Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Views From The Longbox Episode 182: Superman In The UK podcast


Since I know Rob and Shag internet-well, I've been following The Fire and Water Podcast weekly since its inception. That was the first time I ever listened to any podcast more than once to that point, and it got me to try many more. Shag actually got his start as a podcasting nuisance on Michael Bailey's Views From The Longbox, which had more than a hundred episodes before I'd ever heard of it. I've listened to it off and on since I first tried it during a Rob Kelley guest appearance. Michael Bailey likes Superman a whole lot, and I don't, so that's part of why I've been a less than faithful listener. Another reason is that Rob and Shag's individual podcast episodes tend to be micro, so if I have anything to add, I can leave comments that pretty well exhaust the subject. View's episodes are more macro, like covering the entire history of the Teen Titans in a couple of hours. I found that this triggered a bad OCD type response from me, like the time I was briefly at a super-boring, low paying, b.s. interim job and spent a day or two there working on a reply to that Titans episode before deciding it was best for everyone involved that I give it up. For my own mental health, and possibly Michael Bailey's, I tend to anonymously, silently cherry pick which Views to download.

My irregular listenership means I missed Episode 182 when it went up back in March. Michael Bailey was joined by Andrew Leyland to discuss Superman Official Annual 1983, a British black and white hardcover collection of DC Comics Presents #27 (November, 1980), #28 (December, 1980) & #29 (January, 1981). Not only had I done my own coverage of these issues, but I also teamed up with Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, who did his own overage of Supergirl vs. Mongul before we both revisited the final chapter. It was fun to get third & fourth opinions on this swell story through the newfangled talkie medium. Michael Bailey and Andrew Leyland also handle some material added to the annual that wasn't related to the main story arc, the little differences between the U.S. and U.K. version, plus they delve into a different annual at the end. Also, they briefly look at Mongul's further career in comics.

Beyond spotlighting the podcast, I also figured I'd leave whatever opinions and factoids I had left on the subject of Mongul battling the Man of Steel, Manhunter from Mars, Maid of Might, the Spectre, and more in the comment section here, where the Alien Atlas' fans can join in...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Scorch Comicpalooza convention head sketch by James O’Barr

Things don't always work out as planned in the sketch collection game. At the recommendation of Anj, I'd intended to get a piece commissioned by Aaron Lopresti, most probably of someone like Patrolwoman Diane Meade. I waited too long, and Lopresti went back home on the very day I'd intended to talk with him. Meanwhile, The Crow artist James O’Barr has been one of my top choices to do a B'rett commission, a character I haven't felt truly captured in previous attempts. O'Barr was often away from his table for panels and such, and when present Crow fans were queued up around him, so I kept putting off talking with him as well. Another fellow I wanted for B'rett was presumed absent until he suddenly turned up on Sunday, so I gave him all my reference on the character. I had a second project going that would allow for another B'rett commission, but the first artist still had my reference materials.

With less than two hours left for the con, I dug through my available options. Lopresti was one of several artists I'd hoped but failed to negotiate a Meade commission from, and when another heroine didn't make it to the page, I was facing a convention with minimal YY representation (at least in subject matter.) With this in mind, I narrowed O'Barr's prospects down to two: Cay'an, who I'd already found a very strong female artist to draw who was sadly booked up this show; and Aubrey Sparks, who seemed like a better fit for O'Barr.

Time was short, and I was still juggling the last commissions, so I was frankly relieved by the minimal contact I had with O’Barr. Some dude in jorts was recording an interview with the artist recorded to his smartphone, so O’Barr's assistant concisely negotiated the details with me. I did tell O'Barr that I dug his work, and a bit about the other commission I'd wanted, but he "prefer(red) to draw a girl, anyway." Given the appealing results, I'm inclined to agree. Where previous takes had displayed Scorch's rebellious redneck devil girl attitude, O’Barr captures her somber, reflective side. Plus, he did his layouts in red pencil, a nice tough.

2007 Martian Manhunter fan art by Caitlin Milan

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I've been meaning to do a Comicpalooza write-up, but I've failed to start on it for two days now, and I never bothered with last year's show at all. I've been behind on posting since Saturday, and I can't exactly hold the front page, so...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Martian Manhunter v David S. Goyer

Mark Waid, former BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief and decades long top comic book writer.
Q: “How many people have heard of Martian Manhunter?” A: Every cartoon-watching kid in America.
Brendan Hay, writer for The Daily Show, The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, and Star Wars Detours.
Based on his "jokes" about She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter, I now get why David Goyer never includes any comedy in his screenplays.
Tom Brevoort, Marvel Comics Senior Vice President of Publishing, long time editor, and a mainstay since 1989
The Martian Manhunter is goofy. But a guy dressed up in a bat costume is not. Weird priorities sometimes, and arbitrary lines.
Gerry Alanguilan, preferred long time inker of Leinil Francis Yu on projects such as Superman: Birthright, Avengers, and Superior, as well as the author of the graphic novel Elmer.
He doesn't get Superman. He doesn't get She-Hulk. He doesn't get Martian Manhunter. Ditch Goyer already, DC. I'm afraid for Wonder Woman.
Ross Lincoln of The Escapist.
It's been said before, but Goyer almost appears to be ashamed that he's even associated with comic book films. So it is that the best he can come up with, when asked about one of DC's most interesting properties, is to delete any trace of the his origin story, misunderstand core aspects of his character, and saddle him with a genericized sobriquet so hackish it almost belongs in a Matrix sequel and plot points that reflect the worst cliches of the last 20 years. I can't argue that Martian Manhunter isn't as well known as Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. But using obscurity as an excuse to ignore him shows a painful lack of imagination. Marvel has made billions producing movies about ancient Norse gods and talking raccoons. Meanwhile, DC's attempt to copy Marvel is being run by someone who thinks the lone survivor of an ancient Martian civilization is too nerdy for audiences to accept. Make of that what you will.
John Ostrander, comic book writer's writer, including the 1998 Martian Manhunter ongoing series.
Goyer and I are in small agreement: I also felt that in many ways the Martian Manhunter was a green clone of Superman. He had most of the same powers and, instead of Kryptonite, his weakness was fire. When Tom and I did our series, we wanted to focus on what made him and Superman different. The principal one was that, while born an alien, Kal-El came to earth as an infant and was raised as a human. His values are Midwestern values. J’Onn came to earth as an adult; he was raised in a Martian culture. He’s not American; he is fundamentally alien – a Martian.

