Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Martian Manhunter Menagerie March Madness: Round 1 Round-Up, Part 3

Round 1 Final Assessments

Gorilla Grodd vs. Ryx vs. Thantos, the 3-In-1 Man: Two characters that I really like, are fairly popular, and had great potential to crush Vile Menagerie subjects while having somewhat questionable credentials in that department are Gorilla Grodd and Vandal Savage. These factors made their placement in the contest problematic. At one point I was going to have the aforementioned David and Goliath match of Grodd against the Human Squirrel. "Big Game" could have made the '90s stubbly Weapons Master a gorilla poacher. I kept juggling possibilities, but my responsibilities in balancing things out kept screwing up the lines.

Then I had Ryx, a military leader of an invading alien army repeatedly tricked by J'Onn J'Onzz into believing all human males were like Superman. Like a lot of characters, Ryx benefited from low vote turnouts ending in ties/narrow victories. Pitting him against other minor villains seemed unfair, since he did have an army, even if its mettle had never really been tested. Finally, there was Thantos, a goofy looking creation that was nonetheless very powerful and a legitimate threat wholly owned by the Martian Manhunter franchise. In the end, I decided to have the Three-In-One have a DC Three-In-One fight with the other two square pegs I had left over. Thantos had done well in qualifications, so he had a legitimate shot against Grodd, but I figure Ryx watered down the Silver Age vote. In the end, Grodd managed a win at six to Thantos' four and Ryx three, but I still figure it for one of the dirtiest matches.

The Magician-Thief Who Had Super-Powers vs. Vulkor: The Capsule Master reminds me of the Ghost Rider foe The Eye with that giant orb on his head, and unless you happen to be Mysterio, that kind of dome tends to be a serious liability. While Vulkor's debut remains one of the most often reprinted Martian Manhunter stories, and he was probably the most widely exposed of that rogues gallery in the Silver/Bronze Ages, his omission from the two Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter volumes had to hurt. While Vulkor made a lot of history, the "Magician-Thief" was still the first Martian villain in the John Jones series, and that means a lot. Also, while M-T may have worn pink, at least he didn't look like a marital aid gone rogue. (8-4)

The Headmaster vs. TOR: The Robot Criminal of Mars should have been a much earlier entry into the Vile Menagerie files, but a) I figured I was going to synopsize his debut "soon" a couple or three years ago & b) I didn't have any color reference to work with. As this March Madness bit got started, and wanting a break from school pressure, I knocked out three easy entries in one night. It might have seemed like ballot rigging to post TOR's during the contest, but it didn't have any impact on a deadlocked vote. What actually happened was that I don't like stalemates, and I hadn't voted because I think Headmaster is a solid newer villain, but gave TOR the nod. The thing with the Headmaster is that his "zombie"/robots hybrids and spaceship were trashed by Martian Manhunter in his only story. TOR was another rare early villain who could not only meet J'Onn J'Onzz on the field of power, but did so through a human host. We only have TOR's dubious word that his robot form was disabled, and he already displayed body-hopping abilities, so he could be revived at any time with power enough to tangle with the big boys. (6-7)

The Saturninan Criminal vs. S'vor: To be honest, I've only skimmed either of these guy's stories, and I was rooting for the Mercurian against the Saturnian in the pre-season. S'vor seems like the dopiest looking of the lot, so I kind of wash my hands of the whole thing. (6-7)

The Martian Marauders vs. The Devil Men of Pluto: I knew this would be a massacre. The Marauders were just another gang of all-bald, all-boring red planet hoodlums causing trouble on Earth. The Devil Men were vicious bastards who marked the turning point when Martian Manhunter became a dark character who dismissed the value of their evil lives. One looked like a demonic Adolph Hitler, and what part of "Devil Men of Pluto" does anyone find unappealing in their villains? (2-11)

Scorch vs. The Human Flame: Two of the most highly visible Manhunter-related adversaries whose fire-based powers prevented them from fairly tangling with Martians. In other words, two pains in my ass I had to have face off, because where else could I place them? I wasn't at all sure which way this would go, as Scorch has her fans, but the Human Flame had his own mini-series and old school credentials. I didn't vote, and it wouldn't have mattered, because J'Onn's old flame made this a cakewalk. (9-4)

The Osprey vs. Weapons Master: One of these guys literally appeared in a few panels of foreshadowing in one comic book that was never followed up on, which goes to show nothing is more open to fan projection than a blank canvas. Just ask Neil Gaiman's Morpheus, or the Phantom Stranger. Then again, Weapons Master was only the 198th high-tech mercenary who could afford full body armor but couldn't scrape the stubble off his own chin in 1994. It never helps to be a Bloodwynd villain, either. (8-4)

The Marshal vs. Commander Blanx: Part of me really wanted the genetically altered leader of the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood to play Pac-Man with lesser lights for a round or two, but how boring would it have been to see the Marshal murder B'rett and Commander Blanx batter Bel Juz? Nope, let's cut to the chase, and have the two great militaristic evils of Mars in ultimate combat. The Marshal put up a struggle, and there's some honor in that, but the odds were never in his favor. (5-9)

Despero vs. Doomsday: The prospect of the three-eyed Kalanorian going out in the first round horrified me, but there was no one else to potentially tackle Doomsday, and you always have to kill your babies in this sort of thing. Well color me surprised (or fuchsia) that not only did Despero destroy Doomsday, but it was the single greatest annihilation to date. There was a time when Doomsday seemed unstoppable, but I guess the Superman creative team thoroughly poisoned the well after so many tainted dips in its waters. (15-1)

That does it for Round One, and here are the final matches for Round Deux....

