Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 “Martian Manhunter by Ray Bradbury and Frank Frazetta” color art

Click To Expand & Enlarge. Not Entirely Safe for Work

CBR's Comics Should Be Good columnists offered a challenge as part of The Line it is Drawn:
"...We thought it would be interesting to have you come up with all-time dream runs that would never happen on various superhero titles and our artists will try to make it come to life as best that they can. Ernest Hemingway/Steve Ditko on Superman? Bill Watterson on X-Force? James Joyce/Pablo Picasso on Spider-Man? Feel free to get weird!"
Gus Lindgren suggested Ray Bradbury & Frank Frazetta team up on the Manhunter from Mars, which Nick Perks rendered sumptuously. However, there is implied full frontal nudity in the completed image, as well as a twist ending, so be forewarned before clicking the link in the image offered.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Malefic vs. Black Adam

Debut: 1998
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: The JLA
Appearances: 15+ comics
Powers: Flight, shape-shifting, Laser Vision and other heightened ocular abilities, nigh-invulnerability, invisibility, intangibility, and superhuman strength/ speed/ physique/ senses/ reflexes/ endurance and sometimes telepathy.

Bio: Ma'alefa'ak is the evil twin brother of J'Onn J'Onzz, established from birth by his own mother as the darkness to the Martian Manhunter's light. Ma'alefa'ak molested and killed much of his extended family, including being credited with unleashing a plague that wiped out most of the inhabitants of Mars.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Asmodel (13-6); Bizarro (11-3), Commander Blanx (5-2); Darkseid (?); Despero (9-7); Fernus (18-5); The Hyperclan (10-4); The Master Gardener (13-5)
Lose: Despero (?)
Draw: 0

Debut: 1945
Nemesis: Captain Marvel
Other Major Foes: Marvel Family, JSA, Superman
Appearances: Nearly 400 comics; animation and audiobooks.
Powers: Super strength/speed/stamina/senses, invulnerability, magical lightning bolts and flight.

Bio: Teth-Adam was a champion empowered by the wizard Shazam in ancient Egypt. Corrupted by his power, Black Adam was banished to a distant star, and spent thousands of years flying back to Earth. Once there, he battled the Marvel Family, and eventually, much of the rest of the DC Universe. He nearly eradicated all human, animal and insect life in the country of Bialya.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: B'enn B'urnzz (5-1)
Lose: 0
Draw: 0

Idol Speculation:
This is one of the nastiest and mightiest pairings that could be put together. Ma'alefa'ak hasn't displayed powers comparable to the upper limits of Black Adam, but he's also never been Geoff Johns' pet villain given carte blanche during an event. Like Captain Marvel, Teth-Adam's power levels have never been consistent, which explains how he could be a piker from when DC started licensing him in the the '70s to his reintroduction as a wholly-owned character Post-Crisis and his being the Marvel Family whipping boy throughout the '90s. A few times a decade, Superman would throw Black Adam a charity beating just to keep him in the public eye. He's no sacred cow, and he's hardly unbeatable.

Meanwhile, Ma'alefa'ak is J'Onn J'Onzz's evil twin brother. If he still has his psychic barriers in place, he has all of the Martian Manhunter's physical powers and none of his major weaknesses. If he's got his full telepathy, Malefic will not hesitate to mentally brutalize Black Adam, and that "feel the pain of the world" crap that sent J'Onn off the deep end during 52 wouldn't bother a homicidal maniac like Ma'al. Invisible, intangible, incognito via shape-shifting: Malefic has every first strike advantage without any hesitation or remorse in using them. Teth-Adam has sunk to new lows in the New 52 by murdering his own nephew to claim the power of Shazam, but Ma'alefa'ak scoffs at mere child killing when he telepathically raped his sister-in-law, destroyed his mother's mind, orchestrated his father's death, and then loosed a plague that wiped out most of Mars, including his own child niece.

Black Adam goes hard, but he still has a twisted sense of nobility. Anything he would do, Malefic would do harder, faster, gleefully with maximum suffering. Ma'alefa'ak hasn't made nearly as many appearances as Black Adam, but he's served quality each time, assailing whole JLA teams. Make no mistake, win or lose, no one walks away from this in one piece...

Friday, September 27, 2013

2011 “The Namekian Manhunter” by Jeffrey 'CHAMBA' Cruz

Click To Enlarge

Sorry Zook. The "Comrades of Mars" menu I've been working furiously on won't be finished today, so here's a antennaed mash-up instead...
"Current Skratchjam theme.
Manga character cosplaying as Comic character (or vice-versa)

It's Piccolo
Martian Manhunter"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2013 Zook Comicpalooza Commission by Amanda Lafrenais

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Amanda Lafrenais is the creator of the free webcomic Love Me Nice, which I'll happily link to, and a contributor to the subscription-only adult erotic anthology Slipshine, which you'll have to get to on your own (keeping it PG, y'all.) Love Me Nice is about the behind-the-scenes antics of actors from a TV show in a universe where cartoons characters and average folk interact, and looks like fun.

One of the themes of the strip is that the 'toons and the more humanoid/anime characters are the same species, but the former was treated as lesser beings until recent times. Zook is a character that artists sometimes struggle with, treating him as purely an animal or an alien, when his other-dimensional nature is more like a cartoon made flesh in a straightforward super-hero strip. Lafrenais is uniquely suited to interpret Zook's conflicted nature, juxtaposing the animated aesthetic with a more realistic infantile body, both cute and slightly unnerving. It's like an unintentional inversion of Mark Ryden; a completely innocent and sweet drawing of a creature the mind perceives as ever so slightly "wrong" because of too much lifelike reality mingled into its DNA.

Zook is a polarizing character among Martian Manhunter fans, with his pidgin English/baby talk and his representing a period where the strip shifted toward odd monster of the month fare ever more divorced from the pseudo-reality of the original sci-fi crime strip. I personally found Zook a bright spot during a creatively dire period, and I find it interesting how Lafrenais' interpretation confronts "the haters" with the inherent, blameless naiveté of the creature. How can you be disdainful of something so defenseless and pure, the manifestation of editor Jack Schiff's attempt to allow a comic strip to remain wholly owned by the children that once read it? Instead, the already increasingly sophomoric and demanding man-children that would consume the comic medium were soon given Marco Xavier, Vulture, and a grimness ahead of its time.

