Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crisis On Earth-Blog: The DC Challenge

Welcome to The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for the Manhunter from Mars. We've been running semi-daily posts about the Alien Atlas since September 1, 2007, with no end in sight. Our emphasis is on story synopses for the character's appearances (cataloged by decade,) biographical pages for related characters (friends & foes,) artwork, merchandise, and commentary. Basically, all things related to the Sleuth from Outer Space. You can access much of this information through the buttons running along the right hand side of your screen, and I hope you take the time to enjoy them.

Today, this blog is one of many hosting "The DC Challenge," the latest iteration of "Crisis On Earth-Blog." These are a series of crossover events between a slew of DC/Comic Book related blogs with various themes, the most recent having been a celebration of the Super Powers Collection's 25th Anniversary. This time, each blog linked on this page will feature some kind of puzzle for you to solve. Correct answers will send you to another blog, usually with fewer challenges. This should lead you closer to one of two high quality, obscure pin-ups featuring characters spotlighted in the event. Incorrect answers will send you to a page of generic links. Finally, most challenges will offer an "I Don't Know" option, which you can click if you're curious about the correct answer. These pages will often give you a taste for the blog you're visiting, and you may have to read thoroughly to glean the correct answer.

Since The Idol-Head is a pretty dense blog, most of our questions will be related to history/trivia. Good luck, and we hope you have a blast!

1) The first ever recorded invasion of Earth by Pole-Dwelling Pale Martians was said to have occurred on February 11, 1959 in Middletown, U.S.A. Forces led by Commander Blanx were pursued by a major gathering of super-heroes from the period just before the original formation of the Justice League of America. Among them were the Vigilante, Robotman, Congo Bill, Plastic Man, Rex the Wonder Dog, the Blackhawks, and the Challengers of the Unknown. Which of the following characters sidestepped being captured by this group when mistaken for a pale-skinned, shape-shifting alien?

A) The Joker
B) Adam Strange
C) Phantom Stranger
D) Captain Comet
E) I Don't Know

2) The Manhunter from Mars made his first appearance in Detective Comics #225. Which of these characters also debuted in that title?
A) The Joker
B) Black Lightning
C) Man-Bat
D) Green Arrow
E) I Don't Know

3) The Martian Manhunter has fought his share of heroes and villains alike, but his distant "relative" Jemm, Son of Saturn hasn't made enough appearances to build up much of a rogues gallery. However, J'Onzz and Jemm have each butted heads with two characters that come to mind. The first is Superman, who has tangled with Jemm on at least two occasions. Another is...
A) Supergirl
B) Firestorm
C) Man-Bat
D) The Joker
E) I Don't Know

4) The history of DC super-hero comics is generally broken up into four periods by scholars: The Golden Age, marked by the debut of Superman in 1938 and ending in the late '40s with the decline of interest in costumed crusaders; The Silver Age, opening with editor Julie Schwartz's 1956 debut of a new Flash (Barry Allen,) soon followed by a host of similar reinventions, and bowing when Schwartz left those new toys in other hands and took over the Superman line; The Bronze Age, beginning around 1970 with Jack Kirby's Fourth World and O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and ending when Crisis on Infinite Earths radically altered the DC line; and The Modern Age, standing as DC's Post-Crisis continuity to the present. It just so happens that J'Onn J'Onzz was introduced in the one uncharted period between these "ages," when super-heroes had been replaced by war, western, science fiction and horror-themed characters. Can you name another?
A) Adam Strange
B) Sgt. Rock
C) Man-Bat
D) Captain Comet
E) I Don't Know

5) In the twenty-eighth issue of his 1990s solo series, the Martian Manhunter joined a band of heroes that included Blue Devil, Ragman, Madame Xanadu, Dr. Occult and others in a battle against the Demon Etrigan, which resulted in J'Onn J'Onzz and John Jones becoming two separate beings. Which of these characters sent him on that mission?
A) Doctor Fate
B) Zatanna
C) The Phantom Stranger
D) The Golden Age Green Lantern (a.k.a. Sentinel)
E) I Don't Know

6) Thanks to his wealth of powers, the Martian Manhunter has often been called upon to "substitute" for other heroes. However, on at least one occasion, J'Onn J'Onzz had to set aside his natural abilities and wield the tools of this hero, which served as the key to defeating an overwhelming foe...
A) Dr. Fate
B) Green Arrow
C) Mister Miracle
D) Black Lightning
E) I Don't Know

7) J'Onn J'Onzz is no sexist, having assumed female forms on a number of occasions. The Manhunter from Mars has also taken his lumps from one member of the fairer sex in particular. Which of the following super-heroines performed better against two Martian Manhunter foes in the Bronze Age than he did himself, replaced him on at least one mission, and fought him to a standstill, all within a five year span?
A) Black Canary
B) Hawkwoman
C) Supergirl
D) Wonder Woman
E) I Don't Know

8) The Manhunter from Mars has unfortunately lost many comrades in battle as a member of the Justice League. However, as super-people are wont to do, J'Onzz has seen a great many miraculous resurrections of these same fellows after a relatively brief amount of time. However, J'Onzz has had egg on his face in twice declaring a certain hero deceased, only to have him seemingly escape death almost as soon as he was believed to have shuffled this mortal coil. Which of these heroes fits the bill, and for added clarification, also introduced J'onzz to one of his dearest friends for the duration of Justice League International?
A) Elongated Man
B) Mister Miracle
C) Dr. Fate
D) Batman
E) I Don't Know

9) John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars was the back-up feature in Detective Comics from his first appearance in #225 until he was booted out by new editor Julius Schwartz in #327. Which of the following characters took his place in the book?

A) Elongated Man
B) The Atom
C) The Flash
D) Hawkman
E) I Don't Know

10) For all of about two issues in the "One Year Later" period following Infinite Crisis and 52, Martian Manhunter was a member of Batman and the Outsiders. No sooner had he left the group than the following character showed up to fill his empty slot...

A) Black Canary
B) Black Lightning
C) Elongated Man
D) Batgirl
E) I Don't Know

11) Continuing from above, Martian Manhunter had "competed" with this character for his spot in Batman and the Outsiders, only to be shipped out after two issues, while his competition stuck around unofficially for months before having their brains scrambled by an explosion. This would be...

A) Green Arrow
B) Batgirl
C) Thunder
D) Aquaman
E) I Don't Know

12) As one of the few super-heroes whose actual date of creation (1955) coincides with their fictional debut, the Martian Manhunter enjoys a respected "elder statesman" status amongst the majority of DC characters. However, J'onn J'onzz had an almost elemental antagonism with a hero from pretty much their first meeting, and was among the first heroes to suspiciously question their successor upon their arrival. Who might that be?

A) Dr. Will "Veridium" Magnus
B) Firestorm
C) Aquaman
D) Plastic Man
E) I Don't Know

13) Anthology titles were where most super-heroes and similar concepts made their debut in the Silver Age. One such title, The Brave and the Bold, launched many a new series, including the Justice League of America. However, that book spent the majority of its two-hundred issue run as a team-up book pairing a couple of pre-existing heroes for a given adventure. The Manhunter from Mars joined which hero for the first ever such team up?

A) Green Arrow
B) The Flash
C) Adam Strange
D) Hawkman
E) I Don't Know

14) Martian Manhunter has close relationships with a number of super-heroes. He shared Detective Comics with Batman for over a hundred issues, and is one of the few heroes Batman defers to. In the 1960-70s, appearances in Superman books helped keep the Alien Atlas in the public eye, often when he had no other venue, and J'Onzz was Kal-El's sounding board through the early 00s. What other hero hosted Martian Manhunter solo adventures in their book, has formed several teams with the Sleuth from Outer Space, and is generally one of his truest friends?

