Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (April, 2010)

Heroes gonna hero. Martian Manhunter's former (and rather temporary) Justice League of Aliens teammates Starfire and Starman (Mikaal Tomas) took part in a whole second line-up of good guys investigating Prometheus' plot. They all ended up on the same satellite as Hal Jordan's off-shoot Justice League and the then-current "official" Justice League of America staffed with B & C-listers. It's all fun and games until Roy Harper loses an arm, and it was revealed that Prometheus had somehow managed to effectively cosplay as Captain Marvel Junior, approximate powers inclusive. This crazy thing descended into substandard fanfic as Prometheus managed to swiftly defeat dozens of heroes implausibly until Donna Troy masterminded the brilliant strategy of grabbing him and punching him a hella lot. It's the sort of comic you hope to God wasn't planned at all like it turned out, for the sake of the essential cognitive functioning of the creative team, and was instead the result of constant editorial unrest. Based on news reports, that's exactly how things like this happen.

In more of an Ozymandias moment than a Promethean one, the master villain's grand scheme didn't pan out. Prometheus unintentionally set off what amounted to a bomb that struck Star City like a massive earthquake, killing countless unnamed citizens and Roy Harper's daughter Lian. Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, Prometheus used the devastation as a bargaining chip. He had more devices planted in various other cities that would similarly grind them down, and miraculously had perfect safeguards against being defused by any of the legions of guest-starring heroes' powers.

The cape set mostly busied themselves mounting relief efforts in Star City and locating the devices in other towns. The Atom meanwhile focused on trying to force information out of Prometheus, and to that end called on specialized help. "Thought about how J'Onn would have just read your mind. Then I remembered Earth still has a Martian." M'gann M'orzz to be exact, though her reputation didn't immediately appear to have preceded her.
"Is that so? Martian?"
"Miss Martian to you, creep. Codes in your head? Someone grab a pen and pap-- AAARGH!!"
"A mind-reader? Like I wouldn't expect that. Come on, guys, if you're not going to free me at least don't insult my intelligence.

Prometheus had some sort of psychic feedback trap set up in his brain that prevented telepathic interrogation. Having teased out her involvement across three issues of the mini-series, Miss Martian honored the J'onn J'onzz tradition of taking a fall to serve anemic plot machinations. The heroes buckled under Prometheus' demands, and he uncharacteristically did not screw them over after escaping to an other-dimensional refuge where Green Arrow conveniently, inexplicably, followed to execute the villain.

The seventh and final chapter of Cry For Justice, “Justice” was by James Robinson, Scott Clark, Mauro Cascioli and Ibraim Roberson with David Beaty. It was a pretty vacant endeavor, but Miss Martian was exceptionally well drawn in her cameo appearances.


Anj said...

I had high hopes for this series but it is just a crummy read. Miss Martian does look good. And Supergirl has some nice moments. But this was pretty much a bust.

Amazingly, the Robinson JLA (with Grayson/Batman, Supergirl, Jade, etc) is way way better.

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, Robinson developed his bad reputation upon returning to comics with this project, which I really do think was ruined by interference and reversed decisions. I actually kind of liked it most of it for the silly pointed mess that it was, but it's impossible to defend it all boiling down to unloading Lian and resetting Arsenal as a junkie anti-hero. It makes sense that Robinson had better luck on the monthly title, since the big name characters and a lot of the pressure was off by then.

will_in_chicago said...

Well, somehow I doubt that the New 52 versions of either the Martian Manhunter or Miss Martian will be jobbers.

LissBirds said...

I completely forgot about this series. I probably chose to forget it.

Not sure if J'onn will be a jobber in the New 52 or a creepy outsider who levels threats against his teammates....I'd take jobber.

will_in_chicago said...

Possibly J'Onn will be someone who is willing to threaten potential adversaries. In the case of some of them, they are difficult to trust. (Amanda Waller comes to mind.) However, on leaving Stormwatch, J'Onn erased the minds of his team mates and indicated it was for their protection. Perhaps something has changed to let J'Onn feel ready to be on a public team.

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, I don't blame you. This book was like Identity Crisis in equal parts tastelessness and temporary omnipresence before fatigue set in and the thing faded away.

Will, I prefer the poor man's Superman of Silver Age and Post-Crisis comics to the abusive, fascistic Manhunter of the Bronze Age and New 52. Creators seem to think being a obtuse brute makes J'Onn cool, but I think it inevitably alienates the audience. Plus, in DC Comics, any character who steps up to claim parity with Superman is eventually served a severe, humiliating comeuppance. J'Onn made Superman bleed on one cover, and his decades of punishment for that slight began under the very same cover. The game dictates that today's contender is tomorrow's jobber.

