Sunday, October 31, 2010

Commander Blanx: The Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary

Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone's Scale of Evil Rank
19) Psychopaths driven to terrorism, subjugation, intimidation and rape, but short of murder.

Why Commander Blanx has been selected for 1st Place:
  • Commander Blanx was the Martian Manhunter’s first enemy… sort of.
Super-hero fans place a lot of stock in “ages,” or rather periods of time usually running a decade & a half reflecting prevalent trends in the genre. There’s usually some gray area around when an age begins or ends. The Silver Age wrapped sometime between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, which would make Commander Blanx the Martian Manhunter’s last foe before the close of the era that birthed him. However, Blanx was decidedly darker than the Silver Age model thief/thug, and was created by one of the defining writers of the ’70s, Denny O’Neil. Therefore, I’m inclined to consider Blanx the first of the Bronze Age. However, Blanx directly if retroactively ties into the Martian Manhunter’s earliest stories, including an animosity that dates back to before the first J’onn J’onzz tale. Most importantly, Commander Blanx was the first Martian Manhunter villain to lay claim to that distinction, uncontested for thirty years. Plus, if anybody brought an end to J’onn J’onzz’s Silver Age, it was Blanx.

  • Commander Blanx was the Martian Manhunter’s opposite number in his life on Mars
Before coming to Earth, J’onn J’onzz was a science leader for the green Desert Dwellers who fought a civil war against the leader of the Pale Martian Pole Dwellers, Commander Blanx, over an energy resource. Besides having similar powers and appearance, the characters also paralleled in their prominent leadership roles amongst their people.

  • Commander Blanx was partially responsible for J’onn J’onzz’s exile to Earth.
Through treachery, Blanx defeated J’onn J’onzz, tried him in a kangaroo court, and sentenced him to thirteen years of exile to the wastelands of Mars. It was from this isolated location that J’onn was unintentionally teleported to Erdel’s lab. It makes a lot more sense for J’onzz to be singled out if Erdel’s robot brain were, say, teleporting any sentient life within a five mile area, rather than being one Martian amongst a throng. Also, Blanx provided J’onzz a reason to stay on Earth, even after he had multiple opportunities to return home. Surely J’onn longed for Mars, but better to remain on Earth than to wander alone outside society. Without Commander Blanx, we may have never benefited from a Manhunter from Mars.

  • Commander Blanx was the first Martian to come to Earth gunning for J’onn J’onzz.
Quite a few Martians found their way to Earth in the Silver Age, and as soon as they came up on J’onn’s radar, he worked to send them packing (even his own brother.) They were usually on Earth by accident, and some were more aggressive about trying to stick around than others. Only Commander Blanx intentionally made a trip to Earth for the specific purpose of attacking him nemesis, the Manhunter, and then leaving. It didn’t work out as planned, but at least he didn’t try to conquer the planet or anything similarly cliché.

  • Commander Blanx introduced retroactive continuity as a regular component of Manhunter’s story.
J’onn J’onzz hit the ground running in 1955, occasionally noting elements of Martian history and culture, but really living in the now. His strip wasn’t big on flashbacks, and every villain that showed up was meeting the Alien Atlas for the first time. The arrival of Commander Blanx changed everything, adding a sprawling new backstory for the character before he was known as the Martian Manhunter, and then reinventing the creation of the Justice League in his second appearance. Ever since, the Manhunter’s continuity has been especially fluid, and in fact even nostalgists like Alex Ross consistently ignore his Pre-Crisis solo history. Truly, the popular conception of the Martian Manhunter is better defined by retroactive continuity than anything laid down in his solo strip.

  • Commander Blanx is one of the few ties between the Silver and Bronze Age Manhunter stories, enforcing the former’s relevance in Pre-Crisis continuity.
No one, not even the Manhunter from Mars creative team, cared about J’onn J’onzz solo stories. Elements in the feature contradicted each other, and little things like the name of John Jones’ town went unanswered for years. A couple of his strip’s villains turned up in early issues of Justice League of America, but with one exception, that book simply assigned the Alien Atlas unaffiliated villains after that. At least there was a JLofA issue after J’onn had unofficially left the team that referenced his battles with Vulture in his own strip, but otherwise the Manhunter’s solo series had no bearing outside his own fan following.

As a novel exercise, scripter Steve Englehart set a flashback issue of JLofA during a specific publishing month early in the Silver Age. It was fun to learn that Green Arrow wasn’t present because he was trapped on an island that month, or that Hal Jordan appeared sans power ring because he hadn’t met Abin Sur yet. However, the story pivoted on a random Manhunter from Mars strip centering on weapons teleporting from Mars into the hands of gangsters. As it turned out, this was a trial run for Commander Blanx and his men to come to Earth in pursuit of J’onn J’onzz, drawing them into conflict with other contemporary heroes. Until Grant Morrison brought back the Human Flame for Final Crisis, the rest of the DC Universe could disregard everything from the Manhunter from Mars strip except his origin and Blanx’s tie-in story, affording those surrounding stories greater validity. Compare that to Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, whose statuses were constantly updated and referenced based on the going on in their solo series. The Martian Manhunter’s solo happenings usually only related to his absence from activity, but here was a key story that pivoted on his life.

  • Commander Blanx “introduced” J’onn J’onzz to the world’s greatest super-heroes.
The Martian Manhunter had been active in comics for several years before turning up as a founding member of the Justice League. Prior to that team’s first appearance, the Alien Atlas hadn’t joined any other heroes for an adventure, and even their later origin hadn’t revealed the specifics of how J’onn had become acquainted with his future teammates. Part of Blanx’s plan to draw J’onzz out in the open was to reveal the existence of Martians on Earth, which also attracted the attention of Earth’s heroes. Through Blanx’s scheme, J’onzz met the Flash, Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Hal Jordan, who all agreed to keep the existence of the Martian Manhunter a secret until he was “outed” by B’rett a year later. Prior introductions have since been retconned, but this was the first attempt at connecting J’onn J’onzz to his fellows prior to forming a super-team.

  • Commander Blanx also better associated America’s heroes with one another.
For the most part, DC properties existed in their own separate continuities that only overlapped on occasion through the Silver Age. Superman, Batman and Robin comprised the “World’s Finest” in their own magazine, and there were the Justice Society of America cases, but their interaction died out with the Golden Age. Through Blanx’s scheme, the Flash and the future Green Lantern retroactively met other heroes not sharing their name for the first time. I’m not sure whom Wonder Woman had met by that point, and I doubt Aquaman knew anyone outside of maybe Superman. Plus, the event gathered a mob of heroes for the first (and in some cases only) time ever, like the Challengers of the Unknown, Robotman, Vigilante, Adam Strange, and many more. Heck, I think this was even Plastic Man’s first DC-centric adventure after some ill-fated post-Quality Comics revival attempts. Relative to the 1950s, Commander Blanx essentially rebuilt the DC family of properties as an in-continuity collective.

  • Commander Blanx was the catalyst for the formation of the Justice League of America.
The JLofA fought Starro the Conqueror in their debut story, but the circumstances of their official formation were not revealed until several years later, when they were shown to combine forces against an Appellaxian invasion. However, a further wrinkle was introduced in the 1970s. While the short-lived “Martian Invasion” brought out a host of period heroes, only Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman were at the right place and time to decide to form a new super-team for the Silver Age. However, they wanted to include the Martian Manhunter, and felt the general public needed time to forget their concerns about Martians and accept J’onn J’onzz as a fellow hero. To that end, they decided to wait a year before officially announcing themselves as a collective. By that point, the also present Hal Jordan had become Green Lantern, and the absent Green Arrow would join up a few months later (although he would remain unaware of their true origin for years.) So basically, that makes Commander Blanx one of the most important villains in DC Comics’ history.

  • Commander Blanx helped turn the Martian Manhunter into a period hero.
The story that reintroduced Commander Blanx was set in a specific month in 1959, referencing the events in the various titles of the story’s major players published that month. That wasn’t as big of a deal less than twenty years later, when the retcon saw print. However, you know DC wasn’t going to allow their name brands to be moored to that one year permanently, instead sliding the timeline as the years passed. Yet, the tale belonged to J’onn J’onzz, it was an essential part of his pre-Crisis backstory, and it wouldn’t work outside its period setting. Thankfully, as an alien, J’onzz could age differently than humans, and remain a McCarthy era hero while his contemporaries became comparative rookies. This move has helped set J’onn J’onzz apart from both standard super-heroes and fellow aliens by giving him a more fleshed out backdrop than “visiting alien,” which baby boomer writers have made fine use of.

  • The New Frontier, America Secrets and other great comics exist in part because of Commander Blanx
Again, Steve Englehart’s Blanx story was highly influential, retroactively establishing a shared universe amongst virtually all of DC’s Silver Age properties, and clearly seeding Darwyn Cooke’s magnum opus. Also, without J’onn J’onzz being established as a period character through that story, high water marks like Mark Verheiden’s Secret Origin and McGreal & Rawson’s “Heat Wave” wouldn’t have come into being. Not only would Martian Manhunter’s catalog be far poorer without Englehart’s seminal script, but DC’s collected editions department as well.

