Thursday, November 26, 2009

JLA/JSA Secret Files & Origins #1 (Lead Story, January, 2003)

Fawcett City: The Wizard Shazam called young Billy Batson to his abode to discuss something sinister afoot with his champion, Captain Marvel. Shazam reminisced about his having captured the The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man with the aid of the gods.

The Batcave: The Batman and
Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) had a cape-to-cape talk, mostly about their awe before one another's team. Terrific admired a photograph from an early JLA/JSA gathering (Aquaman and Martian Manhunter standing together on one side, though J'Onn was nearer to Dr. Fate.)

Keystone City, Kansas: Plastic Man, Hourman (Rick Tyler) and the local Flash (Wally West) attended a hockey game.

JSA Headquarters, New York City: The Atom (Ray Palmer), Doctor Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner gave Sentinel a meta-check-up.

Metropolis: The Star-Spangled Kid, Power Girl and Wonder Woman discussed Superman's sex appeal.

Doctor Fate's Tower in Salem, Massachusetts: Hector Hall lent Zatanna a copy of her father Zatara's biography. "One of the only copies in existence. Thanks for letting me 'check it out.' Koob Pmuj Ni Tah!" The pair discussed Zatara and a chill they both suddenly felt.

Captain Marvel left the wizard Shazam's company. The stone statues of Seven Deadly Enemies of Man in his abode turned toward Shazam. "It's too late, wizard. Your champion will be ours. As will the world."

"The Day Before" was by David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, Stephen Sadowski, and Andrew Pepoy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1984 The Martian Manhunter Postcard by George Pérez

Brought to earth by the ill-fated Professor Erdel and unable to return to Mars, J'onn J'onzz adopted human form. His powers include telepathy, super-strength, flight, and invisibility. His only weakness: vulnerability to fire.

I'm not 100% sure how I was introduced to J'Onn J'Onzz. I suspect it was either DC Comics house ads circa 1984, or my having bought a heavily discounted Super Powers Collection action figure. I loved that toy, and was given a more thorough feel for the character through his appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. A saleswoman at Waldenbooks thought I was just too cute in my raggedy Houston Oilers jacket, and gave me the comic for free just before I went on a trip to Colorado Springs. Not only did the Martian Manhunter come off well in the double-sized issue, but in my mind he would always be at his coolest when drawn by the master himself, George Pérez. Also, Supergirl died, but that stuff never takes.

There must be something about the nomadic Martian, because a dinged copy of
Justice League International #8 was one of the last comics I read in Texas, and a guest appearance in Action Comics #595 was among the first comics I bought when I arrived in Nevada. I'd tried Martian Manhunter#1 in 1988, and was not amused, so I tended to discount any further J'Onn J'Onzz solo reading. I followed the Martian Manhunter's appearance irregularly for years after that, mostly as a result of being a Justice League fan. Alternately, I started buying Justice League Task Force for its Nightwing appearances, and the post-Zero Hour J.L.A. for Wonder Woman and Hawkman. Despite lots of good stories and nostalgia for my action figure, I didn't truly become a diehard fan until 1996, through Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Darick Robertson & Jeff Johnson's Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare mini-series. It was like a therapy session had unearth repressed memories. Something about the moment where J'Onzz's family is taken from him again hit me with a tidal wave of emotions related to years of accumulated stories. I was an old lady sitting on the bus sucking humbugs, finally realizing I was a Rider on the Storm. I was a J'Onzz Fan, man!

JLA and my introduction to the information superhighway soon followed, and upon learning there were no Martian Manhunter fan sites on the internet, I resolved to one day build the first. It took me a couple of years to get started, by which time a few sites had emerged, but they're long gone now. My Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA lasted a couple or three years, and was a major learning experience. A little over two years ago, inspired by Rob Kelly's The Aquaman Shrine, I decided I would reconstitute my old site material into a daily blog. The Idol-Head of Diabolu has, to this day, barely touched any of the old material. This is one part because I'm a dimwit masochist, another part due to my becoming a better writer, and yet another part due to the format freeing me to both deeper and broader exploration of the character than I would have otherwise considered.

Above is one of my favorite images of the Manhunter from Mars, a lovely postcard I picked up on eBay about a decade ago. I used to feature it prominently on my old site, along with the two articles Who is the Martian Manhunter? and J'Onn & Me, neither of which have been restored to the net.