Tom and I decided we would investigate and explore Martian culture in our version. He was telepathic; his race was telepathic. What did that mean? What were the societal rules? Rape, for example, would not only be physical; it could be emotional and mental. On the flip side of the coin, sex would involve a melding of minds as well as a melding of bodies. With his race dead, J’Onn would be forever denied that. He could never again experience physical love on so deep a level.

Martians could fly, levitate, and pass through walls; their houses would have no doors or windows or stairs.

J’Onn can turn invisible; we had it that, on arriving on Earth, he saw and experienced how violent and paranoid humans can be. He chose a persona that allowed him to act like a human in order to better understand who and what we were. We had him having several other human identities as well (credit where credit is due: Grant Morrison first brought up that concept).

The idea that he would be grown from a Petri dish is not an uninteresting idea for a character; it’s just not J’Onn J’Onzz. I talked last week about being true to the fundamental aspects of a character and, to my mind, Goyer’s take on the Manhunter from Mars isn’t it. (Sidenote: why is he the Martian Manhunter? Because there are already plenty of other Manhunters in the DCU.)

This might not matter but Goyer is right now the go-to writer for DC cinematic stories. If he has this little fundamental understanding of a mainstay DC character, how much will he have for other DC characters? It’s not that hard to check on what has been done; the Martian Manhunter entry on Wikipedia takes only a few minutes to read and its pretty accurate.
Chris Sims, commentator for Comics Alliance.
It’s also really telling that Goyer thinks Martian Manhunter is shooting low by becoming a homicide detective in his civilian identity — you know, literally fighting crime all the time on both large and small scales. This is the man who wrote a superhero movie where Superman had to be prompted into becoming a superhero at all by two dead fathers, and who could probably go listen to the President’s heartbeat just to be sure everything’s going all right in the time that it takes him to pretend to ride a bike to his job at a newspaper. Dare to dream!

...Goyer’s got a point. Martian Manhunter is a relatively obscure character. Despite being featured in almost every incarnation of the Justice League, despite multiple attempts to brand him as a solo hero, he’s never caught on. He’s always a supporting character in someone else’s book, taking a back seat to more iconic characters, and I have my doubts that there’s a way to do a movie that could really make him stand out in his own right.

You know, sort of like Blade.

But it’s not Martian Manhunter’s status as the D-lister of the Justice League that’s really the point here. The point, made abundantly clear by Goyer in his remarks, is that he doesn’t really understand why anyone would come to Earth from a dead planet and decide to devote their life to helping others, which is a pretty terrible quality for a person writing multiple films about Superman to have. A super-powered alien who helps people, you see, is silly. It should be a revenge-fueled rampage culminating in a sex joke at the expense of a female character, because that’s smart and mature. This is the thought process that leads to a movie where Superman’s response to a genocidal villain claiming the hero can only win by breaking his code against killing is to do just that, and then smile cheerfully while a woman stands in the background talking about how sexy he is.

Spoiler warning in case you haven’t seen it: That’s exactly how Man of Steel ends... Goyer’s heroes are uncomfortable with the idea of altruism. Everyone’s out for revenge, everyone has to be pushed and prodded and dragged to do the right thing — that is, if they ever get around to doing it at all.

That’s not what superheroes — particularly DC’s heroes — are about, and yet, here’s the guy in charge of bringing them to the widest possible audience, in films soaked with shame and contempt, where a character like Superman can’t exist in a world with anything brighter than a medium grey. Goyer’s pushing against what the characters are about instead of embracing them for what they are, because he’s too afraid of making something that might be considered silly.
Some sugary consolation...

Friday, May 23, 2014

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” will drop the “s” on you

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about David S. Goyer using his "Yakuza" tatted arms to shove both feet and most of his legs into his mouth during the podcast Scriptnotes Episode 144: The Summer Superhero Spectacular. It's funny that should happen on the same day I was planning to respond to the lovely Lissbird's linking to Dan Calnan's Moviepilot article A List of Do's and Don't's for the Justice League movie. Calnan offered a typical wishful thinking piece from a comic nerd about how to keep nerds happy, and Goyer in a roundabout way made clear that no one in power read that stuff, nerds are still held in utter contempt by Hollywood, and that he'd crap out whatever derivative mainstream turds he liked so long as he can continue to convince studios that he's the best bet in guaranteeing their investment in some comic book IP. Well, he didn't literally say any of that, but I'm editorializing. The sad truth is that scrawny, balding, middle-aged Goyer and his face saving tattoos are as much a stereotype of the modern day geek as his frozen in amber Bizarro World bon mot conceptions of them were to the generation before the one raised on Star Wars and the extremely profitable movies of Superman and Batman.