  • Commander Blanx turned the Martian Manhunter into a nearly peerless veteran hero.
J’onn J’onzz missed the Golden Age, when most of the iconic DC brands were established. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, the Atom, Black Canary—all of DC’s biggest guns’ legacies had a decade or better on the Manhunter from Mars, and even their Silver Age counterparts were nipping at J’onn’s feet. It’s safe to say the Sleuth from Outer Space wasn’t remarkable enough on his own to warrant more than the historical footnote status Captain Comet enjoys. However, he will always be remembered as a founding member of the Justice League, and thanks to his being a period character and his contemporaries being eternally twenty-eight, the Martian Manhunter is now treated as a veteran super-hero with decades of experience over DC’s Trinity, and essentially the only major hero active between the end of the Golden Age and the ever later dawn of the Modern Heroic Age. Blanx delivered decades of uniqueness, story potential, and relevance to what was once an also-ran hero.

  • Commander Blanx popularized xenophobia as a major theme in Manhunter stories.
After Professor Erdel stroked out on him, J’onn J’onzz was rightly concerned about the negative impact his presence on Earth could cause. J’onzz was our secret benefactor for years, until B’rett forced the revelation of a Manhunter from Mars in our midst. Contrary to his fears, the Alien Atlas was immediately embraced as a hero, allowed to join the Justice League of America, serve as protector of Middletown, and even worked for government agencies as a crimebuster. Once again, Commander Blanx ruined everything. The retroactive community that always followed him forced the JLofA to delay their debut because of the filthy Martian among their ranks, and the primary explanation for J’Onzz not being well known between 1955 and the Modern Heroic Age was his status as an alienated alien watching over a fearful humanity. Humans distrusted J’Onzz, and so did his teammates, very nearly costing lives. That just was not an issue before 1977, and it was created by the arrival of Blanx.

  • Commander Blanx was the first Pale Martian, and introduced racism as a dominant theme in Manhunter comics.
B’rett may have been the first “off-color” Martian, but his yellow skin was a subtext at best. The Martian Civil War divided the planet by race, with J’onn J’onzz commanding the greens and Blanx commanding the whites. You knew the Desert Dwellers were the good guys, because they wanted to use the Blue Flame of Mars for space travel, just like the Kennedys. You knew the pallid Pole Dwellers were evil, because their liberal creator suffered from an history case of white guilt, and because they wanted the Blue Flame for vague military purposes that ended in genocide. Further, the descendant White Martians used by Grant Morrison were even more hostile, alien and evil, forcing the peaceful, darker-skinned minority greens to heroically save the day. The Whites even managed to come up with Red Martians, a.k.a. Saturnians, to enslave. Racial politics now define the Martian race at DC Comics, and Blanx was at the forefront of that development.

  • Commander Blanx turned the Martian people into aggressive militaristic invaders.
There have always been criminal Martians, and when they reach Earth, they just love rioting and stealing in a spree. However, these were a few bad apples that needed to be wrangled by the Martian Manhunter, not a representation of the gentle, futuristic race as a whole. That is, until Commander Blanx’s onslaught destroyed Martian society forever. Virtually every other Martian that has turned up since has tried to conquer or destroy our planet, or at least torture/mutate/kill as many puny humans as they can get their shape-shifting appendages around. Blanx gave the Martian race a bad name they have yet to live down forty years later.

  • Commander Blanx was the first Martian to kill just about every other Martian.
You know, the Phantom Zone criminals got up to some really abhorrent doings, but none of them successfully killed 99% of all Kryptonians. I don’t even think any tried. That scale of genocide is so horrific and ultimately pointless, few super-villains are so hollow as to go that route. Commander Blanx was such a creature, annihilating his own race for personal gain, and standing as the butcher of Martian life for twenty years. Although it was never explicitly stated, J’onn’s parents and brother must have burned to death in the flames, since they were never spoken of again. For another ten years, the death of Martian society was assigned to a plague, until Malefic was created to claim credit for its creation. Regardless, Blanx got their first.

  • Commander Blanx killed the planet Mars.
Besides riding on Blanx’s coattails, Malefic came up a bit short on impact. When Commander Blanx let loose the Blue Flame of Mars, he destroyed a society established and maintained over the previous thirteen years of comics publishing. Further, where H’ronmeer’s Curse simply wiped out the Green Martians, the Blue Flame rendered the entire planet Mars completely uninhabitable. From 1969-1988, nothing lived there, no structures stood, hardly anyone visited—it was entirely desolate. After 1988, J’Onn J’Onzz made irregular pilgrimages to his home world, and the 1998 series features all sorts of buildings/vegetation/life forms remaining on Ma’aleca’andra. Most importantly, whether you believe DeMatteis or Ostrander’s take on a Mars, it had been a wasteland for decades prior to their involvement. Commander Blanx left Mars deader than anyone, and authored the very premise, which despite its variations has been set in place ever since.

  • Commander Blanx redefined the Martian Manhunter as a tragic character.
The cheerful Alien Atlas from Detective Comics and most of the House of Mystery run is almost unidentifiable to a latter day fan. Captain Harding who? The Idol-Head of what now? And he had a baby-talking pet? The Martian Manhunter’s powers and much of his general appearance were quite dissimilar from the modern day as well. That change began with Commander Blanx, who wiped out J’onn’s family, his people, his past life—everything the Martian Manhunter had been was burned away. The debut of “our” Martian Manhunter was not 1955, but 1969, as a crumple figure devastated by all the death he failed to prevent. At first, this made J’onn J’onzz even more of a Superman knock-off. However, much of the science fiction and melodramatic elements of Superman comics had been shed by the 1970s, and were almost wholly abandoned by the mid-80s, so that the spirit of Mort Weisinger’s Silver Age Superman is now embodied by the Martian Manhunter.

  • Commander Blanx defined every Bronze Age Martian Manhunter story, helped differentiate the Alien Atlas from the Man of Steel, and was “the” villain of note for decades.
Mars was about as dead as Krypton, the home world Superman was always travelling through time to never quite save in the Silver Age. That didn’t get in the way of the Man of Tomorrow’s contemporary adventures with the World’s Finest or JLofA, though. Martian Manhunter, on the other hand, made it back to Mars just in time to create a space ark using techniques he had learned on Earth to save every Martian still living through 1988. J’onn J’onzz also dropped everything to find the people who left Mars without him, and upon doing so, acted as their leader through over a decade of hardship trying to eke out an existence on harsh alien worlds. Unlike Superman, the Manhunter saved and supervised what was left of his people, rather than continue adventuring with his super friends. This responsibility was the basis for every Manhunter story through 1984, and almost every adversary he faced over those years (Bel Juz, N’or Cott, Re’s Eda, the Marshal) was a comparatively tepid variation on Commander Blanx. In fact, until the animosity between Martian Manhunter and Despero hit a fever pitch in the early ‘90s, there were no other truly compelling villains up for consideration as J’Onn’s nemesis outside Blanx.

  • Commander Blanx was a Justice League of America caliber threat.
Every other month in a Superman comic, the entire Justice League is beaten by some piker, jobbed to make the Man of Steel look more endowed in his little red trunks. Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman get a little of that kind of service now and again. Aquaman has only gotten to play that card once or twice, and the Martian Manhunter had to team up with his, Malefic, to halfway do the job. Batman of course is such a pro-fic favorite he gets to do it regularly in the actual League title, which is the way to get fans’ attention. It’s great that Malefic could deal damage in the Martian Manhunter series, but he’ll never get the visibility of Darkseid or Despero in that ghetto title.

Commander Blanx was the first villain specifically created to battle the Martian Manhunter and the Justice League, on the group’s turf. Commander Blanx and his men beat J’onn J’onzz in 1959, and it took most of the heroes who would form the Justice League to save him. In 1969, Commander Blanx successfully destroyed Mars, and all the League could do was bring him to justice over the crime, a literally pyrrhic victory. The simple fact that Blanx is a Manhunter villain who faced the League twice in a decade is enough to crow about, but to have distributed such widespread destruction under their watch is especially memorable. You may recall that Malefic had already been captured by Manhunter, released, plagued Mars, and thought dead before Batman was even born. Blanx did his dirty business right under the Dark Knight’s nose.

  • Commander Blanx was the Martian Manhunter’s first apparent kill.
J’onn J’onzz had varying degrees of responsibility in a number of criminal deaths in his presence during the waning days of his House of Mystery run, but there isn’t a lot of blood directly on his hands. He made a point of saying he was going to kill Malefic, and then doing so, but the only other seemingly calculated execution was Blanx’s. After the destruction of Mars, the Commander and the Manhunter engaged in armed combat until J’onzz smashed Blanx with a globe, proceeded by a seemingly lethal fall. No body was buried on-panel, and the death was never confirmed in dialogue, but it was certainly insinuated. To date, Commander Blanx has made no return to life, so for now, murder was the case.

  • Commander Blanx was in the Super Powers Collection-- sorta.
Blanx was one of the two enemies listed in the Martian Manhunter biography on the back of his Super Powers Collection action figure packaging card.