A) Wonder Woman
B) Aquaman
C) The Atom
D) Black Canary
E) I Don't Know

15) Martian Manhunter hasn't had the closest relationships with plenty of other heroes, despite his connections throughout the DC Universe. Of these distant acquaintances, which was created by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito ?

A) Sgt. Rock
B) The Unknown Soldier
C) The Metal Men
D) He-Man
E) I Don't Know

16) At the same time the Martian Manhunter's role as a member of the Justice League of America was winding down to occasional guest appearances, another hero stepped in to soak up the screen time J'onzz's absence allowed. Maybe that's why the Alien Atlas was around to help end one of this character's series, and threw them quite a seemingly poorly motivated beating in the 1970s.

A) The Atom
B) Green Arrow
C) Plastic Man
D) Hawkman
E) I Don't Know

17) Retroactive continuity sure can make matters confusing. For instance, in their first comic book appearance, the Justice League of America fought Starro the Conqueror. However, within the first year of their self-titled series, it was revealed the League had formed to fight alien invaders called the Appellaxians. In the 1970s, another issue of the book claimed the League had formed in 1959 to battle Pale Martians, but decided to keep themselves a secret until much later. According to this story, who was the very first super-hero John Jones ever met?

A) The Flash
B) Wonder Woman
C) Black Canary
D) Hawkman
E) I Don't Know

18) Speaking of retroactive continuity, the Justice League of America of the 1960s had one member standing alongside the Martian Manhunter who was replaced by another character in the 1990s for no particularly good reason? Who were the two characters in question?

A) The Flash
B) Mister Miracle
C) Black Canary
D) Hawkman
E) Firestorm
F) Wonder Woman
G) Dr. Fate
H) Black Lightning
E) The Atom

19) DC Comics character the Martian Manhunter made his toy debut as part of the popular 1980s line Super Powers? Which of these 1980s toy lines made their comic book debut at DC?

A) He-Man & the Masters of the Universe
B) Power Lords
C) Sgt. Rock

For More Challenges, visit these fine blogs!

The Anti-DiDio League
The Continuity Blog
The Aquaman Shrine
The Atom: Tiny Titan
Being Carter Hall
Comics Make Me Happy
Crimson Lightning
Dispatches from the Arrow Cave
El Jacone's Comic Book Bunker
Firestorm Fan
Girls Gone Geek
I Am The Phantom Stranger
The Idol-Head of Diabolu
Justice League Detroit
Once Upon a Geek
Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
random picture day
Reilly2040's Blog
Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
when is evil cool?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Darkseid Trading Card #87

Click to Enlarge

If Martian Manhunter is a poor man's Man of Steel, and Mongul is a poor man's Darkseid, couldn't we have just put them together and left poor Jack Kirby out of it?

Darkseid's Dark Judgment trading card painted by Joe Devito, who was nice enough to post the enlarged virgin art. What the Lord of Apokolips has against St. Louis, I don't know.

Friday, January 29, 2010

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Mongul Trading Card #86

So yesterday, I posted a Dark Judgment trading card painted by Joe Devito featuring what is generally considered to be a Superman villain, but to whom the Manhunter from Mars can lay some claim. This would be déjà vu you're experiencing. To sweeten the deal, I also dug up the original unaltered art in a larger format. That would be "awesome" you're speaking.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Doomsday Trading Card #88

Unlike many of the villains who've filled out this month, I've already inducted Doomsday into the Vile Menagerie. That's the tough part-- writing the comprehensive biography. Everything else comes more easily, so of course, only 20% of you want to read any more about him according to our still running poll. No, you guys want me to bust my hump on all new entries.

Also, it's quite possible some of you feel I've overstepped some boundary. Of course Doomsday is far more of a Superman foe. I wouldn't argue otherwise. However, if you look at the percentage of Doomsday appearances that include Martian Manhunter or a proxy of same, you'll realize these guys cross paths way too regularly to not rate examination. Just on this blog, I've covered their meetings in Superman: The Doomsday Wars (1998), Our Worlds At War In A Nutshell (2001), and Action Comics #821-824 (2005). Plus, remember all that speculation about Doomsday's true first appearance during all that Death and Return of Superman hullabaloo? Wizard Magazine totally missed this prospect.

Still not convinced? Well, Bloodwynd was on hand for those earliest appearances in Adventures of Superman #497 (December 1992), Superman #74, and Justice League America #69. As for the full-on, except no substitutes Manhunter from Mars? I can't believe I still haven't gotten around to their biggest battle in Superman #175 (December 2001). I'm pretty sure I wrote a synopsis for it, but it got lost in a drive crash.

Anyhow, you might say that's still a pretty flimsy argument, to which I'd say, is the Human Flame a Manhunter foe? How many battles have they had? I see you've still got most of the fingers left on that one hand, pal.

Okay, okay. If nothing else will distract you, check out this Doomsday trading card art, which could understandably be mistaken for a 70s sci-fi paperback cover. I kid, and I do enjoy Joe Devito's work. Check out his site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Martian Sightings for April, 2010

Wow. I've been so involved with other work, I totally missed when this month's advance solicitations went up on the 19th. I was shocked a new Previews was already in stores. Good thing there wasn't much new of note for this blog, and last months uncovered extras were bountiful...

DC Heroclix Brave & Bold Booster Pack
MSRP: $11.99
Release Date: April 14, 2010
UPC: 634482700198

Team-up and fight for justice! DC HeroClix: The Brave and the Bold brings famous heroic (and a few villainous!) pairings from the pages of DC Comics to your tabletop.

Featuring 55 all-new figures, including classic DC Comics duo-figure team-ups like Flash/Green Lantern and Luthor/Brainiac, The Brave and the Bold showcases some of the most exciting figure sculptures ever seen in HeroClix. Plus, the new game mechanic - Alter Egos - brings secret identities to HeroClix like never before!
I'm beginning to suspect the image that will define Tom Mandrake's career is his cover to Martian Manhunter #24. There's actually a Wiki page for Chocos. More product facts can be found here.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (Two-Disc Edition)
MSRP: $24.98
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: February 23, 2010
Run Time: 72 minutes
Special Features:

Disc #1 - " A First Look at next DC Universe Movie"
Green Lantern First Look
Superman/Batman Public Enemies First Look
Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess

Disc #2
DC Showcase: The Spectre

"The New World"
DC's superheroes have always reflected America; protecting what's right and fighting for good. In the previous ages of DC Comics, these were characters you might see in a parade, waving a flag, and carrying a child on their shoulders. They were living in simpler times and they were "as American as apple pie." But since then, America has changed. There are now real dangers in America, and DC wanted our new world to be reflected in the DC Universe. It was now very clear. There would be dangerous consequences from being a superhero.
Is it wrong I'm more excited about animated Conehead OYL Manhunter and an alternate Earth Justice League Detroit than I was for the Wonder Woman DTV flick? In my defense, my fandom has been abused for years, not excluding Gail Simone's tepid current run?

On sale APRIL 14 • 56 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin
Cover by David Finch
1:50 Variant cover by Ivan Reis
The biggest event in comics continues as BRIGHTEST DAY burns back the BLACKEST NIGHT from the writing team behind GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS – Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi! And don’t miss the exciting DC Comics debut of red hot cover artist David Finch (New Avengers, Ultimatum)! The effects that the already classic BLACKEST NIGHT will have on the DC Universe will be felt for years to come and this issue not only sets the stage for the new ongoing biweekly DC Universe book BRIGHTEST DAY, but also the next exciting era of the DC Universe!Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. This issue features a special ordering incentive. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Back from the dead? Find out here!

