Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Beginning, Again

I've tried to be a dutiful fanboy and take umbrage with the Martian Manhunter's exclusion from any Justice League team in the DCnÜ, potentially retroactively to the dawn of the super-hero. I even went off on a rambling tangential thought from this post, trying to sell the outrage. The truth is, I simply do not care. DC continuity never really recovered from the Crisis on Infinite Earths twenty-five years ago. The people I really feel bad for are the Justice Society fans who have once again been thrown under the bus to try and make the DC Trinity both contemporary and the "first ever" super-heroes. It doesn't really matter though, because I think this initiative will ultimately bleed fans and lead to another much needed DC Implosion. As for J'Onn J'Onzz, this is business as usual, because he's never really been much for maintaining a status quo.

Let's set the Wayback Machine to 1955. The Martian Manhunter's creative origins are shrouded in mystery to the point where it's anyone's guess Who Created the Martian Manhunter? What we can plainly see is that the John Jones, Manhunter from Mars strip started out as a crime series with a sci-fi twist starring a police detective who secretly was an alien. It's one of the reasons nobody talks about the Martian Manhunter starting the Silver Age anymore, because it was super-hero fans who defined those arbitrary "ages," and John Jones was not a super-hero. Like a number of DC back-up strips, it was trying to jump on the popular crime bandwagon, but since National was a family company, they couldn't trade in the lurid details that made EC Comics and Lev Gleason money. Following the imposition of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, National employed kid-friendly gimmicks where once an injury to the eye motif would have been the hook.

What happened was Julie Schwartz jump-started the super-hero market with new versions of the Flash and Green Lantern. Detective Comics was selling poorly, and fans were more inclined to watch detectives on their brand new televisions rather than read tepid comics like "Roy Raymond, TV Detective." Since cops and aliens weren't getting the job done, John Jones began spending a lot more time as the Manhunter from Mars. It was only when Schwartz looked to other editors' stables to round out a revival of the Justice Society of America (but trading out the high falutin' "Society" for the more Americana-like-baseball "League,") that the super-heroic Martian Manhunter was truly born.

It was an easy transition to make, because nobody cared much about the Martian Manhunter or his continuity back then. His alien name was alternately "J'onn J'onzz," "J'onn J'onz," "J'on J'onz" or "J'on J'onzz." His powers were whatever the writer said they were in a given story, and the book changed writers by the fourth strip. The character went through ten variances of physical appearance within a three year span. His only supporting cast was Captain Harding, who was pretty much just an exposition machine assigning John Jones' cases. Harding had morphed out of Jones' original commander officer, Lieutenant Saunders, with whom he was interchangeable in the first year's worth of stories.

As J'onn J'onzz made more appearances, he shifted from a scrawny creature with a Matt Groening overbite into a lantern jawed Wayne Boring type into a leaner, more graceful Everett style hero. He acquired super-villains after a while, but only two made repeat appearance through into the first half of the 1960s. Jones picked up a Lois Lane style girl helper in Policewoman Diane Meade, but without the romantic tension. When that didn't work, J'onzz gained a impish sidekick in Zook, not unlike Green Lantern's Itty, Aquaman's Quisp, and Bat-Mite. Just after the town John Jones had been patrolling for the better part of a decade finally received a name, Middletown, the biggest shake-up occurred. Detective John Jones was killed off, and stayed that way for over twenty years. Captain Harding has only made one appearance in the nearly fifty years since, Diane Meade vanished for about thirty-five years, and I don't believe Middletown has been mentioned in a DC Comics since 1977.

J'onn J'onzz moved from Detective Comics to the lead feature in House of Mystery, a corny creature feature comic. In a bid to keep old readers and hopeful gain new super-hero ones, the Martian Manhunter and Zook were given the mission of finding the Diabolu Idol-Head, a monster-of-the-month manufacturing artifact. That didn't pan out, so after about a year, the Idol-Head was destroyed, Zook's appearances became sporadic, and the Martian Manhunter abandoned his secret mountain headquarters. Instead, he was directed by a government agent named Mr. Steele to move to the Mediterranean in pursuit of the international criminal organization Vulture. Assuming the identity of deceased former associate Marco Xavier, J'onn J'onzz's personality became grim and violence prone in his relentless pursuit of Vulture's faceless leader, Mister V. Once that villain was killed in an explosion, J'onn J'onzz ended thirteen years of solo adventures.