  • Commander Blanx was not a carbon copy of the Martian Manhunter, and was his first archetypal super-villain.
As has been repeatedly noted in the past, the Manhunter from Mars strip wasn’t exactly a breeding ground for unique, sustainable villains. There were a whole lot of gangsters, oodles of mad scientists, some ridiculous themed thieves, and when things got semi-serious, a bad Martian. Typically, the latter were virtual duplicates of J’onn J’onzz, with either mild color or costume variations. There were exceptions, like the Martian Mandrills, Tor and Vulkor, just as Prof. Hugo and Mr. V were a cut above the other human enemies. Still, no one screamed “super-villainous archrival” before Commander Blanx. More than just the evil duplicate of our hero, Blanx was able to appear as the same species as J’onzz, but clearly from a different race, culture, and moral code. Blanx had enough in common with J’onzz to be a roughly equal adversary, while still function in a vastly different manner. Blanx had underlings and schemes and motivations perfectly in line with classic bad guys which also served to contrast him against his enemy without simply being a clear cut diametric opposite. This made Blanx feel less contrived than a B’enn B’urnzz or a Malefic, while still serving much the same function.

  • Commander Blanx is the ultimate embodiment of the betrayal of Martian principles.
Malefic may have had an aberrant personality, but there was a disconcerting intimacy between him and his victims that seemed a twisted reflection of Martians’ telepathic bonds. He may have mind raped his own mother and sister-in-law, but there was still that sickening closeness to consider. Like his brother, Ma’alefa’ak clearly had an interest in philosophy, and was a devout theologian who simply worshipped different gods than H’ronmeer. Malefic was J’onn J’onzz’s twin brother, growing up in the same household and culture, more often than not going through the motions of being a proper Martian. For whatever reason, Malefic couldn’t stand society, but he cared enough about it to make its destruction his life’s greatest work.

Commander Blanx cared about absolutely nothing but himself. He cast aside a millennium of peace on Mars to wage a civil/racial war. In man-to-man combat with J’onn J’onzz, he brought in another man to sucker punch his foe. Blanx insinuated himself deeply into the Martian hierarchy solely to satisfy his personal ambition. Finally, he destroyed all of Mars, not because of emotional problems or divine direction, but simply to satisfy his own greed and disdain for the “weakness” of his people. Malefic may have been the nastiest Martian around, but Blanx was the antithesis of Martian ideals, so completely soulless as to be exempted from any connection to his people.

The Counter Argument:
  • Commander Blanx appeared in two comics book nearly thirty-five years ago, and he doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page.
  • Blanx was never a physical challenge for the Martian Manhunter, always falling back on weapons and underhanded plays. He even died like a sissy, screaming as he fell off a friggin’ staircase to his death-by-globe.
  • That plunging neckline from his first appearance is reason enough to blackball him, but coupled with the hideous color scheme, the man’s an eyesore.

What Commander Blanx Represents:
J’onn J’onzz has a simple name and garb. His green skin represents life and vitality, and its lack of covering honesty. What clothes J’onn wears are a noble blue. He has a loving family, and his people embrace peace. When presented with a power source, he wishes to use it for exploration and advancement. When trapped on an alien world against his will, he chooses to secretly act as its benefactor. J’onzz joins a cooperative of good Samaritans in this endeavor. J’onzz is the favorite son of Mars, and an ambassador of goodwill to other worlds.

Blanx has no first name, only a title. His skin is absent of color, cold and pale as a corpse, and almost entirely concealed in regal garb. Their sickly orange and green color scheme highlights his otherness from humanity, and Blanx was never without a lethal weapon of some kind. Blanx has no significant others to speak of, only nameless minions serving as his hostile army. When presented with a power source, he uses it to kill as many people and destroy as much property as possible. Even conquering his own world isn’t enough to satisfy Blanx, so he sells out all other Martian life to the highest bidder. Blanx is a commander, seeking to subjugate and dispose of lackeys at will. Blanx was the antichrist of Mars, and a criminal everyplace else.

As J’onn J’onzz put it, "We were so close! After untold hundreds of centuries, we were about to find maturity... outgrow senseless strife... become all we might have been! And one individual, sick with the need for violence, deprived us of our destiny! And so my world ends!"

  • Commander Blanx is to the Martian Manhunter as…
    Ra’s al Ghul is to the Batman
    Ares/Mars is to Wonder Woman
    The Mandarin is to Iron Man
    The Leader is to the Hulk
    Moses Magnum is to Luke Cage
You have a hero with fairly specific territory of small-to-medium scale, be it a neighborhood, a city, a region or what have you. Their villains are going to tend to work within those boundaries, or else the hero’s milieu changes. However, a great hero will often have a magnificent villain that transcends those limits, showing that even if the protagonist’s scope isn’t usually global, they have the ability to step up to a world class menace.

  • Commander Blanx is to the Martian Manhunter as…
    General Zod is to Superman
    Sinestro is to Green Lantern
    Venom is to Spider-Man
Take an antagonist who was once a respected figure in the hero’s circles/society/etc. However, their extreme methods or other indiscretions cause them to fall into disrepute. In their minds, they still are righteous and possessed of the necessary authority to carry on with their personal missions, while the heroes are the ones who are weak/misguided/wrong.

  • Commander Blanx is to the Martian Manhunter as…
    Black Manta is to Aquaman
    Red Skull is to Captain America
    Doctor Doom is to Iron Man
Here we have a villain who is in many ways similar to the hero in terms of powers/appearance/drives, but is in fact their antithesis in action. Usually, they are deeply self-possessed and obsessed with the schemes they conceive, often knowingly outright evil, and thrive on their opposition to what the hero represents.

Who isn't ranked because of Commander Blanx:
    No one. There were nine ranks of important Martian Manhunter villains to filter out the riff raff beneath Commander Blanx. His only concern was insuring that none of those nine usurped him as master of the Vile Menagerie. 
      Darkseid is too much of a broader DC Universe villain to ever belong to the Manhunter franchise, was associated with J’Onn J’Onzz decades after his establishment, and frankly wasn’t all that interesting in the Manhunter stories he appeared in. 
        Professor Arnold Hugo is too inherently silly and unthreatening to work as a serious adversary, and started out as Batman & Robin’s one-time foe. Plus. He hasn’t appeared in a Martian Manhunter story in over four decades, or much else anywhere.  
        B’rett appeared one time over half a century ago, and he was defeated by burning leaves. Also, he’s just a yellow Martian Manhunter with a ray gun. 
        The Human Flame has to date been defined by his comedic lameness, and has only fought the Martian Manhunter one time.  
        Despero will always first and foremost be a Justice League villain, and that role is the only real reason he regularly fights J’Onn J’Onzz. The Martian Manhunter hasn’t fought Despero since he left the team, and they’ve never had a solo throwdown. Despero didn’t even schedule a single appearance in the three years the Manhunter solo series ran.  
        Mr. V is a fat European mobster in one of the weakest get-ups ever, and he seems to have died decades back. Also, Faceless never provided a real non-flammable threat in his years as the Manhunter’s main villain.  
        Bel Juz, if anything, makes the Martian Manhunter look bad by her appearance. She royally chumped J’Onn J’Onzz, despite displaying hardly any powers and manipulating others to do most of her dirty work.  
        Malefic is just a Commander Blanx wannabe. He didn’t do anything Blanx hadn’t done decades earlier. He only ran repeats with the necessary jacked-up extra details of the Modern Age.

      In Closing:
      Decades after Commander Blanx’s last appearance, no villain has yet to prove as accomplished an adversary, and those who have come the closest simply follow in Blanx’s footsteps. How do you top setting up your hero’s origin, demonizing him on his adoptive world, inspiring the formation of the Justice League, destroying your rival’s home planet, killing almost everyone he knew, and forever altering how the character works and relates to audiences?

      Saturday, October 30, 2010

      Super Friends #24 (April, 2010)

      Professor Hugo Strange arrived at a hotel on Oolong Island for a conference of the W.O.R.M.S. Strange entered the auditorium just in time for the opening speech, an actual worm speaking at the podium. "My fellow madmen, megalomaniacs, and evil scientists... Mister Mind welcomes you to this year's meeting of W.O.R.M.S.-- the World Organization for Research of Mad Science! In this room sit the world's most brilliant evil scientists. Every day, we use our incredible brains to help the most important cause in the world-- ourselves! Yet, despite our genius, those blasted Super Friends always stop us! One day, we'll have our revenge! We'll show them! We'll show them all!" Doctor  Sivana, his brood of Georgia & Sivana Junior, the Terrible Trio, and occasional Martian Manhunter foe Doctor Light applauded.

      Mr. Mind scrunched off to a side table as Lex Luthor took the stage to announce the commencement of this year's judging for greatest criminal genius of all. Ira "I.Q." Quimby figured himself a shoo-in, and told Professor Rigor Mortis so, while Doctor Tyme looked on. Later, Louie the Lilac and Poison Ivy shot the breeze with Atom foe the Floronic Man. Other attendees included Super-Duper, Professor Milo, Baron Bug, Doctor Togg, Komrade Krabb, Doctor Cyclops, the Brain, Doctor Double-X, Maxwell Tremaine, Doctor Poison, Doc Morhar, Professor Bravo, Mr. Morden, Rog, and Mr. Atom.

      The Ninth Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary struck up a conversation with a Wonder Woman villainess. "Nice to meet you, Doctor Cyber. I'm Professor Hugo."
      "Professor Hugo Strange?"
      "No, Hugo Strange is over there. I'm Professor Hugo."
      "Hugo... Strange?"

      Monsieur Mallah whispered to Super-Gorilla Grodd, "Sacre bleu... here comes the Ultra-Humanite! Pretend you don't see him." Grodd moaned, "Ugh. A villain with a human brain in a gorilla's body. What a gorilla wannabe!"

