Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Martian Manhunter Annual #1 (1998)

"I drive a car in Taiwan. I trap furs in Siberia. I'm a Sri Lankan bartender, a reclusive Japanese businessman... and a shapeshifting superhero from Mars. Of all my human identities, the one I wear the most is this man. John Jones... American private eye. He was my first human disguise and America was my introduction to Earth. They're a sense of home on this alien world. This is the story of how I saved America... touched a little bit of heaven... and got burned."

Karen Smith was introduced as a fellow detective with whom Jones shared an office, but little else, much to her chagrin. "I thought we were going to be more like... partners... if you know what I mean." The unrequited flirtation was interrupted when a teenage girl amnesiac appeared, seeking Jones' help. Alone in Jones' office, the girl thought her name might be Rachel, and wanted her murder solved, which involved individuals out to destroy the nation. Before she could continue, the girl was killed by gunshot wounds without any weapon having been fired, then vanished into a burst of flames. Jones was initially paralyzed by his innate Martian fear of fire, but when he collected himself and looked at the flickering that remained, he saw images of his deceased wife and daughter dancing within. Karen investigated the racket to find a room chilled to the point of breath steaming and a sticky ectoplasm coating a chair the ghost had occupied.

Having forgotten his traffic laws, John Jones car had been towed, so he flew invisibly to a local police precinct to mentally nudge Sgt. Bob Segarini into telling everything the police knew before mind-wiping him about the disclosure. While paying a fine to retrieve his car, Jones called Karen for help in questioning the victim's boyfriend, who had reported Rachel Munro missing six days earlier. There was also a roommate who seemed to be the last known person to have seen Rachel alive. Jones wanted justice for this child that had reminded him of his own daughter. Meanwhile, a balding cop named Dennis Lewis had overheard these conversations, and dropped dime to a mysterious figure who Lewis wanted to help "keep your country strong..."

Jones drove his beloved '87 Chevy Impala along I-49, until two assassins in a Beamer forced it off the road along a steep ridge. "Thanks to my Martian ability to harden my skin to the density of diamond, I was never in any danger... Unless the car caught fire." This time, Jones eagerly peered at the flames, from which an image of Rachel emerged to urge him on. The Martian Manhunter gave chase, and was spotted in the rearview mirror by one of his more nervous would-be killers. "Ah, Jesus! It's a FLYING GUY!! There's a freaking green guy flying at the car!" Chubby rattled passenger Leon was ordered to take the wheel while his more collected partner fired a few negligible rounds at the Alien Atlas before their own ride flew off-road. "I gave those two more of a scare than was necessary to apprehend them-- but they did try to kill me. And they did kill the Impala."

Officer Lewis had dispatched the two cocaine suspects to capture John Jones and escort him back to their club inside an hour's time, so that was the Martian Detective's obvious next stop. That is, if the writer hadn't forgotten he'd set that up, which he totally did. Also, J'Onzz couldn't get a good psychic "look" at Lewis before scrubbing the dealers' short term memories. "Humans rarely keep clear memories of people they don't know. It's amazing how little attention they pay one another." The Sleuth from Outer Space laid a Jedi mind trick to send the pair out of state to confess to the previous year's worth of crimes at the first police station they found.

J'Onzz tried to call off Karen from visiting the boyfriend on her own via cellular, but "Too late. Already here. Don't sweat it, Johnny, I know how to handle myself." Smith got David Henman to turn white as a sheet when she said she'd seen Rachel, and his repeated mentions of her possibly being dead put murder on Smith's mind. Karen threatened to shoot the punk's computer if he didn't stop lying to her, but another man's gun was soon pointed at her. "I am a free American citizen, and this is my home. You come here and threaten my property... You think I didn't know you were coming? You think I don't have friends?"

J'Onn J'Onzz appeared to Rachel's scrawny roommate as an overweight older woman in need of a phone after her purse had been stolen. A memory invasion revealed that Rachel was going away with her boyfriend for a weekend retreat to the mountains as part of his "weirdo" survivalist group, "New Revolution," and had never come back. J'Onzz put the roommate to sleep, then tried to call Karen back, without answer. A somewhat polite African-American man in revolutionary garb self-described as "America's messiah" was regrettably beating her about the face for information on her partner.

John Jones visited Sharpie's Bar, his regular hangout for Oreos and information, both courtesy of the joint's eponymous pal. "New Revolution" was a bunch of ultra-conservative gun nuts with propaganda on every local telephone pole, per Sharpie. Officer Lewis turned up to escort Jones to New Revolution's heavily guarded compound. "I tell you what... if the FBI wants to come knocking tonight, we're not going to be no damn Waco." At a mobile office, Jones found a bruised Karen Smith tied to a chair. "I'm sorry, Jones. I'm not strong... I told them where to look for you." General Washington was staging a revolution, a surgical strike with his forces against the nation's capitol, and wished only to know what information Jones had gathered to be shared with whom. Jones made up a story about working for Rachel's father, biding his time until the Alien Atlas struck out against the militiamen. General Washington had expected "super-powered enforcers" of the "aristocracy," and his preparations included keeping a flamethrower handy.

Weakened, J'Onn J'Onzz took boots and rifle butts to the head while General Washington demanded answers. "Where are the rest of your tyrant Justice League buddies? huh? You think we're going to all roll over and play dead while you just waltz in here from another planet and help take us over?!? You came here alone?!? You fool, I'm an army!!!" The Manhunter from Mars knew General Washington would enjoy cracking his ribs and taking his life slowly while he lay helpless. His last thoughts might have been "At least I would soon see my wife and child again," which was perhaps true, as flaming figures bearing their likenesses singed David Henman. "The flames disappeared with an unnatural quickness. Another moment and he would have burned up. It's what saved that man's life. It's also what saved mine."

General Washington fired an impotent pistol at the Martian Marvel. "You can't stop me! I'm an American hero!" The Manhunter squeezed the gun out of his hand and tossed Washington through a desk. "No. You are a thug with delusions of grandeur..." Ripping all the fine details of the militia from its General's mind, an invisible Martian strategically contained it without any threat of loss of life. Telepathy caused the army to see its individual troopers' worst fears, from prehistoric beasts to saxophone playing presidents. It was all over but the crying inside ten minutes. Still, Karen Smith was not amused. "Keep away from me, alien... How long have you been laughing at me, you cold bastard? I had feelings for you." J'Onzz offered Karen a mind wipe to make everything better, but she refused because duh. "Don't you dare touch me. I'm having a damn cigarette, and I frankly don't care if you don't like it..." Her match burst into a flame that embodied two figures. "My beloved wife...? My daughter...? It is you! It's really you, isn't it?" They didn't know how it was possible, and it took great finite energy to manifest, but "there's many hundreds of spirits awakened where we are. Many more... coming back to life... so many ghosts..."

Rachel Munro appeared to congratulate and thank Mr. Jones, then disappeared to finally rest. J'Onzz kin had to leave, too. "Don't go. Please. I want to touch you... hold you... I don't care what you're made of... you are my family." Despite their warnings, J'Onzz's loved ones briefly accepted his pained embrace before vanishing. "My hands were blistering and seething. It would take days for them to properly heal, even with my Martian powers. But it would heal. It was worth the pain. Since the day I lost them, I've burned to feel their touch again." An affected Karen Smith looked on as the tearful J'Onn J'Onzz knelt in a circle of burnt grass.

"Heart's Afire" was by Ty Templeton and Ariel Olivetti. Besides being part of DC's 1998 selection of themed JLA annuals ("Ghosts," all with covers by Bernie Wrightson,) the book was also significant for its role in a unique publishing plan. The first ever Martian Manhunter Annual was released before the first issue of the series it was meant to serve as the annual to, but did arrive a couple of weeks after a #0 issue and a few weeks before a #1,000,000 issue. Typically, despite four major jumping-on points for the new series within a span of weeks, the book only lasted three years and one additional annual.

