Sunday, September 24, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #6 (Late June, 2011)

In the present, the Justice League escaped the Watchtower to S.T.A.R. Labs, where J'Onn J'Onzz collapsed. A scientist remarked, "I thought Martian Manhunter was as powerful as Superman?" The Atom replied, "He is, but Brainiac hit him with something new. Nano-machines that steal superpowers. We neutralized the ones inside J'Onn with a powerful electromagnetic field-- but not before they stole his telepathy, intangibility, and heat vision." Oh, and they forgot Aquaman in a tank back at HQ. Hah! In the futurem Atom gpot killed and Batman joined the fray.

"Downfall" was by writer Tony Bedard, art by Howard Porter & John Livesay and Pop Mhan.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

DCU Holiday Special 2010 #1 (February, 2011)

The Centennial Park Hero Award was being presented by Superman following the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Man of Steel offers up a litany of heroes from sports, politics, first responders, the armed forces, "And, of course there are many metahumans I've battled beside... who are also worthy of such an honor." However, the award ultimately goes to Alex Monroe, a little boy disfigured by third degree burns over his face and much of his body while saving his siblings from a fire.

Superman in "Hero of Heroes" was by Kevin Grevioux, Roberto Castro, & Scott Koblish.

Friday, September 22, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #5 (Early June, 2011)

Exobytes continued to attack the Watchtower. "J'Onn's barely recovered and he was only attacked once." Aquaman couldn't stand unaided after two. Soon, life support was down, and everyone was headed for the transporters. Also, one-armed future Atom did a bunch of stuff with also future Lex Luthor, in the future, 'natch.

"Three Minutes" was by writer Marv Wolfman, Mike S. Miller, Adriana Melo, and Norman Lee.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Brightest Day #18 (Late March, 2011)

No, you didn't miss an issue, but J'Onn J'Onzz misses several! The Sleuth from Outer Space appears in something like 16 of this book's 25 issues, with multi-issue gaps during periods where they really shouldn't. Like being trapped in a delusion created by one of his enemies, for instance. Also, when Deathstorm recreates Black Lantern Martian Manhunter and other corpsemen with a Lantern Battery or something. And readers are like, "oh no, are the heroes going to ban together to stop them?" And the creators just sent the Black Lanterns into space for seven issues, with a one panel acknowledgement that they're still out there. Rather than waste a week in October to such a paltry post, I just dropped it early into September's schedule. The actual story resumes Monday.

"Easy Come Easy Go" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Scott Clark & company. Don't it, though?

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Martian Manhunter Reddit & Comment Moderation

Confession: I've had lengthy hiatuses from blogging over the years, and at some point I kinda forgot that comment moderation was a thing? And that point was several years ago? So I'm going through all my blogs trying to read and approve everything that isn't in Hindi or advertising "enlargement" by non-Martian means. Sorry to everyone who had a question or wanted to buy something off me or whatever, and especially Kevin in New Orleans, who got caught in the flypaper most often.

To justify this public announcement as a blog post, here's some recommended Reddit reading, with light commentary.
  • What is your opinion on the Martian Manhunter and his place in the DC Universe?
    • The poster's premise is mostly that J'Onn isn't represented as powerfully as his stats suggest, which is a common complaint often addressed here over the years. Just the nature of being a third-stringer in Superman's shadow. Like most DC heroes, he needs a solo spotlight to shine without other, better known heroes around. Also-- get mad-- he's never had a compelling series. No Moore Swamp Thing, Miller Daredevil... hell, the team of Ostrander & Mandrake had a definitive run on The Spectre, not the Sleuth from Outer Space. Since 2006, every attempt has been a deconstruction/radical revision. How do you break down a character never fully constructed in the first place?

  • Why isn’t Martian Manhunter a popular superhero like the others?
    • Second verse, same as the first. The Alien Atlas looks so good on paper, but that paper is typically a back-up strip or team book, and the talent hasn't really been there on solo projects. People, myself included, fall in love with the potential of the character, but various factors prevent it from ever being realized. I mean, his main home has been Justice League books, which has a far more dynamic premise, and even the JLA have had long fallow periods. And even individual Leaguers of much greater cultural relevance like Wonder Woman and Aquaman have struggled for far more of their careers than they've triumphed.


  • Does Martian Manhunter have an enemy gallery or not?
    • Nobody mentioned The Vile Menagerie as a resource, preferring the broad net of the DC Comics Database. Human Flame, Mr. V, and Ma'alefa'ak came up the most in comments, in that order. I think the recent Action Comics serial helped with that.

  • What Martian Manhunter comics would you recommend?
    • This one was painful to me because it was all the most obvious stuff in abundance, and a lot of it bad. Think we could maybe highlight some key stories in the three year runs of JLA or the 1998 Martian Manhunter series? Chester Molester won't get a royalty if you dig American Secrets out of a dollar bin, and J'Onn is the main character. The New Frontier is largely indebted to it, as well as "The Origin of the Justice League-- Minus One!", Secret Origins #35 and "The Man I Never Was". But then, nothing from before 1988 qualified for the primary referenced list.


  • Is there a lore reason why Martian Manhunter never gets to be on the Justice League anymore?
    • Because he doesn't sell, and modernity demands greater representation. My question is why do they ever add more dudes to a team with only one woman more often than not? If you need a Black guy, maybe remember John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, instead of trying to make Cyborg happen again? And SNS, Captain Marvel should never be on this team. Can we have another viable super team in the modern DCU besides JLA and Titans?


  • Genuinely curious, why is Martian Manhunter always cast as a black man?
    • Because it fits the othering text of the character, we all want him to have a James Earl Jones caliber basso profondo voice, and it's one of the only ways to get a brother a job without a freakin' fan riot.


  • Why do people actually like Martian Manhunter that much, and want him to replace Cyborg??
    • Well, you're starting from a logical fallacy. J'Onn J'Onzz co-founded the team in 1960 with four other heroes, so he arguably has dibs over Superman and Batman, much less Cyborg, who only joined in 2010. Cyborg is most popular as a member of the Teen Titans, and his inclusion in the JLA has always felt forced, especially when he's treated as a founding member. Something similar was done with Black Canary, but she was still the second or third heroine to join the team in the 1960s, with ties to their predecessors in the Justice Society. Like Martian Manhunter, DC keeps trying and failing to make Cyborg happen as a soloist. However, J'Onn has often been considered the heart & soul of the League, where many see Cyborg as checking a quota box. J'Onn was a constant in the League's darkest hours, but he's mostly absent nowadays specifically because Cyborg took his slot, so it's especially galling. I personally think both characters should be excluded from the team until they have a single solitary successful series. It's basically the same argument as when the Supreme Court struck down racial consideration for college, and people decided it was time to stop allowing legacies as well. Let themn both in or take them both out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #4 (Late May, 2011)

"Gentlemen, I'm afraid your argument just became moot. We no longer have to take the fight to Brainiac... because Brainiac just brought the fight to us!" The JLA satellite was assailed by nanites and Brainiacs robot enforcers. Martian Manhunter saved Firestorm from the former with his laser vision. However, the robots were swiftly able to adjust to the Manhunter's invisibility, then infested him with nanites, with other heroes pained by his maintained telepathic link. Forestorm and Hawkman carried J'Onn to the infirmary. Oh, and in the future, The Ray lost his right arm to treachery by a revenge-driven Lex Luthor, as you do.