      The convention was raided by the Super Friends based on a tip from Lex Luthor himself. "Can you think of a better way to judge our little contest? If anyone's invention does defeat the Super Friends, that person is obviously the winner." Of course, Luthor was exiting the scene, just in case.

      Batman gave Dr. Light a kick. Professor Arnold Hugo shot Superman with a ray that tickled him. "I know! Even lasers can't cut through your steel-hard skin. So I won't even try! My Tickleator will tickle your skin-- until you're helpless with laughter!" Doubled over with tears in his eyes and hees out of his mouth, Superman fought back. The Man of Steel decapitated a mechanical praying mantis that had grabbed Aquaman, then the Sea King returned the favor by swatting the Tickleator out of Hugo's hands with the bug severed leg.

      Professor Ivo and T.O. Morrow had been arguing about the benefits of power-copying robots like Amazo, which was destroyed as a result, before ever being employed against the Super Friends. Gorilla Grodd found the mess of too many misdirected mad scientists in one room ridiculous. "We can't beat the Super Friends with guns and robots! We need to use our most powerful weapons-- our brains!" Grodd ordered Brainstorm, the Thinker, and Hector Hammond to combine their mental powers with his own, and force the heroes to fall asleep.

      The villains argued over what to do with the napping Super Friends, until Dr. Sivana suggested they do "everything." For instance, Dr. Light trapped them in giant light bulbs, Professor Amos Fortune strapped them to a wheel of misfortune, and Prof. Hugo giddily prepared dynamite with a timer. Unfortunately for them, they turned their backs for a few seconds to address a hotel manager distraught over the mess caused, and the heroes escaped. Professor Hugo tried to aim one of his ray guns, but the Flash swiped everyone's before a shot could be fired. Wonder Woman lassoed all the monsters at the scientist's disposal, while Superman dismantled the robots.

      The W.O.R.M.S. made a collective break for it, and while the Super Friends pursued, Lex Luthor tried to steal everyone's inventions. Superman was on to Luthor's gambit, so Lex joined everyone behind bars.

      Grodd, Hugo and the rest were confronted in their prison orange by the heroes, who explained that they had repurposed all those inventions to do a lot of good for the world, like enlarging food to help feed the world. At the thought of their wicked ideas being twisted into something beneficial to society, the mad scientists bawled.

      "Weird Science" was brought to you by Sholly Fisch, with art credited to Dario Brizuela, although online sources report it was actually J. Bone.

      Friday, October 29, 2010

      The Vile Menagerie Sings!

      Limited Time Offer! Hear the Martian Manhunter rogues gallery in a popular music feast! A new collection of hits inspired by J'Onn J'Onzz's greatest misfits!

      1. Bette Noir: "Possession" by Sarah McLachlan
      2. Mongul: "Mungo City" by Spacehog
      3. Mr. V: "Takeover" by Jay-Z (Explicit Lyrics)
      4. The Osprey: "Ospreys And Chaos" by Stephen Osprey
      5. Bel Juz: "Jezebel" by Sade
      6. Triumph: "I Want It All" by Queen
      7. The Marshal: "I Declare Martian Law" by Dismiss The Serpent
      8. The Human Flame: "Heaven's On Fire " by KISS
      9. Professor Arnold Hugo: "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel
      10. The Prophet: "Inquisition Symphony" by Apocalyptica
      11. Master Gardener: "Water Your Garden" by Luscious Jackson
      12. The Diabolu Idol-Head: "Beware The Box" by The Fixtures
      13. Scorch: "Fuel My Fire" by L7
      14. Vandal Savage: "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
      15. Malefic: "Burn" by Nine Inch Nails
      16. The Pyre: "I Burn" by Toadies

      Thursday, October 28, 2010

      2006 "JLA - J'onn J'onzz n Scorch" by Isucklikehell

      Click To Enlarge

      "in the issue of JLA i was reading.. J'onn Jon'zz the Martian Manhunter has a fear of fire, and to help him over come it he goes to a villain named Scorch. Scorch agrees to help J'onn if he would fix her mind which was tainted by the joker..

      this is a remake of the final page of the issue Scorch and J'onn kiss

      J'onn is my favorite character in the justice league.. he would kick anyones ass! lol

      all my hard work shading noo scanner messed it up as usual
      this is as close as i can get to the original brightness, contrast, gamma using open canvas
      maybe someday a better scanner.."

      Wednesday, October 27, 2010

      2010 "DCUniverse Vol.7: The Injustice Gang" Scorch by alexmax

      Click To Enlarge

      Deviant Artist alexmax has done a series of themed DC Universe group shots that I quite like, and even created an all-encompassing wallpaper that pays homage to the underrated Marvel Universe Series III card set. Of "DCUniverse Vol.7: The Injustice Gang" he said:

      More Villains. This time, it's the Injustice Gang. I wanted to make a lineup with, what I feel are, the most iconic arch-enemies for each of these guys. Inspired in large part by what Grant Morrison did during the Rock of Ages storyline...

      Scorch: This was another case of not knowing who was the main villian for MMH. I first thought of a White Martian, but white martians are an army, not just 1 guy. Then I figured I should draw Fernus, but Fernus is just another identity of J'onn... so I chose Scorch, who is technically a Superman villain, but she controls hellfire, and unleashed (unwillingly) Fernus. Yes, she is in the same pose seen in the cover for JLA #84.

      Alessandro should have given the blog a pass if he needed reference on Martian Manhunter rogues, but Scorch pin-ups aren't easy to Google when they exist at all, so I'm happy with his choice. Aside from Bel Juz, the ladies of the Vile Menagerie have been given short shrift this month, but I'll try to make that up in February. Anyway, J'Onn has as much claim to Scorch as Superman, since he was part of the story arc that introduced her, and teamed-up with Kal-El to clash with her in a follow-up appearance before that JLA story. I like the more mature and trashier look he gave her, too.

      For more spotlights from this mural, see the following:

      Tuesday, October 26, 2010

      Which Martian Manhunter Villains do Idol-Head Readers find Most Interesting?

      It's been about three-quarters of a year since the Idol-Head of Diabolu reader poll asked for you to select as many of eighty-eight J'Onn J'Onzz jerks as you were interested in reading about here. Finally, here are your top three favorites, so that I can finally take that blasted results panel off the sidebar!

      Curiously, two femme fatales tied for second place, indicating a need for more Martian Manhunter villainesses and/or more coverage for these two here.

      Bette Noir

      Martian Manhunter villains who don't fall off the side of the Earth after one appearance are uncommon, as are one born with breasts. Bette Noir appeared to be a specter who specialized in psychic assaults. I had trouble getting into her, since Ostrander & Mandrake worked on a similar character called Spook in their run together on Grimjack. Bette turned out to have a far sillier background, complete with a Shyamalan "twist" I'll avoid spoiling. Visually, there isn't a lot there either. "Pale chick in black gown" is a comic book staple, with the '80s Batman frienemy with benefits Nocturna coming to mind. Still, Bette managed several appearances in Manhunter's solo series, including a team-up with a Vile Menagerie bastard, plus a guest appearance in another series after Martian Manhunter was canceled. Those are gold standard criteria for J'Onn's rogues gallery. It's too long been my intention to get her inducted, despite my lukewarm interest, ans a look at the character's currently slight wen resources only strengthens my resolve.


      Man, there was a lot of Cay'an stuff online a few years ago, so I've been blowing her off all this time. I tend to forget that teh intarwebs' silken skein are hardly everlasting. Today, there's a couple or three pictures and one decent character biography... not that she deserves it. Cay'an appeared in the final issue of a seemingly universally panned mini-series even I haven't gotten around to finishing, in which she was revealed to be the mastermind of a plot against J'OnnJ'Onzz. She's basically the Green Lantern villainess Fatality with a far less plausible motivation and even skankier wardrobe than a Star Sapphire. Her name reminds me of chili powder and her swimwear looks like something Jessica Hahn would have modeled for Jim Bakker. Don't think I don't know you want to read me writing about her rather than subjecting yourselves to direct contamination.

      Finally, your most interesting Martian Manhunter villain for which I gotta go'n write about now...

      Wak indeed, people. Wak, indeed.

      Monday, October 25, 2010

      Malefic: The Second Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary

      Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone's Scale of Evil Rank
      22) Psychopaths who inflict extreme torture on their victims and then murder them.