I thoroughly enjoy Amanda Lafrenais' piece, both for the craft demonstrated in the caricature/anatomy/coloring and for the recontextualization of the character it inspires. Lafrenais is also one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic artists I have ever met, speaking openly and giddily with fans as friends. A passing mention of her work's resemblance to Ross Cambell launches an anecdote about the mutual admiration society they ended up forming. She laughs unreservedly, and seems fully immersed in the joy that can come from this medium, too often drowned out by age and cynicism. Both her art and her persona are a reminder of why so many of us are devoted to comics, and I recommend visiting her at a convention if you get the opportunity as a four color homeopathic alternative to SSRIs.

Amanda Lafrenais' web site is a nice place to visit, but please remember that many links there are VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! Zook Entry

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Martian Manhunter-specific characters have been treated shabbily by DC Comics through broad omission. None appear in any major reference sources, including Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe and The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Professor Arnold Hugo got an entry in The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Volume 1: Batman, but they got his name wrong, and Malefic received a Secret Files & Origins profile page, but that's about it. When I saw ads for the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia!, I was happy to see both J'Onn J'Onzz and Zook in the cover collage, so I bought the book. I should be overjoyed that Zook received his own entry, as well as appearing in the table of contents, index, and "Hero Pets Size Chart!" It's just that they get virtually everything about the character wrong.

The book states that Zook is from Mars, but he's actually from another dimension. It says he has Martian Vision, X-ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision, heat vision, "and much more!" In fact, Zook has no vision powers whatsoever, especially Martian Vision, because as I mentioned, he's not a Martian. The book also claims Zook can read minds, fly, and has superhuman strength, speed and invulnerability. None of this is true to continuity. In the comics, Zook only ever appeared in isolated Martian Manhunter stories, aside from a cameo in Superman/Batman (where he briefly met the Justice League,) and an apocryphal death scene in Ambush Bug: Year None. Here, his "allies" are listed as Beppo the Super-Monkey, Big Ted (Hawkman & Hawkwoman's invented red hawk,) K'uddles (property of Miss Martian) and most galling, Dusty the Tasmanian Devil, pet of The Usurper himself, Red Tornado. Only K'uddles reciprocates in these supposed friendships. There's no mention of the Idol-Head, but Zook's Super-Pet "foes" are Bizarro Krypto, Brainicat, Charcole (Trigon's mini demon,) and the only remotely appropriate one, Omegan (a small Apokoliptian parademon.) All of these bad pets have their own allies and foes, but Zook isn't singled out in either category.

I could lay much of the blame at the feet of writer Steven Korté, but even artist Art Baltazar offers an uncharacteristic cocky posture and gives Zook a body suit with a different shade of orange from his face. Zook is an otherdimensional pet, and basically just a cartoon character rendered in a super-hero universe. Why are we suddenly so concerned about his genitalia? They don't put pants on Despero!

I get that these guys created a lot of new pets for characters who've never had any (including way too many Lantern corpsmen,) but when you're presenting a preexisting character, should responsibility to those creators supersede your already generous creative license? I want to be supportive, and I appreciate the appealing art, but it all goes bitter when there's clearly not enough respect for the subject to get anything right. I'll give them red licorice as a favorite food (though I don't recall Zook ever eating, now that it's come up...)

Despite my criticisms, the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! is overall a fun book and quite a bargain. The full color magazine sized 128-page book is available for just $7.95 in paperback or $18.95 in hardcover from Picture Window Books, a capstone imprint.

DC Super-Pets!
  • Jumpa @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  • Skitters @ DC Bloodlines
  • Spot @ Power of the Atom
  • Tibbar @ Justice League Detroit

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Boy All-Stars #1 (April, 1963)

After the success of The All-Stars, Jack Schiff ran into a bit of a problem with where to go next. The Aquaman and Green Arrow solo books had done well enough, but not gangbusters, and neither World's Finest's Robotman feature nor Detective Comics' Manhunter from Mars seemed poise to follow their leap. More troubling, despite the super-hero boom, the Batman books had yet to recover the ground they had lost in the '50s. As a team, Schiff could boast of having All-Stars, but not so much when taken individually. Letterhacks and other editors had floated the idea of creating a group out of the All-Stars' sidekicks, so Schiff began developing the concept as a revival of the Boy Commandos. However, Schiff had concerns about portraying the kids as child soldiers in the less innocent Vietnam era, and decided to instead strengthen the connection to the parent book with the simple "Boy All-Stars."

Robin, Speedy and Aqualad were givens, since all three were visible through their mentors' books. That would serve as a good core line-up, but as with The All-Stars, why waste an opportunity to spotlight other characters? Wanting the boys to have pets and allow Schiff's current strips increased exposure, Robbie the Robotdog and the newly created Zook were added as supporting players. The Boy All-Stars would learn lessons of camaraderie, leadership, morality, community service, and even practical application of science, all fitting with Schiff's progressive ideals as taught through the team's adult chaperons.

On the cover of the first issue, Superman declared "The All-Stars don't have the time to babysit you sidekicks anymore! Meet your new denmothers!" While Batwoman and Merry the Girl with 1,000 Gimmicks did indeed put the boys through their paces in the book length debut story by Arnold Drake and Chic Stone, most of the adult All-Stars would take turns guiding the wards. However, a rule was put into place that no mentor could watch over his own sidekick (to avoid favoritism,) so Robin had to stay home with Alfred in Batman stories, Speedy became a latchkey kid when Green Arrow supervised, and so on. At two adventures per issue, this cycling spiced up the edutainment, plus it created interesting sub-groups.

Each issue's twin stories were treated like anthology material by Schiff's regular talent pool, including writers Jack Miller, Dave Wood, and Arnold Drake, as well as artists Howard Purcell, Jim Mooney, Win Mortimer, Bill Ely, George Roussos, and Paul Parker. In 1964, Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris began routinely producing the lead story, with occasional back-up sprucing by the likes of Bob Oksner and Alex Toth. It was Finger who brought back Merry, who'd disappeared after the first issue as a mentor, only to return as a teen peer in the Liberty Belle-led stories. Robin was never allowed on any Superman or Batman groups to avoid conflict with World's Finest Comics, resulting in Bat-Girl being the first female to officially join the Boys. When the "secret weapon" Supergirl turned up later, it was sporadically, and for some reason she only appeared in Martian Manhunter and Spectre chaperon stories (later acknowledged in stories from 1977 & 1981.) Green Arrow favored smaller, less powerful groups, while Doctor Fate herded most every "Boy" in his epics. Joanie Swift had the fewest appearances, a guest mentor in only one story, while Zook was the most consistent presence overall, especially late in the run after he was abandoned by his master's strip.