"Strike Force" was by writer Tony Bedard, pencils by Howard Porter & Adriana Melo, inks by John Livesay & Norman Lee. Nothing says consistency like alternating creative teams between issues in a continuing narrative. Also, that they're both meandering slugfests.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Brightest Day #11 (Early December, 2010)

The main reason why I didn't cover this maxi-series in 2010 was coordination. I was still trying to maintain multiple irregularly updated blogs that had ties to the comic, as well as the daily Martian Manhunter one. The prospect of juggling biweekly Aquaman posts for my Justice League Detroit blog and maybe even trying to rope-in Shag's Firestorm Fan or even Luke Jaconetti's Being Carter Hall, with anything else left to DC Bloodlines? Big old "nope" on that. But also? Kind of a hot mess. Portent portent portent. The book was always promising to tell a major story without actually doing it, and then the New 52 happened and nothing was carried over but the Aquaman creative team. This issue is full of Firestorm content that will not be reflected in the rebooted universe, and in fact the entire story ends on an unresolved Nuclear Man cliffhanger. Even if I was waiting for the book to wrap so that I could cover it comprehensively, the damned thing doesn't even have an ending, so what would be the point?

Thirteen years on, I don't remember why Alvin Rusch and Martin Stein entered the Firestorm Matrix, or what Deathstorm's goal was. When the villain takes control of the White Lantern, and uses it to recreate the Black Lantern versions of the twelve characters resurrected in Brightest Day out of thin air, I don't know the how or why. I checked a couple of online resources, and neither explained it. I could actually reread the comic I still own a physical copy of and paid something like $2.99 for. I have all the issues, and the story runs through many of them, so I could go through them all to inform my writing. I just don't want to. I look at late life Scott Clark hacking his way through a double page splash swipe of Ivan Reis' instantly iconic "LIVE" gatefold tetratych for a forgettable shock value space filler full of rudimentary Photoshop effects and I simply do not want to invest any more than the bare minimum to acknowledge this thing's existence in Martian Manhunter continuity.

Meanwhile, the actual Manhunter flies unaided from Earth to Mars. I guess? A page is wasted showing his fly really fast away from one planet, through satellite debris, and toward another planet. That's 232.43 million miles in a span of days? Hours? Minutes? Just stupid fast in a way never demonstrated in actual stories. Upon reaching Mars, J'Onzz found his pyramid home surrounded by a Black Lantern icon-shaped instant forest in another two page spread with one word on it. I hope DC wasn't paying the writers a full rate.

"Father's Day" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Superman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1 (April, 2011)

In a parody of the "Grounded" extended story arc, Bizarro decided to isolate himself on Bizarro World and refused to learn anything. Eventually, the other heroic Bizarros threw him a parade, ruining everything, and prompting Bizarro to leave for Gotham City. "No Go Away Glad, Just Go Away" was by Steve Horton and Dan McDaid. The writer went on to do another book about an alien, Bowie: Stardust Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams, which he was hawking when I was at FAN EXPO Chicago this year. I'll tumble on it at Half Price Books one of these days.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Justice League of America #54 (April, 2011)

At a time of grave crisis, the world's greatest heroes banded together to combat evil. The name of this team... the Justice League of America. Other heroes joined this group... other champions. The roll call changing year by year. And of late the roster has shifted yet again...
"Shadow Warriors" was by James Robinson, Brett Booth, and Norman Rapmund.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1 (September, 2010)

In the first ever sweeping revision of Ray Palmer's origin story, which was itself immediately forgotten (not unlike the Atom himself) in the sweeping revision of the DC Universe that was the New 52, we get a splash page for the Tiny Titan's time with the Justice League by Jeff Lemire, Mahmud Asrar, & John Dell.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Wonder Woman #41 (April, 2010)

Here's a tiny J'Onn cameo from a JLA/JSA meet-up, which Princess Diana recalls as she gets pressed into a fight with Power Girl. By Gail Simone, Chris Batista, & Doug Hazlewood

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Action Comics #890 (August , 2010)

Lex Luthor had a fantasy about subjugating Earth's metahumans, by Paul Cornell & Pete Woods.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

2023 "JLI as NWA - Straight Outta Compton" art by Rod Allen

I wasn't super impressed with most of the entries into CBR's The Line it is Drawn: Comic Characters on Famous Album Covers, although it was far better than the truly awful Unlikely New Avengers Lineups from the following week.* I mean, there were two versions of the Fantastic Four doing Abbey Road. How much more basic can you get? Also, actually published comics often do this shtick nowadays, so where's the novelty? Rod Allen, who seems to be a current star contributor to this project, bucked the trend with two actually good ideas. One was Flamebird doing Taylor Swift's 1989, which was inspired and well executed. The other was just cute, taking the abbreviation of the lighthearted Justice League International as a cue to interpolate with similarly abbreviated infamous gangsta rappers whose full name I can't use on a PG-rated blog. J'Onn stands in for Ice Cube (I figure he's more of a Dr. Dre, but the placement is preferable) while Booster, Ice, Fire, and Beetle fill in the rest. They trimmed out a member for this composition, and I think having Guy Gardner pointing his power ring at the viewer Eazy-E slot was a missed opportunity, but still a fun piece. Check out Rod Allen's Instagram for more.

*It wasn't (entirely) the artists' fault, as they were at the mercy of some really stupid, trying-too-hard-to-be-difficult reader suggestions. Admittedly, I'd just texted a joke to my friends about how every Marvel character plus Beetle Bailey and Heathcliff had been Avengers by this point. Kind of hard to parody a concept long committed to self-parody.

