Monday, November 20, 2023

Brightest Day #21 (Early May, 2011)

On Mars, the cover(s)-featured star engaged in final, fatal battle with D'kay D'razz (solo on one, with D'kay on the variant.) J'Onn J'Onzz fought off mental manipulation, with tears of rage over the molestation of his family memories. D'kay insisted that J'Onn was invested in the fantasy as she was-- that it could still be a reality-- and that it was the future their child deserved. Although their bodies had melded often in recent weeks, the Sleuth from Outer Space probed his mistress' psyche and form, determining that she was barren and deluded. In denial, D'kay picked up bones from the Martian skeletons that she had exhumed and began stabbing the Manhunter with them. In retaliation, the Martian Marvel flooded D'kay's mind with the thoughts of the living multitudes on Earth, exceedingly painful for one as sensitive as she.

Snaking her body around J'Onn's and taking advantage of the fear and dread being experienced by those Earthlings in the midst of unknown calamity, D'kay swore that she would never stop coming for J'Onzz... that she would use and destroy each and every life on his adopted world in her pursuit of his eventual companionship on their red planet. The Alien Atlas believed her... that she was an existential threat to multitudes on Earth, and that her menace would only end with her demise. The Manhunter from Mars flew himself and D'kay D'razz into the sun, where their flesh cooked off their bones, and those bones exploded into dust.

The White Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz emerged from the inferno, once again restored by the Life Entity. Asked to choose his home, the Martian Manhunter returned to Earth. Star City was aflame, and the forest imperiled. The Martian Marvel rescued innocents for a moment, but was swiftly drawn by the White Power Ring of Deadman. Recently, the Hawks and Aquaman had been disintegrated by its power, and now it seemingly threatened J'Onzz's newborn reincarnation. "Your heart is no longer divided, J'Onn J'Onzz... Your sense of devotion and duty is now pure and singular in purpose." Deadman protested that the recent "killings" of Manhunter's fellows was the Lantern's doing, and that he couldn't stop it from using him as a vessel for its wishes. Manhunter had read Deadman's thoughts, not only absolving him of guilt, but also the White Lantern itself. In the belief that it was necessary to surrender himself to halt the new menace to the Star City Forest and beyond, J'Onzz allowed himself to be swallowed into the earth

"Mars Attacks" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. Beyond the stupid title, the belabored conflict, the average art, the impossible astronomy, and maybe the ultimate instance of Martian Manhunter jobbing himself-- dying twice in one comic to addresses menaces he should have been able to beat with regular old powers and a little brain work-- this one was alright. And yes, the rare Green Martian survivor living secretly in isolation until reemerging well into the Manhunter's career before J'Onn kills them and nearly himself by diving into Earth's sun was already done to Ma'alefa'ak in the Pete Tomasi-edited Martian Manhunter #9. If you're going to be a second-rate Johns, might as well plagiarize from his second-favorite source, John Ostrander.

Monday, November 13, 2023

WEBTOON Red Hood: Outlaws (2022-2023)

The Outlaws try to go legit -- and fail spectacularly. The Justice League has issued a challenge to DC’s Dark Trinity, forcing Red Hood, Artemis of Bana-Mighdall, and Bizarro to try and replace their goody-two-shoe counterparts as the heroes the world neither deserves nor needs. In this original series, the Outlaws will battle some of DC’s biggest Super-Villains and Super Heroes -- but their biggest battles are among themselves. Can this team last? And can they find their own identities separate from Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman?
Per Wikipedia, WEBTOON is "a South Korean webtoon platform launched in 2004 by Naver Corporation, providing hosting for webtoons and compact digital comics. The platform is free, and is found both on the web at and on mobile devices available for both iOS and Android." DC Comics has apparently farmed out some of their IP to the company, including the New 52's Red Hood & the Outlaws, under the recenty "Dark Trinity" model of wannabe bottom shelf Bat-Supes-WW. While doing research, I stumbled upon the project, and then suffered through it. I readily admit myt biases: I am an old. I like "Modern Age" North American comics, except most generations of readers are maybe fifteen years long and "modern" starts more or less in 1986, so it's an unweildy conceit. To be more precise, I like a combination of late Bronze Age world building/aesthetics but with "Dark/Chromium Age" mature and subversive elements. It would be especially ignorant and prejudiced to say that I don't like "manga," but I can say that I'm not big on stereotypical Asian storytelling tropes like massively decompressed storytelling and cutesy banter/romcom elements. I especially don't like when American super-heroes are forced into this model without regard for continuity. As an added bonus, the episodes are infinite scrolls optimized to be read on a phone, but I read on a desktop. This is not my jam.