The early success of Boy All-Stars led to an odd short-lived feature in The Brave and the Bold called "The Teen Titans," in which Kid Flash used the Cosmic Treadmill to travel through time to team-up with Superboy and Wonder Girl for fun, just the sort of silliness one would expect from Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon. It seemed like there was a limited market for teen heroes in general, with sales on Boy All-Stars declining as civic service went out and civil protest came in, leading to its cancellation in 1968. Most of the sidekicks were phased out of publishing as a whole in the 1970s, and many were killed/wiped from continuity during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Stars Robin & Supergirl came out of that mess okay though, while a travel worn Robotdog still roams the streets alongside Robert Crane, and Zook turns up now and again. May the rest of those swell kid heroes continue to frolic in the great beyond!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2009 “New Zook” color art by Jeff Martinez

Click For More
"My "Krypto" version of J'onn J'onzz's Zook again,although slightly redesigned.

I liked how this one turned out."
Another Zook piece from the only fan artist of the character that comes to mind. By the way, this whole week will be devoted to Zook. There will be profile pages, commissions, fan fiction-- the works. The little guy deserves his own month, but all I have in me right now is a week. Sorry Zook.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Diabolu Idol-Head vs. Pandora's Box (Earth-3)

The Diabolu Idol-Head
Debut: 2000
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: Zook
Appearances: 13+ comics
Powers: Contains countless monsters which it can summon on full moons.

Bio: The wizard Diabolu created the Idol-Head to cause destruction against the world he hated. Reopened in modern times, the idol began releasing supernatural threats on a routine basis until it was finally crushed by the Alien Atlas.

Pandora's Box (Earth-3)
Debut: 2012
Nemesis: Pandora
Other Major Foes: Justice Leagues, A.R.G.U.S., John Constantine
Appearances: A few dozen comics?
Powers: Causes extreme manifestations of the seven deadly sins in people within close proximity. Dimensional gateway to Earth-3.

Bio: Planted on our world from an opposing dimension of evil, this pseudo-equivalent to a Mother Box caused great hardship on Earth for millennia. It was destroyed by the Outsider to bring forth the Crime Syndicate.

Idol Speculation:
Pandora's Box was a highly sought after artifact, but technically, somebody has to find it and carry it around for it to do anything. The Diabolu Idol-Head, through unrevealed means, traveled extensively throughout the world, evading the Sleuth from Outer Space for over a year. The Idol-Head could theoretically escape from any harm Pandora's Box could generate, and even in the absence of human agents, the Idol-Head could unleash a destructive force upon the box once or twice a month of its own volition. That, or Ultraman's pee melts the Idol-Head, though Pandora's Box would already be obliterated to facilitate his presence.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Hunter Commander J'en Comicpalooza Commission by Bob Layton

Click To Enlarge

Bob Layton was in Houston back in 2011, and if there was one decision I agonized over that year, it was whether or not to get a commission from him. My first time getting commissions was the previous year, at the full-blown debut of Comicpalooza, which had previously been some little thing I'd never heard about held in a movie theater lobby and a mall. In 2010, that "débutante" big show drew all of 3,000 attendees, and I imagine that I was getting "market testing" low quotes. In 2011, attendance doubled, but I was still getting fairly meager quotes. I was in school, relatively broke, and had rarely come close to spending $100 on a single piece. I stood in the midst of the con floor in some sort of quasi-Aspergian fit, frozen with indecision as I weighed the pros and cons. Ultimately, I chose to get two other pieces for that c-note, Roderick Thornton's Scorch and Adrian Nelson's Bloodwynd, and I got good work as a result, but I never stopped regretting missing out on a Layton.

Two years later, con attendance is now in the neighborhood of 20,000, and the average price of a commission has similarly blown up. Guys I started out paying $20-40 now command $100, and the few I previously paid a Benjamin for now request the Franklin twins. The quality of the pieces has often risen commensurately, and thankfully my own resources have grown, so it's the new norm. When I saw that Layton was back in town, I did not hesitate to employ his services. Now I just had to figure out his subject.

Bob Layton remains the Iron Man artist, thanks in part to being the guy who taught the industry how to draw gleaming chromed metal in pencil and ink. There's no shortage of armored characters related to the Martian Manhunter, and I assure you that I considered all of them. The sidebar of icons was the ultimate decision maker. Inspired by The Aquaman Shrine, I'd started putting figures there that linked to biographical pages of the sort Layton was no stranger to, thanks to his many entries in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. One of the earliest icons I did was for Hunter Commander J'en, a Bronze Age love interest turned attempted assassin that I was fond of. I learned how to edit art on a computer as I went along with the blog, and while the quality Alan Kupperberg art I merged to create the profile image did an adequate job as a full body reference, my poor skills offered a crude representation of his work. That I further butchered it into a ratty little icon added further insult, both to Kupperberg and the character. In the meantime, I'd gotten a very nice J'en piece by Chris Beaver, but her body positioning made it look like she was trying to shoot lower seated characters with her ray gun. I needed to try again.

Layton and Tony Stark share a passion for lovely ladies and armor, so Bob was perfectly happy to take my request. We chatted a bit about his career before I handed him my copies of Justice League of America #228-230 as reference. Layton's a bit of a raconteur, capable of striking up a conversation with anyone, and it was no surprise that whenever I approached his table he was up to talking shop, getting hugged by a cute Asian girl, or grousing about the difficulty in realistically interpreting the anatomy of Rob Liefeld's Diehard (within earshot of studio mate Marat Mychaels.) One of my best friends' favorite character is Iron Man, and favorite run was Layton's, so they got along marvelously as Layton signed books meticulously sought out at the con. Unsurprisingly, J'en turned out great, but I didn't realize how much effort was packed into the piece until I amateurishly tried coloring every nook and cranny in MS Paint. Thankfully, Layton idiot-proofed the work, and J'en has gone from being one of the worst sidebar icons to one of the best. Now my only regret is that I didn't get a second commission, because there are so many other characters I want him to do!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2012 Martian Manhunter digital painting by Mattias Fahlberg

Click To Enlarge
"I started this painting a couple of weeks ago but never got around to finish it. But today I picked it up and a couple of hours later it was done!