By that point, the Martian Manhunter had already made his de facto resignation from the Justice League, but it became official when his entire origin was heavily retconned. Instead of a humble scientist on a utopic Mars accidentally whisked away to Earth, J'Onzz was a military leader in mortal conflict with the heretofore unheard of Pale Martians, specifically Commander Blanx. Defeated through treachery, J'Onzz was sent into political exile, which he spent on Earth. In the meantime, Blanx destroyed all of Martian civilization, presumably including J'onzz's mother, father, and younger brother T'omm, who'd never made more than a couple of appearances anyway. The sixties ended with J'onzz traveling the galaxy in search of the ark bearing the last survivors of Mars. This was also chronologically the last time a Pale Martian would ever be seen again. While I'm thinking about it, there was exactly one Yellow Martian, B'rett, but he only showed up for one story.

In the 1970s, J'onn J'onzz liberated the last of his people and helped them forge a new civilization. This might have been on the planet Vonn, or it might have been Mars II, because there's conflicting stories about both. The beetle-brow, possibly J'onn J'onzz's most memorable visual trait, was reestablished in 1977 after having been dropped for the previous twenty years. This period was actually the longest lasting status quo for J'onn J'onzz, since he only appeared a handful of times between 1969 (when Mars was first destroyed,) and 1984 (when the Martian Manhunter returned to Earth.) There was a popular militant uprising led by The Marshal that overthrew Mars II's government (including J'onn J'onzz) and attempted to conquer Earth. Bel Juz returned for the epic after a twelve year absence, and a new girlfriend of J'onn's named J'en was introduced. None of the three have appeared since the invasion was routed, and J'onn J'onzz stayed on Earth to co-found a new Justice League of America with lesser known/loved characters. During that run, the John Jones identity returned as a private investigator, a grandmother was mentioned for the first and last time, and the Martian deity H'ronmeer was created. Aquaman quit the team and Batman took over briefly, with Martian Manhunter getting his first stint as team leader between their terms.

By the way, somewhere in there, the kindly old scientist named Mark Erdel who died from a heart attack at the sight of the Martian he'd transported to Earth was revealed to have actually been murdered by his computer in a Hawkman story. Also, Commander Blanx and the Pale Martians had one more story in them, the extra-secret origin of the Justice League of America that revealed it had actually be founded in 1957 by Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Roy Raymond, with Superman, Batman and Robin abstaining until further consideration. See why I don't worry about retcons?

In 1987, the Martian Manhunter co-founded his second Justice League in three years, which saw both major roster and status changes almost immediately. J'Onn J'Onzz was a morose figure for about a year, but as the comedy of Justice League International ratcheted up, his sardonic humor and love of sandwich cookies became defining traits. This was even after his 1988 mini-series, which revealed that pretty much every Martian Manhunter story prior to 1985 was a figment of his imagination, especially if it related to fellow Martians. You see, all the other Martians were simple natives who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, but died out in a plague. He'd been transported through space and time by a still living Saul Erdel, who cured J'Onzz of the plague and fed him the false memories to protect him from the trauma of having lost a wife and daughter. J'Onzz may have been visited by the deity H'ronmeer, or it may have been a delusion brought on by a resurgence of his illness, but the end result was the restoration of his "true" memories. Of course, Saul Erdel never turned up again after the mini-series ended. Finally, there was no Middletown, so Jones had now been in a cop in Middleton, Colorado. Oh, did I mention that it was decided in 1989 that the Justice League was actually formed by Black Canary, the Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter, with Superman and Wonder Woman having never become members? No really, see why I don't worry about retcons? Also, there was a bounty hunter named Glenn Gammeron around when Mars died that hasn't been mentioned in fifteen years. Just saying.

