Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "martian-manhunter"

Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Vol. 1Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Vol. 1 by Jack Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars was a classic DC character and early Justice League member. He began his career in 1955 in a back up feature to Batman in Detective comics in a series of page features. That's why this book can easily contain the first 80 of his solo adventures.

The book begins with a story from Batman #78 called the Manhunter from Mars from 1953. The story and character don't appear to have anything to do with the Martian Manhunter, but hey Batman reprints from the 1950s are somewhat rare.

We then meet J'onn J'onzz in Detective Comics #225. He a Martian, brought to Earth through a scientist's experiment. The scientist dies as J'ohn is stranded and decides to fight crime on Earth while waiting for a way back to Mars. He assumes the identity of John Jones and becomes a police detective (about as easily as Superman became Clark Kent reporter in some early stories) and sets out on an incredible career of fighting crime.

During the Manhunter's early years, the Superhero genre was in decline, so the Martian Manhunter was much more of a super powered detective than a superhero. He had to solve the case as John Jones and present criminals for prosecution. Six page comic book stories were often very poorly written, but these unsigned stories were actually very well done, with clever mysteries and some nice plot twists. What made it fun too was that the Manhunter did most of his work invisible. While other heroes had a secret identity, his entire existence was a secret.

Of course, there was some repetition. I lost count of how many times we were told the Manhunter's weakness was fire, but other than that, the stories were great.

The rise of the Superhero genre led to a change in the series. After 4 years, a Martian criminal (despite the fact that we were told in the first story that crime didn't exist on Mars) came to Earth and shot J'onn with a ray that made it so he couldn't use his Martian powers when invisible, and in order to save the day, the Martian Manhunter revealed his existence to the world.

From there, the Martian Manhunter becomes a much more typical Silver Age superhero story. I know that many alternate stories imagine 1950s Earth being hostile to the Manhunter forcing him underground as part of the constant beefing against the 1950s, but the way the book acts in 1959, people just thought, "Oh, he's from Mars, cool."

While the latter tales we're not as good, they were probably better written than many others. The length forbid the stories from getting too silly or too off-track for the most part. Of course, they did get a little longer. The stories changed from 6 pages to 7 with Detective Comics #280 in June of 1960 and leapt to 12 pages with Detective Comics #301 in March 1962.

The last of the 12 page stories in the book seemed to present the most problems. It was about a crime college where criminal students tries to keep up their grades while using outlandishly silly crime devices to commit robberies. In this story, the chief of Police mentions the Manhunter's weakness to fire (his only weakness) when the Manhunter had tried and succeeded from keeping everyone from knowing about it. In the last story, the chief knows but criminals don't for some reason.

Still even that story was fun. Which is a good word for the whole book. Of eighty-one classic comic book stories, there were a few weak ones, but overall this is just a truly fun enjoyable book taking a look at an underrated Silver Age character.

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Published on September 25, 2013 17:34 • 104 views • Tags: martian-manhunter
Martian Manhunter, Vol. 1: The EpiphanyMartian Manhunter, Vol. 1: The Epiphany by Rob Williams

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A good first issue or first collection should be very welcoming for new readers. It should be a good jumping on point. This is not a very good first collection.

The book is puzzling. It's trying to be mystifying, profound and mind-bending. Instead, the story is disorienting, and unpleasant. The book spends a lot of time focusing on the issue of What the Martian Manhunter is that the who is very quickly lost in the shuffle. Plot wise, the end of the book should have felt like a great cliffhanger that made me want to pre-order the next volume. Instead, this leaves me cold.

Overall, fails to give a good judgment to a great character and that's a shame.

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Published on July 26, 2016 18:51 • 103 views • Tags: martian-manhunter
Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Vol. 2Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Vol. 2 by Jack Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This second volume of Martian Manhunter stories is not up to the standard of the first. The book starts out with 22 stories in Detective Comics where Manhunter is pretending to be John Jones, Detective. That set up was really played out. The strip gave Manhunter a pet/sidekick in the strange alien creature Zook. The character wasn't annoying but also didn't really help the series. John Jones was killed off as the series moved to being a back up in House of Mystery.

The House of Mystery strips were better. Most months, the idol-head of Diabolu would create some new nightmare creature for him to battle most months. Fighting monsters of the month aren't great comic stories, but they were fair.

The final House of Mystery stories were the best in the book as Manhunter tried to take down a criminal organization known as Vulture and discover its leader, the mysterious Faceless. I love the 1960s spy motif. These are mostly fun stories, even though the solution is utterly illogical.

Overall, this isn't a bad Silver Age collection, but there are a lot better ones. This isn't as good as the first volume.

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Published on October 03, 2018 20:18 • 34 views • Tags: martian-manhunter, showcase-presents, silver-age

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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