Last survivor of a dead planet. Strange visitor to planet Earth. Hiding among us, assuming a secret identity, to protect his adopted planet. Sure – we all know the first person that springs to mind, but we’re not talking about Him. Today we pay homage to a Justice League mainstay that left us far too soon, the late, great J’onn J’onzz AKA John Jones, AKA the Martian Manhunter. Accidentally teleported to Earth by Dr. Mark Erdel, the confused alien is left to fend for himself when the scientist dies of a heart attack, leaving the Martian stranded. Using his powers to disguise his appearance, the alien adopts several human identities, including that of police detective John Jones, and eventually reveals reveals his existence to the world and becomes a charter member of the Justice League. He was the glue that held the superhero community together and this summer, he was killed by the villainous Libra and buried on his home planet, beneath the red sands of Mars.
Of course, in the DC Universe, “dead” just means you don’t have a movie franchise in circulation and eventually – months, maybe years from now – the Martian Manhunter will return.
The DC Comics Editorial Offices are a tightly patrolled stronghold of dungeon-like cubicles and heavily padlocked Batman Licensed sauna rooms, but deep within the warren of labyrinth-like halls and guard dog-like interns sits the Office of the Executive Editor of the DCU, a palatial suite filled with wonders as far as the eye can see, including the golden helmet of Nabu and the lost final issues of CHASE, CHRONOS and MONOLITH. Inside the office, on the private desk constructed from unreturned pages of Jack Kirby pencils, sits a proposal packet for the eventual triumphant resurrection of the Martian Manhunter. DC editorial reached out to some of the comic book industry’s most popular talent to see how they might make the backbone of the Justice League a saleable property.
Below are excerpts of these short proposals, reproduced for your entertainment and excitement. Please remember that these are top secret and have been brought to you at great peril to my writing career and possible future with DC Comics. Good luck, god bless.
Long Live the Martian Manhunter.
JOHN JONES, P.I. by Greg Rucka
“Think of this – Martian cop in Colorado. FARGO meets X-Files with Mike Hammer tossed in for good luck.”
MARTIAN MANHUNTER by Grant Morrison
“Six interconnected tales – perfectly cylindrical flying saucers – last ditch rescue mission of the remaining members of the Detroit Justice League – hallucinatory cookies as Martian drug culture – the source the source return from the source – Happy Harbor as nexus of the universe, accessible through Hell, Oa and Mars’ smallest moon – John Jones, Warlord of Mars – Animal Man and J’onn: a ‘Buddy’ comedy beyond the Fourth Wall – telepathy as universal travel, starlight as bytes of cosmic information – the strange, sexual experiments of Dr. Mark Erdel – secret underground railroad of the White Martians – The Human Flame’s Last Great War against the Martian race.”
MARTIAN MANHUNTER by James Robinson
“Dan Richards, Paul Kirk, Mark Shaw, Chase Lawler, Kirk DePaul and Kate Spencer – each have worn the Manhunter name. What I’m proposing, Dan, is a city – call it Middleton – awash in the Manhunter legacy influenced by J’onn’s arrival. Erdel’s lab and the Middleton police headquarters our touchstone locales, mixing in and out of J’onn’s history and relationship to the Justice League. Maybe we create a brand new Manhunter? Maybe one arc has him travel to the red planet to find the last valuable heirlooms of the Martian race? Or has this been done before?”
J’ONN J’ONZZ, THE MARTIAN WOMAN HUNTER by Dave Sim
“Hey, wait, hear me out—!”
THE MAGNIFICENT MARTIAN MANHUNTER by Stan Lee
“Face Front, DC-ffendis! Lonely teenager John Jones has it rough, picked on by the entire human race! He transferred to Colorado with his alien family when his home planet was blown to bits by burning beasts from beyond! Now he struggles to fit into a world that hates and fears him by changing his shape to conform to Earth society. But though, lo, there comes a hero, he learns that with great secrecy comes great responsibility! Look out, world – here comes the mysterious, the magical, the magnificent Martian Manhunter! Excelsior!”
