Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010 Best of Martian Manhunter Cosplay

The Irredeemable Shag was kind enough to not only send me tons of DragonCon 2010 Photos, but also promote their appearance on my blogs through the costume play network. That led to my being offered a link to a gallery with some awesome additional Martian Manhunter pictures. Most feature the Classic Martian Manhunter Cosplayer, and all are damned cool.

Martian Manhunters & Miss Martian Mind Meld

Justice League International: J'Onn J'Onzz shares his Oreo Cookies

Beetle & Booster steal J'Onn's cookies anyway

J'Onn J'Onzz-- Mall Cop

Martian Manhunter Monitors Middletown

Along Came J'Onzz (alternately: Cool Hand J'Onn, or just plain my favorite)

See the Full Gallery Here

More Cosplay of the Day:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Read This, Too...

For two years in a row, I've promised a "Summer of Saturn" and failed to deliver.The truth is, the Jemm maxi-series is kind of a slog. The book is filled with oodles of sad characters who invariably have really bad things happen to them, until everything comes to a drawn out, totally depressing, open-ended conclusion. A decade and a half later, Jemm returns to continue as a literal whipping boy, his supporting cast forgotten or mutilated, until he himself receives a borderline offensive personality transplant. I would characterize myself as more of a Jemm supporter than a fan, seeing potential in the character and his role as a member of the Martian Manhunter Dynasty. Anyhow, barring a summer, I thought I would at least pack September with Jemm material, and I think I've done a reasonable job of it, but I suspect this has been a labor for everyone involved. I assume folks are more interested in J'Onn J'Onzz and closely related characters, plus I'm plain sick of Jemm for the moment, so let's just drop the matter until next June, at least?

Speaking of burn out, there's another one of them blog crossovers going on today, and I chose not to partake of it this round. However, a bunch of the people involved extended me courtesy of links and participation in the past, so I feel I should at least acknowledge what they're doing and offer my readers something for today. Read This Too's "basic idea is for each blogger involved to recommend a comic or trade they enjoy but don’t typically write about.  Thanks to our buddy Kelson from Speed Force for spearheading this interesting and horizon-expanding crossover!"

A lot of people like the Martian Manhunter for a variety of reasons, so rather than focus on one book, I'll offer a selection of brief recommendations broken down by category...

Gerard Jones fans

American Secrets was a quirky, twisting, obtuse and challenging piece of work. Jones' Green Lantern: Mosaic was like that, but more so. It's difficult, peculiar material for what's ostensibly a super-hero series, and the art isn't consistent, except in its likelihood to be aesthetically displeasing. Mosaic is not for everyone, and you pretty much have to read all eighteen issues to "get it." I recently described American Secrets as Blue Velvet to Mosaic's second season of Twin Peaks. If that whole sentence left you clueless, you're off to a bad start, but you can totally score these out of cheapie boxes. It might be worth taking the plunge.

Sleuths from Outer Space and other parts unknown.

Don't call Grace Kimble a vampire. She's just an ex-cop with a condition involving fangs, enhanced abilities, and a need to derive sustenance from blood. Grace gets by on what she can buy from the back door of a blood bank, and she's got zero tolerance for the murderous creeps who take theirs from fresh victims. Vigil was a series of short, interconnecting black & white crime drama mini-series that worked well in installments or as a whole. Mike Iverson's nine panel grids get the most out of every page of Arvin Loudermilk's stories. The books are smart, moody, sexy, and funny, with strong characterization. This book was so good, it survived three publisher changes before reaching its conclusion. Most of the run can be picked up for less than a buck each at My Comic, and the earlier stories were collected into trades by both Millennium Comics and Duality Press.

Ostrander & Mandrake fans

John Gaunt was a private investigator/mercenary in Cynosure, an insane city where all dimensions met at some point or another. John Ostrander was still finding his way in the early days of Grimjack, aided by the art of Tim Truman and the novelty of early cyberpunk mingled with swashbuckling fantasy. After a rough patch in the 20s, Ostrander was joined by frequent collaborator Tom Mandrake with issue #31 and for two years following. Their first year was the culmination of a lot of groundwork into one of the finest extended arcs of the series. The second year was about as bad as I say their work on Martian Manhunter was, but major changes in art and continuity shortly thereafter reinvigorated the book. The best Ostrander/Mandrake stories were recently collected by IDW Publishing as The Legend of Grimjack Volume 6.

More recommendations across multiple blogs...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Charles Brigham Dade

In a New Jersey swamp, the crash landing of the spacecraft which carried Jemm, Son of Saturn to Earth registered on government seismographs. Forty United States troops and two NASA scientists were sent to investigate. C.I.A. operative Charles Brigham Dade was among those on scene, as was his fiancée, Deidre Johnson. As he waited for Johnson, Dade found a holographic image of the Saturnian royal family, including a young Jemm, Queen Jarlla and King Jaxx. Dade had an ominous feeling about the entire scene, and was anxious to see Deidre to safety, when the craft was rocked by energy fire from without. Shortly afterward, Dade's fiancée and most everyone else on the scene were killed by Saturnian robots. Dade awoke to a head injury before anyone else arrived, and was shattered when he saw Deidre Johnson's body. Cradling her in his arms, Dade swore to find the aliens his love had always wanted to meet. "I'll find every last one of them!"

Dade woke the senator overseeing the operation, Frank Berkley, in the middle of the night to offer a debriefing. The senator's house guest, the insidious Claudius Tull, was included in the late night discussion. In fact, while the senator initially dismissed Dade's report as delirium, Tull assured him of his confidence in Dade's account. However, Dade became agitated with this unknown interloper, but his concerns were pointedly dismissed, as the senator was clearly deep in Tull's pocket. Tull saw the massacre as an unusual "opportunity" to be explored, and saw to Dade's assignment to pursue the Saturnians. The senator, to Tull's chagrin, was "a bit overzealous" in enlisting the "expert help" of Superman, who had actually visited Saturn in the past.

In his down time, Dade drowned his sorrows in booze, and became quick to anger. He stole the Krypt-Kicker from the C.I.A.'s secret arsenal, and waited for news. Finally, Senator Berkley brought Dade and Superman together to follow Tull's lackey "Bouncer," who had previously tangled with Jemm, back to the Harlem tenement at which the Son of Saturn was last seen. The hope was that Superman's heightened senses would lead the group to Jemm like a bloodhound, but the Man of Steel needed no such powers to detect the liquor on Dade's breath. Dade brushed off Superman's concerns about his fitness to continue, and the trio tracked Jemm and his friends to a shelter. Chaos ensued when Bouncer was recognized as one of the men who had killed the grandfather of Jemm's companion, Luther Mannkin, and Jemm launched into an offensive. Superman intervened, and after a melee, left the Son of Saturn on his back.

Dade prepared to kill Jemm while he was unconscious, when the street child Rosie tugged at his arm and begged for the life of her friend. Dade shoved the girl forcefully out of his way, her head slamming into a nearby wall. Superman protested, and was shot by Dade with the Krypt-Kicker. As Dade spun around to finish off Jemm, the Saturnian robots burst onto the scene. Recognizing Dade from the spaceship, the robots executed him with a snap of the neck. Dade's child victim Rosie passed soon after.

First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 (September, 1984)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Krypt-Kicker

"Krypt-Kicker" was the code-name for a rifle developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the eventuality that Superman or other Kryptoneans should ever threaten national security. Believed at the time to be the most powerful handheld weapon ever invented, the Krypt-Kicker was designed to be potent enough to stop any super-powered alien dead. The Krypt-Kicker was stolen from the C.I.A.'s secret arsenal by rogue agent Charles Brigham Dade, and wielded against the Man of Steel himself. One blast dropped Superman to his knees, leaving him immobile for several hours. His head "clear of pain," Superman collected himself, and presumably the confiscated Krypt-Kicker. Whether the C.I.A. ever reclaimed the weapon or expanded on their prototype is unknown.