Monday, September 11, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #3 (Early May, 2011)

In the future, Power Girl was at the forefront of the surviving super-heroes begrudgingly working with Mech Luthor against Brainiac, the "interesting" story. In the present, Batman questioned the wisdom of Superman's plan to rescue the Daily Planet, and whether he would choose the same course if his wife wasn't in the building. Superman got in his face, scowling "You dare--?" So yeah, the prototype for Injustice, without the saving grace of platforming Tom Taylor. Oh, J'Onn was seated at the meeting room table in the present.

"Betrayal" was by writer Marv Wolfman, artist Mike S. Miller (yes, that one;) pencils by Adriana Melo, and inks by Norman Lee.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Action Comics #883 (January, 2010)

Sung to the tune made popular by The Music Explosion, I'm going to call this a "Little Bit o’ Jones." When Jimmy Olsen went missing, Perry White visited his apartment, finding framed photographs of super-heroes, including the Manhunter from Mars. By Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and artist Pere Pérez.

Friday, September 8, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #2 (Late April, 2011)

The DC event of the year begins, coinciding with the release of the wildly anticipated DCU MMO! Get ready for the ride of a lifetime with this immense, 26-issue biweekly series!The Lex Luthor of a post-apocalyptic future scrambles to escape Brainiac's invasion of Earth, but he must gather an army to stop the invasion. Who will he recruit? And in the present, Brainiac's first assault on Earth has begun, which recaps the incredibly rare DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS #0! Comic book legend Marv Wolfman joins fan-favorite writer Tony Bedard and artist Howard Porter to tell the ultimate DC Universe Super Hero tale of good versus evil!
In a classic example of "nobody actually cared," I had a smidge of difficulty finding a synopsis for this issue, which I myself will never read. So, I throw up the solicitation copy, before it gets lost to an indifferent internet. From what I read, this was supposed to be a weekly 52-style effort, but cooler heads prevailed. Running simultaneous to Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost, DC really didn't even need a third fortnightly, yet here is the least regarded of them. Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman helped battle Brainiac in his first(?) attack on Earth in the present day, because J'Onn was too dead to be of help in the future setting. It just occurred to me that means any further appearances in this story will probably be drawn by not-Howard Porter, who helped reintroduce the character to a broader audience in JLA. Like this series needed another strike.

"Control" was by writer Tony Bedard, pencils by Howard Porter & Adriana Melo, inks by John Livesay & Norman Lee.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Green Lantern / Plastic Man: Weapons of Mass Deception #1 (February, 2011)

Here's the bad news: a horde of aliens is living undercover on Earth, and they're smuggling weapons off-planet to fuel an interstellar war! Here's the good news: two of Earth's most powerful heroes are on the case, and one of them is the finest cop in the galaxy, Green Lantern! But here's the bad news again: the other one is Plastic Man. Sorry, GL. This is gonna be rough…
Just from flipping through the book, it looks like evil space duck frame Eel O'Brian, and for some reason despite their having no connection to one another that I can think of, asks Hal Jordan to help clear his name? Or maybe the ducks are space cops and there is someone else doing the bad stuff? I don't care. I've never known Marv Wolfman to be a funny writer, and I sure don't see Brent Anderson as a comedic artist, plus I hate when Plas is played for laughs. All I know is that Brightest Day-period Martian Manhunter has a one-panel cameo on a viewing screen, so there.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Booster Gold #27 (February, 2010)

In a brief cameo, Martian Manhunter is seen in a number of images manifested at Vanishing Point, where Skeets offers Booster Gold a montage of temporal manifestations from his time serving with the Ted Kord Blue Beetle as members of the JLI. By Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Booster Gold #26 (January, 2010)

In a flashback to the funeral of the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, it is noted that Booster Gold arrived last, while Superman and J'Onn J'Onzz went first with eulogies. On Booster's turn, he looked out at the mourners, and couldn't find the right words to say. He's been comforted by Princess Diana on his way in, and wanted to thank Wonder Woman for killing Maxwell Lord, the man responsible for uniting and forever dividing the Blue & Gold. How could he speak to Ted unrequited love for Barbara Gordon, or how he'd liked Guy Gardner despite his very Guy Gardnerness? But Booster especially resented Batman, Superman, and Martian Manhunter looking down their noses at Ted. "Like he wasn't good enough to be in their new, 'oh-so-superior' Justice League?" Ultimately, Booster left without saying anything.

"Dead Ted, Part I of II" was by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Brightest Day #9 (Early November, 2010)

Despite only taking up about half the page count, more of the story around the Martian Manhunter/Green Arrow was told in the quasi-anthology than in Ollie's full solo comic. J'Onn J'Onzz flew to Star City at the urging of the White Lantern to visit the White Lantern tree in the White Lantern-created forest. Direct contact caused some sort of allergic reaction, with his Martian body swelling out of control, becoming nigh-unintelligible, and involuntarily blasting laser vision with such force that he shot off his own hands. It's played as body horror, but all I could think of was the time Gunfire accidentally exploded his own butt with his New Blood powers.

Elsewhere, the female Green Martian serial killer that still doesn't have a name has spree killed an entire grocery store full of people, stuffing corpses into freezers while pushing a shopping cart while inane sales announcements straight out of Dawn of the Dead play on an automated loop. The bid to be the most horrible horror to ever horror with a horrible horror of a villainess again dips deeply into unintentional parody. It was hard to read the panel where she inspects jars of baby food on account of my eyes rolling.

Green Arrow engaged the hulking green monster laying waste to his forest, while the White Lantern let loose with pages and pages of contradictory statements, recalling the worst excesses of '80s Chris Claremont with any of the intentional affect. At least the '80s X-comics would use the psychic plane to (temporarily) resolve internal/external conflict, where this is just spinning wheels for another fortnight until the writers can figure out there endgame. At least J'Onn's psychic trauma also impacts upon the serial killer, so that their first "confrontation" is a future vision of battle over the physical and emotional fate of the characters and their native Mars. Stifling a yawn. This was actually the first time the killer was made aware that J'Onn had restored a pale semblance of life to their homeworld, and her interlude ends with a statement about the way to a man's heart being his stomach while looking at a large display of Chocos. Maybe the North American comic book market should die after all?

