Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Vile Menagerie: THANTOS

Alter Ego: Thantos
Known Aliases: The 3-In-1 Man
Occupation: Thief
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Briefly affiliated with terrestrial bank robbers
Base of Operations: Another Dimension
First Appearance: House of Mystery #168 (July, 1967)
Height: Approx. 10'0"
Eyes: Black
Hair: Black

Little is known about the origins or motivations of the so-called "3-In-1 Man." Thantos claimed to come from another dimension in search of ancient magical herbs that would allow his time-limited visit of Earth to be made at will. To this end, Thantos struck up a deal with a gang of crooks to help him locate the necessary items in exchange for his using his unearthly abilities to steal for them. These heists across numerous U.S. cities brought the attention of the other-dimensional imp Zook and his terrestrial mentor, the Manhunter from Mars. Across a series of encounters, the heroic duo managed to learn Thantos' plan, capture his human gang, and prevent him from claiming one of the ingredients that would allow him to return to Earth. Thantos was last seen shifting out of our dimension.

Powers & Weapons:
The full range of Thantos' powers remain unrevealed, but those displayed well countered the Alien Atlas. Thantos is superhumanly strong, seemingly invulnerable, and can fly. Thantos can spin his body at fantastic speeds, then use his pointed head like a drill. The towering alien can alter his height to an unknown degree, shrinking at least to the size of a doll. Thantos' namesake ability is to split into three copies of himself which can vanish through an unknown mechanism. However, Thantos' duplicates were never shown to interact with their surroundings, but rather disappeared at a touch, so they could potentially be illusory. Thantos' triplication seemed to be triggered by impact with an unyielding force, and it has yet to be revealed whether this force is necessary for the replication.

Quote: "Make me!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Comic Book Resources Matt Kindt interview on "Manhunter" back-ups

Martians have a crippling vulnerability to fire, Jovians to water, Saturnians to oil, and mine would appear to be moving. I've done it many dozens of times, and like Post-Crisis J'Onn J'Onzz I've developed a resistance to the debilitating weakness, but it's still hell on my aging body. Luckily, will_in_chicago has found yet another Matt Kindt interview that sounds like the writer's speaking from well coached talking points yet still manages to come off poorly, and I'm just enough of a jerk to tear into him for it again. Hey, I've got less that an hour before this post is late and something very specific I want to cover before the end of 1/31/13, so you'll take what I got and like it.

First off, am I out of line in thinking that DC is quite the braintrust for scheduling all these interviews about the Manhunter back-ups without offering so much as a sketch or panel from strip artist Scott Clark? As far as I can tell, Scott has drawn the Alien Atlas exactly twice: on the Stormwatch cover I keep recycling, and a zombie version in Brightest Day. The banner at the top of the interview is a seven year old Al Barrionuevo drawing of the failed One Year Later Coneheadhunter revamp that was killed off two years later, zombified a couple of years after that, resurrected in a better received revamp, and yet still tossed in the garbage as part of the linewide DC revamp from a year and a half ago. Nothing promotes a book like readers debating whether the sales department is negligent, incompetent, or themselves debating the same about creative/editorial. I half expect to hear Koi Turbull will be taking over retroactively.

On to prejudging Matt Kindt without ever having read his work. I loved how from the first question, where the interviewer proclaims his favor toward the Martian Manhunter, Kindt sidesteps copping to his own tepid feelings. Terms like "underutilized," especially when you throw J'Onn into the context of a bunch of other DC characters with "potential," is a nice way of saying, "golly, someone like me could really make something of that mediocrity." Kindt also likes to push his anointment by Geoff Johns to be his Sholly Fisch, as if that were something to crow about. "I invented new techniques for demonstrating telepathy in comics that have attracted Hollywood attention, so DC's giving me work-for-hire wages to rip myself off on their telepathy guy that I have a passing familiarity with." It's like Johns is a director and Kindt is his special effects house instead of a fellow writer.

Kindt yet again makes comparisons to Superman, and in fact most of the piece as a whole could easily have been cut and pasted from any of the other interviews he's done recently. It's almost as unimaginative as foregoing plotting his own work in favor of reworking Johns' lead features. I think Kindt missed his calling as a political hack, he's so unerringly on message. Do you think there's still time to work out the rules for a Matt Kindt interview drinking game? How about the double speak regarding his making time to draw the Manhunter strip if someone asked him to but no one did and he wouldn't be a good fit and he doesn't have the time with his creator owned work anyway? There may have been an unintentional slip in there though, as he referenced the character's "natural form," a Post-Crisis conceit that hasn't been seen in the New 52 so far. Kindt says a Martian Manhunter ongoing series would be his dream project, which is the sort of thing you would expect to hear from a little known creator with a small body of work whose only other mainstream series so far was cancelled after less than a year with him on the job. I'm pretty sure his really real dream project would probably involve Batman, but that's not on the table, so let's show some enthusiasm for the one character he does have his hooks in, right?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 (September, 2009)

Aboard the JLA satellite, Green Lantern Hal Jordan took a stand against Superman, feeling that the League as it currently stood was failing to see justice done. “How much more are we supposed to take? And how many more of us will be taken? …With each crisis more of us fall. Now Bruce is gone. And J’Onn.”

Typical grandstanding douchebaggery on Hal’s part, given his less than cozy relationship with either recently deceased hero, and the way he added the Martian Manhunter’s name as an afterthought to Batman’s. Wonder Woman felt this wasn’t like Hal, which made it clear that she was still in Post-Crisis mode and didn’t know Jordan all that well. Green Arrow knew him for the reactionary cowboy that he is, given that they were the same in that regard. Oliver Queen chose to ride out with Hal as a hard-traveled hero over sticking by his own wife, Black Canary.

From there, the story branched out to events in the lives of Starman Mikaal Tomas, Congorilla, two Atoms (Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi,) and many more. These heroes all found themselves in a position to seek out extreme justice, if not for the negative association with the '90s team, though not entirely inappropriate.

“Cry For Justice: The Beginning” was by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli.

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 New 52 “Martian Manhunter - Justice League of America” Sketch Card by Jack Redd

Click To Enlarge

2.5" x 3.5" - drawn with ink and pencils.

Inspired by the upcoming comic book - Justice League of America #2 by DC Comics.

He also does a nice Wonder Woman.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hiram Horner

Alter Ego: Hiram Horner
Occupation: Eccentric Millionaire
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #279 (May, 1960)
Height: Approx. 5'8"
Build: Slight
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Brown

Hiram Horner fancied himself an inventor, and had the money to put that notion into practice. Unfortunately, Horner was just skilled enough to be dangerous, as publicly held trial runs of his various gadgets ended in catastrophic failure. The Manhunter from Mars was able to quietly contain the various life-threatening experiments, and despite repeatedly endangering the public, Horner wasn't arrested by Detective John Jones for his well-intentioned criminal activity. Such is the power of the almighty dollar.

Powers & Weapons:
Hiram Horner has a true gift for creating weapons of mass destruction while in pursuit of more mundane results. His Molecular Light-Beam Painter could change the colors of an object instantly, but with the side effect of causing tiny molecular explosions that could destroy said object. His Remote-Controlled Airborne Building Transporter employed rocket motors with sufficient power to briefly levitate a structure high in the air, but not enough to sustain it. His Solar Receptors could levitate and absorb solar radiation to cheaply light the night sky in theory, but in practice they couldn't adequately store the energy and became balls of floating fire. Following these horrifying missteps, Horner vowed to only work on projects directed toward law-enforcement agencies.