First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #4 (December, 1984)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Deidre Johnson

Deidre Johnson was a 31-year old NASA scientist on the short list to become the first female astronaut to walk on Earth's moon. Instead, she and fellow scientist Phil Wheatley were sent to study a U.F.O. which had crash landed in New Jersey. Johnson discovered a document on board which she was able to deduce was a flight pattern from the planet Saturn. Before Johnson could look deeper, U.S. troops guarding the ship were killed by large Saturnian robots. As those inside the ship were knocked off their feet, Johnson was first to rise up and race to the ship's exit, thinking to herself "I was right, wasn't I? I was right!" Johnson was then killed by a crimson energy blast fired through the doorway, leaving behind her vengeful fiancée, Charles Brigham Dade.

First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 (September, 1984)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Martian Sightings for December, 2010

1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS
The hottest series in comics blazes on as the legacy of the new Aqualad is forged and the extent of his powers is revealed! Plus, Aquagirl joins the battle, and Firestorm seeks out the Justice League’s help!
Retailers please note: These issues ship with two covers each. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Issue #15 on sale DECEMBER 1
Issue #16 on sale DECEMBER 15
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
You know how folks are digging the book moving away from a half dozen parallel storylines to spotlight issues? J'Onn got his already. These are not for him.

Written by MATT WAGNER
In this volume collecting issues #16-21, a ’50s Manhattan socialite’s life takes a grotesque turn, and only Madame Xanadu can help. Then, take a look at Xanadu’s early days in ancient England as her rivalry with her evil sister begins.
On sale JANUARY 5 • 200 pg, FC, $17.99 US MATURE READERS
There's supposed to be plenty of detective John Jones in this story arc, so perhaps I'll pick it up.

In this new volume collecting JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL ANNUAL #2-3 and JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE #1-6, the team is reborn as Justice League International, featuring The Flash, Power Girl, Metamorpho, Animal Man and The Elongated Man.
On sale JANUARY 19 • 240 pg, FC, $19.99 US
That second annual with the Joker was swell fun, and if #3 is a complete reprint, there's a classic Martian Manhunter story in there.

Miss Martian
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
The crossover event of the millennium takes a turn for the magical as Sabrina the Witch and Raven take center stage, causing everything in the world of the Tiny Titans and Little Archie to get mixed up more than ever! And Veronica finally brings the other little kid with an “R” on his shirt home to meet her father. Can Robin’s utility belt help him in this kind of situation? And who is responsible for that mess in the Batcave? Archie can’t blame the penguins this time!
Join us for the Earth-shaking conclusion to this climactic event! Aw yeah, epic!
On sale DECEMBER 8 • 3 of 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
Tiny Titans from Multiple Earths! It’s a crisis! Or is it? When the Tiny Titans discover a “mirror” universe, they have to figure out if the new Mirror Titans are friends or foes. Or do they just want a bowl of Aqua-Oh’s? Don’t let their opposite colors confuse you! Aw yeah, multiples!
On sale DECEMBER 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The Vile Menagerie\
While present-day Lex Luthor is busy fighting an array of the DCU’s most vile foes over in ACTION COMICS, this annual takes a look back at two formative encounters Luthor had before he became the bald mad genius we know and love (to hate) today! Marco Rudy illustrates a story of young Lex and Darkseid, while Ed Benes tackles a tale starring Luthor and Batman foe Ra’s al Ghul!
On sale DECEMBER 1 • 56 pg, FC $4.99 US
Just a flashback, and there's the Jimmy Olsen issue to contend with.

R.E.B.E.L.S #23
Written by TONY BEDARD
In “To Be a R.E.B.E.L.,” part 3, Adam Strange plays peacemaker between Vril Dox’s band of rebellious space cops and the entire Green Lantern Corps – and negotiations aren’t going well at all. Let’s hope Lobo can stay on his best behavior . . .yeah, right!
Guest-starring Green Lantern John Stewart!
On sale DECEMBER 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Lobo and John Stewart? Now there's an intriguing proposition!

Vandal Savage
Co-feature written by NICK SPENCER
Co-feature art by RB SILVA
Part 1 of a 2-part crossover with the Secret Six! Lex Luthor doesn’t want to get his hands dirty fighting Vandal Savage (that Black Ring energy ain’t gonna find itself!), so he hires Savage’s daughter Scandal and her Secret Six team to take the immortal villain down for him! Continued in SECRET SIX #29!
And in the hit new JIMMY OLSEN co-feature, Jimmy signs up for a “Win a Date” auction, but much to his surprise, so does his ex, Chloe Sullivan! While Jimmy ends up on a date with CrazyPants McGee, Jimmy’s archrival snags Chloe! D’oh! And wait, are those wedding bells we hear? Better hope they don’t toll for thee, Olsen!
On sale DECEMBER 29 • 40 pg, FC $3.99 US
On sale 24 • 40 pg, FC $3.99 US

There's a lot of V.S. going around, but this isn't continued until next month....

Friday, September 24, 2010

2005 San Diego Comic-Con International DC: The New Frontier - Martian Manhunter Sketch by Darwyn Cooke

Click To Enlarge

At conventions, it seems like Cooke draws a lot of variations on his craggy version of the Natural Martian form. Even one of his "Martian Manhunters" looked more like a hybrid, and (explicitly named) Oreos are also often involved. So consider me tickled that this sort of sister piece to one of those is smooth, polished, and features a chipper atomic age Manhunter from Mars totally recognizable to the bobby sock set as a super-hero. Perkins Preston would approve!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Top 5 Martian Manhunter Covers of the 1970s

5) Justice League of America #115 (February, 1975)

Okay, this cover sucks. It’s from when DC thought crappy little boxes of original art plus reprint images and an excess of negative space in between at an inflated price was a good way to move units. Even under those terms, it’s a lousy Martian Manhunter cover, with our boy the furthest back figure to the far right. Welcome to J’onn J’onzz’s “Not-Me” Decade depths.

4) DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #6: World's Greatest Super-Heroes! (1971)

When the Atom claims a better position than yourself on a group cover, you need to fire your agent. It’s nice that J’onn gets drawn by Neal Adams, but he’s in old-timey mode. Plus, J’onn is in shadow and mostly hidden behind the book’s title.

3) Superman #252/DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #13 (June, 1972)

J'onn J'onzz doesn't appear in any stories within, but I guess he qualified as one of "The World's Greatest Flying Heroes!" It’s a good thing the Manhunter from Mars got past that levitation thing. That way, he got to appear on one of Neal Adam’s most iconic (wraparound!) covers as “that naked green guy in the back I don’t know.”

2) World's Finest Comics #245 (July, 1977)

Still Adams, still half-naked, and still in the background. However, them’s evil Martians Superman and Batman are fighting, on Mars II, in the concluding chapter of the O’Neil/Nasser Manhunter from Mars serial (not actually intimately involving O’Neil, Nasser, or even J’onn J’onzz in an essential role.) For the full story, read "Today Mars, Tomorrow... The Universe"

1) World's Finest Comics #212 (June, 1972)

Again, there’s another ‘70s top cover list at my Power of the Atom blog where there are nine weak sauce Tiny Titan pieces and one from among the best of all time. “Not only are you human, Superman—but I’ve made you BLEED!” They even added blood red lettering there at the end, God bless ‘em. Note the Marvel-style Martian Manhunter corner box figure, #1 in a series of one. For the full story, read "...And So My World Begins!"

More of Today's 1970s-tastic Cover Countdowns!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 The Martian Manhunter Archives Volume 7 Introduction by Tom Hartley

Click To Load PDF

Tom Hartley's titanic final 1980s installment of the counterfeit Martian Manhunter Archive Editions is upon us! Download it in PDF format here!

Take me down——to the river of dreams . . .
Take me up——to the mountains of passion . . .

You probably think I’m repeating the
attention-getting gimmick from the previous
volume’s Foreword, quoting the lyrics of some
wacked-out ‘70s pop tune, but the above is
actually the complete text of the opening
page of this volume’s first story. In seven
volumes we’ve come a distance almost as
great as between Earth and Mars, from a six page
remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still
with Sam Spade as the Martian savior, to a
hundred-page fever dream with a theme song
by John Denver on acid. And most of that
distance was traveled in between the last
volume and this one.