J’ONN, THE LAST MANHUNTER by Brian K. Vaughan
“Okay, so all the Martian men die, right? And there’s this monkey…what… no, this is different, I promise. Hang on while I rewrite this LOST episode, okay?”
RED PLANET by Warren Ellis
“So, what I’m thinking of is a ‘wolf in the henhouse’ sort of thing based on this article series about mounting and launching a mission to Mars: http://astrobio.net/news/article637.html. Essentially, what we’ll be doing is a reverse invasion where fucking mankind rapes and pillages Martian soil in order to build civilization and malls and bloody STARBUCKS on the Red Planet. Of course, the planet doesn’t take kindly to being bent over humanity’s motel room nightstand and asked to like it. And that’s when little green men with very large teeth come to say ‘fuck off, squire.’ The brilliance, of course, is that you’ve got hordes of shape shifting aliens and the real monsters are John and Jane Taylor from Mudshit, Wisconsin, Earth. At some point, the Green Lanterns will show up and I’ll have Hal Jordan make like James T. Kirk with the little green women to discover that shape shifting sex partners with big teeth don’t always keep their teeth where one would like. Feel free to cringe now, Dan.”
JENNIFER JONES, MARTIAN MANSLAYER by Joss Whedon
“Uh… can we make him a sixteen year old girl?”
RED CITY by Frank Miller
“How’s this? ‘The desert screams. It breathes with the sounds and smells of long-forgotten corpses; it cries for its quarry. The desert is my home, my resting place, my mother, my creator. It cannot keep me, it longs to embrace me, and I step onto its sands to hunt my prey. The desert screams. Man walks its dunes. And I am the Manhunter.’ Dan – I was thinking black and red colors?”
MARTIAN SPLENDOR by Harvey Pekar
“So, there’s this guy, and he’s got a job, right? Like you and me – he enjoys cookies, jazz and has his fears – fire, dying, Keith Giffen – but at night, alone in his apartment, he’s lonely for emotional attachment. What would it be like if the guy went on a date with a librarian from Rhode Island? Who does his taxes? Would he vote for McCain or Obama? He’s just another immigrant trying to make his way in this fucked up nation of ours. The only thing is, he’s a Martian.”
GREEN MEN FROM —ING MARS by Mark Millar
“First thing we do is have a wayward Al Qeida nuke explode goddamn Mars. Fire, blammo, everything. Brilliant. The only ones who can make sure all is well in the universe are the Justice League, right, so Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern get in a cute little green bubble and look in on their dead mate’s corpse which crawls from the wreckage as the pissed off seven foot general of the Martian army of the undead. It’s like MARS ATTACKS with superpowers and zombie sex scenes, mate. Brilliant. End in Martians punching superheroes through the fucken skull and liver with THEIR BARE FUCKEN HANDS while the government wankholes fall apart at the seams and they need the bloody Teen Titans to come in and save the day. Smiles. Laughs. Sequel. Where’s me check?”
NOT A CHANCE IN HELL by Chuck Dixon
For the type of reader that needs these sort of things explained, the above proposals are parodies and were not written by the noted authors but were crafted as homages to the creator’s personality, history and writing style. For those of you that don’t need that sort of thing explained, what do you want – a medal? For all of the writers whom I have noted above… please don’t sue me. All in good fun, yes? For DC Editorial – all the above proposals are, indeed, for sale. You’ve got my number, Dan.
Xeric winning cartoonist Neil Kleid authored Ninety Candles, a novella about life, legacy and comics and Brownsville, a book about Jewish mobsters for NBM Publishing. His webcomic, Action, Ohio, was a competitor at DC Comics’ online competition, Zudacomics.com and he’s written X-Men for Marvel, The Intimidators for Shadowline, Ursa Minors! for Slave Labor Graphics and Tales from the Crypt for Papercutz. He co-founded the Chemistry Set webcomic collective where he wrote Todt Hill. He lives in New York with his wife and is working on four graphic novels, two mini-series, two webcomics, a trade paperback and no sleep. Pray for him at www.rantcomics.com
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