Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manhunter in Detective Comics #437 (October-November, 1973)


Katmandu, Nepal. Haj the Ancient collected the sights and sounds of the city, and was the best available source for all of its goings on. Interpol agent Christine St. Clair had use of his services in her investigation of Manhunter. Haj had heard this unusual name increasingly over the previous two weeks. "Law agencies all over the world have a growing interest in this man, Haj... Whatever you can tell us will not go unappreciated."

Manhunter had appeared in the Alley of Shadows, the sanctuary of the Cult of Thieves, searching for a man under their protection. Once given, said protection was honored to the death, and so it was. With sai and a Mauser, Manhunter cut these specialists in killing down with swift precision. Only one was left alive for information.

Christine St. Clair offered a photograph of a middle aged man with brown hair. "Haj, this man is called Paul Kirk. Could he have been the stranger in the Alley of Shadows?" Haj did not know, but a similar man was said to have shouted his intentions to find a certain individual to sherpas in the Himalayan foothills. Warned of such pursuit, the sherpas rushed out to kill the man, but he was gone without a trace. A rider was sent to the Pendrang Monastery to offer warning, while Manhunter followed in secret to the hidden valley, deep in the Himalayas.

The rider appeared at the monastery slung over his horse, unconscious, with slight bruises near a nerve cluster at the base of the neck. The monastery was protected by the legendary Blind Zen Archers of Pendragon, capable of detecting the slightest sound. That night, firecrackers proved a distraction. Miraculously, Manhunter managed to take down two of the skilled archers, but a third was an impossibility. Two arrows penetrated Manhunter's breast.

Dharmata had been raised in the monastery, and touched many in his wanderings abroad before returning home for sanctuary. Manhunter had finally caught up with him, pulling arrows from his breastpiece after disabling three good men for days to come. "I die a little less easily than most..." Dharmata was seen as a dangerous individual after rousing a revolution that could eventually make waves to pound China or India. To avoid this potentiality, some believed a calmer voice need be heard by Dharmata's followers, and the man himself silenced forever.

Monks arrived in the courtyard for their morning meditation, and Dharmata asked that he might observe them one last time. Manhunter refused, as he began killing the monks by numbers. As an unfortunate side note pointed out, "Monks are Caucasian (white-skin) not Oriental." As Dharmata pulled back the hood of a dead monk, he saw that they were not only imposters, but impossibly all had the same face-- Manhunter's! Dharmata was at a loss, and when he tried to question Manhunter, found that he was gone.

Christine St. Clair needed to know more, but "I cannot tell, Memsahib. Such a man is like the breeze in hottest summer..." The Interpol agent accepted this, but as she walked away, Haj disrobed. The disguised Manhunter was pleased with himself.

"The Manhunter File Chapter 1: The Himalayan Incident" was by Archie Goodwin & Walter Simonson. Goodwin had been asked to take over editing the poorly selling Detective Comics, which came with it a license to tinker. Batman was in two other titles every month, so there wasn't much room for experimentation on the lead feature, so any innovation fell to the back-up strip. Goodwin always favored the less traveled character, and after exposure to Golden Age Simon & Kirby Manhunter reprints in New Gods, decided he wanted to revive Paul Kirk, a famed hunter who turned his skill set from animals to men. While the book's sales didn't improve, the new Manhunter proved a well remembered artistic success that helped launch the career of collaborator Walt Simonson.

The Bronze Age

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Doom Patrol #6 (March, 2010)

The sixth issue of Keith Giffen/Matthew Clark's streamlining of the Doom Patrol and their history focused on making an integrated whole out of the permutations of Negative Man. It was my favorite issue of the first half dozen, even if it did feel the need to reference the horrible Tenth Circle story arc that launched John Byrne's incarnation of the team. Below is a linklist of comprehensive synopsizes of those wretched issues from a sister blog, DC Bloodlines:

Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary is a big Doom Patrol fan, and his first article as a contributor at DC Bloodlines extolled their virtues. You can read that here:
My Love Affair With The Doom Patrol and How Keith Giffen Makes Me Smile

I've been watching HBO's Deadwood, a really excellent series. The first few episodes of the second season involve the main villain deathly ill from sepsis related to urinary blockage, and how the state of frontier medicine in the 1870s attempts to address the issue. It's amused me to make parallels to those episodes watched over the weekend as my foul mood yesterday has turned out to be tied to a temporary, wearying bug in my own system.

