Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Ten Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversaries

In January of 2010, the Idol-Head asked its readers to vote on the Martian Manhunter villains they felt were the most interesting. For the better part of a year afterword, the site counted down from least to most popular, offering commentary on each selection. However, I found that there were gaps with regard to more in-depth coverage of some of these characters. Further, I found that there's a major difference between bad guys we like, and those that have had a meaningful impact on the publishing life of the Manhunter from Mars. Hoping to ease problems in both departments, I compiled a list of ten foes I felt had been the most significant to date, regardless of personal preferences. I wrote some fairly lengthy analysis of each subject, justifying the choices and ranks through historical and thematic impact, comparisons with other characters, plus oodles more. 

  1. Commander Blanx

    "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."

  2. Ma’alefa’ak

    "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."

  3. Bel Juz

    "Without Bel Juz, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. The Martian Manhunter would likely be a completely different character. There may have never been a Justice League International. Forget the Vile Menagerie—Bel Juz may be one of the most important and transformative villains in DC continuity."

  4. Mr. V

    "Faceless may be a mere human, but through technology and a criminal organization, he still managed to vex one of the most powerful super-heroes on Earth over a long term. "

  5. Despero

    "Despero is simply the evil version of Martian Manhunter. The characters are vastly similar in origins, powers, associates and circumstances, but polar opposites in personality and motivation."

  6. The Human Flame

    "If Batman is the hero any of us could be with enough training and discipline, the Human Flame is the super-villain waiting for any of us in the garage after a trip through Radio Shack and Home Depot."

  7. B’rett

    "Anyone who ever watched a western from the golden age of television knows B’rett’s story. His last name might as well have been B’artt. Amongst a vile menagerie of serial killers, mind rapists and genocidal maniacs, it’s almost refreshing to see a good old fashioned thug."

  8. The Diabolu Idol-Head

    "The Idol-Head of Diabolu was a cheap tool to lure the Martian Manhunter into action, but it also effected some of the first and most devastating changes ever visited upon an established DC comic strip."

  9. Professor Arnold Hugo

    "Where J'Onn J'Onzz is a selfless, dignified champion of a great society living in harmony, Hugo is an ironically small-minded egotist only interested in personal fame and fortune. Hugo demands acknowledgment for his scientific accomplishments, and would like nothing better than for the entire world to kiss his feet."

  10. Darkseid

    "Darkseid is a well-regarded villain whose impact on the Martian Manhunter’s series has been embraced by a majority segment of the Alien Atlas’ fans."


will_in_chicago said...

Frank, this is a great summary and a great list. I would hope that someone at DC takes a look at the series. There was a lot of research and a ton of good ideas. (Hmm, maybe Malefic and T'Omm were different personalities stemming from a rather traumatic incident?)

Tom Hartley said...

Lots of good writing.

Would a countdown of the most important supporting characters be worth doing?

Diabolu Frank said...

T'Omm as Malefic's Harvey Dent? I could see that...

The thought of doing another essay series like this honestly hadn't crossed my mind. I'd have to give that some thought, since I can't think of any supporting characters off the top of my head that had the same kind of impact. There haven't been any Jimmy Olsens or Alfred Pennyworths that take on a life all their own. The ranking criteria would be totally different, and likely more subjective.

LissBirds said...

Nice way to wrap it up, especially your summary of each villain! Especially the Human Flame one...that made me laugh. This was a great series of post and I hope some new MM fans have had the opportunity to read through these.

Comparing either T'omm or Malefic to Harvey Dent in any way is blasphemy to me! Gah!! :)

I still think Death by Globe is an impressive way to go, btw.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm checking out this Comic Reporter article asking folks to "Name Five Members Of A Rogues Gallery NOT Batman's, Dick Tracy's Or Spider-Man's And Don't Identify The Hero." It's a shame to have missed out on entering, because Martian Manhunter has his list now. Even if you exclude Darkseid and Despero, Malefic and the Human Flame assure association for even casual DC readers.