      Why Malefic has been selected for 2nd Place:
      • Malefic is the Martian Manhunter villain in the eyes of modern readers.
      Most people know J’onn J’onzz best through his association with the Justice League of America, rather than as a solo hero. That means that the Martian Manhunter’s small pre-Crisis rogues’ gallery was left to antiquity, and he usually shares his less dusty foes with the League. It was thanks to the runaway success of JLA that a solo spin-off for the Alien Atlas managed to launch in the near six digits. There at the beginning was Malefic, introduced to new and veteran readers as J’Onn J’Onzz’s greatest and longest-lived foe, despite having just been made up. Old fans could harp on older foes, but few had made any appearances in decades, and new blood was necessary to the survival of the series. Meanwhile, younger readers, or folks unfamiliar with the DC Universe brought in by JLA, likely assumed Malefic was always a part of the Martian Manhunter’s story. For both these reasons, Malefic remains J’Onn’s go-to nemesis, despite having been killed in his first story arc and not making any successive appearances outside of flashbacks or other contrivances.
      • Malefic was the aberrant Martian his own mother wouldn’t love.
      When you come from a race built around societal unity of mind, body and spirit, there’s no worse fate than being the odd man out. From birth, Ma’alefa’ak was set apart by his very name and the dire visions of his future revealed by his own mother. Supposedly, being named after the darkness of the heart and having a twin brother designated as Mr. Perfect was supposed to be for Ma’alefa’ak’s own good, but did anybody stop to consider how twisted his mother must have been to place such a traumatic burden on her offspring? Maybe she was carrying some sort of psychological cancer within herself that she intentionally imparted to her wayward son. Regardless, she cursed Malefic, blamed him when anything went wrong, was too slow in her bid to mind rape him, and was instead left a vegetable her own self. Every Martian but J’Onn, including Ma’alefa’ak’s own father, were made to fear and distrust him. Maybe Malefic really was born bad, but Mars went out of its way to consistently fuel his deviant fire.
      • Malefic understands the principle of better bonding through torture.
      Grant Morrison isn’t very good about doing research. He unintentionally resurrected non-Green Martian races because he didn’t know they had been exterminated and written out of continuity. Then he decided to form a new Injustice Gang to parallel his pantheistic JLA, and instead of digging up a legitimate Martian Manhunter enemy (or just use Despero like everyone wanted,) he extorted the services of the obscure alien super-hero Jemm, Son of Saturn. At the end of Morrison’s arc, Jemm was written off as an injured party without offering any substantial explanation for his usage or fate. Luckily, John Ostrander picked up the thread early in his Martian Manhunter solo series. It was revealed there that Jemm had been exiled from his people, and was being rehabilitated out of a recently uncovered Martian Earth base called Z’onn Z’orr.

      While following a trail of death Malefic had begun, J’Onn J’Onzz discovered that Jemm had been tortured for some time by himself, or rather Malefic impersonating the Martian Manhunter. Jemm again needed physical and psychological recovery, and J’Onzz had to explain his relationship with Jemm, or more to the point, Ancient Martians having created the Saturnian race as a clone work force. Without Malefic’s having used Jemm as part of his vendetta against his brother, readers may have never had this key relationship explained, and the torture also bonded Jemm and J’Onn on a personal level that expanded their individual franchises through the connection. Malefic made Jemm the Patty Hearst of comics, and allowed the Martian Manhunter to reclaim a useful continuity he had heavily influenced, but previously been excised from.
      • Malefic altered the relationship between J’Onn, Jemm and the DC Universe.
      In an extension of the previous point, not only did Malefic revive Jemm’s literary world after nearly fifteen moribund years, but his manipulations likely changed Jemm from a pacifistic “E.T.” style alien visitor to an ornery regent that actively engages the DC Universe in books like The Rann/Thanagar War and Superman: World of New Krypton. This resurgent usage of Jemm thanks in part to Malefic also altered Jemm’s personality enough that he actually could serve in the adversarial capacity against Martian Manhunter he was intended to play in the JLA story that restored him as a contemporary character (not to mention continuing his clashing with Superman.)
      • Malefic emphasized horror as a major genre component of solo Martian Manhunter stories.
      When the Manhunter from Mars was introduced, there was a xenophobic element common to the Red Scare on the 1950s. Still, the atomic age was an optimistic time, so that the Manhunter served as a self-motivated beneficial “border patrol” against unruly illegal aliens on American shores. Mars itself was a clean, sunny, peaceful planet. It wasn’t until the Bronze Age that Martians faced dystopia related to the zeitgeist of rampant fears related to the environment, population explosion, diminishing global resources, and the ever present specter of nuclear annihilation. By the 1980s, most science fiction was heavily diluted by fantasy (Star Wars,) militaristic action (Predator) or horror (The Fly.) The Martian Manhunter instead detoured into introspective territory that recalled the more respectable genre material of the ‘60s & ‘70s. The mature-themed American Secrets reached further back, to sophisticated noir and sci-fi of the ‘50s.

      It wasn’t until the mid-90s that Peter Tomasi began introducing horror-heavy material into solo Martian Manhunter stories, first as a writer, and then editor. The primary vehicle for this change was the character of Malefic, whose very name indicates his tendency toward extreme, graphic depictions of physical and psychological torture, as well as grotesque body alteration. While there were often elements of the occult and the appearance of monstrous entities in 1960s Manhunter from Mars strips, Malefic retroactively enshrined them as part of the Martian Manhunter’s origins, and a constant element of his only solo series to date.

      • Malefic looks like an evil Martian Manhunter.
      N’or Cott was indistinguishable from J’onn J’onzz except for wearing more clothing, and all those thought balloons about planning to kill J’onn J’onzz. Re’s Eda looked like J’onn sometimes, and that doofy helmet made it clear he was a Napoleonic type. The Marshal looked an awful lot like the Martian Manhunter, but his bulk and body armor marked him as a fascist. B’enn B’urnzz was the spitting image of J’onn J’onzz, except for the scowl. B’rett was the spitting image of B’enn B’urnzz, except yellow and gun-toting. There are plenty of not so nice versions of our hero. However, none of them fully sold the evil.

      Malefic also bore a strong family resemblance, but he was much too lean and elongated to appear heroic. He had all those piercings and chains, plus the face-obscuring chest piece. Most importantly, Malefic always had a wicked grin and cruel eyes that cleared up any ambiguity. Anyone who sees Malefic knows he’s pure evil, and anyone familiar with the Martian Manhunter knows this is his evil opposite just by looking. Image counts, and Malefic is the most visually adulterated variation on J’Onn J’Onzz to date.
      • Malefic assaulted the Justice League.
      There’s long been a subsection of Martian Manhunter fandom that looks at the sheer quantity of his abilities and expects him to be the most powerful member of the Justice League. Unfortunately, efficacy remains J’Onn J’Onzz’s greatest weakness, because it isn’t what you’ve got, but how you use it. Malefic proves this point, by trading blows with a League at peak strength and coming out looking like a serious menace. Admittedly, Malefic traded on stealth and deception to essentially team-up with his brother for the task, but Ma’alefa’ak’s example shows what the Alien Atlas could do if he ever truly stepped up. In this way, not only does Malefic prove his worth as a universally recognizable threat of considerable potency, but he also lends esteem to J’Onn J’Onzz through their comparable abilities.
      • No man escapes the Manhunter from Mars.
      Certain types of creators and the majority of editors are always looking for an angle to boost their profile/sales, regardless of the collateral damage. These are the ones who figure Hal Jordan should personally massacre the entire Green Lantern Corps, and when that works, maybe Tony Stark should also dabble in a bit of murder. The Martian Manhunter, reserved decades loyal fatherly figure amongst the Justice League and lacking his own title/editor, has been known to come up when a shock value traitor seems desirable. Cooler heads and J’Onzz’s modest Q Score tend to prevail, but the terminally infectious concept lies in wait like staphylococcus in the JLA’s literary body. The benefit of a villain like Malefic being around is that he affects the premise without corrupting the source. If Malefic is a remorseless, entirely uninhibited perpetrator against all life while wielding the Martian Manhunter’s full range of powers (as he would in a contemporary return with his telepathy restored,) there’s far less thrill in seeing J’Onn J’Onzz doing the same-- only fan flack. As the Flash put it, “Given who J’Onn is and what he represents to us—if we had to fight him, we’d lose, even if we won.” The same is true for fans, because there’s already an established evil Manhunter if you need one, and the ruination of a well regarded character if you choose not to employ Malefic for the task.
      • Malefic started a new continuity
      It could be argued that the appearance of the Hyperclan began the modern age of Martian continuity, but because they were an ancient race that predated J’Onn J’Onzz’s time, they didn’t actually negate prior history. However, introducing an entirely new sibling and having J’Onn J’Onzz pursue Ma’alefa’ak as the equivalent of a Martian policeman clearly contradicts the Post-Crisis history laid down in 1988. While much of what J.M. DeMatteis established held true, enough was changed to qualify as a post-Zero Hour revamp, largely centered on the changes Malefic demanded.

      • Malefic continues the spirit of the Phantom Zone Criminals.
      John Byrne’s relaunch of Superman threw the baby out with the bathwater, continuing a flaw begun in the movies of making Clark Kent a heartland take on Spider-Man, and essentially abandoning the soul of Kal-El. Thankfully, an unexpected result was that the Martian Manhunter went from a mildly derivative Superman type to the heir apparent of the extra-terrestrial pathos Superman shed. The Weisinger years were hugely influential on comics, with the Phantom Zone Criminals just one fascinating concept that doesn’t seem to function under the modern terms. However, as his brother carried on one tradition, Malefic paralleled the likes of Jax-Ur and Zod. Sentenced for heinous crimes on the hero’s home planet within a crystal cage, released in the present as a rare survivor to rampage on Earth, a legacy of personal animosity based on the imprisonment… the only major differences are that, as usual, J’Onn J’Onzz is more Jor-El than Kal, and that Ma’alefa’ak isn’t Caucasian.
      • Malefic molested and executed everyone J’Onn J’Onzz held dear.
      Malefic mind raped J’Onn’s new wife, psychically lobotomized their mother, initiated the events that saw their father dead, and created a plague that saw almost every Martian dead, including J’Onn’s daughter. Worse, as Ma’alefa’ak’s steadfast defender, J’Onzz is responsible for allowing his brother the life and liberty to accomplish all these horrors.

