Monday, October 31, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: MALEFIC

Alter Ego: Ma'alefa'ak "Ma'al" J'Onzz
Occupation: Scientist/Priest/Invader from Mars
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Known Relatives: J'Onn (twin brother,) Sha'Sheen (mother, deceased,) M'Yrnn (father, deceased)
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Inapplicable, formerly Z'Onn Z'Orr and the Central Power Cathedral
First Appearance: Martian Manhunter #0 (October, 1998)
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 315 lbs.
Eyes: Red
Hair: None

During the final decades of life on Mars, called Maleca'andra by its inhabitants, Green Martian offspring were created as an act of will by parents giving of their own biomass to produce heirs within the confines of environmental allowance. Perhaps for this reason, twins were rarely born, marking brothers Ma'alefa'ak and J'Onn as exceptional from birth. In the Martian language, Ma'alefa'ak meant "Darkness in the Heart," so named based on a dire vision of the future his precognitive mother witnessed. Ma'alefa'ak was considered cursed from the beginning, a loner with a reputation for being difficult who saw himself as a freak. Ma'alefa'ak only ever felt love from his brother J'Onn, whom he resented for seemingly having been given all of the best possible traits, and himself only the worst. While technically a twin, even in adolescence Ma'alefa'ak's posture and expressions easily differentiated him, as well as his prominently pointed ears. During these years, the brothers underwent the ritual of G'amal'khul, in which they permanently exchanged a portion of their psyches with one another. Although slow in developing, Ma'alefa'ak eventually gained his full inborn telepathic abilities.

As Ma'alefa'ak aged, he came to question the most basic tenants of Martian life, such as dismissing the ethics of the telepathy protocols when he knew that he possessed the ability to pierce any given mind at will. Ma'alefa'ak chose theology and quantum physics as his life path into adulthood, barricading himself for long periods in his solitary laboratory. Ma'alefa'ak's isolation, seeming neglect of theology, and resistance to even the gentlest inquiry brought him to the attention of the Ruling Council. Ma'alefa'ak explained that he was seeking to fuse theology with physics, either to wake up the unresponsive native deities of Mars, or to seek out new gods. The council branded this as blasphemy, but Ma'alefa'ak had only consented to inquiry because he had already completed his experiment, presenting Glorious Godfrey of Apokolips via Boom Tube.

While seemingly benevolent, the New Gods of Apokolips slowly insinuated themselves into Martian life. Through the association, the forces of Apokolips learned and exploited Mars' vulnerabilities in a terror raid, and kidnapped a number of its citizens before being driven back. Among those taken were Ma'alefa'ak and his father M'Yrnn, although the degree of Ma'al's willingness was left unclear. J'Onn J'Onzz was soon brought to Apokolips by the neutral New God Metron to extract his people, but by the time he reached his father, M'Yrnn's mind had been permanently severed from his body. Both M'Yrnn and Ma'alefa'ak had been subjected to the abhorrent experimentation of the sadistic DeSaad, and the disembodied mind of M'Yrnn made J'Onn promise to help Ma'alefa'ak as best he could.

Ma'alefa'ak's mind and spirit had apparently been thoroughly broken, and upon his return to Mars, native healers were unable to comfort him in any appreciable way. Ma'alefa'ak claimed to feel extraordinary pain under any significant telepathic probing. However, Ma'alefa'ak was still devoted to the Lord of Apokolips called Darkseid and the pursuit of the Anti-Life Equation, so the truth of the matter is ambiguous. While posing as helpless and fragile, Ma'alefa'ak became a psychic predator, committing a spree of mind rapes the likes of which had not been seen on Mars in a century. Although J'Onn's new wife My'ria'h was one victim, J'Onzz refused to indict his brother without proof. Ma'alefa'ak's mother Sha'Sheen needed no such convincing, and when she confronted Ma'al with his crimes, the young man destroyed her mind. Upon her assisted death shortly thereafter, Sha'Sheen's psyche briefly manifested to positively identify Ma'alefa'ak as her attacker.

Ma'alefa'ak stole a spacecraft and flew to an abandoned White Martian lab hidden on Venus. J'Onn J'Onzz tracked the vessel and braved Ma'alefa'ak's repeated murder attempts. Ma'alefa'ak engaged J'Onn in psychic combat, but was not his brother's equal on this plane, and was defeated. J'Onn offered to meld with Ma'alefa'ak, giving his brother some of his personal "light" and take on some of Ma'al's "darkness" to achieve balance. Ma'alefa'ak refused, and was subsequently returned to Mars for trial. Ma'alefa'ak was sentenced to be stripped of his memories and telepathic powers. Ma'alefa'ak pleaded to Darkseid, with whom he maintained a psychic connection, but was refused clemency on account of his failure. Trapped within a jewel-like cell, a chorus of Martian minds, including his brother's, burned through the psyche of Ma'alefa'ak.

Although he had begun a new life as priest/scientist of the geothermal Central Power Cathedral located within the volcano dubbed "Olympic Mons," Ma'alefa'ak continued to feel the hatred and mistrust of his fellow Martians. Due to his lack of telepathy and contact with the communal "Great Voice," Ma'alefa'ak was more isolated and twisted than ever. Ma'alefa'ak devised an artificial plague dubbed "H'ronmeer's Curse" which would infect his fellow Martians psychically and cause them to spontaneously combust. Thanks to the delivery method, Ma'alefa'ak's mind was functionally immune to the plague that he unleashed.

Ma'alefa'ak was again the first and most obvious suspect in crafting the plague as it slowly advanced through Martian society. Brought to inquiry, J'Onn J'Onzz once again defended his brother as the Father of the Elders called for Ma'alefa'ak's execution. J'Onn was charged with finding out the truth, but time was not on the side of the whole society. Upon direct questioning, Ma'alefa'ak didn't make the slightest attempt to conceal his involvement, then attacked his twin. Ma'alefa'ak affirmed that there was no cure, and pronounced that all would die while he sat protected within a fortress of fire.

Surviving the deaths of his wife, child, and every other Martian he encountered, J'Onn J'Onzz flew through the wall of flames surrounding the Central Power Cathedral in a bid to finally end the life of his deviant brother. Their ensuing battle smashed the ducts controlling the flow of lava within the station, leaving Ma'alefa'ak presumed dead and buried under the wreckage. However, Ma'alefa'ak survived, living for years under the same assumption about his brother. Only later, when J'Onn J'Onzz visited Mars after having relocated to Earth and acted for decades as the super-heroic Martian Manhunter, did Ma'alefa'ak learn the truth.

