Thursday, March 30, 2023

Justice League of America #230 (September, 1984)

The breathable air was sucked out of the environment within the JLA Satellite. Bel Juz convinced The Marshal to have his warships destroy the space vessel that caused the explosive decompression aboard the satellite before it could get too close... and Martian Manhunter could be positively identified, to prevent his potential martyrdom. Hunter Commander J'en overheard their conversation while eavesdropping aboard the command ship "The Vengeance," but could only look on in horror as her former lover seemingly died a second time before her eyes. The Hawks' Thanagarian Star Cruiser had been completely obliterated by laser fire, leaving no trace. The Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, Konstantin Chernenko, swayed President of the United States Ronald Reagan to deploy their combined nuclear capabilities against the Martian armada. Nine key international military bases had already been leveled by the invaders. All was lost.

Well, about that. As demonstrated by J'onn J'onzz before his departure, the League had specialized space suits aboard the satellite that allowed the heroes to use their powers while protected from the ravages of space. The League ambushed Martian troops that explored the disabled satellite. Hawkgirl and Hawkman had maneuvered their ships' warp drive to evade fire and retaliate. J'en wielded her credentials and the stun setting on her pistol to take out three members of the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood. Stealing a scout craft, she found that J'onn J'onzz had once again been miraculously thrown clear of his ship before its destruction.

When roused, the Sleuth from Outer Space was relieved to learn that the full attack upon Earth had not yet begun, and that there was yet time to stop The Marshal. J'en still believed in her leader and their mission, drawing her pistol on J'onn, who despite no outward resistance insisted that she would have to kill him. Tearfully, J'en let go of her quest for Martian glory, as well as the grip on her laser. Just as the Hawks prepared for their final stand, The Marshal placed his order. "This day, we will write in fire on the pages of Martian history. Technician, open a channel to the entire fleet-- I wish to speak to all my warriors."

This was the moment the Manhunter from Mars, having made his way aboard The Vengeance, had been waiting for. The challenge of a duel, before the entire Martian force, who could already plainly see that J'onn J'onzz had not fled like a coward, as their commander had claimed. Bel whispered, "The eyes of the fleet are upon you, my leader! Kill him now, prove him a weakling, and you are untouchable!" The Marshal literally ripped off his shirt and assailed the man he'd framed as a traitor. Despite his genetic enhancements, the Marshal struggled against his foe, and used an invisibility technique outlawed for a millennium in duels of honor. Bel insisted, "What matter? The Marshal is above the law!" After more blows were traded, the Marshal tried to two-handed choke J'onzz to death, but the Alien Atlas picked him up by the midsection and smashed the militant head-first into equipment, leaving the Marshal out cold. Bel Juz defied this result, grabbing a pistol from a soldier with the intent to kill J'onzz herself. However, Firestorm had recovered from his last brush with Martian muscle and pursued the Manhunter, only to use his powers to save J'onn from Bel's blast.

J'onzz ordered the armada back to Mars II. The Soviets and the U.S. stepped back from probable nuclear winter. All seemed to be right, except the fleet would be leaving short one Martian Marvel. As Aquaman observed, "His people don't want him... His presence would be a constant reminder of their humiliation... J'onzz showed them that they'd sold their hearts to a madman and coward. The Marshal betrayed their faith in him... but J'onn J'onzz forced them to face reality... and that's something a nation can never forgive...

"The Concluding Chapter: War of the Worlds 1984: Part Three: Blessed Is the Peacemaker" was by Gerry Conway & Alan Kupperberg. While not as embarrassing as to be defeated by the slighest hint of a flamable, the Martians regardless proved pushovers when faced with non-powered heroines in fetish gear kicking them really hard in weightless space. I still like this story, and love the Patton/Giordano covers, but the illogic and mere lip service paid to stakes make it fold before the slightest critical analysis. None of this material makes it into Post-Crisis continuity, so my buzz over the observance for Bronze Age Martian continuity is further harshed by none of this having "happened" in canon going further than a year out.

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