Posts tagged ‘John Jones’

Detective 326 – Batman in an alien zoo, and Martian Manhunter ends

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Batman and Robin become performers in an alien zoo in the Sheldon Moldoff tale from Detective 326 (April 1964).

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They get rounded up by aliens who do not distinguish them from the other Earth animals they are gathering.

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Once in the zoo, they become star performers.  Much of the entertainment value in this story is meant to be derived from watching Batman and Robin perform silly stunts for the amusement of goofy looking aliens.

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Eventually they prove their intelligence, and are recognized as sentient beings, and sent back home.

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The Martian Manhunter’s series comes to a close with this issue, which sees some huge changes to the series before it switches books.

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The Idol Head of Diabolu is introduced, and emits its first monstrous effects, a destructive gas cloud, and it also makes a man emit energy beams from his eyes.

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J’onn frantically tries to deal with both threats, both as the Manhunter, with Zook in tow, and as policeman John Jones, working with Diane Meade.

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The police see the cloud descend on John Jones, who survives it, but uses the situation to fake the death of his human identity.

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J’onn gets the eye beam man and cloud together, and they neutralize each other.  But he joins Diane and Zook for the funeral of John Jones.

The series moves to become the cover feature of House of Mystery, bringing Zook and the Idol Head with it.  Diane is left to mourn her former partner in ignorance of his actual survival.

Detective 312 – The Clayface Batman, and the Martian Manhunter gets a sidekick

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Clayface is back again for his third round with Batman and Robin in Detective 312 (Feb. 63).  Matt Hagen once again escapes from prison and recharges his powers from his secret pool in this Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff story.

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At first, Hagen uses his powers to impersonate Batman, entering banks and warning people to leave immediately, and then looting.  But Batman catches him at this, and Hagen flees.

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Batman stops another scheme, in which he makes himself appear to be a work of art to gain access to a vault, but manages to follow him back to his pool when he goes to recharge.

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In their fight, Batman falls in, and becomes a Clayface creature himself, leading to the big climactic, shape-changing battle.

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Which ends when Batman, as a tree, punches Clayface in the head.  A bit of a let down.

Clayface returns in a few months in the pages of Batman.

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Zook is much more in focus in this Martian Manhunter story.  J’onn keeps the creature in a cave, from which he keeps escaping, wanting to get in on the action.

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Zook, who can turn red and radiate heat when stressed, messes up one of J’onn’s plans, barging in when he mistakenly thinks J’onn is in danger.

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When he escapes a second time, he runs into Diane Meade, who brings him to the station, where he encounters J’onn in his John Jones identity.

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But in the end, Zook winds up using his heat powers to melt a cube J’onn is trapped in by some bad guys, which convinces him the creature could be his sidekick, and doesn’t need to spend the rest of it’s life alone in a cave.

Detective 301 – Radioactive Batman, and J’onn J’onzz returns to Mars

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Another Batman story that I am including solely because of the back-up tale, this Sheldon Moldoff piece from Detective 301 (March 1962) sees Batman sealed in a plastic jar.

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An accident at a factory making synthritc gems leaves Batman vibrantly coloured, and incapable of surviving in out air.  He also emits deadly heat and radiation.

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He starts fighting crime from a bubble craft with robotic arms, which is kind of fun for a few pages.

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Eventually,in pursuit of some criminals, he winds up fried by a power line, which simply drains the deadly energy from him.  And the colour.  Although the colour fades more slowly than the power, allowing a final scene where the villains think he is still a danger to them, and give up.

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J’onn returns to Mars in this story.  A band of Martians attack Earth,stealing radium, and John is unable to change and go after them because Diane Meade is there. A scientist goes missing, and John tracks him, and the Martians, and realizes that the scientist has managed to rebuild Erdel’s teleportation machine.

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J’onn follows them to Mars, and is re-united with his parents and little brother.

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He has little time for reunions, though, as he winds up tracking the rogue Martians and renegade scientist, defeating them.  The scientist gets injured during the fight, and winds up with no memory of his time on Mars.

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J’onn bids his parents and brother farewell, and returns to Earth.  Why he wants to return isn’t explained beyond bringing back the scientist, but I would theorize he grew to enjoy the time away from his family.  We saw no other connections of his on Mars aside from them.

Detective 275 – Batman vs Zebra Man, and Diane Meade becomes John’s partner

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An eye-bending cover for Detective 275 (Jan. 60), and a memorably bizarre villain, Zebra Man, in this story by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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Zebra Man has invented a machine that powers his body with line of magnetic energy, and uses this to stave off Batman while committing crimes.

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Batman finds his hide-out, and gets charged up by the machine as well.  They are now equally matched, but Batman lacks the control belt the other uses, and cannot defeat him.

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Finally, he lays a trap for Zebra Man, in a place Batman had already given a negative magnetic charge, which cancels out Zebra Man’s powers.