At the end of THE MARTIAN
MANHUNTER ARCHIVES Vol. 6 it appears
we have come full circle——not without some
lengthy digressions, but still pretty much back
to where we began, with J’Onn J’Onzz the
Martian exile fighting evil on his adopted
#230, the last issue reprinted in that volume,
he is welcomed home by his super-hero
comrades. He officially rejoins the League in
#2. A few months later he even resumes his
human John Jones identity.

But this is not the same League he had left
years ago. The team was originally conceived
as an updated version of the Justice Society of
America from comics’ Golden Age. Just as the
JSA united DC’s greatest heroes of the 1940s,
the mightiest heroes of the modern era joined
forces as the JLA. Over the years the
League’s ranks expanded from the seven
founding members——Superman, Batman,
Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern,
Aquaman and our own J’Onn J’Onzz, the
Martian Manhunter——to over twice that
number. Most menaces were not significant
enough require the entire membership. In a
typical story less than half the membership
would appear. This meant that no individual
member had to commit to the team full-time.
This arrangement worked well enough for the
first 200 or so issues, especially since either
Superman or Batman, or often both, found the
time to participate in most adventures.
Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern
were also frequent participants. You would
think that the more powerful, and more
popular, a super-hero was, the more demands
would be made of his or her time, and the
less time he or she would have for the
League. But fortunately, the opposite was
true, and in every issue readers could count
on appearances by two or more of the “big
five”. That is, until “The War of the
Worlds——1984!” When the League had to
defeat a Martian invasion of the planet Earth
without help from any of the “big five”,
current team-leader Aquaman decided some
changes were in order. From now on, each
member would have to commit to the League
full-time, resulting in a smaller, but more
dedicated membership. From the old League
Aquaman would be joined by Zatanna,
Elongated Man, and the returning Martian
Manhunter, and to this new League four new
members would be added——Vixen,
Commander Steel, Gypsy and Vibe. For the
first time in the long history of JUSTICE
LEAGUE OF AMERICA, the book’s concept
would be redefined. Instead of a banding
together of The World’s Greatest Super-
Heroes™ (a phrase trademarked by DC), the
JLA would now be four veteran super-heroes
mentoring four promising newbies. Of the
many revamps and relaunches the League
would endure over the next quarter of a
century, “Justice League Detroit” (so
nicknamed by readers because the team
moved its headquarters to the “Motor City”)
is still considered the least successful. After
two and a half years of declining sales, “JLD”
was forced to disband when Vibe and
Commander Steel were murdered by old JLA
foe, Professor Ivo. Gypsy retired from superheroing
and Vixen went on to join a more
popular group, the Suicide Squad. DC went
so far as to cancel the original series and
relaunch it with a new first issue, a slightly
different title, and, of course, a new
#261 was followed the next month by
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (which would become

The new team’s membership was
determined not by co-writers Keith Giffen and
J. M. DeMatteis, or by editor Andy Helfer,
but by folks higher up in DC’s management.
Once again veterans would join forces with
newbies. DC hoped that new characters Guy
Gardner and Dr. Light, along with recently
revamped versions of Golden Age greats,
Captain Marvel and Dr. Fate, and the Blue
Beetle, a Silver Age character DC had
recently acquired from another publisher,
would be the stars of tomorrow, and that
veterans Black Canary, Mister Miracle and
the Martian Manhunter would finally achieve
the stardom that eluded them for so many
years. And then you had Batman as the lossleader.
This second relaunch proved to be
more successful than the first one. It spawned
its share of spin-offs, including the four-issue

But all of this background still doesn’t
prepare us for what JUSTICE LEAGUE
INTERNATIONAL co-writer J. M. DeMatteis
did to our hero, so bear with me as I still have
some more ‘splainin’ to do.

In the mid-1980s the Justice League
wasn’t the only DC property that needed
fixing. The task of fixing the three biggest
stars, Superman, Batman and Wonder
Woman, went to the three most popular
creators of the day, John Byrne, Frank Miller
and George Perez. Byrne chose to streamline
the Man of Steel’s mythos, which had gotten
hopelessly complicated over the decades.
Gone were the various spin-off characters,
including Superboy, Supergirl, Krypto the
Super-Dog, Comet the Super-Horse, Beppo
the Super-Monkey, and the microscopic
populace of the Bottled City of Kandor,
leaving Kal-El the last son of Krypton and the
only bearer of the big red “S”. Frank Miller’s
fearsome, revenge-driven Dark Knight had
nothing in common with Adam West’s campy
TV crimefighter, or the goofy sci-fi hero of the
late 1950s and early 1960s, or any of the
other incarnations of Batman that had strayed
from Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s original
conception. And George Perez strengthened
the Amazon Princess’ connections to Greek
mythology, opening up interesting story
possibilities neglected by previous writers.
In the wake of these successful revamps,
many more DC characters were given new
origin stories, new costumes, completely new
identities, or in some other way had their lives
turned topsy-turvy, in the hopes that they, too,
would win new fans. Not every “bold new
direction” or attempt to show that “you only
thought you knew him” was a success, but
they certainly gave readers a lot to talk
about. It was an interesting, and sometimes
frustrating, time to be a comics fan.
At this point the Martian Manhunter had
been around for more than three decades,
and as a member of the popular Justice
League International, seemed like he might
finally have a shot at stardom. All he needed
was a little fixing. Okay, maybe more than a

How do you make a character relevant
to a modern audience, when the character
was created decades before most of that
audience was even born? It’s easy when you
have someone whose appeal is timeless, such
as Superman or Batman. Acknowledge that
the character’s creators got it right the first
time, and strip away everything that isn’t
consistent with the creators’ original vision.
But that doesn’t work when you have a
character whose origin story was very much
of its time. “The Strange Experiment of Dr.
Erdel” would have been a different story if it
had been written in 1988. In 1955, when it
was written, science-fiction transformed real
life Cold War paranoia into Martian invaders
intent on destroying humanity (or in the film
Mars Needs Women, subjecting the fairer
half of humanity to a fate worse than death).
The rare benevolent Martian who wanted to
live peacefully among us would have to hide
his true, alien identity and pretend to be an
Earthling. But to audiences of a later decade,
who grew up with the TV show Star Trek, and
the films Close Encounters of the Third Kind
and E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, wouldn’t a
visitor from another just as likely inspire
curiosity as fear? Even his name was an
anachronism. “Manhunter” may have been
slang for lawman once upon a time, but the
term had become as quaint as “G-man” or
“gumshoe”. And John Jones? What kind of a
name is that?

John Byrne’s own words for his approach
to Superman were “back to basics”. If J. M.
DeMatteis had chosen a catchy slogan, it
surely would have been, “You ain’t seen
nothin’ yet.” Our hero learns that his past as
he remembers it is a lie——even his true
physical appearance has been unknown to
him all these years. So thorough is DeMatteis’
deconstruction of the Martian Manhunter, that
in his four-issue mini-series there isn’t much
room for constructing a new character. That
would be left to future stories, and other
writers in addition to DeMatteis. That was the
plan, anyway. In truth, even DeMatteis
himself couldn’t deal with the full implications
of the changes he had wrought. Perhaps
DeMatteis had intended to write a second
mini-series, or even hoped for an ongoing
monthly series starring the new Martian
Manhuter, but the disappointing sales of the
first mini-series prevented that. In JUSTICE
Manhunter was part of an ensemble cast;
equal story time was supposed to be given to
each member of the team. Of course, since
this was a team book, exploring the private
lives of individual members was less important
than chronicling the adventures of the team as
a whole. There simply wasn’t enough room in
the pages of JLI to create a brand new
identity for the Martian Manhunter. It was
easier to let him keep his old identity, without
fully explaining why he continued to live what
he now knew was a lie. The only sequel to the
mini-series is the third story in this Archives
volume, “The Men I Never Was” from
ANNUAL #3, co-written by DeMatteis and his
JLI collaborator, Keith Giffen. It shows us
Earth and its people from the Martian
Manhunter’s point of view, and reveals how
fond of us he has grown during his time on
our world. Perhaps he’s maintaining his old
identity for our benefit. The old Martian
Manhunter is as familiar to us as anything else
from 1950s sci-fi, which long ago lost its
original shock value. Why disturb us by
making us confront something truly alien? Of
course, this suggests the decades haven’t
changed us as much as we would like to
believe, that a real life close encounter with
an extraterrestrial might not be as wonderful
as in the movies. Instead of taking human
form to be accepted by us, the new Martian
Manhunter takes the familiar form of one of
our fictional aliens.

