket Red #7. Martian Manhunter favored the change in the League's status, but had questions about the satellite he suspected Max could answer. "You're a telepath, J'Onn. Read my mind and you'll see that I don't know any more than you do..."

After much debate and more positive reinforcement from Superman, the U.N. agreed to authorize the Justice League as a "sanctioned international peace-keeping force-- operating virtually as an independent 'city state'-- with embassies across the globe." Batman protested, while Black Canary argued the Caped Crusader was mostly alone in his paranoia and resistance, and shouldn't speak for his fellows. "Although I wouldn't use such harsh language," Manhunter confessed, "I'm in agreement with Canary. This is a good idea."
"Right. As official U.N. liaison, you would agree..."
"That was uncalled for."
"You're right, J'Onn. And I apologize."

With Dr. Fate having resigned and massive changes afoot, Captain Marvel felt this was the time to plead out of the group due to inexperience. With a pat on the shoulder, J'Onn J'Onzz assured, "We understand, Captain. And when you decide that you're ready to come back-- there will always be a place for you among us." Batman then resigned as team leader. "Too high profile. You should know by now that I prefer the shadows. Just as I know that the one person qualified to command the international League is the only one of us who really sees this planet as a unified whole-- and that's you, J'Onn."

The new team was then ushered out to meet their public at the United Nations. Martian Manhunter. The Batman. Black Canary. Booster Gold. Mr. Miracle. Blue Beetle. Guy Gardner. Rocket Red #7. Captain Atom... Oberon, Maxwell Lord, and Captain Marvel looked on...

Once upon a time-- there was the Justice League of America. But that was another era, when the world could afford borders and boundaries, when heroes could claim national loyalties and feel justified in their claims. But in today's world there's no room for borders and boundaries. The walls between nations have to fall if our planet is to survive. So, for the new era-- a new League:
By Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon.

Back to Justice League #6 (10/1987)

Forward to Justice League International #8 (12/87)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

1986 DC Comics "Legends" Promotional Ad

Click To Enlarge

After WAY too long a wait, I've finally finished synopsizing the Justice League series that spun out of the Legends mini-series up to the point where it became International. It is also to the point where it connects to the Justice League International #8 synopsis I covered over a year ago during the Martian Manhunter Memorial Month. The Manhunter from Mars was "killed" on Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Our memorial began with Goodbye J'Onn... the next day, followed by The J'Onn J'Onzz Memorial Service and some of my favorite Alien Atlas stories ever. That limped to a close "Tuesday, July 8, 2008," though that was a back dating after the blog was plagued by delays. Sound familiar?

So anyway, my time has been at a premium lately, and all of my blogs have suffered for it. To my surprise, a poll I'm currently running indicates the hours-sucking story summaries are a lot less popular than several less demanding options. To some degree, this post will mark the end of synopsises for the forseeable future. I still need to get the promised Summer of Saturn back running, and the overwhelming DC Challenge must end at some point, by God. Beyond that, we'll be taking a breather, so I can stop filling space with the surprisingly unpopular pin-ups like this one here.

Speaking of, the black and white ad by John Byrne and (I assume) Karl Kesel ran here and there back in 1986, but Byrne's arrival at DC and its being the follow-up to Crisis On Infinite Earths had the book pre-sold as a hit. In retrospect, it was pretty hokey in execution, with little long term consequence, and fares poorly when read today. Still looks pretty, though.

Previously In Justice League (1987)

Maxwell Lord IV scanned television reports from outside the Justice League's mountain base: "... Many people question the effectiveness of a new J.L.A. in these times of, at best, grudging tolerance of super-- ...Two of the newer members arrive-- I'm sorry, one new member and a veteran of this oldest of super-teams-- ...A Martian. What effect his presence will have on public opinion is yet to be--"

An arrogant Green Lantern Guy Gardner brooded alone at the new Justice League meeting table, intent on demanding leadership of the fledgling team. He was soon joined by Black Canary, Mr. Miracle, Oberon, Captain Marvel, and, together, Blue Beetle with the Manhunter from Mars. Oberon felt the media circus surrounding the group's reformation couldn't hurt.

Martian Manhunter: "In light of recent events-- I would tend to doubt it."
Blue Beetle: "I think the Martian Manhunter's just being paranoid, group!"
Martian Manhunter: "Then I suggest you think again! ...They are wolves-- waiting to consume us. To them, we're novelties... Sideshow freaks-- viewed with amusement one moment, reviled the next."
Blue Beetle: "Look, J'Onzz-- we don't really know each other... but aren't you being a tad grim?"
Martian Manhunter: "You are correct, Beetle. You don't know me. Nor do you know what I have lived through... what the old League endured... what we lost.

J'Onn cued a monitor bank of images:





He gazed at them solemnly for a moment, then crestfallen, pressed a button to purge the vision of his former teammates. Dinah consoled, "J'Onn, I--" but before she could finish, the most obnoxious Green Lantern returned to demanding leadership of the outfit.

A screaming match with Black Canary developed, followed by rough handling of Oberon, prompting Manhunter to step between the pair.




Unlike with Superman, Guy Gardner felt no hesitation about tugging on the Martian Manhunter's cape, lifting him off the ground by the neck. "I strongly suggest you let me down."
"Just butt out, Jolly Green-- or I'll boot you back to the valley! Ho-ho-ho."

