Friday, April 16, 2010

The Martian Manhunter Family

One of the things I've had on my "to do" list for, oh, two and a half years or so is to have all of the Idol-Head's posts organized in a series of easy to reference archives (like the frequently long-out-of-date link icons running down our sidebar.) This would be particularly helpful for my op/ed pieces, since even I have trouble tracking some of those down when certain subjects come up. I also really want to edit/rewrite some of the ones done when I was under time pressure/exhausted/inarticulate/etc. Until then though, I'll occasionally revisit some of this stuff via the wonder of cut & paste, either as filler material on my down days, or due to a need I foresee.

For instance, comments on yesterday's, Justice League Animated Style Miss Martian Custom Figure by Victor Kraven have focused heavily on the prospect of nurturing a "Martian Manhunter Family" now that the hero has returned to the land of the living. With his new costume and mission, it seems folks are interested in revising areas where the character has had problems in the past, this being one of them. As it happens, this topic was discussed at length at The Absorbascon blog way back in early 2005. Stumbling upon Scipio's suggestions on the matter, I wrote up a two part response post that I thought I might reedit and revisit here.

About halfway through the February 15, 2008 post Grant Morrison and the Absorbascon, I began talking about J'Onn J'Onzz's shaky history with supporting casts. The only two reoccurring characters to turn up in the first few Manhunter from Mars strips were Professor Mark Erdel, who died in the first story and had his passing revisited with every origin recap, and Lieutenant Saunders, who was in charge of detectives on the Middletown Police Department. Saunders was soon replaced by Captain Harding, who served mostly to sit at his desk and provide exposition to John Jones at the start of his cases. From there were a bunch of "one appearance wonders," whom Scipio was kind enough to cataloge in "Support Your Local Martian!" A few years in, a rival/love interest was introduced in the form of Policewoman Diane Meade, but she only appeared irregularly in a handful of Detective Comics strips over the course of its nine year run. Toward the end of that period, an other-dimensional pet/sidekick named Zook began joining J'onn J'onzz's adventures on a monthly basis, continuing into the majority of the Manhunter strip's House of Mystery entries. Once that ended in 1968, not a single member of the strip's supporting players would make another appearance for at least thirty years.

Beginning in the 1970s, the only support the Martian Manhunter received was in the form of fellow super-heroes and whatever normal characters also played into his various team books. Since J'Onn J'Onzz is such a workaholic and so rarely has his own title anyway, it makes sense he spends most of his time with other super-heroes. I realize supporting casts have always been a comic book staple, but so too has the general apathy among fans and public alike regarding those types. For every Alfred Pennyworth or Mary Jane Watson, there are dozens of examples of Dulla McLovintrest, Guy Bestpal, Dr. Arther Tayfigure, and the rest. Rather than surround John Jones with expendable, forgettable cop buddies, why not get the exact same mileage with far greater levels of interest and resonance out of middling-to-obscure super-heroes?

That seemed to be Scipio's logic, as his original vision of a Martian Manhunter series was something of a clearing house for maintaining old trademarks. March 27, 2005's Are You Sleeping, Brother J'onn? saddled J'Onn with a supporting cast consisting of some of the least viable old DC properties imaginable. Besides looking to revive moribund franchises through association, Scipio also thought this would play off his theory of DC's Dynastic Centerpiece Model, which assumes that "a hero is not a single character but the centerpiece of his/her own array of good and evil forces... a constellation of characters is clustered around the central figure, which helps make him/her seem even more important...You may not always like how such a pattern's being used, but, like it or not, characters who lack the pattern have trouble standing on their own."

The granddaddy of the Dynastic Centerpiece model was the Marvel Family, which were ripped off wholesale by the Superman Family, which the Batman Family initially plundered. A detail more along those lines in my own attempt at following Scipio's pattern, The Dynastic Centerpiece of Diabolu, but I'll cut to the chase and showcase them now:

Junior Counterpart: Jemm, Son of Saturn
Since Morrison connected the character to Mars in "Rock of Ages," and especially with Ostrander's follow-up in J'Onn's own title, this was an early lock.

Female Version: Miss Martian
Not so long ago, this would have either been a reach or just a token slot for the next candidate down. Now, simplicity itself.