      • Malefic killed all the other Martians.
      Malefic got up to all kinds of sick business, was stripped of his memories and telepathy as punishment, then used his handicap to immunize himself against a psychic plague of his own creation. That’ll get you in the history books.
      • Malefic was the single worst Martian ever.
      Malefic is the plague rat. He killed all his people, and most of his family. He tried to frame and murder his brother and his friends. He’s a mind rapist, targeting his sister-in-law. He worships Darkseid as his God, in turn undermining the independence of Martian history, and helped to inspire the Anti-Life Equation that has cost countless lives. He’s a creepy walking, insane talking 1990s cliché. There’s pretty much no redeeming quality to Ma’alefa’ak.

      The Counter Argument:
      • Malefic is an inorganic construct. He fits perfectly into an archetypal model because there’s no individual personality present. Malefic is pure formula and would make Robert McKee proud.
      • Malefic has been dead since 1998, and only turned up in a couple of flashback stories since.
      • The EXTREME evil Martian with the piercings and the chains who makes with the stabby/slashing and is just sooooooo bad for no good reason besides he’s crrr-azy? Stop the ‘90s, I want to get off.
      • Horror? You’re going to take a giant green Martian in a cape and trunks with a history in juvenile fiction and put him into horrific situations? I bet you wish someone would turn Wally Wood’s Disney Memorial Orgy into a series as well.
      • Malefic’s big splash was to kill John Jones’ partner of a few recent issues and to claim credit for a plague that was canonized as naturally occurring a decade prior. Even when you factor in that a new continuity was begun, it’s still a body count of NPC asparagus people.
      • Malefic killed J’Onn’s mother, contributed to the death of their father, mind raped his wife, tortured his quasi-nephew, unleashed a lethal plague against their people… why not kick his dog and wreck his pick-up, too? Malefic is just too much of a Villain Sue to stomach.

      What Malefic Represents:
      One of the clearest indicators of maturity is personal responsibility. There are always extenuating circumstances, but whether there are tanks rolling through your neighborhood or a tsunami washing over your beach, the individual is defined by how they address their situation. People born with a silver spoon in their mouth often suffer from deficiencies because their safety net hinders their development, while coming from the wrong side of the tracks doesn’t excuse a person from simple morality or ambitious drive. The adult mind recognizes that despite circumstances, our lives are what we make of them. However, this recognition also comes with it the realization that we are typically our own worst enemies, allowing ourselves to fall prey to weakness and to make self-destructive choices.

      While there is entertainment to be found in contrasting elements (brains vs. brawn, science vs. magic, etc.,) there is a special charge that comes from virtually identical and entirely compatible adversaries. Not only is there a greater sense of unpredictability through even match-ups, but there’s an undeniable appeal to externalizing the inner conflict of the “evil twin.” Further, there’s a catharsis to be found in unleashing the id monster. If we are all the heroes of our own stories, it stands to reason that we are also most captivated by the villains who indulge themselves in a manner we dare not. That is why the dark parallel is such a common and undyingly popular archetype in heroic fiction. If we embrace the heroes we wish to be, then their “bad selves” are just as likely to reflect our own unspeakable fantasies.

      Alternately, the evil twin may personify that which we find most repugnant. In this sense, the twin may be our reprehensible polar opposite rather than simply “naughty.” This aspect shows a sense of responsibility that extends beyond the self, accepting blame for personal associations or even societal ills beyond the reasonable control of most people. It’s the fear that comes from not being selfless enough to effectively direct the external toward the subjective positive. Atlas shrugged, so to speak. This aspect also speaks to our innermost fears—the vulnerabilities one is aware of specifically because of their intimacy. It is the acknowledgement that we know what would most harm our loved ones and scar our psyche, and that this is personified in our personal bogeyman.

      This brings us to Malefic, who is both everything the Martian Manhunter is and everything that he is not. Malefic satisfies the juvenile desire to “prove” that the hero is superior to everyone in his life through power, as well as a depiction of the J’Onn J’Onzz his fans fear bad writing could degenerate the character into.

      • Malefic is to the Martian Manhunter as Hush is to Batman or Conduit is to Superman or Devastation is to Wonder Woman or Ocean Master is to Aquaman or as Elektra is to Daredevil
      Guess what, hero? After decades of adventures, you’ve got a previously unmentioned sibling/childhood friend/etc. with their own super-persona inextricably tied to your own origins who has arrived as a prefabricated arch nemesis! You may scoff, but this has actually panned out once or twice.
      • Malefic is to the Martian Manhunter as the Joker is to Batman or as Bullseye is to Daredevil or as Professor Zoom is to the Flash or as Carnage is to Spider-Man or as Black Hand is to Green Lantern
      Completely nihilistic lunatics often blatantly derivative of the hero who simply will not die, cannot be contained, and amass a horrific body count personally impacting on the hero’s psyche.

      Who isn't ranked because of Malefic:
      • The Headmaster: Another horror tinged Ostrander/Mandrake creation that could hold his own, but with nowhere near the staying power or recognition.
      • The Master Gardener: American Secrets readers feel strongly about this other Martian manipulator, but they only number in the dozens, and the deep personal animosity with J’Onn isn’t there.
      • The Osprey: Another Modern Age villain plotting the Martian Manhunter’s ultimate destruction from the shadows… who never actually got around to even starting on it.
      • Tor, the Robot Criminal of Mars: The original threat from Mars bent on the Alien Atlas’ total destruction… that one time… fifty years ago.
      • D’Kay: Ms. Malefic, and I lost I.Q. points just typing that. Ugh cubed.

      In Closing:
      I personally continue to find Malefic loathsome and tedious besides, but he turns up at the top of virtually everyone’s short list of Martian Manhunter enemies.

      Sunday, October 24, 2010

      Justice #7 (October, 2006)

      The Martian Manhunter telepathically confided to Zatanna that he hoped Red Tornado was wrong about Aquaman's location, as he detected no heartbeat or thoughts from the abandoned plant. "I found a way in. You should be able to materialize inside once I'm there. It's unfortunate your magic requires an anchor for you to follow, as opposed to just making whatever you desire happen. I wish you could just make Aquaman appear, alive and well." Although schools of fish were still directing the heroes to this area, J'Onn teared up, suspecting they were merely following the last wish of their king. The pair found Aquaman's body under a sheet on an operating table. Gorilla Grodd was immediately aware of this fact, and ordered a second series of attacks against the League's wards and dearest civilian loved ones as a replacement distraction.

      Martian Manhunter took Aquaman to Professor Niles Caulder, gifted brain surgeon and leader of the Doom Patrol. Zatanna was impatient to know the outcome of the Chief's efforts, but J'Onn insisted "We must accept our limitations..." Caulder returned from assessing Aquaman's condition to ask J'Onn more about the circumstances and surroundings Arthur was found in. The Sleuth from Outer Space assumed the primates that were present were part of the preparation for Brainiac's experiment. J'Onzz felt complimented when Caulder said, "You're thinking too much like an Earthman, J'Onn." The Professor suspected someone, like Grodd, was looking for "something not so much similar as complimentary" between the ape and telepathic human brains. He also assured that as an amphibian, J'Onn's friend would soon make a full recovery under his own power...

      Continue the story through these character-specific posts:
      "Chapter Seven" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

      Saturday, October 23, 2010

      2010 "DCUniverse Vol 6: Supervillians" by alexmax

      Click To Enlarge and Expand

      Featuring both Doomsday and Darkseid, of whom the artist said...

      Darkseid: OK, technically he is a villian of the New Gods, but since the New Gods are kinda lame (sorry Kirby fans) Darkseid has been linked to Superman for decades. Just imagine the ultimate evil of the DC Universe is a Superman bad guy... yep, Superman's rogue gallery is weak.

      Doomsday: Not really a character and more of a plot device. Thing is there are limits to what you can do with what, essencially, is Hulk without Bruce Banner. When done right it can be good (Hunter/Prey, Doomsday Rex, maybe Death of Superman) when not, it's horrible (almost everything else). Lately Doomsday has been reduced to a joke. And yet he remains memorable enough, due to cool visuals.

      Friday, October 22, 2010

      The Top 17 Lobo Covers

      The Top 20 17 Lobo Covers? With five years in his own solo series, countless mini-series, and tons of painted art, you might wonder why there is so much old line art on display here. The problem with Lobo material, especially covers, is that there's so much samey-samey to muddle through, I set most of it aside. Also, propping the list up with three interchangeable entries does no one much good, so I'll emulate the Main Man's pug-headed irreverence and go with what I've got...

      17) L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #31 (September, 1991)
      The unexpected heat from the Lobo mini-series began to feed back into his primary team title, and this specific issue saw an additional sales boost as a crossover event tie-in. Most importantly, you have a striking cover pitting a harbinger of '90s hardcore anti-heroes against the epitome of DC's uncool grandpa heroes, Captain Marvel. It was a line drawn in the sand that DC happily crossed to collect dollars from new, often clueless readers' hands.