Gardner briefly relented, until Oberon renewed hostilities, prompting Mr. Miracle to complain, "J'Onn, this is utterly infantile..."
"You are correct, Mr. Miracle. This is infantile. And it's time our ring-wielding baby got the spanking he deserves!."

Batman and Dr. Fate walked in on a full scale brawl, as Captain Marvel took a power ring blast to the belly that launched him into a guarded Alien Atlas. The Dark Knight strode through the collection of heroes to pacify Guy Gardner with his overwhelming presence, and a meeting commenced.

Meanwhile, the heroic Doctor Light (Kimiyo Hoshi) was at the United Nations, where her new Justice League signal-device was paging her relentlessly. She was so distracted, she almost missed the terrorists who would hold her and the General Assembly hostage.

The Batman was alerted, so he sent Captain Marvel and Dr. Fate ahead while he joined the rest of the team in flying to the scene inside Beetle's Bug craft. On arrival, Manhunter noted, "Batman-- I don't see Dr. Fate..." ...who vanished to take care of another matter.

The Martian Marvel joined his team in stealthily entering the U.N., where he embedded the heads of several assailants quite forcefully into a corridor ceiling. The Sleuth From Outer Space then invisibly contacted Dr. Light, whispering in her ear, "Show no alarm. Make no sudden moves. I'm J'Onn J'Onzz of the Justice League--"
"Y-you're invisible?!"
"Obviously. Now, please-- listen carefully." At his signal, Dr. Light blinded everyone in her vicinity, as Green Lantern swiftly handled all but two of he remaining terrorists. Dr. Light had elbowed half the remainder.
"I admire you... efficiency."
"Years of practice."
"They paid off."

Batman stared down the final boss, who thereafter committed apparent suicide. Martian Manhunter was annoyed to face the press after.

Meanwhile, the tycoon Maxwell Lord IV watched all these events from afar, having bankrolled the terrorists as part of a plot to help put the new Justice League on the international map...

Batman asked Kimiyo Hoshi (a.k.a. Doctor Light II) to repeat the story of where she obtained a Justice League signal device until she was exasperated, but Martian Manhunter entreated, "Please, Doctor. It's important."
"All right, Manhunter--"
"Call me J'Onn."
"--I'll go over it again. For you."
She did, until Batman pleaded for her to turn over the device. "'Please.'? Did you actually say-- 'please'? Here, take it-- quick-- before I faint!"

On the sidelines, other Leaguers watched Jack Rider's Hot Seat, the O'Reilly Factor of its day, as it grilled their new formation. "Then there's the extraterrestrial in their midst: the so-called Martian Manhunter. At a time when America can't trust other countries-- how can we trust a creature from another world?"

Green Lantern Guy Gardner, typically a far right-winger himself, was incensed to the point of threatening to go rip out Ryder's heart after his televised insults. Martian Manhunter raised his hand and decreed "You will do no such thing." The Dark Knight also chimed in, as J'Onn J'Onzz agreed "I'd advise you to listen to Batman, Guy. There's just so long we will tolerate this infantile behavior."

In Bialya, the surviving Champions of Angor Wandjina, Silver Sorceress and "Bluejay" attempted to dismantle the hostile Middle Eastern nation's nuclear weapons program. Their world had been lost to the same, and they hoped to rescue ours from our war mongering. Instead, they were convinced by Colonel Rumaan Harjavti to redirect their global crusade, under his guidance.

Later, Batman and Martian Manhunter studied the signal device in the lab of the team's cave-based headquarters. The Dark Knight Detective interrupted the Sleuth from Outer Space to pedantically interject that the signal couldn't possibly be genuine issue, and suspected it to be an inferior copy. "I didn't say it was one of ours... I said it seems to be one of ours... Actually, Batman-- it's a superior copy. There are elements of the design that should be incorporated into ours." The Caped Crusader was taken aback, but before he could more deeply consider the implications, Captain Marvel heralded a news report regarding the former Assemblers/Champions of Angor having struck missile silos in Israel.

Guy Gardner cheered, "I love it! Let's hope those three take out every two-bit country that's packing nukes! Nobody but Ronnie-Boy should have his finger on the button! Then we'd have the world where we want it, huh?" The Martian Detective thought, "Pathetic!" He then shared, "Guy, your logic... if I can even call it that... is utterly unique."
"Oh... then you agree with me?"
"Of course not."
"Well, I'd expect it from you-- I mean, you're a freakin' Martian!"

The team traveled via Blue Beetle's "Bug" airship to confront the trio, but Guy Gardner launched an attack before more diplomatic overtures could be made. Wandjina proved too much for the Green Lantern, and was next met by Mr. Miracle and the Alien Atlas. "It was not our intent to attack-- but we must ask you to surrender. Now." Manhunter's pointed request could not be enforced, as Bialya demanded the Bug leave its airspace, or be blown out of the sky. The Caped Crusader ordered retreat.

Subplots included Maxwell Lord IV looking into Jack Ryder and meeting with a "Mr. Gold," while Dr. Fate tried to warn the mystical threat the Gray Man off his chosen course.

While Silver Sorceress, Wandjina and "Bluejay" were not so naive as to actually trust Colonel Rumaan Harjavti, they still left Bialya to target the nuclear arsenals of the Soviet Union at his suggestion and aided by his country's intelligence.

