Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness: Mars II: Round 1

After Mars was rendered uninhabitable, J’onn J’onzz returned to his people to help lead the survivors on an inhospitable, barren new world dubbed Mars II. Hardly a Garden of Bhok to begin with, things could only get worse with the arrival of the serpent Ma’alefa’ak…

At a gathering of the J’onzz family, young K'hym looked over at her mother M'yri'ah, and was overcome with jealousy. She did not care to share her father J’onn’s attention, and with M'yri'ah out of the way, she would have him all to herself…

T'omm J'onzz was seated near to his young niece, and noted the contrast between her vitality and his crone of a Grandmother. She was always droning on about the holocaust and will of H’ronmeer that his people face the fires of destruction. Someone should just put the old bag out of her misery…

Sha'sheen J'onzz looked out across the faces of her family, and was appalled. Her daughter-in-law was useless, and the child conceived with her favored son was a weakling. T’omm was a moron, and Grandmother a burden. Why had she chosen to mate with M'rynn J'onzz? Just looking at him made her want to open his rib cage and peel his lungs like an onion…

Bel Juz’s relationship with the J’onzzes was… complicated. Even a camp adjacent to theirs was too close, and she was clearly not amidst the most desirable of company. However, the looks given to her by the Earth creature Her-Who-Must-Be-Served made it clear to Bel that she herself was desired, though the Queen of the Daals concealed jealousy over her beloved “J’oann J’onzz…”

Re's Eda was persona non grata among most of his fellow Martians after he trumped up evidence to lead his people to war against an innocent civilization, not to mention having framed his best friend J’onn for his own faked murder. These crimes had led him to be pursued by Roh Kar, first lawman of Mars, seeking justice for the warmonger…

N'or Cott policed the settlement for just the sort of intrusion Roh Kar presented, but there was an entirely different form of law entering the territory. The Earthling Futureman had travelled back through time to capture as many errant Martians as his specialty rifle could bring down…

Hunter Commander J'en did not care for the company forced upon her by the disgrace she’d earned during her stint with the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood. Still, it was her duty to protect and serve, especially against the slimy White Martians who destroyed J'en's world. However, Princess Cha'rissa was truly Saturnian royalty, and not above using her martial skills for a clandestine operation.

On the other hand, Miss Martian was factually a White Martian, though you wouldn't know it to look at her. M'gann M'orzz had been known to pretend to be the Martian Manhunter's niece, and today she journeyed to Mars II to prevent a J'Onzztown massacre. Unfortunately, Jemm, Son of Saturn joined his fiancée in her covert operation, and M'gann appeared to be an obstacle to his goals...


Anj said...

On paper the Miss Martian/Jemm battle seems the most intriguing.

But I think M'Gann has all the buzz right now.

If she doesn't make the final four, I'll eat a bug. That's how confident I am.

Diabolu Frank said...

The problem with Jemm is his long history of getting his ass kicked by women nowhere near as powerful as Miss Martian. Honestly? I'm positive she'll take the whole thing. I figure her competition will be Diane Meade, Zook, and Gypsy, which illustrates to me how empowered the J'Onn J'Onzz supporting cast happens to be. I kind of knew, but seeing it play out like this really drives the point home.

LissBirds said...

The only problem (okay I have more than one problem) I have with Miss Martian is that her popularity is starting to outshine J'onn's. I think she needs to get knocked down a few pegs for that. It would be like Robin getting a bigger spotlight than Bruce Wayne.

I really just can't figure out how I feel about her, though. No other ally of Mars causes me such mixed feelings. One moment I think she's an adorable addition to the Martian family, and the next, I wish she never existed. It could be because I never really got on board with the whole White Martian concept, but I don't know.

Diabolu Frank said...

Nah, let the girl shine. If Martian Manhunter wasn't niche and prone to shun the spotlight, he wouldn't be so cool. Miss Martian is Debbie Gibson/Tiffany, and J'Onn is Leonard Cohen/Lou Reed. I love that they're apples and oranges, not unlike the other sidekick you've confessed ambivalence about, Zook. The contrast is stark in a way that enhances both characters, as opposed to the way Donna Troy and Wally West's very existence was deemed unnecessary in the New 52.

LissBirds said...

