Martian Manhunter vs. Despero, Pt. 2Posted: 01/12/2014
After his assist from Aquaman last article, Martian Manhunter has to brawl his way to victory by himself today. The two aliens who both wear clothing that makes any lady superhero costume look Amish, have far more differences than their appearances give off. Martian Manhunter, the tragic final survivor of his ruined planet, fights valiantly to protect his adopted home from suffering the same fate. Despero, the naked tyrant from the well-populated planet Kalanor, only wishes to seek vengeance on and destroy that pesky Justice League. Commence the punching.
So why Gypsy, you ask? She helped take down Despero during his “mad god” phase last article. The mid ’80s to early ’90s were a strange time for comics, where diversity meant loading up on gimmicky characters with slightly racist names. Though we should still at least half-heartedly applaud the efforts of the publishers. Diversity before then meant adding a Martian to a team of white dudes. In the fight we’re currently seeing, we finally get some of that good ol’ telepathy clashing. Psychic fights translate well into comics, where the visuals can highlight the subconscious better than other forms of literature. Not to unashamedly plug my own stuff, but remember this fight between Professor X and Emma Frost (and Cyclops)? Brain battles tend to get both weird and emotionally painful.
That kind of attack can even bring Batman to his knees, who like Martian Manhunter, wears his tragic past like a waving flag to remind himself that his quest to prevent innocent deaths’ll never end. Also, to chuck batarangs at criminals. But for the sake of argument, let’s compare Martian Manhunter and Despero to the Marvel sorcerers. Yes, Doctor Strange would totally beat Doctor Doom in a head-to-head magic battle, but even he’s not immune to ambushes and surprise spells. More importantly, I’ve been reading a lot of Fantastic Four recently. Our protagonist today can certainly overpower Despero in a telepathic brawl, but not if Despero sucker punches. Though, round two on the other hand:
And now we jump twenty years into the New 52. Not much has changed for Despero, as he’s still a nude, angry, mauling psychopath who enjoys gloating as much as crushing pitiful humans. But Martian Manhunter has definitely changed. Our Choco-loving friend nowadays scares the bejeebees out of anyone who contacts him. He works in the shadows. He wears a collar. If you say his name three times, he pops out of a mirror. Think less Casper the Friendly Ghost and more Casper the Violent Ghost Who Can Punch Through Walls. But first, let’s admire how far artwork has progressed in two decades:
I always thought Despero needed an accessory. If not underwear, a ring would be a close second. Look, Despero has no idea what he’s dealing with — Martian Manhunter has gone full badass these past few years.
Remember that telepathy fight from the beginning of the article? Turns out like Superman, who has to hold back his attacks to avoid turning every single bad guy he encounters into a pile of supervillain goo, Martian Manhunter does the same thing with his mind powers. Despero never stood a chance.
I liked the sentimental Martian Manhunter of the past, but I don’t mind the new frightening Martian Manhunter. While I’d love to see a rematch sometime soon, I’ll settle for Despero to get some pants. Make it a mini-series.