What I'm trying to say is, if you enjoy modern deeply foul-mouthed westerns with underpinnings reflecting the political maneuvers of Ancient Rome, I highly recommend watching Deadwood at your earliest convenience. If you like the looks of the above cameo appearance by the Manhunter from Mars in the surprisingly good Doom Patrol series of 2009-2011, try clicking links on the list below. If you think it's been too long since I did a Manhunters Around The World entry, you've got something to look forward to in the coming days. However, if you want new material today, forget it, 'cuz I'm poorly...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Marcos Martin Martian Manhunter

I put a lot of work into several posts last week that didn't generate much response, so I think I'll have a nice relaxing extortion/pouting Monday, holding out even on the entirely innocent Miss Martian fans.

I was worn out in my last weeks of school, and slacked off in my Breach scans for another blog. It nagged at me, so I caught up over the weekend, and decided to share some of that material here.

Click To Enlarge

If you're interested in Breach, read more by clicking the pictures below...

Breach #1 (March, 2005)

Breach #2 (April, 2005)

Breach #3 (May, 2005)

Breach #4 (June, 2005)

Breach #5 (July, 2005)

Breach #6 (August, 2005)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Martian Manhunter #6 (March, 2007)

In New York City, a SWAT team burst through the window of Rio Ferdinand, who was sleeping nude in bed. "Gee, if I'd known you boys were coming, I would'a made coffee.

At Middleton Woods Estates in Pennsylvania, J'Onn J'Onzz gathered his fellow Green Martians into one room like a parlor detective and announced that he suspected one of them in the murders of two humans. "Setting aside the shame you've brought upon our people, upon me, admit to your crime now and I promise I'll do everything in my powers to protect you." I love the emphasis on "me," as if the guy who has failed and browbeat this group constantly rated special standing.

Mica'kel was immediately indignant like a good red herring, which was pointless, since the reveal took up half of a facing page. Dal'en was the only Martian to stammer when asked point blank yes or no if he'd been up to some killin', like a child afraid of the switch. Given that mighty fine bit of dee-tectin' work, it's no wonder Dal'en was on J'Onzz, trying to gouge out his eyes with his friggin' thumbs, before the Manhunter from Mars could mount a defense. J'Onn had been offering Dal'en help, which was met by a left-field screech of "YOU CAN NOT HELP ME," which plays better if you imagine the voice as Richard O'Brien's in the last act of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Come to think of it, maybe the DCnÜ is just a delayed effect of Dal'en and Telok'Telar doing the Time Warp off-panel? J'Onn was all "You're among friends," but Dal'en was all butch please, "you have no idea-- what's been done..." before passing out. Hysterical.

Back in New York, the F.B.I. interrogated Rio over the murder of "Sully" Sullivan, based on a ten point match of her thumbprint on the field journal of Dr. Alex Ferguson. "Just so we're all on the same page... you're making a career-ending mistake here, fellas." Despite her bravado, Rio knew someone had purposefully blown her cover and fed her to the feds. One of her interrogators saw it in her eyes, and knowing she'd lose any tail they placed on her, thought it might be best to release her. That way, she could deal damage to her no doubt corrupt superiors, and on confirming she'd been sold out, would likely return the favor in kind.

In Gotham City, the Martian Manhunter felt uncomfortable about approaching Batman for a favor, especially in light of his estrangement from the Justice League. "It's ironic... although alien, Superman can be swayed by emotion. Batman, by contrast, is far more... exacting." Also, water is wet and a Martian probably shouldn't deal in xeno-stereotyping. The Dark Knight didn't feel it was safe for either of them to be meeting the other, and confirmed on questioning that one of J'Onn's Martians had killed the two D.E.O. agents. J'Onn felt that if there deaths were to have any meaning, Batman would turn over information on who ordered the transfer of Scorch from her captivity at S.T.A.R. Labs. "As a friend, I must ask you to trust me on this." In predictable fashion, Batman's answer was a simple, firm "No."

As Keane was returning home for the night in his limousine, Rio shot several of his guards and his driver in the head. Girl loves her head shots. "Give me one reason I shouldn't put one in you!" Keane explained that he had no reason to expose Rio, given that it would in turn expose him. Keane had previously suspected that Rio was in league with the presumed rogue Giggs, but with the evidence presented against Rio to the feds, now thought he might be after them both. Whoever was responsible, "I don't care what your job title is in the real world, Keane, I don't take the fall for anyone."