The challenge with this was to take the original Martian Manhunter design and try to make it more current. I had a blast with this. I hope you guys dig it! Enjoy!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 Martian Manhunter fan art by Jett Sapitula

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"Edited photo for a fan poster of justice league

Peter Mensah as J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter"

Monday, September 16, 2013

2012 “YJ:I - Miss Martian” color art by Rose McClain

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"While watching the newest Young Justice episode with my little cousin this morning, I felt the need to do some fanart of Miss Martian (who is still my favorite character). Throw in some lighting and spot black experiments, and here we are!

This was done completely digitally in about 9 or so hours with my old Wacom tablet.

Miss Martian belongs to DC."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

1963 DC Comics Subscription Ad

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Here's one I've been sitting on for years. Just a few months before the end of Schiff lengthy run as Batman editor, here's an ad for the two books still modeled after Bob Kane. Next, the shift in The Brave and the Bold to a team-up anthology allows debut heroes Green Arrow and the Manhunter from Mars visibility ahead of J'onn J'onzz moving to The House of Mystery. Superman gets some play, but I get more of a kick from the Atom and the Justice League. I love the hodgepodge of Silver Age art styles and new/repurposed illustrations! My scan came from Detective Comics #322.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Scorch vs. Captain Cold

Aubrey Sparks
Debut: 2000
Nemesis: Fernus
Other Major Foes: Superman, Martian Manhunter
Appearances: 25+ comics
Powers: Fire control and teleportation.

Bio: Aubrey Sparks was a redneck transformed by Emperor Joker into a hard-living devil girl. Her mental instability caused her to clash with various heroes until she struck up a bargain with J'Onn J'Onzz to fix her mind if she cured his weakness against fire. Both were temporarily successful, until the ancient Martian id monster Fernus cooked her brain.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: S'vor (9-6); Bel Juz (7-4*); Human Flame (9-4); Effigy
Lose: Bette Noir (7-8*); Killer Frost (4-17); The Saturnian Criminal (4-5)
Draw: 0
*Denotes multi-participant match, rather that a duel.

captain cold photo: Captain Cold CaptainCold.jpg

Captain Cold
Debut: 1957
Nemesis: The Flash
Other Major Foes: Other Flash Rogues.
Appearances: 500+ comics, numerous cartoons, a live action television episode, and some video games.
Powers: Can generate freezing cold and slow the molecules within himself and others; for example, slowing the Flash to normal human speed through a field of inertia.

Bio: In the New 52, Leonard Snart blamed the Flash for an EMP that interfered with his sister receiving life-saving laser surgery. Thanks to experimental modifications made to his body, Captain Cold has the power to mete out lethal vengeance.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: Alex Dunster (12-0)
Lose: 0
Draw: 0

Idol Speculation:
Leonard Snart was one of the first villains of the Silver Age, predating Mr. Freeze by two years. He pitted his freeze gun against the Flash for fifty-five years, though he spent a decade or so as a bit of a joke after Barry Allen died. I became a fan during that period, starting with a guest appearance in Manhunter, but I was happy to see him redeemed as a threat under Mark Waid and Geoff Johns. More recently, in the New 52, Captain Cold's freezing abilities have been internalized and magnified.

That's great and all, but Scorch was built to fight members of the Superman Family and the Manhunter from Mars. The only Flash villains that can seriously punch in that class don't tend to be classified among the typical Rogues, and Captain Cold is the archetypal Rogue. The Pre-Flashpoint veteran Cold didn't have the raw power to hang with Aubrey Sparks, and the new model is a comparative rookie who arguably still doesn't. Even if Snart froze Sparks, she could just teleport away and roast him later. The lady takes it.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

“The Martian Manhunter is the Shemp of the Justice League”

During a stand-up special, comedian Bob Saget tells a story of watching an episode of South Park with his daughter that ridiculed him as ugly and boring on America's Funniest Home Videos. Saget curses the television, and then his daughter supposedly said "Well, they're not wrong." So then Saget turns on his daughter, cursing her and cutting her off financially.

In a 2004 E! Entertainment article titled Martian Manhunter Need Not Apply that could have just as easily been published this year with a few updates, writer Joal Ryan wondered why Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman were all getting talked up for movies, questioned why the Alien Atlas wasn't in contention, and randomly chose Mark Evanier as his only quoted source for perspective. Evanier offered such gems as, "The Martian Manhunter is the Shemp of the Justice League," said of his exclusion from early cartoons "It is kind of sad," and characterized the "J'onn J'onzz" strip in Detective Comics as "just a space filler."

Now Mark Evanier and Bob Saget are not dissimilar in their career arcs. Evanier is best known as a comic book professional for providing scripts for Sergio Aragonés comics, plus he set up his creator owned DNAgents and Crossfire at Eclipse back in the '80s. More broadly, he's become the unofficial mouthpiece for all things related to the late Jack Kirby, and he's made a living writing for television and animation since the 1970s. If you bother watching Bob Saget's act, it's probably because he constantly namedrops his co-stars on Full House and otherwise exploits those past relationships. So on the one hand, who the hell asked the guy with scripts for The Love Boat through The Garfield Show on his IMDb page, but on the other hand, he's not wrong, is he?

"John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars" was introduced in 1955, and the strip ran for over a hundred issues, as every other non-Batman feature was dumped from Detective Comics over the succeeding nine years. J'onn J'onzz was not a super-hero character, but a science fantasy/crime strip that was converted to super heroes ahead of his inclusion in the Justice League of America. Despite Green Arrow having been published continually since World War II, League editor Julie Schwartz "forgot" about him and used J'onn J'onzz as a founding member of his team, most likely because he wanted a Superman-type character, but did not have unfettered access to the actual Superman from competing editor Mort Weisinger.