The Martian Manhunter left the Justice League International when it temporarily disbanded, except he got possessed by Bloodwynd and joined the reformed Justice League America in that identity. Eventually, J'Onzz got his freedom, and formed the Justice League Task Force, joined by his "surrogate daughter" Gypsy, as well as his mortal enemy of the '90s (whom he rarely fights anymore) Despero, and his Justice League of America co-founder Triumph. What, another retcon? Perish the thought. See, Triumph's initial membership was retconned within his first few appearances, and a deal with Neron retconned the entire JLTF series, and Triumph is dead now (if he ever existed) anyway. Oh hey, did I mention the Martian Manhunter's devastating kryptonite of over thirty years, fire, had been revealed to be solely a psychosomatic disorder that simply triggered PTSD, but could totally be overcome?

Well, forget that. Ancient White Martians (not Pale) were released from what was essentially the Phantom Zone, tried to conquer Earth, and were defeated by lighters and gasoline. A couple of years later, it was revealed that the Martians had a telepathically transmitted virus that caused them to kinda sorta spontaneously combust after prolonged exposure to open flames. It had been engineered by J'Onn J'Onzz's newly introduced evil twin brother Ma'alefa'ak, who was still alive and killing. He captured and tortured Jemm, Son of Saturn, whose race were actually clones of Martians, created when the White and Green Martians were locked in an interstellar war. Did you know that in the original stories, J'onn J'onzz was trapped on Earth because Mars didn't have a single ship capable of interplanetary travel? So remember, the Martians were technologically comparable to Earth in 1955, but socially advanced, then socially regressed in 1969, but technologically advanced. Then they were all dead, but noble savages, and now were galactic conquerors. Speaking of the earliest J'onn J'onzz stories, he had telepathy back then. For a few stories. Then that power was forgotten for thirty years or so. Telepathy. The one power everybody knows the Martian Manhunter for being useful with. Since about 1986, give or take. P.S., J'Onn's whole family got names, and he's at least a second generation cop, not a scientist. The only scientist was Mark Erdel. Yes, Mark. Oh, and John Jones was a real dude that got killed and replaced by J'onn J'onzz (how convenient) to testify against "his" own killer. And there were Martians worshiped in Ancient Egypt still living in human bodies. And tons of other retcons from the solo series nobody remembers now, like new powers involving absorbing mass to become a giant and crap.

J'Onn J'Onzz co-founded another JLA in 1996, and after his solo series ended, it turned out that the Martian weakness to fire was actually encoded into them by the Guardians of the Universe because they were originally demonic fire creatures as seen in Fernus the Burning Martian, whom J'Onn J'Onzz regressed into after conquering his fear of fire with the help of his short-lived girlfriend, the redneck villainess Scorch, who has been in a coma since the early '00s. That was all one sentence, ya'll. Don't sweat it, as everything in that sentence got completely blown off pretty much immediately.

Surprise, the JLA disbanded, the entire universe rebooted, Wonder Woman helped found the team again, but J'Onn was booted off its latest incarnation (and ever since.) His head turned into a pickle wrapped in blue latex, and he was a really, really sour pickle, for no reason that ever made much sense. He starred in a comically inept mini-series, and then got forked to death by a random one-shot JLA villain from the 1970s. Then he became a evil zombie, and then he was alive again, but sometimes turned back into an zombie in a subplot that totally got dropped a few issues into Brightest Day... because the writers were totally winging it... as if you couldn't tell... duh. Also: pants. Also Also: Cabochon. I mention that last one just to point out that I'll never use the word cabochon again, which I only learned because they gave the Martian Manhunter a cabochon.

I might mention "cabochon" again. I kind of wing it, too. Like how I just remembered to mention J'Onn J'Onzz was briefly an Earth elemental. I'm sure that doesn't make Alan Moore want to swallow the business end of a pistol.

John Jones, right? Somehow, J'Onn J'Onzz was definitely police detective John Jones in the 1950s, and was still so until the early days of the Justice League, and intermittently since. I don't know how that works. Occasionally, he's also Black John Jones, Angry White John Jones, and Fox Mulder, just to keep up plausible deniability. He's been an undercover double agent in the Department of Extranormal Operations a few times, but I think their screening got beefed up by the Patriot Act.