The story is that the Outlaws are mercenaries hired by the presumed deceased mobster Franco Bertinelli to recover a stolen family heirloom on Dinosaur Island. Yes, that's the name of Huntress' father, and he looks the part, but this is just the sort of superficial nod to continuity that only serves to confuse and frustrate the kind of people that will catch the reference. Besides facing dinosaurs, the Outlaws also run a Raiders of the Lost Ark gauntlet of boobytraps to capture the "heirloom." Did I also mention that I hate overt references to obvious pop culture sources?

The first twist is that the "heirloom" is an artifact kept safe in this cave for "thousands of years" by Artemis' reckoning, so the premise of the entire mission is a lie. The second is that there is seemingly an African-American police officer on a date with a girl named Caitlin who resembles Babs Gordon and works nights, but isn't Batgirl. They're at the Mimic Coffee Bar, he orders a plate of Chocos sandwich cookies for their dinner, and the girl is actually into it. The cop has to exit the date, because his warning device that intruders have broken into his secret Dinosaur Island hiding place for a Martian artifact has gone off. This story is by a first time writer who is heavily invested in this work, so it gives me no pleasure to attack his work. However, "likes Chocos and gets ornery when you touch his Martian stuff" is the most basic, pathetic characterization for J'Onn J'Onzz, and that's about the level of every character in this strip. Also, Martian Manhunter hasn't been on Earth for thousands of years to mind the artifact, and I'm pretty sure his high tech detection and force field detention system are unrelated to the Ray Harryhausen reanimated skeletons also defending the object. There could be a story in that, but it's not told here. It's merely another plot contrivance, which starts with "why didn't you have the containment force fields set up for before someone stole the artifact?"

So Martian Manhunter captured and replaced Artemis, hanging out with Red Hood and Bizarro for hours, until Jason Todd deduced that "she" was not actually his teammate. They fought, and Bizarro beat Martian Manhunter, so J'Onn called the Watchtower for back-up. THe Outlaws got through the force field and back to whatever Western country "Franco Bertinelli" was in. The Outlaws take their wages, but then fight "Franco" to force him to explain what the real deal was with "his" scheme. It turned out that Franco was actually D'Kay D'Razz in disguise. Despite the story repeatedly referring to it as an "idol," and it vaguely resembling the New 52 Pandora's Box, "The Heart of H'ronmeer is the most powerful remnant of life on Mars. It hold the ability to replicate a fascimile of Martian life. A mirror. A bastardization." What this meant was that D'Kay turned a bunch of humans in the building into clones of herself. Why the Outlaws were exempt, I know, because plot contrivance. A trio of mercenaries held their own against a small army of Martian serial killer clones who keep homaging that Ivan Reis D'Kay D'Razz variant cover merged with Junji Ito in AI, and then the Justice League showed up. Despite this, the D'Kays escaped to Mars, and the condition will be permanent if The Heart of H'ronmeer touches down on the red planet. So now would be a good time for a Batman-Red Hood heart-to-heart where Bruce Wayne unmasks?

The story just stops when Red Hood insisted that the Outlaws were more effective than the Justice League, so Batman makes his former protegee agree to a deal herein the Outlaws will replace the League for a month using approved, non-lethal tactics. So the League stands down for a month, giving the mercenaries free reign of thew Watchtower. The Martian stuff gets dropped without resolution. I think the League went to Mars to stop D'Kay, the crux of the initial argument? And did I mention that the Outlaws were just hired by a presumed mobster to steal stuff with no qwuestions asked? Make any of this make sense.