On sale APRIL 7 • 80 pg, FC, $5.99 US
Cover by IVAN REIS
Prepare for the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience from the event of the century! With the creative minds behind BLACKEST NIGHT as your tour guides, you’ll marvel at hidden Easter eggs and meanings throughout the series in our director’s commentary section. Discover shocking scenes that were left on the cutting room floor including actual script pages that were never drawn. Be astonished at incredible never-before-seen designs from the best-selling event! Plus, many more exclusives that you’ll witness within this mammoth special including an early look into BRIGHTEST DAY!

S - XL $ 17.95 XXL $ 20.95 Release Date: 3/31/2010

Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross (Paperback, New Printing)
Softcover, 320 pages, FC, $29.95 US
With art that looks like a hybrid of Norman Rockwell and Jack Kirby, artist Ross has become the preeminent painter of superheroes of his generation. This lavish coffee- table tribute puts him into a pantheon as exalted as the superbeings he depicts.

Comrades of Mars

Miss Martian
On sale APRIL 28 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Co-feature written by SEAN MCKEEVER
Co-feature art and cover by YILDIRAY CINAR & JÚLIO FERREIRA
Now that Superboy is reunited with the Teen Titans, Wonder Girl’s discovering what having her boyfriend around all the time means — and it’s not all good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Vandal Savage Trading Card #76

Looking through my "Dark Judgment" set for Martian Manhunter related villains to hold space while I deal with other matters, I'm struck by how many talented painters were tasked with immortalizing so many negligible characters.

This was a 90-card set, designed so each artist would get their own nine panel grid if displayed in standard binder pages. Thom Ang took the first round, and got off reasonably well with several recognizable C-listers, but who the hell is "Scarth?" Seriously. The set was loosely tied into the comic book event Underworld Unleashed, and the card backs featured commentary from its big bad Neron and a hidden message. This was in lieu of actual information, like who "Mr. Scarth" fought, what his powers were, and in what comics he appeared. Even as a devout DC collector in the 1990s, including all the Underworld Unleashed mini-series and one-shots, I don't know what a scarth is.

Alexander Gregory took page deux, and though he's an unfamiliar name, he did swell work on major villains. Just look at his Black Manta. Sure, he also did the second Ravager, but I'm a Titans fan, so I knew what's what.

Mark Chiarello is a pimp, even when handling Catwoman foe Hellhound and "Brainiac 3" Lyrl Dox. That last one should be familiar to R.E.B.E.L.S. readers, and speaking of pimping, you guys need to read the original series if you haven't already.

Simon Bisley divides up art fans, but he brought his fully painted A-game to some A & B-listers... as well as the recently deceased Superboy frienemy Knockout and White Lotus, who I in no way recognize. Little help?

Two-thirds of the next page was by the incomparable Bill Sienkiewicz, getting stuck with such lame-os as Superboy (him again) foil King Shark and Fate femme fatale Charnelle. Three other artists get better characters, two of which resulted in lousy CGI atrocities.

Page the sixth belonged to the moody Scott Hampton, offering mostly decent 90s creations. The Titans family inflicted another "prize" with Crimelord though.

Kent Williams went cheap with rough art school castoffs, doing crumby work on generally solid mystical menaces. Once again, Fate drops a big load of Kingdom on the dining room table, while the short-lived Manhunter provided a new Wild Huntsman, and Dementor escaped from Guy Gardner: Warrior. I could make Vile Corpus posts for two other characters on this page, but I'm too tired to deal with the Demon Etrigan or Silver Banshee's anemic credentials tonight.

The real winner of the set is Tony Harris' uniformly fantastic contributions. I ran his weird but cool Lord Havok the other day, and when have you ever seen Vandal Savage rendered as well as the above piece? I just wish I could argue for posting more of these. Death Masque was the Ray's nemesis, and few would recognize Damage's revamp of an old All-Star Squadron Nazi as simply "The Baron."

Joe Devito finished out the set with some of its most commercially friendly work. It's also the closest thing to a Martian Manhunter-themed page, with no less than four Vile Menagerie entries or candidates. More on them tomorrow...

Monday, January 25, 2010

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Lord Havok Trading Card #78

Justice League International started out as a mostly serious super-hero series with moments of levity, before descending into total tomfoolery. Maxwell Lord started out as a murderous, manipulative slimeball underling of a legitimate threat, before ascending into a redemptive if morally gray supporting character. Instead of continuing on a positive trajectory, JLI became a particularly bad example of generic, trend-hopping, painfully overwrought group books. Max Lord, following suit, was turned into the second version of a Dr. Doom knock-off only ever intended to figure into one story. The heel turn totally undercut one of J.M. DeMatteis' better characterizations, but I was never that attached to Max, and he seemed only partially responsible for his newly villainous actions. Since J'Onn J'Onzz was a friend and inspiration to Lord at one time, I sat back, and waited for their inevitable confrontation.

...and waited...

...and waited some more. "Lord Havok" even had an evil brother show up and get executed by White Martians masquerading as the super-team the Hyperclan, but Max never seemed to spare a thought about fighting the Martian Manhunter. A decade on, DeMatteis was even given the opportunity to "fix" Max Lord, restoring him to his former self in a pair of JLI reunion mini-series. Unfortunately, Greg Rucka and others decided to apply an even more ridiculous about face to Lord, implying that his days working alongside super-heroes were all spent undermining their effectiveness and plotting their demise. Thus, the entire JLI (including the Dark Knight and Martian Detectives, one with telepathy) were made fools of retroactively, just so a pathetic bid at making readers take Wonder Woman seriously could be had. The Amazing Amazon, you see, had to execute Lord to save the world from his threatened mind control of Superman. Gee, I wonder if the Martian Manhunter could have helped out there, too?

So it goes that a perfectly reasonable candidate for the Vile Menagerie, with strong motivation against our hero, got misused and wasted by a heroine who had next to nothing to do with Maxwell Lord. They even recently revived Lord as a Black Lantern, the same corps zombie J'Onn calls home... to taunt Wonder Woman for an issue. Add Rucka to my long list of writers who do nothing but get in the way of my reading pleasure.

Anyway, above is painted art by Tony Harris, misapplied toward a worthless corpse.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who's Who in the DC Universe #2 (September 1990) Maxwell Lord Profile Detail

I guess I liked Maxwell Lord alright. He served his purpose while seeing to the financing of Justice League International. When the Martian Manhunter solo series was announced, along with the intention by writer John Ostrander to use the League itself as his supporting cast, I had high hopes. I expected the JLA would have a role, but I also hoped the statement would include neglected League-related characters with ties to J'Onn J'Onzz. While Max Lord, J'Onn's primary sounding board as leader of the JLI, was unavailable at that point, I hoped for at least Oberon or Gypsy or somebody.

Well, no. Ostrander instead milked constant appearances by JLA members as a sales gimmick, and damn any relevancy to J'Onn beyond the surface. Lord could have also turned up in his villainous alter ego Lord Havok at least once, but no, Ostrander stuck with new creations and dismissed any villains with a history as well. It burns me up to this day.

Anyhow, here's one of the three panel illustrations from the back of Maxwell Lord's Who's Who looseleaf edition entry. It's drawn by Ty Templeton, and shows Max, J'Onn, and Batman in "happier" times.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Vile Corpus: Felix Faust in Who's Who in the DC Universe #7 (February 1991)

There's no good reason why Felix Faust isn't a major DC villain. He was an early, potent Justice League villain with access to incredible mystic power, enough to give even the heaviest hitters pause. His name comes from the ancient German myth about a man who sells his soul to a devil, rather than being a noun or adjective with an "o" tossed on at the end. By Silver Age standards, he was fairly menacing, and his overall look has aged well, easily modernized with modern tweaks. He's immortal, and with a company whose history is as rich as DC's, it always helps that he can be plugged into a story set in pretty much any time period. He even has a legacy, an essential DC element, through his sorcerous anti-hero son. And yet, you don't like him, I don't care about him, and creators have tended to be consistent in their apathy. Why? Is it the first name Felix? Is it the inconsistent characterization? Does he just falter under the generally negative reaction by readers toward magic users in super-hero comics?