After 9.2 hours of hovering inside "the Bug" outside Bialyan airspace, Blue Beetle was sarcastic and the Dark Knight didn't like his attitude. Martian Manhunter soothed, "Blue Beetle meant no harm, Batman. And, frankly, it has been a long night." Sooner, on-board radar detected the former Assemblers flying out of the country, and gave chase. Given the lack of information on the trio, Beetle and Manhunter were of like mind regarding their likely other-worldly origins. "Just what I was thinking, Manhunter!" The Bug gave chase, until the trio entered the Soviet Union. "If three costumed superbeings start attacking Soviet missile sites..."

The Rocket Red Brigade was alerted to defend the U.S.S.R., both from the surviving Champions of Angor and the Justice League. Guy Gardner, a prior threat to the Brigade, again took undesirable initiative against the Reds. Captain Marvel was too preoccupied with the Brigade to follow Batman's order to rein the Green Lantern in. The Caped Crusader then demanded, "Manhunter-- get out there and grab Gardner!"

"...Gardner-- Batman wants you inside... Now!"
"Aww-- go back to Mars!"
"I said inside-- and I meant it!"
The Alien Atlas drug Gardner by the scuff of his collar back to the Bug, and roughly dumped him inside, while J'Onzz went on to battle Rocket Reds. The Martian Marvel punched one of the armored fliers toward Captain Marvel, who redirected the Red into another with a blow of his own. "J'Onn-- I don't understand this. We're here trying to save the Russians-- but all we seem to be doing is beating on them!"

General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev saw the error, ordering the Brigade to stand down, and allow the Justice League to assist them. Sadly, a nuclear reactor had been shut down too quickly in anticipation of the surviving Champions of Angor arrival, initiating a meltdown. Wandjina managed to avert that tragedy, but not without paying a heavy personal price. The Soviets took the trio into custody, then escorted the Justice League outside their airspace.

Returning to their mountain base, the Justice League were greeted by Maxwell Lord IV, who arbitrarily introduced to them their newest member, Booster Gold...

Batman was upset by how Maxwell Lord IV had breached the League's headquarters with Booster Gold in tow, as well as replicating their signal devices, and representing the team without their authorization. Mr. Miracle was tasked with installing a new security system, but the Manhunter from Mars insisted, "Our security system isn't the issue. Maxwell Lord is the issue. A very disturbing issue." Batman emphasized, "The Manhunter is right. There's more to our millionaire entrepreneur than meets the eye-- and we'd better get to the truth if this League is to continue."

Lord was sequestered with Booster Gold and Doctor Light II (Kimiyo Hoshi,) both of whom he'd duped into believing were members of the new Justice League. Kimiyo expressed her disdain. "You're very smug, Mr. Lord. You're also a fraud and a liar... I QUIT!!!" The League confronted the remaining pair, and feeling Max was "begging" for him to be let on the team, a prideful Booster Gold also walked... just not very far.

While speaking with the media waiting outside, another security breach occurred, attracting Booster Gold to the culprit Royal Flush Gang. Cameras were catching their conflict outside the headquarters, so Batman decided the team should just observe for now. The Martian Manhunter felt it would be a better choice with one less audience member...

"If you'll follow me, Mr. Lord...?"
"But, I want to--"
"This is not for your eyes."
"Don't provoke me, Mr. Lord."
"I wouldn't dream of it."

Booster Gold managed to bring down most of the Royal Flush Gang, and was literally applauded by the Justice League. Batman even cracked a smile.Then an extraordinarily powerful robotic Ace (in the hole) appeared. "Manhunter-- you and Captain Marvel are our first wave!"

"I don't think Captain Marvel will be needed, Batman. I can-- YARRGH!"

Ace's mechanical voice spoke as a flame thrower was unsheathed from within its forearm: "Fire. The one earthly element that can terminate a Martian." Manhunter was swept away by an eruption that engulfed his head and torso, though Captain Marvel immediately placed himself in the line of fire. Ace had capabilities that exploited the League's vulnerabilities, so that none fared well before it. Immolating itself like an inhuman torch, Ace claimed, "It is child's play to defeat you, just as it will be child's play-- to incinerate you all!"

Since Ace was clearly programmed to address the League's powers, it would take a non-member to handle him. The first ever teaming of the Blue (Beetle) and the Gold finally folded Ace, prompting much excitation for Booster. "Did you see that, world?! Did you see what Booster Gold and the Justice League did?!"

The recovered Manhunter joked, "He'd be a fine addition to the team, Batman-- if only he wasn't so lacking in energy and enthusiasm." The Dark Knight concurred, and welcomed the young hero back into HQ as their newest team member. Still, the place was hard won, as Gold discussed with the Martian.

"...Oh, man-- I'm aching all over."
"And every ache was earned, Mr. Gold."
"Call me Booster-- and thanks!"

Dr. Fate located the Gray Man in Stone Ridge, Vermont, where he was stealing people's dreams to empower himself. The Gray Man's origin was told to Fate after the Lord of Order was captured.

Media critic Jack Ryder, still hot to discredit the new Justice League, followed a lead to Stone Ridge.

