Monday, September 6, 2010

1987 Martian Manhunter Watercolor by Mark Badger

Click To Enlarge

I've been studying all weekend, and will be continuing into the holiday. However, I took a break to dip into one of my bookmarked "to review" webpages related to the Martian Manhunter that have sat for years without appraisal. What I thought would be a half hour's diversion has extended to closer to three times that, is yet unfinished, and I'd rather not "waste" it on a day with fewer than average comments.

Instead, I tried to think of a piece of art to represent Labor Day, and the above piece came to mind. I am among the majority who greatly disliked Mark Badger's work on the 1988 Martian Manhunter mini-series, and in fact partially blame him for stalling J'Onn's progress as a solo character at the last point he could capitalize on his potential before the heat of the 1997 JLA relaunch. However, Badger's lasting influence on the character is undeniable. Had he done up the mini-series like this vastly more aesthetically pleasing period watercolor painting, I might be praising him instead of grudgingly acknowledging. His structural lines and details are actually far more slight and abstract than in the comic, but the colors are far more evocative of the emotional depths of DeMatteis' script that the ugly, flat coloring with which Badger afflicted the pages that saw print. The look is very hip of its time, but I like it a lot, and it's about time I got around to giving it a day on this blog.


LissBirds said...

I'm with the majority in regards the art in that series. It really turned me off, unfortunately. Too bad stories can't be re-drawn. I did like how he imagined H'ronmeer, though.

I agree that had it been rendered like the piece above, I would've liked it a lot more.

Was it Badger who came up with the "natural Martain" look, btw?

Diabolu Frank said...

Tom Mandrake, Jamal Igle, Adam Hughes and more have gotten to redraw relevant hunks of the mini-series in flashback/reboot, so your wish is essentially granted. It's not like you really needed to see a living Saul Erdel with a crewcut or the umpteenth burning Martian Manhunter drawn elsewhere, right?

Mark Badger did indeed conceptualize the "Natural" Martian, although his basic framework was almost immediately pulled in various directions. It seems like Tim Gula and Adam Hughes heavily influenced later interpretations, though.

mathematicscore said...

I really like this. It has a grit to it. I could see this fitting in a "MARVELS" style series.

rob! said...

That's a nice piece. Moody and very cool.

LissBirds said...

I respect Badger a lot more now that I know he came up with the natural Martian look. I'm guessing that's why they put him on the miniseries.

Yeah...but I don't like Mandrake that much, either! :P

Watercolored comics is something I'd like to see more of. Like Dustin Nguyen, for example.

Diabolu Frank said...

Badger got the mini-series because he had already worked with DeMatteis on The Gargoyle at Marvel and Greenberg the Vampire under the Epic banner. However, he was massively out of his depth on Martian Manhunter, even his frequent collaborator Gerard Jones acknowledged that in The Comic Book Heroes, and I don't recall his ever re-teaming with DeMatteis again.

I like Mandrake in general, but I never warmed to his take on J'Onn J'Onzz, and negative association with Ostrander's scripts make me rather averse to seeing it. I got a kick out his drawing the OYL version in 52, though. Much more his speed.