Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Superman Annual #1 (October, 2012)

I personally haven't read the first New 52 Superman Annual, because New 52, and also Superman. However, Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary alerted me to a four page diversion that revealed more about the Martian Manhunter than anything I've covered in the first year of Stormwatch.

Starlight Runner Observatory outside Seattle, Washington was introduced as a new base of operations for the Martian Manhunter. I'm not sure if the imaginary locale was meant to have any lasting significance, since it wasn't shown, the panel instead favoring the Seattle skyline with an emphasis on the Space Needle. Inside a cluttered but seemingly advanced lab, "John Jones" appeared to be African-American, reflecting this year's Justice League: Doom animated movie. The lighting was dim, so Jones' race and mode of dress were difficult to determine. On my first reading, I thought he was wearing a lab coat, but a second pass indicated a jacket... maybe?

As I understand it, The Eye of the Storm was a Daemonite prison ship that was appropriated as the mobile secret headquarters of the DCnÜ Stormwatch. It was meant to contain Helspont, a Daemonite High Lord who had conquered whole star systems for the empire, only to be betrayed when his power and legend grew too great. Helspont was inadvertently freed by the traitorous Eminence of Blades when he nearly destroyed the Eye in Stormwatch #6. Helspont had ample resources on Earth, despite it being beneath the Daemonites' notice in his time, and currently operated out of a Himalayan base. Most recently, Helspont had begun attempting the forced induction of powerful aliens residing on Earth into an army for use against his many enemies. Helspont had previously tried to woo Superman, and failing that, was pressing him in a less gentle fashion. In the annual, Starfire and Hawkman had their own visitations, all related to the fabled "Thirteen Scions of Salvation."

Back to Seattle, where John Jones had a thought while observing several monitors. "It is a Daemonite ship, but I sense a limited crew. I am certain that was the Kryptonian who impacted with the moon. Despite our recent... differences... I must involve Stormwatch. Surely they would shun their usual arrogant isolation in order to--" The thought/allusion to Stormwatch #12 was interrupted by a voice from behind. "They will not help you, son of Ma'aleca'andra."

The intruder looked like a female version of Helspont, but with an actual face instead of a skull. "I am who I am. Unlike you... 'John Jones.'" Mister Jones had initially asked who this person was, but what was not freely given could be taken. "Your name is Salu. A Daemonite... and retainer to Helspont...?"

"Your telepathy works through the Blue Light of Truth that infuses me? Impressive." Jones transformed into a more bestial variation on his Martian Manhunter form."Then you will really appreciate this! I know of your overlord and the devastation he has left in his wake. He will not be allowed to harm this world." J'Onn blasted Salu with an exaggerated and elongated hunk of Martian right cross that put her on her ass. Salu wiped at her bleeding nose and mouth. "Helspont does not harm worlds, Martian Manhunter. Nor does he take life. He only ensures that the Intergalactic Bestiary can thrive. In that regard, I did not come to battle, but to make an offer on behalf of my dominant. But since you will clearly not give your submission willingly... I will beat you into it!"

J'Onzz refused the offer with a sardonic tone, but was scalded and humbled by a blast from Salu's energy projecting staff. The Alien Atlas cried out from the pain, which Salu offered was but a fraction of what Helspont had suffered over many millennia. Per Salu, the son of Ma'aleca'andra had no actual choice in serving Helspont, but she would leave him alive to come to the correct decision on the matter. J'Onzz opined that Helspont's concept of salvation would cost billions of lives, but was countered with Salu's perception of the worthlessness of humanity. "You are not one of them... alone among so many... death would be a sweet release, I imagine... Know that if you are not an ally of Helspont, you will most assuredly be... his enemy."

As you may have noted, these few pages finally reestablish the John Jones identity, not to mention the term Ma'aleca'andra and potentially a new version of the fire weakness. Back when I did the New 52 Wave 3 Martian Manhunter #1, I was thinking a lot about how an integrated DC/Wildstorm Universe could work. One notion I had was to finally solve the decades unanswered question of who the unnamed aliens were that instigated Commander Blanx's Martian genocide with a possibility unavailable in 1969: Helspont. I even figured that you could tie the Blue Flame of Mars to the energy wielded by his Acuran body. Perhaps Helspont got so powerful by converting the souls of Mars into his personal and quite substantial energy source, while hanging Blanx out to dry for the crime? I probably went deeper into it than anyone at DC ever would, but the harebrained notion might not be so far from where the company is actually heading, with teasers like this. I mean, a bestiary is just a more antiquated version of "menagerie..."

"Alien Extinction!" was by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Pascal Alixe, Tom Raney, Marco Rudy, and Elizabeth Torque. For more on the issue, check out Anj's comprehensive coverage!

More New 52's Day


mathematicscore said...

Helspont and the Blue Flame? God yeah!

will_in_chicago said...

Well, this could be a very interesting development. I think that a tie between the Daemonites and MMa'aleca'andra. Somehow, I think if J'Onn is forced into working for Helspont, he will undermine the Daemonite -- and hopefully gain a few allies. His JLA is very underpowered, which is why I suggested adding people of the power levels of Captain Atom and Firestorm to the team. (I like to think of Superman, J'Onn, Captain Atom, and Shazam (Captain Marvel) at about the same power level. Add in Firestorm, and you have two powerful well developed heroes who would help assure that the codename for the JLA is not speedbump.)

I am very pleased to see the John Jones identity and Ma'aleca'andra again. Maybe DC editorial is actually READING stories where J'Onn was prominent.

Diabolu Frank said...

Will, back in the late '80s, but particularly through Mayfair Games in the early '90s, the line-up you suggested was treated as DC's powerhouse elite.

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, I used to live fairly close to where Mayfair Games was based in the near Southwest Suburbs. I think that making sure that Superman does not become in Richard Pryor's words "Super-Duper-Pooperman" (joking advice to Margot kidder on how to handle a scene.)makes sense.