Quote: "...I'm sure that even Edison had a few goofs in his time!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Marshal versus Captain Nazi

The Marshal
Debut: 1984
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: Justice League of America
Appearances: 3 comics
Powers: Genetically enhanced Martian strength, super-speed, super-senses, nigh-invulnerability, invisibility, flight, and possibly other common Martian abilities.

The Marshal is the fascistic leader of the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood, a militia which managed to temporarily wrest control of Mars II from its government and launch an invasion of planet Earth. The JLA struggled against the Marshal's forces, but there was unrest within his army that was exploited by J'onn J'onzz. In a televised battle, the Marshal stooped to cheating in unarmed combat against the Martian Manhunter, and was still beaten before the eyes of his men. The invasion was halted out of shame.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: The Dreaded General
Lose: B'enn B'urnzz (6-7); Commander Blanx (5-9)
Draw: 0

Captain Nazi
Debut: 1941
Nemesis: Captain Marvel Junior
Other Major Foes: Captain Marvel, JSA
Appearances: 75+ comics.
Powers: Super strength, speed, senses, resilience and flight.

Fed a miracle food from birth by his scientist father, Albrecht Krieger grew to adult with extraordinary powers. Presented to Adolph Hitler as a perfect Aryan specimen, the newly dubbed Captain Nazi was smuggled to the United States to wreck havoc. During a battle with Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel, Captain Nazi killed an old man and crippled his grandson, Freddy Freeman. The lad was bestowed a portion of Shazam's magical power, and becoming a super-hero, Captain Marvel Junior routinely fought the Nazi responsible for changing his life.

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

Idol Speculation:
The Marshal has only had one fight in a comic, and was straight up battered by the Alien Atlas within a few pages. Meanwhile, Captain Nazi has been in lots of fights, but most were with Captain Marvel Junior, the kid sidekick of Shazam. Also, Captain Nazi has been jobbed a number of times, perhaps most infamously in an instance of having a bunch of hypodermic needles jabbed into his eyes. This one is a toss-up, as I believe the Marshal has more raw power, but Captain Nazi has more spunk and had the opportunity to throw it around.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Masked Avenger

Alter Ego: Leroy
Occupation: Unknown
Marital Status: Engaged
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #266 (April, 1959)
Height: Approx. 5'9"
Build: Slight
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

A young man of Middletown named Leroy couldn't get his best girl Mabel to agree to marriage, so he decided that he needed to extort her affection while proving himself as a costumed vigilante. When some hoods heisted a local circus, "the Masked Avenger" made his debut in an attempt to stop them, but instead placed himself in peril. However, police detective John Jones happened to be on the scene, and used his Martian powers to invisibly save the day. However, J'onzz's actions also made the Masked Avenger appear heroic, and emboldened the lad, even as John Jones chastised him in human form. Twice over, the same scenario played out, until Mabel finally agreed to marriage to stop the madness.

Powers & Weapons:
Aside from a skintight leotard and limited athletic ability, the Masked Avenger possessed few crimefighting tools. His wrist-radio allowed him to intercept police calls. He also had a special air-filled swimming suit that failed to buoy Leroy for very long, but did absorb the impact of bullets once the suit became waterlogged. Leroy cannot swim.

Quote: "Stop, thieves! The Masked Avenger has come!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Newsarama Matt Kindt interview on "Manhunter" back-ups

After working my butt off the past few years juggling school and then jobs, not to mention the New 52 finally euthanizing my interest in the DC Universe, I've had a tough time motivating myself to sustain my online presence. I can't tell you how many hours I used to spend on linkposts for DC Bloodlines, at one time a daily feature, and now that blog is lucky to get attention a few times a month. It's a good thing that will_in_chicago keeps his eye on some of the comic news sites and gives a head's-up, especially on weeks like this one where I've had trouble getting back to routine daily scheduling. He already alerted us to a CBR interview with Geoff Johns on Justice League of America's lead feature, and has followed up with one on what appears to be simply titled "Manhunter" back-up strips for the book at Newsarama. I tore apart a similar interview last year when the project was announced, and Kindt gave me reason to be mean once again.

In so many words, Kindt basically says that he got hooked-up with DC to finish out the run of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. after Jeff Lemire left, then bugged Geoff Johns until he got thrown this bone. How's the Martian Manhunter taste? “Well, I always say this but it's true, there isn't a bad or uninteresting character in the DCU. I'd write any of them. The very nature of super heroes and the DCU in particular lends itself to some crazy story ideas and storytelling. Martian Manhunter in particular though has his own interesting angles...” Did this son of a bitch just call J'Onn J'Onzz a minger? He did! He just said he'd write anybody he could get his mitts on, and he got the Alien Atlas, and will now proceed to use him to tell the exact same types of stories he's already doing in Mind Mngt. He also pointed out that Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick both sang in Pitch Perfect, so one is like the other, except Anna Kendrick is Superman and Martian Manhunter isn't.

Besides trotting out the same tired lines, this time we get some quotes on the material Kindt referenced to derive inspiration. “I grew up reading JLA and the "funny" Justice League was some of my favorite of that era. A friend of mine sent me one of those big Martian Manhunter "essentials" reprints so I looked at that a little bit to get some sense of the older history of the character.” So okay, you read the same JLA comics everyone else did, including some International stuff, then thumbed through a Showcase Presents. My, such dedication. Such reverence. You don't think he's going to pitch all of that aside and decide to wing it, do you?

“But honestly, we're doing something new with Manhunter, so he should "feel" the same as the classic character but true to the sense of what DC has been doing with all the 52 titles. It's going to be new. It's the equivalent of what you see in movies really, when they bring comic characters to the big screen you end up getting writers and directors that hadn't read comics all their lives or hadn't read comics for a long time so you come back to these characters and you're thinking rationally as an adult now — and how do these powers really work? You end up getting surprised, like when Magneto first used his powers to bend Wolverines claws and throw him around. I hadn't seen that before but it made perfect sense! You end up getting some new and fun ideas to characters you thought had been completely explored and tapped out.”

Broheim, let me explain this to you slowly, okay dude? Wolverine's first issue of X-Men was #94 as part of an "All-New, All-Different" line-up. The very first time this new grouping fought the old X-Men foe Magneto ten issues later, the guy used his mastery of magnetism against Wolverine's adamantium claws and Colossus' steel skin. By their second fight in #112, it had been revealed that Wolverine's claws were part of his body, not just inside his gloves. That's how early we're talking here. Thanks to this revelation, one of the most famous X-Men covers of all time sees Magnus making Logan try to stab himself in the face. It's an obvious idea, and one the filmmakers of the X-Men movies were likely aware of, since the director's fanboy friends gave him a crash course on the franchise. Your friends tried to help you the same way, and you thumbed your nose at them, making the same mistake as every failed Martian Manhunter solo writer (and admittedly, a few marginally successful ones.) You go do something "new" with no sense of history, and tell A.J. Lieberman we said "hi." Meanwhile, I'll keep hoping Geoff Johns is dictating your plots, because him I halfway trust. Then again, he helped usher in Parallax as a cloud of diarrhea splashed across the silver screen, so there's the other half of the way this could go. When you point at the "new" ideas seen in film adaptations, comic fans envision emo Spider-Man doing a dance number with the Shaq Steel while pinching Tank Girl's rubber nipples in Spawn's 16-bit CGI Hell.