Kid Sidekick: Gypsy
Cindy had to get in here. Ever since her reappearance in JLI, Gypsy and J'Onn have been closely linked as surrogate daughter/father.

Black Sheep: Glenn Gammeron
Never heard of Gammeron, the bounty hunting frienemy with history dating back to before J'Onn lost his family? Speak up now if you're hot for an entry on ol' Glenn. I dig this cat a lot, and the JLTF synopsizes remain a ways away...

Civilian Companion: Cameron Chase
Damned if this DC thing isn't vindicating many of Ostrander's choices, but linking his run to D.C. Johnson's late, lamented series was a great idea.

Elder Statesman: King Faraday
Darwyn Cooke's notion of connecting J'Onn & King grew to be among his favorite New Frontier relationships. Mine too.

Animal Companion: Zook
Junior counterpart, kid sidekick... you just knew Zook would get in here, as well. I'm still not comfortable referring to Zook as a sentient "pet," but that was how the character was usually described.

Authority Figure: H'ronmeer
Don't get much more authoritative than your own personal Jesus.

Contextualizing City: None. I don't know when it was decided John Jones was a detective in Middleton, but his generic beat was almost never identified in the Silver Age. After he quit the force, whatever city he happened to be in was also rarely named, and pretty near never the same. Marco Xavier was all over Eurasia. There's just no good reason to pin J'Onn down to one burg, unless maybe Haven: The Broken City is still around somewhere. I do think J'Onn should have a cool base, whether it be a new Z'onn Z'orr, a repurposed Satellite/Watchtower, or what have you.

At this point, we get into super-villains. Scipio added a subdivision to his Dynastic Centerpiece model in the form of The Villainous Tarot, which expanded and clarified his positions on the roles played by figures in a rogues gallery. This caused me to reevaluate positions of certain villains between their Dynastic and Tarot entries, which I'll comment on here. If you want to see my Tarot in its original context, click here.

Arch Enemy/Opposite Number: Despero
As Martian Manhunter's nemesis, Despero seemed a natural fit for "Arch Enemy." Scipio would surely disagree, and his removing that designation from the Tarot saw Despero's become my "Opposite Number" choice instead, accompanied by a lengthy explanation.

Lunatic/Mocker: Malefic
It's no secret I'm not fond of Malefic, but he obviously has his role to play. As a loony pushover with a body count, he's an extra-green Joker.

Hero-worshipping Villain/Unhelpful Helper: Triumph
Clearly, Triumph had the best, though never remotely selfless, intentions. He wanted everything he touched to turn out to the good, for his own personal aggrandizement, and was constantly surprised when he failed epically. I can't think of many super-villains treated as harshly and hatefully by the Martian Manhunter as Triumph, but I can't say he didn't beg for every throttling.

Civilian Enemy: Director Bones
This one for some reason didn't make the transition into the Villainous Tarot, but ongoing thorn in the side with the law on theirs is a righteous role.

Untouchable Crime Lord: Vandal Savage
This is another category not in the Tarot, which is a shame. This was a tough call, as Savage is a greater DCU villain and Flash has some degree of ownership. The Faceless Mr. V could have gone here, but he was ultimately touchable. Savage, while not typically associated with J'Onn J'Onzz, was probably his second most common foe of the 90's. I look forward to providing greater detail, and only regret the trend didn't continue into the aughts.

Crime Lord: Mr. V/Faceless
What a difference a word makes. Quite a few characters could lay claim to Savage as a major foe, including (but not limited to) Rip Hunter, Resurrection Man, Immortal Man, and a sizeable portion of the memberships of the JSA and JLA. What made the difference was "unstoppable," as Martian Manhunter fought a lopsided war against Savage for over a year & a half in the 90's, with repeated run-ins for most of that decade. Still, Mr. V was the original ongoing crime lord of the Manhunter from Mars strip, even if his plans were consistently foiled and he (presumably) was killed in the final Manhunter chapter.

Magician: Lord Asmodel
Another Centerpiece-exclusive category. This was the only tricky one for me, as J'Onn tends not to deal with magic types. There was that one fight with Etrigan, and the witch he teamed-up with the Spectre to fight, but those were pretty weak reaches. Asmodel meanwhile has a history of kicking Martian Manhunter's ass, so he seemed a solid choice. The only others that come to mind are Libra and The Conjurer.