Although he does not appear again, Zebra Man is one of four Batman villains from this time who get recreated by Kobra in the 80s, part of Strikeforce Kobra that he sends after Batman and the Outsiders.

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Diane Meade returns in this story, becoming John Jones’ partner.

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Now that J’onn is openly a hero, he takes on the secret identity problems that provide soooo many stories their plots.  And Diane is thrust into the Lois Lane mould of always questioning John about being the Martian Manhunter.

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And though he disproves her suspicions in this story, they rise again in later ones.

Detective 273 – Batman vs the Dragon Society, and the Martian Manhunter exposes himself

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Such a terrible cover on Detective 273 (Nov. 59), and Sheldon Moldoff’s Batman and Robin story isn’t much better.

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The story is framed as an address that Commissioner Gordon is giving the graduating class at the police academy.  He tells them of his and Batman’s attempts to break up a multi-city gang, whose members identities were kept secret, by use of really dumb looking dragon masks.

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Moldoff tries something new with the fight behind the x-ray screen.  It may not come off as well as it could, but it does stand out in these years of mediocrity.

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Batman infiltrates the gang, but he deception is exposed.  Fortunately, he had been working with Gordon, so the police were ready to bust in anyway.

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Far more important is the Martian Manhunter story in this issue.  A Martian criminal, B’rett, lands on Earth, escaping justice on his home planet.

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J’onn tracks him down, and the two wind up in battle, in public view.  In order to bring B’rett down, J’onn exposes him to fire, again in view of the police and crowds.

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At the conclusion of the story, the Martian Manhunter formally meets the men he works with as John Jones anyway, but now the world at large knows he exists, and the Martian vulnerability to fire.

Also notable is that J’onn has the army shoot a missile to Mars, carrying B’rett, but does not ask for the same thing to be done for himself.

Detective 267 – Bat-Mite!, and the Martian Manhunter meets some passing Jovians

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The furthest Batman ever got from being the “dark knight” was the introduction of Bat-Mite, in Detective 267 (May 1959).  It’s not too difficult to see how the character came about, he is essentially Batman’s version of Mr. Mxyzptlk, and was created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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Unlike Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite is an adoring fan of Batman and Robin, and while his actions prove just as much of a nuisance as the other imp, Bat-Mite’s motives are benevolent, if twisted, in nature.

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The first thing he does is make a bridge come to life as Batman and Robin are fighting thieves on it.  His powers enable him to do almost anything, and though he is explained scientifically as an other-dimensional creature, his powers may as well be magic.

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The good thing about Bat-Mite, in this era, is that he does genuinely succeed at making the stories more interesting, at least visually.

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And giant props?  Bat-Mite loves them as much as the fanboys do, and he is more than eager to fill an empty warehouse with them, just to make the climactic fight more visually dynamic.

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Although it was months before his next appearance, the ending of this story leaves little doubt that the character would return.

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John Jones discovers that reports of an alien ship are real, and that the crew of the ship are benevolent Jovians, who have come to Earth pursuing a thief from their world.

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J’onn is more than happy to help catch him, especially when the crew agrees to drop him off on Mars on their way back to Jupiter.

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J’onn captures the renegade from Jupiter, but at the last minute discovers that he has left a bomb behind, and J’onn stays on Earth to defuse it.  Still, his smile in the last panel seems to indicate he is not too broken up by this.  Earlier in the story he had shown some reluctance to leave Earth, so it’s safe to say that returning to Mars is no longer the driving goal it was once for the Martian Manhunter.

 

Detective 259 – Calendar Man debuts, and the Martian Manhunter vs the Getaway King

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One of Batman`s more unusual foes, the Calendar Man, makes his first appearance in Detective 259 (Sept. 58), in a story by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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Not shy in the slightest, Calendar Man announces a daily crime spree based on the five seasons, which newspapers in Gotham are more than happy to publicize.  For each seasonal crime, Calendar Man has a different costume and weaponry, themed to the season.  He has clearly put an awful lot of time and money into this.

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Batman and Robin are always one step behind, but Batman catches little clues to the villain`s identity, while Robin puzzles over the fifth season.

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Although we do not get his true name in this story, Batman unmasks him as a travelling magician, with India as his magic theme.  The fifth season was a reference to the monsoon season there.

Calendar Man would not return until the late 70s, and while he would never be a major Batman villain, all of his stories have been above par, for the time.

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The Martian Manhunter faces the Getaway King in this story.  From his martian form appearing as an aura, the series has started showing him in full martian form, but a glowing green.  This is meant to indicate to the reader that J’onn is invisible, and the characters often stand around mystified when he is taking action.

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This story pits him against Monty Moran, who calls himself the Getaway King.  He has built a number of getaway vehicles for his men, so he is more of a behind the scenes villain than a player.