Who is Batman? Rich kid traumatized by his parents' murder who trained for years to become a well-equipped vigilante battling routinely recidivist gangsters and psychopaths in Gotham City with the help of a "family." Has a month gone by since 1940 when that statement wasn't true?

Who is Superman? Survivor of the destruction of the planet Krypton who uses his fantastic powers to battle a small group of decent regular villains and a lot of crap ones while working in his secret identity as reporter Clark Kent alongside his lady love/rival Lois Lane. Has a month gone by since 1938 or so when that statement wasn't true?

Who is the Martian Manhunter? A green-skinned alien with a blue cape transported to Earth from his home planet by a scientist named Erdel who uses his powers for good. That's the constant. He wasn't transported on accident by either Saul Erdel, and the second one specifically recruited J'Onzz to battle another Martian named D'Kay. He's been a cop at times, and a private investigator at others, so you could maybe say he's been a detective of some sort a fair amount of his career. He usually has some kind of flight, super-strength, widely varying degrees of shape-shifting and invisibility, but the rest of his powers come and go. The basics of his costume were stable for most of his career, but almost everybody who ever drew it offered noticeable tweaks. He's had at least five distinctly different personalities. The percentage of villains he's fought more than once should be in the low single digits, and I think you could count the ones he's fought ten or more times on the fingers of one hand. With the sole exception of Captain Harding, J'onn J'onzz has never had a supporting cast member last for five consecutive years. He's often a member of some form of Justice League, but usually some sort of weird "off brand," and with enormous gaps in service (mid '60s until mid '80s + 2006-present = > half the existence of the team.) The "Magnificent Seven" League would be the longest lasting quasi-supporting cast, lasting about thirteen years if you combine the '60s and '90s series. Second place would go to the JLI, at six years (if you count Bloodwynd,) yet he has abstained from four revivals to date (two Superbuddies mini-series, "Generation Lost," and now the DCnÜ incarnation.) Even that "heart and soul of the Justice League" business doesn't hold up if you crunch the numbers.

This brings me to the point of this history lesson. J'Onn J'Onzz did not serve in every incarnation of the JLA, just a lot of little ones. He has few non-super friends with any longevity (including "daughter" Gypsy, with whom he served two three-year runs nearly a decade apart,) and even fewer reoccurring foes. He is not "owed" a slot in any version of the Justice League, and in fact has a history of blowing off reunions of past groupings. His fidelity to both the "Magnificent Seven" and JLI is certainly up for scrutiny. Should his having been on Earth since the 1950s remain true, but acting in secret decades before the arrival of "super-heroes," the new continuity would be the closest the character has come to his original conception in our definition of "ages." It would also vastly elevate his status as an elder titan, since he would now be out of the JSA's shadow, and clearly senior to newbies like Superman. Working with a super-spy group on an international scale, up to and including a more lethal "edge," would be a return to the days of Marco Xavier vs. Vulture. Just as when J'Onzz helped welcome the Charlton heroes into the DC Universe through the JLI, J'Onn is once again an ambassador, this time to the Wildstorm properties.

Frankly, I think it's about time the Martian Manhunter stopped being "best buddies" with the JLA, stuck in the "friend zone" as the safe, non-competitive team mascot amongst multimedia icons. The current mainstream DC readership is uncertain and mistrustful of Wildstorm, which to them makes the Martian Manhunter the star of Stormwatch. Not being a boring "mom and apple pie" American super-hero has likely already endeared him to international and nonconformist DC/WS readers. Hopefully, this will not only be a return to the character's roots, but will allow him to take root and grow after so very long as having such "potential." Heck, maybe he could even help diversify the new team, the way Cyborg's supplanting of J'Onzz adds a drop of color to the League. The Authority had a Latina and an Asian, so maybe a new John Jones can finally be like all the black dudes that end up voice/live acting the character. Also, the new team like to wear normal clothes, so maybe we'll see a John Jones in a neat blue suit with a fedora after too many years of strict adherence to spandex? I'm excited, because maybe he can finally stop being an obligatory, neglected seventh among the "magnificent," and instead become something truly sublime in a new sphere of influence.


mathematicscore said...