Goyer got his start writing direct-to-video action movies and Full Moon Entertainment horror flicks. His big break came when he took the surprise hit The Crow and wrote a sequel so dismal that it helped shepherd the burgeoning franchise into DTV hell. Goyer's profile was elevated when he co-wrote the well regarded sci-fi bomb Dark City from a story by director Alex Proyas. This led to his breaking Marvel Comics' streak of terrible screen adaptations with Blade, in which the action/horror writer threw out most of the comic book elements of a D-list character and reworked him into a more palatable action/horror character. Goyer rode Blade through three installments, the last and least well received directed by himself, then milked a little more life out of it with one season of a failed TV translation. Goyer then mashed together a bunch of comic book lifts with a weak third act of his own devising for Batman Begins, which he co-wrote with director Christopher Nolan, and joined by Jonathan Nolan they would continue team-drafting the Dark Knight films. Goyer also offered the opening entry of the non-franchise starter Jumper and sounded the death knell for Ghost Rider's, but that wasn't brought up in polite company while he was being handed the keys to Superman, the Justice League, John Constantine, and Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

Let's take this knowledge and look at Calnan's gentle proposals for the Justice League film, though he's already quite certain he'll "like the movie if they do or if they don't listen to this" and that it will spin-off "awesome solo films for the many DC characters that there are."

Calnan asked that they balance out the character focus, as opposed to centering heavily on stars. He uses Marvel's The Avengers as an example, stating that the movie focused on the four main male heroes, and froze out supporting characters Black Widow and Hawkeye. Personally, I though Natasha got plenty of screen time, because I went in not liking the character as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, and came out a fan of her. This misses the point though. Goyer had to sideline Blade to make the prospective spin-off/successor characters (not quite) carry Blade: Trinity. Catwoman and Bane crowded out Batman for a chunk of The Dark Knight Rises. I'd argue that between Jor-El, Zod, Pa Kent and Lois Lane, the character of Clark Kent/Kal-El got short shrift, and I'm still vague on who the new Superman is supposed to be. I think that given this track record, the concern should be that Batman and Superman might be overshadowed by Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and whichever other characters get thrown at this thing. Also, that the plot will take precedence and the heroes will become cyphers going through the motions of a visual spectacle with a gaping emotional & logical vacuum. Probably both.

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2009 “Justice League Movie Manip WIP” fan art by “Tim Drake”

Next, Calnan asked that there not be too many Leaguers, certainly less than ten, and preferably six or seven. That's still toyetic, especially once you factor in villains and maybe some alternate costumes/fractal techgear/etc. Never mind that the Avengers officially had six members (I don't think Nick Fury counts) and that there wasn't time to balance the story for all of them. Four probable Justice Leaguers have already been cast, but Goyer gets shaky over three primary protagonists (Spirits of Vengeance, Trinity) and to my mind let the frame drift off Superman and Batman in their last pictures. I'm not even confident Goyer can juggle Batman and Superman in one movie.

Calnan thinks that "Martian Manhunter is definitely one of the coolest DC heroes," and that he should serve a rough approximation of the same role as Nick Fury in Avengers. Goyer was cagey about whether J'Onn J'Onzz was in his scripts, and I'm afraid it might actually happen. You see, Goyer seems to think the Martian alien Manhunter is Sil from the Species movies (R.I.P.H.R.G.) and openly mocks his very basic understanding of the character's Post-Crisis status quo. I don't want this abrasive, ignorant son of bitch anywhere near a character I care about. I'm already dreading his handling of Wonder Woman, and I'm hoping the early word will be bad enough that I forgo seeing the movie entirely.

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2010 Martian Manhunter Minimalist Movie Poster by Nakul

Calnan also asked that the Barry Allen Flash be used before a Wally West one is introduced, which is a can of worms unto itself. The Flash has a TV show coming up this fall on the CW, which ties into the Green Arrow show. I'm not sure that Warner Brothers want either conflicting versions of the same character running simultaneously in live action, or to set their big budget super-movies in the same continuity as their cheap, soapy television programs. Also, we've got two versions of Quicksilver running around separate movie studios' comic book continuums across 2014 and 2015. Much to my chagrin, I think the Martian Manhunter may be in a Justice League movie before any of the Flash family.

Calnan defends the long rumored choice of Darkseid as the best villain to launch the Justice League against in their debut movie, which I think is a lousy idea. The only appreciable difference between Parademons and the Chitauri to the average filmgoer is that one flies with wings and the other flies on speederbikes. My understanding is that Thanos will be appearing more fully in Guardians of the Galaxy and will presumably be the big bad in the third Avengers movie that's projected to be released head-to-head against Justice League. Regardless of who was created first, Thanos looks like Darkseid, operates in a similar fashion, has already appeared in a $1½ billion earning movie, and continues marking his territory in other very good looking movies to come before Justice League. Also, screw it, I'm just going to come right out and say it: the Marvel movies are all going to be better than the DC ones, and everything interesting about the Fourth World was already stolen by Star Wars. David Goyer has never written cosmic sci-fi in his quarter century screen career, preferring street level realism, which is why he was a terrible choice to write Superman, much less the entire JLA. Anyway, Darkseid was created in 1970, over a decade after the JLA, and didn't encounter them for another decade. There's villains from that twenty year gap I think would be more imaginative and appropriate.

Man of Steel was quite the character assassination, and Goyer has already said that negative reaction to Superman would be a springboard for Batman versing him. Calnan, who seems to be mostly versed in the JLA from very recent comics and animation, expressed concern about Superman being a mind-controlled antagonist. While Calnan notes that this was a plot element in Avengers, there's a whole other world of stakes and consequences between it happening to Hawkeye and Superman. Given the damage already done to the character and the heroes coming together under circumstances of suspicion and enormous tragedy, I think a Superman mind-controlled by Lex Luthor or Star Conqueror would be an excellent vehicle for conflict and metacommentary. The nastiness it entails would be right up Goyer's alley. Superman's fight against a malevolent influence to become a truer, purer, more resolute hero could speak to his no longer being a cinematic travesty under Mssrs Singer, Goyer and Snyder.