One way to avoid having to create a
new Martian Manhunter is to present the old
Martian Manhunter in his proper setting, the
1950s. That’s what we get in the other two
stories reprinted in this volume, an untitled
story from SECRET ORIGINS #35 and the
three-issue mini-series, MARTIAN MANHUNTER:

In SECRET ORIGINS #35 writer Mark
Verheiden avoids the implications of
DeMatteis’ mini-series by having an Earthling
tell us the story as the Martian Manhunter told
it to him years ago, back when our hero still
believed the lie. But since this is a “secret
origin” there has to be more than just a
retelling of the familiar tale from DETECTIVE
COMICS #225. Verheiden answers a
question that SECRET ORGINS editor Mark
Waid had heard asked by Keith Giffen, “How
did a super-powered alien from another
world end up as a police detective, anyway?”

All four of these stories are easily the best
written to have appeared in THE MARTIAN
MANHUNTER ARCHIVES thus far——showing
how much a big mainstream company such as
DC could benefit from competition from the
smaller publishers that emerged in the 1980s,
and that were willing to produce more
experimental material——and the crowning
achievement is MARTIAN MANHUNTER:
AMERICAN SECRETS, by writer Gerard Jones
and artist Eduardo Barreto.

A Martian who would adopt an identity
as bland as John Jones to avoid giving old
men heart attacks——what could be a more
perfect metaphor for middle-class America in
the 1950s? Turns out it was only the houses,
the ticky tacky little boxes, that were all just
the same. The people who lived in them, much
as they strived to pretend otherwise, were a
bit more complicated. What would happen if
one of them revealed his or her true self?
Would the neighbors, or even those loved
ones packed inside the same little box, find
themselves confronting something as alien, as
frightening, as a creature from another world,
not realizing, not wanting to realize, that this
was also their own true form? Who among
them——which is to say who among
us——would even be able to recognize what
we’ve hidden under masks we’ve worn so
long we’ve forgotten they are masks? Perhaps
it’s best not to find out. The next time you look
in the mirror, do you really want the face
looking back at you to be that of a Martian?
——Wade Greenberg

WADE GREENBERG won’t stop writing books
about Mars, both fictional and factual, and
sometimes somewhere in between. The latest
is My Red Heaven.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

General Synnar

Centuries ago, migration and sparse resources brought the Saturnian races, white-skinned Polar People and red-skinned Desert-Dwellers, into conflict. A lasting peace was forged by Jargon the Mighty, who established a monarchy of Desert-Dweller rulers which controlled the population through the produce of the bountiful Garden of Bhok. Racial tensions remained however, in no small part due to the Polar People lacking a ruler from their own people.

In recent times, technology allowed fruitful patches of garden to be created even in the icefields of the whites, as well as arming both races for renewed hostilities. King Jaxx ordered the Garden of Bhok sealed off, with his kingdom within, as armies without were formed. General Synnar rose up as a leader among the whites, swearing to annihilate the entire Red Saturnian race. Synnar directed his forces to mercilessly force reds from their homes and gardens to take their produce. As the Desert-Dwellers were pressed deep into H'ronmeerca'andra's arid deserts, the reds began to push back with a military leader of their own, Jogarr. However, the reds were divided between those living in peace within the Garden of Bhok under King Jaxx, and the disparate exiles without. Between the more unified front of the Polar People and the ruthlessness of General Synnar, fortune favored of the whites.

Within months of the birth of Prince Jemm, Jogarr's army met Synnar's at the site of the Atom-Buster. The "huge, experimental energy-producing device" developed by the Desert-Dwellers was similar to a nuclear generator. General Synnar wanted the device for himself, and in the ensuing encounter, fought Jogarr "man to man." While Jogarr dominated, an unseen white soldier struck him from behind, and without leadership the red forces were soon defeated. Synnar's "vile sense of irony" saw him lead Jogarr by a chain around the neck to slave detail in an underground mine.

Synnar was again aided by technology, this time in the form of large robot warriors, as he laid siege upon the Garden of Bhok. King Jaxx fought valiantly to save his kingdom, but was cut down by Synnar in cold blood. Queen Jarlla managed to escape the carnage with her young son, Jemm, along with the white holy man Rahani.

Years passed, until an accident involving the Atom-Buster saw Saturn's entire surface scorched to deadly ruin. Synnar survived in an underground shelter, but his genocidal act shattered his mind. Roaming the devastated world in rags, the incompetent Synnar happened upon fellow survivor Jogarr, and attacked him with a club. Jogarr wrested the club away from the violent simpleton, and beat Synnar to death with his own weapon.

Known Relatives: Synn (daughter)
Eyes: Pink
Hair: Black
Superhuman Powers: General Synnar is assumed to have had the enhanced senses, strength, durability, and limited malleability of the standard White Saturnian.
First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #3 (November, 1984)
Created by: Greg Potter & Gene Colan

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010 Miss Martian & One Year Later Martian Manhunter Cosplay

I've been struggling to put together a Coneheadhunter spotlight post, but I hadn't realized there weren't any unobstructed full body shots of the character amongst the oodles of photographs taken by Shag Matthews of Once Upon A Geek at Dragon*Con 2010. Further, I've been planning a one-off return of M'gann M'orzz's Miss Martian Monday, of whom there's a few solid shots, but probably not enough to warrant their own post. Also, a big part of the trick was finding pictures of one that didn't prominently feature the other, or the Classic Martian Manhunter cosplayer. I've decided to stop fighting it and let the whole Alien Atlas Family roll out together. However, as you can see above, the newer additions make for something of an odd couple.

Our Miss Martian costume player looks just as cheerful as the real thing. The suit plays great, with fine details like the "seashell" variation on the "pie" belt buckle. The green make-up is a bit dark for the girl's natural complexion/features, but she had to match the arms and leggings of the costume, so that's understandable.

Mr. Martian's cone head is in full effect, as evidenced by this profile. J'Onn J'Onzz took on the look after Black Adam caused him to lose faith in humanity after World War III. He remained like this until his murder during Final Crisis, and variations appeared in animation and merchandising. I like the suit in print and here, but that head/mask remains a bone of contention.

The trauma of World War III doesn't appear to have cost the Manhunter from Mars his interest in human fanny, though. For shame! Vril Dox is still a teenager, but you have no excuse!

Shag has taken his photos and employed them in a journal at the link below, so I suggest everyone give that a read. Also, there's some more new cosplay blogging to follow-up on, both with Shag's pics and new stuff dug up elsewhere...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

2010 DC Universe Classics Series 15 Jemm Action Figure

I've been on the lookout for a Blue Devil DC Universe Classics Action Figure at local department stores for months, as I refuse to pay an inflated specialty store price. All I ever find are those bony looking Power Girls and other undesirables, so I consider turning up a Son of Saturn figure long odds. If I ever did get a hold of one, I doubt my pictures would be as good as The Fwoosh's Jemm first look gallery, so why not save us all a wait and trouble by redirecting ya'll over there? Besides, another never was Summer of Saturn has come and gone, so I'd like to at least stuff the half-September of Saturn with as many treats as I can under my current schedule.

This is the first Jemm action figure ever made, likely spurred on by his recent appearances in Superman: World of New Krypton. Thankfully, they stuck with a close approximation of the Son of Saturn's classic appearance, which while dated remains unique. Pete Woods' crappy take was to give Jemm claws, and basically make him look as much like a demonic Namor as possible. As if Jemm's distinctive four fingers of E.T. extension weren't made to clutch winnage.

The package comes with a Validus build-a-figure arm and a button featuring Jemm dressed all in black.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


*Phew* Yet another week of scholastic battering. Since Lissbirds was kind enough to provide this week's Direct Currents at DC Bloodlines, all I had to do today was the Idol-Head, and I've still put that off all day. However, Liss found an online comic strip which featured the Martian Manhunter for that linklist, so she's pretty much responsible for this blog today, as well.