Lying unrestrained on a mattress elevated by a board and two sawhorses, Dal'en begged for death. His skin was now cracked and turning gray. "In the lab, they did something to me. I am not who you think I am. I'm not! I'm not myself!!" Dal'en could remember killing the two agents, but it was something like an out of body experience, and he now feared for his fellow Martians. "Please don't let me hurt the others."

J'Onzz consulted with the group and Sara Moore. He conveyed Dal'en's fear that he had been intentionally infected with the plague in the lab, and was still shocked a Martian could take a human life. J'Onzz sought confirmation through blood samples, and when Telok'Telar refused, one was taken by force. The samples would go with Moore to a friendly lab associate. Till'all would travel with her, while Telok'Telar and Mica'kel stayed to watch over Dal'en.

Her name is Rio and she visits Boston, Mass. Then in another panel, kindly shows her ass. And when she spies she hides evidence at Midland Savings & Loan. Oh Rio, Rio, how you plot when you're on your own. Also: U-Store Rental, Waterford, CT. I guess you can hit that many states on the Eastern Seaboard in a day. Here in Texas, you spend a day trying (sometimes vainly) to get out of Texas.

The Martian Manhunter tried to set Sara Moore up in a rundown abandoned lab at Spectrum Tech Corp. in Milbourne, PA. Moore thought J'Onzz surely had something of higher quality elsewhere, but "I'm afraid my access to any of the standard labs is no longer an option." Gee, and I thought having powers comparable to Superman's meant not needing that kind of Batman crap, like the car, the plane, or... the... butler? "Excuse me, Master J'Onn-- may I have a word with you? Alone?" Okay, where the effing H.E. Dubblehockeystix did Alfred Pennyworth come from? Alfred had recognized that Batman had really wanted to give J'Onn the information he had requested, but couldn't allow himself, so Alfred made a big show of doing it without Bruce's knowledge. In a story as poorly constructed and in as desperate a need for more exposition, we waste a page on this nonsense? I say again, non. sense. I could devote paragraphs to discussing how nonsensical just that one scene was, but the material doesn't rate that level of taxing exegesis.

Keane was the chief of Homeland Security. If you smashed through the window of his helicopter while in flight, gravely threatening the safety of its two pilots, F-16s would rightly blow your dumb Martian ass out of the sky. Never mind that once again, another character had to guide J'Onn J'Onzz to action, which is taken in the clumsiest manner possible, completely ignoring both the wealth of powers at the Alien Atlas' disposal and the horse sense of a remedial grade school kid. The reader was told the pilots ejected to safety, but that doesn't excuse unnecessarily wrecking million of dollars worth of government property. J'Onzz threatened Keane with a mind probe to extort information, and received a little verbally. Why not probe the murderous son of a bitch while he was in flight, causing no material harm and gaining a greater and more reliable degree of information from a subject beneath concern. Further, circular logic abounds, like Keane experimenting on the Martians because of the threat they posed because he experimented on and hunted the Martians after they escaped his experimenting on them because they were dangerous. That'll surely prove useful to know.

J'Onzz finally decided to mentally probe Keane, in midair, while being telepathically paged about Dal'en going berserk, requiring his urgent return, and attracting the attention of friggin' Superman. How many contrivances could a writer conjure up at once to prevent finally advancing the plot in a firm direction? None of which stops J'Onn's successfully arguing for a whole hour of extra time from Superman to prove Dal'en's relative innocence for a page and a half. Again, J'Onn J'Onzz is reduced to begging and indulgence from the Man of Steel in the series of which he is the titular star. Is this the worst issue of a terrible, terrible mini-series? My need for Excedrin Extra Strength and a multiple week gap in covering this god forsaken story indicates that it very well could be.

Sara Moore was having troubles with her lab samples spitting out skewed information, and suspected they might be contaminated. In her teleconference with the only Asian ever named Hollis, she called her working conditions "more gas station than lab." Till'all found some peanut butter that he seemed to like, but Sara Moore declined due to allergies. This led into an asinine observation about the human condition. Not so much stupid in itself, but when you reread this series, it makes you want to punch the writer in the ear for this song and dance. Further study revealed that the Martian blood samples were not compromised by virus, but simply "different" from expectations, presumably from J'Onn's baseline.