Kindt goes on to point out how important the character's "alien-ness" and being "scary" is, despite his primary hook being "more humane than humanity" from the very beginning in 1955. Kindt talks up new applications of powers, which might be interesting if he gave any indication of actually understanding the character. Mooring the back-ups to the lead story also sounds boring. On the other hand, he claims experience and comfort handling eight page shorts, a rare gift in the age of decompressed serialization. I hope the guy wins me over, and telling satisfying relatively self-contained back-ups would be a good start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Comic Book Resources Geoff Johns interview on Justice League of America

will_in_chicago dropped a link in the comments to a CBR interview with Geoff Johns on Justice League of America, which I'll now excerpt with snarky comments under the previously unreleased Dave Finch cover to #2 that I didn't even bother to host myself. I say again, Finch pleases me by ignoring the New 52 seashell temples on J'Onn J'Onzz, but it's too bad his chest emblem is now one of those non-skid shower flower stickers. It reminds me of how John Byrne never saw the Superman shield as a big "S" in a diamond as a kid, but rather two fishes passing one another, yet still somehow managed to draw one of the most perfect versions of the icon. You literally only have to draw a short series of intersecting lines in a circle on the Martian Manhunter's chest, and Finch is pulling reference off the Bed Bath & Beyond website instead.

Anyway, Geoff Johns, right? Boilerplate mostly, which is what you'd expect once a corporation pays you six figures a year to keep any well considered and market tested "controversy" in the books rather than the news. "Why, of course this spin-off book has its own identity and mission!" Just because we have supersonic jets and teleportation at our disposal doesn't mean we don't need a designated branch on another coast or in Europe or whatever, right? Splitting a team up based on political leanings is perfectly valid, innit? Sometimes, these publicly applauded heroes needs their own covert task force to do dirty work, don't you realize? Look, it's 2013, and we all know a Defenders or an Outsiders is never going to sell like "Mighty New Dark Justice League," so let's just be adults about our money issues.

Next, Johns defends seemingly wasting everyone's oh so precious time bringing back Vibe by alluding to the probably that he'll be built up like Gwen Stacy in the last issue of Marvels so Johns can punch your heart in the stomach when he gets killed off again. This hopefully will not be the case, since it would be rather unappealing to ruin the favorite character of Scipio Garling by turning him into a feet of clay Marvel type, the antithesis of Vibe 1.0, only to then do away with what is still DC's most prominent and recognizable Latino character at the point in history when Latinos have been revealed to be powerful enough to elect the first black president of the United States. If you're going to bring the dude back, you've got to take him all the way forward.

Johns did offer his thoughts on J'Onn J'Onzz, which I personally have been waiting for since taking a long, languid, creamy crap all over co-writer Matt Kindt's.

"For me, Martian Manhunter is one of the most powerful and most mysterious characters in the DC Universe, and his place on the team is going to reflect that. You'll know where he's coming from and what he's doing there at the start of issue #1. As we see what his role on the team is and really what his true role in the DCU is -- how far-reaching his connections are and what he's been up to. You'll see that he's kind of a one-man Illuminati. In the back-up stories, I wanted to reflect his role in the lead story and give a little more insight into what Martian Manhunter's been doing. Matt and I have worked to connect those to the main story, and since Manhunter's such and integral character to the book, it made sense that those would play off the main story.

It fleshes out a character like Martian Manhunter who really deserves it. I thought John Ostrander did a terrific job with the short series he did with Tom Mandrake after he did "The Spectre." There was some terrific stuff there, but there's still a lot of mining left for a character like Martian Manhunter. The psychology of who he is, what he's doing and why is fascinating to explore. There are layers to that from his own personal viewpoint and the things he's learned on earth. He's kind of a chess player, but he's a chess player with a soul -- with a conscience and a heart. Sometimes he's going to act a certain way just to get things done, but he believes what he's doing is right."
Aside from name-dropping the John Ostrander series I alone disliked in a manner that made me think of three years as rather too long to be considered brief by any reasonable measure of modern comics, I can't disagree with the man or his intended direction. I'm still hopeful my pet theory about Martian Manhunter having initiated the League's formation in some fashion could happen, as he apparently found some way to get in on oodles of classic matches...
"...For a time, he was on the Justice League. He battled Starro and all these other guys, and then there was a huge falling out. They've been on the outs ever since. We'll discover what that was, what happened and why. They'll meet again in the upcoming year -- that was set up a long time ago."
By "a long time ago" I'm sure he meant "around the time Jim Lee reworked his pages to match the New 52 costumes and we had to retrofit Martian Manhunter into a continuity that was not in place when the plan was for this to simply roll out of Brightest Day and begin the revival of the New Gods. There's a bunch of stuff about Stargirl, other members of the team, and the creative process, which you can read here. I did. Not missing much.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Justice League: Mortal (Unproduced, 2007/2008)

And you wanna be my Manhunter from Mars? Mister V, maybe.

In 2007, Warner Brothers were hot to produce a Justice League movie. There was a screenplay by Kieran and Michele Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; Paper Man) and director George Miller (the Mad Max film series, The Witches of Eastwick) was attached before the end of the year. At one point, motion capture technology was considered for the pricey prospect of a feature film involving so many powerful metahumans, but ultimately it was decided to stick with traditional live action at a budget of $220,000,000. The movie went into pre-production around the time the Writers Guild of America went on strike, and was halted when changes to the tax breaks once offered by production host country Australia would have shot the film's price tag much higher than expected. Despite the involvement of Weta in pre-production, fans seemed to vocally turn on the project, based on discomfort with the director, unofficially leaked casting selections and a general sense of the project being a rushed, mercenary venture. The planned Summer 2009 release date was quietly scrapped indefinitely, as revealed by occasional slips in the media by involved parties.

My understanding of the plot was that it was much like the popular storyline "Tower of Babel," which also served very loosely as the basis for the direct-to-DVD animated film Justice League: Doom. This time, Maxwell Lord (Jay Baruchel) and Talia al Ghul (Teresa Palmer) would have been the ones who stole Batman's digital cataloging of his teammates' weaknesses, from a secret satellite shades of Brother Eye. If the poster blurb didn't include the words "Lord Knows," what a waste that would have been. Lord would then send nanobots to exploit these weaknesses. So I guess this would have been something of a mash-up with The OMAC Project? There were conflicting reports of the tone of the movie, with some saying the concept art and script lent itself to a grimly violent epic, while others dismissed it as fluffy family fare.

Off the record, it was reported that D.J. Cotrona (Flint in the delayed G.I. Joe: Retaliation) was to play Superman, Armie Hammer (The Social Network, the upcoming titular Lone Ranger,) was Batman despite not having the name of an actual human being, Megan Gale was Wonder Woman despite her main career being modeling and bearing a rather anorexic IMDb page half a decade since being cast, Common ( Hell on Wheels; Wanted) was to be Green Lantern, Adam Brody (The O.C.) was the Flash, Santiago Cabrera (Heroes) was perhaps to appear (cameo?) as Aquaman and character actor Hugh Keays-Byrne was the Manhunter from Mars.

