Will The Real Martian Manhunter PLEASE Stand Up??? A ‘DC YOU’ Rant
… … …So, it’s been an interesting start of the DC YOU movement. I haven’t read the new Robin book, but it’s supposed to be alright. Starfire looks promising, although I’m a little leery considering the creative team on it are the same people that think that Poison Ivy still nonchalantly feeds people to plants, has her very blatantly engage in double entendres with Harley, and is pretty obviously meant to be her sidekick…although, at least they’ve confirmed that Harleen and Pam are LGBT, and you know how much I love seeing more comic book characters that are. Dunno how I feel about the Cyborg book, but at least he’s got one, and is getting a slightly more…traditional look. I’m looking forward to the new direction for Justice League United, so long as they continue to be stationed in Canada, because you know how long I waited for my country to have its own Justice League? lol Earth 2: Society, while having an interesting premise, is held down by bad writing, specifically focusing too much on Batman and the apparent intent to turn Helena Wayne heel in a way that makes no sense. I still have no desire to read the current Batman book, even with the confirmation that Bruce Wayne is alive, at least until Jim Gordon is no longer having to stand-in as Batman. While I’m not reading Justice League, I feel deeply encouraged to do so for just how frigging epic it is. And I continue to find myself HEAVILY irritated by the Superman books, although at least now, my anger is less about Lois being the one who revealed his identity (as it seems she may have been coerced somehow) and is more-so directed at the notion that, upon learning that Clark Kent is the Man of Steel, the government has COMPLETELY turned on him and are going after him and his loved ones. Ahem…
However, what’s actually managed to baffle me even more is what was recently revealed to be true about Martian Manhunter in this universe. It’s not a worse thing, mind you, just more baffling in my mind. Because, as much as all of that infuriates me regarding Superman, I can honestly say that it’s not the first time they’ve done something so epically stupid with him, and have actually explored the possibility of him being an enemy of the government before. And even the current Batman story isn’t completely new ground, as Bruce Wayne has had to stand aside for other people to take over for him as the Dark Knight. However, while I admit to not reading many of Martian Manhunter’s solo books in the past, I honestly can’t recall a time where it was revealed that he was a WEAPON designed to, you guessed it, take over the world.
Now, while I didn’t read the Justice League United tie-in to Future’s End, I did read ABOUT it, and know that, in that timeline, Martian Manhunter eventually led a Martian invasion of Earth. However, you’ll forgive me if I go on record as saying that 99.9% of what happened in Future’s End ended up meaning precisely DICK. The only real ramifications it had was the introduction of Telos for Convergence, and to set up the new Batman Beyond book. Other than that, none of what we saw meant ANYTHING, other than to give DC an excuse to tell a dark and grim story about a future where humanity gets epically screwed and show a lot of body horror scenes. So, naturally, I assumed that Martian Manhunter’s heel turn was never going to happen… … …and, oddly enough, from what I can tell, it still might not, depending on where they’re going with this in his solo book.
Okay, so long story short, we find out that Martian Manhunter has basically been lying to people for the past how many years he’s been on Earth in this continuity, and that, while he IS a Martian, he’s also a weapon designed to eventually bring about the enslavement of humanity. More-so, he’s NOT the last Martian, and they are planning to continue on with their plan. However, it also appears as though he wants to die, suggesting that he’s not actually all that okay with what he’s been made to do. In fact, it seems to suggest he’s being forced into this role by powers that are beyond him. What kinda higher power could make J’onn fucking J’onzz do as they say is kinda head tilting, but regardless, that’s how it seems to me. Now, I will be fair to this twist: The seeds of this revelation can be traced back quite a ways. If you look at this all in hindsight, the clues were all there. The fact that he was ejected from the Justice League for reasons never explained, the flashbacks we got when him and Catwoman had their little mind meld, the fact that he gets uneasy letting Stargirl get so close to him. When you look at it all together as a single picture, it DOES suggest there was something dark and devious about him behind the scenes. So yes, I will admit that this isn’t a twist that comes out of nowhere and makes no sense.
