Sunday, July 10, 2011

Martian Manhunter #2 (November, 2006)

Clockwise from left: Mica'kel, Telok'Telar, Dal'en, and Jornell.

One month ago in the Arizona desert, a S.T.A.R. scientist named Alex Ferguson found an alien pendant amidst the streaming remains of a meteorite strike. Ferguson obsessed over it for the next couple of days, although his buddy Sully said five, because the editor missed the contradictory references in the needlessly specific timeline of the script. They also made sure to mention William Dyer twice, even posting his business card in a panel, to set up Ferguson's later contact with the dude.

Ferguson couldn't figure out what the artifact was, and got nervous when a woman named Rio Ferdinand drove past "five or six signs" to trespass on the private property of their lab. In case that ridiculous moniker sounds familiar, Rio's the chick that shot that scientist in the head last issue, so it's kind of hilarious that she strutted around flashing NASA Internal Security credentials to the reader under her actual name for the purposes of this story. It also shows the think tank she worked for wasn't that thorough, because Ferguson used to work for NASA, and knew their security is handled by the F.B.I. Sully continued to mock Ferguson's paranoia, until a bullet came through the window and out his forehead. It's a good thing Rio was inept enough not to shoot out the tires of the running jeep Sully had left outside for Ferguson to escape in.

A couple of weeks later, Ferguson was still hanging out in the Sonoran Desert without being found. At a random warehouse in the middle of nowhere, Ferguson met with William Dyer, who was revealed to be the Martian Manhunter. Ferguson was mindwiped of that fact after J'Onzz learned about the Kuru Pendant. Since this was still Martian-Manhunter Classic flavor, J'Onzz didn't just rip the information out of Ferguson's mind without exposing himself first, even though a mindwipe wasn't exactly ethical either.

Dyer spoke of "London. I know people there. You'll be safe with them. I promise." It took another week to get Ferguson to Queens, New York. I guess they don't have international flights from Arizona, or even nearby California, nor does the Martian Manhunter have access to non-commercial flights. Ferguson's plane was blown up by the evil Giggs, because underground projects love to kill people in a manner that makes positive identification a lengthy and potentially fruitless process in a manner so spectacular as to receive global news attention while still searching for an alien artifact whose location was only known by the intended victim. I'm sure this foolproof plan couldn't possibly set up any questions about whether Ferguson was actually on the plane, either.

Today, the scientists were aware that the Liberty List recruit had been caught and most likely telepathically probed. Although the group had placed mental blocks in the assassin's mind, "In all probability, Martian Manhunter knows our exact location." True enough, despite partitioning his conscious mind so that only a children's rhyme and homicidal intent remained at the fore, the newly Hardcoredude from Mars had gone deeper than ever into the intricately manipulated but still all too human schmuck's mind.

Everything at the underground project was being erased and burned on a tight schedule. One "scientist" took out a guard without lifting a finger, blood dripping from his eyes, nose and mouth as he fell face first to the floor. I don't care how needlessly graphic you make the effects of his powers, even I as a fan can only take a character called Martian Manhunter so seriously. I still snicker at the 13" deluxe Manhunter that's inside a box in my bedroom.

Revealing himself, New Manhunter told anyone in earshot that he didn't want to hurt anybody (except that guard, a lot) and that they should please leave the secret lab that they were already evacuating. J'Onzz smashed through a glass window, even though he could have become intangible, and would be better off opening a door to facilitate the exits of the Green Martians he found in hibernation. "I hesitate before trying to reach them telepathically. If under great stress of pain, my people had-- have the ability to achieve a state of suspended animation. A type of self-induced coma. It's a survival mechanism... The first thing I feel is their spirit. Five. All five. And at that instant, I know... I will never be alone again."

Spoiler Warning: J'Onn J'Onzz will totally be alone again. Hang in there!

J'Onzz helped free a child named Till'all, but was warned off by the other four Green Martian adults who were revived. Only two of the total five were named in this issue, and those remaining would not be identified for another couple, but I'll use their names here to avoid confusion. Mica'kel began drilling J'Onzz, who warned that Roh'kar was dead and that they needed to leave immediately. Telok'Telar was highly suspicious of J'Onzz in the face of his friend's death and J'Onn not having been a captive with them. Dal'en and Jornell were more reasonable and unsure of their circumstances. Only Till'all seemed cognizant of their being on the humans' planet. Each Martian had been captured separately. Dal'en explained "By the time we became aware of each other's existence, we were too weak to do anything. The Martian Detective counted ten restraining suits hanging from the ceiling, but no one could recall if there had been four unaccounted-for fellows. J'Onzz felt it best to escape before reinforcements arrived, but Mica'kel insisted that any others had to be found, and Telok'Telar backed him up.

The Martians' five Kuru Pendants were located, and J'Onzz followed a psychic signal to a lab where the Martians appeared to have been tortured. Jornell acknowledged the "Unspeakable things" done to them all. "The others are getting nervous. You were right, we should leave. It was too late though, as troops were already coming. "Good," said Mica'kel with a smirk. J'Onn told Till'all "Nothing more will happen to you. I promise." The kid somehow managed to survive the issue, as J'Onzz was extra protective of him, and nobody called on the speaker phone.

Rio Ferdinand led the attack squad. I think. J'Onn J'Onzz had once managed to "cloak" three people through invisibility and thermal suppression, according to this story, and now was barely managing to cover six. He faltered, so a trooper's face started gushing blood when J'Onzz and Mica'kel started zapping people in the brains. Taking control of their motor skills, the Martians had the guards start shooting one another. Only in the next issue was it claimed that all the killing was done by Mica'kel, and that Rio would somehow come through unscathed. Kudos to the colorist for the delicacy of the veins under the skin of a trooper's face while she was hemorrhaging. You can't put a price on class. I kind of looked like that after reviewing this issue.

The story ended with J'Onn stating, "Of all the human emotions I have observed... revenge is the only one not foreign to my people." I'm not sure which is shakier-- J'Onn's grammar or his understanding that revenge is not an emotion, but an action taken that is motivated by emotions. Also, weren't Martians supposed to be granola-munching hippies Post-Crisis, and does anyone really believe that their entire emotional spectrum was so completely alien? Remember that line from a Star Wars prequel delivered by a Jedi about how "Only the Sith speak in absolutes," which is an absolute statement unto itself? Yeah, that was another really stupid line somebody thought sounded cool without thinking it through.

"The Others Among Us Part 2" was by A.J. Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo and Bit. Let me hip you cats to some jive. Pages 1-2 took place "right now." Half of page 3 was six minutes earlier. Page four was a month ago. Pages 5-7 were right now. Pages 8-10 were, I kid you not, "Three weeks, five days ago." 11-13 right now. 14 two weeks back, which must have been right before the World War III specials. 15 one week back. 16-22 in the present. I spent about two hours just trying to lay that all out in chronological order for ya'll while researching all the character names and additional sequencing details left out of this issue. You're welcome.

Brave New World

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