Green Lantern Guy Gardner once again waved his finger and hollered at the Batman. These "infantile confrontations" on both their parts caused Mr. Miracle to consider quitting the team. The completely innocent Captain Marvel was also drawn into the power struggle, as he grumbled about the Dark Knight's cruel words directed toward him, and began to feel he was too inexperienced to be a member of the team. After Guy hurled a "gutless pansy" and Batman a "mongrel," the situation came to blow. The mongrel in need of a kennel screamed "I BITE!!!" The Batman decked him with one infamous punch, knocking Guy Gardner "extremely unconscious" just as Martian Manhunter arrived with Black Canary...

"Good afternoon, everyone. Hope we haven't-- Is that Guy on the floor?" Blue Beetle couldn't stop laughing and crying "One punch!" Black Canary was in shock. Batman said simply, "I'm glad you're here, Manhunter. Now we can get this meeting under way. J'Onn replied, "Sorry we're late, Batman," and thought to himself "But not as sorry as Black Canary is."
"Batman belted him-- and I missed it? Oh. God, I'm so depressed."

Just as Batman was calling the meeting to order, with Manhunter at his right hand, Oberon alerted the team to a call for help from Dr. Fate. Batman grimly acknowledged "Fifty-two hours to save the world." Martian Manhunter noted "We've done it before. On a tighter schedule." Booster Gold exclaimed "You have?!"

Captain Marvel was sent ahead to Stone Ridge, while the rest of the team followed in the Bug. J'Onn worried en route...
"I hope Marvel's all right--"
"If he's not... it's his own fault."
"You're too hard on him, Batman."
"I'm hard on everyone."

Upon landing, the Manhunter from Mars floated ahead of the group. "Batman... I feel a presence. Strange. Disturbed."
"The Gray Man?"
"I don't think so."

That presence turned out to be the Creeper, Jack Ryder's maniacal alter-ego. Once, that was an act on Ryder's part-- but now? Not so much. The Creeper presented a "remodeled" Stone Ridge to the team: bizarre, organic, and entirely alien...

This was an awkward story from Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. This specific issue spends a good deal of time with the Kent Nelson/Nabu version of Dr. Fate, who those same creators were in the process of killing off in a separate four issue mini-series. Perhaps this was intended as the character's final hurrah with the team? Then there's the vague Jack Ryder/Creeper subplot, which as I recall was intended as a backdoor pilot for that character, but never amounted to anything. Next there's the origin sequence and major build up for the Gray Man, much ado about nothing by the end of the tale. Finally, there's little left for the actual team to do besides drown in foreshadowing for upcoming changes. It seems editors who had lent big name heroes to the new Justice League were becoming aware of its serio-comic tone, and were in the process of pulling or minimizing their presence in the book. Even letterer supreme Bob Lappan was off his game, with a hideously amateurish story title even the least talented underground artist would be embarrassed by.

On the plus side, the issue still reads well on its own, it features a well-remembered classic moment, while the art of Kevin Maguire under Al Gordon continued to improve.

The Justice League gazed at the malformed town of Stone Ridge, Vermont. Mr. Miracle declared "It's... enformed madness. Like something out of my childhood on Apokolips." Martian Manhunter observed, "If you grew up in an environment like this... then my heart goes out to you." Scott Free warned, "Don't worry about me, Manhunter-- worry about Captain Marvel! He's down in the middle of that mess!" Shortly thereafter, Blue Beetle asked rhetorically "...weird, huh?" J'onn J'onzz replied, "'Weird' is a relative concept, Beetle." Kord thought, "Sheesh! Sometimes this guy acts like he's from Mars!"

Captain Marvel was in the clutches of the Gray Man, levitating motionless alongside the similarly compromised Dr. Fate. The Gray Man was disdainful of Dr. Fate's silence and his having brought the Justice League to Stone Ridge. The Gray Man decided to show his displeasure by taking control of Captain Marvel's body and assaulting the League.

Black Canary and Booster Gold were the Gray Marvel's first victims, picked-up and hurled through the air at deadly speed. The Manhunter from Mars warned his team's leader, "I can feel his mind, Batman-- he's being controlled--" The Dark Knight commanded, "Booster'll be all right. He's got a Flight Ring! Miracle-- you retrieve Canary! J'onn-- you nail Marvel! Don't hold back, do you hear me?"

"...Marvel-- I can feel your mind struggling against him! If I can telepathically bolster your efforts--" The Martian Manhunter was unable to complete his sentence, as the Gray Marvel backhanded J'onzz, who skidded face first along and through the ground. From his trench, J'onzz grimaced, "I'm not amused."

"Oh, but I am! This is exhilarating! This is fun! I could incinerate you with a single spell, but I much prefer it this way." As the Martian Marvel batted the possessed Captain Marvel away with a boulder, he confessed, "So do I."

The League began to regroup, wondering what had become of the
the Creeper. Batman ordered, "Forget the Creeper for now! The Gray Man's our problem! We've got to find him!" Mr. Miracle asked, "What about Marvel?" The Caped Crusader dismissed the concern with, "J'Onn can handle it." Booster Gold snorted, "You hope." Batman countered, "J'Onn J'Onzz has been at this game longer than I have, Booster! He's the only member of this team I don't feel I have to nursemaid!"