ARCHERS! is a strip based on the early days of the Dynamic Duo Bowman Brace (?) of Green Arrow and Speedy produced by Eyz. Martian Manhunter guest-starred in the most recent edition. J'Onn J'Onzz also co-stars in SUPERBUDDIES!, a strip featuring heroes formerly known as members of Justice League International. Below is a linklist of editions of each with the Cookiemonger from Mars...

Superbuddies #1 "Cover"

Also, why not check out LissBirds primary gig as writer of the grand Comics Make Me Happy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Queen Jarlla

Jarlla of the red-skinned Desert Dwellers married King Jaxx shortly before a centuries brewing race war with the white-skinned Polar People erupted under their reign. Once the Saturnians broke the edict of the first king, Jargon, and took up arms, Jaxx sealed off their kingdom around the Garden of Bhok from the rest of the world. As conflict raged beyond their walls, Jarlla delivered the first hopeful sign in months. Her firstborn son, Jemm, was born with a stone upon his brow that represented the Mark of Jargon, a sign that he would be the "peacemaker" of his peoples.

One night, the devastating siege of massive robot warriors under the control of the white General Synnar broke through the walls of Queen Jarlla's kingdom. Cloaked and under cover of darkness, Jarlla, the white holy man Rahani, and her preadolescence son Jemm escaped the conflict through a secret passageway. The trio escaped the kingdom, and after countless days of deprivation, found shelter in a distant cave. The group spent years in hiding, as Jemm developed his mind and body, as well as the powers granted him by his gemstone.

Finally, the three retraced their steps back to the Garden of Bhok, which had been reclaimed by the desert. Bodies and equipment were still strewn all about, and a written account of King Jaxx's death was found. A still active robot was awakened by the trio's presence, and before Jemm could stop it, the machine slew Rahani and Jarlla, whose final words were a warning for Jemm to run for his life. Instead, Jemm dismantled the robot, and swore he would never run again.

Known Relatives: Jaxx (husband,) Jemm (son,) Juri (second cousin,) Jogarr (distant cousin,) Jyra (sister-in-law)
Eyes: Yellow
Hair: Black
Superhuman Powers: Jarlla is assumed to have the enhanced senses, strength, durability, and limited malleability of the standard Red Saturnian.
First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #3 (November, 1984)
Created by: Greg Potter & Gene Colan

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Adventures of Superman #479 (June, 1991)

I used to gripe a lot about Superman on my old Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA website. The main reason for this was that Martian Manhunter was often treated as Superman's whipping boy, or was used to bolster Supes in other ways.

For example, there's was "Red Glass" by James D.Hudnall and Ed Hannigan, with Willie Blyberg on inks. The same creative crossed the story over all of Superman's titles that month, and sent Supes into a parallel universe where he had turned out evil, concluding with the ominously numbered Action Comics #666. This Superman was believed to have crippled, then murdered Lois Lane. While our Superman pleaded his innocence, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor tried to execute him via kryptonite exposure.

Instead, Superman woke up after having leveled Metropolis. Booster Gold was found under the Daily Planet globe, living just long enough to point out Superman as his killer. Superman's emotional stability shaky, he began looking for survivors, and found what appeared to be the skeleton of a Rastafarian. Big Blue was suddenly under the power-ringed "thumb" of Green Lantern Guy Gardner, who uncharacteristically wanted to share. "Hurry up and kill him before he gets free! I'd hate to have to hog all the glory myself!" The rasta turned out to be J'Onn J'Onzz in disguise, who said, "You mean you're afraid of him like everyone else. It's okay, Guy. I understand. I just wish there could have been another way, Superman-- but this is for your own good."

As the Alien Atlas drew back his arm for a nasty punch, he instead received one, and was left on his knees recovering. Superman was happy to see anyone from the Justice League, and Guy thought Big Blue was amnesiac. "Don't let him fool you! That's how he tricked Booster into letting down his guard!" Gardner heeded Manhunter's warning, and ringed up a dinosaur to eat Superman. The Man of Steel eventually broke free, then snapped Guy's mind in a battle of wills. Martian Manhunter swooped up to catch Guy's limp body, then laid his deceased friend on the ground. "By the moons! He killed another one!"

"I'm tired, J'Onzz-- or whoever you are-- tired of asking questions!" Superman sucker punched Manhunter from behind as he was laying down his fallen comrade, and the assault didn't stop there. The Man of Steel kept dealing damage and demanding answers. "Uhhhh...No. W-Wait..." J'Onn pleaded as Superman slammed into him again. "You can't make me think I'm responsible for any of this without proof!", Superman screamed, neglecting Guy's corpse. J'Onn moaned, "Trapped... moon... Red... *KOFF* Red Glassss...*" before dying himself. "J'Onn...? I didn't mean to hit you so hard. Wake up. Please, J'Onn...J'ONN!!" Superman finally began to accept the truth of his killing spree, just as the military arrived to take him down. It all turned out to be an hallucination in the end, of course...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010 Black Lantern Martian Manhunter Cosplayer

Click To Enlarge

From inspecting the pictures in high resolution, I strongly suspect this is the same costume worn at the this year's Megacon, and the build of the men in both pictures is impressive. However, the arms are exposed in this version, and the cumbersome pullover mask replaced by a tighter fitting partial. While the old mask was the only area where the Megacon version faltered, this one is less accurate. Also, the human heart carried by the previous Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz made for a stronger visual than that half finished pop bottle the cape failed to conceal. I always figured J'Onn for a Pepper, but I'm guessing this abominable creature is all up into Coca-Cola Cherry or something...

Naw-- hey though-- I'm just playing. The suit is really sharp, and is a few tweaks away from perfection. Plus, I don't want to be made to donate a new human heart. Once again, thanks to The Irredeemable Shag for offering up his treasure trove of DragonCon 2010 Photos for us to enjoy, sometimes through ill-considered mocking of very large men.

Fresh Related Posts:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

H'ronmeerca'andra (Saturn)

Millennia ago, the people of Ma'aleca'andra (Mars) began to explore and supervise life on other worlds in the Sol solar system. A series of artificial globes, each roughly the size of the planet Mercury, were constructed around the world H'ronmeerca'andra. Circling the planet more commonly known as Saturn, the globes were established to mine hydrogen and serve as manufacturing centers for the Martian people. Each dome was filled with a habitable atmosphere, allowing Martians to settle there, and protected by a ring of floating fortresses.

Never a populous people, the Ma'aleca'andrans began to clone themselves, in order to create a workforce for the globes. Red-skinned clones were engineered specifically for the Saturnian environment, but treated as equals among the Green Martian race. White-skinned "Saturnians" were produced to mimic their White Martian masters, but treated as slaves.

Civil war broke out among the Ma'aleca'andreans, and their Saturnian "offspring" were brought into the conflict. Fortresses fell and globes cracked, sending whole civilizations into space to die. The debris from this war was so great, it made up what are now called the "Rings of Saturn." Finally, the remnants of the White Martan race were exiled into the Still Zone aboard their mammoth mothership, not to be seen again until the appearance of The Hyperclan on Earth in modern times.

Unfortunately, the war did not end there. Race hatred between the White and Red Saturnians continued, even after the last of the Green Martians returned to their native planet. Within the remaining globes the races separated. Red Saturnians took to arid plains, and used the name Desert Dwellers once favored by their Green Martian progenitors. White Saturnians gravitated toward colder climates, and were dubbed the Polar People (not unlike the more humanoid Pale Martian Pole Dwellers that were themselves presumably related to White Martians.) Over time, the Saturnian races began to forget that one another existed, and separate tribes descended into barbarism. Population growth and the migration eventually brought them back into contact, and conflict, over a rare source of natural vegetation known as the Garden of Bhok.

A period of peace arrived with a Red Desert Dweller named Jargon the Mighty, who wore an organic jewel upon his brow. With this birthstone, he could "read" people's inner emotions. He saw Red and White Saturnians as brothers, and his mixed followers built a civilization around the Garden of Bhok. This was the only Saturnian property capable of producing abundant vegetation, and with it came power for Jargon. The Saturnians residing in the other, harsher globes were forced to send emissaries to Jargon for food, and in return Jargon was crowned their king, He declared an end to all war, which lasted for many centuries.