The story reads like a pitch project, reintroducing the Morrison/Millar JLA take of a morphing international hero with a host of identities before settling on John Jones and his newly conceived supporting cast. I hate the rampant, unnecessary brain rape on display here, which survived into the Ostrander/Mandrake series long after Karen Smith bit the dust. The stakes were also underwhelming, but I did like the humor Templeton brought to the dialogue, which was sorely missed in the continuing series. The next time you feel the urge to make another Oreo joke, let's maybe give a nod to the beloved Impala that "vibrated like a chihuahua with a head cold" instead. Olivetti, who did a lot of Martian Manhunter drawing around this time, was off his game here. It looked like he was inked by some old school hack into a semblance of a lesser '60s European strip. Finally, it was too weird that all evidence pointed to Jones' office being in Louisiana of all places, as I-49 is an intrastate that starts in Lafayette, and the story had him headed north toward Shreveport. I side trip to Bon Temps would have been more exciting, although it might also have required a move to the Vertigo imprint.

Join the Spooktacular Samhain Celebration at this coven of blogs!


  1. "Bough Breaks" @ Batman: Gotham Knights Online
  2. "Haunts" @ The Flash: Speed Force
  3. "Dead Calm" @ The Aquaman Shrine
  4. "The Distance Gone" @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  5. "Ghosts' - The Corpse Corps!" @ Green Lantern: Corps Conjecture
  6. "The Death Sentence" @ Superman: Great Krypton!
  7. "Heart's Afire" @ Martian Manhunter: The Idol-Head of Diabolu
  8. "Life Itself" @ The Captain's JLA Homepage


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2009 Black Lantern “Zombie Martian Manhunter” fan art by “Terence TeeMinus”

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"So...I'm digging the Blackest Night so far. I LOVE Van Sciver's designs for the Black Lantern (read: zombie) heroes so far...and J'onn really caught my eye. He's been so good for so long, and to see what he's capable of as a Black Lantern is downright scary.

This was a commission for a friend, and as you can see, I try to put a little extra into my commissions as opposed to something I'm doing for fun. If you're interested, hit me up!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 Martian Manhunter vs. the Scary Monsters Comicpalooza Commission by Austin “Redbeard” Rogers

I'm probably the world's biggest fan of the six issue JLA: Scary Monsters mini-series, but let me assure you that it is by default. Well, second biggest. Maybe third. I probably need to qualify this. See, I grew up on Chris Claremont X-Men. His forced departure from that family of titles marked the point where Marvel Comics became "broken" to me, which was why I transitioned into hardcore DC fandom for the rest of the '90s. Claremont was on a career high at the time following a few years of mediocre stories, and he's never been able to recapture that spark. Whether it was his pathetic wannabe "edgy" return to X-Men or the embodiment of every criticism of his idiosyncrasies dubbed Sovereign Seven, it would be fair to say he proved his detractors right a might too often for his career's health. On the other hand, for better or worse, Claremont taught a whole generation how to write team books, and he can still bring that talent to bear at times. Scary Monsters, for instance, bucked the trend of risible JLA cash-in projects that helped beach the whale Grant Morrison birthed by telling an interesting, sometimes even harrowing story that well balanced the Magnificent Seven icons against a monumental force while offering a solid new heroine and neat wrinkles in mythology besides.

Unfortunately, the mini-series sold half as well as the ongoing, and was overshadowed by its highly similar story running concurrently. The JLA is torn apart by a demonic entity with ties to the genesis of Martians' energy projection powers. A JLA member is possessed, turning on their own people. The Martian Manhunter's intimate relationship with a young human woman possessing fire powers is key to saving the day, but at the cost of their love life. Trial By Fire even shared an unusually heavy presence for Plastic Man in a serious role. The difference was that Scary Monsters expanded Martian lore while allowing the hero to be competent and essential to the narrative. Trial By Fire determined that Mars as we know it was created by the Guardians of the Universe, annexing Alien Atlas lore under the Green Lantern heading, while making J'Onn a victimized boob in an unsettling relationship that only asserts some self-control in the final pages. Scary Monsters might have just been pretty good in a vacuum, but compared to the Fernus fiasco, it was high art. Also, I think the Scary Monsters are rather keen, and I want to see Kishana Lewis turn up again sometime.

Unlike most of the pieces I get, I couldn't ask for a simple pin-up. The Scary Monsters took many forms, which kind of begs for a multi-figure drawing. Ideally, the Martian Manhunter would also be involved, and there would be some sort of scenario playing out. That meant that I needed a "scene" artist that wouldn't charge me a c-note per figure, preferably someone who could do weird or scary to sell these creatures. I had a few different artists in mind, some of whom ended up "assigned" other characters, and at least one guy that I dismissed as a sleazeball who did end up managing to rip my girlfriend off for $65 on a commission I'm positive he hasn't started five months after pocketing her money. Thankfully, after navigating all those potentialities, I ended up with Austin Rogers, who did a fine job.

Rogers goes by the nickname "Redbeard", which he also uses as his comic publishing identity. I could tell that he was into super-heroes, sci-fi, and horror from his art gallery, which was the proper combination to make this thing work. It also meant that I could explain the premise in shorthand. "They're like Deadites crossed with Xenomorphs, but more furry/woodsy/prehistoric." Reference and a bit more detail was obviously necessary, but the point was conveyed. I wanted several flavors of monster, and Redbeard was very accommodating. He asked me if it was okay to have a central heroic figure for these guys to surround, which I had in the back of my mind anyway, but had hesitated to mention because I thought it might be demanding too much. Redbeard was totally cool, although I had to reenforce a few times how much freedom he had in interpreting the characters how he pleased. "I was talking to another artist that is very concerned with getting every detail of a character right based on their published appearances, which is swell, but I want you to do the exact opposite. These guys are always obscured by lighting and angles, so you can do them as silhouettes if you want. Do not sweat the details on this at all."

A few hours later, Redbeard texted me that he was done. From blue line frame to pencils to inks, this bad boy was built up into a fantastic 9" x 12" that I'd love to send out for coloring and print. How awesome is the hulking horned mammoth taking a heavily spiked swing at the Alien Atlas? The satanic pterodactyl got the most detail, and those fangs are serious. I dig the indie Manhunter slugging it out with a tentacle threat, and now I want to do one of those "one minute later" commissions with a possessed J'Onn J'Onzz staring evil at the viewer. This was a steal at $90, so I hope to enlist Mr. Rogers for another next year!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2011 Miss Martian Manhunter Halloween Nurse color art by Pablo Praino Burgueño

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"Miss Martian as a nurse for Halloween!"
I'm sleepy, with an early day tomorrow, and I'm trying to get a little work done on a Halloween project folks have cooked up. Also, I'd like to get a commission post in before that. How about we just pretend this is M'gann M'orzz Miss Martian Monday?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Suiting the Sleuth From Outer Space #1

I'd normally start another poll on a Saturday, but as you may notice from the sidebar, Google has had one of its occasional bowel movements in the bedding, and now none of the blog's poll results (past or present) are accessible. I sincerely hope that they aren't lost forever. It would be foolish to start any new polls until circumstances improve. Instead, I thought I'd fulfill a promise made a long time ago to explore some of the great many alternative Martian Manhunter costume designs I've come up with over the years.

While I've appreciated the character since the mid-80s, J'onn J'onzz's costume has always left something to be desired. Since human detective John Jones was meant to star in the original Manhunter from Mars strip, the Martian uniform was totally generic and highly inconsistent in the early days. I've long wanted to see him in something with more pizzazz, but have you ever tried to accessorize for green skin? Tricky business. Worse yet, the most complimentary color is purple, already firmly reserved by Marvel's Incredible Hulk, Super-Skrull, and Drax the Destroyer. This process would require a process of trial and error. In the late '90s, I took the Martian Manhunter figure sketch by Kevin Maguire I'd won on eBay out of my comic shop, walked across the street to a dingy convenience store, and ran off a bunch of nickle xeroxes. I would then color and otherwise alter the copies in a variety of configurations.