Recognizing the validity of the Marvel Studios approach, Warner Brothers shifted gears from trying to spin multiple franchises out of one precarious JLA movie and instead use solo features to build toward Justice League. The previous Superman reboot and the lackluster returns on The Green Lantern didn't help this premise, and now it looks like the latest Superman relaunch will be the sole precursor to a team movie.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hannibal Martin

Alter Ego: Hannibal Martin, PhD
Occupation: U.S. State Department representative
Marital Status:
Known Relatives:
Group Affiliation: United States Department of State
Base of Operations: Washington, D.C.
First Appearance: Justice League Task Force #1 (June, 1993)
Height: Approx. 5'9"
Weight: Approx. 250 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

Hannibal Martin is a food connoisseur who has angled for his entire career to become the U.S.A.'s ambassador to France in order to relish its culinary delights. Instead, Martin and his aide Marietta Bowes were called to a meeting at the Pentagon where Martin was assigned to shepherd a special missions task force consisting of super-heroes selected for a secret mission. Martin was completely disinterested in the position, but feared angering his superiors by refusing, and so took on his temporary role with an aggressive zeal.

The mission force was tangentially related to Justice League International, as it had been sanctioned by the highest levels of the United Nations. It was thus unsurprising that Martin's first recruit was the Manhunter from Mars, who in turn insisted on the inclusion of his former protege Gypsy. As then current members of the League's European branch, Martin was able to take J'Onn J'Onzz's suggestions of Aquaman and the Flash and turn them into direct orders for participation. Martin was unable to similarly compel the Batman, but when his former sidekick Nightwing volunteered, Martin overrode dissenting opinions in the group to employ him. Martin brusquely debriefed the collective for their assignment to halt revolutionary forces with a weapon of mass destruction on the Caribbean island of Sanobel.

Martin used manipulation and hostile posturing to achieve a by-the-numbers success in Sanobel, hoping the efficient victory would secure his ambassadorship and extricate him from the world of metahumans. Instead, his superiors were so impressed that they decided to maintain the Justice League Task Force operation indefinitely with Martin as head of operations. Trapped, Martin intended to take out his frustrations on the heroes who passed under his command, with Martian Manhunter and Gypsy as two constants. Other heroes would join the pair for individual, short term assignments. At one point, Gypsy requested the JLTF investigate a missing persons case in New York. While Martin dismissed the matter as beneath a team effort, he used reverse psychology to goad Gypsy into pursing the matter herself as a means of gauging her abilities. Martin also had J'Onn J'Onzz discretely follow her in case of trouble, which went by the name Lady Shiva. Gypsy's performance led her to a special assignment as a favor to Bruce Wayne.

Later, Martin needed an all-female team to tackle an isolated band of green-skinned amazons from a lost civilization in Africa to retrieve "the McGuffin virus" that included Gypsy, Maxima, Vixen, Wonder Woman, Dolphin and a shape-shifted Martian Manhunter.

Hannibal Martin's final mission for the Task Force involved a cooperative effort with the F.B.I. to stop a terrorist group called the Aryan Nation from unleashing a genetically engineered plague intended to wipe out non-Caucasian people across the globe. The terrorists had their own metahuman protectors, the Aryan Brigade, who had murdered the feds' inside man and necessitated a superhuman response. Martin chose Hourman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, and Thunderbolt to join Martian Manhunter and Gypsy in a successful intervention.

During Overmaster's bid to exterminate the human race during the event dubbed "Judgment Day," Hannibal Martin delivered the United Nations' order to sanction the Justice League and prohibit their involvement. One contingent of the team ignored the U.N. immediately, and the rest eventually, leading to the League's severing close ties to the world body. Hannibal Martin has not played a role with the team since.

Quote: "I've as much interest in musclebound do-gooders as I have in the history of lint... if the costumed buffoons in my charge don't like the way I do things, well... perhaps I'll even enjoy myself!"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

VM vs. LoD v1.5

Ever since a reader suggestion for March Madness back in 2011, we've been having fun with elimination contests determined by popular vote. After two years of the Martian Manhunter rogues fighting one another, I figured it was time to shake things up a bit. After all, few of these characters have appeared more than once ever, and virtually none have seen any changes in the last several years, so there's a finite number of variables to play with. As part of the blog's fifth anniversary celebration, I announced The Vile Menagerie versus the Legions of Doom to allow Alien Atlas adversaries to build their reputations by battling new nefarious opponents. However, I also wanted to use SurVILEvor Island to determine who truly belonged in the Martian Manhunter's rogues gallery, before turning around and siccing them on the greater DC Universe of bad guys. Juggling both wasn't working out, and I wanted to wrap SurVILEvor Island before the end of the year, so "Legions of Doom" went on the backburner. 2013 promises to be very villain centric, and that begins this weekend, with a new season of bloodsport. Still, how about a look back at our prior clashes?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Korge versus Giganta

Debut: 1975
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: Justice League of America
Appearances: 1 comic story
Powers: Inherent super strength, speed, and near invulnerability related to his large size (roughly fifty feet.) Ability to manifest additional powers upon contact with metahumans that allows him to exploit their weaknesses.

Korge is "the last angry god" of an alien world who handily defeated Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman individually. However, the Atom came up with a plan that allowed the heroes to imprison Korge in a team effort.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Rott (8-4)
Lose: Lobo (3-11); Brimstone
Draw: 0

Debut: 1944
Nemesis: Wonder Woman
Other Major Foes: None
Appearances: 100+ comics, as well as cartoons, a video game, and live action television.
Powers: Inherent super strength and a degree of invulnerability related to her large size (up to 500 feet.)

The Golden Age Giganta was a gorilla evolved into a hulking homo-sapien female by Professor Zool. In more modern continuity, Dr. Doris Zeul is Giganta, prone to joining villainous collectives with her size-altering abilities.

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

Idol Speculation:
I like Giganta, and she's one of the most iconic super-villainesses thanks to her time on Super Friends and later cartoons. A consequence of that is she's lost a lot of fights against plenty of lesser foes. After Wonder Woman, she's probably best known for battling shrinking metahumans like the Atom and Dwarfstar, which doesn't help her credibility. Korge's only appeared in one story, but he came off exceptionally well by owning many of DC's heaviest hitters. Giganta gets one punch, which could do serious damage, considering how much larger than Korge she can become. On the other hand, Giganta doesn't seem to ever get the job done with that first strike capability, and Korge's whole schtick is finding his opponent's Achilles heel after shaking off a first blow. Giganta has been brought low by considerably more diminutive offense.