Well, I don't think the Martian Manhunter works well in supernatural settings, and he has no specific beef with Felix Faust. However, folks seem to like the classic visual of the League as finger puppets on Faust's hand, and it seems to get recreated each time Felix here gets a profile page/trading card, etc. So here's ringfinger J'Onn J'Onzz, joined by Green Arrow, Aquaman (always his partner in these things,) Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash. Art by Craig Brasfield & Joe Rubenstein from the Who's Who looseleaf edition.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Vile Corpus: Professor Ivo

Unlike Starro, I did decide to reach for Justice League of America villain Professor Ivo as an inductee in the original 90s Vile Menagerie. Like a lot of old school bad guys, Ivo didn't get a lot of play in the 80s and 90s, and it just so happened when he did, J'Onn J'Onzz was usually around. There was this one great panel of Manhunter hollerin' Ivo's name while smashing up his operation after the deaths of Vibe and Steel, but beyond that, Manhunter hasn't much tangled with Ivo directly.

Now, Manhunter's got his own evil professor, and he's already got enough foes whose names end in "o." Ivo hasn't proven much of a challenge on his own, while his creation Amazo is typically portrayed as too powerful for the Alien Atlas to handle alone. Ivo's more of a League foe, and the Menagerie hasn't need him in some time, so he's officially our first discharge. I mean, like Starro, he was beaten by Ice for God's sake! Still, here's his unedited entry from 1999/2000...

The ambitious Ivo has spent his life working toward nothing less than immortality, and along the way became one of the greatest inventors in history.

Young Anthony Ivo was traumatized by the death of his grandmother. At her graveside, Ivo vocally swore that he would never die. Anthony's self-centered reaction angered his father so much, that the usually gentle man backhanded his son into the open grave. Avoiding the grave became Ivo's singular concern. Playing on the guilt of his wealthy father, Ivo used every resource at his disposal to further his goals. In due time, Ivo created biomechanical mirror genes capable of scanning and imitating the genetic traits of a given subject. Ivo could salt his own D.N.A. with mirror genes, then absorb the properties of long lived species...if only he had the nerve to court death by putting theory into practice. Lacking intestinal fortitude, Ivo began pursuing other avenues to immortality. An elixir could be made by isolating common factors in creatures with notable longevity, but how could he procure such nigh-mythological beasts?

The debut of the Justice League of America inspired Ivo to create an artificial lifeform from his mirror genes. In need of raw genetic material for his creation, Ivo murdered volleyball player Helmut Schultz and his own father to form the brawn and brains of Amazo. The first Earth-born android, Amazo absorbed and duplicated all of the powers of the original JLA within it's mighty frame, in order to collect the beasts for Ivo's immortality formula. Ivo used Amazo to secure ancient objects of power and long-lived beasts, which enabled him to extend his longevity to 500 years. He also fought to gain the power of the JLA for himself, but his clashes with the team regularly ended in his defeat and incarceration.

Eventually, Ivo tired of the super-villain life, and retired to become a college professor at a small New England college under the alias "Ives". However, years of abusing his system with the immortality elixir caused Ivo's mind and body to deteriorate. Hideous scales formed at points over his flesh, and connected his nose to his chin. Ivo kidnapped several JLA members in a failed bid to restore his humanity, before being institutionalized at Arkham Asylum. Ivo escaped repeatedly, and continued working both on new Amazos, and on perfect artificial duplicates of himself from before his deformation. Over time, these duplicates became so disgusted by their creator's appearance and actions, they themselves committed him, then began to impersonate their master. The Ivos had inherited the original's madness, and began a series of assassination attempts that took the life of JLA member Vibe. The second hero to take the name Steel was paralyzed, and entered a coma from which he would never awaken. The Ivos reign of terror was ended by Ivo's longtime foe, the Martian Manhunter.

Ivo's immortality serum continued to mutate him, until he became so bloated and rigid, he was threatened with living an eternity as a immobile statue. In an attempt to find relief, he sent a fleet of "Amazoids" (duplicates of himself dressed as "men in black") to steal the powers of a number of top heroes. This led to another confrontation with the League. Capturing Ice, he revealed that he was so afraid of death, he abandoned his mother on her death bed. Now, with his scars turning as hard as steel, the fate he faces seems far worse even than the abyss. Ivo ordered the Amazoids to kill him with their stolen power, but he survived their blasts. Using Guy Gardner's power ring, Ice managed to whip up a cure for Ivo in JLQuarterly #5 (Winter '91). After Ice's death at the hands of the Overmaster, Ivo donated his base in the Carolinas to the Justice League Task Force, who used it's android inhabitants for training exercises.

Unfortunately, Ice was unable to free Ivo from his addiction to the immortality serum. He continued to abuse the substance, while creating more Amazos to combat Earth's heroes. After an unsuccessful attempt to create a traitor within the JLA (Tomorrow Woman, assisted by T.O.Morrow), he once again suffered from his serum's effects. Hospitalized in Aztek #10, Ivo was saved by his original, rogue Amazo. Even after making several attempts on it's creator's life previously, it admits, "...losing him would be like Tom losing Jerry."

Ivo is currently being held at Belle Reve Penitentiary in Louisiana.

Real Name: Anthony Ivo
Occupation: Mad scientist, former Professor of Astronomy
Group Affiliation: None; infrequent partner of T.O. Morrow
Base of Operations: Mobile
Known Relatives: Leonard (father, deceased), mother, grandmother (both deceased)
First Appearance: Brave & The Bold #30 (1961) 
Height: 5'10"
Weight: Unknown. Immortality formula causes extreme weight gain.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: None. Formerly brown, then black

Powers & Distinguishing Features: As a result of his "immortality" serum, Ivo has developed a thick, resilient second skin. The skin appears to be bulletproof, and impenetrable to most forms of energy. The bulky, scaly mass impedes much of Ivo's movement. 

Quote: "Yes! Keep that name at the forefront of your consciousness, Manhunter. Let it haunt you...Let it hound you--just as the Justice League has haunted and hounded me. One by one, Manhunter--I will murder the members of this Justice League--and, in so doing, hurt the original Justice League far more than a direct attack ever could."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Vile Corpus: Starro the Conqueror in Who's Who in the DC Universe #13 (October 1991)

Back when I was pretty ignorant about Martian Manhunter's Silver Age solo adventures and still trying to figure out who his rogues gallery should be, I leaned heavily on JLA villains. My site was called "the Rock of the JLA" after all, and this was in the days when retroactive continuity was really pushing J'Onn as the "heart and soul" of the team. By that logic, Manhunter should have had access to any of the classic League foes. However, I tried to apply at least some discrimination. I mean really, how much contact has J'Onn had with Felix Faust, y'know? Also, I wasn't hot to have a gallery full of total losers, especially if I looked desperate through the inclusion.

This might explain why, even then, Starro the giant mind-controlling space starfish never made the cut. Not many heroes have tangled with Starro solo, and those that have (*cough* Aquaman * cough) couldn't be said to have been enriched by the encounter. The closest to making things "personal" with the Alien Atlas was in a two-parter from Justice League Europe where J'Onn guest-starred as Starro's pawn. How Starro managed to hang on to the Manhunter's brow, especially as drawn by Bart Sears, is beyond me. Also, the hero who beat J'Onn/Starro? Ice. As in Ice Maiden. As in former Global Guardian and "Woman In Refrigerator" Ice. That's tough to live down.