Green Arrow finally used his 6 in Detective skill to determine that the large green shapeshifter who was trying to say Ollie in a moaning drone was in fact his long time Justice League teammate. While J'Onn shifts through several Earth identities, one seemingly to remind readers that the scripter used to edit the '90s Martian Manhunter series, and is therefore my personal millstone, the Emerald Archer finally separates J'Onn from the White Lantern tree. The Manhunter's recent tendency to kill everything flora kicks into overdrive, so that Ollie has to first drag and then help J'Onn run through a swiftly collapsing forest. I mean, J'Onn is pretty near invulnerable and Ollie is probably acrobatic enough to dodge a few falling trees, and for some reason there is no active fire displayed, so I'm not sure what the hurry was, beyond forced drama. Also, the art quality is collapsing faster than the forest itself, exploiting silhouettes and colorist Peter Steigerwald to cover from some shockingly substandard work. There was a time before comics was a subsistence field that turning in this level of work to a major publisher would have seen an artist fired and blacklisted, is what I'm saying. "Shoddy" would be a compliment.

Once the pair exit the forest, it was immediately restored to full lush health, and Manhunter's powers restored once past the "telepathic black hole." Thank You Mario, But Our Princess is in Another Castle, and This Isn't the Forest to Arson. Despite virtually every Silver Age story hinging on J'Onn's inability to reach Mars, the Manhunter expresses intent to break off his investigation to return home, seemingly under the assumption that the female who had been trapped on Earth for longer than J'Onn would somehow also be going there soon, instead of just brutally murdering more humans for cheap shock value. I'm remembering now why I quit monthly collecting after the launch of the New 52.

"Lost & Found" was by "writers" Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with "art" by Patrick Gleason & company.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #0 (2010)

In this prelude story that was clearly created for digital presentation rather than print, in a bunch of big panels, Brainiac launched an attack on Metropolis. The Justice League, including Martian Manhunter, responded. Near the end, the Alien Atlas and other Leaguers arrived from the Watchtower, alerting on the scene hero Batman. Aquaman announced, "The cavalry is here!" Except he was on the Watchtower with J'Onn and Wonder Woman, so he was partially self-aggrandizing, not relieved. Inside a big Brainiac construct, they were zapped with some sort of electricity. Of the three, only Manhunter was back on his feet by story's end. "This is not over, Batman. Brainiac is sending these things all over the globe... more victims will be digitized and transported to wherever he sent those poor people. We must rethink our tactics if we ever hope to rescue them."

By Tony Bedard, Oliver Nome, Michael Lopez, & Livio Ramondelli. For a (for real) change, other major heroes jobbed for J'Onn. What witchcraft is this?

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Tiny Titans #21 (December, 2009)

Here's another Martian Manhunter cameo, wherein the Tiny Titans request the use of the JLA's satellite base for their first Pet Club meeting, but the overabundance of loud, heavy livestock sees Green Lantern Hal Jordan deliver them to the moon, instead. By Franco & Art Baltazar

Friday, September 1, 2023

Sweet Sixteen September

Today marks the sixteenth birthday of my Martian Manhunter blog, and besides getting out weekly posts for most of year fifteen, I've also been quietly putting together a modest slate of new posts to celebrate throughout the month of September. At least the weekdays. We'll see if I can pull together the weekends as well, but no promises. Anyway, I'm sure for anyone who visits here that it's hard to miss that this was a daily blog for many years, whereas there are quite a few wilderness years with next to nothing, and my investment in both J'Onn J'Onzz and DC Comics in general has withered with time. I have a stockpile of art commissions, more from slowly developing jam pieces over years colliding with blogging apathy than an actual plan, which I intend to get out there for the character's 70th anniversary in 2025. In the meantime, I piddle with covering material that I have physical copies of that I'd like to purge, and to keep the blogging seat warm until I maybe fully retire from this game after the big seven-oh.

Since I'll also be posting blog links on Twitter (forever Twitter, toadies,) my otherwise increasingly infrequent visits will ramp up there, but haven't yet. Randomly, Martian Manhunter was trending, at least in my timeline. There wasn't a particularly clear reason why this had occurred, so it's probably some for of tailoring to me (I did mention the scarcity of my log-ins,) but several of the tweets (I said TWEETS, Elon) got me to thinking. I used to do a lot of "deep thoughts" posts in the daily days about the essential nature of the character, what he means in a literary sense, or do his shared universe, and so on. Because of my disaffection, I haven't done that sort of thing in a long time-- arguably a couple of reactionary podcast episodes, but probably something like a decade since any proper writings (I scanned back to 2015 before giving up.) But I have some thoughts that feel like they go beyond tweets, so let's see what we come up with.

One suspect instigator is a tweet about how focusing on the alien aspects of Superman is bad for the character, and what people really want is a clean living Christian from Kansas, and pushback against that. Obviously I'm paraphrasing with bias, but it also reminded me of that moronic "objectively good vs. bad art" hot take that was going around a few days ago. Why yes, that clown does indeed have an excessive amount of Pepe the Frog images in his media section-- however did you guess? Was it the thread on Ayn Rand being one of those "good artists?" Of course my own preferences run toward highlighting Superman's alienness, as evidence by my devoting decades of my life to considering the main character to whom those qualities were transferred. The Post-Crisis Martian Manhunter has basically been the Silver Age Superman, and if he struggles to find a place at DC now, imagine how much worse it would be if Superman repossessed those aspects? But one of the main people arguing for the "Superman as immigrant" over the "blood and soi--" er, "nativist" take also made a reference to the importance of Superman's having Jewish creators reflecting their specific immigrant experience. Which absent the greater context, I mistook as referencing J'Onn J'Onzz's Jewish parentage. That gave me pause.

J'Onn J'Onzz's creation is credited to Joseph Samachson, the son of Russian Jews, but also Jewish Silver Age Superman editor Mort Weisinger likely had a major hand in that (especially given that the Manhunter from Mars name and basic premise were stolen from other creators, as was Mort's way.) The artist Joe Certa was credited as co-creator, and the etymology of "Certa" is ambiguous (Italian? Polish? Latin?) Those credits are largely moot though, because the driving creative force behind Silver Age Manhunter from Mars stories was Jack Miller, a noted Anglophile with a rather goyish name. If you go back and read those stories, they're a lot more farm boy than immigrant. In fact, it's hard not to see J'Onn as zealously acclimated. His initial WASP looks shift to something more stereo-typically Irish as his strip progresses, and his first major act upon coming to Earth was assuming the appearance and role of an authority figure. Not only is John Jones a cop, but J'onn J'onzz is too. So many '50s & '60s stories revolve around the Manhunter investigating newly emerging extra-terrestrials and forcibly deporting them. When his fellow Martians show up, J'onn has two modes: how can I use them to get off Earth, and failing that, how do I at least boot them off-world? As a white guy, there are terms for people who embrace the status quo and defend it to the detriment of their own people and country of origin, but I'm not allowed to use any of them.