The Alien Atlas continued to trade blows with Captain Marvel, as the Gray Man whined, "Fall, damn you! Why won't you fall?!" The puppet master sweated and strained at his bijou hideout, as Dr. Fate eroded the Gray Man's confidence further. "Not as easy as you thought, is it? Captain Marvel's power is mystical in origin. Even in his comatose state, his mind resists you. And the Manhunter is a formidable telepath. With each physical blow, he strikes at you psychically. The strain is beginning to show." The Gray Man was on his knees, cradling his head in his palms. "I said it's-- effortless!"

Outside, the Martian Marvel was procumbent, an upturned palm and a tensed arm the only signs of a rally to come. The Gray Marvel stood over the shrugging Alien Atlas, raring his fists behind his head in preparation for a crushing blow. "Do you see, Fate? He's down! And now that he is, I'm going to-- to... to...?" The gray in Captain Marvel's hair darkened to its natural black, and the ominous glow in his eyes dimmed to confusion. "Hey-- what's going--" As the Big Red Cheese struggled with his surroundings, the Manhunter from Mars pulled himself up and delivered the mother of all haymakers. The Power of Shazam planted his posterior against the ground, his head put through a stone wall.

"Captain Marvel?"
"Is it really you?"
"I'm sorry. I was dazed... I didn't notice the shift in minds at first. Did I hurt you?"

The Creeper called out to the rest of the Justice League, as he had tracked the Gray Man to the bijou. Inside, he and Dr. Fate were engaged in a sorcerous duel. "You're finished! Marvel and the Manhunter put too much pressure on you-- weakened you... allowed me the opportunity to break free! You've overextended yourself!" Not so much that the Gray Man couldn't defeat all the heroes inside, except Dr. Fate, who then took off the kid gloves. "Gray Man-- I pity you. I've tried and tried to get through to you-- to make you see the foolishness of what you've done... Do you really think that absorbing dream-essence can make you equal to the Lords of Order--? --Can make you equal to me? You pathetic little man-- I've been holding back in order to help you! But now I see that you're beyond help! And so I do what must be done to rid the world of you!"

Outside, Martian Manhunter saw the bijou vanish. "Gone. All of them-- gone. But gone where? With Fate and the Gray Man involved-- it's surely no place on Earth... or any other world. Which means that, for now, I'm utterly helpless. Yes-- for now. But I'll find a way to reach them. I have to. Still, there's Captain Marvel to think of. The strain of his possession... our battle... has caught up with him. I need to get him home. And, after I'm sure that he's all right-- I'll be back."

On a side note, Maxwell Lord IV met with Hal Jordan, who expressed his serious reservations about a Justice League employing his fellow Green Lantern, "that psychopath" Guy Gardner. Lord dismissed them.

I know super-hero battles are a dime a dozen, but b'gosh this one was swell-- though I may be just a tad biased. The rest of the story wasn't too hot, though. The Gray Man looked like Harlan Ellison, a plenty ornery novelist, but not a credible threat. The schism between the bleak mystical pretensions and screwball comedy was glaring, and you never want to have the League upstaged by guest-stars. The Creeper had way too much impact, and even Dr. Fate turned his teammates into sidekicks by the end. People hate magical super-heroes for exactly the shenanigans Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis pulled in this script. No fault of Kevin Maguire though, whose pretty picture helped the medicine go down. Bob Lappan was mostly back to form, aside for another rocky title lettering.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Martian Sightings for September, 2009

I'm afraid there's no genuine, substantial, classic Martian Manhunter material this month. Not much of anything, frankly. Good thing DC offered up a second Gail Simone Wonder Woman trade in as many months, so I'll be buying her work sight unseen. Otherwise, my purchasing dollars at DC would have gone to the latest issue of R.E.B.E.L.S. and little else. Note to Self: Drop R.E.B.E.L.S. from pull list?

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Sketch variant cover by Ivan Reis
As the dead attack in full force, Green Lantern is faced with an impossible decision and the scattered remains of the Justice League suffer a terrible loss. Who can stop the Black Lanterns? Why are they rising? And how can the Spectre help?
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 Ethan Van Sciver). For every 100 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 September 16 • 3 of 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

No guarantee of an appearance for Black Lantern Martian Manhunter here, either

The Human Flame
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by KAKO
Science is not your friend! The Human Flame is about to learn this the hard way as he accidentally unlocks the terror behind the doors of the most secret facility at S.T.A.R. Labs. Mike’s on the cusp of becoming one of the most powerful villains in the DC Universe! Or he may just be on the cusp of being horribly murdered! It’s hard to tell with cusps sometimes.
On sale September 2 • 5 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason and Rebecca Buchman
Cover by Patrick Gleason
The Green Lantern Corps faces the Sinestro Corps in this prelude to BLACKEST NIGHT from issues #33-38 of the monthly series! Mongul enslaves the planet Daxam, making it the home world of his Corps. Will Sodam Yat, the Green Lantern known as Ion, fight to save his homeworld, which he's vowed never to return to?
Advance-solicited; on sale November 18 • 160 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Miss Martian
Written by Felicia D. Henderson;
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 Variant cover by Andy Clarke
Come celebrate our gala 75th issue with an all-star cast of Titans past and present! Joining this issue for the extravaganza is new ongoing writer Felicia D. Henderson, a co-executive producer on TV’s hit show Fringe! Don’t miss this start to a fresh new take on DC’s premier teen team! And in the Ravager co-feature, Rose lies nearly dead in the Arctic when a horrific discovery chills her even more! Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Andy Clarke). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale September 30 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

