Friday, April 23, 2010

If DC Comics Renumbers Martian Manhunter to #200?

I've been playing catch-up on reading other people's blogs, and found that ~PTOR~ over at the Doctor Strange/ROM/Man-Thing blog Sanctum Sanctorum Comix had celebrated his 200th post by relating it to the 200th issue of the Sorcerer Supreme's series. What you may not be aware of is that no Dr. Strange series, not even the 1951-1976 anthology/reprint series Strange Tales, has ever hit their bicentennial issue. So instead of covering a 200th issue, ~P~ spent his anniversary post considering variables in a really long math problem with the intention of determining what book could be considered to serve as Dr. Strange #200, like whether annuals/mini-series/etc. would count, and how that would jigger the results. While that might all sound like a bit of silliness, it is hardly without precedent, as the first Dr. Strange series began at #169. While the Nick Fury feature was spun-off with a new #1, the Doctor retained Strange Tales' numbering, even though the Master of the Mystic Arts didn't debut until #110.

Further, following all the cancellations and relaunches that have plagued comics since the '80s has come a restored nostalgia and respect for tradition, recently seeing Wonder Woman reclaim her original eponymous series numbering at #600 (encompassing two relaunches.) The Incredible Hulk, who debuted a couple of decades after the Amazing Amazon, also recently hit #600. Even though his first series only lasted a half dozen issues, he reaped dividends from claiming the fifty-eight issues of Tales To Astonish he didn't star in before taking it over and eventually renaming it after himself.

All this is to say that I want to play too! The Martian Manhunter, despite helping to start the Silver Age of Comics with his feature in 1955, and seeing continuous publication until 1968, only ever had two comics appear with his name around the title over those thirteen years. In fifty-five years, there's only been a total of 57 comics titled "Martian Manhunter" somewhere in the legal indicia (discounting reprints.) Yet, there have been hundreds of Martian Manhunter stories. Given his due, where would the anniversaries have fallen, using roughly the same criteria as applied to Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter (essentially, only Manhunter From Mars strips?)

  • Martian Manhunter #50 = Detective Comics #274: "The Human Flame"
    Maybe Grant Morrison practices magic after all? It just so happens the guy who initiated the murder of J'Onn J'Onzz after decades of obscurity made his debut appearance in here! Also, this was the Alien Atlas' fiftieth appearance anywhere, occurring just a bit prior to the formation of the Justice League of America.
  •  Martian Manhunter #100 = Detective Comics #324: "The Beast Who Was J'onn J'onzz"
    A much less interesting "milestone," as even if you count J'onn J'onzz's team-up with Green Arrow in Brave and the Bold #50, the anniversary issue would still be run of the mill. Two issues later, and we'd have hit "The Death of John Jones, Detective," the last Manhunter story in 'Tec.
  •  Martian Manhunter #125 = House of Mystery #165: “The Deadly Martian!”
    The final Professor Arnold Hugo appearance for 43 years, and his only story involving Marco Xavier. Lending more credence to discounting Manhunter's two Brave and the Bold team-ups, #167 was an average Mr.V/Vulture entry.

This is the last point where a "solo series" can be determined without things getting controversial. Pretty much however you slice it though, there's going to be a gap of at least twenty-nine years. Much as it pains me, I have to discount the essential Manhunter appearances from Justice League of America and most of World's Finest, as well as scads of guest appearances. By the established criteria, the three solo strips in Adventure Comics count, as does World's Finest #245, since it concluded the tale and was by that point a Dollar Comic anthology. From there, here are some optional Martian Manhunter #150s:
  1. Martian Manhunter Special #1: If you count the 1988 mini-series, the story in Secret Origins #35, "The Man I Never Was" from Justice League International Annual #3, 1992's American Secrets prestige mini-series, "Heat Wave" from Justice League Quarterly #11, "Help Me Make It Through the Night!" from Showcase '93 #10, and "Deep Down" from Showcase '95 #9, you get the first solo story "anniversary" with the Martian Marvel actually on the cover. It wasn't much to brag about, but The Prophet was introduced.
  2. Martian Manhunter #3: If you discount all the specials, annuals and mini-series, since they're "separate" from the "ongoing." Then add "Eye To Eye" from Showcase '96 #9 and "A Day In The Life: Martian Manhunter" from JLA Secret Files and Origins #1. This issue was the full debut of Bette Noir after a cameo in #1,000,000.
  3.  Martian Manhunter #5-7: If you set aside the Secret Origins, the JLI annual story, and/or the JLQ appearance as being one-offs or team appearances (Batman co-starred in one, with lots of cameos besides,) you get a fill-in issue or a chapter of the Malefic arc. You might even consider tossing the very brief SF&Os tale as well.

#200, you ask?

  1. Martian Manhunter (2007) #6: If you throw in everything but the kitchen sink, including Brave New World.
  2. If you count from any other criteria, there is no Martian Manhunter #200.

So, what have we learned from all this? That's right kids-- if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you? I spent a few hours working this nonsense out that would have been better applied elsewhere.


Tom said...

Did you know that if the Ostrander series hadn't been cancelled, the May 2010 issue would be #138?

LissBirds said...

So if we count MM V3 #6 (a.k.a. rock bottom) as #200, I guess that means there's no where to go but up, right?


Diabolu Frank said...

But it was canceled Tom! Mu-WA-HAH-HA!

rob! said...

Yeah, I think this renumbering thing is getting out of hand.

I'd love to see DC fill the new Adventure Comics with Aquaman in front and J'onn in the back and call it a day.

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, J'Onn's got a whole lot less right to be in Adventure Comics than Aquaman. I think it would be an awesome team-up, but seeing as they're two of my favorite characters, of course I would. Historically speaking, it should probably be Aquaman and Green Arrow in More Fun, which might sell better, given Ollie's carried a few hundred more solo issues than J'Onn. All I know is that I felt burned after coming back to Legion for Jim Shooter's truncated run, so it took the Atom feature to get me on board for Paul Levitz's return. I just figure I'm probably the only person sold because of an Atom/Legion combo. Everyone else seems ticked to be shelling out $4 for an almost totally unrelated property. Keeping Superboy or adding R.E.B.E.L.S. would have made more sense and happier customers. Atom just smells like trade bait.

rob! said...

DC clearly made the decision a while back that Green Arrow deserves a solo title no matter what, for as soon as they cancel his book they start it up again, with some slight title variation.

They still are not as confident in Arthur and J'Onn, which is why I think they'd be a great way to fill Adventure.

Diabolu Frank said...

That, and only one Green Arrow series has ever been remotely good, and even then only sporadically. I'd match up any Aquaman run against Ollie, and Queen's never appeared in anything as good as American Secrets.