Anyway, that early 90s story made enough of an impression to form the basis for Starro's second Who's Who entry, this time in the looseleaf edition. Brian Bolland can sell the creepiness of heroes possessed by a purple invertebrate on their kissers, but much as I love Jim Aparo, he can't. So Power Girl, Elongated Man and especially the Flash are clowned in the worst way here, and for added embarassment, Martian Manhunter was made such a mockery twice. Here's a second illustration from the reverse side of the page, one of two. The other? Aquaman as the only hero who stood up to Starro the Conqueror, drawn by the artist of their actual battle. Okay, I guess the retroactively enriches the Sea King a tiny bit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DCU Villains Secret Files & Origins #1: "Malefic" (April 1999)

Six months after his debut in Martian Manhunter #0, Malefic already had a profile page, a handful of appearances, and this one page introductory story named after him (in quotation marks-- so "clever.") Meanwhile, most of the Vile Menagerie were only ever given a single appearance, and virtually none of them have ever been mentioned in any reference book (or in Professor Hugo's case, they got his name wrong-- in the 70s!) So excuse me while I continue to hate on this prefabricated "nemesis."

The story is pretty basic Marvel Age Annual/DC Sampler fare. The White Martians had only been loose from the Still Zone (to our knowledge) for a short time, and Martian Manhunter had converted their ancient headquarters, Z'onn Z'orr, into his new secret hideout in the Antarctic. It just so happened Manhunter's evil twin brother *shudder* Ma'alefa'ak knew all of this, since he had nothing better to do since H'ronmeer's Curse wiped out their race than tool around alone on Mars. You see, after Ma'alefa'ak engineered that plague, he figured he was all done, and spent the years since watching reruns of old Ray Walston sitcoms. Having learned J'Onn J'Onzz was still alive, Ma'alefa'ak teleported to Z'onn Z'orr, assumed Martian Manhunter's identity, and began ruining his reputation before killing him. Cue purely expository internal monologue, maniacal laughter and series plug...

"Story" by John Ostrander. "Art" by Tom Mandrake.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

John Jones in "Last Stand of the Lizard-Men"

In 1959, Middleton Police Detective John Jones attended a forensics convention in New York, and stumbled upon a murder mystery.It ended in a number of additional deaths, a trip to Cuba, and a final conflict between the last living Martians. You see, John Jones has a secret-- he himself is an alien shapeshifter, who arrived on Earth by chance and, stranded, decided to work toward the greater good. The Lizard-Men, meanwhile, pursued the usual plot for conquest of the planet. Having infected much of the Western world with a fungus that would cause resistors to spontaneously combust, it was good having a benevolent Martian around, as well as the patches of humanity that avoided infection. Jones, having seen to the death of the leader of the reptiles, now pursued the remnants of the Lizard-Men on his adoptive world.

Jones was amazed by the sheer gall of one such cell, who had taken up residence in his own town. Having already broken up a number of these groups, even armed as they were with flame guns (his greatest vulnerability,) Jones found the matter easily handled. Beyond the Lizard-Men, what concerned Jones were documents in their possession. Putting the pieces together, Jones determined that the increasingly desperate reptiles planned to attack a Heywood Defense Industries plant in Detroit, MI, in the guise of federal agents. Simultaneously, they would assassinate its owner, Henry Heywood, and take his place while he was away on business in Africa. Should the Lizard-Men assume control of the company, they would have access to some of the most dangerously advanced technology on the planet. Luckily, among the documents was a variety of contact information. Unfortunately, the plot was unfolding at that very moment.

Even in the 1960s, reaching anyone in power within a corporation via telephone was no mean feat. However, Heywood Defense Industries was particularly alert when it came to the threat of foreign invasion, and a quick check of Jones' credentials cinched their attention. Optimistic his tip would make a difference, Jones now needed to take more direct action.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Who's Who Update '88 Vol.3: Queen Bee (October, 1988)

A case could be made for the original Queen Bee joining the Vile Menagerie, but this Post-Crisis version? Even if you don't blow her off as a general Justice League International villain-- even if you overlook her specific targeting of Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and others-- she still had next to nothing to do with J'Onn J'Onzz. The Manhunter was on an outer space mission for most of her earliest appearances, and her latter ones were largely in Justice League Europe. However, I've been working on special projects elsewhere all day, it's nearly 3 a.m., and I'm late posting. Since artist Bové (with Rick Magyar) included Manhunter as a headshot on this profile page alongside the J.L.A., here you go!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 The Martian Manhunter Archives Volume 5 Introduction by Tom Hartley

Click To Load PDF

This is a very lengthy and informative introduction, with some funny bits, so I'll keep my comments brief. You may prefer to witness the page in it's full glory, by downloading it in PDF format...

WHEEE! I never think I live to see this day, Manhunter!” And as Zook’s pal, J’Onn J’Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, crushes the Idol-Head of Diabolu with his bare hands, the otherdimensional imp’s gleeful sentiment is echoed by many of HOUSE OF MYSTERY’s readers. The supernatural Idol-Head of Diabolu was introduced to justify the Martian Manhunter’s move from the back-up feature in DETECTIVE COMICS, a title editor Jack Schiff lost to Julius Schwartz because of declining sales, to the lead feature in HOUSE OF MYSTERY, which Schiff had edited since issue #1, had briefly turned over to his assistant editor, George Kashdan, and had resumed editing with #143, the first issue featuring the Martian Manhunter. HOUSE OF MYSTERY had begun in 1951 as a horror/fantasy title. Science fiction was added to the mix in the mid ‘50s. J’Onn J’Onzz, added to the book in the mid ‘60s, was its first super-hero feature. (In fact, he was the book’s first feature character of any kind. Previously, the stories did not have recurring characters.) Schiff wanted J’Onn’s stories to be similar in style to the other stories that appeared in HOUSE OF MYSTERY, so in each issue the Idol-Head would conjure forth bizarre monsters for our hero to battle. But whether it was Iwangis the Creature King or the Giant Genie of Gensu, the monster with little or no personality always had the same simple motive, wanton destruction. The stories were repetitive, readers were losing interest and sales were dropping. Schiff didn’t want to lose another title, so after 16 issues (2 whole years for a book published 8 issues per year) the Idol-Head of Diabolu was destroyed, never to be mentioned again——not ever, not in 40-plus years——in another DC comic.

By this time another super-hero feature, Dial H for Hero, had taken over as HOUSE OF MYSTERY’s lead, with the Martian Manhunter continuing as back-up. During J’Onn’s brief run as lead feature, the book had continued to feature horror/fantasy/sci-fi stories as back-ups. But now there were only two stories per issue, both featuring super-heroes. With HOUSE OF MYSTERY now an all-super-hero book, Schiff no longer felt obliged to include supernatural elements in J’Onn’s stories. However, he still liked to mix up different genres. In DETECTIVE COMICS #225 he had introduced a detective feature with a twist: plainclothes Detective John Jones was secretly a Martian——a manhunter from Mars! Eventually super-heroics took over, and the last DETECTIVE COMICS story even featured the “death” of the Martian Manhunter’s John Jones identity. Then, the Idol-Head of Diabolu gave super-heroics a supernatural twist. So what next? Well, how about a super-hero who was also a super-spy?

