Saturday, November 19, 2011

DCnÜ: What We Know 3 Months In...

  1. The Martian Manhunter is the character's official super-heroic name, although most people seem to just call him "Manhunter." That's how it was in the '60s, and I like it a lot.
  2. Manhunter is a member of Stormwatch.
  3. The Manhunter assumes a human identity that, aside from wearing glasses, appears to be very similar to John Jones.
  4. The Manhunter has a new, mostly purple costume. His pants now tuck into more conventional boots.
  5. Manhunter appears to be a polytheist.
  6. The Manhunter is recognized as a hero, but seems to self-identify as a "warrior." That was not the case from 1988 until at least 2006, so it's safe to assume DeMatteis' "Green Guru" is no longer relevant to continuity. In attitude, this hews closer to the Bronze Age interpretation.
  7. The Manhunter has a great deal of respect for his team leader, Adam One. Certainly much more so than has been shown among his contemptuous, critical teammates.
  8. The Manhunter is or was a member of the Justice League, with the inference being that he presently serves on both teams.
  9. Barring Apollo having access to privileged information, the existence of the Martian Manhunter and his association with the Justice League is common knowledge.
  10. In the event of a conflict, Manhunter defers to Stormwatch over the Justice League, to the point where he will allow Stormwatch to intentionally mislead and undermine the League. So much for that "heart and soul" business.
  11. The Martian Manhunter does not appear to see himself as a "super-hero."
  12. The Manhunter now tolerates vigilante murderers as teammates, and actively recruits a fetishistic sadist.
  13. The Martian Manhunter's body has seen modest alterations, including nondescript discs where his ears once rested, and a shell-like structure to his temporal bone. His elbows have been extended several inches.
  14. The Manhunter can shapeshift on a pretty large scale, and these changes impact his strength level. He appears to assume the properties of the being he turns into, as was the case in the Silver Age.
  15. The Manhunter can take a blow directly to the face from a supposedly Superman-caliber metahuman with it seemingly having little impact.
  16. The Manhunter can physically overwhelm Apollo.
  17. Manhunter maintains a telepathic rapport with his teammates and leader.
  18. Manhunter can sense the presence of concealed individuals, and can subtly affect the emotional temperament of others. This may extend to outright psychic control, as he has forced humans to flee an area with his mind.
  19. Based solely on a cover image, the Martian Manhunter can emit energy beams from his eyes (Laser/Martian Vision?)

What We Do Not Know 3 Months Into the DCnÜ:
  1. Is the character still named J'Onn J'Onzz? If so, who knows him by this identity?
  2. What is the quality and character of his relationship with the Justice League and "super-heroes" in general?
  3. Was he a founding member of the Justice League, a team still forming in a flashback story?
  4. Can the Manhunter turn invisible or intangible?
  5. What is his origin and what are the basics of his life on Earth?
  6. How long has the Manhunter been on Earth, or a member of Stormwatch?
  7. What is the current state of Martian society? Was there still a plague?
  8. Given widespread retcons in this department, did the Manhunter ever marry?
  9. Which if any of his family members existed and/or still live?
  10. Does he still worship H'ronmeer?
  11. What are the races of Mars? Are there still Saturnians?
  12. Is there a relationship between Martians and Daemonites or other alien species?
  13. Does he still have a vulnerability to fire?
  14. Who designed that new look? Jim Lee? Cully Hamner? Where's that art?
  15. Solo book forthcoming, oh publishers of Hawk and Dove?


Rafa Rivas said...

I wonder if he's still considered the heart of the JLA?

LissBirds said...

Nice list! It hadn't even occurred to me to even question whether his name is "J'onn J'onzz" or not. But now that you mention it, I'm curious to know.

I really want to know his relationship with the JLA...or these days. Especially since I'm foggy on the new origins of the League. Was he ever on the League at any point? Will he join up later?

Invisibility/intangibility is one of his best superpowers, I always thought, so I hope that makes an appearance soon.

I'm not crazy about the physical redesigns and costume redesign. Meh. But at least he's traveling incognito in human form, which I like.

Maybe they'll incorporate his backstory into a future issue--I'd like to see this done with all the Stormwatch characters, actually.

Rafa Rivas said...

Oh, yeah, yeah, the new uniform sucks. He looks less tough.

mathematicscore said...

I'm pretty down with the new costume/physical attributes. They look alien but somehow less dumb than the OYL look. I'm a little lamed out that the DC reboot has allowed the sheer amount of implausible Superpowers with little scientific thought put into it. I was rather lamed out with the whole "spin control scene's" handling. I guess I'm not a big fan of Telepathy aside from communication on a smaller scale.

The rapid fire big ideas Cornell is throwing around don't seem as well thought out as, say, Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis.

Complain complain complain. :p

Regardless, a Martian Manhunter solo would be most welcome, even without much retooling from this.

will_in_chicago said...

This is an interesting list, and I think we will see how J'Onn is different from what we new in the previous continuity.

One thing that I noticed, after picking up Stormwatch #3, is that J'Onn seems perhaps more concerned about the civilians than his Stormwatch teammates. I am not sure why he tolerates people who have killed. (Perhaps we will learn more about the limits of J'Onn's code. He has been known to kill in past continuity -- but generally rather horrific villains like General Blanx.)

I like the fact that J'Onn is referred to as the Martian Manhunter, and that he has a stronger grip on the Manhunter name. Possibly he could in this continuity inspired other manhunters.

I would like J'Onn to have been involved with Stormwatch since his arrival on Earth, which I hope was from the 1950s. He may care deeply about the Justice League, but let's face it -- he has been badly used in past continuity. So, maybe the Martian Manhunter will be one of the characters who helps tie the different strands of the DCnu together.