When Jack Schiff was made to hand over Detective Comics to Schwartz, Schiff thought enough of the Martian Manhunter to make him the headliner in House of Mystery, and he was given two early team-up adventures in The Brave and the Bold, which had previously launched the League. The strip continued until 1968, when Jack Schiff retired from comics and new editor Joe Orlando decided to return House of Mystery to its roots as a horror anthology. In total, 133 "Manhunter from Mars" strips were produced over thirteen years time, whereas a strip it pushed out, "Roy Raymond, TV Detective" ran for about a hundred less installments. The Elongated Man, which replaced Martian Manhunter in Detective Comics in 1964, lasted 57 issues over six years. So no, "The Manhunter from Mars" was not just filler material.

Association with the Justice League can be a boon, but is often a curse. As one of DC's most popular series, the team book has influenced the perception of characters for generations of readers who have limited-to-no exposure to member heroes in their own titles. Captain Marvel outsold Superman and is meant to have the Wisdom of Solomon, but Giffen & DeMatteis played him for laughs in a half dozen early issues of Justice League, and he's struggled with the lazy shorthand of an idiot "Captain Whitebread" ever since. Wonder Woman had no personality in the original Gardner Fox League stories, '70s writers turned her into a grating straw feminist, and both poor representations have been present under various writers ever since. These are inarguably two of the greatest super-heroes of all time, creatively, commercially and in regard to cultural impact, but their shoddy JLA treatment makes them perpetual features in moronic/hit trolling articles like 50 Comic Characters Who Should Never Get A Movie* and 10 superheroes who really don't need their own movie.

The Martian Manhunter suffers from a similar problem, but on a much smaller scale. Critics say that he has no supporting cast, villains, or stories worthy of adaptation, having never read anything but his guest and group appearances. Even if all of their points were true, what's wrong with the premise of a kid who says a magic word to become a hero, or an Amazonian warrior ambassador, or a stranded alien who helps out his adoptive world? If you could quit naysaying for half a second, you might appreciate that even B'wana Beast could fly as an action-comedy. Only the most dire and otherwise terrifically problematic properties are truly worthy of the scorn often heaped by these dunces on beloved figures like Aquaman, who could never, say, outsell every Marvel comic for two months to become on of DC's most popular heroes?

That having been said, "John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars" was a lame strip. It was competent and modestly enjoyable for the standards of the time, but Schiff's books lacked the ambition of Schwartz's & Weisinger's. There's material there that could be salvaged, and the basics of the feature are sound, but it was inessential product. Sales on Detective Comics improved with the editorial/creative turnover, while House of Mystery's numbers were only marginally and temporarily improved by hosting the Martian Manhunter before declining again. J'onn J'onzz was phased out of Justice League of America with no appreciable impact, and barely appeared in comics, via reprints and guest spots, from 1969-1983. Despite returning to the JLA in 1984 and receiving an action figure in 1985, he was passed over as a Super Friend and would not debut in an animated series until 2001.

Martian Manhunter received a four issue mini-series in 1988, but by the final installment was selling less than half as much in the direct market as the parent title that spawned it, Justice League International. The 1992 prestige mini-series American Secrets did a little better, selling the same ratio at a much more elevated price point. For comparison's sake, the twenty-fifth & final issue of the first Booster Gold series sold only slightly worse in 1988, while the Martian Manhunter's debut issue in 1992 sold half that of Guy Gardner: Reborn #1 at the same price. In 1998, Martian Manhunter #0 sold far less than half of JLA #23 in the same month. A year later, the book was selling comparably to Spirit of the Tao and Webspinners Tales Of Spider-Man. Its final issue was outsold by Spawn: The Dark Ages #31 and Sam And Twitch #26, but at least it pulled slightly ahead of Azrael Agent of the Bat #82. 2006's Martian Manhunter #1 sold almost a thousand copies less than OMAC #2, but pulled ahead of Outsiders #39. By the finale of the mini-series, the audience had been halved, narrowly besting Helmet of Fate: Zauriel.

There has never been a breakout series success for the Martian Manhunter. Firestorm has had four series volumes totally 160 issues. The Atom has had three volumes of 81 total issues, Hawkman 178 issues across six volumes, and even Animal Man's two volumes have seen over a hundred issues and counting. The Sleuth from Outer Space offered 38 issues in his single ongoing edition. Due to his prominent role in the very popular JLA during its decade run and the visibility afforded the character as a founding Leaguer featured in the Cartoon Network animated series, there is a common assumption that J'onn J'onzz is a bigger name than he's ever proven to be.

The Martian Manhunter is no Shemp Howard. Shemp was one of the early members of the Stooges, left before they hit it big, came back to replace the deceased Curly, and inspired the term "shemping." People know and like Shemp, but he wasn't as necessary or as faithful to the troupe Moe & Larry. That sounds more like Wonder Woman to me. Martian Manhunter is more like Ted Healy, the forgotten inspiration for the Stooges coming together who had a contentious relationship with the team, disappeared for long stretches, and was the first of the lot to pass away. Alternately, he's Joe DeRita, whose ego prevented him from replacing Curly in 1946, so he waited until 1957 to succeed Joe Besser, outlasted Moe & Larry, recruited Emil Sitka, Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell as replacements, but then dissolved the group when his own health declined. No wait, I just talked myself into AquaJoe.

It's not a smooth analogy no matter how you play it, but the point is, Martian Manhunter isn't even up to Shemp's level yet, and that's okay. Martian Manhunter is an imperfect character who's still waiting for his defining run with the right creator. Like Marvel Comics' Blade (as screenwritten by David Goyer and later Geoff Johns,) I think J'onn J'onzz might have to wait for the transition to cinema to become fully realized in a way he's yet to be in comic books. Green Lantern was DC's hottest property in 2011, but that meant nothing to general audiences, who preferred seeing Seth Rogen as the more obscure Green Hornet. Indie favorites the Crow and Hellboy have made mincemeat out of the Punisher and Daredevil movies. It used to be "comic book" elements were thought to not transition to movies at all, but the brightly costumed Spider-Man and Iron Man have made far more money than the downplayed X-Men. The trick is to figure out what works best for each medium, a strength I feel Martian Manhunter has cinematically over a lot of more accomplished heroes in published adventures. Despite running down the character, Mark Evanier consoled, "All it really takes is a hot, young filmmaker who remembers a comic when he was young," and regardless of the medium, I believe the Sleuth from Outer Space's day will come.