Division III, Round 2

Mistresses of the Obvious!



Bel Juz (Green Martian Traitor!)


Bette Noir (Mind Manipulator!)

Rocket Ridin' Drrrty

B'rett (Yellow Martian Criminal)


The Magician-Thief Who Had Super-Powers


Cameo Combat!

Doctor Samedi


The Osprey


Gore S'more!

S'vor (Tec 267)


Tor, the Robot Criminal of Mars

Division IV, Round 2

Py'tar vs. Apokolips





Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Commander Blanx




Missing Links!

Vandal Savage


Gorilla Grodd

Have Ray-Guns... Will Travel!

VULTURE (International Mob)


The Devil Men of Pluto (Space Hitlers!)


jimmypulv said...

Thanks for doing this. I love how everything is turning out.

LissBirds said...

I think Despero's going to make it to the Final Four. Or win the Triple Crown. Or whatever it's called when you win...

mathematicscore said...

Not taking anything away from those silver age ne'er-do-wells, but Grodd has proved himself against stiffer competition and while he may not equal the power of his two foes physically, both his mental abilities and his cunning give him the win here. Savage will be another matter...

I voted for Vulkor since he has a gang and as i recall M-T was a solo act, but Martian vs Martian is always a toss up, especially since I'm pushing for not all Martians to be created equal (the theory of having to work to hone your powers, leading to different specialties...)

I like Headmaster as well, but respect TOR's relative invincibility. He did confound all of Mars for quite a while.

S'vor is doofy looking (and overly dependent on having a big gun as I recall.) and the Saturnian had a good enough thing going, so far as I remember.

Space Hitlers. Villainous heck yeah.

I would give Human Flame an advantage over most, since he has earned a place as a player of some merit in the DC villain stage. As I alluded to earlier, I would just have him go "Inhuman Flame" when faced with more cosmic opponents. Scorch has prove to me far more adept with flames, holding back Fernus and maybe even a nuke if I'm not mistaken. He gets shut down.

The Osprey has some nifty nineties armor and probably would have been fun. Weapons Master is one of Dan Jurgens' lesser works. Do the math.

Commander Blanx got my vote because he seemed to give the JLA more trouble; at least on the covers of stories I have not yet read. :}

Despero has the power to hang with Doomsday long enough to put his cunning to work. Doomsday is just a brawler, and they don't stand up to more thoughtful attacks.

Are you going to fill in the brackets with results up to this point?

Diabolu Frank said...

Thank you for the idea, Jimmy. It's been a fair amount of work, but rewarding and fun enough to easily gloss over.

Despero has been a juggernaut so far. He annihilated Doomsday, and he's looking to pull a narrow victory against Darkseid. However, that one is much too close to call, especially since casual readers are more likely to vote late and vote Darkseid. One of the two will ultimately have to face Malefic, the man to beat.

My confidence in Commander Blanx was shakable, so I've been happy to see him perform well. I was sorry to throw the ladies under the bus, but Scorch has proven herself so formidable, she's the fairer sex's best candidate for the last round. It's been getting more heated, but the true bloodbath will be round 3.

M.C., I don't believe I voted in the Vulkor match, and it wouldn't have mattered if I had, but he was objectively the obvious better of the two. Unlike most every other Silver Age Martian bad guy, J'onn J'onzz straight up overpowered the Magician-Thief in a matter of panels. Vulkor took the combined might of the Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Speedy and a healthy amount of trickery in a book length thriller. By virtue of page count alone, that makes the Capsule Master among the most formidable foes of the era.

Any thoughts on the capitalization of TOR? I've previously written it mixed, but after rereading the story and writing the VM entry, my gut tells me the name is an unexplained acronym. If nothing else, where's the apostrophe?

Between the generic name, Coop lifting, and redneck background, I've tended to be dismissive of Scorch. However, trying to work out matches for her between the Human Moth and Darkseid has been damned challenging. She too easily takes advantage of Martians, and is overall very effective.

The Osprey is really struggling against Doctor Samedi, who I have found more repugnant through the length of his stay here. I just voted in that one, but I expected the Osprey mystique is about to peter out.

The Marshal's forces were much more trouble to the JLA than Blanx's. Between the Red Brotherhood, Challenger, and Bel Juz, the League had its hands full for three issues. Let us not forget, War of the Worlds: 1984 wrecked the satellite and dismantled that era's League. However, the Marshal's only direct confrontation saw him getting humiliated by J'Onn in unarmed combat (discounting the helmet that did not save him from a concussion.) Blanx avoided a direct confrontation with Earth's heroes, using strategy and subterfuge to get what he wanted. Still, Blanx fought more powerful Leagues, and was ultimately and tragically far more effective. Blanx also put up a better fight Marciano-a-Marciano.

Doomsday is kind of an idiot. Only someone as stupid and arrogant as Post-Crisis Superman would try to punch it out with him. That's why Batman is never around when Doomsday shows up. Martian Manhunter always turns himself into a bum shield to slow his progress until cooler heads prevail, forgetting Huntress, Maxima, Orion, or Guy Gardner are his back-up. Despero could do anything Brainiac did, and that would make for quite the involuntary team-up.

I'll probably do the brackets at the very end, because I don't want to paint myself into a corner. This has not been a well structured tournament, relying on my trying to make up fair matches on the fly.