Nearly twenty episodes and four months later, it made sense. The D'Kay D'Razz situation was resolved in a few panels with minimal complications, but did involve her literally backbiting Martian Manhunter off-panel. The Outlaws' adventures were all virtual reality simulations echoing the circumstances the Justice League were dealing with, and Manhunter was left on the Watchtower to guard them in their suspended animation. J'Onn J'Onzz used his telepthy to speak clearly with Bizarro and help him deal with an especially cruel false family scenario. By this point there were a team of additional artists, and you can tell. There was also a team of bounty hunters, mercenraies, and assassins after the Outlaws, now that Wayne was no longer protecting them, and he was a real pal to leave J'Onn J'Onzz to get caught up in all that. He claimed to be proficient in 1,827 languages while playing punch face with KGBeast and looking too much like Piccolo. Artemis took out Merlyn, Codename: Assassin, and Lady Shiva, who surrendered. At chapter 33, J'Onn had fought Lobo, then they both teamed up with Bizarro to save the Watchtower from falling out of orbit, and Artemis had taken out some Medusa chick who turned out to be the main baddie? I'll be honest, by this point I was free-spinning the scroll like a The Price is Right money wheel. I justy stopped when I saw green, as you do, and there were blessedly fewer Robin appearances to interfere with that process. Things got very talky and metaphysical, the chapters seemed to short, and I'd say the art improved (collectively?) I think Batman and/or Red Hood learned the error of their ways, even though they're supposed to be the heroes rather than the recidivists?

Episode 53 had another green blip. Artemis was being imprisoned and tortured. Red Hood got help from Martian Manhunter to get into the place where she was being held, under stipulation that J'Onn would have no further involvement without proof of criminal involvement, and that Bruce wouldn't get word of it. There was a sequence where you had to turn your phone sideways for an Oldboy hallway fight. Artemis got a Green Lantern power ring. There's a fakeout where Jason and Artemis appeared to get married, but it was actually Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. So the writer got a treat for spending three years of his life on a story that can never be collected in print and is certainly out of continuity. Oh hey, Caitlin from the date catches the bouquet, so finally a callback to all that.

In my frustration, my critique will be a reductive "this sucks." Not only do I hate all the scrolling, but it is actively detrimental to the storytelling. Every episode has sequences where you're just rolling past scenery of negative space. I think it might be a bid to control narrative time and mood, but it mostly feels like thumb isometrics. You can tell the artists are used to doing digital pin-ups, as they struggle with basic visual storytelling, and everyone is posed like Colorforms on vague backgrounds that they don't seem to inhabit. Without a break point like the turn of a page, unheralded flashbacks and dream sequences are jarring and utterly disorienting to the point where I thought I might have clicked on the wrong chapter, except "oh, right" I was still in the same chapter when things went pear-shaped. Money may have technically changed hands, but this is still fanfic in terms of craft on display. The story ended on 8/27/23, and is primarily credited to Patrick R. Young and Nico Bascuñan. You can read it for yourself here

Monday, October 16, 2023

Brightest Day #19 (Early April, 2011)

The White Lantern had Deadman "kill" Hawkman and Hawkperson (Girl? Woman? I'm not checking her then-current status.) When questioned, the Life Entity explained, "It is part of the plan... The plan to stop Earth from turning against humanity... The world has slowly been poisoned for centuries by mankind, but Nekron's attack heightened the contamination of Earth's life-web-- it's very soul. Soon this corruption will rise in the form of a dark avatar and it will seek out the forest I created... It holds the key to Earth's salvation. The twelve I gave life to each plays a role in saving the soul of your homeworld. Some have already prevented further destruction to it and given us more time... while others are ultimately more significant to my purpose. Arthur Curry, Ronald Raymond, J'Onn J'Onzz, and Carter and Shiera Hall are unique. I put them on a journey to overcome what held them back in life... And that in turn purified their life force... Their life force must be purified-- because their essence is essential in saving Earth's Soul. If the forest falls to the dark avatar, the new champion of this world will never rise-- and Earth will die. This world is too valuable to the future to allow that to happen."

"Aquawar Part One" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Ivan Reis & company. A White Power Battery obsessed with "purity" against the darkies? Are our heroes headed to the GOP primaries? Also, by the end of this two part micro-series, Aquaman will be "dead" too. Not looking good for Martian survival...

Monday, October 9, 2023

Brightest Day #15 (Early February, 2011)

On Mars, twenty-five years later. There's a big ceremony celebrating what is essentially the resurrecting Messiah of Mars (as in he resurrected Mars rather than himself. In your face, Jesus of Nazareth.) The other, older members of the "Magnificent Seven" had been snuck on-world to join in the global celebration of the wonder that is Green Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz. As in the Green Lantern Corps, with whom Martians were positioned as having an adversarial relationship in a book edited by Pete Tomasi, and whose masters, the Guardians of the Universe, had altered the DNA of prehistoric Martians to be vulnerable to fire after they had been deemed too great a threat to other lifeforms? Yeah, so Green Lantern Corpsman J'Onzz had brought a lasting peace to Earth and Mars, to the gushing adulation of an entirely uncritical and deferential Batman.