*The doltish Jason Serafino ranked J'Onn #26 while using the same stock image from the 2006 Martian Manhunter mini-series that everyone else who's done a variation on this stupid list throws up, despite it's being out of date twice over as of 2012. His rational was also per usual, with added lack of a "unique personality." CTRL+X, CTRL+V. No imagination.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013 M'yri'ah & K'hymm J'onzz Comicpalooza Commission by Jamie Kinosian

Click To Enlarge

"I want to make a post about the greatness of Comicpalooza but I’m so exhausted and sore I can barely think or move. But wow Houstonites sure make me feel like a rock star. Meanwhile I’m getting ready for our road trip on Wednesday to Denver for DCC. HOBOY."
After picking up her Perkins Preston and Patty Marie Commission at last year's Comicpalooza, I saw that Jamie Kinosian was coming back a few months later for Space City Con. I thought about which other subject(s) would suit her gentle style, and realized that she would be the perfect artist for my first piece to feature J'Onn J'Onzz's dearly departed wife and daughter. In fact, it would have been such a great fit for the blog's fifth anniversary celebration, I kicked myself for not thinking of M'yri'ah & K'hymm first! Unfortunately, I never saw Kinosian at SCC, but I was 100% confident in approaching her at Comicpalooza this summer, a rarity this con season.

Once again, Kinosian produced a lovely watercolor work of art on sturdy textured 9" x 12" board. I've got to start carrying some with me to shows, because comic board gets warped all to heck under paint, but it holds up very well here. Appreciate the delicacy of Kinosian's line; the naturalistic quality and the clear affection between mother and daughter. These characters are so often portrayed under tragic circumstances, near the premature end of their lives, so it's heartwarming to see them happy in better, normal times. By the way, Kinosian was at SCC in August, but I only showed up on Sunday, and her commission list was fit to bursting. Between that at looking at this stack of unpainted art from Comicpalooza, I think it's about time she raises her rates!

Jamie Kinosian

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Martian Sightings for December, 2013

Martian Manhunter
Written by MATT KINDT
1:25 Variant cover by DALE EAGLESHAM
1:100 B&W Variant cover by EDDY BARROWS and EBER FERREIRA
On sale DECEMBER 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US

A FOREVER EVIL tie-in! The survivors of the Crime Syndicate’s attack now face a world where Earth’s most dangerous criminals are in charge. Can they bring a new team together in time to combat them?

Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
You know, I really thought Barrows would have been perfect for taking over Aquaman from Ivan Reis, but this image just gives me bad Teen Titans flashbacks. Are these cretins getting their jollies by making Stargirl set her farts on fire? Anyway, if J'Onn J'Onzz isn't here, where else could he be?

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
1:25 Villain A cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
1:25 Villain B cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
1:25 Villain C cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
1:200 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale DECEMBER 24 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 7, $3.99 US
RATED T • Combo pack edition: $4.99 US

It’s all-out chaos as the DC Universe continues its march through darkness! War erupts across the Earth between the villains! Allegiances are formed! Rivals are murdered! And at center stage it’s Lex Luthor versus Batman—and their fight couldn’t come at a worse time as Deathstroke’s Hunting Party closes in on the world’s only hope against the Crime Syndicate!

Retailers: This issue will ship with six covers. Please see the order form for more information. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

Well, that does seem plausible, doesn't it?

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
1:25 Variant cover by AARON KUDER
1:100 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale DECEMBER 24 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US

A FOREVER EVIL tie-in! Why has the Crime Syndicate really come to our Earth? What are their darkest secrets? And how will their actions fundamentally change the Justice League as we know it? Meanwhile, Grid controls the world’s power and communications, but what does he truly want from the Syndicate? Plus, a member of the League struggling to survive plots a path of return...and revenge.

Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for details. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
Returning to an earlier discussion, Geoff Johns announced this month that he's leaving Aquaman with #25, has already left Green Lantern, and doesn't seem to be returning to Justice League of America anytime soon. Lots of name creators have gone off the DC grid lately, and not to cry wolf yet again, but might we finally be getting that Martian Manhunter series as part of a more potent wave of New 52 launches? With my luck to date, Johns and Francis Manapul will just team up for a Nightwing project instead...

Vibe & Gypsy
On sale DECEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Can Vibe save his brother, stop an alien invasion and stay alive? That last one may be a tall order!
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:25 Variant cover by CLIFF CHIANG
1:100 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale DECEMBER 4 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US

Throughout the cosmos, one name commands respect and fear above all others. That name is MONGUL, and the world-conquering despot has his eyes set on Earth! And unless Batman and Superman can take down the mad, monstrous might of Mongul, the whole world will suffer!

Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2010 Workman DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex Martian Manhunter card

Three years ago, Workman Publishing put out a novelty die-cut fanned reference pocket book for DC heroes. I ran the published advertisement for it, with plans to purchase it, but then was turned off when I saw the finished product. Our buddy The Irredeemable Shag sent me some scans for the blog, but for a while there it seemed like everybody and there mother was posting them, and mobs have never been my scene. So, I've been sitting on these all this time, but hey, it's year six, so let's get it in gear.

The image above is by Tom Mandrake, from the cover to Martian Manhunter #9. It was followed by a bunch of common, boring census data, but I liked a couple of bots:

Boy, that sure went out of date fast. I do like "psychic pyrophobia," though. Then the biographical text kicked in, and it was such a nice summation of the John Ostrander series, I'm running most of it here.

Believe it or not, there was once life on Mars, or Ma'aleca'andra, as its native inhabitants called it. For centuries, J'onn J'onzz was a venerated Manhunter, a peacekeeper not unlike police officers on Earth. He was happily married to M'yri'ah, and the two had a daughter named K'hym. The family lived in a modest home beneath the windswept Martian plains. But his domestic idyll was not meant to be. J'onn's twin brother, Ma'alefa'ak, loathed everything about Martian culture. He engineered H'ronmeer's Curse, a contagious psychic virus that responded to the species' innate fear of fire, producing psychosomatic stress so intense they literally burst into flames. The virus wiped out the planet's entire civilization, including J'onn's family.