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Nevertheless, this is the first foe J’onn would face who would return, although not in the pages of Detective Comics.  Getaway King returns in an early issue of Justice League of America.

Detective 246 – Batman solves an actual murder mystery, and John Jones meets Diane Meade

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After years of increasingly silly tales, in Detective 246 (Aug. 57) Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff put Batman and Robin into a serious murder mystery, set in a castle just outside Gotham.

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Wealthy gun dealer James Barham is murdered in his castle, and the four guests are the only possible suspects – relatives and business associates who all have reasons to kill him.

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Part of the mystery is figuring out even how the murder was committed.  A crossbow was used as the weapon, but no one was in the room when it was fired.

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Batman puts the pieces together, and realizes the importance of the water stain on the table with the crossbow – a lump of ice was used to set it off.  This is not the greatest Batman story ever told, not even close, but it’s still miles above most of what has been printed in the preceding few years.

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John Jones gets a female partner in this Jack Miller story, Diane Meade, a rookie policewoman.

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Her primary function in the story is to make life difficult for J’onn, who is not able to use his many powers on the case, simply because she is there and would see what he was doing.  Much better than having a comet take away his powers for a story.

Diane was likely intended as a one-shot character, but her usefulness, as well as the lack of supporting cast in this strip, were probably responsible for her return a couple years down the road.

Detective 236 – new gear for Batman, J’onn phones home, and Roy Raymond and the magic tablecloth

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Batman gets some new toys in Detective 238 (Oct. 56), in a story with art by Sheldon Moldoff.

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After a clever felon invents devices that neutralize the advantages of the Batmbole, Batplace and Bat Signal, Batman and Robin realize they need to build some new equipment to take the bad guys down.

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The new Batmobile is a purple tank, and the Batplane is replaced by a weird purple machine called an “anodyne.” which looks like a flying saucer.

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The new Bat Signal utilizes a telescope.  They use these things to defeat the bad guys, but then return to their tried and true weaponry at the end of the story.  Although the conclusion holds out the possibility that these devices will return, none of them ever did.

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J’onn fights crime on two worlds in this story, which sees him in Martian form for the bulk of the tale.

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Thanks to solar flares affecting radio waves, J’onn is able to communicate with his parents back on Mars.  They tell him of thieves using the canals for their thefts, and as John Jones, he happens to be investigating a similar case on Earth.

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J’onn realizes that in both cases the thieves are attaching themselves to things (fish or ships) traversing the canals, and while he stops the bad guys on Earth, his father passes on the info and the Martian thieves are caught as well.

This story also sets up a possibility of a rescue mission for J’onn, as now his parents, and other on Mars, know where he is and what has happened to him.

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Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira provide another interesting Roy Raymond adventure.

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The story follows an old man convincing his wife that he can fool Roy Raymond with a self-replenishing table he has invented.

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Despite Karen’s misgivings, Roy puts the man on his show, but not for the table.  Roy pulls a surprise happy ending out of the story, revealing that the amazing thing is the intricate needlework on the tablecloth itself.  Nice.

 

Detective 230 – the Mad Hatter debuts, Roy Raymond deals with a crackpot inventor, and a catalogue of Martian powers

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The Mad Hatter is introduced in a story by Bill Finger, with art by Sheldon Moldoff, in Detective 230 (April 1956).

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There had been an earlier Mad Hatter, who appeared in one issue of Batman in the late 40s, and resembled the Tenniel illustration of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.  This new version, Jervis Tetch, is an obsessive collector of hats.

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He decides he must have the Batman’s cowl, no matter what he has to do to get it.

This story was adapted for the second appearance of the Mad Hatter on the tv series, and some of the scenes that follow are very close.

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Tetch disguises himself as an artist, and tries to get the Batman’s cowl that way, and later sees that it gets irradiated, so Batman is forced to remove it.

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Defeated by Batman at the end, he vows revenge.  The Mad Hatter returns in a Batman issue in 1964, which was also adapted for the tv show, as the Hatter first appearance.

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A noted scientist keeps approaching Roy Raymond to be on his show in this Ruben Moreira story, but keeps bringing obviously fake inventions.

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Roy is mystified at why such a serious and noted inventor would be approaching him with such obvious fakes.

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In the end he realizes that the person visiting him was an imposter, attempting to discredit the professor before he approached Raymond with his real new invention.tec_230_jj

The Martian Manhunter has his abilities clearly catalogued in this story for the first time.  His shape-changing, telepathy, invisibility,intangibility, x-ray vision, super-hearing and strength are all listed and shown.  His weakness, fire, is not mentioned in this piece, but has been referred to in earlier tales.  I only just now realized that he does not seem to have the ability to fly at this point.

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After the catalogue of powers ends, John discovers he is powerless, the effect of a rare (never seen again) passing comet.

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So John proves his mettle by solving a case as a human, without any powers, though they return at story’s end anyway.

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