Diabolu Frank said...

"Especially since I'm foggy on the new origins of the League. Was he ever on the League at any point? Will he join up later?"

As far as I know, the NuJLA begins with Green Lantern meeting Batman while they battled a parademon. I believe that in order Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have been added. Victor Stone is around, but not yet Cyborg, and Darkseid is waiting in the wings. I'm still thinking/hoping a J'Onn J'Onzz surprise cameo is forthcoming (perhaps investigating the Apokolipsian incursion for Lee's original Wildstorm Stormwatch?)

"Oh, yeah, yeah, the new uniform sucks. He looks less tough."

I don't mind the more elaborate alien affectations, and the new costume has really grown on me. I wish DC would release a design sketch I could comment extensively upon.

"The rapid fire big ideas Cornell is throwing around don't seem as well thought out as, say, Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis."

I thought of a bit that I should have used in the review for #3: Cornell's Stormwatch is at times like a Grant Morrison JLA cover band. Unfortunately, his Van Halen is focused around Van Haggar, with the excesses and irritation and creative fatigue of the band's lesser years. Where Grant Morrison reveled in showy David Lee Roth ridiculousness, Cornell is as serious as "Right Now." Whoa-whoa-whoa-- J'Onny's cryin'.

"He has been known to kill in past continuity -- but generally rather horrific villains like General Blanx."

Even that was left ambiguous. I really like the idea of J'Onn in Stormwatch, but he can't watch Midnighter punching people's genitals into their throats and still be recognizable.

will_in_chicago said...

I think that J'Onn should view killing with great reluctance and several of the characters in Stormwatch seem to enjoy killing enemies -- Midnighter and Apollo especially. They will have to establish why J'Onn is with Stormwatch, and puts up with the situation as it is. (The team seems disjointed and I wonder if J'Onn is trying to figure out the team dynamics. Maybe he is reluctant to want to lead this team, despite his past leadership roles.)

I do agree with the costume and the Van Halen reference -- the first few issues have been confusing. (I picked up Stormwatch #3, and it is more about action than character development. J'Onn seems to be in the background as a walkie-talkie and getting the civilians out of harm's way.)

I am hoping that the issues will improve and that we will soon have a clearer idea of who J'Onn is now and how he fits into Stormwatch and the DCnu.

will_in_chicago said...

I thought that the title of this blog post was an excellent idea, so I started a thread over at Comic Book Resources for a general overview of what we know about the DCnU --

I would hope that J'Onn could be the moral center of Stormwatch, and can debate a lot of moral issues with his colleagues. (I am not sure if he has friends there ...)

mathematicscore said...

The Van Halen metaphor is too perfect.

I've never been that big of a fan of "no-kill" rules applied so liberally; it feels too much like adding "under god" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Superman and Batman both started out willing to do that is necessary, and actually, judging by the most recent issue of JLA, it looks like that order is not necessarily in place for the DCnU, with Superman and Wonder Woman both being pretty lethal to parademons.

What's more, J'onn has the grim 50's detective aspect, combined with a sci-fi martian warrior, so I don't know that he's ever been that adverse to a righteous kill. Blanx, Malefic and the master gardener spring to mind.

Diabolu Frank said...

"They will have to establish why J'Onn is with Stormwatch, and puts up with the situation as it is."

For me, it would ideally be a more serious version of his role in JLI. J'Onn kept the powerful but mentally unbalanced Guy Gardner in check, while offering guidance to a disparate and frankly lackluster collection of undisciplined heroes thrust into the role of global guardians. Basically, he should be insuring that Stormwatch never becomes the Authority. Hopefully, his zeal in recruiting Midnighter has more to do with keeping a potential threat under observation, rather than condoning his thrill killing.

Hopefully, that CBR thread pans out. So far, folks seem to be hung up on that one Nightwing reference. On that though, does this mean Robin predates Superman? I'm sure that will go over well with Super-fans.

"I've never been that big of a fan of "no-kill" rules applied so liberally"

Yeah, the spectre of Wertham hung heavily for too many years. Sometimes I think it's appropriate for a character, and sometimes it's a total cop-out. I mean really, somebody has to kill the Joker at this point. Otherwise, everyone in Gotham is abdicating their social responsibility.

In the case of the Martian Manhunter, I am very much torn. I spent much of this weekend looking into the character's origins, which indicate a benevolent demigod from a pacifistic world handicapping himself to help humanity one person at a time. This was also clearly the case with DeMatteis' take on the character, who refused to kill even Despero. That interpretation has influenced all others.

On the other hand, inconsistent representation of Mars casts serious doubt on its being sold as utopian. The Martian Manhunter is the rare example of a hero who embraced grim n' gritty in the Silver Age, years before Batman returned to his roots. The guy was rather violent until the mid '80s, he certainly looks the part of the alien warrior, and he's much cooler when he's pissed than glibly meditative.

Diabolu Frank said...

"As for his powers, I've kept them almost exactly the same. His shape-changing is a bit more enormous."
-Paul Cornell

will_in_chicago said...

Perhaps J'Onn is in Stormwatch to keep it from becoming the Authority. Perhaps the Shadow Cabinet is working with him, as they fear how alien invaders would take advantage of a world where Earth's defenders are fighting themselves. (Darkseid and Brainiac would love to take advantage of such a situation.)

Perhaps J'Onn and Mars had multiple natures. As Mars still needed the Manhunters even at its height, there could be rules on what tactics to use on different types of foes. So, J'Onn might not kill a common criminal but he might decide that lethal force was appropriate to a General Blanx. We will have to see how J'Onn develops.

Diabolu Frank said...

Cornell also promises more on the Manhunter-League connection around #5 or 6...