In the case of Miss Martian, I recall that her only New 52 appearance to date saw her flat on her back under rubble? Yeesh, that was quick, not that getting bypassed on the Teen Titans by Skitter and Solstice was any better.

LissBirds said...

That's what happens at the end of Storm watch? I guess writers really feel the need to exploit the mind-wiping powers. Sorry, that just isn't the Martian Manhunter I know. And his actions in the new JLA book are creepy and vindictive, and J'onn is neither of those things to me. I saw a commenter on IGN who was new to the character remark about how this Martian Manhunter guy seemed pretty badass, to paraphrase, in JLA 1, and the rest of the conversation was about who is stronger: J'onn or Superman, and I just had to shake my head and leave. J'onn is one of the few introspective superheroes out there, and that depth is whisked away when the focus becomes whose mind he'll erase next and how far he is willing to cross the line or can he beat Superman. Those are questions are for characters like Batman.

I see where you're coming from, will, but I just judge J'onn on such a different moral plane than I do other characters, especially given his background and the advancements of Martians...they're supposed to be more highly evolved than us. To see J'onn leveling threats against teammates just flies in the face of that.

Besides, Frank, like you mentioned, if J'onn is a fascistic brute like pretty much all other heroes, how can he stand out as anything different?

Diabolu Frank said...

This blog came about from my old WebTV site, which itself was begat from my getting tired of retyping the same answers in message board versus threads regarding how fights like Superman versus Martian Manhunter should go down. I don't mind if his power set provides new readers with an "in" to the Alien Atlas, so long as their interest doesn't end there. I love seeing J'Onn J'Onzz treated with respect as a formidable hero, but hate when that essential heroism is muddied to make him kewl and EXTREME!

I came to the realization a while back that I'm not a classic Martian Manhunter fan, because as presented for most of his early run he was a simplification of Superman to his most generic and least compelling attributes. I'm also not a fan of the various harsh Bold New Directions on the Sleuth from Outer Space, because all they ever amount to is angry posturing and other Superdickery. What I'm actually a fan of is J.M. DeMatteis deciding in the wake a John Byrne's hip '80s Superman revision to turn J'Onn J'Onzz into a modern version of the decidedly unhip, tragic Silver Age Superman. He's a godlike force whose essential benevolence prohibits his ever abusing humanity, but who will never be content walking amidst comparative children while longing for a world of equals forever lost. He can be weird and alien and do inexplicable things, but if his moral certainty is compromised, he ceases to be the true Man of Steel. In order to be more like the J'Onn J'Onzz readers know and love, writers need to remember a specific flavor of Superman, not try to reinvent the Alien Atlas as an elliptical wheel.

As Liss mentioned, writers seem to think because the Martian Manhunter is a lesser known quantity, they can play up his ambiguity. What they fail to recognize is that comics are chock full of gray anti-heroes, and what makes J'Onn J'Onzz interesting is that he's in many ways a better person than the World's Finest for lack of dead sidekicks/love interests/etc., heel turns, and the like. He is loved for his consistency, his stability, his known qualities-- not his ulterior motives.

mathematicscore said...

Man Cry for Justice made my nerd-self angry; if you're gonna have an anti-batman take down a Justice League, you gotta sell all of it. So much "because he's Prometheus."


Anywho, RE: JLoA (the nu52 edition)
I don't have your same revulsion of the mind eraser, and I'm reading it as "I'm a total outsider here and can't trust anyone, but still ultimately a good guy" rather than any kind of anti-hero.

Hopefully Geoff is true to his word (and track record with Hal and Aquaman) and is looking to make J'onn an actual power player, and not a jobber.

LissBirds said...

Ah, I didn't clarify that the new fan comment I saw on IGN was in regards to J'onn's willingness to wipe people's memories. Having a new generation of fans see the Martian Manhunter in only that light will I think not bode well for his character's history.

Would a good guy erase's his teammates' memories, though, m.c.? I don't know, that seems a little mean-spirited and a bit bullying. Or maybe it was just was supposed to be an empty threat and I was overreacting. The whole issue just put me in a bad mood...even the way they drew Amanda Waller rubbed me the wrong way...since when is she a supermodel?

Diabolu Frank said...

Weight Watchers Waller has been a major bone of contention in the New 52, right up there with Whorely Quinn. And J'Onn totally did follow through on mindwiping all of Stormwatch, then cutting a deal with the Shadow Lords over it.