Posts tagged ‘Martian Manhunter’

Detective 557 – Batman sits in a hospital room, and Green Arrow helps defend the temple

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Detective 557 (Dec. 85) follows the big battle between Catwoman and Nocturna, in a story by Moench and Colan.

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And though Nocturna and the Night Slayer are still on the loose, Batman spends this story sitting by Selina’s bedside in the hospital.

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Robin returns to the cave, and in a slight allusion to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Justice League try to contact Batman.  The Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna cameo.

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The Night Slayer is left pretty much free to keep killing the former members of Nocturna’s gang, and still aims to kill Nocturna herself.  Batman and Catwoman are too busy professing their love for each other to care.

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Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson conclude Green Arrow’s team-up with Onyx in this issue.

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Although I really love the art on this story, the tale itself just doesn’t warrant the length, to me.  But there are great scenes along the way, as Arrow and Onyx defend the temple.

 

Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

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Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

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The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

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The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

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They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

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Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

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Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

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His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

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Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

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The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

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Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

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The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

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There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

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Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

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Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

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The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

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The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

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Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

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One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

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On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

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Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

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There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

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At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

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The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

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Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

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Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

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Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

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 322 – Robin and Bat-Girl save Batman, and the Martian Manhunter vs Arnold Hugo

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Bat-Girl Betty Kane makes her first appearance in this book, after a number of appearances in the pages of Batman.  Detective 322 (Dec. 63) gives her and Robin the starring roles in this Sheldon Moldoff story.

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The story involves a formula that turns a person into a genie until they fulfill three wishes, and Batman is the one to get doused with it.

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The criminals try to use him to commit thefts, but Robin and Bat-Girl race around preventing this.

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A silly tale by any standards, this is a sign of how low the series had fallen.

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Arnold Hugo returns in this story, having his first battle with the Martian Manhunter.

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Alerted by Batman, J’onn goes after Hugo, but falls prey to a machine he invents that siphons off part of J’onn’s powers.

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J’onn figures out that it also would have siphoned off some of his weakness to fire, and gets Zook to heat up and weaken Hugo enough to be beaten.  Batman cameos in the final panel.

Arnold Hugo returns to face J’onn again after his series moves to House of Mystery.

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 311 – Cat-Man debuts, and the Martian Manhunter fights off an alien invasion

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Cat-Man makes his debut in Detective 311 (Jan. 63), in a story by Bill Finger and Jim Mooney.

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Thomas Blake is introduced as a member of the same social club as Bruce Wayne, having just returned from a sojourn in Africa.  Parallels are drawn between the lives of Wayne and Blake, just as in the introductory story of the Cavalier.

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Bored, Blake decides to turn to a life of crime, and names himself Cat-Man, after his hunting interests, as well as in honour of Catwoman, referred to in this story as “reformed.”

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When he comes into confrontation with Batwoman, Blake immediately starts trying to romance her, but she rebuffs him.

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A few rounds with Batman, a giant, robotic cat, and Cat-Man appears to die by drowning, but the story as much as tells us he will be back.

In hindsight, this story introduces three of the concepts that later Cat-Man stories will build on – his parallels with Batman, his romance with Batwoman, and the nine lives idea, casually floated in conversation in this issue.

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Two alien criminals come through a really funky space warp to Earth, pursued by an alien bounty hunter, and little alien creature called Zook.  J’onn gets caught in the middle of the whole thing.

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Zook, although he will stick around, is really a peripheral character for much of this story, which centres on the lawmen and the chase.

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The trip they take back to their planet is certainly the most vibrant scene this series has had.

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As I mentioned, Zook stays behind, sort of adopted by the Martian Manhunter.  Diane Meade also gets to know the creature, which becomes important in the following issue.

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.

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