Friday, January 18, 2013

2009 Martian Manhunter WIP by Dave Bardin

Click To Enlarge

"Just a quick one for today....I have been working on this picture of The Martian Manhunter and I have started coloring it! I posted these pics to show the process of the the pic so far! The drawing on the left is my first (and rough drawing) the picture on the right is the cleaned up (final pencils). So if all goes well my next post should be the colored version of this pic."
If that ever happened, somebody let me know, because I couldn't find it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Patrolman Slade

Alter Ego: Slade
Occupation: Police Officer
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Middletown Police Department
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #260 (October, 1958)
Height: Approx. 6'0"
Weight: Approx. 180 lbs.
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

Officer Slade blamed himself for the near escape of the Joss Gang, and with his confidence shaken, tendered his resignation to the Middletown police department. Captain Harding confided to ace detective John Jones that he hated to lose Slade, who he believed had the makings of a fine police officer. Jones decided to help Slade sort out his issues during the period after serving notice by secretly helping him uncover crime through the use of his secret Martian powers. Jones guided Slade to the scene of a robbery, where Slade apprehended several hoods in the act. Still, Slade chalked it up to luck.

Jones decided Slade needed a bit more convincing, and heavily manipulated a car full of counterfeiters into Slade's path and through the chase that followed. Unfortunately, Jones had inadvertently led Slade to a nearly deadly confrontation at the gang's wooded hideout, and barely managed to avert tragedy. Officer Slade contributed fisticuffs after the Martian Manhunter had already invisibly disarmed the gang, and asked no hard questions afterward that might have shaken hos resolve to continue his career with the Middletown police.

Powers & Weapons:
Patrolman Slade carried a standard issue police revolver.

Quote: "Th-the force would be better off without me, sir!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dick Ruark

Alter Ego: Dick Ruark
Occupation: Documentary Filmmaker
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Unknown
First Appearance: Detective Comics #263 (January, 1959)
Height: Approx. 5'9"
Weight: Approx. 160 lbs.
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Brown

Dick Ruark was given permission by the Middletown Police Department to ride along with their best officer, John Jones, and film him for the documentary "A Day With A Detective." Ruark was surprised to almost immediately see action when the criminal Conjurer was reported stealing a statue from the Ardmore Natural History Museum. The Conjurer used parlor tricks to escape capture, as John Jones couldn't credibly pursue him without potentially tipping the photographer that he was secretly a powerful Martian benefactor stranded on Earth. Further attempts by Jones to capture the Conjurer were similarly stymied by Ruark's dogged presence. However, the final leg of the rampage saw Ruark knocked unconscious in a toy factoring, giving the Manhunter from Mars the break he needed to finally apprehend the Conjurer. However, Ruark's film camera had continued recording, necessitating J'onn J'onzz's splicing footage from a science fiction film into Ruark's reel to cover for his alien action. Ruark was reassigned to Detective Smith to continue his work, never suspecting that he had missed more than just the Conjurer's capture.

Quote: "Don't arrest him until my camera is set, Detective Jones!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Martian Sightings for April, 2013

Martian Manhunter
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Backup story written by MATT KINDT
Art and fold-out cover by DAVID FINCH
Backup story art by SCOTT CLARK
MAD Variant cover by The Usual Gang of Idiots
1:100 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH

On sale APRIL 3 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue. Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information.

• A new Secret Society is forming-—but which of its members has the power to attack the Justice League from within?
I freaking love the Secret Society of Super-Villains as a concept, which makes me glad they're against the New 52 Detroit League in a book I'll actually buy, instead of the New 52 Whitebread Seven version. I'm guessing that's Catwoman on the other side of that "Holy Smokes Month" gatefold cover, which I assume involves inappropriate financial propositions on Ollie's part. If the DCU has a Charlie Sheen, wouldn't it be Oliver Queen? Anyway, the only thing surprising about the image so far is that Charles Schultz drew a flower on J'Onn's chest where his divided symbol should be. I'll forgive Finch because he seems to have blown off the Seashellheadhunter from Mars in favor of an old school Mr. Clean dome. Come to think of it, Mr. Clean would have made a par Silver Age villain. By the way, notice Matt Kindt now gets full writing credit on the back-up? Also, Jim Starlin takes over Stormwatch after Martian Manhunter leaves? So pissed.
Fold-out cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:25 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale APRIL 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. The variant cover will feature the fold-out cover in a wraparound format.

• What is the one super power that is more than a match for Vibe and how can it tear the universe apart?

New 52 Damage? Anyway, Brett Booth's cover is the best look I can recall getting of Vibe 2.0, and neither the art nor the suit impresses. Geoff Johns is also not co-writing this anymore, for the record.

Written by TOM DeFALCO
Art and fold-out cover by JOE BENNETT and ART THIBERT
On sale APRIL 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

• The Secret Society strikes again—but who is the one member strong enough to ground The Savage Hawkman?
Are they trying to squeeze me into buying Hawkman, because damned if it doesn't have a shot at working?

Written by ANN NOCENTI
Art and fold-out cover by RAFA SANDOVAL and JORDI TARRAGONA
On sale APRIL 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

• Catwoman needs help—but what is the only place the Justice League of America can take her?
AND Catwoman?!? J'Onn J'Onzz is on the freakin' cover, and it's all but certain that these books tie together. Screw it-- I'll bite-- especially since it's been way too long since I read an Ann Nocenti comic, anyway. Wish she'd brough Steve Lightle with her, obviously.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Alter Ego: Willy
Occupation: Student
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Captain Harding (Uncle)
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Unknown
First Appearance: Detective Comics #256 (June, 1958)
Height: Approx. 4'0"
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Ginger

While staying with Captain Harding in Middletown for a week, Willy was invited to the Wonderland carnival by Detective John Jones to take some of the burden of the "handful" off his supervisor. At the carnival, a trio of thieves were planning a heist. Alerted to Detective Jones' presence on the grounds, the hoods decided to try to kill both Jones and Willy by sabotaging various rides. Willy was too excited while riding an iron horse to notice Jones using his secret Martian powers to detect and repair the first act of sabotage. A second involved Willy falling from some height in a mock airplane, which was landed safely by a gust of Martian super-breath. Aware of only the second instance of peril, Willy remained enthusiastic about a third ride, the Tunnel of Thrills, where he was nearly crushed and drowned by a large statue. Willy displayed resilience and substantial denial in the face of these dangers, and saw the ride through to the end. The Manhunter from Mars, not yet a publicly known figure, was spotted by Willy as he goaded the thieves into turning themselves in to police. Willy insisted that he had seen evidence of the same "strange creatures," but was dismissed by Detective Jones.

Powers & Weapons:
Willy wore a cowboy outfit and carried a toy pistol.

Quote: "Missed us by inches! You think that was done just to give us a thrill, Detective Jones?"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Vile Menagerie: S'VOR

Alter Ego: S'vor
Occupation: Prisoner #306970
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Unknown
Base of Operations: Jupiter
First Appearance: Detective Comics #267 (May, 1959)
Height: Approx. 6'6"
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

S'vor is a Jovian criminal who escaped the custody of his planet's security officers, stole their weapons, and landed a spacecraft on Earth. S'vor was canny enough to hide out on the planet just before the start of a 399 day cycle in which Jupiter would be too far from Earth to be accessible, forcing his pursuers to abandon him or strand themselves. He also happened to be in a city, Middletown, at a time when it suffered heavy rains that hampered the security officers' recovery efforts. However, a member of another alien race had made the city his own, and J'onn J'onzz investigated reports of the flying saucer. Learning the details from the security officers, the Martian Manhunter struck a deal wherein he would capture S'vor before sundown in exchange for transport back to Mars.