WEDNESDAY COMICS, DC’s new, 12-issue weekly series, reaches its incredible conclusion in September. Here are just some of the highlights of this third and final month:
• In BATMAN, WEDNESDAY COMICS’ weekly cover feature, Bruce Wayne digs further into a steamy murder mystery. It’s a classic noir tale by the Eisner Award-winning 100 BULLETS team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso.
• METAMORPHO dives into a fever-dream of an adventure, written by New York Times best-selling writer Neil Gaiman with art by Eisner Award-winner Michael Allred (Madman).
• THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN make a deadly detour after Selina Kyle attempts to rob Jason Blood’s collection of antiquities, taking her into unexpected territory. Written by Walter Simonson (Thor, MANHUNTER) with art by famed DC cover artist Brian Stelfreeze.
• DEADMAN is warned off of pursuing a serial killer by the only being who could do so: Rama Kushna. It’s a tale of mystery and mystics written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck, art by Dave Bullock.
• KAMANDI explores the living nightmare that is the world after the Great Disaster in a sprawling tale written by Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN, GREEN LANTERN CORPS) with art by Ryan Sook (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL).
• The feathers fly as HAWKMAN heads into slam-bang action, as written and illustrated by Kyle Baker (PLASTIC MAN, Special Forces).
• SGT. ROCK is captured by German forces — but will the Rock break? Find out in a gritty wartime epic written by Adam Kubert (SUPERMAN: LAST SON) and ilustrated by legendary comics artist Joe Kubert.
And don’t miss these continuing features:
• THE METAL MEN, written by Dan DiDio with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.
• THE FLASH, written by Karl Kerschl (TEEN TITANS YEAR ONE, THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE) and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl.
• SUPERGIRL, written by Jimmy Palmiotti (JONAH HEX) with art by Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL).
• GREEN LANTERN, written by Kurt Busiek (TRINITY, ASTRO CITY) with art by Joe Quiñones (TEEN TITANS GO!).
• SUPERMAN, written by John Arcudi (The Mask) with art by Lee Bermejo (JOKER).
• ADAM STRANGE, written and illustrated by Paul Pope (BATMAN: YEAR 100).
• WONDER WOMAN, written and illustrated by Ben Caldwell (Dare Detectives).
• THE TEEN TITANS, written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway.
WEDNESDAY COMICS will arrive in stores folded twice to 7” x 10”.
Issue #9 on sale September 2; Issue #10 on sale September 9; Issue #11 on sale September 16; Issue #12 on sale September 23 • #9-12 of 12 • 7” x 10”, 16 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Monday, July 13, 2009

2008 Michael Netzer Martian Manhunter, Aquaman & Atom Art

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Here's the last of the Michael Netzer promotional pieces for his "Take Me... But Don't Kill J'Onn" campaign. This is the fully rendered version from Rob Kelly's Aquaman Shrine, based on the preliminary sketch we looked at yesterday. Funnily enough when the piece appeared, I was among the hecklers when fans questioned why J'Onn was wearing opera gloves in the image.

In truth, the gloves are historically relevant. The Martian Manhunter chess piece in Justice League of America #1 (10-11/1960) wore gloves. Rob and Netzer further noted the appearance of gloves on the cover of Justice League of America #48... which don't make it right, and still skeeves me out, but there it is.

The art here is really lovely, even if I do wonder from whence those gloves came, and am concerned about where they might be going...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2008 Michael Netzer Aquaman & Martian Manhunter Preliminary Sketch

Like the Atom, I'm a big fan of Aquaman, and have long felt the deep but too-rarely touched upon friendship between the Sea King and Manhunter from Mars should be further explored. I covered finer details on one of this blog's very first posts here, and dwelt on it a bit more around the time the above image was making the rounds here. Now of course, this was produced by Michael Netzer as part of his Save J'onn campaign, which included the initial plea "Take Me... But Don't Kill J'Onn," the Ryan Choi and Ray Palmer pieces for Atom: The Tiny Titan Blog, and this final devotional for Rob Kelly's Aquaman Shrine. What's interesting though is that Mr. Netzer sent me a copy of the piece in production, and the initial intention seemed to me to be a quiet moment between J'Onn and Arthur alone. However, when the artist made the sketch public here, it included the Atom. Also, the line work here is fairly detailed for a sketch, while the finished piece was heavily altered to give it a painted look. I suspect this was at first going to be just for the Aquaman Shrine, but was instead converted into a more all-inclusive, labor-intensive denouement for Netzer's internet crusade. Whether (preferably) with or (as here) without the Atom, this was my favorite offering from that campaign.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

2008 Michael Netzer Martian Manhunter and the Atom (Ray Palmer) Art

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Michael Netzer continued his Martian Manhunter crusade, while I helped/hurt the cause by beginning a satirical series on this blog called "What Would Michael Netzer Do?" The point was to show that, regardless of whether J'Onn J'Onzz lived or even if Netzer drew him, they would still be handicapped by DC's horrible editorial dictates and generally poor writing in recent years. I labored over a Garth Ennis edition that never came into being, but you can still get a chuckle out of my repurposing '70s Netzer art with recontextualized dialogue by Frank Miller and Judd Winick.