Another possible trending provocation was speculation on several possible "starring" roles that Giancarlo Esposito might have discussed with James Gunn before the strike. He was Ryan Daly's pick. Not to be ageist, but 65 is a bit long in the tooth to be starting in that role, even if it's all mo-cap CGI. I'm not saying no so much as prove me wrong.

Yet another option, in a rare break from declaring his every move to be perfection, fans seem to willing to at least consider that Martian Manhunter's inclusion in Zack Snyder's Justice League was ham-fisted, ruined a pivotal moment involving Lois Lane, and is also a really lame stinger. I'll add that a lot of related tweets show images of the Snyder Manhunter and the Arrowverse Supergirl one, and man, when the CW outshines you, you're flying too close to Jossity.

Most probably though, the culprit was Martian Manhunter VS Silver Surfer (DC VS Marvel) | DEATH BATTLE! This is part of a popular YouTube video series produced by Rooster Teeth that pits fictional characters against one another. Since his introduction, Silver Surfer has been a top tier cosmic entity within the Marvel Universe, complicit in the destruction of countless worlds. Martian Manhunter is an amateur detective who has been known to cower in the face of candlelight. The Alien Atlas has an impressive power set that looks good on paper, but he's also a jobber who can't hold down a solo series and folds anytime the story requires a more essential JLAer to look imperiled. Wizard Magazine also did this one decades back, and the results were no more in question then. The video still does acommendable job of weaving a cogent narrative out of Manhunter's multitude of retcons, and is a love letter to his power potential.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Green Arrow #4 (November, 2010)

Like Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow was one of the longest lived DC super-heroes to have the fewest comics available under his own name. Prior to 1988, Oliver Queen had only starred in two mini-series, though the latter led into his most successful book to date, lasting 137 issues plus 7 annuals and a #1,000,000. Admittedly, his son Connor Hawke was the titular star after #100, because Queen was killed, and got the boy's book cancelled ahead of his resurrection in a new series. No, that return from the dead had nothing to do with Blackest Night... except it was enabled by Hal Jordan, and Ollie was briefly a Black Lantern, and his next, least "ongoing" series spun directly out of Brightest Day with related branding. So yeah, they're sort of related after all.

This volume would only make it 15 issues, from two distinct creative teams. Ultimately, it was more of a spin-off twelve issue maxi-series that tacked-on a three issue filler arc to run out the clock until the New 52. As best as I can piece together while reading as little as possible and not actually caring, a magical star-shaped forest sprung up overnight as part of Brightest Day. Oliver Queen, a guy that if I recall correctly was once elected mayor of Star City, seems to just up and decides to live in the park to protect this forest. A dude with mental health issues, escaped from an asylum in the aftermath of Justice League: Cry for Justice, joins him in LARPing as Galahad, and a supporting cast of Merry Men slowly gather. Again, a dozen of these issues had such prominent Brightest Day branding that they might as well rename the series Brightest Day Green Arrow, and the Ryan Sook White Lantern mural variant covers included Martian Manhunter on Green Arrow #3, but J'Onn doesn't actually appear until #4, and it's terrible.

You see, this was one of those exceedingly literal crossovers where pretty much the exact same sequence of events and dialogue are replicated in two books by different artists, with dubious writer credits. That can be mildly amusing if both books come out in the same week, so you buy them together and can compare side-by-side. Except Green Arrow #4 came out nearly a month after Brightest Day #9, so you're just like "didn't I read this already?" Actually, they serve to point out each others' weaknesses. The Brightest Day version gives more information about what's happening and has better jokes, so the Green Arrow version feels longer because less of interest is happening across many pages. Meanwhile, the art in Brightest Day is by a bigger name, but he's clearly blown his deadline and hacks out most of his pages in a manner so poor and unprofessional as to give DC a black eye for publishing them. That said, the Green Arrow art is basic super-hero fare, lacking the ominous mood, and it can't be fun to spend much of your month drawing the karaoke version of another recent comic. Oh, and then the second half of the issue is Ollie doing Green Arrow stuff, because the cover-featured crossover has so little to say with no true impact on either hero's ongoing narratives. That's why I had to vamp here instead of actually discussing the crossover itself... next week. Sucker.

"Strangers in the Night" was by J.T. Krul, Diogenes Neves, and Vicente Cifuentes, aside from the stuff generated for another title. I will say that the painted cover by Mauro Cascioli was leagues better than the one David Finch did for Brightest Day, though they both embarrass the lame Phillip Tan variant cover for #4. Neves' fundamentals aren't really there, so there was a time when he'd have been on a nice looking indie book, and could make the leap to the pros someday if he kept at it. The style over substance '90s really blew up the old standards, and in the modern comics art scene, I'd probably be begging for this caliber of work. Today they just bury everything under computer coloring.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Brightest Day #8 (Late October, 2010)

After J'Onn J'Onzz was resurrected in Blackest Night, he attempted to reintegrate slowly while terraforming Mars. However, he was haunted by visions of choking Saul Erdel, which led to the retcon of his origin to being the second Martian teleported to Earth by the scientist. Relying pretty much solely on telepathy during this investigation, the "Sleuth from Outer Space" determined that this Martian was a serial killer of humans. Still struggling with after-effects from his time as a Black Lantern, J'Onzz sought out to the only other Martian he could confirm as on Earth, M'gann M'orzz. "Miss Martian" had been fatally assaulted, surviving only through J'Onzz's sudden manifestation of White Lantern life energies.

Despite ample evidence, J'Onzz refused to concede that there was another surviving Green Martian who was responsible for the recent bloodshed until M'gann urged him to enter her memories psychically. "I'm opening myself to you-- my mind to yours, J'Onn. Be me..." The assault was recounted in first person perspective, with the yet unnamed Green brushing off Miss Martian's attempts to defend herself telepathically, through laser vision, and physically. The Green's psychic prowess was considerably more than "a Martian toddler," and was offended to discover that under M'gann Green facade was a "warmongering... loathsome... vile... WHITE MARTIAN!" The Green asserted that no White could ever be a "true companion," and that she had as much in common with "him" as she did the rock Miss Martian was being bashed against. "I LEAVE YOU TO DIE HERE ALONE!"

J'Onn J'Onzz and M'gann M'orzz united their... sigh... psychic abilities to detect a "telepathic black hole... in the center of... Start City," which the Manhunter flies to alone. It's not like he hasn't demonstrated a blinding bias in this case, or has access to a super-heroine under no other current obligations who might have a vested interest in confronting her attempted murderer. Never mind that this new player so overpowered Miss Martian that it's reasonable to assume even the Alien Atlas might need assistance. Do I hate comic books? Some days.