S'vor had found refuge at an abandoned amusement park, and scanned the skies with his vision powers in search of pursuers. These efforts actually attracted the Martian Manhunter, but S'vor detected him in time to launch a defense. Thanks to his dangerous arsenal, S'vor held the Alien Atlas at bay long enough to board a gondola into the Tunnel of Love. This proved his undoing, as being surrounded by water in a small boat made it easy for J'onzz to eventually douse and capture S'vor. The Jovian fugitive was turned over to his authorities in time for them to return to Jupiter, but a bomb he'd set prevented J'onzz leaving with them, as he stayed to deactivate the device.

Powers & Weapons:
It is unclear whether S'vor possessed any innate super-powers beyond the infra-red vision demonstrated by his people, although he was clearly much larger than his short, skinny brethren. S'vor relied upon his purloined armaments, which included an electric rifle that fired charged bolts meant to explode with energy on impact, an anti-gravity rifle that affected a target within range, a devastating vaporizer gun, and a solar bomb governed by a fuse.

All Jovians have a catastrophic weakness to water which was described as being comparable to Martian vulnerability to fire, whose presence immediately weakens and can eventually kill them after extended exposure. S'vor was rendered entirely passive by a mere splash of water.

Quote: "*HA, HA* Martian, you have surely walked into your own trap now!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SurVILEvor Island

In 2012, a number of villains with past histories fighting the Manhunter from Mars in various capacities were selected for a special poll of this blog's readership. Essentially, these were characters whose appropriateness to be grouped as part of the Martian Manhunter's rogues gallery was called into question, and put to a vote across thirteen day/hour/minute cycles. The conceit was that Despero, who had won that year's March Madness contest, was judging the worthiness of villains who had been treated here as Manhunter foes; with those rejected in that capacity expelled from a game show island inhabited by The Vile Menagerie. Those who remained after voting would constitute a stronger, more "pure" rogues gallery, firmly associated as anti-Alien Atlas adversaries.

Exiled parties will largely be left out of Vile Menagerie games, whether it be themed events, banners, biographical entries, further elimination contests like March Madness and Legions of Doom, or whatever else we can devise for the true, confirmed rogues gallery of the Sleuth from Outer Space.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Third Animated Incarnation of Despero Debuts This Weekend

Once again, thanks to Anj for the heads up on a news item involving an Alien Atlas adversary!

The classic Justice League of America villain Despero made his animated debut in a 2003 two-part second season episode of their Cartoon Network series, "Hearts and Minds." Unlike a lot of fans, I'm not especially fond of Justice League, which took a lot of unnecessary liberties with continuity without good cause. For instance the first animated Despero was a Green Lantern villain who drew the attention of a mere quartet of Leaguers (mostly in the second half) after killing a group of corpsmen investigating his tyrannical cult on Kalinor. In the original comics, Despero was a deformed mutant telepath who enslaved relatively human citizens on his planet. Late in the Bronze Age, that origin was revised so that Kalinorians all looked like Despero, and only his third eye set him apart. However, this was back when Despero was a little guy with a scalloped fin running from ear to ear. He became a muscular physical menace through exposure to the Flame of Py'tar, which turned his fin into more of a mohawk and gave him incredible transmutation abilities for a short time.

The cartoon mingled elements of the Silver and Bronze Age Desperos, but seemingly only the least compelling ones, rendering him a most homogenic villain in the context of the series. Kalinor is pretty much Apokolips, complete with Py'tar flame pits, while armaments of the planet recalled Warworld. The deadly conflict with the Green Lanterns more resembled Peter Tomasi's use of Mongul in recent years than anything Despero ever got up to. The religious worship of Despero as "the beginning" and "the end" was very Darkseid. Even the usually praiseworthy vocal talents of Keith David were subdued. All of the religious babble rang false for the character. This superficial representation of Despero was unmemorable, which explains why it never returned in the series, and even the screenwriter had only one more outing on the series. It's really too bad, as the design used for Despero in the cartoon was sound. I also liked that J'Onn J'Onzz was the one ultimately responsible for Despero's downfall, in spite of it involving new age silliness.

Despero's second animated incarnation arrived in 2009, with a first season episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold entitled "The Eyes of Despero!" Kevin Michael Richardson's performance was ironically reminiscent of Keith David's more vital voice acting roles, and Despero's deliciously over the top dialogue courtesy of famed scripter J.M. DeMatteis made it work this time. Curiously, Despero was once again treated as a Green Lantern Corps foe, but his scary displays of power were much closer to the Kalinorian creep we know and love. Despero's savagery and scale was on a par with Post-Crisis appearances, but visually, his fanned fin was closer to the old school stories. Even his singling out of Batman recalled Despero's battle with the Detroit era League after his rebirth. I liked the weird wrinkle of Despero having additional eyes inside his palms, and like most B:BATB episodes, it was simply way more fun to watch than the seriousness of Justice League.

This weekend, Despero returns to animation in his third series incarnation on the Young Justice episode "Cornered." Once again, he appears to be a remix rather than a straight adaptation. Despero travels through space with a cute robot companion, not unlike the dynamic between Lord Manga Khan and L-Ron, the latter of whom mingled its consciousness with Despero's in the comics. For instance, Despero was never technically a member of the Justice League Task Force, but rather L-Ron while he inhabited Despero's body. Anyway, Despero is in pursuit of gladiatorial conquest on Earth, recalling Draaga from the Post-Crisis Warworld.

The more alien and feral Despero resembles the version usually found in his Justice League International glory days. It's cute that a Martian Manhunter statue comes into play, and that Miss Martian appears key in addressing this threat. Even the inclusion of Captain Marvel feels like leftover business from the funny League. It's an interesting look for Despero, though it's a bit sad that so much quality design work goes to waste because every character but Captain Marvel is stuck with black as their primary costume color. Still, it suits Despero to be so versatile in interpretation, even if I do wish they'd get him a little more on model at some point in animation. I suppose we'll see...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Officer Pat Brady

Alter Ego: Pat Brady
Occupation: Police Officer
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Middletown Police Department
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #240 (February, 1957)
Height: Approx. 6'0
Build: Obese
Eyes: Light
Hair: Black

Pat Brady served unexceptionally on the Middletown police force for forty years before retiring. In that time, Brady had made the acquaintance of Detective John Jones, and expressed sadness on his last day over a lack of important arrests over the course of his career. Sympathetic, Jones decided to use his secret Martian powers to help the officer go out on a high note. A truck reported as having taken part in the Jason Warehouse robbery was made to crash in an alleyway, and the aging officer gave chase on foot. Discreet extraterrestrial intervention slowed the robbers' flight enough for Brady to capture the lot without incident.

Later, Jones uncovered another robbery at a factory, but was felled by a blowtorch triggering his Martian vulnerability to open flames. Jones fell unconscious for three hours, then returned to his precinct afraid that he had placed Officer Brady in harm's way. Instead, Brady had recalled his lab training with the force, and using pumice powder located within the chemical plant, had managed to subdue the robbers as they choked on the irritant carried airborne by a fan. A retirement party was thrown for Officer Brady, who was scheduled to receive a "Most Perfect Officer" award even before his heroics of the day.