In the midst of my buffoonery, Netzer answered both mine and Damian Maffei of the Atom: The Tiny Titan Blog's wishes to see J'Onn paired with the Silver Age Atom, Ray Palmer. While new incarnation Ryan Choi rode high, here was Palmer at the Manhunter's cavalier-booted feet. "Hey J'onn!! Maybe if you didn't have that neo particle sitting on your brow... you would've noticed you dropped something!" An Oreo? A Choco? No-- a new sandwich cookie chock full of Diabolic flavor! You can read more about it here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

2008 Michael Netzer Martian Manhunter and the Atom (Ryan Choi) Art

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So Michael Netzer was trying to save Martian Manhunter through the internet, and I suggested some blogs that might help him get his message out. I had been a fan of the Ray Palmer incarnation of the Atom for years, and was delighted when Damian Maffei began his Atom: The Tiny Titan Blog. To my knowledge, this was the next blog to receive a piece of original digital Michael Netzer art after mine as part of the awareness campaign, and it was a sight. Obviously, using J'Onn's brow as a pier for the latest Atom was inspired, though I couldn't see the Asian Ryan Choi in this rendition. For the most part, it looked like Ray Palmer in an alternate costume, and as that's my favorite Atom, I can say as I minded. I went into greater detail on the matter here

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2007 Michael Netzer "The Idol-Head Of Diabolu, A Blog For J'Onn J'Onzz" Banner

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Since I've fallen behind on daily blogging, I thought I would treat this as an opportunity to do a belated multi-part series on artist Michael Netzer's campaign to "save" the Martian Manhunter from his then-rumored and later realized comic book death during the Final Crisis mini-series.

My brief involvement with Mr. Netzer began on late 2007 when I mistakenly attributed art from a 1986 DC Comics Subscription Ad to him, and he left a comment to correct the error. That pretty much made my day. I also mentioned a nifty anecdote from his days as "Mike Nasser" found in Bryan Talbot's fun book of creator unmentionables, The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends (2007). That's when Mr. Netzer hit me with the real bombshell: this gorgeous, digitally rendered banner for my blog, which I gushed about at length here.

I held off debuting the banner until January of '08, where at mid-month the rumors began to circulate that Martian Manhunter and Aquaman's heads may be on the chopping block. Mr. Netzer and I began to correspond on the matter, at which time the artist shared with me details of his campaign to get DC Comics to "Take Me... But Don't Kill J'Onn." I suggested he use blogs to help spread his message, including those of a few friends of mine...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1996 JLA Howard Porter/John Dell Promotional Piece

Cool, no? I wish I could find a better copy on the net, but my scan from yesterday's Wizard Magazine article will just have to do. You can see the original black and white art enlarged here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wizard: The Guide To Comics #59 (July, 1996)

MAJOR LEAGUE by Scott Beatty
DC trots out its superhero Dream Team with a revamp of the Justice League of America

In this article, Wizard covered the return of the "Magnificent Seven" founders that launched the JLA series by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. "No longer will the JLA suffer through second-stringers like Metamorpho and Blue Beetle." Editor Ruben Diaz explained the thinking that "When it came to the Justice League, we realized that putting anyone but the icons in the book was like putting four musicians in bowl cuts and calling them the Beatles."

Grant Morrison noted the influence of Mark Waid's work on The Flash and his desire to move away from the '80s "Dark Age of comics" in his belief that it was time to take the League back to basics. "The Fantastic Four is a family unit. The X-Men was originally a school. The Metal Men was the periodic table come to life, and so on. All the different teams seem to proceed from some specific dynamic. And to me, the Justice League always came across as a kind of superhero United Nations who gets together to deal with things that are on a global or intergalactic scale."

Obviously, the League members of the Gardner Fox years had changed considerably over 37 years, and so too must the modern team. Morrison wished to move away from Kennedy-era optimism and focus on the iconic Leaguers tackling millennial anxiety given various nefarious forms. "And the Justice League, to me, has a slightly creepy element in the idea of these fantastic godlike beings sitting in a fortress and watching the world." This opened up comparison to Watchmen, but Morrison explained that where Alan Moore humanized super-heroes, he saw the JLA as "the pantheon of gods in the DC universe." Morrison hoped to incorporate the more daring aspects of the earliest League stories with elements of Giffen/DeMatteis humor.

On the art front, Howard Porter was tapped after a run on The Ray, as well as the Underworld Unleashed and Amalgam projects. Editor Ruben Diaz said, "If there's any one accomplishment that I can be happy about, that would be bringing Howard into comics. Hopefully, people will see how great we think he is." Porter was joined by his JLX inker, John Dell.

Though starting with the seven JLA founders, Morrison promised an expansion to 12 within the first year, as well as ditching the League's former base on Overmaster's spaceship for new digs. Among the returning members Morrison expected were Green Arrow and Black Canary. Morrison had also wanted to work with Plastic Man since he was a kid, intent on updating him with a Jim Carrey/Ace Ventura personality.

As for villains, Diaz pointed out that the League's rogues gallery left something to be desired, and anticipated fresh takes on Starro, the Shaggy Man, Kanjar Ro, Professor Ivo, and T.O. Morrow. Tomorrow Woman would be an original creation, while Morrison also referenced Starbreaker, Darkseid and Despero.