With that out of the way, though, I have to ask a question: Was it REALLY necessary to make another of the big name superheroes’ lives as we originally knew them a lie in this continuity? Was it necessary to paint the Martians as evil conquerors, just like how the Amazons were painted as vile rapists and the traders of children for weapons? Was it necessary to take yet another of DC’s top heroes, a character with a great following and fanbase, and totally change everything they thought they knew about him for the sake of being edgy? For me, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding no.
Now, some might say, “Well, that’s easy for you to say, you’re not the one who has to make these calls”. To which I respond…well, yeah, it IS easy for me to say. Everything’s easy for me to say, since I’m just a blogger on the internet. But regarding the latter, you’re correct. I’m not the one making these calls. If it were up to me, Superman would be wearing a costume more akin to his old tights, Batman and his supporting characters wouldn’t be the only people DC markets anymore, Wonder Woman would lose those wrist blades on her new costume (seriously, I actually kinda like the new costume, but those are so 90’s, and not in the good way), Huntress would have her own book written by someone who actually gets the character, we wouldn’t NEED a Poison Ivy League because Poison Ivy would have her own title where she’s not killing people willy nilly and engaging in sexual innuendo 24/7 with Harley Quinn, and more importantly, we’d have more of heroes being HEROES. But that’s just me… … …Well, actually, it’s a LOT of people I talk to online, and a lot of bloggers, forum followers, and so on, but regardless, none of us run the company, have any say in what goes on, or have any clue as to what the direction they want to go in is.
Having said that, may I again ask what may seem like an obvious question to some, but clearly went over the heads of others, that being “Will somebody please explain to me what possible reason did DC Comics have for naming their new line-up ‘DC YOU’, implying we have ANY influence in this?“. Do you think the average comic book fan would suggest the idea of Superman having his powers in flux, the world knowing who he is, and the military openly showing resentment and hostility toward him, even going so far as to leave him to fight a battle on his own while they go to torch a street full of Superman supporters? A guy on Twitter by the name of Anthony Dean had some things to say about such a direction, and I love this so much that I’m going to transcribe it for you…
But he’s relatable now! No glasses, dudebro haircut/clothes, a stupid destructive new power, no secret identity or dorky reporter job, *and* a hot super-babe! Way more relatable now! And all they had to do was, um, get rid of everything vaguely recognizable to the general public? (Showed someone at work this Supes; they said: “not *my* Superman/arms looked like the Hulk’s”)
…DC, do you see the problem? Now, the obvious counter to all of this is “Well, that’s just aging hipster comic fans wanting THEIR heroes back”. Here’s my counter to that argument: What makes these new versions of the characters superior to the old ones in any way, shape, or form? Why do you think Convergence did so well, and why digital-first comics like Sensation Comics feat. Wonder Woman are doing so well? You wanna know what was the moment when I knew, unquestionably, that the Convergence Superman book was superior in every way to the FOUR Superman titles you have going right now is? It’s right here.
THAT is Superman. He finds out that the various cities that have been plucked from their worlds are going to be forced to fight, and his immediate is response is “No. I will not let this happen. I am not going to stand by and let this person get away with this. I am going to save as many people as I possibly can, and I don’t care who they are or where they come from.” And the people that are distrusting of him in this book have valid reasons to be, instead of “He’s an alien!” He even opts to name his son Jonathan as opposed to Jor, seeing Earth as his true home, not Krypton. That’s the difference: My Superman is a man of Earth who encompasses everything we could hope to be and what our values are or should be and saves everyone he can, even when the universe tells him it’s impossible. Now, does that make the current Superman a bad character in concept? No. I’ve already gone to great length talking about a story that features that character and how great it was: Superman Unchained, where we see this flawed Superman doing everything he can to try and save us. But when that is one book out of five to star the character, not counting the Justice League books, and it’s the only one I know of that tells a story I want to read about Superman, and it was only 9 issues long…well, you see where the problem is.