Evil Opposite/Rival Twin: The Marshal
There's quite a few evil Martian Manhunters out there, from B'rett to The Hyperclan to B’enn B’urnzz and a bunch of prior selections. Maybe it's just that awesome Chuck Patton cover, but there's something about the genetically-engineered military leader who led the first true invasion from Green Martians that still gets me going.

Femme Fatale: Bel Juz
Another role dropped from the Tarot. I had more options here than I expected, but since no one else can really claim Bel Juz as one of their own, she seemed appropriate.

Mental Challenger I/Gadgeteer: Professor Arnold Hugo
The man! The myth! The melon! Scipio kept the "Mental Challenger" role, but I reassigned Hugo in the Tarot version. Hugo invented one device after another that put the Martian Marvel out, but almost never truly endangered him. He often set circumstances into motion that would occupy the Alien Atlas, but really didn't overwhelm him. I love me some Hugo, and he's undoubtedly formidable, but ultimately more a nuisance than a mastermind.

Mental Challenger II: Bette Noir
This is clearly the weakest link in Manhunter's "tarot," and its adverse effect on the hero is extraordinary. Typically, villains who can shut down Manhunter's telepathy are Justice League class threats. Even overlooking that advantage, few of Manhunter's foes are as smart as him, either scientifically or strategically. Dr. Trapp doesn't rate, because he really hasn't manage to take the Sleuth From Outer Space on by himself. Vandal Savage, despite his skill, seemed more a test for early members of the JLA and the JLTF than someone who could plausibly take J'Onn on. Bel Juz pulled the wool over J'Onn's eyes once, and helped install the Marshal, but posed no direct threat. Only Bette Noir has troubled J'Onzz on several occasions, through both telepathy and maneuvers. She's no Despero, but he already has a slot, so she slides into this place.

Physical Challenger: Brimstone
He's big, he's strong, he's made of fire, he has ties to Darkseid, and several fights with the Alien Atlas under his considerable belt. If anything, Manhunter has too many of these. Nearly every creature released from the Diabolu Idol-Head qualified, as did most notable VULTURE and Middletown threats.

Twisted One: The Prophet
This is the one category in which the Manhunter excels. It seems like religious fantatics, fascists, and the like are drawn to him like Mr. Moth to a Human Flame. I went with the Prophet, as he was created for the Martian Manhunter Special and held his own. Tybalt Bak'sar, Brimstone, Cabal, Director Bones, and others appearing later could have served as well.

Misguided Idealist: The Master Gardener
A fellow Martian who arrived on Earth first to help lead his adopted planet toward the Great Evolution? That's swell! Doing it by manipulating the media, violently supressing dissent, and binding a fungus that causes spontaneous combustion within the bodies of the populace? Uncool!

Friend-Turned-Foe: Re's Eda
J'Onn J'Onzz became a fugitive from Mars and beat on a slew of innocent super-heroes in the name of poor R’es Eda, the victim of an assassination. Except he wasn't, and instead framed J'Onn J'Onzz in order to lead his people in an invasion against peaceful co-habitants on Mars II. That's forgetting N'or Cott's inglorious death besides...

Sexual Challenger: Scorch
A case could be made for Manhunter getting his freak on right through the Bronze Age, whether it be Diane Meade, J'en , or the plentiful arm candy from the Marco Xavier days. When his status as a widower was revealed, he went through a lengthy dry spell. Around the time of his ongoing series though, he started running buck wild with a number of flings and near misses. All told though, I can think of only one "bad girl," one "villainess" who ever got her hands on the guy mind, body and spirit-- to horrific consequence. While Scorch's intentions were the best, based on her history and the unlikelihood of her remaining "straight" should she return from her coma, Scorch is the only truly qualified selection.

Evil Genius: Darkseid
Another massive weakness of the Martian Manhunter-- his best foes aren't "his." I could have used a number of other gadgeteers and tried to cover by placing Prof. Hugo in this spot, but the truth will out. Most of the villains Manhunter has faced who are remotely at his mental level; Savage, Gorilla Grodd, Professors Ivo and Fortune, Despero; could just as easily be removed as options due to prior or multitudinous committments. Darkseid was the primary villain after Malefic during the "Ostrander/Mandrake" series, which is another reason I freakin' hate that series.