Using his established knowledge of abandoned White Martian technology, Ma'alefa'ak teleported from Mars to the ancient, infamous base Z'Onn Z'Orr, recently uncovered by The Hyperclan. From there, Ma'alefa'ak systematically tortured J'Onn J'Onzz's Saturnian charge Jemm while appearing to be his brother. Ma'alefa'ak next assuming J'Onn's human identity of private investigator John Jones, then murdered his partner Karen Smith. Each of these actions were meant to discredit and frame his brother amongst any associates that might otherwise assist him.

Ma'alefa'ak allowed Jemm to escape and triggered an emergency signal to the JLA Watchtower. An investigative team teleported to Z'Onn Z'Orr, and were forced to relive Jemm's torture telepathically. While Wonder Woman carried Jemm to safety, the heroes Aquaman, the Huntress and Steel were teleported to Mars. There, still in the guise of J'Onn J'Onzz, Ma'alefa'ak exposed the heroes to horrific experiments that he had been conducting and convinced them that the Martian Manhunter had been performing such atrocities since his arrival on Earth. The false Manhunter attacked and threatened to kill J'Onn's teammates before allowing them to escape, hoping to destroy his brother's good name before murdering him.

When the Justice League gathered to confront the Martian Manhunter at the Watchtower, Ma'alefa'ak invisibly attacked its members, forcing both Martians to battle the eight present JLAers. Ma'alefa'ak dealt serious damage to Steel, the Flash, and Superman before J'Onn decided it best to escape the scene entirely. As the Martian Manhunter fled in a spaceship, Ma'alefa'ak finally confirmed his presence through a radio broadcast, as well as revealing his newly adopted anglicized name Malefic. Ma'alefa'ak had booby-trapped his brother's craft, which exploded and crashed on the lunar surface.

The JLA began questioning inconsistencies in Malefic's plot and the circumstances of their friend's seeming demise. Aggravated, Malefic decided to kill them all, and began assaulting them individually from concealment. The Flash, Big Barda, Plastic Man, and the Huntress were beaten in direct attacks, while others like Superman and Wonder Woman fell victim to Malefic's machinations. Unbeknownst to Malefic, J'Onn J'Onzz had devised an escape plan, and returned to Z'Onn Z'Orr. Activating the engines beneath the city, the Martian Manhunter flew it into space, then contacted Malefic electronically. Malefic teleported from the Watchtower to Z'Onn Z'Orr, destroying the mechanism en route to insure that his final battle with J'Onn would be private. In the conflict that followed, Malefic doubted his brother's willingness to employ lethal force. However, Z'Onn Z'Orr was already on a programmed course straight to the sun. J'Onn restored Ma'alefa'ak's telepathy just as the contingent vulnerability to fire was assured to cause his brother to self-immolate. Ma'alefa'ak perished from his own plague, while J'Onn narrowly escaped a second death of the day with the last minute assistance of Superman and Orion.

Some time later, due to the ritual of G'amal'khul, the psychic remnant of Ma'alefa'ak yet living within J'Onn J'Onzz's mind managed to bury the similar portions of his brother's wife and daughter. Ma'alefa'ak then tormented J'Onn with twisted false memories of his life on Earth, his own persistent mental manifestation, and urges to drive J'Onn to suicide. The gambit briefly succeeded in sublimating J'Onn's conscious self, allowing Ma'alefa'ak control of his physical body. Ma'alefa'ak one again attacked the JLA, partially hoping that they would kill J'Onzz in self defense. Meanwhile, J'Onn finally relocated his wife and daughter within himself, who assisted him in reasserting his psyche. Coupled with the minds of the JLA, the Martian Manhunter obliterated Ma'alefa'ak on the psychic plane, ending his threat for good.

Powers & Weapons:
Like most Martians, Malefic was born with innate powers such as incredible strength, searing eye beams dubbed "Martian Vision," flight, invisibility, and the power to alter his shape, color and mass at will. When deprived of his telepathy, Malefic was also immune to the effects of H'ronmeer's Curse.

Quote: "You knew nothing of me on Mars when I engineered the death of our race under your very nose! You understood nothing of me when I destroyed your new life on this joke of a planet! And you understand nothing of my life as I end yours by ripping you apart muscle by sinew!"

Created by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Comics Should Be Good’s Top 100 DC and Marvel Characters 2011

The same month as I started this blog in 2007, Brian Cronin of CSBG announced the results of his Comic Book Resources reader poll for Top 50 (or so) characters at the DC and Marvel Comics Groups. Under one of my many aliases, I offered a contribution. "Since no one else was willing to write one, here’s a bit by Gabriel Suiter, who has a Martian Manhunter-centered blog, giving us Five Reasons To Love the Manhunter from Mars." J'Onn J'Onzz placed eleventh. To provide context, this was a few months after the end of the Coneheadhunter mini-series, a year before his death in Final Crisis, and a year since his departure from the Justice League of America after about 22 years of near continuous membership. The Alien Atlas' equal number at Marvel in rank was a pre-movie Iron Man, but in points as awarded by Cronin, he would be closer to Marvel's #17, Deadpool. J'Onn got 5 first place votes.

Five years after the creation of The Aquaman Shrine, the Sea King leapt from #30 (6 1st place) to #21 (16 1sts.)
Four years after the creation of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, the Maid of Might soared from no placement whatsoever to #43 (7 1sts.)
Four years after the creation of BOO$TERRIFIC, Booster Gold held his value from #12 (7 1sts) to #13 (20 1sts.)

Four years after the creation of The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, the Sleuth from Outer Space has dropped in rank by 100% from #11 (5 1sts) to #22 (9 1sts.) In rank, his Marvel equal is now the Beast, who has never held his own solo title (subsisting outside team books on the occasional solo mini-series or anthology feature slot.) In points as awarded by Cronin, J'Onzz would have a decent lead over Marvel's #25, the Silver Surfer, but fall well behind one James Buchanan Barnes. That's right, he was beaten by Bucky.

I would like to take all the credit for the Manhunter from Mars' decline as a well regarded character among fans, but I suppose I must share the dishonor with DC Comics. After all, they're the ones who killed him, turned him into an evil zombie, offered him three new costumes, resurrected him, ran him as the second worst received feature in a broadly read anthology maxi-series, failed to give him a New 52 #1, retroactively discarded his status as a JLA founder (Cyborg skipped both lists BTW,) kept him out of the JLA for five years running, and currently have him as the only DC character on a Wildstorm transplant super-team headlined by Superman & Batman analogs. Occasional guest appearances in DC DTV animated movies and Young Justice don't seem to make up for the losses of Justice League Unlimited and Smallville, either.

I suppose I'll go commiserate with my fellow Brightest Day casualty blogs. Three years after the creation of Being Carter Hall, Hawkman plummeted from #21 (6 1sts) to #32 (4 1sts,) while two years after the creation of Firestorm Fan, the Nuclear Man managed a complete meltdown from #36 (4 1sts) to Chernobyl level obliteration. We're doing fine work fellows as the axis of character blogging evil. Shag called Hitler by helping spread false rumors that Gail Simone was walking off the new book, Luke's our Hirohito waiting in the wings, and I will continue my fascistic reign as the Mussolini of nitpicking bitchiness. As with my Atom and and Justice League Detroit blogs, I vow not to rest until I completely wipe the Alien Atlas off these lists! Mu-wah-ha-ha!*

50. Death – 343 points (2 first place votes)
49. Spider Jerusalem – 344 points (10 first place votes)
48. The Question (Renee Montoya) – 357 points (3 first place votes)
47. Lois Lane – 367 points (4 first place votes)
46. Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) – 376 points (6 first place votes)

45. Flash (Jay Garrick) – 377 points
44. Deadshot – 378 points (4 first place votes)
43. Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) – 381 points (7 first place votes)
42. Question (Vic Sage) – 382 points (6 first place votes)
41. Jesse Custer – 393 points (7 first place votes)

40. Huntress – 420 points (5 first place votes)
39. Animal Man – 422 points (7 first place votes)
38. Donna Troy – 464 points (5 first place votes)
37. Sinestro – 475 points (2 first place votes)
36. Impulse/Kid Flash – 545 points (6 first place votes)

35. Harley Quinn – 550 points (9 first place votes)
34. Batwoman – 562 points (5 first place votes)
33. Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) – 565 points (10 first place votes)
32. Hawkman – 567 points (4 first place votes)
31. Darkseid – 578 points (4 first place votes)

30. Starman (Jack Knight) – 580 points (17 first place votes)
29. Zatanna – 582 points (7 first place votes)
28. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) – 602 points (15 first place votes)
27. Sandman (Dream/Morpheus) – 617 points (12 first place votes)
26. Catwoman (Selina Kyle) – 627 points (8 first place votes)

25. Swamp Thing – 661 points (12 first place votes)
24. Captain Marvel (Billy Batson) – 705 points (16 first place votes)
23. Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) – 718 points (7 first place votes)
22. Martian Manhunter – 738 points (9 first place votes)
21. Aquaman (Arthur Curry/Orin) – 747 points (16 first place votes)

20. Rorschach – 809 points (10 first place votes)
19. Black Canary – 835 points (10 first place votes)
18. Power Girl – 909 points (14 first place votes)

17. Superboy – 938 points (11 first place votes)
16. John Constantine – 953 points (17 first place votes)
15. Lex Luthor – 966 points (2 first place votes)

14. Robin (Damian Wayne) – 1011 points (6 first place votes)
13. Booster Gold– 1100 points (20 first place votes)
12. Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) – 1213 points (32 first place votes)

11. Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) – 1495 (17 first place votes)
10. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle) – 1569 (20 first place votes)

9. Flash (Barry Allen) – 1604 points (27 first place votes)
8. Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin) – 1708 points (30 first place votes)

7. Wonder Woman – 1780 points (42 first place votes)
6. Flash (Wally West) – 2471 points (67 first place votes)

5. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) –2549 points (74 first place votes)
4. Joker – 2667 points (18 first place votes)
3. Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing/Batman) – 3618 points (105 first place votes)
2. Superman – 4096 points (117 first place votes)
1. Batman (Bruce Wayne) – 6585 points (313 first place votes)

*Please ignore my Wonder Woman blog. The Amazing Amazon actually rose from #8 (13 1sts) in 2007 to #7 (42 1sts.) My influence just isn't all that great against the waves of Amazing Amazon love.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Martian Manhunter #1 in 2012?

Back in June, DC New 52 news was coming fast and furious, and so were reactions. First, Martian Manhunter was left out of the JLA, but it was assumed he'd have his own book and join the JLI, but then he didn't, which made me reconsider his history with the Justice Leagues. As the titles announced increased, I tried to come up with a solo series creative betting pool based on DC's reusing their typical talent on different properties, only to learn J'Onn J'Onzz ultimately turned up as only a member of the new Stormwatch team.

Well, it's a few months later, and we're looking at numbers. Even with the heat of opening month, Captain Atom, All-Star Western, Hawk and Dove, Resurrection Man, Demon Knights, Frankenstein, Mister Terrific, Grifter, Voodoo, Blackhawks, I Vampire, Static Shock, Men of War, and O.M.A.C. all sold less than 40,000 copies. Most titles have gone to a second printing, but I'm not sure there's all that much demand, especially since these are titles that can still be found in first printings on shop shelves. While reports of O.M.A.C.'s demise may have been premature, the only reason some of these books would hit a twelfth issue would be for show. DC didn't lock it in at 52 titles either, launching The Huntress, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, The Shade, The Ray and other books of various lengths. You going to read a Ray series? Me, neither. Anyone got a link to the Ray's spotlight blog so that I may be convinced otherwise?

Point being, we've got to have a new Martian Manhunter #1 coming out in 2012, right? I mean, I'm not trying to work within the logic of DC Comics. Just look at this Newsarama poll. Brightest Day was their biggest book of 2010, with Deadman second only to Aquaman as the most popular feature. So, give Deadman a slot in an anthology title and super team, then promote supporting players Hawk and Dove to their own ongoing title. Hawkman, the worst received feature by a large margin, also gets his own solo series, while J'Onn gets dumped into Stormwatch. Even that position isn't secure, since current solicitations state that in the January issue, "Stormwatch loses two members." I'd like to think the Manhunter from Mars helped the book outsell the other Wildstorm titles by about a quarter, and I'd really rather that he not just turn up for a DC Universe Presents story arc. Unpredictability aside, I'd like to make some suggestions for creators on a prospective Martian Manhunter #1, based on creators available to and likely to work under the current regime at DC.

Grant Morrison: A longshot. Between Action Comics and his long in gestation Multiversity and Wonder Woman projects, I doubt he'd take on an ongoing series for a B/C-lister. Still, I always liked Morrison's handling of the character, and he'd be the surest bet of anybody I'd recommend to launch the series with strong numbers.

John Rozum: Here's a guy who writes quirky, dark stories with a history on properties like The X-Files, while also having established all-ages cred as part of the Johnny DC line. If anybody was going to bring back Zook or the Diabolu Idol-Head and do it justice, it's him.

Jamie Delano: British writers are a pretty safe bet for a John Jones series, especially if they've got Hellblazer on their resume. Since Paul Jenkins and Peter Milligan are already doing DC books, why not Delano? His stuff isn't as "out there" as many Vertigo creators, but that grounding influence could serve Jones well, and it isn't like Delano can't bring the weird as needed.

