Sad JLA: Martian Manhunter

Are you getting uncomfortable with all this emotional outpouring going on the past few articles? You’re not alone in JLA #104, written by Chuck Austen and Ron Garney.

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I know he mentions that his experiences differ because of his otherworldly alien stuff, but only Flash and Green Lantern are human.  Superman has that whole Kryptonian thing and Wonder Woman birthed from wet clay.  I mean, they’re not green or can shapeshift or wear cool capes with collars, but it’s not fair for Martian Manhunter (real name J’onn J’onzz) to claim that his teammates can’t understand him.  He’s not the only one to wear his underwear on the outside of his pants.

Of all the Justice League-ers, I’m the least knowledgeable about Martian Manhunter.  While I should do some extensive research, I only have about ten minutes before the NyQuil forces me to pass out on my keyboard.  I do know this: he’s from Mars and the last survivor of a plague that wiped out every one of his people, including his wife and child.  Also, the dude’s crazy powerful.  He has super strength almost on par with Superman, plus he can shapeshift, fly, phase through solids, turn invisible, super breath and vision, and he’s the most powerful telepath on the planet.  Like a green Professor X. And with him being uneasy talking about feelings, he flees the watchtower for the mundane earth life.

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I’m skipping his detective adventures and getting right to that juicy crying stuff.  Y’see, an earthling starts to fancy the stoic John Jones, and his secret gets revealed when he attempts to pull a Batman on some criminals.

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Another secret revealed: John Jones is boring.

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Of course the universe’s last Martian would be a bit unhinged.  I don’t even think it’s an afraid-to-fall-in-love-again thing.  Or a wishing to feel like the victim mentality.  Here’s my take with zero research to back it up: unlike Superman, who plopped onto earth as a child and therefore raised as a normal-esque boy, Martian Manhunter arrived on this planet full grown in the prime of his life.  If he accepts that he now possesses some glorious earth traits, it’s a cultural slap in the face of his previous life. After all, he’s all that’s left to preserve the Martian culture.  By assimilating, the memory of his wife, child, and people fade with each new girl he kisses or every time he hugs the Flash.

Or maybe he just doesn’t want to think about the tragedies in his own life.  The Justice League believe that, anyway.  Actually, ignore my theory — I’m just leaving it in because I’m proud I can connect thoughts amid my beleaguered cold medicine haze.

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Y’know, I’m going to check out some Martian Manhunter stuff.  I’m getting welled up, and not just because of my Sudafed-laced brain.  There must be far more to Martian Manhunter than him phasing through the floor to zap supervillains.  Plus, I’m a big fan of any alien wearing a suit and tie.

On Wednesday, it’s Wonder Woman’s turn and by far our bloodiest issue in this arc yet.

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4 Comments on “Sad JLA: Martian Manhunter”

  1. I am really not happy with how Chuck Austen appears to have written J’onn J’onzz here. If you want a great depiction of Matrian Manhunter, John Ostrander did amazing work with the character in his solo series that was published between 1998 and 2001. Ostrander wrote J’onn amazingly well, showing what separates him from Superman and the other JLA members, but without him appearing as the humorless, bland character seen here. Those comics are well worth searching out, both for Ostrander’s fantastic writing, and some superb artwork by Tom Mandrake.

    Truthfully, I am not a fan of Chuck Austen’s writing in general. He really does NOT know how to do subtle characterization. Your spotlights on his JLA issues show just that problem, with everyone acting extremely overwrought. It’s too bad Ron Garney got stuck illustrating these stories. I’d rather have seen him receive better material to work with during his short time at DC Comics.

    • Jason Levine says:

      Though I don’t 100% agree, I’ve heard unpleasant things about Chuck Austen’s writing before, especially his X-Men run (though to be fair, his decision to have She-Hulk sleep with Juggernaut has given me my highest viewed article). Everywhere on the Internet recommends Ostrander’s solo series and I’ve searched everywhere to find it — I’m sure I’ll stumble across it eventually. I did find the JLA arc Terror Incognita which features MM prominently and I loved it. Anything else you’d recommend? I trust your opinion.

      • There was a really good four issue Martian Manhunter miniseries published in 1988 written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mark Badger that majorly revamped J’onn J’onzz’s origin for the post-Crisis era (in his subsequent ongoing series, Ostrander stuck pretty closely to this while still effectively weaving back in a few of the pre-Crisis elements of J’onn’s backstory). I also recommend the three issue Martian Manhunter: American Secrets mini by Gerard Jones & Eduardo Barreto, as well as JLA Annual #1 (1997) by Brian Augustyn & Ariel Olivetti, both of which are interesting, insightful stories featuring J’onn. I just took a look, and you can find a lot of these issues, including some of Ostrander’s series, inexpensive on Ebay. Good luck. Let me know what you think.


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