Over time, science helped Saturnians produce their own food in isolated gardens, and allowed them the ability to chart their own course anew. The flames of war reignited, causing then King Jaxx to seal off the Garden of Bhok from the conflicts. By this time, his kingdom was predominantly red-skinned, with only learned White religious teachers called "ghani" allowed within. Jaxx's own nephew, Jogarr, grew to detest the monarchy that ruled the Garden, and was exiled to prevent dissension within the kingdom. Outside, the Polar People found a potent leader in General Synnar, who cut a bloody swath through Desert Dweller forces. Jogarr, made a political hero by his exile, was elected Minister of War for the Reds, thanks to the democratic system that he had founded.

Eventually, Jaxx's wife Jarlla gave birth to Jemm, the first child since Jargon born with a birthstone of power upon his forehead. Jemm was proclaimed Lamah, savior-son of Saturn, yet the wars did not end. Years passed, and a new means of "peace" was created. Dubbed the Atom-Buster, the Reds had created a device capable of incinerating the entire "planet." Jogarr was captured, and Synnar laid claim to the device. While Jogarr toiled 300 miles below the surface in the mines, Synnar activated his new toy, and ended most all life in the Garden of Bhok and beyond. Befriended by the cretinous Borah, Joggar followed him in a rebellion against their Polar People captors after communication with the surface was cut off. Returning from the mines, they found what was left of their world, and the remaining Red Saturnians made plans to build a "space ark" to travel to a new home. Synnar, driven mad after witnessing the devastation he caused, attacked and was killed by Joggar. The Reds were carried to one of the moons of Jupiter, which they christened "New Bhok." Jogarr continued as Minister of War, while the red-skinned Bishop Rahani became the chief spiritual leader, and a new president was elected.

Meanwhile, the surviving Whites, mostly female, took their armada to the stars. They were led to New Bhok by an Earthman named Claudius Tull, who then nearly drove the Polar People race to extinction in his quest for power. Tull was killed, and peaceful relations between Whites and Reds were initiated through the efforts of Prince Jemm. Monarchical governance returned, and Jemm was set to marry the White Saturnian Princess Cha'rissa to symbolically unite the races as one people. Sabotage endangered this process, but eventually Jemm was accepted as king of all Saturnian races. During his reign, Jemm has involved the Saturnian people in the Rann-Thanagar War, confronted the people of New Krypton over their misconduct, and allowed the telepathic Lanothians to colonize the moon Titan. These Titanians will become a prominent people among the United Planets by the 30th Century, and Legion of Super-Heroes co-founder Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen) will be amongst them. However, there has been no confirmation of the continued existence of H'ronmeerca'andrans at that point in history.

Monday, September 13, 2010

King Jaxx

The firstborn child of the monarch always grew to rule the planet Saturn, until Jyra had the misfortune of being born female. Her younger brother Jaxx would instead succeed the king, while her own son Jogarr would eventually simmer at the injustice. However, life was far from fair on bitter Saturn, with scant resources and racial tensions held back for centuries by the life-sustaining fruits of the Garden of Bhok, under the dominion of the monarchy.

Jaxx took a bride in Jarlla, while new technology allowed for isolated gardens to be created outside of the monarch's governance. The independence this afforded saw the Red and White Saturnians finally launch an all out race war amongst one another. A furious King Jax ordered the wall around the Garden of Bhok to be sealed, attempting to use the threat of starvation as a motivation for peace.

King Jaxx learned that his teenage nephew Jogarr had begun preaching otherworldly democracy in the streets, and could not tolerate the threat to his power at such a precarious time. Jogarr was exiled from the kingdom, to "learn for yourself why the monarchy-- now more than ever-- must rule with an iron hand!" Instead, Jogarr developed into a leader of Red Saturnian forces outside the castle's walls, in constant conflict with General Synnar and his White Saturnian army. For months, Jaxx was inconsolable over the situation, until his wife presented him a son that seemed to fulfill a messianic destiny. Jemm was named after the portentous birthstone on his brow, but he would offer the world no peace in Jaxx's lifetime. In fact, Jemm was quite the sensitive and sheltered youth, deeply troubled by the violence Jaxx sometimes visited upon the Whites.

While Jemm was still a boy, the Garden of Bhok fell to the White Saturnians. Jaxx went missing while battling his enemies to buy time for his family's escape. King Jaxx has since been presumed dead, based on the documented account of a family friend that he was slain by General Synnar.

Known Relatives: Jarlla (wife,) Jemm (son,) Jyra (sister,) Jogarr (nephew,) Juri (cousin-in-law)
Eyes: Yellow
Hair: Brown
Superhuman Powers: Jaxx is assumed to have the enhanced senses, strength, durability, and limited malleability of the standard Red Saturnian.
First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #3 (November, 1984)
Created by: Greg Potter & Gene Colan

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010 Martian Manhunter Cosplayer

Dragon*Con is probably the largest geek culture convention in the American South, and a damned sight more impressive than anything I've ever seen here in Texas. It seems like a veritable army of costume play enthusiasts descended on Atlanta, Georgia this year, and The Irredeemable Shag was there to greet them. Shag joined the Girls Gone Geek in touring the joint, and he snapped plentiful pictures as evidence. The guy even offered them up to bloggers like myself, and I've spent most off my hardcore hooky day sorting out the ones I want to use on my blogs. While you should look up Mr. Matthews' 600+ DragonCon 2010 Photos, I've got a few right here featuring everyone's favorite Martian... the one... the only... J'Onn J'Onzz!

Well, okay, maybe this guy wasn't even the only Martian Manhunter cosplayer in attendance, and I don't recall our hero being a member of the Justice League of Mall of America, but he's one of the best I've seen. No saggy green cloth leggings or rubber mask for this guy. From the Outer Limits prosthetic brow to the Orion Slave Girl body paint, this is the finest live action Manhunter from Mars that '60s sci-fi television could produce! However, the high folded collar, cape clasps, and toned body could only have come from the '80s. The red "pie" belt buckle with translucent elements are of a more recent vintage, recalling Alex Ross' take. All told, this is about as close the perfection as is probable without a pricey effects budget.

This Martian Manhunter turned up for many of Shag's group shots, but I'm really pleased these big solo pictures got snapped (just for me? You're too kind, Shag!) However, it's pretty neat seeing him interact with other heroes, especially the dude dressed as the Atom, who seemed to actively avoid being anywhere near a camera. You'd think he was hiding a pregnancy, or Blue Beetle Belly, or something. It's awesome that two of the more respected also-rans of the JLA, and obviously a pair of my favorites, stood side by side in a pic where J'Onn is so totally in character. These guys are all the way in the back of a shot involving a whole hell of a lot of people and stairs, but Martian Manhunter's presence still shine through... as do the Atom's ears. I'm also a fan of Steel, so I'm glad that fellow looks less like a dinner theater Tin Man in other pictures.

Here's another great aside-- the Bronze Age Manhunter from Mars and the One Year Later Martian Manhunter totally hitting on Ame-Comi Wonder Girl (is that legal?) and an amused but unreceptive Wonder Woman. We'll look at Coneheadhunter later in the week, unless you go ahead and scope out Shag's picture galley. Note that the Olive OYL is just shy of groping little Cassie, while big pimp Bronzey has got a smile on the Amazing Amazon's face. Is it the body paint or the telepathy? You decide!

Oodles more pictures available, with blogs like mine providing a filter for character specific surfing...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

2010 The Martian Manhunter Chronicles Vol. 1 by Tom Hartley & Urban

Written by Edmond Hamilton, Joe Samachson, Jack Miller and Dave Wood; Art by Joe Certa, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Bob Kane and Charles Paris; Cover by Jerry Ordway

Presenting an exciting new way to experience the rich history of the Alien Atlas in an affordable trade paperback collection of every Martian Manhunter adventure, in color, in chronological order!

DC adds a new title to the CHRONICLES series, collecting the adventures of J'onn J'onzz in the exact order of their original publication. In this first volume featuring stories from BATMAN #78 and DETECTIVE COMICS #225-254, J'onn meets Dr. Erdel after being whisked from his home planet of Mars to Earth by a teleportation beam. Stranded, J'onn J'onzz becomes a Sleuth from Outer Space.
  • Martian Manhunter
  • 192pg.
  • Color
  • Softcover
  • $17.99 US
  • ISBN 14♂12♂4457
Tom Hartley is at it again, fabricating a more economical fantasy publication, joined by a friend on cover detail...