Manipulator: Commander Blanx
The guy managed to bushwhack J'Onn J'Onzz, pass him through a kangaroo court into exile, nearly ruin his Earthly reputation, and slaughter most of Mars-- all for the sake of a real estate deal! I'm still not sure he isn't alive and well, hidden within the Bush Administration. Dick? Karl?

Contingent Foe: Fernus the Burning Martian
Were there no J'Onn J'Onzz in pursuit of a cure for his people's natural(?) weakness, a bunch of White Martians and troops of Vandal Savage would still be alive today. I can't say I like Fernus, but maybe fanboys will think twice the next time they beg for the Manhunter from Mars to "realize his potential."

Personal Foe: N'or Cott
A bit of a cheat, but most anyone else who could have fit this role have been taken up elsewhere. The Manhunter tends to be pretty unambiguously in the right, so beyond occasional lapses into New Age passivism, he doesn't mind blasting most foes overly much.


MatthewMG said...

I'm hot for an entry on ol' Glenn Gammeron. Don't know much about him but I dig him too.

I'm a bit less hot for Despero as the arch enemy. He's a great fit for opposite number and you've made a strong case for including him in the rogue's gallery but to me an arch enemy should be someone closely associated with the hero. Like Batman and the Joker or Holes and Moriarty. At this point Des seems to be seen by most fans as a JLA foe, to the point that the Justice League cartoon can do a Despero episode focusing on the enmity between him and John Stewart while J'onn is consigned to a supporting role.

Personally, I feel the White Martians have the best claim to the title of "Martian Manhunter's Arch Enemy." They've appeared in both J'onn's solo books and Justice League of America. IIRC Monty Moran is the only other foe who's done that, and he hasn't been seen for decades. Until the Human Flame returned they were the only J'onn rogues to have appeared pre and post crisis. They've also popped up in other people's books, like "Teen Titans" and "Son of Vulcan". They've even made an appearance in other media, in an admittedly bastardized form, as the villains of the Justice League episode "Secret Origins." And because they're the same species, and have the same powers and weaknesses, it's hard to think of "White Martians" without thinking of "Martian Manhunter.

Diabolu Frank said...

Matthew, I think you're the first person in two years to take me up on my occasional Glenn Gammeron-baiting comments. I love that guy! You're also right about Despero. In the years since I first posted the Dynastic Centerpiece of Diabolu, I've come to realize someone from Manhunter's own lore needs to be his arch foe. As of right now, J'Onn has no better nemesis/opposite number than Despero, but a revised Commander Blanx would better serve the role. Malefic is a popular alternative, but he's demonstrably inferior to J'Onn J'Onzz in every way, so he lacks punch.

I like the White Martians, but I draw I line of distinction between those savages and the more refined Pale Martians of Commander Blanx. If the Whites can't come up with a strong figure that leaves an impression separate from the pack, perhaps a Blanx should lead them? Point being, without the Hyperclan, the White Martians are no less a generic mass of malcontents than the Green Martian invaders of the 1980s. I'd get more excited if there were individual White characters, like the Greens had with Bel Juz and the Marshal.

Technically, Mr. V may not have appeared in Justice League of America, but his image was cast and his presence was felt. Monty Moran may have actually appeared, but his relevance was lacking. Plus, he looks like Col. Sanders, and needs some extra special herbs and spices to get me thinking about him with any esteem.

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, thanks for a great post! I would like to learn a bit more about Glenn Gammeron as well. I like the list.

Despero does seem to be a League foe. He might be good to use at times, but there is the problem of overuse.

Commander Blanx could work. As Martians are shape shifter, possibly he could be repurposed into a Green Martian who lead a dissident movement, got caught breaking a few laws by the Manhunters (including J'Onn) and finds a band of White Martians who need a guide.

Malefic can perhaps be imagined along the Cain/Abel lines, a dark twin whose body count outweighs the Joker. Possibly he could be tied more closely to one of the other foes to help distinguish him from the Joker, who tends to be more of a loner. Perhaps he could be portrayed as a corrupted version of J'Onn. If DC wants to use the bad brother archetype, why not play it up to mythic levels.

