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Author Topic: Martian Manhunter Through the Ages?  (Read 10106 times)
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2005, 01:30:41 PM »

As I said on another thread, IMHO the reason MM was dropped from the JLA back then coincided with the unmanned space probes discovering that Mars probably couldn't have MM's race and civilization there.

Krypton can never be proved to be impossible given the near-infinite vastness of outer space.

It's far to easy to prove or disprove Mars as a homeworld for J'Onn.

MM began being beefed up -- accidentally, I believe -- in the Justice League Detroit days.  The creators mistakenly gave him the power to phase up through a building (probably forgot he wasn't the Vision).  Ironically, they also downgraded his power-levels in that same run.

In a JLA annual, the creators mistakenly boosted his Martian vision from a passive sensing ability to eyebeams that could cut a water pipe. (That was the hokey 'out of nowhere' stunt they scripted for him beating Firestorm's fire-attack).

Post Crisis, in The Weird, he was able to use his other powers with his invisibility for the first time.  That was the first true difference in Post Crisis continuity.

Ostrander in MM's short-lived series gave him space capability.  IIRC, in the JLA at the time, Morrison mistakenly gave him super-speed.  Not being space capable nor superfast were necessary shortcomings to explain why J'Onn didn't just say "Huh?  This backwater planet?  Better hightail it home before dinner!" when he was accidentally teleported here.  IOW, he needed those lack of abilities to explain why he was trapped here -- a basic theme of the MM.

MM has always had the distinction of having numerically more powers than Superman.  But Superman had the disctintion of having powers J'Onn didn't have like heat vision and super-speed, not to mention space capability.  But the creators aren't thinking things through when it comes to MM.

Just the same, MM still can't sustain his own book no matter who's put on the roster.  Go tell that to the rabid MM fanboys that would tear your heart out for lunch.
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Captain Kal

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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2005, 07:45:14 PM »

DoctorZero just corrected me on another thread that DC dropped MM from the JLA before the probe landed on Mars.  It had more to do with Schwartz's general policy of dropping unpopular characters that holding their own books back then.

Of course, in later years, the JLA became a dumping ground for little used characters without their own books with only the presence of some salesmakers like Superman, Batman, or the Flash truly boosting the title.
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Captain Kal

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DoctorZero
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2005, 02:22:03 AM »

I'm a big fan of J'onn J'onzz and have collected many of his issues from Detective and House of Mystery.
Originally J'onzz used mainly his telepathy and telekenetics powers and operated as police detective John Jones.  Later on his powers were gradually increased, much as other characters powers were.  During his detective days he discovered he could not only adopt the appearance of Jones but other humans as well.  In a story I've never read but heard about an alien's ray beam took away his ability to use his martian powers while being invisible.  At that point he began operating openly (before he only operated in secret).  It was also explained that the ray altered his appearance so that he looked more human like but I think this was an explanation concocted to just correct the artist's switch to a more human J'onzz.
In one story he used his martian breath to propell himself in the air.  Later on writers simply had him fly.  While J'onzz never got powers like heat vision he could turn invisible and walk through walls, things Superman never could do.  

When editorship switched on Detective Comics Julius Schwartz had no interest in J'onzz as the backup.  So in his final detective appearance, detective John Jones was believed to have been killed.  J'onzz abandoned his John Jones ID to wander the country in search of the Idol Head of Diablou (In House of Mystery).  In a couple of tales J'onzz adopted a human appearance quite similar to John Jones.  Zook first appeared with the Manhunter in Detective.  He continued with J'onzz in the Idol Head stories.  

When the Idol Head gimmick ran it's course, J'onzz adopted the new ID of Marco Xavier, looking for the leader of an internation gang of criminals named Faceless.  The idea was to give J'onzz a more realistic approach, and Zook was dropped.  It was explained that Zook was living inside Manhunter's Cave headquarters.  Zook occasionally visited J'onzz in a couple of stories which had nothing to do with Faceless.  One would assume that Zook is still in that cave, waiting for his friend's return.  When J'onzz finally tracked down Faceless and discovered that Faceless was the real Marco Xavier, who faked his death, the series ended.  J'onzz disappeared from JSA only to be written out by Denny O'Niel in "And So My World Ends", where he discovered that his home planet's civilization had been destroyed and he took off into space in search of the survivors.  