Quote: "That's being the smart boys! Just keep your hands up, and we won't have any trouble!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2011 Triumph convention head sketch by Luke Ross

Click To Enlarge

“An 11x14 chest and up shot of DC's character Triumph. While many know Luke Ross as a Captain America artist now in my mind he'll always be the fellow who drew Justice League America #92 which featured Triumph leading the eventual Justice League against an alien threat.

Luke seemed genuinely surprised when I asked him to draw Triumph (and a bit lost, though that tends to happen to any artist I ask to draw my obscure favorites). "Oh wow, that was from a long time ago!"

Thanks Mr. Ross!”
If I recall correctly, Ross drew Triumph's origin story/first full appearance. I like how the pencils serve as both structure and shading.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2011 Brightest Day JLA color art by Ramon Villalobos

Click To Enlarge

"Okay so here is the Grant Morrison era JLA but drawn as they appear today. Why this? Because. I inked this digitally in sketchbook pro so some of the hatching is inconsistent and the lines aren't very smooth at points... but then they aren't in stuff I do by hand either so... its no big loss. I wanted this to be graphic and crazy looking so I did a lot of color holds and didn't render certain parts but I hope it doesn't look unfinished because... that could very well be the case. Anyways, let me know what you think. Thanks."
Ramon Villalobos' first Manhunter drawing posted to his deviantART account may have been of Paul Kirk, but he got around to the Martian model soon enough, and included him in some fanfic DC2 stuff. The quality spiked when he chose to forgo the DC Trinity for the Minor 4, but nothing Alien Atlas related matches the quantum leap demonstrated above. It's neat seeing the Morrison Magnificent Seven represented in a very temporary transitional state, not unlike how the actual JLA book soon hosted Superman Blue, Hippolyta, and Dark Flash, plus in retrospect the quite dated crab mask Green Lantern and harpoon hand Aquaman. That said, this lot just looks off, thanks especially to Batman's boring Incorporated costume, the tacky spectacle of "The Odyssey" Wonder Woman, Kyle Rayner's ongoing Jordan cosplay, and Wally West's lack of a nose. With the exceptions of Aquaman and (to a lesser degree) Martian Manhunter, the DC Universe was really barreling headfirst in the wrong direction immediately before Flashpoint, so I'm relieved it wasn't immortalized with a line-up like this. I still enjoy the piece though, and appreciate J'Onn J'Onzz's uncommon central location in the image, with the artist's style best suited for the Martian Marvel of all featured characters.

Ramon Villalobos

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 New 52 Miss Martian art by Antonia Leiva

Click To Enlarge

It took me a lot longer to revisit Antonia Leiva's Miss Martian than I expected, and maybe one of these days I'll find a basic model to work with, but for now we get a stealth suit...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Martian Manhunter Prototype: Radar the International Policeman?

Never underestimate synchronicity.

For instance, I was reading a post at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary about an Amazing Heroes article on the early years of the Maid of Might. Supergirl was co-created by Otto Binder, who was one of the primary writers on Captain Marvel comics back when Shazam routinely outsold Superman. Binder had been brought over to the Superman line when Fawcett finally folded shop due to a shrinking market and DC's decade-plus-long lawsuit over the similarities between the Man of Tomorrow and World's Mightiest Man. The Superman titles were edited by the monolithic Mort Weisinger at the time, and while he often disparaged the Fawcett books, it's pretty obvious that those rival comics inspired huge swaths of Superman's Silver Age adventures, including the development of a whole "family" of similar heroes. In a 1974 interview, Binder said of Weisinger, "He was really an idea man. Most editors aren't, you know." Binder said that it was Weisinger's idea to create Supergirl and hand the assignment to Binder, despite his past as co-creator and writer of Mary Marvel.

History has not been kind to the memory of Mort Weisinger, who was later revealed to be anything but an idea man, and rather a manipulative abuser of talent and associates. Most of the creations unofficially ascribed to Weisinger (as DC has a policy of not crediting their editors as creators in most instances) were blatant swipes of proven successes. Weisinger was noted for the dire habit of hearing a pitch from one writer, lambasting it, then turning around and giving the "rejected" idea to another writer to develop as though it were Weisinger's own.

At the same time I was reading the Supergirl blog, I was also playing a bit of catch-up on the infotainment site Comics Alliance, including an article titled Bizarro Back Issues: Boxing Day With Captain Marvel! (1944). Discussing the lead story from Captain Marvel Adventures #35, we're introduced to U.S. Army Private Pep Pepper, whose background as the child of circus performers led him to an impromptu performance at a U.S.O. show alongside Bob Hope and Billy Batson. Pepper ends up in a boxing match with Captain Marvel, and displays extraordinary abilities before knocking out a Nazi spy impersonating a major. Pepper is revealed to have inherited super-powers from his parents, and the Big Red Cheese is so impressed that Pepper is taken before President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a secret collective of world powers to compel Pepper to become a covert International Policeman under the alias "Radar." The story was clearly a backdoor pilot for a new strip, which debuted in Master Comics #50, and ran for a couple of years.

Here's where things get interesting. Radar was a brown-haired Caucasian male with an athletic build who wore a white trenchcoat and fedora while conducting clandestine investigations using telepathy, heightened strength, and enhanced vision. Sound familiar? After spending many years considering the origins of John Jones, it's hard not to see this character as a missing link. Radar got a heavy push early on, but never caught on, though it seems the sort of property right up Mort Weisinger's alley. Radar was a back-up feature in the comic Captain Marvel Junior starred in, and Radar was also the subject of an illustrated "Comics Novel" called Anarcho, Dictator of Death written by Otto Binder. As a spy hunter, it isn't hard to see why Radar would have failed in the closing days of World War II, much too late to a crowded party that was rapidly winding down. I think it's very likely Weisinger could have been exposed to the property, seen its potential, and married it to the extremely popular crime drama and science fiction material of the mid-50s. It's not such a great leap from international to interstellar policeman.

Of course, the strong similarities between John Jones and Radar faded fairly quickly. Jones ditched the coat and hat, and artist Joe Certa began altering the character's features to that of a lantern jawed Irishman from the more WASPish look of the early stories. As the series progressed under editor Jack Schiff, the telepathy was soon forgotten, and when the super-hero trend was embraced, a fantastic alien appearance and more physical powers were emphasized. Still, the Sleuth from Outer Space came from somewhere, and creatively, it wasn't necessarily Mars.

Some Radar sample stories for your perusal... Captain Marvel Adventures #35/Master Comics #50
"Arsenal of Hate"
Master Comics #64

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

“Mr. Jones” proposal by Christopher James Priest

While researching Triumph-related posts from writer Christopher J. Priest, I stumbled upon some Martian Manhunter material, including the following undeveloped proposal...

"Mr. Jones has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Smith. It’s an idea likely to be stolen either off of this page or, certainly, an obvious idea just waiting to be pitched by someone more marketable than myself. It is the story of a twentysomething working mom struggling to get her undergraduate degree who, desperate for a job, pursues her neighbor, Mr. Jones, until he agrees to hire her as a part-time Girl Friday working a strange 8PM-2AM shift for his detective agency. Mr. Jones is a enigmatic and unknowable cold fish whose entire caseload seems to consist of strange and scary supernatural or extra-terrestrial phenomena. Jones himself seems to have mysterious mind-control powers and can enter locked rooms without anyone seeing him. The Girl Friday inevitably becomes convinced Mr. Jones is a vampire and tries to report him to the police or whomever hunts vampires these days, but becomes invariably involved in his cases.