As a long time reader, I knew most (heck, all) of this already, but I must say, bravo. Well laid out, and a canny analysis at that.

I will say this, though; I don't think MM has had any greater swings of personality/method/etc thank any of the bigger guns. Perhaps the difference is in the number of fandom keeping the creators honest...

LissBirds said...

Oooh. So much information for me too digest at such a late hour.

First of all, brilliant rundown. For some reason it seems like this retcon is more serious than previous ones, or at least DC is doing a good job of convincing me of that. Then again, I worry about everything from spontaneous human combustion to the impending heat death of the universe, so worrying my favorite character is going to be treated poorly isn't much of a logical leap for my brain.

I swear when I take over the world, all comics will revert back to their origina premises and will never change again. Because everyone always looks back fondly on what they read as a child (except someone like me, who came late to the game, and just picks whatever suits them), and then no one can agree on what version of a character/team/etc., they like the best. NO CHANGING. My new rule for life. Like you said, Batman and Superman really haven't changed much from their original conception.

I suppose the problem then is that did the Martian Manhunter have a strong enough premise to begin with? Well, probably not, which is why he was remade over so many times. But there is something about his debuting in Detective Comics that makes me want to see him as a detective so much. (And probably because Batman was what got me into comics in the first place. He would be like Batman...only alien. Or better yet, like a combination of Batman AND Superman--a detective with superpowers.)

The only thing I've really wanted is for J'onn to have a secret identity who is a detective, because that's how he started out, and I think it's a story angle that hasn't been explored enough. (He's been the outsider/jobber for Superman/"heart-and-soul of the Justice League," but how many times has he been a detective? Plus, it would showcase his intelligence. You don't get to see him outwitting anyone often enough. He thinks a lot, yes, but it's just passive meditation.

Frankly, I'd almost like to see him ditch the telepathy. If Blackest Night/Brightest Day had ended with him losing his telepathy, I would've celebrated. Like you said it wasn't originally there (just kind of thrown in when the writer wanted it), it's a huge plot hole, and it's silly to have a telepathic character who never uses telepathy (other than to talk with his teammates) because of a moral compunction. Get rid of it, and I think any solo story of his would improve.

"so maybe we'll see a John Jones in a neat blue suit with a fedora after too many years of strict adherence to spandex?" Now you're just getting my hopes up!! I'm going to be cautiously optimistic about Stormwatch. I've completely laid off of Flashpoint so I have no idea if J'onn's even up to anything right now (don't think he is), so I have no clues as to what it will be like. Except the solicit covers, which I can't say I'm too thrilled with the new suit.

But then again, there is the promise of a fedora, so I'll think about that instead.

aota said...

Great write up. Your right we really shouldn't be unhappy for his removal from the JL. I really do think that he will be a more interesting character in this new Stormwatch book. What I would love to see is a six issue mini with him giving us his definitive origin in the current DCnU.

Diabolu Frank said...

M.C., I hate to let a good point about the personality shifts in "bedrock" icons get in the way of my rhetoric. J'Onn has been relatively stable for the past quarter century (excepting Coneheadhunter, and even then.) By relative, I mean compared to the rest of the JLA founders. I guess Barry would be his best competition, seeing as he was dead for most of the modern age.

aota, I both look forward to and intensely fear a "nU Year One" mini-series. I'm sure it would be interesting, but also potentially horrifying. I've been thinking about the only ways DCnU could be made to work, and my conclusion is that you have to wipe out all the milestone dating. That means no JSA in World War II, and no J'Onn in the 1950s. Everything has to begin with Superman and Batman a decade or so back. From the looks of it, even Dick Grayson as Robin has to go. Quite the punch in the gut. Besides, I call dibs on writing the definitive history, darn it! Don't trust nobody else! ;)

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, I believe that this is The Big One. When you retcon Dick Grayson out of being Robin and lose the JSA entirely, it really is a ground one relaunch for most properties. That's why I'm selectively interested in DCnU titles, but my love of the full universe has imploded, because it doesn't exist anymore. I think it will come back again, but for now, this is a fresh start for me to jump on or off titles. J'Onn J'Onzz really benefited from the Post-Crisis landscape, but I felt his progress had halted, so I hope he'll get moving again from here.