Previously and generally, I would do little doodles on notebook paper of my ideas for new costumes on various heroes. Often, they were little more than stick figures composed of different colored markers. I'd usually only do a handful before I had something that I was happy with, although Aquaman and Nightwing proved memorable, laborious exceptions. By the time I got to the Alien Atlas, I'd learned from these efforts, though I did knock out some hand drawn attempts beforehand. One of my launching pads for ideas was the notion that Bloodwynd could make a heel turn based on his Blood Gem actually being a large chunk of Eclipso's black diamond, the Heart of Darkness. The Martian Manhunter would get dragged down by the machinations of the self-described "God of Vengeance," and end up wearing a variation on Bloodwynd's costume. You can read/see more of that here and here.

Now that I've finally run the Maguire sketch, I can blow up this costume design grafted on to it. The basics are still Bloodwynd, but I reached back further to the Legion of Super-Heroes villain Pulsar Stargrave for further inspiration. Eschewing the excessive ornamentation of those characters, the main influence of Stargrave was to show more skin on J'Onn's arms, which I think is really set off by the muted costume. I kept the blue cavalier boots and cape, with a popped collar that suited the points of the Bloodwynd mask. While not as busy and conflicted as the Manhunter's usual color scheme, all that white seemed a bit loud for a Sleuth from Outer Space. While I liked how the "pie" symbol worked as a pendant, there wasn't enough going on in the trunk, and that baby blue wasn't doing any favors in the coolness department. This was probably my first Xerox costume, and a decent starting point, but by no means where I wanted to stay.

Friday, October 26, 2012

2005 Justice League pinup art by Will Conrad

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"This is an old sample I did a few years ago for DC. Done in pencils."

Really sweet Hitch-y piece with Wonder Woman the sole foreground full figure. Attack of the floating movie poster heads strike Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. Superman gets an inspirational bust, while Batman, the Flash, and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner's figures have varied prominence. I really miss this Magnificent Seven, exempting Erik Larsen's Seashell Sea King.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2011 “Z'Onn Z'Orr: Matrix” animation-style fan fiction by N:TAS

Click To Enlarge N:TAS DCU: Z'Onn Z'Orr: Matrix 5-22-11
At the Super Buddies message board, there's a user under the handle "NightwingTAS" who builds digital figure models off the Bruce Timm DC Animated Series template for further fan fiction adventures of his own devising. Number 8 in the "Z'Onn "Z'Orr" series, here's his take on the Post-Crisis "Supergirl..."

The protoplasmic entity known as Matrix came to New Earth from a pocket dimension. She was created by that world's Lex Luthor using Lana Lang as a template to save the Earth. When she arrived on New Earth she was near death and nursed back to health by the Kents, where she took the name Mae and fought alongside of Superman as Supergirl. When she heard screams Supergirl found Linda Danvers who was near death and in order to save the young girl she merged with her, and the two became Supergirl. As this new Supergirl they discovered that they were the Earth-Born Angel of Fire. The two seprated when Linda had Mae merge with Twilight to save her life making Twilight the new Earth-Born Angel of Fire. During a fight with Lilith the two were seperated leaving Twilight as the Earth-Born Angel of Fiire and Mae near death. Superan brought Mae to Star Labs where no one could figure out what was wrong, then J'onn recieved a strong psychic yell he formed a link to her mind and figured out how to save her. Mae was created by using DNA from Lana Lang and a Yellow Martian creating a new form of Martian. J'onn helped Mae master her true powers. Lana allowed Mae to move in with her and Pete as her cousin Mae Lang and J'onn gave her a true Martian name, M'ae L'ang.
For some reason, Supergirl and Martian Manhunter intermingle in a number of fan fictions that I've encountered. They had one team-up in the '70s, and that's about as deep as their relationship in the comics goes. While I'm a fan of the classic Maid of Might and the supernatural Linda Danvers Supergirl that book-ended the Matrix period, the Matrix itself was kind of a moronic, emotionally unstable pile of other-dimensional goo who played sex doll to Lex Luthor. I'd rather not see J'Onn stuck with literal cast-offs from a Superman satellite player, and I especially don't want B'rett involved. Anyway, do click on the link to see an alternate, Caucasian Martian version of the Matrix, and if you think that we don't love Kara Zor-El around here, just ask our buddy Anj at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

Get Familiar

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2004 Wizard World Chicago Martian Manhunter sketchbook bust by Tim Seeley

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Speaking as Old Man Funnybook with well over three decades as a fan, I don't actually enjoy reading very many comic books anymore. I still check out a fair amount of books each month, but mostly to crudely take a dump on them as the product of failed screenwriters too ignorant, incompetent and lazy to write to the strengths of the only medium that will have them while wasting the time and talents of artists who want to do more creatively than concept art for video games. Modern comics suck not because I'm a fuddy-duddy and they're too cerebral/slick/political/transgressive, but because 99.99% of the population will not hand over $4 for four minutes of an unsatisfying middle chapter of the journey of a scripter up his own bunghole in search of workmanlike derivation of greater talents' moth infested leavings. I don't think it's an accident that several of my few remaining preferred writers are in fact artists who write for other artists from the perspective of knowledge about how to construct each page of a comic book story from the ground up. Tim Seeley is one of those few, and I recommend trying his new Image series with Mike Norton, Revival, as well as his back catalog of work-for-hire and creator owned properties like Hack/Slash. Here, he offers a very Wrightsonesque Manhunter from Mars, though I think Seeley demonstrates a stronger, more heroic take.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 WHO’S WHO: The Definitive Podcast of the DC Universe, Volumes III-IV

Rob Kelly and Shag Matthews have returned after months and months of not getting it done for a new installment of their side project podcast devoted to Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe. Billed as a line wide encyclopedia of DC's most important characters and concepts, just in time for their 50th anniversary, a side effect was to make clear how little regard they had for anything related to the Manhunter from Mars. While you listen to the boys' commentary on Volume III and Volume IV, feel free to mentally insert the following Alien Atlas omissions...

  • Baltaz is an underground city located on Mars II with an atmosphere deadly to Martians.
  • Baltaz's Council is the ruling authority of the buried city of Baltaz on Mars II.
  • Barry Clark was a professional Martian Manhunter impersonator who was replaced by the real thing when the actor hurt his leg.
  • The Blue Flame of Mars was an energy source that, when unleashed by Commander Blanx, wiped out signs of life and rendered uninhabitable most of the surface of the planet Mars.
  • B'rett is a yellow-skinned Martian convict who escaped captivity to Earth before being recaptured by Martian Manhunter. He was responsible for altering J'Onn J'Onzz's powers and revealing his existence on Earth.
  • Burt Biloxi was the namesake of "Burt Biloxi's Special Investigations," a low rent private investigation operation. When the John Jones identity was resumed in the mid-80s, the Martian Detective worked for this firm.
  • Captain Harding was essentially Middletown's answer to Commissioner Gordon, Harding appeared as Police Detective John Jones' supervisor and primary exposition device in most Manhunter from Mars strips from 1956-1963.
  • Charles Brigham Dade was a C.I.A. operative whose grief over the death of his fiancée led him on an anti-alien mission involving Jemm and Superman. He was killed by Saturnian robots.

For the record, the only glaring oversight was Captain Harding, as he was essential to the Manhunter from Mars strip for half its run.