Of course, veteran DC readers are in on Jones's secret, which we may never explicitly state: the nature of Mr. Jones's strange abilities: the series is a Martian Manhunter reboot minus the swim trunks and swashbuckler boots. Mr. Jones wipes her memory of him or his strange cases at the conclusion of every arc, such that the girl ends up pursuing him all over again in a kind of Groundhog's Day cycle until Jones comes to know and trust her enough to allow her to retain her memory of him and his work."
The above was taken from Priest's new web home, Lamercie Park from a whole page of unreleased Projects. Do check it out!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Fire, Water, Burn Manhunter Burn Podcast 2


In September of 2011, Rob Kelly of The Aquaman Shrine and Shag Matthews of Firestorm Fan teamed-up for The Fire and Water Podcast, a weekly program available through iTunes discussing the heroes of their respective blogs and comics in general. To celebrate their first year of successful broadcasting and round out year 1.5 of the New 52, the guys decided to offer an episode of pre-recorded segments from audience members who also happen to have DC-themed blogs. As a regular listener, commentator, and occasional guest, I was invited to contribute, and chose to represent both the Idol-Head of Diabolu and a sister blog, Diana Prince as the New Wonder Woman in a roughly ten minute editorial on what I was thankful for about their recent comics. Mine is the last segment, because you know I brought it like a Sleuth from Outer Space, and who wants to follow the lethal alliterative combo of Alien Atlas and Amazing Amazon?

I recommend listening to the entire podcast, featuring Superman fan Michael Bailey, Siskoid from the Blog of Geekery, Green Lantern Corps conjecturer Chad Bokelman, swingin' singer Luke Daab, and Hawkman man Luke Jaconetti. You can find the 38th episode of THE FIRE AND WATER PODCAST on iTunes. While you’re there, please drop the guys a review on the iTunes page. Every comment helps! Alternatively, you may download the podcast by right-clicking here, choosing “Save Target/Link As”, and selecting a location on your computer to save the file (34 MB).

I also recommend trying "back issues" of the podcast, and offer a linklist below:

Episode 15
Episode 16
Episode 17: Super Powers Collection Action Figures
Episode 18
Episode 19: Interview with Gerry Conway
Episode 20: Early Days of Aquaman and Firestorm
Episode 21
Episode 22: Interview with Sirena Irwin
Episode 23
Episode 24: Comic Talk
Episode 25
Crossover: Member of the Wedding
Episode 26: A Few Words About Joe Kubert
Episode 27: Aquaman and Firestorm Live Action
Episode 28: Listener Feedback
Episode 29: Dragon*Con 2012
Episode 30: Aquaman #12 Review and Listener Feedback
Episode 31: Robot Chicken DC Comics Special Commentary
Episode 32: The Zero Episode Also, while Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary may not have made the podcast, he did offer an extension to December of Despero by offering coverage of his appearance in Justice League of America #134. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 DC Comics Deck-Building Game Martian Manhunter Promo Card

I visited Rob Kelly's The Aquaman Shrine today, which had a post on Cryptozoic Entertainment's DC Comics Deck-Building Game. It appears to harken back to '90s CCGs like Magic: The Gathering and my own much loved Overpower card game, but more loose and self-contained like poker. What made Overpower great was that you built a team of four characters with specific powers who had to work well together in order to defeat opposing teams through strategy or raw power. Based on this review, each player chooses one hero each between Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Cyborg, then villains turn up through random deck draws, and whichever player ends up with the most victory points in an every-man-for-themself contest wins. Also, while each hero has a special power that works throughout the game, if Aquaman draws a Lasso of Truth, he can use it. That would bug the crud out of me.

Anyway, Rob made a crack at the end of his post about the lack of any Firestorm cards in the game, needling his buddy Shag from The Fire and Water Podcast. In this new age of Cyborg rounding out the Affirmative Seven JLA, Martian Manhunter has lost his once obligatory presence in these things. Still, I decided to run a search out of curiosity, and sure enough, the Alien Atlas plays a unique role. A playable Martian Manhunter character card is available as a promotion to get fans to buy the $40 set directly from Cryptozoic, which based on message boards ticked off fans who pre-ordered elsewhere for the same product.

In the DC Comics Deck-building Game, you take on the role of Batman™, Superman™, or one of their brave and heroic allies in the struggle against the forces of Super-Villainy! While you begin armed only with basic combat maneuvers, you will add new, more powerful cards to your deck as you go, with the goal of defeating as many of the DC Comics Super-Villains as you can. In the end, the player who has accumulated the most Victory Points from the cards in his or her deck wins the game!

**Receive a Martian Manhunter Promo Card while supplies last!**

Game Box Contains:
214 Game Cards
7 Oversized Hero Cards
1 Rulebook
Number of Players: 2-5
For Ages: 15+
Playing Time: 30-45 Minutes
  • Play as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Cyborg. The Justice League is ready for action!
  • Each DC Comics Super Hero has a unique special ability that will open up different strategies to the player.
  • Card combos, strategy, and fun abound in this game where every card features amazing fan-favorite art.
  • Compatible with other Cerberus Engine: Heroes games, a common card back means you can mix your whole collection together for the ultimate throwdown!
I find it odd that they used pre-Flashpoint art for J'Onn, and I don't know whether he's got a cool power or not, but I'm just happy he's in there somewhere.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special

The officially authorized Cartoon Network stop-motion parody of DC Comics somehow managed to reference Sinestro's vagina, but didn't have much use for the Manhunter from Mars, although there was a similar capacity for gender-bending.

J'Onn J'Onzz had a cameo in the Challenge of the Superfriends inspired opening sequence, substituting for both Samurai and Green Lantern Hal Jordan (the latter subbing for Robin, curiously) as the last guy flying in from stage right.

In one sketch, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Aquaman have a bet on who can pick up a woman at a nightclub while in full costume. Everyone strikes out, but Aquaman has the distinct discomfort of trying to "talk to tuna," only to find that he'd hit on J'Onn J'Onzz in shapeshift-drag. "I have a life outside the team, you know." The other guys laugh at how the Sea King got "Manhuntered."

As part of a subplot that brought the show to a close, teamwide disrespect for Aquaman includes his lobster pals the Johnsons walking right up to the door of the Watchtower, only to be boiled alive by Chef J'Onzz. When Arthur gets hysterical about the murder of his loved ones, J'Onn says "Aquaman, I hear you... Can we still eat the lobsters?" Later, Lex Luthor appeared to successfully apply a choke hold to the Alien Atlas. J'Onn also mourns at a funeral, but not the good one.

As you might have guessed, none of the above were favorite bits, not for a lack of sense of humor on my part, but because they just weren't that great. I much preferred the Bane running gag and the burials of Captain Carrot (shades of Chuckles the Clown) and Abin Sur. The big battle also has some quality rapid fire gags, including a fighting mad Wonder Woman and "Joker toxin." Seth Green provided both Martian Manhunter's digitized wonky and Aquaman's effete voices.