Eh....I think the sticking point I have with Miss Martian is that her existence waters down the "last survivor" role a bit, even if she is not a Green Martian. What I am worried will happen is that continuity will follow the Young Justice cartoon and she will become a true Green Martian. (Unless that show revealed her true nature--I never got past season one.) That's going to throw all sorts of wrenches into things, the least of which is more Superman comparisons. (If Superman has Supergirl, Superboy, and Krypto, "loneliness" has to be shared amongst four characters, not just one.) I just don't want to see Miss Martian become the Supergirl to J'onn's Superman and this morph into the Happy Super Martian Family. (If that ever does happen, they better bring back Jupiter the Dog to sweeten the deal.) But I never was a Teen Titans fan to begin with, so I'm biased from the start. (I guess it just comes down to what teams you read first.)

I can see what you're saying long as she doesn't become a Green Martian through some retcon (I've lost track of New 52) and she has a distant relationship with J'onn and J'onn stays in the background, I can live with that. I just couldn't warm up to the "Uncle J'onn" moniker--to me that usurps M'yria'h and K'hym a bit. It's harder to mourn a lost wife and daughter when you have a surrogate daughter right in front of you.

I was going to mention Zook earlier, but thought I'd give him a break for once.

Donna Troy and Wally West are gone?! See, I really don't know what is going on anymore, and who lived and who died. Yet Damian Wayne stuck around for a while....makes you wonder what their criteria was in letting certain characters live. I think I'll just make up my own continuity in my own head and stick with that.

Diabolu Frank said...

I used to get hung up on the "Last Son of Mars" angle, but I find it tragic enough that he personally lost 99.99% of everyone and everything he ever cared about forever. We can have fun with our very own Phantom Zone Criminals and Kandor and so forth, because none of it can ever replace what was lost, and they in fact serve as a reminder of their civilization's ultimate doom.

Miss Martian is a very sweet girl with some serious mental health issues raised by a tribe diametrically opposed to the beliefs J'Onn holds dear. She'll never be K'hym, or even Gypsy, because J'Onn cannot wholeheartedly embrace her (or probably anyone.) M'gann's adopting two cultures not her own and still failing to ever fully adapt or be adopted anywhere is a tragedy of another kind. A benefit of EXTREME BADAZZ New 52 Martian Manhunter is that there's clearly no danger of his becoming cuddly, surrounded by his own dynasty of well adjusted Martians. The small progress in J'Onn & M'gann's non-relationship made through Brightest Day is undone, and without the Titans, Miss Martian is more isolated than ever. She's still a White in the cartoon, by the way.

With the exception of Byrne's Superman, the changes wrought by Crisis were slow, fairly organic, and well thought out with a clear eye toward history. The New 52 was a stunt with massive arbitrary changes that rendered the entire DC Universe analogous to Hawkman continuity. Every "fix" just complicates things further, with one coming after another, like trying to reconstruct a lamp from tiny shattered slivers. The integrity is shot, chunks are irretrievably lost, yours hands are a chewed up mess of cuts and and the only real solution is to pitch everything and start from scratch.

Diabolu Frank said...

Familicide! (10 votes)
"Grandmother" J'onzz 5 (50%)
T'omm J'onzz 5 (50%)

Matricide or Filicide? (8 votes)
K'hym J'onzz 4 (50%)
M'yri'ah J'onzz 4 (50%)

Mariticide vs. Uxoricide (6 votes)
Sha'sheen J'onzz 3 (50%)
M'rynn J'onzz 3 (50%)

Best Served Cold! (11 votes)
Bel Juz 9 (81%)
Her-Who-Must-Be-Served 2 (18%)

Manhunter vs. Manipulator! (8 votes)
Re's Eda 3 (37%)
Roh Kar 5 (62%)

Martian Prosecution! (6 votes)
Futureman 2 (33%)
N'or Cott 4 (66%)

Monarchy vs. Instrumentality! (8 votes)
Hunter Commander J'en 6 (75%)
Princess Cha'rissa 2 (25%)

Conception vs. Execution (10 votes)
Jemm 5 (50%)
Miss Martian 5 (50%)

LissBirds said...

They kept her a White Martian on the show? Ahh, good to know. I lost track of that cartoon; now it's off the air.

I think the problem I have is that I have a backwards way of thinking about it: because Miss Martian is a tragic character herself, I think that takes some sympathy away from J'onn's situation. So in a way she competes with J'onn for the reader's empathy. There just isn't room in my heart for two tragic characters from the same planet because I think it splits the readership a bit. In other words, one can make a case that Robin's situation just as tragic as Bruce Wayne's, therefore Bruce Wayne should stop whining. It's kind of a twisted logic, but I just grew up with superheroes without sidekicks. (Now that I look back, I think Batman Forever and 1997's Batman and Robin may have just ruined sidekicks in a general sense for me...)