Monday, October 22, 2012

2011 Young Justice Martian Manhunter color art by Sergey Shamaev

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Before anyone asks, yes, I was tired enough to post Miss Martian Monday on Sunday. Now here's another one from Sergey Shamaev.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 Miss Martian color art by Sergey Shamaev

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"I like Young Justice series and its cool that in the next season Miss Martian will be with shurt haircut. all of the team have really awesome redesign=)"
My original plan was to do another villain themed month for October, but the 5th anniversary ceremonies and a grueling work schedule have noticeably placed the blog on coasting mode. I'll try to get a wee bit scarier in the run-up to Halloween, but in the meantime, here's a midnight moody Stealth Suit Miss Martian piece...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Master Gardener versus The Floronic Man

The Master Gardener
Debut: 1992
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: None
Appearances: 1 comic story
Powers: Super strength, speed, invulnerability, flight, telepathy, intangibility, invisibility, and shape-shifting

The Master Gardener used his knowledge of organisms to survive the plague which wiped out most life on Mars, and then to enslave the Lizard Men as surrogates for his lost people. Next, the Gardener conquered mid-20th Century Earth by contaminating human life with a fungus that caused spontaneous combustion in the unruly. The conspiracy was uncovered by the Manhunter from Mars, and the Gardener was unintentionally killed by his own men.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Cabal (4/1)
Lose: Ma'alefa'ak (5-13); Gorilla Grodd (3-7)
Draw: 0

The Floronic Man
Debut: 1962
Nemesis: The Atom
Other Major Foes: Swamp Thing, Batman
Appearances: 100+ comics, as well as a cartoon, video game, and the film Batman and Robin.
Powers: Control of plant life.

Jason Woodrue at first appeared to be a typical Silver Age mad scientist, but was in fact a he-fairy exiled to Earth from some sort of Ferngully dimension for being too bad for the Tinkerbells. The plainclothes Plant Master fought the Atom a couple of times before turning himself into a leafy mutant in an issue of The Flash. This led the Floronic Man to a Bronze Age revival as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains who frequently faced the Justice League of America. When Alan Moore first took over Swamp Thing, he used Woodrue as a foil for his initial story arc, and the fiend made reappearances across the life of the series. Woodrue was regrettably grounded in the mainstream DC Universe when the Guardians of the Universe and the Zamorans chose him as one of the New Guardians from Earth who were supposedly destined to guide the next millennium. Instead, "Floro" was somehow among the least ridiculous members of a hilariously misguided X-Men riff that involved such atrocities as an AIDS vampire, a super-menace powered by cocaine, and the resolution of African apartheid through punching. Being insane, it was simple enough for him to revert back to villainy, and somehow manage to get himself retroactively inserted into Poison Ivy's origin.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0

Friday, October 19, 2012

2011 “Martian Manhunter confronts Thor” fan art by Israel S. Algarin

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"9”x 12” pencil sketch of Thor wielding his hammer towards J'onn J'onzz the Martian Manhunter."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2011 “Z'Onn Z'Orr: Wonder Twins” animation-style fan fiction by N:TAS

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N:TAS DCU: Z'Onn Z'Orr: Wonder Twins 5-16-11

At the Super Buddies message board, there's a user under the handle "NightwingTAS" who builds digital figure models off the Bruce Timm DC Animated Series template for further fan fiction adventures of his own devising. Number 7 in the "Z'Onn "Z'Orr" series, here's his take on the Wonder Twins...

Zan and Jayna are Exorian metas, genetic throwbacks to an ancient race of Exorian shapeshifters. Their parents died when they were still babies during a plague, and, because of their origin, no Exorians wanted to adopt them. They ended up adopted by a slaver runner who posed as the owner of a Space Circus, who only wanted to use them. Fortunately, there was a fellow slave who took the young twins under his wing and raised them. He also gave them Gleek as a pet.

Eventually, as teens, the pair managed to escape the slave runner and ended up on Earth where they were found and captured by the government. J'onn discovered the twins when he freed the Martians and took the twins in helping them to adapt to life on Earth. He helped them with their transformation powers, helping Jayna to perfect her powers, and help Zan to go from simple water constructs to being able to transform into any form of liquid including an Ice Golem. With the help of Oracle, and one of his secret identities as Professor Carter Nichols, J'onn set them up as transfer students from Sweeden named Johan and Johanna Fleming. Zan wore a blonde wig, while Jayna used her powers to transform into a human to changer her hair color and ear shape to all them to fit in as they attend Gotham City High School. Given their powers the two took codenames that fit their abilities with Zan taking Downpour and Jayna Shifter.

Yeah, no. I draw the line here. Shapeshifter plus Alien does not equal Martian Manhunter Family. In fact, it offends me, since the Martian Manhunter was never a Super Friend like these two jokers. Zan and Jayna entered mainstream comics through Extreme Justice, not the JLTF, so let them screw off with Maxima or something. This reminds me of Scipio's Martian Manhunter Dynasty, where the fic hit the uck by shoehorning leftovers like Aruna and Nathaniel Dusk, who'd never even met J'Onn J'Onzz, under the slightest of pretenses. Where's Zook? Where's Gypsy? Frank is getting upset!

Anyway, it's the thought that counts, and I do appreciate NightwingTAS putting such an effort into these pieces. For instance, there are six Wonder Twin pictures available, including solos and duos for Zan and Jayna in two different outfits.

Get Familiar

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2011 Martian Manhunter fan art by Tayne Preno

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"Another recreation. I loved this artwork and wanted to mimic it as best I could. The corner of his cape got cut off by the edge of the paper."
Sorry for another late art post and probably the first Wednesday I haven't done a personal commission write-up in months. Between my wacky work schedule and watching the chest-puffing exhibition between Governor Womanbinder and President Secret Martian Past, the blog gave. Here's a fan piece featuring the nice Alan Davis costume tweak that popped up here and there in Elseworlds a decade or so back. Who here would gladly trade in Before Watchmen and The Dark Knight Strikes Again for some Elseworlds? Anyway, I don't immediately recognize the reference being lifted, so you can chime in on that, as well. Jan Duursema, maybe?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Martian Sightings for January, 2013

Thanks to Anj for the following:

Some Geoff Johns' J'Onn J'Onzz quotes when discussing the upcoming JLA book.

"I'll also say this book will make Martian Manhunter the most dangerous character in the DC universe," Johns said to applause.


Q: Will JLA elaborate on the backstory between Martian Manhunter and the JL? Johns: "Yes, it will. you'll get a lot of why he's actually here and what he's been doing. I kind of call him a one man illuminati."

...Hope to hear your opinions!

Geoff Johns helped to make Aquaman a top selling comic, for which he's received so many pats on the back that they could double as a skin drum to help keep time as what's left of the comic book industry marches off a cliff. There's no such thing as a victimless society, and in order for Aquaman to be cool, Darkseid takes a trident to the face and falters out the New 52 gate. I'd much rather hear "Martian Manhunter is going to bugger Imperiex proper like" than "J'Onn J'Onzz will service the JLA as an extraterrestrial latrine," but the '90s proved that nobody is a badass if every single everybody is also a badass. Plus, it all sounds Bendisy, which isn't a compliment.

Martian Manhunter
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by LANGDON FOSS
1:100 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
“We Can Be Heroes” Blank variant cover available
On sale JANUARY 23 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with five covers. Please see the Order Form for details.

• “THRONE OF ATLANTIS” continues!
• Aquaman can barely hold on against Ocean Master even with the League by his side!
• The United States loses faith in the Justice League and enters the battle against Atlantis, setting in motion the creation of the Justice League of America!
• More on the Superman/Wonder Woman alliance!
• Plus: In the backup story, the origin of SHAZAM! continues!
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

Will there be a cameo? There may in fact be a cameo.


