Saturday, October 29, 2011

Martian Manhunter #1 in 2012?

Back in June, DC New 52 news was coming fast and furious, and so were reactions. First, Martian Manhunter was left out of the JLA, but it was assumed he'd have his own book and join the JLI, but then he didn't, which made me reconsider his history with the Justice Leagues. As the titles announced increased, I tried to come up with a solo series creative betting pool based on DC's reusing their typical talent on different properties, only to learn J'Onn J'Onzz ultimately turned up as only a member of the new Stormwatch team.

Well, it's a few months later, and we're looking at numbers. Even with the heat of opening month, Captain Atom, All-Star Western, Hawk and Dove, Resurrection Man, Demon Knights, Frankenstein, Mister Terrific, Grifter, Voodoo, Blackhawks, I Vampire, Static Shock, Men of War, and O.M.A.C. all sold less than 40,000 copies. Most titles have gone to a second printing, but I'm not sure there's all that much demand, especially since these are titles that can still be found in first printings on shop shelves. While reports of O.M.A.C.'s demise may have been premature, the only reason some of these books would hit a twelfth issue would be for show. DC didn't lock it in at 52 titles either, launching The Huntress, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, The Shade, The Ray and other books of various lengths. You going to read a Ray series? Me, neither. Anyone got a link to the Ray's spotlight blog so that I may be convinced otherwise?

Point being, we've got to have a new Martian Manhunter #1 coming out in 2012, right? I mean, I'm not trying to work within the logic of DC Comics. Just look at this Newsarama poll. Brightest Day was their biggest book of 2010, with Deadman second only to Aquaman as the most popular feature. So, give Deadman a slot in an anthology title and super team, then promote supporting players Hawk and Dove to their own ongoing title. Hawkman, the worst received feature by a large margin, also gets his own solo series, while J'Onn gets dumped into Stormwatch. Even that position isn't secure, since current solicitations state that in the January issue, "Stormwatch loses two members." I'd like to think the Manhunter from Mars helped the book outsell the other Wildstorm titles by about a quarter, and I'd really rather that he not just turn up for a DC Universe Presents story arc. Unpredictability aside, I'd like to make some suggestions for creators on a prospective Martian Manhunter #1, based on creators available to and likely to work under the current regime at DC.

Grant Morrison: A longshot. Between Action Comics and his long in gestation Multiversity and Wonder Woman projects, I doubt he'd take on an ongoing series for a B/C-lister. Still, I always liked Morrison's handling of the character, and he'd be the surest bet of anybody I'd recommend to launch the series with strong numbers.

John Rozum: Here's a guy who writes quirky, dark stories with a history on properties like The X-Files, while also having established all-ages cred as part of the Johnny DC line. If anybody was going to bring back Zook or the Diabolu Idol-Head and do it justice, it's him.

Jamie Delano: British writers are a pretty safe bet for a John Jones series, especially if they've got Hellblazer on their resume. Since Paul Jenkins and Peter Milligan are already doing DC books, why not Delano? His stuff isn't as "out there" as many Vertigo creators, but that grounding influence could serve Jones well, and it isn't like Delano can't bring the weird as needed.

Keith Giffen: This is a hesitant addition, since Giffen's writing is just as likely to frustrate as to engage, and he hasn't had much commercial success on his own. Still, he knows the character, and I think he could do interesting things.

James Robinson: Noir sci-fi/fantasy? Seems very much in Robinson's wheelhouse, and he could easily repurpose discarded ideas from his Superman and Justice League work for the Manhunter from Mars.

John Arcudi: Although he never had much success at DC, I really enjoyed his run on Aquaman, and he's been a fixture on Mike Mignola's Hellboy line of titles. Another guy who can do both askew and moody well.

Mike S. Miller: That DC Universe Online thing has got to be ending soon, and while I don't share his politics, I've liked Miller's art for years. He had a great take on J'Onn J'Onzz and the White Martians while filling in for Bryan Hitch on the JLA arc "Terror Incognita," and ever since that brief taste, I've wanted more.

Howard Porter: Also soon to be late of DCU Online, but with a much longer history. Porter was an essential element in raising the Martian Manhunter's prominence to the point that he finally received a solo series in the late '90s. Porter has been struggling to make a comeback since at least The Trials of Shazam, and I think he handles solo books a lot better than teams, especially some of the grand scale ones that cause the quality of his art to slip. Porter doesn't have to worry as much about being on model with the Alien Atlas, so I think he'd have fun and feel free on the character.

Ron Garney: M.I.A. since Wolverine: Weapon X ended last year, Garney had a good feel for the Sleuth from Outer Space, able to do grim n' gritty as well as bright n' shiny.

Claude St. Aubin: After two years of reliable, quality work on R.E.B.E.L.S., it seems a shame that the guy doesn't seem to have anything in the pipeline right now.

Also (most on temporary assignments currently):
Tom Derenick
Bernard Chang
Chris Batista

Phil Hester: Since pulling back on his Image and Dynamite work, I'm not sure what Hester is up to lately. I've liked both his writing and art, which he rarely combines. Should he choose to script, I'd be cool with frequent collaborators like Andy Kuhn and Don Kramer
on art.


aota said...