Of course it's an imaginary story. Doi. I'm certain the writers did not expect the readership to be utterly clueless to this fact by the third page, and yet the story keeps on belaboring asserted facts that any experienced comics reader would dismiss on sight. It's hard not to get antsy reading pages of nonsense filler while waiting for the matter to resolve. So yeah, giant statue in Martian Manhunter's honor. J'Onn's family alive and expanded, with daughter K'hym herself now a Manhunter. Keeping the homicide witness family dog from earlier in the series as a pet, despite feeding it a steady diet of sandwich cookies, likely to cause daily severe stomach upset, pancreatitis, and chocolate poisoning. Batman feeling the need to list the ways in which every Leaguer but him is not entirely human, but failing to explain in the same panel why his head is in 3⁄4 but his mouth is a front view. I didn't know you could get punched that hard.

Getting shot with "pearl bullets" is actually what did Batman in, because a pearl necklace wasn't suggestive enough. Wonder Woman was hung from her lasso by a finger of the Manhunter statue. Aquaman drowned on Martian sands. They ran out of ironic deaths for Green Lantern and the Flash, so they just get dismembered, though Flash continued running like a chicken with its head cut off. Hardy-har. After invading the minds of all Martians simultaneously in search of clues, the yet surviving Superman was found in "the underground security bunker where our most powerful enemies are kept captive." A brief history of Martian imprisonment: In the Silver Age, they'd strap this flying belt thing on crooks and leave them floating at a stationary point in the atmosphere. Morrison stuck the White Martians in the Still Zone, a formless white void outside space/time. Malefic was held a gem-type thing. Here we have... Sciencells, but red. I guess it's a good thing that this is a Green Lantern story, then. Oh, and so many great Easter Eggs in the cells, with classic Martian Manhunter villains like Despero and... Starro... Johnny Quick? Various unidentifiable squiggles, though one is a girl, so, like, Bette Noir?

Superman was wearing a Kryptonite mask, and K'hym wanted to mentally probe his unconscious form for answers, as he was among the few beings capable of killing the League. J'Onn refused her, prompting a tirade about how he was okay with probing every Martian but not a single outsider, and how his loyalties are ever with Earth over Mars. A justifiable concern, but also D'Kay D'Razz's hand being tipped. More so when they line up all the corpses in a morgue, and all the cross slashes supposedly spell out the Martian words for "love" and "hate." Also, despite saving Superman's life, Manhunter randomly stabbed him to death with an undetected Kryptonite spike or especially powerful ring construct? Also, K'hym was inexplicably absent. And despite using heavy shadows as a handicap throughout the issue/run, the artist channels Ed McGuinness cartoon hyper-muscularity to depict Superman getting shived under lighting so bright that the only shadows cast on the entire pages were to highlight said inflated muscles. Being a sloppy second rate Doug Mahnke had gotten him this far, so is it too much to ask that we keep the artist we're deriving from consistent from panel to panel?

So, yeah, all of Mars burned again and M'yri'ah was unmasked (de-gloved?) as D'Kay, ending on the distasteful note of her on her knees being choked by our standing "hero" while the bones of Martian children were ghoulishly arranged in the background. D'Kay accused J'Onn of giving up on Mars. "I do not fight for lies of the mind, D'kay... and I never will!" How relatable. So inspiring. Smash cut to two pages of Scott Clark teasing the ongoing Firestorm story (which, remember, will ultimately be abandoned for the New 52.)

"Whatever Happened to the Manhunter from Mars?" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. It is perhaps the worst Martian Manhunter story. You might dismiss that as hyperbole, and it's certainly not true at the level of raw craft, but bear with me. "For the Man Who has Everything..." and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" are considered to be two of the greatest comic stories ever told, a pair of Alan Moore's most well regarded tales, and typically at minimum top 10 Superman yarns (though both lose impact the further perception moves past the Silver Age model, into the ongoing Byrne Man of Steel period.) Martian Manhunter is widely considered to be mint-flavored Superman. Blatantly cribbing from major Superman stories, much diminished in length and talent, on a highly visible maxi-series that eclipses any audience the Sleuth from Outer Space ever commands on his own, conforms the bias held by many that the Alien Atlas has nothing more to offer than being a stand-in or jobber for the Man of Steel. Plus cynical ultra-violence, which is itself reheated '80s Moore. Plus the story just stinks, and the artist can't maintain quality or character from panel to panel. Plus, all those wardrobe changes, and they're all Green Lantern costumes. There may be objectively worse stories, but few more harmful to the Martian Marvel.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Brightest Day #22 (Late May, 2011)