"Defiance" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #1 (Early April, 2011)

Pretty much every DC title featured preview pages for this series, a tie-in to the just released massively multiplayer online role-playing game. It didn't enjoy the same impact or longevity as Injustice: Gods Among Us, but DC Universe Online saw staggard platform releases through 2019, and to my knowledge is still being supported. Anyway, Martian Manhunter was on those preview pages, or at least his corpse was. Lex Luthor had finally defeated the majority of Earth's metahumans, and killed Superman with a Kryptonite spear. Yeah, it's a safe assumption that this was where Zack Snyder got it from. Lex was helped by Brainiac, who of course betrayed him and began planning the world's destruction, once it was processed by his Exobytes. Are you sleepy? I am. This bedtime story is all too familiar...

"Legendary" was by writers Marv Wolfman & Tony Bedard, pencils by Howard Porter & Adriana Melo, inks by John Livesay & Norman Lee. At least a classic JLA artist was involved.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Brightest Day #7 (Early October, 2010)

Cradling the critically injured M'gann M'orzz, J'Onn J'Onzz urged her to open her mind to him, allowing him to give her strength for survival. Yeah, I don't know how that's supposed to work, either. Anyway, in the Deadman (and Hawk & Dove, I guess) part of the book, the Life Entity had begun showing all the resurrected characters the reason that they had been returned: "save the cheerleader, save the world." Oh wait-- that was Heroes. Actually, everybody got their own cryptic and arbitrary assignments. As it happened, in this exact and fortuitous moment, White Lantern Martian Manhunter received his: "BURN IT. BURN IT DOWN. BURN ALL OF IT." Now if there's one thing no Martian should be in favor of, it's arson. I mean, certainly creating wildfires specifically would be bad, but did they even have forests on Mars? No seriously, I was drawing swipes on notebook paper in middle school science class-- did they though?

Besides setting up a side quest in a tenuous crossover to help relaunch Green Arrow in a solo title, J'Onn's brief switch to a white costume came with the bonus of completely healing Miss Martian. What a convenient resolution to a cliffhanger in the two pages the Manhunter was allotted this fortnight! I'm sure M'gann is instantly relieved of any psychological trauma from nearly being murdered because a serial killer didn't want any conceivable* competition for becoming J'Onn's babymama. Which isn't a disgusting subplot to begin with, right?

* See what I did there? Wink, wink. "The Secret of Life" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. The art was pretty phoned in, so I guess Pat used up his monthly allotment of awesome sauce last issue.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Brightest Day #6 (Late September, 2010)

Big Hendy Park, California. A feminine Green Martian with a contorted, conflicted form and multiple faces speaking to themselves spied on a couple lounging by a stream in the forest. "Her life smells so wonderful... her youthfulness simply intoxicating. All the psychological and physical experiences she has yet to encounter can be mine... I want them... I need them..."

"Enough! You have more important things to think about. This may be your last cycle before it passes away forever. J'Onzz is back among the living, and he is the last one. Do you really think now is the time to disappear-- submerge yourself inside their meat again?"

"But I am still so empty-- all those years of loneliness-- a lie of the mind to stay sane--"

"Now is the time to rise and do what the core of your being demands-- you must be fulfilled."

"And I will be. Buy if I can't have these lives at this moment, then I'll simply take them."

"Since your last submersion there's been the appearance of another. Someone who may capture his attention-- before we do."

"That won't happen... because I'll pay her a visit." This twisted creature set off in flight, having decapitated the young man and crushed the skull of the lady.
Denver, Colorado. The remains of Professor Erdel's laboratory. The Sleuth from Outer Space sought clues about the serial killer he was pursuing, but was soon more concerned when every hint of flora that he came into contact with immediately died at his touch. Taking flight, J'Onn found an adorable squirrel in a tree, and was relieved to find that it could survive contact with him, "By the grace of H'ronmeer..." The Manhunter from Mars next visited the Still Zone, activating the White Martian mothership, via the prime codeword "T'ann T'anzz." All remained in stasis, with security at full power. On to Gotham City, where he worked with Oracle to view autopsy photos and hack into secure databases for deeply buried computer files. The authorities hide the details when metahuman involvement is suspected to suppress public unrest and as a comfort for families who find greater peace in more mundane causes of death. Hence, this alien killer could go largely undetected, outside specialized agencies who may secretly be in pursuit.

Detecting a "nagging familiarity" to the killer's m.o., the Manhunter reached out to the Teen Titans, with Superboy reporting that M'gann M'orzz was on "walkabout." In the Tanami Desert, Australia, J'Onzz found Miss Martian's getaway pad, the heroine herself brutalized. Dangling in a downward recline, covered in purple blood, half in White Martian and half Miss Martian form...

"Dead Zone" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. Following a two month absence, Martian Manhunter(!) was the David Finch cover-featured star, with an altered version of his 2006 logo. The splash page is glorious, certainly one of Gleason's best images of Manhunter and overall.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Brightest Day #3 (Early August, 2010)

In the Antimatter Universe, White Lantern Boston Brand created hard light power ring constructs of the recently resurrected to fend off the Anti-Monitor. Just acknowledging the cameo.

In Pearl River, New York, at Rockland County Morgue, J'Onn J'Onzz observed the flayed bodies of the massacred family. Finding a dog hair on their clothes, he tracked their absent family dog to the Rockland County Animal Shelter. In its memory, J'Onn saw a corrupted Martian figure stripping off the skins of the family members. He then took the dog to keep Melissa Erdel company, having wiped its memory of the trauma.

"Revelations" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Brightest Day #2 (Late July, 2010)

In Pearl River, New York, a brown-haired slim housewife prepared dinner for her husband and two children. She became fixated on a GBS news report on the recent resurrections of heroes like Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, shown on the television screen. Absentmindedly pulling a ham out of the oven bare-handed, the mom announced that dinner was ready. The rest of the family were playing a Rock Band-style video game, and wanted to finish the current song. The mom then swiftly, brutally murdered "her" family with objects on hand, before pulling the skin off her face to partially reveal a pale, craggy monstrosity with jagged teeth fully on lipless display.