On sale FEBRUARY 13 • 160 pg, FC, $14.99 US

• Stormwatch struggles against the threat of the Gravity Miners, and the Martian Manhunter quits the team – but not without a fight!
• Collects STORMWATCH #7-12 and RED LANTERNS #10.
Revisit these muchly poor and inconsequential issues? At least Apollo and Midnighter didn't dominate this cover, eh?

Art by JIM LEE, SCOTT WILLIAMS and others
On sale FEBRUARY 6 • 320 pg, FC, $24.99 US
• In this epic from Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee, a cataclysmic event has struck the Earth. Millions of people have vanished without a trace. No one is left unaffected — not even Superman! But how could millions of people vanished without a trace — and could Superman be the cause?

• Collecting SUPERMAN #204-215, plus bonus materials!
Miss Martian
Art and cover by CHRISTOPHER JONES
On sale JANUARY 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E

• Deadshot attempts assassination!
• Batgirl fights alone against Match!
• Kylstar decimates Superboy and the Justice League!
• Nightwing’s team fails against Brainiac!
On sale FEBRUARY 13 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

• In this new collection, Superboy, Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Miss Martian and Artemis make their way to Atlantis to foil Ocean-Master’s plan to purify the underwater city.
• Collects YOUNG JUSTICE #14-19!
On sale MARCH 20 • 1,008 pg, FC, $99.99 US

• This unforgettable epic is collecting in this massive edition including SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #17-26, SUPERMAN #73-82, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #496-505, ACTION COMICS #683-691, JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #69, SUPERMAN: THE LEGACY OF SUPERMAN #1 and GREEN LANTERN #46.
• Includes chapters of “World Without a Superman,” bonus materials and more!

Monday, October 15, 2012

2012 “Off-Duty: Martian Manhunter & Miss Martian!” by Yasmin Liang

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I'm often critical of Project: Rooftop's hipster sensibilities, but the retro-chic wardrobe and just plain gorgeous art on display here shuts me up quick. Supergirl has always been a bandwagon jumper when it came to current fashion as processed through the minds of middle-aged white male nerds. Part of what I like about Miss Martian is how she embraces a simple, saccharine sensibility in trying to relate to humanity. She kind of reminds me of people who made horrendous life choices, only to over-correct through severe, comical conservatism. I love the Maid of Might, and M'gann M'orzz owes her an enormous, nigh-encompassing debt, but Kara as Sabrina cosplaying as Cheryl Blossom just isn't as interesting as Veronica trying desperately to inhabit the role of Midge Klump.

By the way, just to join the choir, my sole caveat is that John Jones would never take fashion lessons from Sonny Crockett, which was more of a Reggie Mantle kind of thing. Plus, I think I get some sort of point bonus for the extended dated bubble gum pop culture references.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 Jornadas Internacionales del Cómic Villa de Avilés Martian Manhunter head sketch by Javier Pina

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I wasn't aware that Spanish artist Javier Pina had drawn most of the Kate Spencer Manhunter comics, including appearances by DEO agent Cameron Chase and her nemesis Doctor Trap. I also hadn't realized Pina was responsible for the excellent Suicide Squad: From the Ashes mini-series, although the superior inks of the long underrated Robin Riggs surely helped. I like how this is both old school comics classicist and alienated minimalist. Good show.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2008 Wizard World Philadelphia J'Onn J'Onzz Natural Martian color convention sketch by Mike Manley

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Should I have thrown a "New Frontier" into that header? I totally should have thrown a "New Frontier" into the header.

Friday, October 12, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Kanto

Darkseid appeared in several issues of the 1998 Martian Manhunter series, and was heavily integrated into the origins of the Martian Manhunter and Malefic as a result. Given that the series never so much as mentioned a legitimate prior Vile Menagerie rogue by name, lasting three years on new and borrowed villains, I really resented that. Still, Darkseid is a popular character, Ostrander/Mandrake fans seemed to embrace the relationship, and I even acknowledged Darkseid as the 10th Most Important Martian Manhunter Adversary as a result. Now, in a poll with 22 respondents, Darkseid was voted off SurVILEvor Island by a better than 2-to-1 margin of 68%. I shall surely cry myself to sleep over that. Surely....

With Brimstone similarly dismissed by blog readers, I thought that we might as well complete the Apokolips suite by putting Kanto on the chopping block. I must confess though that outside of his Martian Manhunter appearances, I'm really not that familiar with the character. I read a collection of Jack Kirby's New Gods years back, before they started packaging all of his "Fourth World Saga" together, so I managed to miss most of his work on Mister Miracle. Kanto debuted in its seventh issue, in a story where Scott Free and Big Barda returned to Apokolips so that they could prove their ability to escape it again. Kanto got off on souping-up medieval weaponry with hi-tech tricks and pitted his craftsmanship against Scott's escape artistry. Mister Miracle kept managing to not get caught and killed by Kanto, which impressed the master assassin so much that he eventually waved the couple on to continue their screwy mission of self-aggrandizement. Kanto returned a year later as part of a troop sent by Free's craggy father to capture Scott and Barda, which turned into a wedding party for the pair, in Kirby's eighteenth and final issue of the title. Three years later, the series was briefly revived with the original numbering by Steve Engleheart and Marshall Rogers as part of the ill-fated "DC Explosion." This was the dawning of the age of the fan-pros, so rather than continue the Kirby tradition of innovation, the revival faithfully cycled through appearances by characters established in the Kirby run. Kanto showed up in more than half of their seven issue run before line wide cuts saw the book join a cavalcade of cancellations.

A minor presence in the Fourth World Saga, Kanto only made a few small appearances across the next two decades, including a Who's Who entry and John Ostrander's use of him in a Suicide Squad two-parter. Kanto was overlooked in the late '80s New Gods series, not to mention the mid-90s one, but he was at least present for John Byrne's continuation of Jack Kirby's Fourth World. Mister Miracle had two series come and go in the same time span without any significant involvement from Kanto. A mentor/pupil affair with the Wonder Woman frienemy Artemis was retconned into the Genesis crossover, but never went past it. A convoluted new origin had slightly more traction. "Kanto" was turned into a title. A kid from Apokolips named Iluthin traveled to Earth during the Renaissance, but was hounded by an assassin with the "Kanto" name, who murdered Iluthin's new bride and was killed in retaliation, only for Darkseid to make Iluthin the new Kanto. God, that sentence was longer than my attention span for its contents.

Martian Manhunter is tied with the first Mister Miracle volume for containing the most Kanto appearances. When Ma'alefa'ak made contact with Apokolips, Kanto was among the representatives to visit Mars. Kanto befriended and mentored J'Onn J'Onzz, only to betray the young Manhunter and visit atrocity upon his people. Malefic being rendered a proxy for Darkseid in the genocide of the Martian people was highly problematic, but tweaking that bit of continuity wouldn't necessarily impact on Kanto's history with the Martian Manhunter. While there's a part of me that would prefer Martian and New God mythology to be wholly segregated, I feel sort of bad for Kanto, since he's been abandoned as a Mister Miracle foe with no other major role to play in the DC Universe. If the Alien Atlas won't have him, who will? Then again, Kanto did appear on Superman: The Animated Series and the Justice League cartoon, so he might be just fine as a minion of Darkseid on the periphery. Does the Sleuth from Outer Space really need to be associated with another villain of such questionable sartorial inclination?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2011 “Z'Onn Z'Orr: Triumph” animation-style fan fiction by N:TAS

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N:TAS DCU: Z'Onn Z'Orr: Triumph 4-28-11

At the Super Buddies message board, there's a user under the handle "NightwingTAS" who builds digital figure models off the Bruce Timm DC Animated Series template for further fan fiction adventures of his own devising. Number 6 in the "Z'Onn "Z'Orr" series, here's his take on Triumph...

The Yellow Martian Race is one that few know of. The Yellow Martians require a bonding with another sentient being, usually a Green Martian, and rarely a White Martian. The Bonding allows the Yellow Martian to develope a persona based on their donor, but over the years they grow into a unique individual of their own.