Character origins were something Calnan wanted brought up in Justice League, and I guess if Avengers could have its first twenty minutes marred by the dull theft of the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D., telling the origin of Cyborg would probably be an improvement. That said, one of my bones of contention with the Justice League cartoon was its stuffing the origin of Wonder Woman into its pilot alongside Martian Manhunter's and the JLA's. Comparatively minor characters like Victor and J'Onn can receive that treatment, but icons deserve their own movies for in-depth development. But, you know, I'd rather that for all the characters. Origin movies are usually the best, except when they make several of them for a given hero (namely ones whose names start with "S" and end with "man.") Even Goyer can do decent origin movies. Put him on the Cyborg movie. I could roll with that.

All these wordy words having been written, the points are mostly moot, because nobody is going to listen to Dan Calnan or myself while David "S" Goyer will keep writing rotten super-hero movies until they stop making money. Don't think I turned on the guy recently, either. The two Blade movies I've seen weren't well written and had third act problems, but were salvaged by Wesley Snipes' commitment to the title role and stylish direction. A lot of people disliked The Dark Knight Rises, but I didn't think much of Batman Begins the one time I was able to stay awake and attentive for its full running time. Goyer isn't a good writer, and as usual his stuff will be filtered through the sensibilities of others, though in this case we get the added dubious instincts of Zack Snyder. All sympathies to Chris Terrio, the screenwriter who is going to either fix this thing or burn with it. I'm fine with Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, and I can deal with Gal Gadot's epic failure to get remotely buff during her gym sentence. I like the upcoming Batman costume and Batmobile better than most that have preceded it. I can overlook a lot, but my gut tells me that Goyer is way out of his comfort zone on these features, my brain tells me he wasn't much to begin with, and my heart isn't in seeing this thing.

My greatest hope and strangest bedfellow is the money men. Since Marvel Studios launched in 2008, they have put out nine movies, the exact same number as Warner Brothers has put out for their DC properties (including Watchmen and The Losers. To date, Marvel Studios have earned $6.375B, averaging $708M per movie, to DC's $3.2B, or $356M per feature. Now there's the heated super-hero versus match that's seriously worth following.

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Scriptnotes Episode 144: The Summer Superhero Spectacular

Scriptnotes is a podcast where "Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law." The latest episode is already internet infamous, as it featured guests Andrea Berloff, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and most infuriatingly, David S. Goyer.

Andrea Berloff is writing the latest screen treatment of Conan, relying most heavily on servicing fans of the Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks. Technically, Conan is a pulp character who was adapted to comics decades after his creation, and Berloff doesn't seem to have much of a grasp on comics. When asked how she would reboot a Wonder Woman movie (as if there's been one yet,) she mentioned using a mother character and involving Amazon sisters, as if that wasn't the plot of every Wonder Woman story from 1946-1967, and every other one from 1975-1986. Also, she thought the Amazons should operate in the Amazon Rain Forest.

The team of Markus & McFeely have written all of the major Captain America and Narnia motion pictures to date, were the most knowledgeable/insightful in their discussion, and were the only ones capable of humor that wasn't wince-inducingly painful. Their offering to reboot Spider-Man wasn't very interesting, but a positive nod to Miles Morales never hurts.

And then came Goyer, writer of the first Crow sequel, the Nick Fury: Agent of Shield telefilm with David Hasselhoff, all three Blade movies, the Ghost Rider sequel, Man of Steel and co-writer of the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Much hash has been made of his coarse remarks, but I'm in the undesirable position of offering the modest defense that if you listen to the actual audio, it doesn't sound as bad as it does in black and white print.

Beginning at the 20:21 mark, Goyer discusses how it was a bit less of a headache to write four DC movies before Warner Brothers started demanding more Marvel style interconnected continuity. He's written Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and at least worked on Justice League, but he had to be very careful not to talk about them explicitly. He was gracious about how well Marvel Studios had done rolling out their franchises, and noted how Marvel Comics were known for the realism, but until The Winter Soldier made less realistic movies than DC (presumable post-Schumacher.) He alluded to using a different interpretation of Batman for the new shared universe movies rather than the take he co-wrote with the Nolans.

Things didn't get weird until someone pulled the "boot" for She-Hulk, so Goyer and Craig Mazin (writer of two Hangover sequels, two Scary Movie sequels, and Identity Thief) went off on the "chunky" "Slut-Hulk" supposedly created as a sexual fantasy for Hulk fans to vent into. I'm sure the aim was for ribald humor and not gross misogyny, but even the host was skeeved out and threw a shame blanket over the conversation.

After a decent Storm reboot pitch from John August, Goyer made this post relevant to the blog by having to envision the cinematic transition of the Manhunter from Mars. Goyer would not confirm or deny if that had already happened in his currently filming scripts, though he was referred to as a "mainstay of the Justice League." One host (August?) called J'Onn J'Onzz "challenging" while another (Mazin?) kept chanting "overpowered" over other people trying to talk. Goyer asked the studio audience if they'd heard of Martian Manhunter, and when he was met with applause asked how many of them had ever gotten laid. Goyer continued...
"He can’t be f****** called the Martian Manhunter because... that’s... goofy. He can be called Manhunter... The whole deal with Martian Manhunter is he’s an alien living amongst us-- that’s the deal."
A host asked sarcastically if there was another one of those in the DC Universe.