One last flash-forward as we enter spooky season. Deathstorm had stolen the White Lantern Battery and brought it to his master, the Anti-Monitor. It made a little sense in context, but over a quarter-century after Crisis on Infinite Eartths? Such a dumb name. Anti-Monitor is Galactus but universes, so he planned to use the Life Entity to cook up meals that would make him infinitely powerful. Despite having a whole-assed Black Lantern team, Deathstorm was still jerking around with Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, ultimately killing Raymond's partner in the original Firestorm matrix. After Professor Martin Stein was turned to salt, Ronnie overcame his insecurities to reform The Nuclear Man, and... the White Lantern destroyed all the Black Lanterns in a single blast? Even though Ronnie was always a headstrong idiot who rushed into danger, so this was par for the course? Make it make sense. Oh, and for added anti-climax, the Lantern transported Firestorm back from the Antimatter Universe, so that the Anti-Monitor could sit on a shelf until another big event instead of being addressed in this one.

"The End and the Beginning" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Scott Clark & company. A White Power Battery obsessed with "purity" against the darkies? Are our heroes headed to the GOP primaries? Also, by the end of this two part micro-series, Aquaman will be "dead" too. Not looking good for Martian survival...

Saturday, September 30, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #10-26 (Late August, 2011 - Late May 2012)

The Daily Planet employees started demonstrating sometimes lethal super powers. The Justice League, especially Batman questioned Superman's judgment. The Man of Steel blamed himself for Martian Manhunter's loss of powers, though J'Onn believed that with the team being targeted, "I think the results would have been the same" with or without him. Lex Luthor framed Superman for a pair of super-villain deaths. Porter's art got all blobby under the deadline crunch. "Facts" was by Marv Wolfman, Howard Porter & John Livesay.

The Atom determined that Superman had been bitten, and that it was possible his powers were being remote-controlled. Superman feared his mind might be next, and isolated himself. Martian Manhunter continued to stand atound in the background. "Lost" was by Marv Wolfman & Mike S. Miller.

Then Superman accidentally killed Lois Lane and exiled himself into space. A green Tom Taylor came in for a couple fill-in issues involving space battles with Sinestro that were so jarring I thought I was looking at the wrong book. Tony Bedard leaves and Wolfman drags things out on his own, seemingly losing the plot but figuring out more opportunities to work in the conceit of player-generated original characters. Eventually, the past and future cyborg Lex Luthors teamed up and reset the entire timeline so that nothing in the series happened. There are a few issues with extra nice art, but otherwise this was a waste of everyone's time. Sorry I bothered to cover this at all.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Blackest Night: Batman #1 (October, 2009)

Here's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Black Lantern Martian Manhunter, during the reanimation of Boston Brand's bones. From Peter J. Tomasi and the antisemite Kubert Bros-clone Ardian Syaf, before he immolated his career with his own hatred.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #9 (Early August, 2011)

Over time, Superman had become disheveled and aggreessive as his concern for Lois Lane and his captive friends grew. Then he and the Justice League were sent to battler nanite enhanced Arkham inmate. Superman was lured away by Lex Luthor, who promised that he'd broken away from Brainiac and made off with the bottled Daily Planet. Luthor needed help fending off Brainiac's enforcers, which is where Superman came in, and the Planet was restored. However, the Man of Steel was unknowingtly bitten by a nannite in the process. Back in Gotham, Martian Manhunter finally succumbed, left without powers and cradled by Wonder Woman in his natural form. Batman demanded that Superman adjust his priorities to protect the Earth instead of the Planet.

"Anarchy at Arkham" was by Marv Wolfman, Mike S. Miller, and Sergio Sandoval.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Red Robin #19 (March, 2011)

The Ünternet is some kind of VR world having to do with The Calculater and a dark web where super-villains can communicate with one another. Also Darkseid and Final Crisis? Whatever. The crook who took it over, Viktor Mikalek, "killed" virtual reality avatars of the Justice League, including Martian Manhunter. A VR version of Miss Martian (in an alternate costume) and other Teen Titans show up later. By Fabian Nicieza, Marcus To, & Ray McCarthy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #8 (Late July, 2011)

Lex Luthor lost multiple limbs and an eye. Blaming Superman, he was rebuilt as a cyborg by Brainiac. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Martian Manhunter was still in bad shape after what the nanobots had done to him. Sweating profusely and against medical advise, Manhunter tested his abilities, and registered his disabilities. No shape-shifting, intangibility, or Martian Vision, but he still had strength and flight. Superman seemed to advise him to stop there, promising to restore him after the nanites had "bottled" and stolen his other powers away. Regardless, when Oracle dispatched heroes to search for Brainiac around the world, "Martian Manhunter insisted on pitching in, so I gave him North Africa. So far, none of them has found any trace of Brainiac."