The exact same scenario had played out in the previous issue, where a Black man working at a fish market was triggered by news of Aquaman's return, and murdered everyone at the shop with a knife. For a moment, especially with the TV shot of Aquaman, I thought the writers might have been playing at some sort of mass hysteria event related to Blackest Night that obfuscated the exact triggers/targets. But then I remembered that the man was revealed as Black Manta at the end of the issue, and the woman hissed J'Onzz's name after her homicidal episode, so their individual obsessions were never in doubt. They were just repeating the exact same gory, exploitative plot element in unrelated circumstances. Or put simply, writing poorly, which can happen with fatigue toward the end of a biweekly group collaborative maxi-series, but a severe warning sign on the third issue out of 25+. The exact murder weapons were an electric slicer, drum sticks, and a toy guitar/game accessory, in case you were curious.
In Denver, Colorado, J'Onn visited the grave of his "old friend," Saul Erdel, whose headstone read "TEACHER AND EXPLORER." In Post-Crisis continuity, the nature of J'Onn's relationship with Erdel has remained contradictory and unclear, though generally Erdel still dies almost immediately after encountering the Martian. Manhunter ghosts his way though the ground into Saul's coffin. Erdel's emaciated, near-skeletal hands were laid across his chest, left clutching photographs of Saul and the unidentified woman from the vision, dressed for the lab. The back of one read, "Me and Dad at the lake." So was it a lab at a lake, or a lettering error? The Sleuth from Outer Space swiftly located the now elderly woman at Mount Hope Senior Home. The blue-eyed woman identified as Melissa was in a wheelchair, where she liked to stare out her window toward the stars, and she had a large outwardly branching scar at her right temple. J'Onzz took the form of her father, whom she still remembered, even though she now routinely forgot a great many important things.

On a moonlit flight, Melissa was willing to tell her story, if "Dad" could just help her remember. "I remember when you first showed me the stone tablet you found in the ancient ruins of that Aztec temple when you were a boy... I can still hear the wonder in your voice when you told me the same bedtime story every night of how space travelers from the red star once visited our planet and helped an ancient people survive and thrive. Once you had it translated it became your life-- our life-- and I was glad Mom left-- She never understood what we were trying to do-- All she saw was an obsession-- and all we saw was the future... but the future was pain... and horror. We should have run, Dad. We should have run as fast as we could. But we didn't. Because intertwined in all our fear was hope... Hope that somehow peace and understanding would win that terrible night. But it didn't. All our dreams of reaching out to a new world... only put our in jeopardy."
Oh-- I thought we were introducing a mystery that would play out over the course of the series, not creating a brand new character to insert into Martian Manhunhter's origin so that she could give an exposition dump in issue #2. Gee, I hope that doesn't mean that with all that extra space, the story won't devolve into a bunch of meaningless screaming and violence where the mystery could have gone. Also, mom was right, actually. Let me break down that mess of run-on sentences and misused dashes. Saul Erdel was apparently such a privileged white boy that he was able to steal a square foot of stone artifact from a Latin country that seemed to confirm the existence of aliens via a crude rendition of a cone-headed Martian wearing the classic Manhunter costume. After somehow translating the language of a presumed millennia-dead people from a planet away via mid-20th Century science, it was determined that this alien played into debunked racist theories of non-White civilizations being reliant on extraterrestrials for their noted achievements. Father and daughter wasted their lives trying to make contact with an alien race not recorded since at least 1521 A.D., and their "success" was to unleash a body horror creature onto their world that was all twisted limbs and jagged teeth. Despite presumably being the same alien that massacred their own "family," this first contact involving elongated and grotesquely enlarged appendages applying throat chokes and tossing the Erdels around like rag dolls, but they survive intact and barely bloodied. Maybe they'd also made a scientific breakthrough in the field of plot armor? Worst of all-- Saul brainwashed his little girl with Chariots of the Gods fanfic on nightly repeat? Mom should have called CPS on the way out.
"So you had a new mission, Dad. A new obsession. And I hated you for making me hide in the shadows and not allowing me to be part of it. I remember when I asked you why in the world you would try something like this again after everything that happened. A sad smile crossed your lips, Dad, and all you said was: I'm a scientist, Melissa, and science is built on the foundation of failure. How could I not try to right a wrong? And then one night, there he was. Standing before you-- before us-- the same type of being we saw etched into the ancient stone tablet. The one I would learn years later is called J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter. He was going to be our savior-- deliver us from the evil we had unleashed. I didn't see the cyclonic power generator arcing from behind the door... but you did. I still hear your scream every night, Dad, just as I can see the flash of the explosion that blinded me for weeks... along with a piece of the transporter console that left it's mark on me forever."

Albert Einstein was also a scientist, often attributed the quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." For instance, unleashing an alien xenomorph, shrugging, then tapping on another egg in hopes you'll get lucky and find a Kryptonian instead of a facehugger in that one. Writ large, it would also apply to revising Martian Manhunter's origin as a way in for new readers instead of telling, I dunno, an actual new story? We're not all Melissa Erdel over here. Also, notice how I put those little two-finger wave things on either side of phrases in which I'm directly quoting someone? Might want to try it sometime. One of my particular writing quirks is overly long sentences, arguably in need of better structure or truncation, but it's a conscious stylistic choice on my part. This reads like a child all sugared-up on Pixie Stix whose every sentence is a paragraph of nonsense. How exactly was Erdel "protecting" his daughter by having her in the same house where he's trying to manifest an opposite number against SIL from Species, in line of vision so that she could be blinded, and less than a stone's throw distance because an actual chunk of debris flew into her brain? Saul tackled J'Onn to "save" him from the explosion, but forgets to tell the Martian in a lab ablaze, "Oh hey, can you do me a solid and make sure my adult daughter gets out of here safely?" I assume that her childlike recollection is from the brain damage, and that she was not in fact a teenager imperiled and disabled as a result of her father's negligence.
Even here, Melissa was still entirely concerned about the comfort of her dying father, left to wonder what his final words were. The reader is not so deprived. "... forgive me... for taking you from your home... needed someone to save us... save us from my arrogance... my recklessness..." Not "my baby-- she's still in the fire! Save her!" Not "I brought you here to fight a horrible creature that I accidentally ripped from your planet, if you don't mind looking into that, once you get settled." Not even, "so, like, what can you tell me about those Aztecs." At least he didn't specify that he wanted the Leonard Cohen and not Jeff Buckley version of "Hallelujah" played at his funeral service. That would have been selfish, and also, not the broad preference of any potential mourners of this nutjob shut-in. Anyway, Melissa still expressed gratitude that her father "protected" her from his experiments, rather than plainly ruin her life like what we saw, and she was proud that he'd delivered the Martian hero that would presumably confront their mistake (after a decades long unchecked and undetected rampage of uncounted carnage,) hopefully before she died of old age?