I do like the friends for J'Onn. There was a White Martian in the Coneheadhunter stage who worked with J'Onn. Possibly he could be the impetuous younger version, struggling with his heritage. (Possibly, J'emm and M'gann would try to guide him.)

As for a home, maybe J'Onn has several. He could perhaps visit some of his friends in different cities, including a few from the early Silver Age. (Diane Meade might serve as an older advisor.)

LissBirds said...

I kind of see Miss Martian as the Junior Counterpart rather than Jemm. But then where does that leave Jemm?

King Faraday needs to meet up with the Martian Manhunter sooner rather than later. While not a straight-out villain, I would like to see him a role where he's butting heads with J'onn because his heart's in the right place, but his methods for achieving justice are less than sterling. I think there could be a great dynamic between two characters who approach the same problem from opposite ends of the spectrum.

I don't know who Glenn Gammeron is, so I gots me some reading to do. No surprise there. But you had me at "bounty hunter."

Oh, and I liked Harding. He was rather jovial. It'd be nice to see him pop up again.

I agree with you about Mr. V and Vandal Savage. And Bel Juz. Director Bones--is he from the Ostrander series? Despero. Eh. I really would like to see either Hugo or Blanx in that role, because both attack the Martian Manhunter's values, and seek to destroy his character. Despero is just an agent of pure evil who may have some bad blood with J'onn, but would hate anyone who had defeated him. Blanx and Hugo have the distinction of being personal enemies. Hugo downright wants (and failed) to humiliate J'onn, and maybe turn destroy his popularity as well. Since a big part of J'onn's character is how he feels humans perceive him, I think that's a greater assault on his character than just trading blows with Despero is. But that's just my two cents. Plus, I find Hugo's motivations easy to identify with. Think of how many villains are more popular than their heroes, and what that has done for them? (i.e. The Joker.) And the added bonus is that he's not a JLA foe.

James said...

I second an entry for Glenn Gammeron. I also disagree with Despero as the arch enemy and I think Malefic even though you hate him is the best for arch enemy. Malefic fought the JLA in the comic series. Also Malefic was in the JLA classified issues in a 5 part series called "The Ghosts of Mars". Yes, he will lose in a fight to Martian Manhunter but so do many arch enemies. Joker would not win against batman in a fight. There is the whole crazy/kills people thing that makes him the arch enemy. Lex Luthor wouldn't beat Superman, but he knows Superman won't kill him. Malefic destroyed every thing the martian manhunter loves. Because of Malefic martian manhunter can not have his picture perfect life. Also its his "evil twin", yes "evil twin" how unoriginal but still can be very interesting depends on the way it is executed.

Diabolu Frank said...

Based on the response here, it's about time I at least gave Glenn a profile page. I wrote one for my old site years back that should be easy enough to edit and post. For more, I'd have to be able to go deep into synthesizing Justice League Task Force, and there's frankly no time right now.

James, archenemy is between Malefic and Blanx these days, for sure.

Liss, maybe J'en as "Female Version," Miss Martian as "Junior Counterpart," and Jemm as "Kid Sidekick?" It's an elastic proposition, though.

Mister Bones in an old Infinity Inc. foe who vanished when their book got canceled, only to resurface in Chase years later as a regional director for the DEO. He was brought into the Ostrander series early on, and impacted Manhunter greatly at one point in the second year. I could see King Faraday and Martian Manhunter working together to counter Bones & Amanda Waller, although there's some unintentional racial overtones there, since Bones in black.

You make a really good point about Hugo attacking Manhunter's public perception, but I still worry that's too close to working the Lex Luthor angle. Maybe if Hugo found a way to make J'Onzz hang himself?

Will, why turn Commander Blanx green? I feel most of the Pre-Crisis history should be reinstated and amalgamated with later revisions, so that Blanx could remain a Pale/Pole Dweller, rather than being rejiggered into an ancient White.

Was the White you mentioned R'oh K'arr? I thought he died? I'm afraid I still haven't read the Coneheadhunter mini-series, but I'll be getting to it as soon as feasible. I was working toward it in March, but got sidetracked, and will likely jump back a bit (Infinite Crisis?) before returning to that period.

LissBirds said...