Years ago a woman gave birth at home to a young baby boy, Michael Gallent. The mother had her nanny act as a midwife, and what she didn't know was that she was actually a Yellow Martian who was stranded on Earth, she had recently given birth herself to her son and done something that isn't normally done she used her telepathy to merge the two babies minds. She forced her infant into a human guise so not to cause trouble the Midwife told the young mother she had given birth to twins and allowed the woman to raise her son as her own. The Nanny was later captured by the US Government and kept locked up for research and experiements.

Michael and Lance grew up with a tight bond, years of being in the human guise led Lance to actually believe he was human, never knowing his true parentage. The "Twins were identical right down to the "T" Shaped birthmark on their left wrists. The two grew up and joined the Air Force as a pilot and while landing his plane, the hanger he enter blew up due to an act of sabotage. Lance ran to his brother and heard his last words telling his brother that it was sabotage. Not knowing it Lance reached out telepathically and absorbed his brother's thoughts leaving the dying body mindless.

Lance had created a seperate place in his mind for his brother Michael to reside, a spot that had remained dormant since his own birth. The two would share a mind and Lance while mourning his brother touched his birthmark and his brother appeared to him, Lance thought he was a ghost, Michael told his brother that they possessed great powers together. All he had to do was touch the birthmark to summon Michael and activate their powers. Lance and Michael merged and formed a hero they named Triumph.

The two operated as Triumph unaware of their true lineage until the Martian Mahunter freed their mother from the holding cell she had been in for years and just before she died she reached out to J'onn telepathically showing him the story of her son up until her capture. J'onn vowed to the woman that he would find her son and share with him his true nature as she had planned on doing years ago. J'onn found Lance and shared with him the truth of his birthright as a yellow Martian, and unlocked his shapeshifting powers and Lance reverted to a form he had not taken since he was a newborn, that of a Yellow Martian. Lance decided to keep his Human appearance and keep the identity of Triumph.

On further reading, this had absolutely nothing to do with the Will MacIntyre Triumph that J'Onn used as a punching bag, and everything to do with revamping Quality Comics' Captain Triumph. I think all this Yellow Martian business was derived from a reverse engineering of the Faceless Hunters of Saturn, based on comments from the message board. I don't believe the artist was aware that there is an actual Yellow Martian, B'rett, who I cannot see being conceived through the means described here. I've got my own pet theory about that, but while you folks wait to hear it, check out the second image of Triumph in human form.

Get Familiar

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 L'lex Xanadar Comicpalooza Commission by Johnny J. Segura III

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From his biography at Wizardworld:
Johnny J. Segura III was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is where he has stayed more or less his whole life. He always loved comic books and video games. Johnny studied commercial art until he got tired of his teachers telling him every day that his art style was a dying fad and he needed to learn how to get a “Real” drawing style. After he dropped out of the COMA course he then started working at a tattoo studio, which is where his art really took off. Having to learn to draw quick and detailed really helped him define his current “Western Manga” style. After developing Carpal Tunnel due to 8 years in the tattoo industry, Johnny was faced with the decision to either keep tattooing or continue drawing. He has spent the last 2 years refining his comic art skills. Joe Mad, Humberto Ramos, Kouta Hirano, and Ryan Ottley have influenced him greatly. Billy the Face and Pipe Dreams: A Tale of 2 Plumbers are his two most recent self-published comics.
One thing I decided to do at Comicpalooza was to have artists responsible for producing multiple commissions take their pick of the final day's subject. After Professor Arnold Hugo and Scorch turned out so well, I figured artist Johnny J. Segura III had earned the option. I handed him my stack of reference, and after a fair bit of whittling away flagged pages, finally chose the Devil Men of Pluto.

At the same con, I'd already gotten the Devil Men drawn by Paul Maybury, but they seem to be a popular group with readers here. Also, as much as I liked the piece overall, Maybury's take on squad leader L'lex Xanadar seemed a bit too bulky to jibe with Joe Certa's model. While the other two Devil Men are silhouetted in the background, Segura seemed to zero in on a take of L'lex that feels closer to the comics while still being stylistically far removed. His manga flavored approach is contemporary and appropriately over the top. Fans reacting to the piece liked it, but unsurprisingly didn't recognize the character "Neither did I!" Segura responded, "But, it was a Hitler Devil.. I Had to do it!"

Unlike the other Segura pieces, and as evidenced by this photo, the scan was reasonably representative of the art. The original is lighter and a bit rougher, plus I had to trim out about a centimeter at the bottom that cost L'lex part of his fingers. At 11" x 17" on my '90s Blue Line pages, it's a big hunk of sweet color imagery!

Segura's wife never did get around to reading that issue of House of Mystery, but she really dug scoping out the archaic ads and retro designs. She also thought the references pages I was using were happening, and asked if she could have copies for inspiration. My paper ones were a tad too expensive to give away, and I never did send the couple an email with digital copies, but maybe I'll finally get around to it now that I've offered Segura's last piece for the moment. Barring that, there are still oodles of characters I'd like Segura to draw, so forwarding the reference for future commissions is always a possibility!

Check out more at the artist's deviantART gallery, or if you want to mortify him, his ancient Tripod site The Badass art of Johnny Segura. If you'd like to get some pieces of your own done, order his $40.00 8.5 x 11" or $120.00 11 x 17" eBay commissions! I have every confidence that you like me will be glad you did!

Johnny J. Segura III

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2008 Wizard World Philly Martian Manhunter convention head sketch by Brian Quinn

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One more phone-in before I get back on track this Wednesday with a new commission post. You might also recall Quinn's 2006 Convention Sketch.

Monday, October 8, 2012

2011 Philadelphia Comic-Con Martian Manhunter sketch by Angel Ortiz

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For the record, I do not recommend either Dredd 3D or Looper. But I liked Resident Evil: Retribution, so my opinion is as suspect as ever.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2004 Martian Manhunter convention sketch by Mark McKenna

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I just finished work ten days in a row involving four shift changes (day/evening/day/evening; no nights in the mix to really kill me.) I got cold called to go in tomorrow, but thankfully my boss called back to say the bullet got dodged after all, though I'll still only get one day off at the end of this workweek. I'm going to stick with my impromptu plan of seeing Dredd 3D right friggin' now, plus I'll probably throw in Looper besides. This post has been phoned in. Have a nice afternoon your own selves.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

B'rett versus Black Manta

Debut: 1959
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: None
Appearances: 1 comic story
Powers: Super strength, speed, breath, intangibility, and invisibility

The yellow-skinned Martian thug B'rett hitched a ride aboard a rocket that misfired to land on Earth. After a rampage of robbery and destruction, B'rett was confronted by the Martian Manhunter, whom he exposed to a gas that robbed J'onn J'onzz of his ability to use any of his powers while invisible. The Manhunter was forced to expose his existence to the world in order to stop B'rett from murdering innocent policemen, employing their mutual weakness against fire.
Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Kanto (9-5,) B'enn B'urnzz (12-7,) Tybalt Bak'sar (+1,) King Zeus (12-5,) The Martian Criminal (10-6,) The Bloodworms of Mars (12-2)
Lose: Mongul (4-7,) Commander Blanx (2-11)
Draw: 0

Black Manta
Debut: 1967
Nemesis: Aquaman
Other Major Foes: None
Appearances: 200+ comics, as well as cartoons & video games
Powers: Armor provides enhanced strength & durability, ocular energy beams, sealed underwater system, and wrist mounted mini-harpoon