      16) L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #4 (May, 1989)
      Lobo was created as a "straight" character in 1983, and despite returning to comics in the funny JLI, he wasn't so outrageous as to stray from his origins there. This variation on a famous National Lampoon cover is the true mission statement for the Lobo to come, functioning as a swaggering tough, but clearly an oaf meant to mock the character type.

      15) Lobo #4 (February, 1991)
      On the one hand, so much of this image is exaggerated to comedic effect. On the other hand, the humor is straight from the gallows, as there's a sickening element to the mass open air grave that recalls Holocaust imagery. I find Lobo works best when he touches a serious nerve, and is horrifying in his callousness. Less latter-day Freddy Krueger, more Nicholson in The Shining. Lobo should unnerve, not simply annoy.

      14) Lobo #3 (January, 1991)
      A great cover because it treads the fine line between a dynamic action image and a blatant parody of Bill Sienkiewicz's collaborations with Frank Miller.

      13) Adventures of Superman #464 (March, 1990)
      Another major Lobo landmark. It was one thing to hassle the JLI and be the resident tough guy in L.E.G.I.O.N. It was quite another to not only tug on Superman's cape, but to toss him about by it. The interiors retain the promise of the cover, with Lobo actually blackening the Man of Steel's eye with a knee to the face. Readers definitely took notice.

      12) L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #34 (December, 1991)
      Maybe this is a subjective favorite, but when the issue hit the stands, it managed to simultaneously indulge the comedy of Lobo and still sell him to new readers as DC's answer to Wolverine.

      11) Justice League International #18 (October, 1988)
      What an effective reintroduction to Lobo this comic was! A striking design Kevin Maguire self-swiped the following month when Lobo turned Guy Gardner back into the jerk we all loved to hate in '88.

      10) The Demon #14 (August, 1991)
      Again, this was back when Alan Grant "got" it, playing Lobo and Etrigan off each other like a hyper-violent Tex Avery cartoon. Self-aware parody, rather than just self-parody.

      9) Lobo #3 (February, 1994)
      Love him or hate him, Lobo managed to weaponize his own logo, and that demands respect. Even better than Captain America taking his shield to Brother Blood.

      8) Lobo #1 (December, 1993)
      Pure attitude, taking the piss out of foil enhancements straight from the fly.

      7) R.E.B.E.L.S. #20 (November, 2010)
      I worked out most of this countdown in August, but held it back for a)Vile Menagerie month & b) this cover's release. Several of my countdowns are already out of date thanks to some fantastic recent cover images like this one, the first time Lobo has seemed really formidable and an essential presence in some time.

      6) Legion of Super-Heroes #23 (October, 1991)
      A grizzled old Lobo a millennium from now, still kicking ass and enjoying stogies. A rare understated image that works better than the usual gore and mayhem.

      5) L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #5 (June, 1989)
      Building off of his JLI guest appearances, joining this Invasion! spin-off series gave Lobo the platform to segue into solo work. Vril Dox did okay for himself, as well. Mutually beneficial exploitation. Kind of a silly pose, though.

      4) Lobo's Back #1 (May, 1992)
      Besides the obvious titular joke, this final initial outing for both Keith Giffen and Simon Biseley seems to metatextually express contempt for the speculator market (the book had multiple covers stapled together) and readers who weren't hip to the satire and bought into Lobo.

      3) The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1 (January, 1991)
      The Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer was the DC Comics gold standard for holiday-themed gallows humor, until this special came along to solidify Lobo's place in the comic culture zeitgeist. Nothing quite says "bad boy" like disemboweling Santa Claus on your cover, and there's even a cigarette-style advisory tag on this beast. Check out the short film adaptation, on the YouTubes.

      2) The Omega Men #3 (June, 1983)
      How many times did this cover show up in Wizard Magazine back in the day? I love how deeply uncool Lobo looks here, serving as a reminder to anyone inclined to take the 'Bo too seriously.

      1) Lobo #1 (November, 1990)
      So excessively tough and anti-heroic, how anyone could possibly fail to see the satire is beyond me. From the expression to the logo to the still-novel painted art to the ninety-nine cent price tag, everything about this is iconic. Also, it's much funnier if you have Green Day playing in your mind while looking at it. "Bite my lip and close my eyes. Take me away to paradise. I'm so damn bored I'm going blind. And I smell like..."

      Honorable Mentions
      Lobo #2 (1990)
      Mister Miracle #13 (1989)
      Wonder Woman #60
      L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #26
      The Demon #12
      Lobo's Back #2
      Lobo: Blazing Chain of Love #1
      Valor #4
      L.E.G.I.O.N. Annual #3
      L.E.G.I.O.N. '92 #47
      Adventures of Superman Annual #4
      Lobo: Portrait of a Victim #1
      Lobo: Unamerican Gladiators #3
      Superman: The Man of Steel #30
      Lobo #2 (1994)
      L.E.G.I.O.N.'94 #63
      Aquaman #4 (1994)
      Lobo Annual #3
      Lobo: Bounty Hunting for Fun and Profit
      Lobo #33
      Lobo #54
      Batman/Lobo (2000)
      Lobo: Death and Taxes #4
      52 #17
      The Brave and the Bold #4 (2007)
      Green Lantern #55 (2010)

      More of Today's Cover Countdowns!

      Thursday, October 21, 2010

      Hugo vs. Hugo

      Every now and again, in the rare instances Prof. Hugo comes up in a discussion, he is confused with sometimes professor Hugo Strange. In fact, I was just asked about this issue in a comment made last week. As a Hugo service announcement, I will briefly explain the difference between the two.

      Doctor Hugo Strange created as one of Batman's first reoccurring Golden Age foes, predating the Joker & Catwoman. Credited to Bob Kane, but given his reliance on a studio, it was more likely Bill Finger and/or Jerry Robinson. Strange was a mad scientist who robbed banks with a fog machine, once doped Batman up with a super-steroid, and then seemingly perished.

      Professor Arnold Hugo created as one of the last Batman foes of the much maligned Jack Schiff “sci-fi” period, only battling the Caped Crusader once. Credited to Bob Kane, who was doing absolutely no work himself at that point, so there’s no telling which bullpen hands offered ideas. Hugo was a mad scientist who used a machine to enlarge his brain (and entire head) to become even smarter. Irked by a slight from a Gotham historical society, Hugo used a giant tiger, lightning -firing jet skis, invisible flying robots and more to ruin their events. Arnold Hugo has never been presumed deceased.

      Hugo Strange was a general comic book pseudo-scientist in the Golden Age, but since his revival has held a masters in psychology. He's sometimes called "doctor," but usually "professor," even though I'm not aware of his ever being associated with a university. Either way, he steps on other characters' toes.

      Arnold Hugo has such an inflated ego, and at most universities, a professor "outranks" a doctor (as you can be a doc without being a prof, but you can't be a prof without being a doc.) On the other hand, a doctorate isn't always necessary at a city/community college. I’m not sure if you needed to be a doctor to teach at a Gotham City university in the 1960s, but I suspect if one did, Hugo might have used influence/bribes to secure the position. The sort of mad science he practiced and his drive to prove himself makes a body wonder.

      Hugo Strange is late middle-aged and skinny. He is bald/ing with gray hair and a Van Dyke/goatee. Strange wears off-the-rack suits he fairly swims in. Strange sometimes uses conventional weapons.

      Arnold Hugo is middle-aged and skinny. He is clean shaven and has a full head of dark medium length hair (sometimes brown, usually black.) Hugo usually wears stylish custom fit suits. Hugo always has some sort of weird gadget or ray gun at his disposal.

      Hugo Strange is a second-to-third tier Batman villain, showing up a few times per decade in the ‘40s and 1970s-present. I don’t recall if Strange has ever bothered anyone outside the Batman family. At several points, Strange has expressed more interested in studying and even “becoming” Batman than fighting him.

      Arnold Hugo fought Batman and Robin one time, and was turned over to the Caped Crusader as a courtesy at the end of a Manhunter from Mars story. In a non-canonical children’s story, Hugo bypassed Batman to hassle Superman and Aquaman.

      The Martian Manhunter:
      To my knowledge, Doctor Hugo Strange has never interacted with J’onn J’onzz in any way.

      Professor Arnold Hugo’s second appearance saw him move from the lead Batman feature in Detective Comics into the Manhunter from Mars back-up, and his following three appearances segued with J’onn J’onzz into House of Mystery.

      In 1977, after thirty-seven years in limbo, Professor Hugo Strange returned to comics during an acclaimed run by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. This appearance inspired irregular revivals for decades thereafter.

      In 1976, The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes: Batman - Volume 1 by Michael L. Fleisher offered the erroneous listing of "Arnold, Professor Hugo." Thirty-four years later, there are people who still think it's Prof. Hugo Arnold. Hugo made no further appearances until last year.

      In Summary:
      Hugo Strange in a psychopathic psychiatric doctor who specializes in mind games against Batman. He looks like a taller, more realistic Dr. Sivana, and is obsessed with the Dark Knight.

      Arnold Hugo is a loony professor who specializes in weird gadgets that annoy the Martian Manhunter. He looks like Peter Pumpkinhead without the vegetation.