In the 1960s James Bond was arguably the world’s most popular fictional character, spawning imitations in every entertainment medium. Other movies had Dean Martin as Matt Helm and James Coburn as Derek “Our Man” Flint. Bond, Helm and Flint had originally appeared in novels. The success of the film adaptations led to more books, which in turn became movies, etc. Television gave us The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Avengers and The Prisoner, as well as plenty of genre-mixing, with cowboys as super-spies in The Wild, Wild West and Don Adams as the bumbling Agent 86 in the sitcom, Get Smart. The comics publishers tried to cash in, of course. Marvel did it best with Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., thanks to work by two of comics’ greatest talents, Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko. DC’s best effort was SECRET SIX. Created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Frank Springer, it only lasted seven issues, but over the years has become a fan favorite. And then there’s Marco Xavier. What? You haven’t heard of Marco Xavier, internationally famous playboy and mystery man of the jet set, who wages a one-man war against the secret criminal organization, Vulture? Then you must not have been reading HOUSE OF MYSTERY in the late ‘60s. But that’s okay, a lot of people weren’t reading HOUSE OF MYSTERY in the late ‘60s.

“Manhunter’s New Secret Identity” from HOUSE OF MYSTERY #160 (with a splash page that would have aroused comment from Dr. Freud) is a departure from J’Onn’s recent adventures——not just from the silly Idol-Head stories, but also from the later super-hero tales in DETECTIVE COMICS. It hearkens back to the early stories from the 1950s, when J’Onn had a secret identity, and this secret identity actually played a significant role in the stories, and the villains were not aliens or monsters, but human criminals that a real-life detective like John Jones, or an undercover agent like Marco Xavier, might encounter. The weapon chosen by the Vulture agents in this story is not a death-ray or some other super-fantastic doohickey, but a submarine armed with a torpedo——and it’s not even a very big submarine. And as in his earliest stories, J’Onn must work alone. A cute otherdimensional imp would be as out of place in this story as prehistoric giants or Plutonian Devil Men.

The next story, issue #161’s “The Unmasking of Marco Xavier”, continues the shift in style by showing us a grimmer, more cynical Martian Manhunter. His reaction to the bad guy’s death is, “Tough, but that’s what happens to nasty villains who play with disintegrator weapons!” Yes, there is a disintegrator gun in this story, and also a “mind-duplicator” which can transfer the entire contents of a person’s brain——every thought, every memory——to a reel of magnetic tape. (These were the pre-digital, analogue days.) We’re also introduced to Marie Fouchere, a French Secret Service agent who may have been intended as a sidekick (among other things) for Marco Xavier, but who is never seen again. J’Onn calls her a “pretty French chick”.

In fact, he now calls all women chicks. “Let’s hit the beach, chicks!” he’ll say, or, “Sorry, chicks——but I just remembered——I’ve got a heavy date!” To uphold his international playboy image, Marco Xavier is always seen in public surrounded by beautiful women, and he’s always having to give his chicks the brush-off so that he can save the world from Vulture.

The third Xavier story, “The Lair of Mr. V” (#162), continues the more realistic trend. Vulture’s scheme this time is a simple con job: stealing a rare art object from a millionaire and then selling it back to him.

But then we have “The Doomed Captive” (#163). Not only is there a “captive-ray” gun, which traps its target in an indestructible bubble, and another disintegrator gun, but this time the disintegrator gun is wielded by a criminal from the planet Mercury. Vulture, who have the captive-ray, join forces with the Mercurian. Once again we get a glimpse of J’Onn’s darker side. When the defeated Mercurian begs not to be sent back to his homeworld, where he will be hunted by Mercurian police, J’Onn says, “Tough! On your way...before I toss you off this planet without your space ship!”

There’s a return to realism in “Marco Vs. Manhunter” (#164) and “Marco Xavier, Manhunter’s Ally” (#167), the last two stories without futuristic super-weapons, monsters or aliens (other than J’Onn himself, of course), but from now on the fantasy elements become more dominant. The title character in “Thantos——the 3-in-1 Man” (#168) is as bizarre as anything spawned by the Idol-Head.

Toward the end of the run of Idol-Head stories, J’Onn would sometimes take a break from battling Diabolu-spawned monsters, usually to have a rematch with Prof. Arnold Hugo. Those of you who read the previous MARTIAN MANHUNTER ARCHIVES volume may remember Prof. Hugo from DETECTIVE COMICS #322’s “The Man Who Destroyed J’Onn J’Onzz”. This volume has two Arnold Hugo stories from the Idol-Head period, “The Giants Who Slept 1,000,000 Years” (#153) and “Manhunter, World’s Greatest Clown” (#157). The macrocephalic madman turns up one more time in “The Deadly Martian” (#165), to provide what J’Onn hopes will be “a pleasant diversion from battling Faceless and his Vulture syndicate”. The diverisons from the Idol-Head were a sign that the stories’ creators, the readers, or both parties were getting tired of Diabolu, and J’Onn’s fourth and final battle with Prof. Hugo (to date he has not appeared in another DC comics story) would be followed by two more diversions from Xavier and Vulture, in “Thantos——the 3-in-1 Man” (#168) and “The Martian Marauders” (#171).

Another sign that the more realistic approach established in the first Marco Xavier story is now being abandoned is the return of Zook in “Vulture’s Crime Goliaths” (#166). While a baby-talking little orange demon would have been an unwelcome intrusion in the first three Xavier stories, he’s right at home in this tale of a “molecular-ray” that turns ordinary men into super-strong giants. He’ll return two issues later in “Thantos——the 3-in-1 Man” (that title again!), then two more times in “The Martian Marauders” (#171) and “Manhunter’s Stolen Identity” (#172), before being banished to comic book limbo, only to show up four decades later in an Ambush Bug mini-series.

As with the Idol-Head stories, the so-called Marco Xavier “saga” is really just a collection of separate stories that share the same plot device. The opening story establishes the premise and poses a problem for our hero to solve. Every full moon a new menace will spring forth from the Idol-Head of Diabolu until the evil object is found and destroyed. Our hero must infiltrate the criminal organization, Vulture, and discover the identity of its mysterious leader. Eventually there is a final story in which the Idol-Head is found and destroyed, or Vulture’s leader is unmasked. In between can be any number of stories in which the Idol-Head creates a new menace, or Vulture’s mysterious leader gives Marco Xavier a new assignment. How many stories depends on how long the writer can sustain the reader’s interest. The Idol-Head stories were published over a two-year period, beginning in DETECTIVE COMICS #326 and ending in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #158. The Marco Xavier stories in issues #160-173 of HOUSE OF MYSTERY cover a similar time-period (with #159’s battle with “The Devil Men of Pluto” sandwiched in between the two “sagas”).

The last Xavier story, issue #173’s “So You’re Faceless”, is a return, despite the sought-after “ultimate weapon”, to the realism of the opening story. Maybe you’ll be surprised by the unmasking of Vulture’s leader, as some of HOUSE OF MYSTERY’s younger readers may have been. Of course, it would be a big letdown if J’Onn pulled off Mr. V.’s mask and it was someone we didn’t recognize. If the big reveal is to make dramatic sense, we’re not left with a lot of possibilities. (And no, he’s not Thantos——the 3-in-1 Man.)

The end of Xavier and Vulture was also the end of the line for the Martian Manhunter, who had enjoyed, beginning way back in 1955 in DETECTIVE COMICS #225, a twelve-and-a-half year run of 133 solo stories, every one of them drawn by Joe Certa and many of them written by Jack Miller. What brought the end was the same thing that had brought about the move to HOUSE OF MYSTERY: a new sheriff had come to town. Joe Orlando took over as editor and booted out both J’Onn J’Onzz and Dial H for Hero. HOUSE OF MYSTERY was once again a horror/fantasy book.