"He came out in the ’50s, and he had basically all the powers of Superman, except he... didn’t like fire, and he could read your mind... So here’s the best part... So he comes down to Earth and decides, unlike Superman who already exists in the... world now, that he’s just going to be a homicide detective, and pretend to be a human homicide guy... He can change his shape... So instead... of using super-powers and mind-reading and like, 'Oh, I could figure out if the President’s lying or, y'know, whatever,' he just decides to disguise himself as a human homicide detective. Dare to dream."
A host referred to that as "pretty dismal."
"...I would set it up like The Day After Tomorrow. We discover one of those Earth-like planets... We get the DNA code from that planet and then grow him in a petri dish here... He’s like in Area 51 or something and we’re just... doing biopsies on him. Then he gets out and he’s really angry... and then he f***s She-Hulk."
...Because only green people can sleep with other green people, no matter how far we've progressed as a society, as they say. Also, there's a Lex Luthor reboot, and then a lengthy critique of the work of three prospective screenwriters. So, there's that. Leave your own comments and I'll get back to this with my own thoughts tomorrow. You can listen for yourself here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2005 “Justice League ipod” art by Barbara; The Entity Oracle

Click To Enlarge and Expand to Full Team

I wanted to get this posted before devoted MP3 players were completely irrelevant. Yes, it's lame that I'm still doing mostly art posts, but I'm working on it...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Martian Sightings for August, 2014

Martian Manhunter
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art and cover by MIKE McKONE
DC UNIVERSE SELFIE variant cover
1:25 Variant cover by KARL KERSCHL
On sale AUGUST 13 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with five covers. Please see the order form for more information. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

Justice League Canada’s first adventure comes to an explosive end!
It's funny to see Equinox attacked by the same blacked out solicitation figures she started out as on the early censored version of the debut issue's cover. Say, did you know Equinox was also the name of Power Girl's stupid insta-adult son that appeared at the end of one awful Gerard Jones storyline and was never mentioned again? Wasn't that Hal Jordan's lovechild. Anyway, forget I said anything. It just reminds me that Power Girl slept with Hal Jordan, which is sad.

Written by JOHN OSTRANDER Art by TOM MANDRAKE, BRYAN HITCH, PHIL WINSLADE and PAUL NEARY Cover by TOM MANDRAKE On sale SEPTEMBER 3 • 224 pg, FC, $19.99 US In these tales from 1998’s MARTIAN MANHUNTER #10-17 and issue #1,000,000, after suffering colossal injuries at the hands of Malefic, the Martian Manhunter has returned to Mars in an attempt to heal himself. But while he’s away, Saturnian ships arrive to reclaim Jemm, Son of Saturn!
Given that the first volume sold less than 900 copies, I wasn't sure if the previously planned follow-up was still going to happen. Then again, that's still about $4000 profit, which sad to say, is probably alright money for a no frills reprint in the 2014 market. #10 has nice art and a despicable story. The collection editor was smarter than I gave credit for, combining #1,000,000 with its Hitch-in-his-prime continuation story in #11. Gypsy and some pre-fashionable zombie heroes turn up in #12. #13-16 is the well liked space opera story arc that gives the trade its title. #17 is a resolved-in-one, as it tied up story threads from a year prior running in this title, Chase, and various Secret Files & Origins strips.

Written by J.M. DeMATTEIS and RAY FAWKES
On sale SEPTEMBER 24 • 400 pg, FC • $24.99 US

After a battle between the three Justice Leagues, the heroes of the DC Universe have all gone missing! With the unspeakable evil known as Blight unleashed upon the world, it’s up to the Justice League Dark, Swamp Thing, Pandora and the Phantom Stranger to try and stop them from destroying everything around them. Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #24-29, TRINITY OF SIN: PHANTOM STRANGER #14-17, CONSTANTINE #9-12, TRINITY OF SIN PANDORA #6-9.
There's an evil Earth-3 Martian Manhunter in this, or something. I didn't read it.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
On sale SEPTEMBER 10 • 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

These amazing tales from JUSTICE LEAGUE #18-20 and 22-23 lead into “Trinity War,” and spotlight Cyborg, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman! Plus: Learn the secret behind Pandora’s Box!
Solid cameo appearances by Despero and Martian Manhunter in one story, taking turns stomping mudholes.

Art and cover by FRANK QUITELY
On sale SEPTEMBER 3 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The legendary Crime Syndicate of Amerika stars in this new edition of this unforgettable tale, with a new cover by artist Frank Quitely! Nothing has ever seriously threatened the global corruption they proudly enforce, but now a twisted mirror image of the CSA has arrived from the flip side of reality. Can anything stop this so-called “Justice League,” or will the perfect evil of the Earth 2 fall victim to the tyranny of law, virtue and freedom.
Aside from a reversal of primary images and more obtrusive trade dress, I don't see how this is any different from the last new printing I bought in October, 2012.

Miss Martian
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale AUGUST 6 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED E

The Tiny Titans seek the help of Billy Batson to see if they can build their new treehouse on magical Mount Olympus! But what happens to the Tiny Titans when they say Billy’s magic word? Check out the latest issue in this Eisner Award-winning series to find out! SHAZAM!