"I could see King Faraday and Martian Manhunter working together to counter Bones & Amanda Waller, although there's some unintentional racial overtones there, since Bones in black." You could always substitute DEO agent Rio Ferdinand--she was in the Coneheader series--for one of them. J'onn and Faraday as odd couple partners against government conspiracies would be a series I would definitely read. Throw in a few Question guest appearances and set the tone as government conspiracies/noir/paranoia and I would love it.

"Maybe if Hugo found a way to make J'Onzz hang himself?" Figuratively, I hope. If Hugo could successfully degrace J'onn in the public eye, that might be interesting to see J'onn recover from and add to the constant series of failures, and could avoid parallels with Superman, as I don't think Luthor ever succeeded in damaging Superman's reputation. (As far as I know.)

I think Will was talking about Till'All? He was a youngish/naive White Martian. Would definitely like to see your thoughts about that Coneheader series, Frank.

Matthew McKinnon-Gray said...

Perhaps Blanx could be both a pale and a white? IIRC The "Son of Vulcan" mini series established that not all Whites were captured and banished by the Greens. From time to time the decedents of these Whites would try to reconquer Earth. Perhaps Blanx could be one of these decedents, but instead of Earth he set his sights on Mars and ran afoul of J'onn. Of course all of this would have take place before Malefic's plague.

Speaking of Son of Vulcan, he might make a good kid sidekick. He has ties to the mythos, needs a mentor, and having J'onn's weakness as his power is a nice twist on the sidekick formula (imagine Superman having Kid Kryptonite as his partner). Gypsy could be bumped up to Junior Counterpart. She's closer to J'onn than Jemm anyway. Jemm could be like Black Panther or Namor in "Fantastic Four"; The friendly monarch who sometimes comes into conflict with the hero in order to protect the interests of his people.

As for a supporting cast, I kind of like Diane Meade as John Jone's partner in a private eye firm, with L-Ron as their office assistant. He was working at a fast food joint in "Formerly Known as the Justice League," so he could get work with John without arousing too many suspicions.

Diabolu Frank said...

"From time to time the decedents of these Whites would try to reconquer Earth. Perhaps Blanx could be one of these decedents, but instead of Earth he set his sights on Mars and ran afoul of J'onn."

That's pretty much how I see it. Both J'Onn and Blanx are descended from the ancient Whites and Greens, representatives of the former having been released from millenial imprisonment in the Still Zone for New World Order.

"Speaking of Son of Vulcan, he might make a good kid sidekick"

The sidekick-with-fire-powers precedent was set by Zook, but I though they killed off SoV in the Titans East special?

I'm all for using either L-Ron or Oberon, as they're both great foils for J'Onn, and Diane belongs.

LissBirds said...

Matthew, glad to see I'm not the only Diane Meade fan out there who wouldn't mind J'onn revisiting his PI days. Though occasionally I waver on the precise details, I think he needs a human secret identity of some sort. (I finally did get to see Eastern Promises, which m.c. had mentioned a little while ago, and J'onn could fit into a story like that.) Frank, I didn't think you liked Diane, or was it just "John Jones" that you didn't like?

mathematicscore said...

I'd like to pipe up that Despero is wonderful. I like Jemm as sort of a Tempest or Mon-El to J'onn. Love Gypsy, Glenn is fun and has tons of story potential.

As for a environ, I think J'onn's a citizen of the world, unlike Batman and Superman, his original strip involved him moving...twice. From his first police setting as John Jones, then to his Super Heroics around the coasts with Diabolu, then Europe to battle Vulture.

Say, isn't an evil organization sort of a tradition? Intergang, League of Assassins, Kobra, etc...? Vulture gets my vote.

Anywho, great stuff.

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, I really do like the Silver Age Diane Meade. I just want the old Detective Comics/House of Mystery stories to be set in the period they were published, and I don't want John Jones to return. If I'm allowed the conceit that a relative of the original Meade (the Year One/Ostrander model was a brunette anyway) joined up with a new J'Onn J'Onzz identity, I'm down. The Modern Age Meade is a bit snarky for my taste (that's Gypsy's job,) but could be developed into a better character.