I agree wholeheartedly about the reboot. It's such a mess. I didn't read any Flashpoint comics. I completely isolated myself from forums, etc. about it. Now I feel completely lost. So are a lot of people...from what I can tell, no one even knows if Adam Strange still exists. It's just an absolute mess. Starting from scratch would be nice. Why didn't DC just exploit the 52 universes idea and let some characters live in certain universes and others not exist in other universes? They teased us at the end of 52 with certain things like Vic Sage still being alive in some universe--I'd like to read about that. Why can't we have a Golden Age universe with the JSA still alive where the JLA never formed, thereby making the JSA still relevant? Or a Silver Age universe to make Silver Age fans happy? I know DC likes to say that multiple universes confused fans, but I can't believe it will be more confusing than now. They can't say they have 52 universes when they only push one vision. Pretty much all the characters I care about are dead or in limbo at this point, except for J'onn and the Green Lanterns.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'd argue against starting from scratch, because DC's editors and much of their talent are simply unsuitable for the task. The New 52 is a gimmick that will inevitably implode. It reminds me of Marvel's Ultimate line, which had a clearer overall vision and better product but still flamed out. Aside from my current but finite support of Martian Manhunter comics, I've lost all interest in whatever the DC Universe is now. Every "scintillating" nu development puts distance between DC product and my heart (not to mention my brain.)

I'm disinclined to compare the losses of Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian. M'gann chose to leave what remains of a culture within which she never fit and appears to have lost no love. J'Onn lost his family and a lifestyle he cherished. It's like not liking Spider-Man or Batman because they're both orphans and come from planet Earth. What they have in common is outstripped by their differences.

LissBirds said...

I don't think there are enough strong writers at DC to pull off a complete fix, for sure. But maybe someone will come along and pitch an alternate universe story, or even an Elseworlds. (Are Elseworlds even an option now or has DC abandoned that idea?) I haven't bought a single comic or collected edition in two years, save the copy of JLA #1 I caved in to buy. Every favorite character of mine has been either mangled beyond recognition, killed off or is in limbo. Now I just read old issues or watch the better cartoons. (I'm currently rewatching JLU from the beginning to get my just proves that the right writers can create successful stories with Justice League characters. I just finished watching the one with the cameo of J'onn's family in season 1.)

Eventually, I think the DCnU mess will coincide with digital comics reaching critical mass, and something will have to happen out of sheer necessity to keep the company afloat. (I see DC's now selling digital copies along with print copies...) DC now is like Apple, mid-90's--scattered, lacking leadership, and pushing the same old product every year while stock prices tank. They just need someone to come along and invent the iPod and start a new generation. There's plenty of talent out there waiting to grab the power vacuum should DC falter, so they should be worried.

I like how you draw a nice line between M'gann's and J'onn's situation--I never quite thought about it beyond "last of his/her race," but when you put it in terms of character choice--M'gann choose to leave her race, J'onn was an unwilling victim--it gives her situation quite the different flavor. I rather like thinking about it like that. Good comparison with Spider-Man and Batman, too. Characters' attitudes make a difference, too...I haven't read enough Miss Martian comics, but does she ever miss her kind or did she have no trouble leaving them behind?

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm pretty sure the Elseworlds brand is dead. Once again, DC put years of effort into building a brand, only to arbitrarily abandon it in pursuit fool's gold elsewhere. Good analogy with Apple, though they've been waiting for their Steve Jobs since about 1967.

You know, I've never watched all of Justice League. I didn't have cable when it started, and a friend recorded some VHS tapes for me early on, but I abandoned it. I think I watched most of the first season through Netflix, and a fair chunk of the last, but I've missed a lot of stuff. I've yet to see the Martian Manhunter Christmas episode. Clearly I'm a bad fan and not much of a cartoon guy.

I've read about Miss Martian comics more than I've read actual ones, so I'm by no means an authority. My take is that J'Onn J'Onzz wants to be a Green Martian, but various factors kept him on Earth as our protector and observer. It seems to me M'gann M'orzz has never felt comfortable in her own skin. She horrified by her own people and their suppressed nature within her. She's still searching for her identity, and is so enamored with humanity that she wishes to become one of us and cease to be a White Martian altogether. Where Martian Manhunter is altruistic, I feel Miss Martian is a fangirl who is motivated by a need to emulate the human super-heroes she adores. Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark started out in a similar fashion, and I think that's why M'gann was drawn to her because Cassie became the thing she idolized. On the other hand, M'gann also had a strong relationship with Ravager, a woman who largely gave in to her inherent dark impulses while struggling to retain an ethical core her heritage would deny. Miss Martian I suspect falls between these extremes.