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Martian Manhunter head shot by Adam Stephenson

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"An interesting one, and he took a very long time. Not a particularly well know character, and will be known to those who have watched the Justice League animated series. However, his official title, Martian Manhunter, is never used in the animated series, as far as I'm aware. Still, I think I managed to make him look like an alien while making him recognisable. I wanted to get more of his shoulders to get the detail, as his cloak provides a nice contrasting colour to the rest of the image."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2010 Martian Manhunter fan redesign sketch by Thompson Colton

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"Anyway, my redesign basically is focused on making him look more 'alien', with elements such as the lanky limbs, fingers and toes, brow ridges and reptilian-like skin. His costume is, however, more decent than usual as it includes...PANTS!"
And the full "Magnificent Seven" Justice League redesigned.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Comicpalooza 2014 Countdown Cheat Sheet

What a difference a few days can make! I started this pre-show post on Monday because I wasn't sure when/if I'd have the time to work out my game plan for the con otherwise. I was going to have to juggle and barter my remaining off-time without clear indication that I would even make it to any but the last day of the 2014 Comicpalooza Texas International Comic Con. I was also beaten down mind, body, and soul by a terrible job for nearly a year with a ridiculous schedule that read like an algebra problem. Now, I'm free of it, with enough money in the bank to be comfortable spending at the show and keep my options open for the future. I'm still not sure if I hate my career path or just the vehicles I've been forced to travel down it in, but we'll see how things go. I haven't had any nightmares that I can recall in the last few days, and I don't feel like all my lifeforce is being drained out of me-- bone tired down to the marrow. For the first time since probably 2012, I'm excited about attending a show! It's a good thing too, because the prospect of juggling commissions on a sprawling concrete convention floor after spending so very many hours without a break on my feet professionally was feeling more like a burden than a boon. Don't tell me you hadn't noticed the shallow depths of the blog's output in recent months, mostly plumbed from searches of deviantART pages.

All that having been said, I'm also frankly pissed at the promoters for failing to disclose a list of artist alley attendees so that I can make any sort of plans for who I would like to commission what from. I'm typically less happy with my spur of the moment choices for commissions than my well considered ones. It won't do the artists any favors either, since the crunch on time and information means I'll likely spend my money with the "name" artists and the folks I've most happily patronized at past shows. To help myself, other attendees, and the artists, I've decided to work out as best as I can who will be available at the show in this handy post.

Unlike last year, Comicpalooza isn't in direct competition with Phoenix Comicon for Memorial Day Weekend, only sharing the date with the vastly smaller Pop Culture Expo of Boston, Cherry Capital Comic Con of Michigan, Lake Effect Comic Book Convention of Ohio, and a few others so tiny that there aren't any announced guests. Unfortunately, I just learned that Amazing Houston Comic Con will debut over Labor Day weekend at the same venue as Comicpalooza, the George R. Brown Convention Center. Personally, I think it's kind of a tacky move, and while that regional franchise has been able to pull some names for other shows, the short notice on this one means I've already made other plans that preclude my attending. However, Jerry Rascoe and Adrian Nelson will be there, so say hi for me!

Returning to Comicpalooza, I hear Jim Steranko, Mike Mignola, Greg Capullo, Don Rosa, Shane Davis and Arthur Suydam don't do much commission/convention art. I've got a project I may try to entice them with all the same, but I won't count on it.

Late addition Pat Broderick is a lifelong favorite of mine, dating back to '70s Captain Marvel issues my uncle left me in my youth. He's both ideally suited for the Martian Manhunter and has rarely drawn the character, with only Justice League of America #200 and Captain Atom's tie-in issues to Invasion! coming readily to mind. He also drew Drax the Destroyer in his prime J'Onzz clone years. I wanted to find out how much one of those big beautiful cover quality commissions that are up on his site cost, but when I dropped him a line earlier this week, I never heard back.

Carl Potts also joined the guest list within the last month, and though he's best known as an editor and writer, he also laid out some of Marvel's most distinctive covers/pin-ups of the '80s. He's someone I at least want to talk with, though I hear commissions are elusive.

I missed Paul Maybury last year, but it would be cool to score the Pyre, the Swarm, Cabal, the Renegades of Mars, the Martian Mandrills, the Lizard Men, or Till'all from him.

I really don't think I can swing a Neal Adams, who quotes $200 for a quick inked head shot and a grand for simple single figures. Well, maybe something small...

Doug Hazlewood is one of the great inkers of the industry, but I couldn't find very much from him on the sketch/commission front that wasn't a recreation. I've got some pencil-only pieces that could use his touch though, so if all he does is embellish, I can work with that. Likewise, Josef Rubinstein is an all-time finisher, best known for his work over John Byrne, Dan Jurgens, Kevin Maguire, Ron Lim, Ron Frenz, Jim Starlin, and probably most famously, Frank Miller on the first Wolverine mini-series. That, or his being the unifying inker across three volumes of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe spanning 1983-1993. Given how often I've referenced OHOTMU with regard to past figure commissions, you'd think I'd jump right on having Rubinstein apply his Adamesque style on one of those. However, Rubinstein also does some lovely paintings, and I have a project that would be wonderful for. Wonder what those run...? Meanwhile, Sam de la Rosa waits in the wings.

I'd still like Brent Peeples to do Dynamo on my T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents blank sketch cover, but he'd also be good for N'or Cott, Futureman, Gypsy, or the Conjurer. Similarly, Kitten Kane by Aaron Lopresti would be peachy, but on the Alien Atlas front, how about Diane Meade or D'Kay? Playing around with Michael Golden could get expensive. Still, this. Meanwhile, Paul Gulacy is one of my art "gods," so he's a lock for a full figure Martian Manhunter, probably New 52 flavored. I really want a B'rett sketch from James O’Barr. I finally figured out what I wanted from the outstanding Kevin Maguire, so hopefully I can get it done. David Petersen would be good on The Lizard Men or Jupiter, plus I might have room for The Human Squirrel somewhere.