The Martian Manhunter found Telok'Telar and Mica'kel barely able to contain Dal'en, who was vomiting blood and increasingly violent. Surprisingly, the two healthy Martians wanted help from the Justice League, while J'Onn refused to turn Dal'en over. Dal'en got free, threw J'Onzz through a wall, and took flight. The Martian Manhunter streaked after Dal'en, finally catching up, and caught an albino tail around his neck. J'Onn thought of all his friends' warnings while he was blinded by hope, unable to see that Dal'en was in truth a White Martian in disguise.

"The Others Among Us Part 6" was by A.J. Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo and Bit. I'd be hard pressured to think of a series that calls more attention to how poorly thought out it is. Scenes in this book make me angry because I know from the perspective of having completed the series that they are pointless or nakedly manipulative to such a degree that they are outright cheats. I try to give the benefit of the doubt, like maybe this was a proposed twelve issue series cut down to eight partway through, with plots left hanging and characters folded into one another. I just can't see it though, because each issue reads more like an arbitrary eight issue length was assigned, and the writer just threw up a bunch of garbage to fill the page allotment each month. Either way, there's no excuse for such execrable results.

Compounding the author's failure is the improving work of artist Al Barrionuevo over the course of the run, as his layouts become more clear while maintaining a consistent, subdued mood. I also need to give thanks for the colors of Marta Martinez, which both complement the art perfectly and pick up the slack during Barrionuevo's lesser moments. You want to forgive the book when you toss through it, because it looks promising at glance, until the words get in the way. I'm so glad I decided to write the final issue synopsis three months in advance while doing research for series related character biographies. After these last few issues, I need the momentum of knowing I only have one more mountain of sludge to climb convey in my immediate future.

Brave New World

Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 Martian Manhunter Movie Fan Casting: Angelique Boyer as Bel Juz

Sometimes between 1999 and 2001, I wrote up a fan casting for MARTIAN MANHUNTER: The Motion Picture for my late fan site The Rock of the JLA. Besides being terribly out of date, my casting of heroes and villains skewed very much toward the relatively recent Modern Age. Since the Martian Manhunter was in something like 150 solo adventure strips over thirty years before that period, and about a third as many in the fifteen years I focused on, I essentially cast the Manhunter-centric Justice League movie. I'd like to rectify that, starting with a character from an early 1970s team-up with Superman...

My girlfriend used to watch Teresa, a Mexican telenovela that has been restaged several times since its original 1959 run. The 1989 version launched Salma Hayek's career, while the 2010 version seems to continue the climb of the titular star, Angelique Boyer. The French-born actress/model/singer got her start on three seasons of the popular teen musical/drama Rebelde, which really stood out when I used to see it racked prominently amongst department store DVDs. Part of Boyer's transition to mature acting roles was the time honored tradition of appearing half naked in lad mags like Maxim, but she somehow managed to show her legitimate chops on the crime drama Mujeres Asesinas 2.

Teresa completed its Mexican run in February, and is currently being rebroadcast in the United States as one of Univision's daily primetime staples. The character is a gold digger who mercilessly jumps from man to man and grudge to grudge seeking ultimate riches. Boyer seems solid in the role based on my nil understanding of Spanish, but truth to tell, that kind of part is a dime a dozen. Like Teresa, Bel Juz plays innocent, but she has no conscience, and there are so many starlets who are kindred spirits in Hollywood that the Martian femme fatale would be a synch to cast. For instance, Christina Hendricks proved she would have been perfect in a guest appearance on Firefly a decade back, and I just finished watching Kristin Bell do a similar turn on the first season of Deadwood.

The reason I specifically chose Angelique Boyer is, well, she's kind of funny looking. I don't know if she has implants or surgical alterations or what, but there's something feline and artificial about the actress. Don't get me wrong, she's clearly a very attractive woman, but I like that off, alien quality. There are plenty of other actresses who could do a fine job with the role, so if I'm going to pick just one, I wanted someone who could be distinctly different...