But back to Martian Manhunter. Like I said, stories like Superman being hunted down, exposed, and whatnot have been experimented with before. I imagine that’s likely because he’s such an iconic character that it gets people’s attention when they do. Mind you, I don’t know of many stories when they’ve done this with Batman, and in fact have had him be antagonistic towards Superman when they’ve done such stories before. But why do this to J’onn? Some people say that Superman’s story is that of an immigrant from outer space having to live among us and accept both sides of his life, while at the same time helping to show humanity how we can be better. While I wouldn’t necessarily argue that point, I daresay that if there’s a DC character who represents the immigrant part of that story better, it’s Martian Manhunter. J’onn wasn’t raised on this planet. He wasn’t taught our value system from a young age. He wasn’t brought up to be like us. But, in spending time here, in learning how we are, both the good and the bad, we become a world he genuinely wants to spend his life protecting. Now, there ARE still aspects of that left in him. Like I said, his apparent willingness to die in spite of what he’s been sent here to do suggests he doesn’t want to do us harm. But the darkening of his character, his back-story, and making him someone who apparently got into a fight with the Justice League over all of this, as well as his apparent willingness to casually mind wipe people when he used to be against that sort of action take away a lot of what used to make him a heroic figure to fans, and therefore makes me want to read the old Martian Manhunter FAR more. And frankly, putting this back-story next to what they’ve done with Superman and Wonder Woman paints a somewhat xenophobic picture of modern DC, which is a TERRIBLE stance to have, especially if they’re supposedly trying to branch out and get more readers in the same way Marvel’s done as of late. The last thing you want ANYONE to even suggest you could be in such a situation is afraid of stuff and/or people that are different.
In the aftermath of Convergence, DC seems to suggest that the door is now open for creative teams to tell stories about previous incarnations of the characters seen from the timelines presented in that story, and presumably others. If I may be so bold as to call them out on that, though, can I ask why all four of the Superman titles they currently have going right now focus on the current version of Superman and this new, darker phase of his career? And, on top of that, for those that have long suggested that DC is basically trying to make Clark Kent into Peter Parker, I think the fact that we now have four Superman books running and all telling the same story pretty much proves your point beyond any doubt, they’re openly making Superman into Spider-Man. If you’re a modern fan of comics, I’ll explain: Marvel used to do this thing where they had a different Spider-Man book running practically every week by different writers and artists, and all telling the same continuous story…which could get very confusing, monotonous, and downright AWFUL at times (see the Clone Wars for hardcore proof of that). But even if they wanna do that, why can’t we have just ONE of those books be about the pre-Flashpoint Superman? Hell, before the renumbering of all the books that came with the New 52, Action Comics was only about, what, less than ten years away from hitting a legitimate #1000? Go back to the old numbering and tell stories about THAT book’s Superman. And hey, for all I know, maybe that IS in the works for after the Truth story arc is over. And if not, feel free to take this idea and ride off into the sunset with it. I will gladly give it up and take zero credit for it. The same goes for a lot of characters, like Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and Batman (if they can finally figure out what all did and didn’t happen with him in this new continuity). And you can do all of this and still have your darker continuity, too. Obviously, there’s an audience for it, or else you wouldn’t still be doing it.
So, that’s my take on the DC YOU product thus far. It’s not God awful, there are some things about it that show promise, but it could stand to have a TON of improvement, specifically distancing from what made the New 52 as bad as it was, and bringing back what made the classic continuities what they were. Have your own thoughts? Feel free to leave them in the comments, and we’ll see how things develop over time. Ja né!
Posted on June 18, 2015, in Comic Books and tagged Action Comics, Batman, Clark Kent, Convergence, DC, DC Comics, DC YOU, J'onn J'onzz, John Jones, Justice League, Justice League United, Lois and Clark, Martian Manhunter, Superman, The New 52, Wonder Woman. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.