Diaz recognized that with the exception of Martian Manhunter, few permanent changes could impact the individual members, but Morrison was certain he had big enough ideas and maneuvers to work around continuity issues. "I just know that this is going to work... In the end, these are the world's greatest superheroes, and it's as simple as that. It has to be the world's greatest comic book."

There was also a sidebar called "First Impressions" where Morrison offered his take on each member of the new JLA line-up. Of Martian Manhunter, he said "The noble tribesman of a tribe that's long gone. I see him much like an ancient Indian warrior-- real wisdom and battle craft. And because everyone recognizes that he's been in every incarnation of the Justice League, he knows more about this team than anyone else."

Monday, July 6, 2009

2009 "50+ Tiny Characters" by Marcio Takara

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Art by Marcio Takara, currently working on BOOM! Studios take on Disney/Pixar's The Invincibles. I'm going to try to name everyone pictured from memory without Googling anyone...

(Right to left, top to bottom, hope and pray: Superman, Wonder Woman, J'Onn J'Onzz, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman, "AzBat," Adam West Batman, Batman Beyond, Bat-Mite, that Batwoman, Bizarro Batman, Wonder Man, U.S. Agent, Mockingbird, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Hulk, Wasp, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Yellowjacket, that Halo guy, Mega-Man, Lara Croft, Link, God Of War, Devil May Cry, Metron, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Hawkman, Firestorm, the Atom, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, that pale chick from Dynamo 5, Atom Eve, Invincible, Al the Alien, Shrinking Violet(?,) Omni Man and the Savage Dragon.

Why? I dunno.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

1998 Hasbro JLA Justice League of America Martian Manhunter Action Figure (Carded)

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After Martian Manhunter debuted in action figure form as part of the second series of Kenner's Super Powers Collection in 1985, he went on a thirteen year hiatus from toy shelves. Though Kenner planned to use him in their Batman: Total Justice line, as witnessed by his appearance in the 1997 Dollar General Total Justice Jumbo Coloring & Activity Book, the figure remained unproduced after the third and final assortment shipped. However, Kenner's parent company Hasbro felt there was still life in the line, and repackaged the Total Justice figures under the "JLA" banner, with new packaging and repaints. These were made exclusively for KB Toys and Diamond Comic Distributors, and obviously targeted the collectors market. "JLA" shed the kid-centric "fractal tech gear" accessories and focused on niche figures like our man Jones.

Each figure came with a plastic base sculpted into the "JLA" logo with a slat on the back. You could then cut out a spotlight cover image for the character printed on the back of the blister card packaging to create the advertised "COLLECTOR DISPLAY!" The line also featured the first action figure appearances of Superman Red/Superman Blue, the modern Superboy, Impulse, Zauriel, and the Atom. Steel and Wonder Woman, featured with Martian Manhunter in the Total Justice coloring book, finally joined the line, alongside Plastic Man and Red Tornado. New versions of TJ figures Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Superman, Batman (with and without a face mask,) Robin, and Green Arrow were also included, as well as others in boxed sets

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The Alien Atlas's card reprinted Gary Gianni's painted cover for JLA Annual #1 (1997), and offered the following biographical data:

Real Name: J'onn J'onzz/John Jones
Occupation: Private Detective
Base of Operations: Z'onn Z'orr
Antarctic Circle
Powers: Natural Martian ability to alter physical shape and density.

As is common amongst telepaths, the Martian Manhunter is an intensely silent figure. Even in his darkest moments, his mood is often reflected only by the expression in his eyes. When he speaks, others listen. His accent is deep and indescribable. Possibly the most highly regarded by his JLA peers, he is a founding member of every incarnation of the team, an alien whose loyalty to his adopted world is beyond words. J'onn prefers to use his shape-changing powers to maintain several identities so he can move among the humans he admires so much. J'onn is the only Leaguer to whom Batman defers. Green Lantern is his favorite of the group.

Though this "JLA" figure became a bargain bin favorite at K*B Toys, the floodgates on Martian Manhunter toys opened in the late '90s, and continue to the present. Thanks to the popularity of the JLA comic book series and a line devoted to the Justice League cartoon, the Martian Manhunter has become one of the most commonly produced DC Comics super-hero action figures.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

1993 Justice League Task Force Official Membership Card

This nifty promotional card was bound into the centerfold of June 1993's first issue of JLTF. J'Onn J'Onzz strikes the iconic Uncle Sam "I Want You!" pose from old military recruitment posters, with art provided by Sal Velluto.

The card images were printed on a single side, the back blank, requiring potential "members" to cut and fold.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Legends: The Collection (July, 1993)

Here's the cover to the "Legends" trade paperback by John Byrne and Karl Kesel. This is from those bygone days when publishers thought such editions were special enough to warrant their own original cover image. I love trades, and I buy more of them for myself than individual comics these days, but it was nice when there was a reasonable expectation that anything a publisher considered worthy of collection was a guaranteed quality purchase. Also, I really miss introductions, new interstitial material, and other special considerations made just for trades.

Legends #1 (11/86)
Legends #2 (12/86)
Legends #3-6 (1-4/87)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2003 JLA Promotional Bookmark

Featuring art by Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen from JLA #61 (February, 2002.) "Promm 8121" was a giveaway for direct market retail.