Jack Schiff had retired from comics, and no other editor offered a home for our hero. He even had to resign from the Justice League of America, which he had been a part of since its founding. There would be guest appearances throughout the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and a three-issue run of back-up stories in ADVENTURE COMICS #449-451, which were supposed to be a lead-in to finally getting his own book, but which didn’t happen for various reasons. He rejoined the League in the mid ‘80s, and remained a fixture in it through its many relaunches and revamps over the next two decades. There were two mini-series’ in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The second one, MARTIAN MANHUNTER: AMERICAN SECRETS, written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Eduardo Barreto, is one of the best things DC has ever published, and deverves to be reprinted. At long last, in 1998, DC published a MARTIAN MANHUNTER ongoing series, but sales were disappointing and it only lasted three years. A few years later another mini-series followed, which gave him a new coneheaded look. He was even dead for a time, but he got better, and ditched the conehead. What will the future bring for our favorite Martian? Another ongoing series? A cameo in an Ambush Bug mini-series? Whatever it may be, at least for now we can enjoy the reprints.

——Wade Greenberg

WADE GREENBERG does not live in a posh Mediterranean villa, has never had reason to fake his own death, and has never ever ever called a woman “chick”. He has, however, written books, screenplays, haiku and television commercials, including a series of ads for Mentos——the 3-in-1 Mint.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 The Martian Manhunter Archives Volume 5 Table of Contents by Tom Hartley

Click To Load PDF

This final Silver Age faux Archive Edition features the origin and last emissions from the Diabolu Idol-Head (including one of the best, Iwangis-- Creature King.) The international crime organization Vulture is introduced, as is its faceless leader Mr. V, necessitating J'onn J'onzz's assumption of a new alter ego, playboy Marco Xavier. Most of Professor Arnold Hugo's appearances are here, including my personal favorite, "The Giants Who Slept 1,000,000 Years." Zook appears sporadically, but is out of place as the series' tone shifts. Miller's stories become more grim, action oriented, violent, and skewed toward older readers. Joe Certa's art is more contemporary and sophisticated. All in all though, these are some of the finest (and a few of the foulest) Manhunter from Mars stories by this thirteen year creative team. For individual listings, download the PDF here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

JLA-Z #3 Rick Burchett Vandal Savage Pin-Up (January, 2004)

Another lousy night in a crumby week, so I'm afraid there'll be no elaborate posting tonight. Since Vandal Savage is tied for first place in our villains poll, I can't recall any Bette Noir pin-ups, and I had this book handy, here you go! Man, all these bad guys are makin' me surly...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who's Who in the DC Universe #7 (February 1991): Darkseid's Elite

I can gripe all I want about the New Gods getting tied into Martian Manhunter's mythology, but judging by polls here and the internet in general, folks like J'Onn J'Onzz fighting Darkseid and Kanto. But see, right there is part of my problem. How can any one hero legitimately battle Darkseid alone? The guy rules an entire planet, and has a whole host of minions as powerful as Earth's greatest metahumans. Besides legions of parademons, there's the diabolical sadist DeSaad, body-hopping scientist Dr. Bedlam, malevolent headmistress Granny Goodness and her Female Furies, manipulative mentalists Amazing Grace and Glorious Godfrey, the fascist Virman Vundabar, and the hunter Steppenwolf. Then there's Kalibak, a brute strong enough to tussle with Superman, or Necromina, who could potentially control the undead Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz with her powers over resurrection. The flame wielding Infernus works with the one element Manhunter is most vulnerable to, and logically, master assassin Kanto should have killed J'Onn in Final Crisis. Heck, the amphibian Deep Six would even be a challenge.

Now, all of these guys are supposed to be gods, and even after Gerry Conway ruined their mystique by making them glorified D-list super-heroes in the 70s, any two of them should be a problem for one Manhunter from Mars. The worst part though is that, if you don't treat them as awesome deities (preferably in their own continuity separate from the mainsteam DCU,) they're kind of silly looking. I know J'Onn's costume isn't the best to begin with, so why compound the eyesore with such a sartorially challenged lot?

Anyhow, here's John Byrne art from the front of the "Darkseid's Elite" profile page out of the 90s looseleaf edition of Who's Who. If only they were always handled so well...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Diabolu Frank Challenges All DC Bloggers!

Tonight I'll be taking a break from my regular blogging to offer up a proposal. If you or someone you know runs a blog featuring DC Comics inclusive comic book related content, I'd like to extend an invitation to take part in a relatively large scale crossover. Here's an edited version of my original pitch, first sent out to folks the week before Thanksgiving...

Greetings fellow blogger! I'm Frank Diabolu, and you may know me from such information superhighway personal interweb electronic log journals as Justice League Detroit: The Blog, ...nurgh..., and The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars! What you may not know is that you and I are not the only isolated, obsessive-compulsive comic book enthusiasts with virtual presences, but merely part of a sort of virtual community of same. In fact, emulating actual comic book universes, some such bloggers occasionally have themed "events," a perfect opportunity to exploit the desire for still-mostly-introverted camaraderie and hijack the readership of others. I can speak to its virtues through my personal experiences with canny promotions enriching experiences like Crisis on Earth-Blog and Crisis On Earth-Blog: Super Powers Collection 25th Anniversary! It's splendtafulous!

Alright, enough with the Troy McClure shtick. I personally haven't run one of these shindigs before, but I thought it might be nice to give it a try. Most people receiving this email have already participated, and have at least one DC-centric blog. I'm going to try to expand our circle some more though, and there are enough characters to go around that non-specific blogs can "adopt" to join in. There will also be different MPAA-style "rated" blogs (my Idol-Head is pretty PG, while ...nurgh... is a soft "R,") but I can work to make sure all-ages blogs aren't contaminated with more mature links. My take is to be a bit more interactive by running a "scavenger hunt" where readers can bounce from blog to blog, advancing by answering trivia questions or solving other puzzles, usually related to the DC Comics character your blog would represent. Right answers would bring readers closer to "lush scans from two obscure pin-ups featuring every major character involved in this event," hosted by a site I don't run TBA. For the longest time, I considered giving away stuff, like a complete set of the DC Challenge mini-series, but realized too much trouble and personal information trafficking would be involved. Instead, we'll keep it neat, fun, and coast on the high end of our average daily hit counts.

I'll be happy to provide all the necessary art, text and html, making this a free "day off" for the daily blogger. Folks can contribute as much as they'd like, though, preferably at least the questions and correct answers, and as difficult as you want.

I ask that everyone try to post around the same time, but there should be enough participants that the only problem would be if the "winner" site failed to publish. As I said, everyone will receive a 400 pixel wide detail from the piece, and everyone would be free to post the full image (which I'll host on Photobucket) on their blog after observing a respectable waiting period for the sake of the "winning" blog.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and I hope you consider joining in.

I didn't appreciate how complex my own premise was, so the initial early December date slipped, then mid-month, and I finally decided to declare a hiatus for the holidays. I've begun contacting the authors of the sixteen or so blogs that confirmed they'd like to participate this week. However, some are easier to reach and more enthusiastic than others, and since I doubt I'll ever run such a crossover again, I'd like this to be as convoluted and insane as possible. That's why I'm flinging the doors open with an open call to whoever has an interest in joining the fun.

Here's more details I sent out to those blogs...

I don't want to suffocate anyone here with a specific structure. We all have our own styles, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to do their own thing. To that end, if you would prefer to use anagrams, crossword puzzles, Java-enabled hangman, madlibs, dirty limericks-- whatever challenge you want to present to your readers, so long as you do your own work and link out to everyone else, is alright with me. In fact, if challenges aren't your style, and you just want to ramble about how you hate every character in this event, roll how you want. Take the picture I give you, post the links, and make the rest your own.

Interested parties are urged to contact me directly at . The event is scheduled for February 1, 2010, and is enough of a pain that I actually built a new blog just to offer participants a tutorial/FAQ to help them along. Consider that fair warning of what you'd be getting into. Also, most of the better DC Universe characters are already taken, so you'd better have sincere love in your heart for C and D-listers...