Keith Giffen: This is a hesitant addition, since Giffen's writing is just as likely to frustrate as to engage, and he hasn't had much commercial success on his own. Still, he knows the character, and I think he could do interesting things.

James Robinson: Noir sci-fi/fantasy? Seems very much in Robinson's wheelhouse, and he could easily repurpose discarded ideas from his Superman and Justice League work for the Manhunter from Mars.

John Arcudi: Although he never had much success at DC, I really enjoyed his run on Aquaman, and he's been a fixture on Mike Mignola's Hellboy line of titles. Another guy who can do both askew and moody well.

Mike S. Miller: That DC Universe Online thing has got to be ending soon, and while I don't share his politics, I've liked Miller's art for years. He had a great take on J'Onn J'Onzz and the White Martians while filling in for Bryan Hitch on the JLA arc "Terror Incognita," and ever since that brief taste, I've wanted more.

Howard Porter: Also soon to be late of DCU Online, but with a much longer history. Porter was an essential element in raising the Martian Manhunter's prominence to the point that he finally received a solo series in the late '90s. Porter has been struggling to make a comeback since at least The Trials of Shazam, and I think he handles solo books a lot better than teams, especially some of the grand scale ones that cause the quality of his art to slip. Porter doesn't have to worry as much about being on model with the Alien Atlas, so I think he'd have fun and feel free on the character.

Ron Garney: M.I.A. since Wolverine: Weapon X ended last year, Garney had a good feel for the Sleuth from Outer Space, able to do grim n' gritty as well as bright n' shiny.

Claude St. Aubin: After two years of reliable, quality work on R.E.B.E.L.S., it seems a shame that the guy doesn't seem to have anything in the pipeline right now.

Also (most on temporary assignments currently):
Tom Derenick
Bernard Chang
Chris Batista

Phil Hester: Since pulling back on his Image and Dynamite work, I'm not sure what Hester is up to lately. I've liked both his writing and art, which he rarely combines. Should he choose to script, I'd be cool with frequent collaborators like Andy Kuhn and Don Kramer
on art.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Commander Blanx Exhibit

The Ashen Annihilator

Commander Blanx was the Pale Martian leader who saw to J'Onn J'Onzz's exile from Martian society for thirteen years, as well as an assassination attempt on Earth. During this time, Blanx sold the planet Mars to aliens under the condition that he would exterminate all other life on the planet. Blanx rendered Mars uninhabitable, the only survivors fleeing on a spaceship to find a new world. Blanx was apparently killed by the Martian Manhunter for his crimes.


Story Synopses


Imaginary Stories

Art Gallery


Fan Fiction

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The All-Martian Council

Click To Expand

The All-Martian Council was a governing body on the planet Mars, although the extent of their influence is unknown. Their scientists once commissioned a super-weapon to defend Mars, which was stolen and dismantled by the arch-criminal Vulkor. From whom the Martians needed such a defense was not stated. The Council saw to Vulkor's initial imprisonment, from which he eventually escaped. The Council showed indications of hubristic arrogance with regard to their handling of Vulkor, and were unwilling to send space police to apprehend him on Earth due to a lack of "official relations." Their super-weapon was eventually destroyed by the exiled Martian hero J'onn J'onzz, who referred to the Council simply as "leaders".

The All-Martian Council had a posh meeting chamber, and were protected by their own guardsmen. The Council consisted of at least four members, three of whom were clearly green-skinned (and therefore presumably Desert Dwellers.) An unidentified chairman/spokesman had black hair and bulging eyes.

First Appearance: The Brave and The Bold #50 (October-November, 1963)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1990 Martian Manhunter art by Jim Lee

Click To Enlarge

"This sketch was given to me by Jim when I worked for him back in the early 90's. From a historical perspective I believe this was the first time he drew the Martian Man Hunter. This was drawn around the time of Uncanny X-Men 269." -Karl Altstaetter

Image Style

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: THE MERCURIAN

Alter Ego: Unknown
Occupation: Fugitive
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Vulture
Base of Operations: Mobile
First Appearance: House of Mystery #163 (December, 1966)
Height: Approx. 6'2"
Build: Athletic
Eyes: Red
Hair: None

A long time before the Martian Manhunter was exiled to Earth, J'onn J'onzz had contact with one-man Mercurian ships. One day, such a vessel landed in France during the period J'onzz was working to smash the international criminal syndicate Vulture. Upon greeting the pilot, J'onzz learned it was a Mercurian renegade wanted by his planet's authorities and set on conquering the Earth. When the Mercurian's pistol proved ineffective against the super-powered Manhunter from Mars, the hero hoped to make short work of the renegade, only to learn Earth's atmosphere also bestowed powers to Mercurians. The renegade distracted J'onzz by nearly causing a train accident and escaped.

J'onn J'onzz attempted to pit the Mercurian against Vulture to weaken both parties, but his plan backfired, and Vulture agents instead recruited the renegade. However, the association was very short lived, as the Manhunter invisibly disarmed all parties. Although the Mercurian pleaded for the return of his ray gun, the Manhunter from Mars ordered him to immediately fly off-world, unarmed and hunted again.

Powers & Weapons:
The Mercurian carried a disintegrator gun that could vaporize objects as large a boxcar in a single shot. A one-man Mercurian ship afforded him interplanetary travel. While in Earth atmosphere, the Mercurian developed extraordinary strength and a level of relative invulnerability comparable to a similarly affected Martian.

Quote: "I don't know how you got here, Martian-- but you're standing in the way of my gaining complete control over this planet!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Monday, October 24, 2011

2009 Tiny Titans Miss Martian and Kid Flash Convention Sketch by Franco Aureliani

Click To Enlarge

"Yeah, Tiny Titans rocks! Franco's line was quiet at the end of Sunday and I couldn't help asking for another Tiny Titan. I couldn't decide between Kid Flash or Miss Martian and I asked him to draw whoever he liked. He drew Kid Flash and then added Miss Martian! The Tiny Titans crew always go the extra mile for their fans and this helps prove that. Thanks so much, Franco!"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stormwatch #45 (February, 1997)

Jackson King requested permission from Weatherman One to stay in Constitution, Alabama one more day. He had enjoyed visiting his 102 year old uncle and wanted to continue his lovely time with a tour of the town. Unfortunately, despite equipment to help distort Battalion's picture when taken, the U.N. superhero was still recognizable to a pair of bigoted rednecks from militia newspapers. The pair assumed King was hunting them, and took him unawares.

King woke up with a pistol in his face, tied to the bumper of a van, and aching from the cheap shots taken upon his face. Mamba Team Militia was led by McCreary, a hardcase with an eyepatch and facial scars. His group intended to strike a blow against the New World Order by parking the bomb in their van beside the local Federal Building. How much finer a message would that send if the explosion also took "A Stormwatch man. Large as life, and black as the ace of spades to boot." The all white militias unsurprisingly had taken a special interest in Battalion.

Pistol whipped, King went in and out of consciousness as he tried to trace the path of the moving van from the militia's hideout to the federal building. It was widely known that Battalion needed his Cyber-Tran Suit to use his telekinesis. What the public didn't know was that this was intentional misinformation, or as Bendix called it, "sequestration." Battalion needed the suit's amplification for "the big stuff," but King had enough inherent power to break the links in his chain, disable the bomb, and burst out of the van's doors.

Jackson King telekinetically deflected bullets while rushing militia men as he returned to the militia's nearby operation on foot. King made short work of them, including McCreary, whose heart he psychically "massaged." One escaped with a bag full of grenades, but King held fast onto the back of his car until he could use his mind to overturn the speeding matter. With a steering wheel column sticking out of his chest the last militiaman engaged King in hand to hand combat like a real American. King took him out easily enough. "You *unf* forgot something. I'm an *arh* American, too."

There was no question of the militia's guilt or the crucial role Battalion played in saving lives, but his elderly uncle ended up having to leave town anyway. McCreary died in a regular prison a few months later from heart damage. "And the Representative from Constitution, Alabama, today introduced a bill to bar U.N. officers from acting on U.S. soil."

For the most part, I dug this story by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney and Randy Elliott. It reminded me of why I was disappointed that the new Stormwatch series stars obvious analogues for DC heroes from The Authority integrated into the DCnÜverse instead of the more original characters who appeared in fifty issues of actual Stormwatch comics. Battalion is a cool guy with powers atypical of DC heroes, but instead we've currently got Superapollo and Batmidnighter. Anyway, my issues with the issue were fairly late, since I can forgive the broad stereotyping of Southerners, but not King's need to call out militant isolationists in dialogue with evidential examples of their ill logic while firing an uzi at them. I also fail to see the threat of an opponent with a steering wheel column jutting from his sternum, although I can see the likely unintentional humor.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stormwatch #44 (January, 1997)

Jenny Sparks was "too old, too tired and too sober" for another attempt from Battalion to hold a training session. Jackson King explained that wasn't his intention in meeting with her, preferring a getting to know her session. At age 96, still in the body of a twenty year old, the limey had a lot of life to tell.

"The Twenties were an age of scientific romance. I loved it." Wearing an all white outfit complete with Jodhpurs, she entered the Thirties kicking war profiteers in the crotch and having experienced spaceflight in otherworldly "Shiftships." As she put it, "Europe had intellect, but America had madness. I came here looking for it." Things took a bad turn in the Forties, from the primitive excitement of Joe Shuster to the cinematic noir of Will Eisner. Clarence Cornwall had been a friend, but when she learned he was involved in a plot to release Zyklon B gas into a city orphanage simply because "It's full of black kids," she electrocuted him.

Enough of that. Jenny came home in the 1950s, joining the British Space Group, a government cover operation for all the traffic between parallel Earths going on. Sparks flew in Helicars and dreamed of a utopian world made possible by the technology of Sliding Albion. One day, Jenny met Saul Baxter and soon learned that Sliding Albion had entered a Parallel World War One with Sliding Europe. Bacterial warfare meant the whole thing was over in a few hours. As Albion died, it tried to shunt a bacterial attack to our world in a desperate attempt to save themselves. The journey through the Shiftdoor had altered the bacteria though, creating the first generation of English mutant superhumans.

In the Sixties, Sparks tried to write an autobiography, but that was killed. She threw in with the superhuman counterculture movement instead. "And that was a bleedin' bunch. All taking on pseudonyms, dressing as weirdly as possible to make sure the neighbors didn't recognize them... I'm sure they had no idea what they looked like, but their hearts-- and their brains-- were in the right place." Jack Kirby gave way to Neal Adams. Late in the decade, Jenny's group provided security to an Altamont/Woodstock hybrid where macho caveman Abel Eternity agreed to prove his manhood by shooting up with some bikers. Abel went ape, killed scores of people, and his rampage was fatally halted by Sparks. The group broke up, Jenny hit the bottle, and didn't get out of bed until 1982.

Dave Gibbons' U.K. saw Thatcher's government terrified of all the mentally unstable superhumans roaming about. They sobered Sparks up to investigate a series of infant abductions from single mothers. Her investigation determined that the inability of the bacteria babies to reproduce had led a couple into "creating" their own Frankenstein child out of the moldering, sewn-together bits of those that they had stolen. Jenny quit the Eighties after that, right back to the bottle until Henry Bendix came calling a few months earlier. Jackson comforted his teammates, saying that those decades were past, and the Nineties offered another chance to make things right. "You can still see the stars, Jenny."

Warren Ellis, Tom Raney and Randy Elliott thoroughly embraced the metatextual analogue path blazed by Alan Moore by visibly inserting Jenny Sparks into decades worth of American comic strips. Raney did an excellent job of imitating the art styles of the various exemplars of the periods, while Ellis retroactively weaved Wildstorm and real world continuity into those works. The issue even shipped with three different period covers representing EC Comics, Watchmen, and Gil Kane himself revisiting his 1970s efforts. Still political without being shrill, this issue showed the promise of Ellis work to come, and was quite enjoyable without the usual reservations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Menagerie Viewing: An Art Gallery of Martian Manhunter Rogues

Click To Enlarge

2010 DC Universe Vol.4: Going Solo Lobo
2010 "DCUniverse Vol 6: Supervillians"
2010 "DCUniverse Vol.7: The Injustice Gang" Scorch

Jim Aparo
1991 Who's Who in the DC Universe #13: Starro the Conqueror

2009 "The Ruler" Mongul

Mitch Ballard
2005 "JLA/Avengers:Galactus vrs Brimstone" Commission

Chris Batista
2006 Despero New York Comic Con Sketch

Simon Bisley
1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Lobo Trading Card #36

J. Bone
2009 Professor Arnold Hugo Sketch

Who's Who Update '88 Vol.3: Queen Bee

Adam Broglia
2007 Asmodel Convention Sketch

Reilly Brown
2007 Brimstone Wizard World Philadelphia Convention Sketch

Rick Burchett
2004 JLA-Z #3 Vandal Savage Pin-Up

John Byrne
1991 Who's Who in the DC Universe #7: Darkseid's Elite

Travis Charest
1993 Skybox DC Cosmic Teams Card #30

Danielle Corsetto
2007 Despero Convention Sketch

John Delaney
1997 JLA Gallery: Justice League of America vs. Professor Ivo & Amazo

Brian Denham
2011 Bel Juz Commission

Joe Devito
1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Trading Cards-

Guy Dorian
2010 Triumph Convention Sketch

Dale Eaglesham
JLA Secret Files & Origins #3: White Martians Profile Page (December 2000)

Trevor Von Eeden
1991 Impel DC Comics Cosmic Cards "1992 Series" Despero #130

1999 Despero Convention Sketch

Dave Gibbons
Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins 2005: Mongul

Patrick Gleason
2009 Sinestro Corps Mongul sketch

Dave Grote Jr.
2009 Despero Headshot

Craig Hamilton
2006 "Magical Lobotomy" color art

John Hanley
1996 Rogues Gallery #1: Mongul

Tony Harris
1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Vandal Savage Trading Card #76
1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Lord Havok Trading Card #78

Dean Haspiel
JLA-Z #1 Despero art (November, 2003)

Phil Hester
2011 Mister V Comicpalooza Commission

Don Hillsman II
1997 JLA Gallery featuring Despero
2010 Despero versus the Justice League Personal Sketch Card

Rick Hoberg
1991-92 Impel DC Cosmic Cards #128- Darkseid

Adam Hughes
Who's Who in the DC Universe #2: Despero (September 1990)

2010 Custom Despero Frog

Carmine Infantino
1991-92 Impel DC Cosmic Cards #96- Gorilla Grodd

2006 "JLA - J'onn J'onzz n Scorch"

Dan Jurgens
1993 Skybox DC Cosmic Teams Card #121: Weapons Master

2008 Despero Custom Figure

2012 Human Squirrel Comicpalooza Commission

Andy Kuhn
2010 Doctor Trap Comicpalooza Commission
2011 Ma'alefa'ak Comicpalooza Commission by Andy Kuhn

Louie Lapalombara
2009 Despero Wizard World Philly Convention Color Sketch

Greg LaRocque
1991-92 Impel DC Cosmic Cards #110- Vandal Savage

Jeff Lemire
2005 Justice League of America vs. Starro Pin-Up

David Malki!
2010 Marco Xavier Mediocre Convention Sketch
2010 Professor Arnold Hugo Mediocre Convention Sketch

Tom Mandrake
1999 DCU Villains Secret Files & Origins #1: Malefic Profile Page

Isaac Mardis
2011 Mongul Comicpalooza Commission

Paul Maybury
2012 The Devil Men of Pluto Comicpalooza Commission

Marat Mychaels
2010 Commander Blanx Comicpalooza Commission

Mike Nasser/ Michael Netzer
2009 "December of Despero" Pin-Up

Irv Novick
1986 Professor Ivo (Who's Who Vol.XVIII)

Carlos Pacheco
Despero Head Sketch

Bruce Patterson
1990 "Justice League America vs Lobo" Color Commission

Chuck Patton
1985 The Cadre (Who's Who Vol.V)

Nick Pitarra
2011 B'rett Comicpalooza Commission
2011 B'rett Comicpalooza Color Art

Joe Prado
2009 Black Lantern Doctor Light design
2009 Black Lantern Maxwell Lord design

Humberto Ramos
2010 Professor Arnold Hugo Convention Piece

Alex Ross
2006 Gorilla Grodd: From Bruce Wayne's private files in the Batcomputer

Chris Samnee
2007 Silver Age Despero Sketch

Bart Sears
1993 Skybox DC Cosmic Teams Card #124: Despero

Johnny J. Segura III
2012 Professor Arnold Hugo Comicpalooza Commission

Val Semeiks
1993 Skybox DC Cosmic Teams Hologram Hall of Fame DCH13 Lobo Trading Card

Evan “Doc” Shaner
2009 Darkseid
2009 Gorilla Grodd

2009 Gaslight Gorilla Grodd Custom Action Figure

John K. Snyder III
1996 Rogues Gallery #1: Darkseid

Steve Stanley
1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Trading Cards-

Jim Starlin
1986 Who's Who Vol.XVI: Mongul

Nathan Stockman
2009 Triumph Head Shot

Roderick Thornton
2011 Scorch Comicpalooza Commission

Thunderbolts' Customs
Despero Action Figure

Michael Turner
Doctor Light Sketches

Dave Wachter
2010 Gorilla Grodd art

Len Wein
1985 Who's Who Vol.VI: Despero

Joshua Wolf
2010 DCSH 3: Triumph Cubee

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Darkseid the Destroyer Character Card

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stormwatch #43 (December, 1996)

Manhattan shrieked at sundown, but no one could hear it except Jack Hawkmoor. An aging activist had been murdered with a dull ax in a slummy apartment covered in U.S. flags. The cop assigned to the case recognized this as the m.o. of a serial killer that had murdered his cousin in Chicago, and immediately begged off the case. Hawkmoor snuck into the morgue to get a better look at the body, and was attacked by a well built medical examiner with combat training. No true doctor was he.

With a bit of investigation and brutality, Hawkmoor finally determined that the killer was the secret child of assassinated president John F. Kennedy, driven mad by congenital syphilis. Junior was protected by the Secret Service, including a handler who had plastic surgery to resemble Marilyn Monroe. An aside: the aliens who experimented on Hawkmoor did something to his private parts so vile that it made Marilyn puke. Unable to reveal Stormwatch's involvement in the case, and unable to bear his city suffering an unstoppable killer, Hawkmoor hanged Junior in a news studio in such a way as to appear to be a suicide. Hawkmoor was loathe to do it, because killing made him feel terrible.

This insipid low concept stretched out into a "story" in length only was brought to you by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney and Randy Elliott. I'd like to think it was some sort of revenge for all the American comic writers whose idea of English authenticity was bowler hats, Big Ben, a cup of tea and Cockney accents. This thing is so contrived, the Secret Service actually arranged for the specific cop assigned the case, and the hatchet wielding is tied into Washington's cherry tree. It might have worked better if the artist had any facility for likenesses, since Kennedy and Monroe are never actually named in the script, although the supertext is so obnoxious that it nearly beats the reader senseless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Martian Sightings for January, 2012

Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
1:25 Variant cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
On sale JANUARY 4
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. The variant cover will feature the standard edition cover in a wraparound format.

It’s the unstoppable murder machine vs. the Eminence of Blades when the Midnighter takes on Prince of Lies, Harry Tanner! As Adam One stands trial before the shadow cabinet, Stormwatch loses two members, and the mystery horn from SUPERMAN #1 reappears to deliver a final page that will change Stormwatch forever!
You may not know this, but I run an Atom-themed blog that gets a tiny fraction of the hits I do here. Between an O.M.A.C. crossover, that Online Legends book you forgot was still being published and Captain Atom material, things were hopping in my solicitation round-up over there. Here? J'Onn J'Onzz may be in his team book. What the hell went so wrong here? If not for all-ages material with Miss Martian, this month could have been a total bust.

Miss Martian
Art and cover by CHRISTOPHER JONES
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

There’s a new menace in Gotham City: a creature so strange – and so versatile – that not even the combined might of the entire Young Justice team can stand against it. Witness the origin of...Clayface!
Check the third arm. Reasonably subtle. Well played.

Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale JANUARY 18
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Because you demanded it – Tiny Titans unmasked in a special all red hair issue! Barbara! Miss Martian! Starfire! Blackfire! And Speedy! Actually, Speedy’s hair is more of an auburn. Also, what’s Wonder Girl’s secret? What is she doing with all that fruit? A discovery is made when she reveals her secret oranges!

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Justice League: Doom Trailer

I had a rare M'gann M'orzz Miss Martian Monday story synopsis planned for today, since this was the first weekend in a while where I did not schedule heavy cross-blog coverage. So of course, something immediately newsworthy bumped the girl.

Judging from this trailer, reports of the direct to video Justice League: Doom animated movie being based loosely on the JLA "Tower of Babel" story arc did not emphasis that looseness enough. We're talking "keeps a spare outfit and three forms of contraceptive in her purse" loose. It's one thing to swap out Rāʾs al-Ghūl for Vandal Savage (which is sort of like supersizing the same meal.) It's quite another to offer a never before seen Legion of Doom and the freakin' Royal Flush Gang. At best the two stories share a basic premise, possibly that Batman's secret files were still stolen, but probably as slim as individual takedowns of the League members. It seems like it could just as easily have been a loose adaptation of "The Judas Contract," especially once Cyborg shows up. I wonder if that was Dwayne McDuffie or Geoff Johns. The absence of Aquaman once again indicates the former.

Anyway, the Martian Manhunter has had plenty of opportunities in animation over the past decade, and I never felt the need to promote those instances promptly. In fact, J'Onn J'Onzz's presence in the new movie seems fairly slight (which given the return of the dreadfully lame voice of Carl Lumbly and the OYL outfit, will not have me crying myself to sleep.) The first item of interest for me was live action John Jones Phil Morris returning as Vandal Savage (whose post yesterday was completely unrelated to this video.) The second and primary reason was that this cartoon, to the best of my knowledge, marks the first instance of a Martian Manhunter-specific/Vile Menagerie villain being adapted to animation. As much as I might grouse about Ma'alefa'ak, he's earning his rank as The Second Most Important Alien Atlas Adversary with his appearance in this cartoon.

Appropriately enough, Star Sapphire in a slightly more modest version of her current controversial comic book costume is also in this Legion of Doom. It seems like Malefic and Bane are both working toward gender equality with stripper-quality outfits of their own. You have to shave your glory trail to wear suits like that, and I appreciate their barely concealed nipples. Not to be outdone, the Cheetah is totally decked out to work a pole for tips, and even Metallo seems unusually anatomically correct. More curiously, the primary liberty taken with Malefic is that he looks closer to the One Year Later Martian Manhunter design than J'Onn J'Onzz. He appears to have the conehead and the thin piping, while his comic style is reflected in the skin exposure, chains, and obscuring collar/neck brace. Most amusingly, Malefic has fingerless opera gloves, a tattered cape and bare feet. Anyone else reminded of the Goblin Queen? Aside from the transvestism (hell, because of it) I'm looking forward to seeing this. IMDB doesn't have a casting credit, but I'm hopefully Malefic ends up with a speaking part. Maybe he'll sound like Thanos in the old Silver Surfer cartoon?

Update: More videos, including confirmation that "the scary guy is Ma'alefa'ak..."

Phonetically rendered "Mallah-fah-ock" by a human character, and simply "Mallah-faak" by producer Alan Burnett. He does have a speaking part, and while I can't quite place it, I have heard the voice before. Dual role for Lumbly? The spelling is the same as the comics. The story still revolves around the bad guys using Batplans against the JLA.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2001 Justice League Lunar art by Bruce Timm

I don't know if this was drawn in 2001, or even for sure that it was drawn by Bruce Timm. I don't get the feeling Timm has any special regard for the Martian Manhunter, and I know he has no use for dating his artwork. All I do know is that this piece was done for the Cartoon Network Justice League show, and that it was reasonably early on. It's a great image, and one of the few with the Alien Atlas I could use for today's theme.

Bruce Timm Bits

Friday, October 14, 2011

What is The Vile Menagerie?

Click To Enlarge

You know those big binders of photos police stations keep to help identify criminals and suspects? They're called a "rogues gallery." I'm not sure who popularized the term in comic books, but I'm sure its usage goes back to the days of Dick Tracy, at least. However, in comics, a rogues gallery typically refers to a collection of foes who regularly face down a specific super-hero. They usually do so individually at first, then start forming teams after failing so often to defeat a hero that they no longer pose a compelling enough threat to hold a reader's attention.

The term is most often used to represent foes of the Flash, specifically the Barry Allen version's, but you'll often hear tell of Batman's rogues gallery and so on. Some of these collectives even manage to become proper teams, like the Frightful Four, Masters of Evil, or the Sinister Six. Others just get tagged with a variation on the term "rogues gallery," like the "Deadly Foes of Spider-Man."

Now, the fact is that very few fans know or acknowledge that, while they rarely act in concert, Martian Manhunter has accumulated his own impressive rogues gallery. This is partly due to that same majority of fans not caring much about J'Onn or his history to begin with, but then that's the reason this blog exists.

To that end, back on the old "Rock" site, I decided I would not only spotlight the Martian Manhunter's "rogues," but even give them a collective name. Obviously, "rogues gallery" was my starting point, but I wanted something that implied a greater sense of scale and menace, preferably earning points on my vocabulary by coming up with an uncommon term. For whatever reason, I was drawn to the sophistication and mystique that went with the title of the Tennessee Williams play "The Glass Menagerie." Probably like Williams, I also figured "menagerie" was enough of a mouthful not to overburden it with a similarly challenging descriptive. One syllable. Four letters. Tight.

"The Vile Menagerie."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Vile Menagerie: THE HUMAN SQUIRREL

Alter Ego: Ben Stoves
A.K.A.: The Squirrel
Occupation: Former burglar
Hair: Black
Group Affiliation: The Ex-Convicts Club
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #292 (June, 1961)

Ben Stoves was a notorious bandit who performed daring acrobatic heists in highrise buildings before being brought to justice. After being released from prison, Stoves chose to retire his Squirrel costume and turn over a new leaf. As part of a rehabilitation program founded by Middletown Police Detective John Jones, Stoves proved one of the most loyal members of "The Ex-Convicts Club." Unfortunately, gang leader Biff Benson needed the Human Squirrel for a job he was planning, and so framed Benson by having a another crime committed in the Squirrel costume. In order to clear his name, Stoves and fellow ex-convict the Trickster pretended to join Biff Benson to recover the loot from the frame-up job. With the help of the Martian Manhunter, both men were vindicated and Benson's gang took their place behind bars.