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Redefining the Vile Menagerie

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I've spoken a number of times about my late '90s Web-TV based fan site Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA, but one aspect I don't think I've ever brought up is how it was partially inspired by message boards. See, while I initially wanted to create the site because of the complete absence of fan pages at that time (especially compared to my other favorite, Wonder Woman,) some actually sprang up in the time between my introduction to the internet through friends and gaining my own access. The idea went on the back burner, since there was already one particularly good fan site I visited. Instead, I indulged in a lot of message board threads, most often at the official DC site, and I spent entirely too much time on "versus threads." For those who don't know, versus threads are when fans post their thoughts on battles between characters x and y, and the heated debates usually descended into nasty "flame wars." To validate an opinion, posters were constantly tasked with reciting all manner of "scripture" related to a character, including powers, famous fights, regular enemies, resources and so forth. I got sick of retyping the same basics over and over again, so I wanted a repository where I could write it as well as possible once and just copy and paste. My fan site, originally dubbed Z'Onn Z'Orr: The Home of the Martian Manhunter, was then defined by pages devoted to those topics.

Donn Piatt wrote “A man's greatness can be measured by his enemies.” When it comes to super-heroes, that's a given. However, as a fan who knew the Martian Manhunter almost solely from modern age Justice League of America stories, I didn't really know what enemies he had of his own. Commander Adam Benson, a regular DC board poster, schooled me on the Silver Age Rogue's Gallery, which mostly consisted of Professor Arnold Hugo, Mister V, and to a lesser extent, the Diabolu Idol-Head. As he noted then, most everyone else was a common thug or one time menace of no lasting consequence. Once J'onn J'onzz lost his solo feature, the Bronze Age was an even thinner source for bad guys. If I'm trying to show message board trolls how great the Manhunter from Mars is, and he doesn't have any enemies of his own, is he really all that special?

Hence, the Vile Menagerie was born. Basically, anyone of the slightest note who had fought the Alien Atlas even one time and made any sort of impression was eligible. Mongul? Fought J'onn in an unrevealed tale alluded to in the one story where they did actually tangle during a team-up with Superman. In. Asmodel? Fought J'Onzz with the JLA in a two-part story, then killed J'Onn with a sucker punch during the spin-off mini-series Paradise Lost. In. Professor Ivo? Repeatedly fought line-ups of the Justice League that included the Martian Manhunter, who also happened to be the last member standing when Ivo brought an end to the first volume of Justice League of America. In.

There was also a glaring lack of villains who actually appeared in solo Martian Manhunter stories. This was partially due to a lack of access, since my Silver Age collecting of the character barely extended past his run in House of Mystery. My interest also skewed heavily toward the modern age, so I simply preferred discussing contemporary foes. Finally, huge swaths of villains from those Silver Age stories are unimpressive, especially the for the purposes of a "versus thread," so I blew them off.

Despite my intention to recycle all the material from the old site when I started this daily blog, very little has actually come into use. I'm older now, certainly far better versed in the character, so my interests are more in the vein of history and in-depth character analysis. Less "who could the Martian Manhunter beat in a fight" and more "who is he at his core and what is his purpose for existing?" By extension, the Vile Menagerie now focused almost solely on villains that the Martian Manhunter fully "owned," regardless of how minor or silly. In retrospect, I found a lot of the original VM entries inappropriate, and created a subsection here called the Vile Corpus to discuss their exclusion from the Menagerie Version 2.0. I'm also pleased to note that in the past decade since coining the term, I've actually seen the "Vile Menagerie" used outside of my own domain, which pleases me. After all, the whole purpose of giving the villains a collective name beyond the generic "rogues gallery" was to spotlight the fact that the Martian Manhunter does have his own worthwhile villains, so that writers could pull back on consistently employing brand new or borrowed ones instead.

The reason why I bring all this up is that I've long been considering the possibility of a Vile Menagerie version 3.0, or at least a 2.something. The first version was slipshod, ignoring essential inclusions and throwing in characters that really lacked the credentials. The second version I feel may have been inclusive to a fault, or as I call it, the Wiley Dalbert clause. You see, Dalbert appeared in a two-part Detective Comics story in the '90s, pursued by an undercover John Jones, the G.C.P.D., and Batman. He was rather silly looking, and his primary ability was intellect enough to work complex devices that allowed him to elude capture forever. In this respect, he was very much like the droves of Silver Age MM evil scientists that I've yet to bother drafting individual entries for. On the other hand, he was an effective villain who afforded Jones his first meeting with Batman in over thirty years within the book they both had debuted in. Applying the Dalbert Clause makes the Vile Menagerie very inclusive, to the point where literally hundreds of characters would qualify.