Monday, January 11, 2010

2009 Triumph Head Shot by Nathan Stockman

Click To Enlarge

Admittedly, a heroic looking blond guy in gold armor whose unusually colored costume isn't in frame is so generic, it could just as well be Flash Gordon. Also, it's disputable whether Triumph was truly a villain, much less a worthy addition to the Vile Menagerie. I say, I spent hours on the phone with a relative who's wanting to borrow money, and discussing their likely downward spiral with my girlfriend afterward. I then chased this with other distractions, gave up on my grand plans for the evening, and need a filler post to recover some lost ground. Somehow, Triumph just doesn't inspire a more impassioned defense from me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2008 DC Comics Super Hero Collection #18 - Allies And Enemies

So I promised to get back to the British Martian Manhunter spotlight magazine that came with a boxed figurine over the weekend... of the first week of October. Whoopsie. Not only had I forgotten that commitment, but I'd even misplaced a nice sized but unfinished post intended to serve that role. Well, maybe later. Instead, we're jumping to pages 13-15, this series' section devoted to "The Players."

In his long life, on both Mars and Earth, J'onn J'onzz has made more than his fair share of friends and foes. Frank Plowright spotlights a few of each...

...and by a few, they mean no one prior to the late '90s Martian Manhunter ongoing series save one.

The article opens with Cay'an, the villainess from the 2007 One Year Later conehead mini-series I recently purchased but haven't read. She's given a paragraph, and comes off as J'Onn J'Onzz's Fatality, which seems appropriate to me. Her picture is the same one used throughout the internet, because there are only about three usable panels with her in existence, and almost everybody chooses this one. Her Essential reading selection was obviously Martian Manhunter: The Others Among Us.

Next is Despero, whose picture is the Carlos Pacheco splash page from JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice (2003,) his Essential reading. Now, I love having a publication establish Despero as one of only six Manhunter villains of note, to rub it in the faces of naysayers, except that JLA/JSA graphic novel doesn't really feature a battle with J'Onn. The article claims Despero initially targeted the JLofA as a future threat to his rule in their first issue, which is a "creative" interpretation of the actual plot. The next thirty years were glossed over in one sentence, before noting the period when Despero's consciousness resided within the little robot L-Ron (a fact DC never quite grasped themselves, instead acting as though L-Ron and Despero shared the same body.) The first mention of an actual battle with Martian Manhunter hinged on that, as it referenced the issue of Young Justice when the team (misidentified as the Teen Titans) fought a J'Onn J'Onzz possessed by Despero's spirit (a plot point carried over from a Supergirl two-parter. Frank Plowright (no relation) claimed Despero started the Infinite Crisis (instead of being the villain of a lead-in closer to an Identity Crisis epilogue,) and mentioned the Superman/Batman story he had recently appeared in (again failing to observe Manhunter's role in same.) So basically, instead of helping my case by talking about the relationship between Alien Atlas and three-eyed tyrant, Plowright as near as possible ignores it.

Malefic received the third entry, with art by Rick Leonardi and Sean Phillips excerpted from JLA: Classified #46. Since the writer and his magazine fixated on the Ostrander Martian Manhunter series, the facts here were to my recollection dead on. Essential reading: Martian Manhunter Vol II #6-9 (May- Aug 1999.) Unless the Brits got a series we didn't, I'd be hard pressed to figure out what Vol I was. The Detective Comics run? The '88 mini-series? American Secrets? The Special?

Gypsy arrived on the next page, with art taken from a panel in her brief run as a member of the Birds of Prey. Somehow, Cindy Reynolds' hometown was Detroit, but after battling super-villains, she joined the new JLofA in... Detroit? I'm not even going to try to unravel that erroneous mess. It thankfully improves from there, revealing Despero's murder of her parents, Gypsy's resumption of super-heroics and membership in the Conglomerate and Justice League Task Force. "She and J'onn developed a very close bond, like father and daughter, while working together." Not that you could tell from her failure to appear much in the three year run of the Ostrander series, but at least Plowright forgot that book's insinuation that Gypsy was herself part-Martian. Essential reading: Justice League Annual #2 (1984.) Um, no. They forgot the "...of America" part, and that her first appearance wasn't much beyond a cameo. Gypsy had numerous spotlight stories throughout that series, which Plowright clearly hadn't read, as well as Justice League Task Force.

Libra fell below Gypsy, meaning the villain who murdered J'onn J'onzz, even though the characters continue to have little to do with one another. In order to establish a stronger connection, the writer brought up J'onn's role in Salvation Run, but it still reads thin. Essential reading: Final Crisis: Requiem (2008.) Art by Carlos Pacheco from the cover to Justice League of America #21 (2008.)

Scorch returns us to more valid entries, even if her brief rivalry and romance with J'onn J'onzz never read like anything but a blatant authorial construct. "Scorch is an other-dimensional villain with complete mastery of the fire she can generate. Scorch slipped through to Earth when the Joker temporarily acquired magical powers." That doesn't sound quite right. Wikipedia sez: urnt! "Originally a normal human from Pisboe, Virginia, Aubrey Sparks was transformed into Scorch during the short "Emperor Joker" storyline." Yeah, that's more how I remembered it, but since that whole arc read like a fever dream, I wanted independent varification. The entry gets hijacked by Fernus, whose nature is similarly misinterpreted. Art by Doug Mahnke & co. from her Essential reading: JLA: Trial By Fire (2004.)

On to the final page, we start with the Bronze Wraith, which seeing as he was just an alternate identity of J'onn J'onzz, seems woefully out of place. Of all the friends and foes, here's Martian Manhunter's Halloween costume from 1973? The art was by Tom Mandrake from his Essential reading: Martian Manhunter #17 (April 2000.)

Below was Doctor Trapp, a technically accurate title for Larry Trapp, though he operated publicly without the second "p." The entry blurs the line of when Trapp became a super-villain, making it seem like he was a bad guy from before the passing of his "girlfriend," when in fact he took to killing metahumans to avenge his wife's accidental death. The art was a Jamal Igle head shot from Dr. Trap's Essential reading: Martian Manhunter #36 (Nov 2001.)

Jack Kirby's Kanto was the penultimnate character here, leaning on his Who's Who entry and appearances in the latter issues of the Ostrander series for support. Dr. Trap's origin was in Chase #3, but I let that go, since he only had a non-flashback fight with J'onn in his essential reading selection. Applying the same rule, why isn't Kanto's offering the In My Life story arc, instead of Essential reading: Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol 1 (2007.) I guess because DC makes nothing off three Martian Manhunter back issues, and a c-note off the suggested tome.

Finally, My'ria'h D'all's name sounds like those of love interests from two previous Ostrander series, and her being so named once again poos on the 1988 J.M. DeMatteis revamp, but the guy was never known much for originality or hewing to continuity. Tom Mandrake's cover to Martian Manhunter #33 served to illustrate the wife of J'onn J'onzz and mother to his child. Essential reading: Martian Manhunter #33-36 (Aug-Nov 2001,) and buying these will save you major bucks in familiarizing yourself with Kanto, as well.

So, according to this magazine, the most notable Martian Manhunter enemies are:
Doctor Trapp

and his only allies worth mentioning are:
Himself (in another guise)
and his departed wife.

So, how would you rate Mr. Plowright's research assignment? I'm leaning toward a "C," but I grade on a curve...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 The Martian Manhunter Archives Volume 5 Fan Mock-Up Back Cover by Tom Hartley

In an amusing bit of symmetry, the last back cover gets posted for the same reason as the first-- because I've gotten tied up elsewhere, and Tom's come to our rescue! Our benefactor says:
Sorry, no create your own back-cover page this time. MM only has 3 cover appearances in Vol. 5.