George Pérez produced 16 postcards for the unnumbered JLA set. Also featured were the Sword of the Atom (Ray Palmer,) Aquaman, Batman, Black Canary, Elongated Man (& Sue Dibny,) the Flash (Barry Allen,) Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond,) Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan,) Hawkman (and Hawkgirl, of Thanagar,) the new Justice League of America (Detroit Era members Steel II, Gypsy, Vibe and Vixen,) Red Tornado, Superman, Wonder Woman and Zatanna. You can view signed versions of all the cards here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

1984 Zatanna Postcard by George Pérez

I probably saw Zatanna for the first time just like this, drawn by George Pérez in the costume he designed for a Justice League of America cover or somesuch. I didn't know then how hard DC was trying to turn her into their own Scarlet Witch at the time, but I do know it never took. I bought her two part guest appearance in early issues of Blue Devil, and like most readers before and since, was more impressed by her girl-next-door approachable quality than the Marvel character's traumatized drama queen style. Unfortunately, DC's never stopped trying to saddle poor Zee with neurosis. They killed off her father before her eyes, subjected her to a magical quasi-rape, sent her off for a time with her assailant, massively reduced her powers, dumped her at Vertigo... it just never stops. As a result, I try to follow Zee's appearances, but not compulsively, attempting to pick the gems from the junk. I don't care near as much about what she can do as how she handles what comes, but it would be nice if someone could figure out the right balance for once.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1984 The Elongated Man Postcard by George Pérez

Deriving his powers from the elixir of Gingold, he's the Stretchable Sleuth. When there's a mystery afoot, Ralph Didney, with his famous twitching nose, and his socialite wife, Sue, make an unbeatable team.

I don't actually own this postcard, nor the DC Comics Classic Library: Justice League of America by George Perez, a recent hardcover that reprints the art from this postcard set. However, I found a pair of pictures on eBay, and doctored them up to preserve here. I understand it's numbered P6197, and was part of a 14 card set, plus a promotional Batman piece.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Batman and the Outsiders #1-5 (December 2007-May 2008)

In Central City, Catwoman, Katana, Metamorpho, Grace and the Martian Manhunter broke into Jardine Tower to capture a modified OMAC. The Batman observed and directed his temporary strike force of outsiders while Thunder, benched by the Dark Knight, looked on and groused. The OMAC was soon spirited to a lab run by Dr. Francine Langstrom (the wife of Man-Bat,) while Martian Manhunter left Batman's operation to inform the Justice League of America of its actions. After a brief confrontation between the two groups, Geo-Force learned he was being transferred to the Outsiders.

Meanwhile, at stately Wayne Manor, a foreign couple were met by Alfred the butler at its threshold.
"We're looking for Bruce."
"Bruce Wayne. This is his house, isn't it?"
"It is the home of Mister Wayne. And you know him how...?"
"Well, mostly from fighting crime."
"Smooth move, brainiac."
"What? Like he doesn't know... his boss is Batman?"

Later, in Gotham, Batman asked Langstrom "And these are the files J'Onn scanned from Jardine's data reserves?" They were, and included 3-D models of new lifeforms that could not exist nor survive on planet Earth. This led to an investigation of Jardine's connection to the European Space Agency.

In French Guiana, members of the Outsiders trained with their latest addition,
Green Arrow. This led to a brawl between Ollie and Batgirl, whom the Emerald Archer damned as a murderous member of the League of Assassins. Meanwhile, Batman was caught alone in the jungle by a young black couple.
"You're not an easy guy to track down."
"We stopped by the house. Thought Alfred was going to have a stroke."
"Look, this is weird. But we're in a position to help."
"Silly, he doesn't recognize us."
"No. I'd know you anywhere."

Waiting at the ESU launch site were Mr. Jardine and his team of mercenaries, including Gunhawk, Bunny, Camarouge and Militia.

As the Dark Knight made his way through the ESU base, he was targeted by Gunhawk and Bunny. However, Bunny then turned her gun on Hawk.
"Darling, I thought you'd never get here."
"We can't all be quick studies like you, my dear. We have some time to kill."
"You are so naughty."
"Isn't that why you married me?"
"Till death do us part."
"And look how that turned out."
Clearly not who they appeared to be, "Gunhawk" and "Bunny" kissed passionately.

The Outsiders raided the base, only to be temporarily cowed by Militia's superior firepower. Geo-Force proved the villain's undoing, while the possessed Gunhawk and Bunny pinned down other security forces for a time. "Gunhawk" sensed the couple was needed elsewhere, so the spirits departed the mercenaries' bodies, leaving them to dodge fire from the emboldened security unit.

Metamorpho was placed in harm's way by the launch of three rockets, leaving Green Arrow lusting for Mr. Jardine's blood. A couple of scientists seized the tycoon while Katana held Queen back.
"Don't worry, Ollie."
"He'll pay for what he's done."
"Uh... do I know you two?"
"Only for years."
"Remember all the passes you made at me-- a married woman? Probably not, right?"
"Ralph? Sue?"
"The Dibnys."
"Guilty as charged."
"But I thought you both--"
"Died? Yep. Dead as dead can be."
"But that doesn't stop my hubby from pursuing his favorite pastime."
"--As ghosts?"
"We prefer 'spirits'."

Metamorpho turned up alive and well aboard a spacecraft...

Batman and the Outsiders: The Chrysalis, collecting the first five issues of the 2007-2008 series, was by Chuck Dixon, Julian Lopez, Carlos Rodriguez and Bit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blackest Night #3 (November, 2009)

New York City: Jason Rusch and Gehenna argued about the prospect of marriage.