Black Manta has had several origins, arriving late in his life and shifting often. What is consistent is that Manta is a total murderous nutjob who suffered abuse growing up. Tragedies associated with the sea or Aquaman himself made him the best known foe of the ocean's heroes. Getting away with murdering Aquaman's son as a toddler elevated his evil, but even before that he was Aquaman villain #1. He's been transformed into a were-stingray, returned to normal, allowed to breathe underwater and so on, but it pretty much always comes back to a crazy black dude with a laser cannon on his head.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0

Idol Speculation:
I feel guilty over this match, as it is rather lopsided. Black Manta is the Aquaman villain, and a reasonably big name because of it. However, he's just a good fighter with some nasty gadgets and augmented strength. B'rett is basically the Martian version of a Phantom Zone Criminal. That means a power set near comparable to Superman's throttling a dude out of his weight class. I want to get name villains in these matches, among which Manta qualifies. Ideally, the Vile Menagerie would beat some of these names to elevate their own. Lacking aquatic foes, it seemed to me that B'rett was one of the most compatible Manhunter for Black Manta, and the xanthic bandit's raw power had the best hope of taking Manta down. Not to pick on Aquaman villains, but Manta is way out of his league in this match. While popularity may sustain him, Manta is simply outclassed by B'rett. His best hope is to use fire in the fight, but B'rett is plenty capable of taking the row into the depths, as needed. As I said, I feel a little bit bad, because Manta came into this match doomed.

Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 Hitfix: Martian Manhunter is a Superhero who Really Doesn't Need His Own Movie

I used to visit the movie news website, because I liked the place in general, but most specifically because I tended to either agree with or at least respect the views of Devin Faraci. CHUD lost some other people I thought were okay, the replacements didn't do much for me, and then Faraci ran off to run the Alamo Drafthouse's Badass Digest blog. I rarely visit either site, especially because Faraci now has his own hangers-on and the site has a crumby structure. Similarly, Drew McWeeny used to write most of the reviews worth reading at the generally execrable Ain't It Cool News under the pseudonym "Moriarty." McWeeny moved to Hitfix, but again, I rarely visit either site. When I look for broad spectrum pop culture news and reviews, I now visit Pajiba, because they have the best quality of reviewers across the board and a sense of community that has kept them together.

What does any of that have to do with the Alien Atlas? Well, pages don't hit themselves, especially redundant newer movie sites built on talent splintered from more popular but increasingly irrelevant older movie sites. Nothing draws internet eyes quite like countdown lists and going negative...
With the continuing massive success of Marvel's movie universe -- culminating in "The Avengers" -- and "The Dark Knight Rises," Hollywood isn't going to stop making superhero movies anytime soon. But for every hero who's ready for his or her close-up, there are a handful that we just can't see working on the big screen. The HitFix editorial staff narrowed down the list to 10 superheroes who really don't need their own movie.

McWeeny talked some noise about our boy, so I wanted to offer some blowback static to this...
Martian Manhunter

Warner Bros. Animation has done a great job of making Martian Manhunter feel like he fits neatly into the world of the Justice League over the past few versions of the show, and today's kids probably have a better understanding of the character than comics readers of the past. What the show has done so well, though, is show how he fits into this team, and he works best when he has "normal" humans to play off of. He is an observer, and without other people to observe, he's less interesting. He brings an unusual set of powers to the team, which also makes him a nice fit for the Justice League, and while we hope they include him in the film, we also hope they leave him there, on the team, instead of trying desperately to squeeze a solo film out of him. If that film fails, it will sour Warner on the character, and we'd rather have him in the team than completely left out of film altogether.

-Drew McWeeny
When I call Red Tornado a waste of circuits and self-pity, my prejudice is informed by the near totality of that character's existence revolving around serving as cannon fodder in sub-prime team books (Primal Force, anyone?) McWeeny comes from a common but inexcusable place of ignorance that assumes the same of J'Onn J'Onzz. Even Wonder Woman is a terrible character if you only know her from Justice League comics. While the Manhunter from Mars has played a pivotal role in the JLA, he has always been best presented as an alternative to the Magnificent Seven rather than their jobber. He was a co-founder of the original five member team because Mort Weisinger wouldn't let Julie Schwartz have Superman. Once Jack Liebowitz overruled Mort when JLA sales took a dip, the Man of Steel crowded the Manhunter from Mars out of the book. J'Onn J'Onzz's big revival in the '80s as part of the Detroit and International Leagues was as a Silver Age classicist hero governing neophytes and screw-ups in the field while the big guns were otherwise occupied. He's the League's greatest, most heartfelt fallback plan. In a JLA movie comprised of the Magnificent Seven, he would be S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill, eating up screen time and engendering resentment over space lost for the characters audiences came to see.

Meanwhile, the Sleuth from Outer Space had a thirteen year solo run begun years before the Justice League of America was even a twinkle in Julie's eye, and has appeared in some truly remarkable stories since, foremost among them the highly adaptable American Secrets mini-series. Combining that core story with elements of the Samachson, DeMatteis and Ostrander origins (as well as cherry-picking the likes of O'Neil, Englehart, Verheiden and Cooke) would produce an exceptional paranoid period genre film with an extraterrestrial protagonist. If it must tie into a League flick, it could be a McCarthy era response to Marvel's love letter to Roosevelt's Captain America: The First Avenger. Polarized politics, conspiracy, and xenophobia are so part of the zeitgeist, right? The worst thing Warner Brothers could do is throw a Hulking green guy into their stab at The Avengers money without an elaborate set-up, because it would stink of rip-off to the common moviegoer. Honestly though, I think J'Onn J'Onzz would be an excellent choice for a low-to-medium budget standalone with a quality writer/director given the creative freedom lost to presumed tentpoles like Green Lantern. Plus, it would be an excellent opportunity to court minority audiences they lost out on by favoring Hal Jordan over John Stewart, and earn credibility Marvel Studios lack by wimping out on Black Panther and Luke Cage. Instead of being the conservative stiffs, DC could claim a progressive stance for the first time since... ever, really.

Speaking not just as a Martian Manhunter fan, but as a cinephile, J'Onn J'Onzz has more potential to carry a great movie than most any other "known" hero DC could set up with a film. The character lacks the enormous baggage that comes with the icons, is adaptable to a wide variety of interpretations without risking backlash, can dig deeper into audience accessible genres like sci-fi, horror, and noir without cheesy overt super-heroics undercutting them, and offers a degree of recognizably without demanding a massive budget. So long as the core traits of the character remain, filmmakers have a free hand with interpretation. He doesn't have to be green. He doesn't have to wear a costume. He doesn't even necessarily have to be a he. Almost any solid actor could be cast and judged based purely on the merits of their performance. Nick Cage, Ben Affleck, Halle Berry, Thomas Jane, or Eric Bana could have been lauded as Detective Jones, instead of pitied for their super-hero casting misfires. Quite simply, Martian math adds up a hell of a lot better than trying to pull off a Flash picture that isn't completely laughable. J'Onn J'Onzz belongs on a short list of super-heroes who require adaptation to film, not one that excludes him.

Superheroes who really don't need their own movie

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2011 “Z'Onn Z'Orr: Miss Martian” animation-style fan fiction by N:TAS

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N:TAS DCU: Z'Onn Z'Orr: Miss Martian 4-10-11

At the Super Buddies message board, there's a user under the handle "NightwingTAS" who builds digital figure models off the Bruce Timm DC Animated Series template for further fan fiction adventures of his own devising. Number 5 in the "Z'Onn "Z'Orr" series says "Hello, Megan..."