There is a select group of artists that I revisit at pretty much every show, because they deliver. Lane Montoya was the only artist to get featured in Comicpalooza's alley list for the months it was up without revision. I figure I've thrown enough lady drawings at her, and may requests some monsters this time. Cabal and The Headmaster come to mind, though we may go more esoteric. My list of subjects for Thom Zahler remains long, including Human Falcon, the Thythen, the Headmaster, the Martian Criminal, Mr. Moth, Prof. Hugo, Lt. Saunders, Capt. Harding, Patrolman Mike Hanson, Sally Winters, Futureman, Marie Fouchere, Tybalt Bak'sar, and the Osprey. Nicholas Pitarra has done gone and gotten famous on me, but maybe he'll still be up for a Professor Arnold Hugo or Futureman? Cody Schibi would be swell on Professor Ivo, Asmodel, Cabal, the Bloodworms of Mars, the Lizard Men, the Pyre, or the Swarm. The Saturnian or Human Flame would suit Johnny J. Segura III. Should we deep dive with Jamie Kinosian on Sally Winters? Mark Nasso finished a piece for me last year, but my schedule got in the way of my picking it up until now. Some ideas for piece #3 include Asmodel, Cabal, Inflict, the Bloodworms of Mars, the Lizard Men, the Pyre, or the Swarm. Finally, Kaleigh “Kalo” Hvizdos will be back this year. Any suggestions?

Friday, May 16, 2014

2013 “Martian Manhunter” by Christiaan De Wet Klopper

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"I was never into 3d programs but I'm starting to play around, as a matter of fact this is my very first try and it took about 2 hours. I'm still learning but I think it's not too bad for my first try, what do you think?"
I'm going to have to emphasize the quotation marks in that title.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes by Shawn S. Lealos

411mania offers the following ranking/testimonial for the Alien Atlas...
“13. Martian Manhunter

Not a lot of people like Martian Manhunter. Not a lot of people understand Martian Manhunter. The big problem is that, when superheroes hit their boom period many years ago, J'onn J'onzz was barely seen anywhere, so he was never someone that a major generation of comic book fans even drifted to. This meant that the times that they tried to push J'onn, the books never sold very well (plus the fact that I dare you to name one awesome villain that is attached to J'onn). Much like Superman, he lost his entire family and species and ended up an alien on earth, where not everyone will accept him. Also, like Superman, J'onn is pretty damn near indestructible with a strong moral code. J'onn is also a shape shifter and mind reader with an insane fear of fire. While he isn't a great solo character, he might be one of the best Justice League members because his losses make him someone they can trust to protect them at all costs. Plus, he is a great detective – up there with Batman – and I love good detective superheroes.”
Thanks to Boosterrific for tweeting this link!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 “DC Wasteland - Martian Manhunter” art by Kaitlyn Van Dorn

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"J'onn J'onzz is the last surviving member of the Martian race. After his people were destroyed, J'onn wandered the galaxy, half-insane. Failing to maintain his spacecraft, he eventually crash-landed on a less-than-hospitable but at least somewhat habitable planet, Earth.

He has continued his habitual wandering despite a lack of resources. Since most of Earth's post-apocalyptic inhabitants are unaware of concepts like space, he's often simply mistaken for an irradiated mutant."
“This is an idea I've had for a while of an alternate, post-apocalyptic universe and how DC characters would fit in there. You can check out more of these characters in my gallery.”

Monday, May 12, 2014

Martian Manhunter: Son of Mars sold 898 copies

In the North American market, only four Martian Manhunter trade paperback collections have ever been published. I was excited by the announcement of that last one, Son of Mars, especially since DC also made plans for a follow-up, Rings of Saturn. I'm not a huge fan of the Ostrander/Mandrake ongoing series, but it was nice to see the character's sole eponymous non-mini made available to new audiences on better paper stock.

I'm not sure if that will continue, as Son of Mars only ranked #113 on its month of release in the category of February-shipping Graphic Novels. For perspective, the top seller of the month was the final collection of IDW's popular Locke & Key series, moving 4,532 units. The 20th most popular tpb was the most recent collection of the cult favorite Prophet relaunch, at 2,244 units. The 50th bestseller was a collection of Superior Spider-Man Team-Up issues, with 1,519 pre-sold at the distributor. Ranking #112 was the latest edition of V for Vendetta, which has stayed in print continuously since 1989. For those who've missed out on the Moore/Lloyd book for the past quarter century, including the nine years since it was adapted into a movie, DC's most recent replenishing print run outsold Son of Mars by a few copies.

The Ravagers, an unpopular New 52 title DC canceled after 13 issues, saw its back half collected and pre-sold exactly 7 copies less than J'Onn J'Onzz's tpb. At least Ravagers is a current series, but it's hard to get excited about beating a Titans West type spin-off starring a member of Gen13, Beast Boy, and somehow even lesser characters. Not a high water mark for the Alien Atlas' standing amongst DC properties.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2013 “Alien” digital art by John Aslarona

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A pet peeve of mine is the term "phasing" being used as synonymous with becoming intangible or immaterial. "Phasing" mean to synchronize or to schedule/order something. Chris Claremont used the term to mean "passing through objects" most specifically in reference to Kitty Pryde. Mutants can do that, I guess, but DC characters or anyone who isn't a filthy genejoke (or even muties who own dictionaries) cannot and should not.

Friday, May 9, 2014

2008 Martian Manhunter painted sketch by Tim J. Russell

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"a sketch of one of my favorite comic book characters. i know i forgot the red straps so sue me."
Yeah, I guess a few liberties were taken.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2012 “Martian Manhunter Variant sketch” by Tim J. Russell

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"Just a alternate look for martian manhunter. sketch done in corel painter."
This was my second choice from the artist, but Photobucket was down at the time of posting, and a DeviantART embed code proved handy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Etsy Martian Manhunter Coasters by Apocalypse Fabrication

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Jason and Katie Lister run Apocalypse Fabrication, an Etsy store and "CNC metal cutting and fabrication shop located in California." A set of four Martian Mixcoasters will set you back $47.00 American.
“This set of four 4" Martian Manhunter coasters comes with green .050" thick felt backings to protect your furniture and add some character.