Forced to watch in horror as his wife and daughter burned to death, J'onn flirted with madness until he was accidentally brought to the Earth of 1955 by Dr. Saul Erdel, via an experimental transportation beam...
Boilerplate runs from there, though I did enjoy the reference to his time as the Bronze Wraith in 1960s Gotham City alongside the Justice Experience. I suppose the New 52 has removed the need for Cameron Chase to have not been born back then so that she wouldn't be pushing fifty today. Anyhow, that gives way to a concise nod to his founding the Justice League of America before offering a testimonial.

A man of great character and wisdom, he is the heart and soul of the team, and the only one to whom Batman will defer.
As a coda, there's a comic book style caption that recounts the plot to Martian Manhunter #24, though they missed the coda within it that rendered the whole thing apocryphal.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

1988 Secret Origins: Martian Manhunter text piece by Mark Waid

As with most issues of Secret Origins, the "Secret Admirers" letter column in the thirty-fifth issue included a biography of characters covered within its pages...

Many comics historians consider J'onn J'onzz to be the first super-hero of the Silver Age of Comics, having debuted in DETECTIVE #225, November, 1955, several months before the Flash was revived in the pages of SHOWCASE and the Age of the Super-Hero began once more in earnest. J'onn's premiere adventure, "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel," written by Joe Samachson and illustrated by Joe Certa, showed a scientist named Erdel inadvertently bringing J'onn to Earth, then dying of a heart attack brought on by the shock of meeting extraterrestrial life.

Though J'onn had a number of super­powers natural to all Martians, the ability to travel through space unaided was not one of them. The Martian, trap­ped on Earth, had to fend for himself. Using the power of "atomic transmuta­tion," J'onn assumed the form of a native called "John Jones" and joined the local police force as a detective.

Under the editorship of Jack Schiff, John Jones, Manhunter from Mars fought crime in the back pages of DETECTIVE for nearly ten years, using his powers in secret and keeping his Martian identity from his friends on the force. And though the Martian Manhunter was a powerful character, possessing many powers that even Superman didn't have, he never achiev­ed stardom, despite even his charter member status in the Justice League of America. Nevertheless, Schiff refused to give up on the character, and when DETECTIVE was handed to Julius Schwartz with issue #327, Schiff took J'onn to HOUSE OF MYSTERY begin­ning with issue #143 (June, 1964) and gave it a new direction by having J'onn jettison his human identity for good, in order to take on the full-time tasks of defeating the Babylonian idol-head of Diabolu, then tracking down an inter­national crime cartel called Vulture.

Well, it was a nice idea, but it wasn't enough to turn the series into a true hit, and when HOUSE OF MYSTERY chang­ed format to become a horror anthology with #174, the Manhunter was home­less for the first time. In his next appear­ance, in the May, 1969 JUSTICE LEAGUE (#71), J'onn left Earth, osten­sibly for good, though he was seen again from time to time around the DC Uni­verse over the next 15 years, after which he returned to our planet and helped form the new, short-lived JLA (JLA ANNUAL #2, 1984). J'onn's involve­ment with that group has carried over to his membership in the current Justice League International, where he serves as leader...

Oh—before we go, it's worth noting that, while no records currently exist naming the writer(s) of J'onn's long-running first series, the artist, Joe Certa, managed something unheard of in today's comics series—he stayed,with the feature from the first, for a remark­able unbroken 13-year run. Think about that the next time your favorite new series hosts a fill-in guest-artist with issue #7....

—Mark Waid

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Despero vs. Lobo

Debut: 1960
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: Starro and various incarnations of the Justice League

Appearances: 150+ comics, several action figures/figurines, playable character in Justice League Task Force video game, and numerous guest appearances in several animated series/features.

Powers: Extraordinary psionic abilities including overwhelming telepathy, possession of consciousness, telekinesis (including flight,) and powerful force blast from third eye. Grossly superhuman strength/stamina/agility, nigh-invulnerable, extraordinary regenerative powers from the tiniest mote, genius intellect, and omni-lingual.

Despero was the tyrannical ruler of the planet Kalanor until he was deposed by the Justice League, leading to numerous retaliatory campaigns by the despot. Despero eventually entered the Flame of Py'tar and was given a massively more powerful form, but was still thwarted by JLA members, most prominently J'Onn J'Onzz.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Bette Noir (7-6), Commander Blanx (7-3), Darkseid (10-9), Doomsday (15-1), Malefic (?), Mongul (?), TOR (12-6)
Lose: Malefic (7-9)
Draw: 0

Debut: 1983
Nemesis: The Demon Etrigan

Other Major Foes: Captain Marvel, Guy Gardner, Hal Jordan, The Ice Man, Martian Manhunter, & Superman.
Appearances: 400+ original comics, including a solo series running over five years and countless mini-series/one-shots. Numerous appearances in animated projects, including an aborted solo cartoon that was converted into a web series. Appeared in a well known fan film and has had a feature film in development hell forever. Canceled solo video game, and a playable character in Injustice: Gods Among Us. Appeared in one novel and is well merchandised.

Powers: Enhanced senses capable of intergalactic tracking, grossly superhuman strength/stamina/durability/agility, extraordinary regenerative powers granting immortality, occasional bouts of technical brilliance, and omni-lingual. Rides a bike capable of rapid interstellar travel and is armed to the teeth with the most devastating handheld weaponry.

Bio: Lobo is the last living citizen of the planet Czarnia, with various accounts blaming him for killing every other member of his race. Lobo is a ruthless and massively formidable intergalactic bounty hunter who often runs afoul of super-heroes and other forces for order.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: Gorilla Grodd (?), Inflict (11-3), Korge (11-3)
Lose: Kanto (3:1), Mongul (?)
Draw: 0

Idol Speculation:
Both of these characters are serious badasses who have dealt and taken serious damage from upper echelon super-beings. They've both jacked-up famous heroes, and they've both been humiliatingly jobbed by relative lame-os in their day. They've even fought each other in the comics in protracted combat with no decisive victor. Despero is fond of the telepathic coup de grâce, a form of attack Lobo has tended to shrug off. Both are insanely strong, savage, and can regenerated from the tiniest bit of remaining matter. Despero has had more humbling defeats and fewer victories, but he also didn't become a cottage industry like Lobo, whose success was based on grinding up one no-name alien meat sack after another.