However, comments made on this blog, both by myself and others, have called into question various characters' right to inclusion. Does so & so really rate? This indicates the Vile Menagerie is more of an exclusive circle, the upper echelon. Wouldn't that mean there's a broad umbrella of villains under the "Manhunter rogues" heading, with only the creme de la creme serving as the "Vile Menagerie." Unlike most rogues galleries, Manhunter villains almost never work in concert with one another, so it wouldn't be as clearly defined as a Sinister Six or Revenge Squad. Further, the greatest foes rarely are included in such collectives, the way Rā's al Ghūl stands apart from the Arkham inmates, or Professor Zoom wasn't a true member of the Rogues. Does that mean there's a need for subdivision within the Vile Menagerie? Playing off the circus theme, should there be various defined rings within the grand collective?

I put the question to you readers, via a poll and your welcomed follow-up comments...

    What is the Vile Menagerie?
  1. Everybody the Martian Manhunter has ever fought, even as part of a team. (All in.)
    The maximum inclusive option. Anyone who ever spit in J'Onn's general direction.
  2. Everybody the Martian Manhunter has ever fought as a featured combatant. (Asmodel)
    Not ever guy that J'Onn fought on a team, but the ones he specifically tangled with. Asmodel is the example because of the "Stand down, soldier" moment from JLA #7, followed by their continued butting of heads in a spin-off mini-series. Someone like Amos Fortune would be another example, since it was J'onn J'onzz specifically who foiled him in his first appearance.
  3. Only the villains J'onn J'onzz physically fights in his solo stories, like B'rett.
    This option basically excludes all the villains who do not present a direct challenge to the Alien Atlas in combat, as well as anyone he hasn't fought in a book with his name in the title. Versus Thread matches, basically. Very exclusive.
  4. Only the adversaries J'onn J'onzz must face in his solo stories, like Mister V.
    This basically states that all the mad scientists and Vulture agents that the Manhunter can toss around like rag dolls are still eligible by virtue of being Manhunter-specific bad guys.
  5. Only villains that are most closely associated with J'onn J'onzz, like Professor Hugo.
    This option leaves the door open for "borrowed" villains like Hugo who may have been created to battle Batman, but are best known as Martian Manhunter foils. It also excludes someone like Mongul, who may have been created for a team-up story, but went on to becoming a Superman-specific threat.
  6. Only his most dangerous solo foes, like Malefic.
    The least inclusive option. This pretty much comes down to a dozen or so Miller or Ostrander villains.
  7. Only his most dangerous common foes, like Despero.
    Slightly more inclusive, but still limited to guys like Malefic, the Marshal, and so forth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: RIO FERDINAND

Rio Ferdinand was an agent working under then-current U.S. Homeland Security chief Keane during the "One Year Later" period. She was a casual killer of anyone who might interfere with Keane's plans. This included Alex Ferguson's best friend "Sully" Sullivan and the original head scientist over Keane's Martian experimentation program, whom she "fired" for allowing an escape. Each with done in by a bullet to the brain. Ferdinand activated the brainwashed assassin of Roh'Kar and brought in the agent Giggs to stalk the Martian escapees. Ferdinand led the investigative team following Alex Ferguson's death that connected him to Sara Moore, on whom Rio successfully implanted a tracking device. This led to the uncovering of a Martian safehouse and the death of Jornell.

Rio Ferdinand's total disregard for human life made murder and the threat of same her favorite tool. Putting a gun to an underling's head as motivation to speed up an internet search meant nothing to her. Ferdinand continued to work for Keane until evidence of her murder of Sullivan was leaked by persons unknown to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. While Giggs was initially implicated after going rogue, it seems likely that this was the result of Keane's paranoia. Ferdinand was arrested and questioned, but eventually released on her own recognizance. This afforded her the opportunity to confront Keane, although she was seemingly convinced of his innocence in the matter. Regardless, Ferdinand began collecting a trove of evidence she had kept in various storage locations across multiple states, then offered to feed Keane to the feds in order to walk on her own charge. However, one of the F.B.I. agents was on Keane's payroll, and attempted to murder Ferdinand. Rio escaped, and later turned her bundle of incriminating evidence over to the Martian Manhunter to secure her freedom from immediate apprehension. Whether J'Onn J'Onzz honored the deal is unknown, as are Rio Ferdinand's current whereabouts.

Quote:"There's a very powerful rifle aimed at your head right now, Sara. All I have to do is nod and you'll be dead before you hit the sidewalk. So, are you ready to come with me?"