The set is made from 3/16” thick, Food Grade 304 Stainless Steel, giving each one some weight and a sturdy feeling. The stainless material also fights rust and corrosion. They are truly built to survive.

The color of them varies with the light due to the finishing process and the reflective properties of the metal.

Our coasters are cut in our garage using a CNC Plasma; this is truly a homemade product! This process provides relatively repeatable cut quality. However, it has some limitations, as well. The cuts will have a small divot. The divot is an inherent aspect of the plasma cutting process. When the plasma flame cuts the metal it travels in an arc. You are seeing the transition from a travelling torch head to a stop in the cut. We try with our machine settings to make it as minimal as possible, but it is going to happen.

Following the cut process; each coaster is hand ground so the finish will vary with each coaster and set. We add a coating of automotive carnauba wax to seal the coasters. If you wish the finish to stay the same over time; we suggest waxing them periodically to keep the elements at bay.

The coasters are not dishwasher safe.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2011 “The Manhunter From Mars” digital art by Jeff Novak

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"J'Onn J'Onzz. The Martian Manhunter. One of my favorite heroes. He's more than just a "pea green Superman". I'm starting to warm up to M4. I really like the character it can give me to do faces."
This is a swell Silver/Bronze Age iconic "on-model" Martian Manhunter with some very appealing facial features.

2011 “Oreo Addict” digital art by Jeff Novak

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"Oreos. They are addictive. Sure, J'Onn tried to ween himself off of them with Chocos (the sandwich cookie version of methadone), but, those damned Oreos keep calling him back with their sweet, sweet siren song!"
The level of CGI assessable to many hobby artists is kind of, well, skeevy. Creepy. Pron-y. Many of the examples linked below astro-glide into that zone, but the Martian Manhunter figure model used here is very nice.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2012 Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues: Captain America Vs. The Justice League of America

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The Winter Soldier is definitely one of the best comic book movies, and watching the boat raid sequence, I kept thinking "I've just retroactively won every argument I ever had that Captain America would beat Batman in a fight." Heck, Batroc could probably take the Caped Crusader based on his relative merit in comparison with movie Bane. Gah, The Dark Knight Rises was awful. Anyway, the Star-Spangled Avenger is pulling a bit of a Batman on this swell fanfic cover by Ross, comprised largely of Alex Ross paintings with Daniel Acuña, J.G. Jones and Tom Fleming in the mix. It's a fun concept, and as much as I love J'Onn J'Onzz, fire is a painfully exploitable weakness for...

...More Lost Team-Up Issues...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

2014 Martian Manhunter Movie Fan Casting: Fairuza Balk as D'Kay D'Razz

Sometime between 1999 and 2001, I wrote up a fan casting for MARTIAN MANHUNTER: The Motion Picture for my late fan site The Rock of the JLA. Besides being terribly out of date, my casting of heroes and villains skewed very much toward the relatively recent Modern Age. Since the Martian Manhunter was in something like 150 solo adventure strips over thirty years before that period, and about a third as many in the fifteen years I focused on, I essentially cast the Manhunter-centric Justice League movie. I'd like to rectify that...

It's funny that I've chastised myself in the past for picking too many older actors in the first Martian Manhunter movie fancast I did in the late '90s, then allowed three years to pass in my follow-up attempt which is now itself even more full of middle-aged actors. Luckily, I can favor maturity, since the budget on an Alien Atlas feature would be less than epic, and there would be plenty of prosthetics/mocap besides. Also, if my J'Onn J'Onzz is 51, I don't exactly want Jennifer Lawrence playing his would-be seductress/mass murdering fatal attraction.

I often find myself using Cay'an to contrast D'Kay D'Razz, and there's some fun parallels between that casting and this one. If Clea DuVall can come off as a bit introverted and asexual, Fairuza Balk is the extroverted, unhinged sex bomb that would treat you as prey whether you liked it or not. Both were child actresses who played in "witch" movies and saw their big breaks in soon-to-be-star filled hip horror flicks. Balk has a deceptively girlish voice that can speak all sorts of hate, and an extraordinarily expressive face that can be beautiful or grotesque depending on her contortions. Nobody this side of Amanda Plummer brings the crazy like Balk, who adds a lethal edge to create one scary ass ovulating last Martian psycho.

Friday, May 2, 2014

2013 Martian Manhunter color art by Dan Nokes

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It's Friday. Time for a cookie break.

I'm not aware of any adverse effect on the skin, but one wonders...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Orchestra of Doom vs. Goth, Pied Piper & The Fiddler

The Doom Band
Debut: 1964
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: "Last Rose of Summer"
Powers: Sleep, laughter and violent hysteria inducement, sonic constructs, and force blasts.
"The Musical Creatures" released by the Diabolu-Head to wreck havoc.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Diabolu's Creature (3-1); The Horn Firing Creature of Gilgana (3-2)
Lose: Iwangis (0-4)
Draw: 0

Debut: 1999
Nemesis: The Titans
Powers: Super-strength, flight, claws, supernatural flame generation, and mass hypnosis.
Bio: Demon who seduces kids through rock & roll.

Pied Piper
Debut: 1959
Nemesis: The Flash (Barry Allen)
Powers: Hypnotic flute that can also create destructive sound blasts and alter perception.
Bio: Petty thief and inventor known to work with both sides of the law.

The Fiddler
Debut: 1948
Nemesis: The Flash (Jay Garrick)
Powers: Hypnotic violin that can also create destructive sound blasts, inter-dimensional travel through vibration, and a custom Fiddle Car.
Bio: Golden Age gimmick villain.

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