M'gann was a part of a White Martian sect that was seperated from the rest of the species, they were the scientist, the philosophers, artist, the non warriors, the outcasts. M'gann was the daughter of two scientist who were on a deep space mission when Mars ended, they never knew of Mar's fate until their return home and had parished not that long ago when their ship was attacked, they launched their daughter to safety in a Bioship. They told her to seek out their friend J'onn J'onzz, that he will protect her. When she arrived on Earth M'gann studied the humans, and learned how to adapt and how to fit in, she was amazed by the wonder of it all, and wanted to learn more. She emersed herself in the pop culture and developed a bubbly personality. She learned fast through the media that the White Martians were not trusted on Earth so when she began helping people she would do so as a Green Martian which is when J'onn found her and when he found out who she was he welcomed her into his family as his Niece Megan Morse.
Do we know anything about M'gann's actual history/parentage? I prefer that she learned about Martian Manhunter through the media, and emulated him the way he had detectives on 1950s TV shows. Both struggled to fit in and were educated through television, but I like that their generation gap left them in very different places. Be sure to check out the White Martian Variant, which I like a lot!

Get Familiar

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Commander Blanx Comicpalooza Commission by Brent Peeples

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Having moved around a lot growing up, I was always the nerdy new kid in town with no interest in getting to know anyone before pulling up stakes again. Thankfully, twelve years in sales improved my social skills. You have to be able to quickly "read" people and form a fast rapport if you want to play an active role in earning commissions. Still, you can't please everyone, and sometimes I'm flapping smoke signals against someone else's telegraphy.

Such was the case with Brent Peeples. What I meant to say was that Comicpalooza had made me aware of his stellar work on The Last of The Greats, and made him one of the artists I was most excited about ahead of the show. All I managed to get out was that I'd never heard of him before the show. I pointed out what looked to be a Barry Kitson influence in his work, which Peeples' didn't see, but "I'll take it." I'd have added Mark Bagley as well, but didn't, because I also understand that when you can't seem to miss your mouth with your foot, it might be best to just keep your teeth clenched tight.

This is the second time I've gotten a piece done of the Martian Manhunter's Bronze Age nemesis, the Mars murdering Commander Blanx. It's also the second time I've had minimal discussion with the artist on a Blanx piece. I'll try to break the streak when it comes time for the third outing. I took a pass at coloring this one in MS Paint, but Peeples' intricate crosshatching rendered the effort far too byzantine for my time constraints. Also, let's face it, Blanx's color scheme is fairly hideous. Anyway, I definitely got my $75-80 worth, and you can see more of Brent Peeples' fantastic art in his deviantART gallery.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2006 CBR Martian Manhunter Interview with AJ Lieberman

Published at Comic Book Resources on June 23rd, 2006, here's an interview with writer AJ Lieberman conducted by George A. Tramountanas used to help pitch the One Year Later Conehead Martian Manhunter mini-series...
He's the lone survivor from another planet, who found himself suddenly jettisoned to earth. Not only that, but he has special abilities and powers that set him apart from the average human. Oh, and he also wears a cape.

Sounds like I'm talking about Superman, doesn't it?

I'm talking about DC Comics' Martian Manhunter (aka J'onn J'onzz) though, and this summer, writer AJ Lieberman is hoping to help make the big green guy a bit more distinguishable from that fellow with the "S" on his chest. First, Lieberman is contributing a Martian Manhunter story to DC's "Brave New World," a $1.00, 80-page one-shot arriving in stores on June 28. This will then lead into an eight-issue limited series that begins in August with Al Barrionuevo on covers and pencils.

CBR News contacted Lieberman, who was happy to talk about both projects. We began by discussing that last time Martian Manhunter was seen by readers…

At the end of "Infinite Crisis," we saw J'onn using his powers to gather all the heroes in Metropolis, and then...I'm not sure. Did he fight in the battle of Metropolis? Can you clarify where he was as of the end of "Infinite Crisis?"

J'onn was part of the fight in Metropolis and told the earth's heroes what Superboy's plan was in "Infinite Crisis" #7. After that, he was part of the recovery and clean-up in Metropolis and then went out on his own. By the end of IC, Martian Manhunter is nearing his frustration with things.

Does your story take place immediately following IC, or does your story belong to the OYL ("One Year Later") camp?

The story begins OYL – and it will have parts that flashback to various parts of the missing year – but because of scheduling and release dates, this "Brave New World" series needed to almost be a standalone story. To that end, some questions about Martian Manhunter's past and recent events will be answered while other questions will be raised.

Will we learn what happened to J'onn after IC in your book or in the pages of "52?"

From what I understand, J'onn will be in "52" at points, but the main parts of his journey will be in the "Brave New World" series where some of the strained alliances he's had in the past start to surface. I was done writing almost all eight books (in the miniseries) before everything in "52" was ever fully outlined, so we were able to get Martian Manhunter into an emotional place in that story that will make sense for the BNW series.

How did you get this gig? Did you make a pitch? Or did they come to you with the character?

The series came about when Matt Idelson and I met for lunch and he brought up the idea of Martian Manhunter. One of the great things about Matt as an editor is his ability to bring up a character I never would have considered tackling – especially having spent so much time in Gotham (writing Batman books). So, after we talked about the character, I went off and came up with a story, fleshed it out and gave it to Matt. Matt liked it, DiDio liked it, and here we are.

I know Dan Didio and his editorial team have "mapped out" the DC Universe post-IC. So did they hand you the character saying "This is who he is now?" Or did you have more say in defining who J'onn is in this book?

No, this baby's all mine. Check the DNA. Due to the lead time, I was done writing very early, before the writers on "52" were completely finished outlining their story. As I said earlier, there will be some elements in "52" that will carry over. As far as getting an outline from Dan, that didn't happen. I can't speak for everyone, but one of the -- if not the -- best things about working with editors like Matt and Dan are that they allow the creative teams to do their jobs.

What can you tell me about your story? Why do you think readers will be interested?

Well, I would think any fan of the JLA would be interested in a story where J'onn gets out from under the JLA's influence. In order to set up a possible new monthly book, I needed to give J'onn a chance to grow as a character. I wanted to show J'onn grappling with the ideas of identity, acceptance, and loyalty. Any changes J'onn makes, physically and emotionally, are directly related to the fact that since he's been on earth, he's literally not been himself – he's been a version of himself. The discoveries he makes in the eleven page teaser (in BNW) and the first issue of the miniseries start changing all that.

The solicitation indicates that he's on a search to find out more about his origins. I thought his origins were fairly clear, or has this changed on "New Earth?"

The "new earth" continuity doesn't really change what happened in J'onn's past. He was still dragged through time and space and brought to earth. As for him finding out about his origins, I will simply say that it's more about the Martian Manhunter discovering something from his past he never thought could exist, as well as what he'll do to protect it and what happens when everything he assumed about this discovery starts to unravel.

How do you view the character? In a lot of ways, he seems like a green version of Superman in that they're both the last survivors of their planets.

You're correct. Martian Manhunter's only rival as far as power/abilities is Superman, and yet the two could not have evolved more differently since arriving on Earth. While both are aliens, J'onn has never achieved the same kind of acceptance Superman has. Although Superman experienced some isolation growing up due to his powers, he effectively passed as human. J'onn never had that opportunity. And to me, it's this lack of acceptance that has made all the difference in his development. The BNW story deals with this very issue.

What kind of villains can we expect to see J'onn face off against?

You know, sometimes the people closest to us turn out to be our greatest enemies.

Interesting. From the last issue of IC, it appears that J'onn is getting a new costume.

No comment…yet.

Well, that gives us readers something to look forward to. Thanks AJ!

Monday, October 1, 2012

...on the 31st day, we rested...

It's been five years and one month of The Idol-Head of Diabolu, and I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired. Actually, I strongly suspect you're pooped, too. As of this Monday, I haven't gotten a comment on a post since last Monday's. While I'm proud of the quality and heft of the individual posts that made up our anniversary month, it took a lot out of me to write. I've visited sites and blogs whose output eventually swelled to the point that I didn't have the stamina to read them anymore, and I'd rather that didn't happen here. We'll probably launch into Halloween on the Menagerie Isle tomorrow, but for today, take a breather and maybe peruse the previous month's links...