      Wednesday, October 20, 2010

      2010 B'rett Custom Action Figure

      I like to find cool rarities for this blog, so I actually search the internet for materials relating to obscure but important Martian Manhunter related characters. The more J'Onn-specific they are, the less likely it is I will find anything, so sometimes I produce my own. For instance, I almost got Andy Kuhn to draw B'rett, but I was afraid he wouldn't be recognizable in the manner the artist seemed to want to draw him. I kind of thought it would be cool to get Rob Liefeld to do him, but he was charging way more than the novelty was worth to me. B'rett wasn't selected for the commission I haven't heard anything about in over six months either, so the yellow bastard was left out in the cold.

      A few months ago, I got to thinking about what else I could do for these characters, and it occurred to me I could create a custom action figure by simply painting a Martian Manhunter one yellow and giving it a gun. Some of the uglier ones would probably work better as B'rett! Well, I had come across a loose New Frontier figure that cost as much as the packaged one I got on sale earlier, but I bought it anyway. Since B'rett was a Silver Age villain, it seemed appropriate to contort Darwyn Cooke's sunny design into a little bad ass.

      Once I grew out of playing with action figures, I started doing really sloppy customs. I got somewhat better in my 20s, using the crap figures I couldn't sell in my shop, but I was never good exactly. Still, I figured this would be snap. I thought wrong.

      All the paints I bought turned out to be too dark, and the paint pen I intended to use for facial details too fat and runny. I went to a hobby shop where a fellow customer droned on for fifteen minutes about techniques for miniatures, but at least he verified the detailing pen I was going to buy would do the job. The actual employees recommended a blue paint that proved the consistency of water and ruined the jaundiced flesh tone on the chest by bleeding through my masking tape. Some painted areas never stopped being tacky. Some areas rejected any attempts to paint over them. Areas became lumpy or cracked from the layers of repainting. When I painted the cape, color transferred to the skin. When I painted the skin, it transferred to the cape. Various other areas did the same in a never ending game of musical errors. It was so vexing that I wrapped all my materials in an old shirt/drop cloth and set them aside for a few months.

      Cutting off the decidedly late Bronze/Modern Age J'Onn J'Onzz collar went okay, but I redrew and painted over the face about ten times, plus countless failed tweaks. I would say I drew at least three distinctly different faces, giving up on print accuracy when certain details failed to translate to my three-dimensional canvas. Not only did this layering eventually alter B'rett's facial tone, but I started having residual details survive the overpaint, and his complexion got rough. I found this appropriate to the character, so I didn't let it bother me overly much. By the same token, I eventually dismissed my concerns about glaring errors in the paint job as a whole, because I had to own my lack of skill and time so I could relax and get the damned thing posted. I'd just avoid the more extreme close-ups I usually do for factory model action figures. A bit of Vaseline on the lens. Another thing that unintentionally worked out was that the dark paints matched the muddy coloring of the scans I have for B'rett's first appearance, so in that sense they were subjectively accurate.

      I carved as accurate a gun as possible, handle and all. Like everything else, it painted too dark for any details to show, which became a saving grace when its practical application required more severe cuts. Rather than risk tearing the gun hand open to accommodate the pistol grip, I shaved it to a point and superglued it into the hole I'd bored into the fist. The gun holster came from a villainous Rambo figure I'd bought cheap years prior. It drew left, but was too easy and otherwise functional to be discounted.

      I briefly considered trying to paint a soda bottle starship and set it along a pond to serve as a backdrop, but there just was not time in my life for all that. I instead blew up the most suitable panel from B'rett's sole appearance in Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter, and snapped less than a dozen pics against the pop art background. Again, the dimensions proved out of whack in print, but whatever. It was good enough for my charitable purposes, and B'rett looks decently cool set beside his heroic inspiration.

      Tuesday, October 19, 2010

      Martian Sightings for January, 2011

      BRIGHTEST DAY #17-18
      Variant cover by IVAN REIS & OCLAIR ALBERT
      1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS
      Hawkman and Hawkgirl pay a visit to the Star Sapphires, but with the Hawks’ connection to the cosmic corps, it looks like this meeting may end in bloodshed. And more even more blood may be drawn as Captain Boomerang hunts down Deadman and Dove!
      Retailers please note: These issues will ship with two covers each. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
      Issue #17 on sale JANUARY 5
      Issue #18 on sale JANUARY 19
      32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      Even if J'Onn J'Onzz gets an iconic variant cover, and he should, you just know it'll be that red Mach 5 symbol they're trying to make happen in the background. Pie or die!

      Written by MARC GUGGENHEIM • Art and cover by JERRY BINGHAM
      In “Super-Powers” part 3 of 5, Batman faces the Justice League for the first time! The landmark meeting triggers a memory back to the time he met his first super-powered team – The Zhuguan! Take a trip down memory lane to a time when a young Bruce Wayne traveled the world to find the methods he’d need to embrace his fate as The Dark Knight!
      On sale JANUARY 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      Gah! What happened to Jerry Bingham? I can't get it up for these "first meeting" retcons anymore.

      Miss Martian
      SUPERGIRL #60
      Written by NICK SPENCER
      Art by BERNARD CHANG
      SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help - namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and...Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn't let up for a second!
      On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      I really dig the pink S-shield, and with this being an iconic jumping on point at $3, maybe I will.

      Written by GREG WEISMAN and KEVIN HOPPS
      Cover and art by MIKE NORTON
      Based on the upcoming hit animated show from Warner Bros. debuting on Cartoon Network! Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash and Aqualad star in this explosive issue kickstarting an all-new ongoing series! They’re four young superheroes learning how to be a team…and maybe doing a bit of growing up along the way – but only just a little bit!
      Animation writers Greg Wiesman (The Batman, Gargoyles) and Kevin Hopps (Spectacular Spider-Man, Smurfs) join fan-favorite artist Mike Norton (BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM) for this exciting new, all-ages title!
      On sale JANUARY 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      I caught the first few minutes of this cartoon the other day, and it looked quite good. Much more Justice League than Teen Titans. Great design work, too

      TINY TITANS #36
      Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO
      Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
      Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom!
      On sale JANUARY 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

      The Vile Menagerie
      Written by SHOLLY FISCH
      Cover by J. BONE
      Get ready for seven new SUPER FRIENDS tales from issues #22-28! The heroes race against Despero, Mongul and Queen Bee for magical artifacts, stop a plot against them hatched by the mad scientists of Oolong Island, take part in the Space Olympics, and much more!
      On sale FEBRUARY 2 • 144 pg, FC, $12.99 US
      Despero, Mongul, and the first new Professor Arnold Hugo story in over forty years! Too little of each for my money, though.

      Cover by JUSTINIANO
      Welcome to one of the weirdest titles DC has ever assembled – 6 issues filled with stories of monsters, ghouls and far-out cosmic craziness!
      Each month, you’ll be treated to new 10-page chapters in three exciting serials. In this debut issue, Kevin Van Hook and Jerry Ordway bring you the continuing adventures of Lobo, everyone’s favorite Czarnian (after all, he’s the only one left, so he’d better be your favorite). Aaron Lopresti introduces you to his newest creation, the kind-hearted monster called Garbageman. And Kevin Maguire takes you to the farthest reaches of outer space with the introduction of a hero called Tanga!
      Wrap it all up in a cover by the amazing Justiniano, and you’ve got a truly monstrous hit on your hands! These artists are letting their freak flags fly – join them, why don’t you?
      On sale JANUARY 5 • 1 of 6 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
      Is it too early to start the Lobo backlash? Four book! Feetal's Gizz!

      R.E.B.E.L.S #24
      Written by TONY BEDARD
      Cover by FRANCIS PORTELA
      Two years ago, super-genius Vril Dox gathered his team of R.E.B.E.L.S. to fight off one seemingly unbeatable foe: Starro the Conqueror. Now, Starro is back for revenge, and Dox’s downfall has begun!
      On sale JANUARY 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      On sale DECEMBER 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
      What the crap? Starro's last arc took too long to wrap up as it was. There had better be a lot more Captain Comet this time!

      Cover by KEVIN NOWLAN
      In their first-ever meeting of minds – and fists – Lobo accepts a contract to knock off Superman – but it’s not so easy to kill a Man of Steel! Then, Lobo teams up with Etrigan, the Demon to rescue an innocent soul from Hell before their goodness turns the place inside out. Reprinted from DC FIRST: SUPERMAN/LOBO #1, LOBO #63-64 and the DC INFINITE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL #1
      On sale JANUARY 5 • 96 pg, FC, $7.99 US
      I feel Kevin Nowlan should have better things to do than draw Lobo.

      Written by TONY BEDARD
      While super-genius Vril Dox begins rebuilding his interplanetary police squad L.E.G.I.O.N. in these stories from issues #15-20, Starfire joins the team! Plus, Dox confronts his father – the Superman villain Brainiac – while his own son, Lyrl, tries to destroy their home planet of Colu.
      On sale FEBRUARY 2 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US
      I just finished reading the floppies on these, and they're frankly missable.

      Vandal Savage
      SECRET SIX #29
      Written by GAIL SIMONE
      Art by J. CALAFIORE
      Cover by DANIEL LUVISI
      The explosive ACTION COMICS / SECRET SIX crossover concludes here! At the paid request of Lex Luthor, the Secret Six rush headlong into a deadly confrontation with Scandal’s villainous father, Vandal Savage. But the Six have a score of their own to settle with Luthor, and unlike Superman, the Six fight dirty. Don’t miss this grudge match finale between DC’s smartest villain and DC’s weirdest team!
      On sale JANUARY 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

      Who's the blond?