"Reconstruction" was Tony Bedard & Mike S. Miller

Monday, September 25, 2023

Brightest Day #12 (Late December, 2010)

On Mars, J'Onn J'Onzz approached his pyramid home, from which he psychically "heard" and could be telepathically heard by the Green Martian female serial killer. So glad I can stop repeating that same series of descriptors when the Manhunter declares (silently) "...I am coming to end you, D'kay D'razz." Tomorrow, I'll have a post that touches on why the Sleuth from Outer Space isn't more popular. One reason may be that detective stories don't work if there is no real investigation and the mystery is solved through mind reading. This fellow Martian was on a killing spree since at least 1955, going completely undetected by our hero despite a retcon that it was the purpose for which he was brought to Earth. The White Lantern had to tell him to even start looking, and meanwhile, the killer is claiming scores of new victims while J'Onn is hanging out with dogs and squirrels, unable to even reconcile the evidence pointing to her being a Green Martian. He had to be confronted by one of her victims, herself a White Martian who only survived because of the White Lantern (no connection.) Rather than continue from there, the "Manhunter" surrender his agency to the White Lantern, got sidetracked, and only addresses the killer when she breaks into his home and opens her mind enough to reveal her name. What is J'Onn even doing in this story, besides killing houseplants and lasering his own hands off?

So what does the Alex Forrest of the Red Planet have in mind? A candlelight dinner with a whole cooked turkey, white wine, and... a stacked pyramid of Chocos on a silver platter? I quit. This was a mistake. I never should have started this blog. Martians dining with cookies beside an open flame atop a transparent coffin? ████ you! ████ this! I'm out.

Just as I'm trying to reconsider, we learned that the ritualistic scarring on D'kay D'razz's body was the Martian symbols for love and hate. You know, like in the 1955 Robert Mitchum noir flop The Night of the Hunter, involving a preacher with the words tattooed on his knuckles? Who are you trying to kid? More like the Simpsons' Cape Fear parody with Sideshow Bob stalking Bart. I've seen both, but trust that this third time held no charm, just an exhausted groan. The single person I hold most responsible for Martian Manhunter's inviability as a solo character since his big breakthrough opportunity in the wake of JLA is Pete Tomasi, because whether as an editor or creative, his hand is always at play when it comes to stupid ████ like this. What is D'kay D'razz but Malefic with ████, and what is this story but repeating oneself and expecting different results? Dc Comics ran a fan poll while this book was running, and I recall the Manhunter storyline ranking at or near the bottom (I think the Hawks were the only competition.)

D'kay tried to seduce J'Onn by offering to carve on his own body, completely misinterpreting his "straight edge" aesthetic. D'Kay told her origin story, which again, only diverges from J'Onn's brother's in ways that make her the less interesting, and I used to call Ma'alefa'ak "Green Venom" in his prime. D'kay declared them "the two loneliest beings in the universe," and tried to beat J'Onn mentally and physically into submitting to her "love." D'Kay revealed that it was she who had sent the first psychic image of green hands choking Erdel, and that in connecting with J'Onn learned that the Mars which had tormented her was no more. So, they're both idiots. D'Kay kept trying to merge with J'Onn, and tried to batter him with images of his friends declaring him a traitor. The Alien Atlas rebelled, eventually pummeling D'Kay into the ground, then using his new White Lantern powers to revival all the lost souls of Mars. Predictably, this was actually a delusion created by D'Kay, masquerading as J'Onn's wife M'yri'ah J'onzz.

"All This Useless Beauty" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. I didn't take time to mention that a punch of Pat's page were lousy, with wacky proportions and an over-relience on shadow. Obviously he perked up when the fake Justice League showed up, and his Martians toward the back were quite good, but I think the J'Onn/D'Kay stuff bored him. Same. Also, the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter simulacrum flew around. I dunno. Whatever.

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.