All excellent choices. I really hope something like this happens. Its been too long since Jonn had a series of his own.

Sphinx Magoo said...

Not to derail from the point of the post, but a Ray spotlight blog would be pretty cool.

Rafa Rivas said...

I'd be disappointed if OMAC and Frankenstain were cancelled. The quality of those books is great. Not to mention that they are among the few with a decent pacing.

DC doesn't seem to be that good at grabbing momentum. They wasted all the hype they built for the Martian on Stormwatch. Likewise, after 52, they didn't do much with Batwoman or the Question[ette], Steel, Lobo or, specially, the ghost Dibnys.

I think DC needs to insist on its classic properties. This is the only reason Hal Jordan, Aquaman or Barry have hype is because DC pushed them with Geoff stories. The only reason John Stewart is still known is because Bruce Timm decided that it would be cool to have a black Lantern. Even Batman owes a lot to the 60s show. Insistince is the only reason Green Arrow, Hawkman or Black Canary are popular. That't the reason DC should keep doing minis for classic characters like Black Lightning, the Martian Manhunter, Lobo, the Elongated Man, Plastic Man, etc. I hate events, but these kind of revivals are the only possitive thing that comes out of them.

mathematicscore said...

Yeah, I too am a fan of the Ray, at least the nineties version. I haven't yet collected much of the Priest run, but the first mini is pretty badass as I recall.

But yeah, an MM solo given a good chance to thrive and a quality team would be wonderful. As you point out, the numbers couldn't be much worse than the dregs of the current 52...

Diabolu Frank said...

Who'd have thought I'd hit a nerve with the Ray? Hopefully, The Quality Companion Companion will deliver on this surprising Ray blogging interest. Any character drawn by Lou Fine has my attention, and the Priest series was good. I'd be more supportive if the DCnU hadn't thrown out the Ray's distinctive look/color scheme and gone with a blue version of Takion of the Source by the same writing team that failed the character in Freedom Fighters. We'll see how that goes.

Rafa, while the initial sales on O.M.A.C. were the lowest, between Dan Didio writing and some fairly impassioned fans, I think it's same for now. The books that readers seem less responsive to based purely on buzz I've seen/ heard are Captain Atom, Mister Terrific, Grifter, and Voodoo.

Forget the comics, JLU primed the general public for a John Stewart movie, and I think going whitebread hurt Green Lantern. You don't need Hal Jordan to present a classic Corps story, and I think he might actually be a liability. I think Jamie Foxx would have opened it better than Ryan Reynolds.

Joel Silver has been wanting to get that Lobo movie done forever. DC as a company has never been comfortable with the character, so their lack of support is unsurprising.

Black Lightning is a problematic character, because Tony Isabella has some sort of partial ownership/participation stake in the character. That's why Black Vulcan was in the Super Friends. If Dwayne McDuffie hadn't pushed the StaticShock cartoon through Milestone Media, Static would probably be ignored as well. If DC doesn't 100% own it, they don't back it.

Tom Hartley said...

"John Rozum: If anybody was going to bring back Zook or the Diabolu Idol-Head and do it justice, it's him."

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. A Diabolu Idol-Head revival by the writer of XOMBI!

Verification word: PHORM

Rafa Rivas said...

The JLU momentum of Stewart was a closal waste, and McDuffie was there to see him go down in the comics.

The lack of Lobo stuff after the 90s has been a mystery to mee.

BL is trouble. I think every writer likes him (as well as Tobias Whale), but Isabella is a big problem. Maybe he got screwed, maybe he asked too much, but the way he publically taks about DC is not helping Black Lightning or his fans.

In the end, McDuffie wasn't that comfortable with the way DC was using the Milestone characters.

I have the impression that every writer likes the Martian, Wally West, Donna Troy, Ralph and Sue, Ted Kord, the original Question, etc. I don't mean as favorites, but as active part of the DC mythos. That includes DiDio and Johns. However, they don't like to have the whole DC pantheon available at the same time, so there's always around 8 "grounded characters"

Mike Kooiman said...

I read all of the Ray's 90s appearances and developed quite a fondness for the character. I do cover him in the Quality Companion, but I might want to do an expanded entry on <a href=">Cosmic Teams.</a>

The Ray mini-series was awesome and off to the right start, as was the series. However, anyone who can slog through all 28 issues will undoubtedly draw the same conclusion: Priest was way too self-indulgent with his subplots. I think the Deathmasque subplot lasted for over 75% of the run!

I love how Palmiott and Gray handled the character in Uncle Sam and the FF, but I'm really sad to see they're rebooting the Ray in the DCnU

Diabolu Frank said...

I've only read the Priest Ray in bits and pieces-- like five or so spread out issues in total. I liked what I read fairly well, but not quite enough to dive in. Your comments echo feelings I had about Priest on Black Panther, though. That run started out great, but by the third year I was buying mostly out of habit.