Diabolu Frank said...

Short version: J'Onn J'Onzz is a first generation immigrant by circumstance, while M'gann M'orzz is a Wearthling who affected a cultural connection through stereotypes that saw her finally try to mingle in the actual society, with the inevitable dissonance arising.

LissBirds said...

Ahhh, that's a shame. Elseworlds was something I really liked. It gave writers some creative latitude and not having to worry about continuity was kind of refreshing.

Well, we all like what we're used to. I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series, so I got into the DC animated habit early. The first two seasons of Justice League are pretty strong, then it gets a bit hit and miss as they expanded into JLU, and it just depends on which lesser-known characters you like. Outside of the pilot, in Season 1, the J'onn-centric episode are #22-23, "Knight of the Shadows" (that's the one with the cameo of his family). If you want a Silver Age alternate-universe story, episodes 18 and 19, "Legends," is pretty good. The season 1 finale, if memory serves, focuses a good deal on Wonder Woman. I can get you a list of more of the episodes with J'onn in them as I keep watching. The Christmas special is season 2, episode 49, "Comfort and Joy." I came to it late, too, and didn't see it on the air, but watched all the DVDs a few years ago.

What I really loved about the cartoon is how they animated J'onn's fighting style—they made a concerted effort to give him a unique style to set him off from Superman's. They really use the intangibility to its fullest potential in some really clever ways. (Sneaking up behind villains through the floor, phasing through a missile and taking out the control chip, etc.) It's just fun to watch. (And there's a few hints at the fire weakness, too, like in episode 23, and even some density-shifting powers in "Knight of the Shadows.") I know it's been a while since I've read anything, but I really can't think of intangibility being used like that in any of J'onn's print comics. And he didn't go around wiping anyone's minds or using telepathy unless is was absolutely necessary, either, which was refreshing.

Oh, and Superman gets beat up a lot on the cartoon, which a lot of fans cry foul at. It got a lot darker with each season, and there was a pretty good government conspiracy arc with The Question and Huntress in the later seasons.

I maybe have read one Miss Martian comic if I've read any. It is kind of interesting—and unique—that we have a heroine who decides to pretend to be a Green Martian and then doesn't have much to do with the only Green Martian left in existence. I guess that's kind of's a lot better than Miss Martian hero worshipping J'onn...I couldn't take that at all. The fact that she has an identity crisis is what kind of turns me off—I like J'onn's security in who he is and what he stands for. I don't mind a little moral ambiguity for the sake of beating a corrupt system (i.e. The Question), but I just don't like them betraying the team.

I haven't read a lot of 90's JLA comics, but from what I did read, I never get could past an entire race being the bad guys (save for Miss Martian.) It never rang true for me...I'm sure even the Gambinos have a few good eggs in their family. But a whole race? Any why do they look like monsters? Why can't White Martians be pleasant-looking humanoids? I'll take evil out of choice, like Blanx and Bel Juz, over evil out of genetics any day. I suppose that's just a change in society from now to 40 years ago...I guess readers now are less likely to accept a character who chooses evil as opposed to one who is born evil, perhaps? Maybe that's why I never could warm up to modern White Martians.

Diabolu Frank said...

What I saw of J'Onn's fighting style in season one made me think the animators were fans of the Vision. Manhunter has done the variable density thing before, but he mostly stole it from Marvel Comics.

I really liked the Huntress/Question episodes, and even did a pair of fan videos for them set to the tune of "Conquest" by Patti Page/The White Stripes (one each.)

Miss Martian isn't a traitor in the comics, and she's not very ambiguous. It's just that her identity is constructed through emulation and good intentions, a fragile notion which left her fated to turn evil in one possible future. This is likely due to her heritage and the emotional instability that allowed her to lash out and unintentionally decapitated said future self. Again, this separates her from both Martian Manhunter and Supergirl, so I'm down with it.

My rationale for the White Martians is that they're equivalent to Cro-Magnons. They're savages from before the dawn of mankind with a rudimentary social order that doesn't pass muster in modern times. The Pale Martians could have descended from them. It isn't so much that they're inherently evil as they're throwbacks with unacceptable values by our standards. Anyway, there weren't any good Pale Martians either (represented solely by Blanx and his men,) and they have no excuse beyond being created in 1969.