"Yeah, it's the Ordway from that Secret Origins 80-Page Giant reprint... I had help making the mock-up. I don't have any of the right fonts, so Urban, from the Marvel Masterworks Message Board (the same guy who wrote the create-your-own-back-cover javascript), created a template. All I did was choose the cover image (Ordway) and the images that appear in the montage beneath the "Chronicles" title. Actually, Urban did most of the work."

Tom had be pull together the solicitation text, cobbled from the first volumes of THE BATMAN CHRONICLES and GREEN LANTERN CHRONICLES

Friday, September 10, 2010

2008 George Pérez Justice League of America "Original Seven" Piece

Click To Enlarge

I miss George Pérez. No--no... even though Games has been delayed yet again, he'll recover from surgery and be fine. What I mean is, remember when Garcia-Lopez replaced Perez on Titans, because he was the only other guy who could draw perfectly idealized modern super-heroes with the same facility? I miss that Pérez.

Since the '90s, George has really taken to photo-referencing, which explains why Aquaman looks like ate a fish he's allergic to, and why Hal Jordan seems to be off his Proactiv®. Flash is kinda "ethnic," Wonder Woman resembles Sigourney Weaver, and Superman's got a Wayne Boring thing going on. Only Batman and Martian Manhunter are still appear on model, not that Pérez has ever drawn a bad J'Onn J'Onzz. I like this piece, but as with Alex Ross, it feels less like I'm seeing iconic super-heroes than a cast photo of the actors playing them on television.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1977 J'onn J'onzz Disapproving Convention Sketch by Michael Nasser

Click to Enlarge

Ah, come on, J'onn. I know I'm a little late posting tonight. I took a four hour nap, and will likely pull an all-nighter prepping for two tests tomorrow and a third on Friday. Give me a break!

Hey J'onn, this was your big year, huh? 1977! Your Adventure Comics serial! So J'onn, were you looking at a lot of Gil Kane that year? Um, J'onn-- are those the twin moons of Mars II in the background, or was that Vonn? C'mon J'onn, get happy! You were so ornery back then...

As always, be sure to visit The Michael Netzer Online Portal, from which this image was blessedly originated.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2008 The Canadian Defender Hero Tune-Up: Martian Manhunter.

Stacy Dooks is a self-described "thirtysomething wage slave living in Calgary, Alberta and an aspiring writer." She's been blogging since 2008 as "an experiment in creating a public forum for my discussions about comics, pop culture, and writing and what they mean to me." One such avenue is her "Hero Tune-Up" feature, where she tries to address perceived inadequacies in characters that could stand correcting. Shortly after his death at the beginning of Final Crisis, Dooks turned her eye toward a posthumous evaluation of the Martian Manhunter. In light of J'Onn J'Onzz's recent resurrection, I'd like to take a moment to compare her observations to the course taken since the end of Blackest Night.

Dooks states, "He's a Superman/Batman hybrid via Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Epics, who's easily got the coolest abilities on the block. So why aren't copies of MM comics flying off the shelves?" Her reply to her rhetorical question, "I think it breaks down to the three As: Appearance, Accessibility, and the Alien." Dooks felt that the '50s costume was well past its prime, and that the One Year Later design was cool, but too dark. "He's one of the last creations of the Silver Age of comics, and while he shouldn't be wearing some weird bathing-suit/suspenders combo with Captain America booties, he should be rocking something a bit more traditionally superheroic."

Now, I have to correct one statement there. Assigning a generous breadth to the Golden Age might consider the Manhunter from Mars one of its last creations, but by most accounts, J'onn J'onzz was among the first Silver Age heroes. Personally, I like to think of him as simply a McCarthy era creation. The golden age of super-heroes ended by 1948, the silver truly began with the reworking of the Flash, and John Jones was more a part of the pre-code middle period dominated by crime comics. It took a few years for the Alien Atlas to emerge as a costumed super-hero, and in many ways the long underwear treatment (or in this case, the disturbing lack thereof) chronically compromised the character's basic concept.

The older I get, the more I'd prefer John Jones to simply wear a nice business suit. The Martian's human guise could re-don the fedora, and when it was time to go xenomorph, the only difference would be the traditional green beetle-browed head displacing the hat. How awesome would it be for J'Onn J'Onzz to engage some celestial menace as part of the Justice League, and when it was over, he'd stand upright and straighten his tie? How about a spiffy vest for his "time to take off the jacket" moments? No one would ever accuse him of being a Superman rip off again, as he'd more closely resemble the Question, but with Laser Vision. Practical is the new black, and a return to more street saavy threads did wonders for Zatanna and Black Canary. Of course, both of those ladies bypassed a strictly tradition turn and updated the more antiquated aspects of their wardrobe. Phil Morris' wardrobe as the last Martian on Smallville wouldn't hurt my feelings. It isn't an iconic costume J'Onn J'Onzz needs, but a smooth style to match his attitude.

Unfortunately, the current Martian Manhunter costumes on display (including his White Lantern uniform) emphasize super-heroics and flamboyant pulp sci-fi, two of the weakest and least distinctive areas the character can play in. I love J'Onn's green skin, but he's a civilized detective dressed like a barbarian, so he continues to invite unfavorable comparisons to everyone from Tars Tarkas to the Hulk.

Dooks continued by address the issue of accessibility. "Having a superintelligent shapeshifting alien as your lead character can be a bit detrimental if you're hoping to gain your reader's emotional involvement and sustain it over a long period of time. Consider Spider-Man. He's easily one of the most popular superheroes around, because we can relate to him."

I have developed a knee jerk reaction to anyone referencing Peter Parker or "relatability" in heroic fiction. I enjoyed Spider-Man as a child, but was frustrated by the character's limitations before entering junior high, specifically because he was "the hero who could be you" at a time when I didn't much want to be me. In my teens, I embraced the anti-heroic badass because that was how I wished to relate to society. As an adult I prefer aspirational heroes and intriguing concepts, because I want to read about things greater than the world as it stands. I've never been able to appreciate the overabundance of Peter Parkers in heroic fiction because I feel there's an inherent immaturity to the adeloscent wish fulfillment of following a character that is essentially a generic white middle class proxy for the reader.

Thankfully, Dooks shifted her example of a refining role model to Doctor Who. "The Doctor is an alien, the last of his kind, and incredibly intelligent and clever. He walks among us, looking like us, but isn't really a human being. Over the years we've had the odd story where he's on his own, but most often he's accompanied by a number of human companions. These serve two functions; to provide the audience a vicarious place to put our expectations and observations serving as someone we can relate to, and to also ground the character of the Doctor a bit further into human concerns. I think J'onn needs that in order to be a more successful character."

Not only do I agree with this, but I feel that the absence was one of the obvious failings of the Ostrander ongoing series. Beginning toward the end of the Conway years on Justice League of America and emphasized later by DeMatteis, Gypsy became J'Onn's surrogate daughter. This led to J'Onn and Gypsy being paired off as the constants in the Mission: Impossible style situational team book Justice League Task Force. However, the real star of that title in its first year was stunt casting, as it cycled through heroes, writers, crossover events, and fill-in artists during Sal Velluto's regular months off. By the time the book was revised as a "young heroes" group, no one was reading it. Still, a highlight of the series's remaining two years was the interplay between the aloof, manipulative guardian Martian Manhunter and the critically sarcastic and danger prone Gypsy

To my dismay, Ostrander dropped that angle to try and milk the prospect of the JLA serving as Martian Manhunter's "supporting cast." In between guest appearances motivated by dollars more than character, Ostrander also tried to shoehorn DEO Agent Cameron Chase into the sidekick role. This betrayed the characterization of her creators, and quite frankly, Chase and J'Onn never really related to or needed one another, except in a sexist "damsel in distress" forced closing to the series. I think Chase could make an excellent "Commissioner Gordon" type law enforcement contact, but her personality is too dry to compliment J'Onn J'Onzz, which needs a sassy contrast like Gypsy (who managed two cameo appearances over Ostrander's 38 issues.)

