Posts tagged ‘John Jones’

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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

Detective 228 – Batman turns criminal, and Martian Manhunter loses a way home


Not a great Batman and Robin story in Detective 228 (Feb. 56), but the Martian Manhunter story makes this issue one that I must include.


Sheldon Moldoff provides the art on this story that sees Batman get a head injury.  He is treated by a doctor (who doesn’t feel removing the hood is needed to work on his scalp), and then suffers horrible headaches and nightmares.


Bruce dreams that he goes out at night to commit thefts, and when Alfred mentions muddy tracks in the Batcave, Dick begins to investigate, and discovers Batman’s late night break-ins.


Batman’s inner resolve had prevented him from actually committing thefts, and once Robin informs him of his actions, Batman confronts the doctor, who is a phony, and was drugging Batman into criminal activity.


John Jones is tracking a thief, who winds up stealing Dr. Erdel’s machine in this story.


J’onn also displays x-ray vision in this story, as he follow his prey.


The villain figures out how to send people to Mars using the machine, and J’onn is torn between going home and stopping the bad guy.  Dunster breaks the machine before it can be used, adding a sad note to this story.

In re-tellings of J’onn’s origin, the machine is always destroyed the same night J’onn arrives and Erdel dies.

Detective 227 – Batman’s make-up tips, Roy Raymond and a man with super-powers, and the Martian Manhunter plays ghost


Detective 227 (Jan. 56) has another of the stories that explores an element of Batman’s arsenal.  In this case, his make-up and disguises.  Batman winds up teaching a class at a beauty school in his techniques, and one of the students is using the opportunity to study Batman’s face, to attempt to reconstruct it without the mask.


Aging actor Barret Kean is introduced as the man who taught Batman his cosmetic skills, and he is the one opening the school.


We get a few different short tales of how Batman and Robin used make-up to capture crooks, and then it’s time for the big finale with the guy scoping Batman’s face.


Barret Kean takes Batman’s place for the last class, revealing his ears, but causing the bad guy to create an impossible composite.  I’m not sure who wrote this, but the art is Sheldon Moldoff.


Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira provide a change of pace in Roy Raymond’s series.  He meets an odd little man, who demonstrates amazing abilities.


He flies around in a car, makes the fourth floor of a building disappear, controls the roulette wheel at a casino, and other things that Roy simply cannot explain.


At the end, Roy convinces the man that the whole country is paying tribute to him, and he leaves, back to the 4th Dimension.  He really was an extra-terrestrial being with astounding powers.  But Roy had fooled him with American Fourth of July celebrations.  Karen seems to have been under the influence of something, as she needs the holiday explained to her.


Jack Miller also scripts the Martian Manhunter tale in this one. J’onn is put on the case of a killer,and uses his mind reading abilities to “view” the murder, and then pretend to have some eye witness details.


The man thinks nothing of having John Jones run down by a car, which of course J’onn survives.


He spends the rest of the story tailing the man, using his intangibility to “haunt” him and survive further murder attempts, until the killer finally turns himself in.  Quite a dark story.

Detective 226 – When Batman was Robin, and Martian Manhunter fixes a baseball game


The origin of the Robin costume, and the training of young Bruce Wayne, are both addressed in the Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang story in Detective 226 (Dec. 55).


Bruce Wayne receives a package with a Robin costume in it, and spends much of the story explaining it to Dick.  Bruce had decided he needed professional training, and approached Harvey Harris, the most renowned detective alive.  Wanting to keep his identity a secret, Bruce created the Robin costume for himself.


So as Harris trains Bruce, he is also trying to solve the riddle of his identity, and the two of them are working to stop criminals at the same time.


The package also contain a letter, which we come back to at the end of the story.  Harvey has died, and the package was sent as part of his will.  He had picked up on subtle clues (seen throughout the story) and deduced Bruce’s identity as a child, but kept it secret, cause he’s such a nice guy.


J’onn gets involved with gamblers wagering on sports in this story.


Throughout this, and most of his early stories, J’onn is almost always shown in human form, with an aura of his Martian self added when he is using his powers.  J’onn learns of gamblers insisting a pitcher throw a game, and decides to make sure his team does not lose.


This involves using his powers to affect the players and the ball, effectively throwing the game for the side the gamblers were wagering on.  After this, he rounds up the gamblers.  But, you know, he actively controlled the results of the baseball game!

I guess this can sort of be excused by his unfamiliarity with Earth ways, although he knew it was important enough for people to bet on.

Detective 225 – Batman for a day, and the debut of the Martian Manhunter


Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff contribute an enjoyable Batman and Robin story in Detective 225 (Nov. 55).


To raise money for charity, a contest is held, and the biggest contributors get to be Batman for a day.  Robin agrees to act as their sidekick and make sure they don’t get into too much trouble.


Commissioner Gordon gets to be Batman for the second day, giving him a larger than usual role.  Batman gets wind of a crook’s plans, and needs to be Batman on the third day, so he wins as Bruce Wayne.


Alfred, who has not been seen in Detective Comics for about three years, gets a great cameo, driving the Batmobile as Wayne’s chauffer.  Batman takes pains not to be too good at the job as Bruce, but still captures the crook.


J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, debuts in this issue, the starting point of the Silver Age.  Joe Samachson and Joe Certa create an extremely powerful character in a really underplayed series.


Dr. Erdel creates a teleportation device, aims it at Mars and lets fire, bringing J’onn to Earth.


J’onn has barely started demonstrating his extensive powers, showing off his ability to shape change by taking on a human form, when Dr. Erdel suffers a heart attack and dies.  Dr. Erdel is pretty much doomed to appear only in flashbacks and retellings of this scene, but in the 80s they start fleshing out his corpse.

Erdel’s death leaves J’onn trapped on Earth, until he figures out how to make the machine send him back home.


His ability to turn invisible and intangible gets the best visuals.  His various other powers only get shown in later stories.


He decides to adopt the name John Jones, and get a job as a policeman to help deal with the crime he sees running rampant on Earth.  His ease in doing so, with no proper identification, implies his mind-control powers, as would later be explained.

The fact that he so rarely appears as a martian in this story helps keep it solidly a “detective” story, yet there is clearly something going on here unlike anything being published at this time.  The repressive era was melting, and the Martian Manhunter was the first sign of green.

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