Monday, October 5, 2009

Unsung Comics Heroes: Joe Kelly, Part 4

Across the world, evil is met with regret and one hero has emerged utterly without fear. In Gotham, The Joker pleads for a death sentence and The Manhunter has taken his leave. As the world is turned upside-down, The League calls J'onn back out of retirement, looking for help, only he comes back devoid of one thing:


The League returns from a mission and is forced to witness, in my opinion, one of the most visually stunning images in comics history:

A battered Superman, phased through and INTO the marble of The Justice League meeting table.

It doesn't take Batman, The World's Greatest Detective to know that only one (person) could do this to The Man of Steel and he is one of their own.

The Martian Manhunter has been unleashed.

Where other writers focused on just how "human" The Manhunter could be, Kelly brought into focus on just how not-of-this-world he truly is. The visual artist Doug Mahnke provided of J'onn grilling hot dogs in a polo shirt played to this in spades. In the baffled faces of The League, one sees just how much of an enigma The Manhunter's always been. The sight of him presented in that most American of images, the male at the grill, only serves to bring this point home.

He's a 7' green alien with a pronounced brow who chooses to where a a bright red harness, blue briefs and swashbuckler boots. I am none of these things but if I appeared as any of the above, I believe most would hesitate to embrace me. Let's face it, he's weird and that's what makes him glorious while holding him back.

In J'onn you have the entirety of The Big Three and more:

He's the equal in strength to Superman and sharing alien origin, notched but tenfold.

He has the regal bearing of Wonder Woman.

In his guise of John Jones, detective, we have skills that compliment Batman and as The Manhunter, the somber solitary nature brought on by loss, only thousands of times over.

J'onn J'onnz in his being all has nearly made himself irrelevant. And what Kelly did was exploit this, sending a clear message that if unleashed, J'onn J'onnz, The Martian Manhunter is and always has been a thing unto himself and more importantly, the character find of 1955.

In those Space Age roots, that could have been a problem.

With Kelly, it was turned out it was always what it should have been: an asset.

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