After a long absence he was finally returned to earth as part of the "new" Justice League.  Eventually it was claimed that when J'onzz was teleported to earth he traveled both through time and space.  His powers are now less like Superman and as stated more like the Vision in some respects, with telepathy and telekenitics thrown in.  Zook has been forgotten by current writers, much the same way "Nameless" has been forgotten in Metal Men continuity.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2005, 04:15:43 AM »

Quote from: "DoctorZero"
I'm a big fan of J'onn J'onzz and have collected many of his issues from Detective and House of Mystery.
Originally J'onzz used mainly his telepathy and telekenetics powers and operated as police detective John Jones.  Later on his powers were gradually increased, much as other characters powers were.  During his detective days he discovered he could not only adopt the appearance of Jones but other humans as well.  In a story I've never read but heard about an alien's ray beam took away his ability to use his martian powers while being invisible.  At that point he began operating openly (before he only operated in secret).  It was also explained that the ray altered his appearance so that he looked more human like but I think this was an explanation concocted to just correct the artist's switch to a more human J'onzz.
In one story he used his martian breath to propell himself in the air.  Later on writers simply had him fly.  While J'onzz never got powers like heat vision he could turn invisible and walk through walls, things Superman never could do.  

When editorship switched on Detective Comics Julius Schwartz had no interest in J'onzz as the backup.  So in his final detective appearance, detective John Jones was believed to have been killed.  J'onzz abandoned his John Jones ID to wander the country in search of the Idol Head of Diablou (In House of Mystery).  In a couple of tales J'onzz adopted a human appearance quite similar to John Jones.  Zook first appeared with the Manhunter in Detective.  He continued with J'onzz in the Idol Head stories.  

When the Idol Head gimmick ran it's course, J'onzz adopted the new ID of Marco Xavier, looking for the leader of an internation gang of criminals named Faceless.  The idea was to give J'onzz a more realistic approach, and Zook was dropped.  It was explained that Zook was living inside Manhunter's Cave headquarters.  Zook occasionally visited J'onzz in a couple of stories which had nothing to do with Faceless.  One would assume that Zook is still in that cave, waiting for his friend's return.  When J'onzz finally tracked down Faceless and discovered that Faceless was the real Marco Xavier, who faked his death, the series ended.  J'onzz disappeared from JSA only to be written out by Denny O'Niel in "And So My World Ends", where he discovered that his home planet's civilization had been destroyed and he took off into space in search of the survivors.  

After a long absence he was finally returned to earth as part of the "new" Justice League.  Eventually it was claimed that when J'onzz was teleported to earth he traveled both through time and space.  His powers are now less like Superman and as stated more like the Vision in some respects, with telepathy and telekenitics thrown in.  Zook has been forgotten by current writers, much the same way "Nameless" has been forgotten in Metal Men continuity.


Thanks for the rundown, DoctorZero, this is all very interesting and helpful. And it was House of MYSTERY not SECRETS that Manhunter had his backup story; my mistake.

John Jones is a character with an interesting history, because he's a case of a character that slipped through the cracks of comics history being "discovered" by a new audience. It's very nice to see a character with worth like MM being discovered by future readers, to be given the due respect a character with his history should receive.

Is it because of the Justice League cartoon show? Yes; but only because they showed how neat the character was, if the writing was on target.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2005, 03:38:38 PM »

Unca Cheeks' more complete but less flattering article about the Martian Manhunter:
http://www.geocities.com/cheeksilver/jonnjonzz.htm
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Captain Kal

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DoctorZero
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2005, 12:41:31 AM »

As I said J'onzz was always a favorite of mine.  Possibly because, unlike a lot of the DC strips at the time, his actually changed due to circumstances.

When J'onzz first came to earth he mainly operated as John Jones, police detective.  This makes perfect sense--he's new and wants to establish a place for himself.  As stated, since he couldn't travel through space he couldn't return to his home planet.  Originally he said his people were working on "Project Star Ride", a Martian Space Program designed to go to earth.  He had to wait out his people's eventually journey to earth.  Unfortunately, this angle was forgotten, and even a Brave and the Bold story had him using the Professor's computer to travel back to Mars and return to earth again when Martian came to earth and were acting as criminals.  This story was never explained at all.