In this case, I'd handicap based on scale. Lobo typically fights super-heroes one-on-one, getting rather nasty while the boy scouts continue to play fair, until the dispute is settled in some inconclusive manner. Despero takes on entire super-teams by himself, and we're talking top talent, who often have to compromise their principles or pull a deux ex machina out of their cape to stop a Despero rampage. Put simply, when Lobo fought Despero, in between punches the entire JLI continued softening the Kalanorian up while the Czarnian took "breathers" where Despero punched him clear out of the fighting arena. 'Nuff said?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Martian Manhunter Space City Con Head Sketch by Art Thibert

Click To Enlarge

Art Thibert is one of the best embellishers in the business. A lot of inkers are just craftsmen who fill out pencil art, or you have superstars who use a penciler for de facto breakdowns that they overwhelm with their own style. Thibert's one of those rare talents whose work is instantly recognizable, and elevates the finished product, but who also partners with a broad array of pencilers to enhance their work, not assimilate it. I first took note of him when he made Dan Jurgens' work on Adventures of Superman all shiny and modern. I waited for years for his proposed Nightwing mini-series to surface, but he ended up moving to the X-titles instead, where he proved himself as a pretty darned fine penciler on his own. Today, Thibert may be best known for his lengthy partnership with Mark Bagley, producing over a hundred combined issues of Ultimate Spider-Man and Trinity.

I have a few pieces I'm interested in having finished and jazzed up, and discussed the prospect with Thibert at Space City. He was initially hesitant, lacking his usual tools, and it turned out he'd never gotten to draw the Martian Manhunter before, which simply would not do. Thibert whipped up this nifty J'Onn J'Onzz head sketch in short order, and I'm happy to see this particular itch scratched!

Art Thibert

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Detective Comics #225 (November, 1955)

"You've seen all sorts of detectives in action-- F.B.I. agents, private eyes, treasury men. But here-- for the first time anywhere-- is the most unusual of them all... a sleuth 'from out of this world!' Yes-- straight from Mars comes a man who patrols the streets of Earth on a quest to wage war against crime..."
One night in his observatory-lab, the world-famous scientist Professor Mark Erdel completed his greatest invention. "I've built the robot brain of the century! With this invention, I can explore the cosmos-- probe other dimensions! Now-- to test it!" Erdel wasn't sure into what depths of space, time or reality his probe would reach, so it was a stroke of luck that it merely plucked an alien being from the next planet over in the solar system, rather than call Cthulu or some such. The scantily clad towering green male who had been teleported to the lab declared "I read your mind well, Earthman-- and I understand your every thought and word!" While happy that the doctor's invention worked, being a scientist himself on his own world, J'onn J'onzz was in a bit of a rush to return home.

"I am sorry! To do that, I must change the thinking plot of the brain!" Since accurately recalibrating the machine could take some time, weeks or even years, J'onzz decided to shapeshift through his "chameleon-like powers" into a human form. “You meant no harm, I realize that! But I must adapt myself to this planet until I can return to mine-- so that my appearance won’t frighten others! This is easily done!” It was all too much for Dr. Erdel's weak heart. On his deathbed, J'onzz was still promising a curative Xymo serum in exchange for a return trip, but it was no use. “I am really sorry, J’onn J’onzz! I am dying... and I am the only man on Earth who can operate the robot brain! I--I have made a prisoner of you here on Earth... Farewell... Forgive me...”

“The Earth scientist is dead! Truly, as he said, I am a prisoner here on Earth... Millions of miles away--my people are working on project 'Star-Ride'...a rocket ship that will carry them to other worlds! Until that day-- the day they reach Earth-- I am bound to stay here, disguised as an Earthman. How many years will it take-- How many centuries? Until that day-- the day of my release from Earth-- I am doomed to be just another Earthman! But meanwhile, I shall explore my new planet home...” The first stop was a visit to the seashore, to deal with the curse of humanity. “GOLD-- the greatest bartering material on Earth! By my concentration of mind over matter, I am able to extract the gold particles from Earthian seas, thus! This should suffice for now!”

J'Onzz decided to make the best of his stranded status by taking in the sights in a literal globe-trotting exploratory trip on foot. In France, he commented at the Arch of Triumph, “Mars saw it's last war a thousand years ago!") His observations continued on skyscrapers (“Unlike on Mars, so many of the denizens here live in a small area that they build their structures into the skies;”) cars ("...ancient-wheeled vehicles! Hundreds of them, crawling along the same streets where people walk! In another century or two, this will all be changed;”); and most importantly, crime: "Earth is far behind Mars in many ways--but that is natural, since it's a younger planet! But this evil they have--called crime... Mars once had crime--centuries ago! Until the Great Evolution, we had wicked men who preyed on the good. But our enlightened science made all crime obsolete! There seems to be much crime here-- so perhaps, while I am stranded on Earth, I can help the Earthians by fighting this crime! Yes--I think I shall do that!"

J'onn J'onzz became John Jones: Police Detective by just walking into a precinct house, and as an afterthought, the lighting of a desk attendant’s cigarette introduced the final key element that defined the Silver Age Manhunter. “FIRE! The enemy of all Martians! I can do many things that Earthmen can’t do--- but I am vulnerable to FLAME! It is my one weakness!” Much later, John Jones was introduced to his superior officer, Lt. Saunders, at the office of the Chief of Detectives. Lighting another cigarette, Saunders affirmed, " All right, Mr. John Jones--- you’re qualified to become a detective! You’ll be on the force tomorrow!” In his private thoughts, Saunders considered, "I've got a very interesting case for him to go on right away! I'm wondering just how this rookie will make out?" Fairly well, I'd say.

"The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" was written by Joe Samachson and drawn by Joe Certa. This first story established J'onzz's telepathy, invisibility and intangibility powers, as well as his aversion to fire. His annoying bristling at cigarette smoke was present, but at least he became a cop through semi-proper channels. Post-Crisis, he just used telepathy to cash in on the popular "memory implant” meme. It's worth noting that the costumed alien J'onn J'onzz only appeared in six panels, while the rest of the book was filled with a scientist and an introspective rookie policeman. This was clearly no super-hero story, but the start of a series of science fiction tales that were married to crime stories beginning with the next installment...