I think "concealed Martian detective" is a pretty solid premise for a comic book property, but the execution was less than spectacular. A good writer could run with that, but rarely has. A Martian Manhunter series would be a perfect vehicle to chart the five year gap between the first Justice League arc and the ongoing DCnU. He might need to become a fed, though.

"He's been the outsider/jobber for Superman/"heart-and-soul of the Justice League," but how many times has he been a detective?" That about sums up the point of my rant. Forget the JLA, and let's find a place for J'Onn J'Onzz to develop. My worst fear is that he'll just start jobbing for Big Gay Superman and Leather-Lovin' Batman instead of the originals, but I have some faith that he'll be more of an adversarial presence. Come to think of it, this would remind me of his relationship with Triumph in the JLTF. Wow, a return of that guy in Stormwatch would really be unique for mainstream comics.

Tangent much? My point is, if he's on this team, he could be shown as the internal affairs investigator putting him mind toward uncovering the schemes of his teammates. Very different dynamic there, and it offers J'Onn a chance to work that big noggin of his.

I like the telepathy, but I'd diminish it greatly. I like him as a psychic walkie talkie, and he could glean surface thoughts without all the contrivances that prevent him from spotting a Maxwell Lord. Less Professor X, more Daredevil/Sookie Stackhouse-- added "intuitive" power to give a detective the edge against meta-crimes.

will_in_chicago said...

I think that the DCnU is essentially a reboot. I think that if they would have had the courage to do a full reboot with the first issues of comics showing how people react to the existence of superheroes would have been interesting. I am not happy with the retconning of Dick Jason and the Justice League.

My instincts tell me that the DCnU will be a short lived reboot. As I understand it, there are some copyright issues involving Superman coming up in a few years that might be a big headache for DC. Also, I think that a lot of readers may not be happy with some of the big changes.

Frank, I think that you made a convincing case that J'Onn's origins have gone through many changes, as has his powers. (I find it ironic that a shapeshifter's origins and powers are so mutable.) Perhaps this reboot will give J'Onn a chance to shine away from the shadow of some of the more iconic DC properties and allow him to come into his own.

I am comfortable with J'Onn's current power set, but I think that the telepathy aspect could be handled a bit better. (Some foes might be good at blocking J'Onn's telepathy or trying to allay his suspicions. Why scan someone whom you trust?)

With any luck, we will see J'Onn get better treatment than he has in much of the past several years. The character has great potential, and I just hope that it is developed.

Diabolu Frank said...

"Dick Jason?" Man, I would be pretty freaked out by that myself! At least Grayson would have a better reason to stop being Robin than not wanting to keep shaving his legs. This time though, they should let Shiva be his mom after all, and maybe she could double as the one who killed the Flying Graysons? That's kind of intriguing, actually. An Elseworld might be in order...

will_in_chicago said...

Sorry, Frank!! I had a typo as I was beat!

I am uncertain how this DcNU will be received by the fans, but I would not be surprised if what ultimately follows is a total reboot. Maybe they could have the JSA in the past, having them being trapped in time during the 1950s, with perhaps only the Spectre and Dr. Fate not being trapped. Perhaps it was Fate or the Spectre that guided the hand of a certain Dr. Erdel in reaching across time and space to retrieve the Martian Manhunter. J'Onn could spend decades operating in the shadows, with few (such as King Faraday) knowing about him. Then, if DC decides to do a completer reboot, make issue 1 of Action Comics the first public appearance of the modern Superman and do likewise. Maybe have some characters appear as their younger selves (maybe Dick Grayson can be seen with his parents and in a few years join Batman as the first Robin.) J'Onn could serve as both the ambassador to the Wildstorm properties and a mentor of heroes, perhaps without other heroes realizing it. The JSA could appear, as heroes out of time, remembered by some as urban legends or folklore, and coming to terms with our era as well as trying to reconnect with a few people from their past. (Okay, just a few minutes of musing on what could be done. I hope DC put more thought into the reboot than I did with his post.)