Powers & Weapons:
Aside from his acrobatic prowess, the Squirrel was not known to have any special abilities or tools.

Quote: "How will we be able to go straight without those jobs the club was getting our members?"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Vile Menagerie Redux

This blog has spent nearly two years analyzing at great length and depth the various villains comprising the Martian Manhunter's rogues gallery. As I discussed in depth here, getting the Vile Menagerie to a more comprehensive place with better representative art has actually been more than a decade in the making. I promised long ago that I would get at least one VM entry out per month, and have some catching up to do. However, after weeks of on-and-off but meticulous effort, I feel I finally have a picture that well represents the concept. I'll be better organizing and expanding upon this motley crew over the rest of the month and beyond, but for now enjoy this sneak preview of things to come...

Click To Enlarge

The Martian Manhunter Rogues Gallery

vile ('vîl)

1: morally despicable.
2: physically repulsive.
3: degrading, ignominious.

menagerie (me-'na-je-ré)

1: a collection of wild animals, especially for exhibition.
2: the place where such animals are kept.
3: an unusual and varied group.

The Menagerie Census

Spotlight Exhibits
  • B'rett
  • Bel Juz
  • Commander Blanx
  • Ma'alefa'ak
  • Mr. V
  • Professor Arnold Hugo
  • Vandal Savage

The Vile Corpus: Villains that elude the gallery

The Traveling Menagerie:
Everything Else That Doesn't Fit

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stormwatch #1 (November, 2011)

In Hyperspace sat Stormwatch's spaceship headquarters, "The Eye of the Storm." The craft was run by The Engineer, while the team within was led by a new character, Adam One. After a half hour recharge session, the Engineer was annoyed to learn the group had been splintered across three fronts. A giant horn hidden on Earth had been blown to unknown effect, requiring investigation. "The Eminence of Blades," Harry Tanner, was on the lunar surface following up on a possible repercussion, the moon itself engaged in a threatening posture against Earth. Finally, a three man team was in Moscow, hoping to recruit a "potential Superman-level" vigilante.

Despite this frenetic activity and the Engineer's protests, Adam One chose to leave the base with the "Century Baby" Jennifer Emily Quantum to investigate the horn found in the Himalayas. Adam felt it was "the most important thing in the world right now," and needed the horn back at the Eye. "The Spirit of the 21st Century" tested her potentially infinite powers by teleporting the massive horn back to base...

Harry Tanner was cutting down anthropomorphic rock creatures attacking him on the moon, but they were in turn absorbing the energy from his "Blue Blades." The surface gave way under Tanner's feet, and he landed in a cavern with breathable air. Harry was confronted by an enormous eyeball. "I have cut off your communications. I am the first response to the sounding of the horn. I am the scourge of worlds. I am here to make your world stronger, through devastation. You should be afraid... Something is coming. Something huge. I am the only survivor of it. An intellect that animates matter. I arrive long before it, to try to make worlds strong enough to fight it." The intelligence connected with Tanner physically and psychically through tentacles reaching out to his brain. It learned the history of Stormwatch spanning centuries, from the medieval "Demon Knights" to the "Shadow Cabinet" of the dead reigning over their soldier today. It could sense Tanner trying to fight and mislead it, so it determined to make Tanner its latest host body...

Things were not going well in Moscow, where "Apollo" shattered the bricks under the away team's feet with a smashing blow. "I am NOT a super-hero! And I do not want to join your team!" Apollo was tall and muscular with close cropped hair, the man looked every bit the god he'd been dubbed after by a random girl on the internet. "Apollo" had kept a low profile for a while as a vigilante, but video of his killing a child molester made it to the internet, attracting Adam One's interest.

Jack Hawksmoor explained that Stormwatch was not a bunch of amateur "super-heroes," but professionals tasked with defending Earth from alien threats for centuries. Jack showed off his ability to "control, manipulate and communicate with cities." The Projectionist followed suit by using the "alien language processing lobe that got lodged" in her brain to connect instantly to all known media, or massage it as needed. The final member present was a white male with brown hair and suit wearing sunglasses. Apollo didn't give him the chance to display his powers peaceably before making a break for it. "I don't do huge causes, okay? Please leave me alone."

Apollo went home, but he was followed, and Jack made Moscow disorient the vigilante to keep him from escaping again. "Sorry. I've just been told we can't take no for an answer." Apollo rushed the group, and managed to punch the third member, a green-skinned humanoid alien, in the face. It was Apollo who ended up landing on his backside. "Impressive. I will have to 'slip into something more comfortable' in order to-- equal you." The alien transformed into a Mongolian Death Worm* and forced Apollo to stay on the ground. "I recognize you-- The Martian Manhunter from the Justice League! So this is what you do to people who turn you down?! You kill them?!" The Manhunter explained that this nonsense had gone far enough.

"We need your help-- because you may be the most powerful person on the planet. You spend your time solving small cases-- we need you to help save the world. I am known in some quarters as a hero. I can wear that shape. But when I need to be a warrior-- I do it with Stormwatch." Apollo continued to argue, but the Martian Manhunter sensed something. At impossible speed, a finger tapped Manhunter on the neck like a nerve pinch. A fist pounded Jack Hawksmoor's face. A black bag swallowed the Projectionist's head. All three Stormwatch members laid slack at the feet of two individuals. Apollo asked, "What are you, then? More of the same?"

The man before him was garbed entirely in black fetishistic leather and metal body armor. He reached out and shook Apollo's hand. "No-- I'm the Midnighter. With your help, I can kill every evil bastard on the planet. Interested...?"

*In the first printing, anyway.

"The Dark Side: Part One" was by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda. I've already discussed the book at some length here, but I will say it holds up to a second reading and is strengthened after having gone over the second issue. I do wish that this Stormwatch more closely resembled the U.N. sanctioned super-team of the first volume, rather than a watered-down apolitical Authority run by some sort of Illuminati. I still like the new characters, but remain bummed the Wildstorm immigrants are so shrill and diminished. I was also kind of put out by the appearance of a lily-white John Jones type, but hopefully the Martian Manhunter will help with racial diversity later on. I think I recall the Engineer being Hispanic, and Adam One may be Arabic, so that may not be a problem, anyway. I like all of the new costumes fairly well, and dig Martian Manhunter's status quo. All those Justice League Unlimited cartoons are retroactively cooler when you imagine J'Onn sneaking away from monitor duty on the satellite for clandestine Stormwatch missions. That was always Red Tornado type crap anyway...

DC New 52