M.C., I love Despero, but I bow to popular opinion and the recognition that J'Onn needs an archenemy entirely his own. Despero can be to J'Onn what Darkseid is to Superman-- a more powerful foe that threatens the greater universe, but holds special enmity toward our hero. As for what Darkseid is to J'Onn, God, don't get me started. I'm still working to accept Malefic without biting off my own tongue.

Totally on the same page regarding a nomadic J'Onzz. I loved the prospect of his being the Superman of the Southern Hemisphere. Both J'Onn and Miss Martian were particularly big in Australia, which reminded M'Gann of home. I'd like see that angle explored further.

Good point about the evil organizations, too. I only went with Scipio's layout, and he missed that. Aquaman had O.G.R.E., Hawkman had C.A.W., Wonder Woman fought a slew of secret societies-- it fits.

LissBirds said...

"If I'm allowed the conceit that a relative of the original Meade (the Year One/Ostrander model was a brunette anyway) joined up with a new J'Onn J'Onzz identity, I'm down" Ah, okay, Frank. I must have misunderstood you earlier about Diane. I'm down with any human partner, male or female. Just somebody to keep him grounded and play off of.

Australia would be fun, I think, and different. But I've really got former Soviet Union stuck in my head now as a potential setting for him. I don't quite agree with you guys about him being nomadic...I don't mind if he roves around, but I think he should have somewhere to call "home," a base, and/or some sort of personal attachment to somebody (even a pet)--otherwise he couldn't hold down his own series, and he'll just be that guy who always hangs around the Watchtower. He doesn't have to go "home" a lot or be close to anybody, just at least have some sort of anchor somewhere.

And evil organizations are always great. You could add Checkmate in there, too. Or the DEO. (Though they're not really evil, I guess.)

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, I definitely like the original Diane Meade. She was smart, capable, caring and nice. The Waid/Ostrander model was much more critical and pushy, without much to redeem her personality flaws in the way of job performance. I realize John helped out the patrolwoman quite a bit in the Silver Age, but she was still a remarkable individual. I can't think of a single act of the Modern Age incarnation beyond her constant griping. As I said, Gypsy has always been sarcastic, but her biting comments are actually insightful and funny, plus she's a genuine heroine in her own right. Modern Meade is just plain unpleasant.

I'm not opposed to a home base either, Liss. I just think J'Onn should have a run somewhere, tell some stories, and move on once things get stale. Russia could really use a hero these days, so that would be awesome, but that shouldn't preclude the occasional patrol into the Middle East or Africa. Let "Vlas Vasiliev" have his turn for a few years, then move on once that's played out.

The DEO has always been mighty sinister, but in the same way any government agency is. The C.I.A. scares the hell out of me, regardless of their necessity in preserving my nation's security.

Count Drunkula said...

Frank - Can I ask how you define the "opposite number" villain? Is it a villain with similar appearance or power sets but opposite goals, or is there another way to define it?

I'm not asking to question your Despero pick. I'm actually trying to figure out a villain tarot for Hawkman and I want to know if I have this concept correct.

Diabolu Frank said...

Ryan, I didn't come up with the "Villainous Tarot" concept/definitions, I just worked off of the originator Scipio's basic outline to build one for J'Onn J'Onzz. Scipio himself was pretty vague, so I intuited his intentions based on his suggested representatives in the role for other characters:

Dynastic Centerpiece: Superman
Opposite Number: General Zod

Dynastic Centerpiece: Batman
Opposite Number: Killer Moth

Dynastic Centerpiece: Wonder Woman
Opposite Number: Devastation

Based on that, I assumed Scipio meant the villain who was most similar to the hero in powers/the manner they operate/etc. while still being distinct beings. Otherwise, Batman's would more like the Wraith/Reaper, Superman's the Eradicator, and Wonder Woman's Artemis/Nubia. Despero has many of the same powers and exists on similar terms as J'Onn relative to Earth, but of is also a rageaholic schemer.

Check out Scipio's original entry, both for clarification and Hawkman suggestions in the comments.

Count Drunkula said...

Thanks. I disagree with some of Scipio's choices, but I can kind of understand those choices.

I didn't see any Hawkman lists in the comments.

Diabolu Frank said...

Nuts! Maybe it was the on one of his Dynastic Centerpiece posts? I remember discussing a Hawkman version somewhere...