So far, the closest thing the current post-posthumous Martian Manhunter has had to a supporting player has been Miss Martian. While I approve of the long overdue connection between the characters, this again reinforces the sci-fi super-hero angle, not to mention drawing parallels to the Superman-Supergirl relationship. Finally, Miss Martian is too capable and amiable to offer a strong dynamic with J'Onn J'Onzz over the long haul.

Dooks' finally asserted the necessity of the alien in the atlas, "For by and large the real appeal of the Martian Manhunter lies in the third element." In her assessment, Dooks propagates the popular but faulty assumption that "it is painfully easy to see J'onn as a knockoff of Superman(because, y'know, he is exactly that.)" My belief is that while an existing character may rip off aspects of another, the character cannot themselves be classified as a rip-off unless they were created as such. The first several years of John Jones stories are quite far removed from anything popularly associated with Superman, so it wasn't until the strip moved toward straightforward super-heroics that the plagiarism began.

Continuing the comparison to Superman, Dooks points out the usual modern parallel that Superman was an infant raised on Earth, while J'Onzz came here as an unwilling immigrant adult. I'd never made the connection before, but I just realized this actually makes them more similar. Kal-El was a baby rocketed to Earth instants before Krypton exploded, while DeMatteis had the last Martian teleported to Earth right before he would have died from the same plague as his people. A less recent realization was that since the Silver Age Superman was constantly time-traveling for doomed attempts to save Krypton, he shared with the Modern Age Martian Manhunter fresh adult memories of his people's tragic fate. It's something of a damned if you do, damned if you don't consideration. The pathos of a dead Mars has defined J'Onn J'Onzz since 1969, but it's borrowed from Superman, whether the Man of Steel was actively wallowing in it or not.

Personally, I wish DC would either cease to be so self-conscious about reality and restore Mars as a living planet, or recall that there should still be a Mars II out there somewhere inhabited by Re's Eda, Bel Juz, and the Marshal. The one area most other iconic heroes cannot compete with the Martian Manhunter in is the deaths of his wife, daughter, and extended family/tribe. If everyone in my life & city dried up and blew away, I don't think it would be any more traumatic than the entire planet dying, seeing as we will never be 100% free of other survivors or sentient lifeforms with which to socialize. Krypton inevitably must die again and again, but Mars need not be trapped in the same cycle, and much could be made of J'Onn J'Onzz as a detective amongst equals in his natural environment. Barring his taking on a sidekick and operating as a Dynamic Duo analogue, J'Onzz need not be the Green Superman forever.

Dooks continues, "That said, he does have the unique vantage point of being Earth's protector, as well as an immigrant who's come to this planet and become quite comfortable with it. He's a booster for humanity as well as a stalwart guardian... Simply put, in my opinion he's often cast as sort of DC's take on the Silver Surfer, and that isn't the best fit. He's more Doctor than Surfer in my opinion." I must again agree. Norrin Radd is a posturing, Shakespearean figure who puts the "pathetic" in "pathos." What most fans love about Martian Manhunter is that he speaks in contractions, is a bit grouchy, is possessed of a sardonic wit, and is an excellent straight man who can still unexpectedly zing the most sacred of cows as a wry equal. Yes, he's sad guy, and that's another endearing aspect, but it's his dimensions and versatility that makes him an under appreciated great. Use the alien-- the foreign-- the downright creepy, but peculiar humor and uncommon insight are other potentially unearthly charms. Perhaps J'Onn doesn't need to be more extraterrestrial to stand out, but just the opportunity to be more, period. Mr. Spock in a speedo can only take him so far...

For more duking with Dooks, check out Hero Tune-Up: Aquaman.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scipio is Back!

Within the first six months of starting The Idol-Head of Diabolu, I was already following and (unnecessarily) promoting the work of popular and well-regarded D.C. blogger Scipio of The Absorbascon. Scipio's observations about comic books, and especially the Martian Manhunter, are consistently insightful, humorous and provocative. While the guy has often rubbed me the wrong way (likely mutual,) Scipio is always worth reading, and can be relied upon to inspire deeper thought about any subject he chooses to broach.

Scipio mysteriously vanished from the world of blogging on September 05, 2009, leaving only a brief announcement of hiatus. Ever cheeky, he has reappeared one year and one day later, as if he'd never left. In honor of this return, I'd like to offer up links to previous Absorbascon posts related to the Manhunter from Mars, as well as point to some areas where Scipio's influence has been felt on this blog.

An obvious starting point would be Scipio's Theory of Dynastic Centerpiece, which basically states that what makes and sustains iconic super-heroes is the strength of their "super-family" and "rogues gallery." The Dynastic Centerpiece Model was soon codified, and applied to J'Onn J'Onzz in the post Are You Sleeping, Brother J'onn? That last piece was written before the release of the two volumes of Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter, so Scipio didn't appear to be especially familiar with his classic solo stories. He instead used the Alien Atlas as a rallying character for whatever oddities in the DC Universe he felt deserving of attention. Taking exception to this, I drafted The Dynastic Centerpiece of Diabolu, to more accurately reflect John Jones' supporting cast and Vile Menagerie over the decades. A good time was had by all, and Scipio eventually came around to properly rounding out the Martian Manhunter's social circle.

Scipio then reconsidered the aspect of his model originally termed the "Anti-Dynasty of Supervillainy," and came up with an separate set of criteria named The Villainous Tarot. Scipio never quite ran with the Tarot like he had the Dynastic Centerpiece, so I offered up The Vile Tarot in his stead. Scipio never took to Despero being included, but I continue to affirm him as The Fifth Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary.

Scipio eventually devoured those Showcase Presents, listing The Hobbies of the Martian Manhunter Scipio believed he recognized J'onn J'onzz as a "sister" in I'm Not Saying He's GAY, exactly... (... but, have you ever seen the Martian Manhunter dance?) The Martian Marvel then Demonstrated Some Heroclix Powers for You. Also, this made Scipio consider Is there such a thing as too many powers?

A bone of contention sprang up when Scipio asked Where in the World is the Martian Manhunter? Scipio had his conclusions about the location of J'onn's Silver Age base of operations, and constructed Apex City: The Martian Manhunter Heroclix Map. I disagreed, offering up some prior bases of operations before seriously asking the question Do You Know The Way To Middletown?. What could have been a minor disagreement went a bit awry, and by the ended, I wanted to Burn Apex City To The Ground. That didn't stop Scipio from recording Meteorology in Apex City, a.k.a. Middletown, which suffered from a terrific amount of phenomena in the 1950s, and  continued into Weather for J'onn's Funeral Services.

Speaking of the murder of the Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis, Scipio offered The Real Reason J'onn J'onzz will Die, illustrated with flow charts, which I disputed with The Slow Steady Death of J'Onn J'Onzz. Harvey "Two-Face" Dent argued both sides in the trial for the life of the Martian Manhunter: The Case for Mr. Jones, and The Case Against Mr. Jones.

Scipio relished the ridiculous "Martian Manhunter's '50s Rogues Gallery!" He was an early advocate for The Story of the Human Flame, an hilarious, multi-part over-analysis of Detective Comics #274 that is so great, I've continued to refuse to do my own write-up on this blog. You Can Read It Here. Scipio also offered has a The Human Flame Mike Miller LE custom Heroclix figure. A gander was also taken at Final Crisis: Run! #1.

Shortly after its publication, Scioio warned Do NOT read Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter Vol. 2! When questioned, he reiterated. Indeed, there was no end to the Martian Madness! Scipio pointed out that compassion is a human emotion, and bemoaned the fact that Zook Gets No Love, even offering Haikuesday with Zook. Heck, he even did Haikuesday: JJ and the Bear. He even observed that Final Crisis was not the first Death of John Jones.

Well, J'Onn J'Onzz is back from the dead, and so is Scipio, and I expected interesting things from the both of them in the future. For now though, here's a few more random posts...

The Martian Manhunter is a Skrull.

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

In "Argonauts of...JUSTICE!" Scipio equates heroes of the DCU to the Greek myths. He writes: "Autolycus (yeah, like the guy on Xena, *sigh*) was a master thief and infiltrator. So to me that's got to be the quiet and sneaky MARTIAN MANHUNTER."