First Appearance: Martian Manhunter #1 (October, 2006)

Created by A.J. Lieberman & Al Barrionuevo

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2010 Rejected Comic Panel by Brett Booth

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"Serves me right for trying to hard. Just turned in a DPS and on it is a shot that refers to another book. The description was flying heroes around a shield thing in DC. So I took it upon myself to draw a bunch of flying heroes... Unfortunately some are either not there or inside the shield so I had to swap some out. These are the one that got swapped, so since they aren't in the book I can post them on a technicality;)



Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 Teen Titans #100 Pin-Up by Amy Reeder

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A few months back, following a shake-up on the creative team of Supergirl, incoming cover artist Amy Reeder saw her work on #62 go unpublished. On her blog, she stated, "I wish I could say it was a fluke, but in fact, I drew four Supergirl covers in that year's time that won't ever be published." So few covers saw print before that volume of the series ended that it's hard to even refer to her by her assigned role as ongoing cover artist. However, Reeder attributed her inclusion in the final issue of the aughts Teen Titans series to that piece's positive response.

"If you pick up this month's Teen Titans (out next week) you will see a few pinups in there, one of which is by me! I drew (and inked and colored) some Titan Ladies. I've always loved the thought of teams because you can contrast characters and interact them in cool ways. The tough thing with them is coming up with an illustration that has any sort of color or composition sense! That's what I tried to attempt here."

Unfortunately, that boon followed even more crumby treatment, as her planned variant covers for the new Batwoman series have also been scrapped by DC. You can see the lovely lot and read more about it on Reeder's blog.

Returning to the pin-up, which will hopefully actually run in Teen Titans #100, I like the spooky alien vibe coming off Miss Martian. She reminds me of old Brunner and Nebres Dr. Strange comics from the seventies, and given the character's history, it's neat to see her otherworldly attributes played up. I also really like the more innocent looking Wonder Girl, especially in light of some of her latter day mallrat interpretations and that horror being foisted upon us in September.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Top 20 Martian Manhunter Covers of the 1960s

You probably wouldn't find it hard to believe that it takes many, many hours to do any single one of these cover countdown lists. What might surprise you is that many of the latest batch I'll be offering across my blogs today have been ready for publication for 4-6 months, including this one, and I had the Blackhawks ready to fly last year. My schedule was simply too tight to get all five 100% completed, so I'm pleased to finally see them through. Well, maybe not this one, as period Martian Manhunter covers were rather anemic. Everything past ten is a reach...

20) House of Mystery #151 (June, 1965)

This needlessly bifurcated cover makes it look like J'onn J'onzz is a back-up feature for Zook, and this isn't a particularly good Zook cover, either. Crap like this will cost Martian Manhunter his cover slot entirely three months later.

19) Justice League of America #8 (January, 1962)

Martian Manhunter in the center background glowering at a carnival barker in a forgettable early JLofA story is still better than that last entry.

18) Justice League of America #15 (November, 1962)

This was right before Superman started to become a serious presence in the book, allowing the Alien Atlas to shine on this pleasantly busy action cover.

17) Justice League of America #21 (August, 1963)

J'onn J'onzz is channeling more heroes to help push him out of the book.

16) House of Mystery #148 (January, 1965)

There is so little right with this cover. The star is distorted, the adversary is a set of sentient rubber bands, the action is silly, the background color is blech, and the sidekick is barely squeezed in as an afterthought. J'onn deservedly lost the cover spot the following two months (once to killer bees!)

15) Justice League of America #9 (February, 1962)

Why don't you make like a tree and leaf? An iconic image, even if J'onn is the furthest in the background and equally compromised with his team.

14) Justice League of America #2 (January, 1961)

It's cool seeing Martian Manhunter as the League's thuggish green Superman, short-lived as that was.

13) Justice League of America #1 (November, 1960)

The debut of Despero and the inspiration for countless chess-themed covers/homages. The eye is drawn to featured player Flash though, and come to think of it, only Green Lantern is visually less interesting (for lack of color) than J'J'.

12) Justice League of America #71 (May, 1969)

J'onn may be in another of many vulnerable positions, but this is a key issue for the character,and his necessary prominence on the cover reflects that. Plus, I always liked the lettering on "Death-Orbit!"

11) House of Mystery #146 (October, 1964)

What a great view of J'onn J'onzz lying effeminately on the ground while the shadow of a giant pink creature looms. How come this series didn't sell like Hotcakes (an early underground femdom magazine) is beyond me.

10) House of Mystery #145 (September, 1964)

Easily one of the best Idol-Head period stories, a swell Zook cover image, and Manhunter turned into a fish! Shame J'onn's figure is so small, and the background so bland.

9) The Brave and The Bold #28 (March, 1960)

An eye-catching overall layout, and the Manhunter from Mars' first ever U.S. cover appearance. However, not a great showcase for the individual heroes. J'onn isn't one of the shiny new Schwartz heroes on the offensive, nor the classic Wonder Woman on defense, but is rather joining Aquaman in getting owned (now and for some time to come.) In one of their many shared moments, this was also Aquaman's cover debut.

8) The Brave and The Bold #50 (November, 1963)

This is the first comic book to bear a true Manhunter from Mars logo on its cover, his first major co-starring role, the first ever TB&TB team-up in a series defined by them, and that's a Martian villain in the (shadowed) foreground. Collectively, that still doesn't fully makes up for the drab coloring, ugly border, uninspired layout, and J'onn J'onzz in an inferior, weakened position thanks to fiery arrows.

7) House of Mystery #152 (July, 1965)

Aside for the Alien Atlas having his back to the reader, this is a strong cover. Imposing monster, frightened running bystanders, attention grabbing background color, columns of earth exploding upward, violent action, and even "The Martian Manhunter" spelled out in copy right under the logo. Too little too late, as J'onn would get only one more solo cover in this series.

6) Justice League of America #23 (November, 1963)

One of J'onn's largest, most prominent, and best drawn cover figures... in no small amount aided by Murphy Anderson's embellishment. The final brawny image of his first stint with the team, even if he is just Queen Bee's lackey.

5) House of Mystery #153 (September, 1965)

The last solo Martian Manhunter cover for fifteen years is one of his best of the Silver Age, with an imposing menace and character-specific weakness generated by novel means.

4) House of Mystery #144 (July, 1964)

Good-sized central figure, but it's still the Manhunter passively sucked into a giant pink gap in the sky. Let those metaphorical assumptions fly!

3) House of Mystery #147 (December, 1964)

The Martian Manhunter is getting his ass kicked by his impish sidekick and a demonic cello. No wonder respect was so elusive for decades. If J'Onn J'Onzz were a greater hero, horns wouldn't have remained prominent in pop music through the '80s. That satanic sax is the one that turned Genesis Phil Collins into Sussudio Phil Collins, and a plutonic piano plagued the populace with ...But Seriously.

2) The Brave and The Bold #56 (November, 1964)

The contrasting red and green means Composite Martian Speedster really pops, plus the compelling layout and boss The Manhunter from Mars logo. Bernard Baily really made this happen.

1) House of Mystery #143 (June, 1964)

The perfect J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars period cover. Manhunter cowering before a Diabolu-created threat while random energy blasts and Zook totally dominates your attention. The only improvements I could make would be to add fire and a really poorly designed monster of the month.

Top Character Covers Countdown

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Modified AR-8 Sniper Rifle

A modified AR-8 sniper rifle developed specifically to kill Martians was tested in a secret lab authorized by former Homeland Security chief Keane. This was presumably the murder weapon used against Roh'Kar, and was clearly the instrument of Jornell's death. "The design takes advantage of two facts; Martian powers appear to be psionic in nature, and their sole weakness is fire... The ordinance implants atoms which will only react to the psionic frequency we found in tests on captured Martians. The inert atoms rapidly increase in temperature, and then ignite..." The effect was to burn Martians alive from the inside out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bel Juz is ready for her close-up, now...

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I never quite let go of the many problems I had scanning the 2011 Bel Juz Commission by Brian Denham and my final publicly offered (if best) version's many misrepresentations of the original art. I tried throwing the original piece directly onto my scanner (rather than a resized color photocopy from FedEx Express, which is sort of like Detective Comics Comics) and still couldn't capture all the subtleties. For instance, I trimmed the breasts out of this excerpt because wide areas appeared white, rather than multiple hues of gray to add dimension and weight. Still, hopefully this at least conveys the lavender hues in her hair and the fine line work on the face...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2011 Pleasure Chests - Martian Manhunter ACEO Sketch Card

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Part of a series that includes the nipples of Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Superman, Batman and especially the pink areolae of Hawkman. Presumably the real method J'Onn J'Onzz uses to change Apollo and Midnighter's minds about joining StormwatchDC...