Sunday, April 8, 2012

L'shanah haba'ah b'Ma'aleca'andra!

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will_in_chicago said...

Frank, you have perhaps touched on J'Onn's deepest desire -- which has been touched on a few times in the comics. J'Onn is forever in exile from a home that was destroyed. All he can do is serve as the memory of his people, and hope that one day he may find other Martians somewhere who may rebuild a shattered world. (Considering that Till'al from the most recent Martian Manhunter series has been absent and I only found one reference to Miss Martian, J'Onn may have a lot of searching to do. Most of the other Martians he has encountered -- particularly in the most recent continuities -- have not been people who share his values or whom he would wish to share a world.)

Chag sameach to those celebrating Passover and Happy Easter.

Diabolu Frank said...

It's a cycle. Judaism informed Weisinger Superman, which informed Bronze/Iron Martian Manhunter, which was partially informed by creators like Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with Jewish upbringings. J'Onn is utterly alone in the diaspora, with the only remnants of his lost people converts, hypocrites and madmen.

will_in_chicago said...

Very good insights, and I would argue that Judaism and the Jewish experience influenced Seigel and Schuster, who named their hero in his own language Kal-El. (In Hebrew, this is All of God or Voice of God.) I had some hope for the Till'al character from the short-lived (and poorly) written Martian Manhunter series as it showed that it was possible for a Green Martian and White Martians to find peace. Perhaps J'Onn could one day find some Martians who honor his people's ways. As things stand,he probably feels far closer to Red Saturnians such as J'emm (if they still exist) than to most of the Martians he has met.

In many ways, J'Onn is perhaps the most alone of the heroes of the DC universe. Superman has convinced himself that he is a farmboy from Kansas, Batman is part of humanity and has built a family and Wonder Woman has her people. J'Onn has the hope that one day he will meet other Martians who are more like himself than Commander Blanx or Malefic.

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, the Silver Age Martian Manhunter was partially inspired by Siegel and Shuster, but in a much more broad way. They were both benevolent young adult aliens on an adoptive world. Early Superman wasn't terribly concerned about Krypton, though. These were first generation American Jews who, while aware of the Old World, fully embraced the New. J'onn J'onzz was always an enthusiastic but conscious immigrant who kept one foot on Mars.

It was under Weisinger that Superman not only embraced his foreign heritage, but fetishized it. As written at the time, I have little doubt Kal-El would have settled on a resurrected Krypton and left a few Superman robots to deal with Earth. Similarly, J'onn J'onzz left us behind for sixteen years to guide the imperiled survivors of Mars, until they rejected him. By the latter '90s, J'Onzz developed such a longing for his lost people that he too would run to them if given a choice. He's a Martian first now, which deepens his tragedy, because Mars is even more dead that Silver Age Krypton. There's no cousin coming in a rocket ship or time travel near rescues. There's just madness, racial strife, and alienation.

Not only is it a shame about Till'all, but J'Onn isn't even especially close to M'gann M'orzz. Her formative heroic years in relative solitude followed by arm's length relationship with J'Onn strongly indicate that she's just "one of the good ones" of her kind. I've been anticipating/dreading a look at Martian race ever since the Trayvon Martin case resoundingly put the lie to a "post-racial America."

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, I understand the dread.

My hope is that when Miss Martian is introduced again (there was an image of her, I understand, on a Lex Luthor report on alien life on Earth.) Perhaps in the new DCnU, M'gann could be part of a small group of White Martians who realized that millenia of hate have not gotten them anywhere. Instead of insanity, M'gann may have to deal with the burden of her people's past. Through in Till'al and maybe a few others and J'Onn has the makings of a family. (Perhaps M'gann and Till'al might become friends with Jenny Quantum. Hmm, a "kids night out" might be amusing.)

Ultimately, I think what draws me to J'Onn besides his story and an interesting character are his values. I would hope that in the DCnU he can find someone of his people or a related one (White Martians, Red Saturnians) who shares them. Right now, J'Onn is perhaps the most alone of all the DCnU heroes. Considering the nature of the DCnU, it may be a while before J'Onn sees a Martian he actually likes and respects.