But in J'onzz own series things made a bit more sense.  During the first Idol Head case (in Detective) John Jones was apparently killed.  Rather than concoct an explanation as to how he survived, J'onzz let people keep on thinking Jones was dead--mainly because J'onzz needed now to travel the country and track down the evil Idol Head.  Once the Idol was destroyed, J'onzz adopted Marco Xavier in order to accomplish a new mission.  The Martian Manhunter adopted--and abandoned--earth ID's when it suited his purpose.  

I was never that happy with the MM series a few years back, where it was explained that J'onzz had numerous earth ID's.  Even one of a pet cat.  This made no sense to me as to why J'onzz would waste such time on such trivial things.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2005, 10:07:29 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
MM began being beefed up -- accidentally, I believe -- in the Justice League Detroit days.  The creators mistakenly gave him the power to phase up through a building (probably forgot he wasn't the Vision).  Ironically, they also downgraded his power-levels in that same run.


Interesting that this run should be mentioned as the point where the Martian Manhunter's power levels were boosted up somehow. Remember that one issue of the Giffen Justice League where the Manhunter actually outwrestles and outfights the Gray Man possessed Superman-equivalent Captain Marvel? Where at any point prior to this was there any indication that the Manhunter could be the equal of Captain Marvel in a brawl? If anything, there are occasions that contradict this assertion.

When was the last time the Martian Manhunter used "Martian Breath?" Of all his powers, this one makes the most sense. After all, Mars's atmosphere is considerably thinner than on earth.

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
Post Crisis, in The Weird, he was able to use his other powers with his invisibility for the first time.  That was the first true difference in Post Crisis continuity.


Interesting. In the retcon series JLA: YEAR ONE, the opening scene with the Martian Manhunter involves him using his Martian Vision as a burst of heat SIMULTANEOUSLY with his invisibility. As if that was the writer's intention to say, "okay, he had these powers since day one, and it wasn't a mistake on the part of the writers."

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
Ostrander in MM's short-lived series gave him space capability.  IIRC, in the JLA at the time, Morrison mistakenly gave him super-speed.  Not being space capable nor superfast were necessary shortcomings to explain why J'Onn didn't just say "Huh?  This backwater planet?  Better hightail it home before dinner!" when he was accidentally teleported here.  IOW, he needed those lack of abilities to explain why he was trapped here -- a basic theme of the MM.


This also doesn't jibe with the fact that the JLA jumpshuttles used in Morrison's day were based on a Martian design (for instance, in order to use them appropriately, the Martian Manhunter had to assume a more "Martian" form); why would a race with personal interstellar capacity use jump-ships?

Quote from: "DoctorZero"
I was never that happy with the MM series a few years back, where it was explained that J'onzz had numerous earth ID's. Even one of a pet cat. This made no sense to me as to why J'onzz would waste such time on such trivial things.


It WAS a rather unique suggestion. I for one, liked Big Doof, the supervillain identity the Manhunter assumed.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
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« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2005, 05:07:01 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Remember that one issue of the Giffen Justice League where the Manhunter actually outwrestles and outfights the Gray Man possessed Superman-equivalent Captain Marvel? Where at any point prior to this was there any indication that the Manhunter could be the equal of Captain Marvel in a brawl? If anything, there are occasions that contradict this assertion.


No, I don't remember it -- Because it never happened, at least not the way you described it.

Look at that fight again.  Gray-Man-possessed Captain Marvel had beaten J'Onn down, not the other way around.  He was about to soundly put him away when CM finally got his own mind back and was confused and dazed by the transition.  MM gave CM a sucker punch that laid him out.  If CM hadn't been caught blindsided like that by a sucker punch, the fight was going an entirely different direction.

'Course MM fanboys gripe that his out-of-continuity phasing wasn't being used in that fight when the above is pointed out to them ...

They seem to regard phasing as 'natural' character development instead of a grievous continuity error that makes hash of most of J'Onn's JLA career.
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
-- The Dalai Lama
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