"Nuclear Options" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. Yeah, nuclear options are indeed looking good at this stage. "Stop me before I retcon again." The art was much better this time, more in line withn his excellent, undervalued Aquaman run.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Brightest Day #1 (Early July, 2010)

At the northern polar cap of Mars, J'Onn J'Onzz delivered a lake's worth of frozen water, source unknown. Using laser vision, he melted it, and saw the first sprout of flora. Then he was struck by sudden psychic pain that caused him to partially shapeshift back into Black Lantern Martian Manhunter. J'Onzz saw a vision of himself choking Saul Erdel, while a young blond woman lay unconscious on the ground near their feet. Recovering, J'Onzz attested that his vision was not what had happened when he was teleported to Earth. Assuming that the vision had to have originated as a singularly focused psychic flash from his adopted world, J'Onn began the flight to Earth to find this girl he had seen...

"Second Chances" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. While I was pleased that J'Onn had made a swift return from his stunt death, as he settled into his narrative within the quasi-anthology, I found the direction wanting. I had really enjoyed Fernando Pasarin art in the initial shared section with the Green Lanterns in #1, only to be succeeded by Pat Gleason delivering some of his worst art to this date. I guess someone felt the need to reenforce J'Onn's ties to Earth after the Coneheadhunter offered a brief and mostly overlooked reembrace of his Martian identity, but I don't think the fandom needed this. Given the state of Earth even then, wasting vital resources on Martian nostalgia just made J'Onn look foolish, and spun his narrative wheels at a point where he desperately needed traction.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Brightest Day #0 (June, 2010)

Following his resurrection, J'Onn J'Onzz returned to Mars, intent on reviving the planet of his birth. He had discovered a deep aquifer, and was intent on nurturing it. He also used his laser vision to claim a cabochon to wear on his chest piece, a symbol of his renewed connection to Mars. His pyramid home was visited by Green Lanterns Guy Garder and Hal Jordan, the former delivering a large stash of Chocos and milk. J'Onzz explained his plans to his comrades, who were surprised by his newfound optimism, and his continued commitment to Earth. While upset that his family had not returned with him, he was yet heartened by the revivals of Arthur Curry and Barry Allen.

"Carpe Diem" was by writers Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi, with art by Fernando Pasarin & company.

Monday, May 29, 2023

2023 Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 Silver Age-style homage commission by Kerry Callen


I'm trying to wrap up podcasting business after having spent the holiday weekend driving to and from a convention, so I wasn't sure about the if & when of maintaining my scant return to weekly podcasting. Gathering social media for the podcast, I stumbled upon a tweet that would serve for today, a U.S. holiday devoted to the fallen in battle.
Here is a little-seen DC house ad from 1970. Created by an intern fired after only two months. However, his original concept endured and became an ACTUAL series in 1985. Or, maybe it's merely my latest commission. If so, I should have picked a specific artist and aped his style.
For more, check out Kerry Callen Does Stuff!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Blackest Night #8 (May, 2010)

White Lantern Thaal Sinestro wields significant power, but is not adept in playing host to the Life Entity, and is unable to fully reckon with what Nekron is capable of. The united Lantern Corps struggle to present a united front against the onslaught of the Black Lanterns. Larfleeze battered Lex Luthor and reclaimed his Orange Lantern. Martian Manhunter slugged Hal Jordan while seemingly leading the charge of the Black Lanterns. Hal ringed up a facsimile of the kinder, gentler J'Onn J'Onzz to find him... or rather it... off. Then Jordan makes a connection to the... er... White Power Battery, and uses it to sever the post-resurrected heroes' connection to Nekron, making of them a White Lantern Corps. Through this energy, they next resurrect William Hand, and then the Anti-Monitor, whose corpse had been serving as the Central Power Battery of the Black Lanterns.

White Lantern Power Rings began flying about, homing in on Nekron's lieutenants. "Let there be light." Twelve more were resurrected through its power: Osiris, Jade, Captain Boomerang, Firestorm, Hawk, Professor Zoom, Maxwell Lord, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and Deadman... and J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars! Lovers are reunited, while Superman's reaction is more subdued. "J'Onn! You're alive!"
"It appears so," he confirmed with a grin.

Nekron had disintegrated, and various players made moves before dispersing. There was still a great mystery as to why this particular dozen had been returned to life, but that would be answered another day. For now, at least the blackest of nights passed into a new dawn. "Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, & Joe Prado. These poor guys had to draw so many crowd scenes of dozens, if not hundreds. That they finished on time and at this level of quality is a minor miracle. The mini-series definitely ran too long and went several turnabouts more than it should have, but I love mixing super-heroes with horror. To keep an event of this scale broadly readable and consistently entertaining marks it as one of the greatest crossover events of all time.

As an aside, Joe Prado referenced coming up with fourteen different costume designs for the revived Martian Manhunter, involving notes from the entire creative crew, in a "commentary track" for the book. As longtime readers of the site know, I've tried dozens of variations my own self, so I feel his frustration, and then his suit gets pitched after a year or so. Cannopt win.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Blackest Night #4-7 (December, 2009-April, 2010)

Despite being a Superman-level space zombie powerhouse, Black Lantern Martian Manhunter was mostly sidelined for the second half of the mini-series event. I believe that he is only in one panel of #4, and completely absent from #5-6. The story began to expand outward into the greater DC Universe, with more personal interactions between living characters and the undead who torment them. A gigantic central Black Lantern Power Battery manifested on Earth, followed by its representative entity, Nekron. Ringbearers from across the emotional/color spectrum banded together, including Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Star Sapphire, the Red Lantern Atrocitus, the Blue Lantern Saint Walker, Indigo-1 of the Indigo Tribe, and Larfleeze. Their energies combined into a white light that was the only clear method of destroying the Black Lanterns. Earth's heroes also banded together to combat the threat... to their peril. Black Lantern Batman rose, and with him a wave of contamination of currently living metahumans who had previously resurrected, making Black Lanterns of Wonder Woman, Superman, Superboy Conner Kent, Kid Flash Bart Allen, Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Troia, and Animal Man.

The recently revived Jordan and Barry Allen Flash managed to evade this compromise, although when a group of Earth heroes took on spectrum rings, Allen became a Blue Lantern. Wonder Woman was restored by a Star Sapphire, Lex Luthor went orange, Mera saw red, the Atom turned into a shrinking violet, and The Scarecrow turned yellow. Luthor soon came to covet the other rings, but was fought off, then the majority of the actual ring corps made landfall. It was finally revealed that what had drawn everyone to Earth was a Life Entity buried within it, representing the ultimate combined energies, and the target of Nekron. In the face of mortal peril, it briefly conscripted Thaal Sinestro to be its White Lantern.

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert with Joe Prado.