So far, I find myself having more faith in Stormwatch than many of the more traditional titles. Maybe it is because I know so little of many of the characters that I am willing to see how they develop. My hope is that J'Onn will not be as badly used in Stormwatch as he has in many of the comics covered by this blog. Keep up the good work, Frank!!

Diabolu Frank said...

Will, I was just teasing, and it led to an amusing tangent, for me at least. Your JSA idea may happen as a retcon, but for now it seems like the very concept of the "super hero" was invented for the debut of Superman "five years ago." Man, remember when the Legion pulled that? Worked out fabulously! Are they still on a deboot, or have they progressed to the quad/penta-boot? Alternately, the JSA could reside on Earth-2.

I do hope you're right about J'Onn keeping his '50s resume via clandestine operation. If he landed on Earth at some point after Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, it would break my heart.

Anj said...

Man ... what a great post. I haven't been able to surf the net the last couple of days so this was a nice way to open the week!

I have to say I was hoping that J'Onn would be in the JLA. I love the Morrison stuff and thought he was great there.

I don't know if I am going to get Stormwatch ... that decision might be based solely on your response!

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, as I recall, you dug Cornell on Action Comics. I hope I dig him here!

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, I know that you were kidding. The sad thing is that your tangent sounds more interesting than some of the things that we have seen from DC. I really have no interest in Flashpoint, which strikes me as a stunt to perhaps fill some time before the reboot. Honestly, I would prefer a full hard reboot, but DC will go its own ways.

As for the Legion of Superheroes, they have had almost as many changes at J'Onn. I wonder if DC ran some if its ideas past readers? Testing out ideas with the buying public might be a good idea. (I am puzzled how Dick Grayson is not part of the Bat-family while Barbara Gordon is as Batgirl? Oh well, they will probably do another reboot in a few years.)

LissBirds said...

"I wonder if DC ran some if its ideas past readers?"

If only. That would make too much sense.

No, some committee sat down with a list of sales figures and went from there. Then probably whatever pet project of whatever editor made it through as well. (Thus explaining non-sequiturs like Hawk and Dove and whatnot.)

will_in_chicago said...

Liss, one of my other interests is role playing games. Some companies actually PLAY TEST rules with their potential customers and get feed back from them on what works, what doesn't work, and what can be better. The end result is not just a better product, but a buy in to concepts that the fans and customers helped shape. (See Paizo and the Pathfinder role playing game for an example.)

Sometimes, I think the comic book industry could learn a lot from other industries. Ultimately, the goal should be creating loyal customers who want to follow comics instead of pick up the stunt of the month. (Those multiple issues of the Death of Superman did not turn out into major investments after all. Although we did get some good characters out of that -- who will likely be retconned out existence in September.)

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, Flashpoint really has been this thing that's happening before the thing that people care about happens. It proves that the Flash is potentially a worse anchor for an intracompany crossover than Wonder Woman, which is pretty not-impressive. Heck, the Wonder Woman/Aquaman war is about all that book has going for it, even if it is nonsensical.

LissBirds said...

Now that Google suddenly turned stupid, it lost my comment.

But basically what I had said was that I agree with you will, I was just being sarcastic. I think DC should listen to its fans.

Then I said something about how it's easier for a lone author to listen to feedback from his/her fans but it's probably difficult for a gigantic corporation like DC to process fan input.

Then again, TV pilots run test audiences and focus groups, but these are for new shows and new characters that the audience has never seen. I think because fans are so invested in characters they've known all their life probably complicates matters because the opinions are so strong.

But really all DC needs to do is liten to the coments on their Facebook page to get an idea of what fans think of the current direction the DCU is going in.