Gotham City: The Black Lantern Justice League engaged the Flash and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond had called dibs on Flash, but Black Lantern Ralph Dibny said "The Scarlet Speedster and the Stretchable Sleuth have been pals since the world-famous Elongated Man cracked his first case, Matchstick! If anyone's tugging on Barry's heartstrings it's gonna be me." Dibny's fingers became blades, but neither his nor Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz's stretching arms could catch the Flash. Allen even had time to experiment, learning roots held the Black Lantern power rings on its corpsman's fingers. A battered Atom emerged from hiding to join the fight against the BL Hawks.

Washington D.C.: Firestorm answered a call from Justice League of America headquarters. There he learned the arrival of the Black Lantern Corps was a global concern. The Nuclear Man was attacked by Mera, until she realized he wasn't one of the undead.

Gotham City: Black Lantern Ralph Dibny ensnared Green Lantern in his trunk. "We were never really tight, were we, Hal? Don't think I didn't catch you scoping out Sue when she was wearing a skirt." Ralph also caught the Atom, and nearly ripped out his heart, before both were saved by Indigo-1 of the Indigo Tribe, a lantern corps who wield the light power of compassion. Through their energy the two Indigo Tribe members on scene dispatched Black Lanterns Ralph and Sue Dibny. The Indigo Tribe duo then teleported the present heroes to JLofA headquarters.

Washington, D.C.: Indigo-1 explained to the collected heroes about the eight known corps wielding different emotionally-attuned colors in the spectrum of power, and the wars they were waging with one another. In the distance were memorial statues for Aquaman, Steel II, and Vibe. The group determined that these were not truly their fallen friends, and that their controller sought to illicit strong emotional responses in victims before devouring them. Flash and Green Lantern found time for a heart-to-heart, before the Black Lantern Justice League crashed the scene with an appetite for both. Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond forced the Firestorm matrix to split, then absorbed Jason Rusch into himself while he murdered Gehenna. Black Lantern power rings sought out more flesh, and found it in a morgue safeguarding the remains of deceased super-villains within League HQ (including Dr. Light, Maxwell Lord, and more.)

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert with Joe Prado.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blackest Night #2 (October, 2009)

Ivy Town: Ray "The Atom" Palmer tried to call Hawkman back about going with him to visit his deceased ex-wife Jean Loring's grave. The now undead Winged Wonder invited him over.

Gotham City: Commissioner Gordon and his daughter
Barbara were surprised by Green Lantern Hal Jordan being thrown into the Bat-Signal.

Amnesty Bay: Mera decided that if it was for the best, Tempest could exhume Aquaman's body and entomb it under the sea. A group of Atlanteans were along for the task, but the grave was already dug out.

Black Lantern Arthur Curry: "Yes. Your king. Your king who would rather be buried in the mud next to his human father than his own people. Your king, who was hunted as a child because of his ties to the surface world. Your king, who returned when you begged him to rebuild Atlantis. And who, after giving his blood to do it-- was hunted again. Now it's your king's turn to hunt."

Gotham City: Deadman's spirit was disturbed by the Black Lantern Corps, as his body joined it.

Washington, D.C.: Hank and Don Hall called by the Black Lantern power rings, but Dove remained at peace, so only Hawk answered.

Amnesty Bay: The undead Aquaman tormented Mera with the memory of their deceased son, and couldn't be killed by a trident through his chest. Tempest was attacked by Black Lantern Tula and Black Lantern Dolphin. The Atlanteans were eaten by sharks at Aquaman's command.

Gotham City: Zatanna, Blue Devil, Phantom Stranger and the Spectre investigated Boston "Deadman" Brand's open grave. They were met by the former Pariah turned Black Lantern Kell Mossa. "Worlds have died. Worlds will rise." Black Hand saw to turning the Spectre's living dead human host into Black Lantern Crispus Allen.

Gotham City: Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz pursued the Flash, Laser Vision ablaze.

Amnesty Bay: Black Lantern Tula regenerated her head after a less-than-devastating attack, then took Tempest's heart for good.

Garth of Earth. Rise

Mera fled.

Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz: "Your thoughts are moving faster, Barry. You're trying to prevent me from manipulating them again... You can't run from me." The Flash had been mixing flammable chemicals for Green Lantern to ignite. Barry contained the inferno. "Sorry, J'Onn." Hal observed, "Fire. It was J'Onn's kryptonite."

Was being the operative word.

"When the fire dies down, I want to recover J'Onn's remains and take them back to Mars. He deserves better than being desecrated like this. The Martian Manhunter was the heart of the League."

"Heart, Barry? I have no heart.I gave my heart to the League."

Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz emerged from the smoke unscathed, and no longer alone.

Black Lantern Ralph Dibny: "We all did, J'Onn. And I'd say it's your turn to return the favor, fellas."

Black Lantern Sue Dibny: We'll help them, won't we, Ralph?"

Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond: "Radical! I call dibs on the Flash!"

Black Lanterns Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders brought up the rear...

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis with Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira.