Sunday, September 11, 2011

Martian Manhunter #8 (May, 2007)

After scanning Keane's mind, the Manhunter learned that he was not only human, but an entirely willing participant in the Martian experiments. Once again, J'Onn J'Onzz had never felt such an "urge to hurt" in all his time on Earth and blah, blah, blah. Keane cited duty to his country, and J'Onzz countered that "Your job is to protect this country-- not torture beings for some personal war. The Martian Detective lacked the evidence to convict Keane for his crimes, but Rio Ferdinand conveniently showed up with proof. "We both know he deserves to die. And we both know you're not going to do it, and you're not about to let me... You want him held accountable? I'm the only person on this planet with the means to do that... Signed action orders, wiretaps on his cell and home lines-- authorization memos, recorded conversations, e-mails..." While J'Onzz insisted this act did not absolve her own crimes, he did allow her to leave a fugitive with the knowledge that she had made Keane suffer. Keane tried to negotiate with first Rio, then J'Onn, to no avail. He attempted suicide, but was prevented by the Manhunter, who turned him over to authorities.

Three days later, the Alien Atlas met with the Man of Steel over the Daily Planet building. "I-- Clark, I was wrong, about almost everything. I didn't listen, I followed my desires instead of my logic... I fear I may have injured our friendship." Superman was a real sport about it, given his own numerous outrageous heel turns. In his first instance of being right about something in this mini-series, the Sleuth from Outer Space now knew "that there is a second Martian-- a Green Martian-- here on Earth... behind it all. I'm sure of it... a Green." In a New Earth revision that stuck about as well as the concept of New Earth, J'Onn J'Onzz was only supposed to have been on Earth "months" before Superman became aware of his presence. Also, not all Martians could accurately shape-shift, as it was a skill to be practiced and mastered. Meanwhile, this second Green had decades to infiltrate Earth.

The Manhunter from Mars next visited Sara Moore, explaining that he was off in search of Till'all and the other among them. "Among my people, there were those who spoke of a Martian whose evil was so deep it allowed him to swallow whole stars. To me it was only a story. I never believed it... If it's more than a story, then I'm the only one who can do anything about it. And I'll need all the help I can get." Moore kissed J'Onn goodbye on the cheek. "You know, we're a lot more alike than you realize... We've both lost things we hold dear. But if I've learned anything while being here, it's that clarity only comes with time and distance. I hope you find what you're looking for, J'Onn J'Onzz."

J'Onn J'Onzz called out for Till'all telepathically, and after a scuffle, convinced the youth that they were both after the responsible third party. "Listen to me! Do you want to know why your father died? Who brought him, you-- the others-- to this world? Why some being took control of your mind? ...I'm stronger, faster and quicker than you. If I meant you harm, you would know already. Till'all, I want to find out who did this." Till'all consented for J'Onzz to "mindsweep" his consciousness, allowing "me to see what he saw. Remember what he remembered. Experience what he experienced... Both of his hearts start beating erratically." Till'all was seen in a Martian city, along with other Whites, attacked by a shadowy clawed figure. The memory caused Till'all to go into shock, from which he struggled to survive. "He--he knows... I can still see him. He knows what we're doing." J'Onzz left Till'all alone in the remains of the apartment they once shared with the clan, while he sought help.

The Martian Manhunter flew off, allowing the villain to descend upon Till'all, but invisibly doubling back. J'Onzz revealed himself from behind by saying, "I was beginning to worry that we'd never meet." Sara Moore, her lab coat flapping like a cape in the breeze, a Kuru pendant dangling from her neck, replied "What makes you think we haven't already?" Like a proper villainess, Cay'an introduced herself, then revealed her true appearance and nefarious plot. Cay'an belted J'Onzz, blaming him for the death of all of Mars thanks to the leniency he had shown his brother. "I did everything I could to stop Ma'alefa'ak... Because he was my brother, I knew he was not himself, yet he was the only one capable of reversing--" what, we don't know. Cay'an wasn't interested in the family and culture J'Onzz had also lost, and especially not his excuses, so she blasted him into a pool on a nearby rooftop.

J'Onzz again recalled the story of Cain and Abel, and found himself relating to the emotions of Cain. "Which means I was wrong-- humans and Martians are far more alike than I ever thought possible. Except perhaps for this; I am my brother's keeper. All my brothers, be they Green or White. Even this one." The Alien Atlas tried to reason with Cay'an, and come to a peaceful resolution. Cay'an branded him a race traitor turned weakling by his time on Earth. "Being a traitor must run in your bloodline." J'Onzz recognized that Till'all was an innocent, and unlike Cay'an, had committed no crime. Also, as much as he longed for other Greens, to see his race survive, Cay'an's hatred and intolerance were a betrayal of all his people held dear. After a brief row, Cay'an disappeared in the aftermath of a psychic pulse duel.

Leaving court during Keane's trial, J'Onn J'Onzz was met in the lobby by the elderly father of a truck driver saved from the mine explosion during the attack of "those white things up on the bridge..." The man shook J'Onn's hand, thanking him for his son's life, and putting a smile back on his face. Till'all walked up to join J'Onn after the man departed. Till'all wondered why J'Onzz stayed among a people so determined to hate others. "Because one day they'll learn what it means to be free of all that hate-- to understand that they can survive without having so much animosity or anger or fear. And when that day comes-- I want to be here... Until then, I'll try and save them from themselves. If you're interested, I could use some help."

"Maybe... for now." If a Green and White Martian could overcome their hate, why not humanity? Till'all still wanted to find and kill Cay'an, but J'Onzz felt the death would solve nothing, and it would serve Mica'kel's memory better to try and redeem her. J'Onn J'Onzz introduced Till'all to the JLA (specifically Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) behind wooden doors with outdated branding. On the way in, J'Onn figured Till'all must be hungry, and gave him something new to eat. "They're called Chocos."

"The Others Among Us Part 8" was by A.J. Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo and Bit. As you might have already determined without my going into the details here, Cay'an's plot was Rube Goldbergian nonsense with some obvious pieces missing. How did one Green Martian capture at least six White Martians on her own, and where, and when? Why didn't she "trigger" the brainwashed "Greens" into becoming White again as a group instead of easily managed individuals? If they awakened on their own, why did Cay'an screw around long enough for that to happen, nor adapt to take better advantage of the chaos? Why would she bother playing Rat Trap, when she could have just assassinated J'Onn J'Onzz from hiding with her nifty sniper rifles? Or instead of all that brainwashing, leave the Whites a little treasure map with a big pie symbol for J'Onn's secret hideout? This was kind of like Lost, in that it answered the wrong questions, left the right ones dangling, and all of the pieces of the puzzle did not fit together.

Still, this final installment had some fun twists, far less of J'Onn as a whining idiot, far more of him as a heroic peacemaker, plus a bit of heart and humor. Till'all reminded me of Zook, even though he towered over J'Onn with a bad case of Venom mouth through which he spoke in complete sentences. Till'all was still an innocent unfamiliar with our world, and J'Onn the parent is far sweeter and deeper than the Manhater from Mars.

I thought Cay'an was cooler when she was the Green Lantern villainess Fatality, but now that the predecessor is Star Sapphire Yrra Cynril, the personality/motivation is out of use. I like Cay'an a lot more than the very similar D'Kay, and in fact the Martian Manhunter's response to both was almost word-for-word, making Brightest Day that much more unnecessary. While I wouldn't want to read anything by Lieberman ever again, this wrap-up went a long ways toward turning slop into soup, and left a lot of pieces for other creators to play with (which of course will never actually happen.)

Brave New World


will_in_chicago said...

I think that the ending was the best part of this rather weak series. J'Onn was not portrayed well during the series, and many of his friends came off as the Jerk League of America. I just long to see what will be done with J'Onn in Stormwatch. (I am somewhat fond of Till'al, who might make a nice new friend for Jenny Quantum.)

Diabolu Frank said...

That, sir, is a visual. :)

will_in_chicago said...

Yes, I can imagine Till'al giving Jenny a playful hug and someone attacks him -- and he and Jenny respond. (It might be one of the funniest scenes in DC comics in quite a while - particularly if Jenny gives the would be hero a kick in the shins.)

Possibly Till'al could fill a sidekick role like Zook -- and maybe allow J'Onn to tie into more properties. (Hmm, I wonder if there are any Milestone characters that might work well with Stormwatch?)

Diabolu Frank said...

The Shadow Cabinet was basically Stormwatch as it now stands. Donner & Blitzen could add the L to Apollo & Midnighter's G for the BT community.

mathematicscore said...

You could argue the MM brings some T, as bible that is JLTF has taught us. :p

I abstained from commenting until I had reread this entire series, and I must say it is both better and just as bad as I remember. Read in one sitting it is far more coherent than it was monthly, and the last two issues bring the action a little more satisfyingly than the previous six.

But at the end of the day, the overwrought monologues, jumpy-not-in-a-good-way action and settings, and the one note characterization of J'onn... as is often the case, a fair amount of potential, and all of it wasted.


Diabolu Frank said...

Now we just need a hero who likes a bit of both, and Harley Quinn is taken. Hmm...

For me, the potential is still there. The book offered a lot of characters and some concepts that could be developed by others. A few retroactive tweaks and someone employing what has been created could redeem the project considerably.

By the way, did Giggs survive? They never came out and said Da'len killed him, and since a Martian was morphed into the image of Keane, it would make more since if it was Cay'an playing games while collecting a pawn. So confusing...

mathematicscore said...

God, I read the whole thing less than 24hrs ago and I have no idea. Giggs's chopper going down was so out of nowhere... that was the biggest problem, trying to do so much and executing so little.