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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Martian Manhunter Key Comics Part 2

This is Part 2 to this Martian Manhunter key comics series. Some, if not most, of the Martian Manhunter key issues featured here in this part to the series wouldn't seem very major at 1st glance if you're not really a fan of the character.

However, some are actually somewhat important to the character's development even if they are subtle changes. I'll try to explain best as I can.

Click this Part 1 link if you missed it. Otherwise, here's more key issue comics pertaining to the character of J'onn J'onzz or the Martian Manhunter.

1st appearance of Justice League of America
1st Martian Manhunter cover?

And we are back to this one. The 1st appearance of the Justice League of America has become a hot and quite valuable book.

Not too long ago this book was extremely undervalued and there is more than meets the eye for this major key besides being the 1st appearance of one of comics most popular superhero teams ever. This issue just also might be Martian Manhunter's 1st comic cover appearance.

Being a backup feature in Detective Comics, it's pretty obvious that Batman is the feature and commands being on the cover. I don't think Martian Manhunter ever made a cover in Detective Comics when he was a back up feature in the title.

He doesn't appear in any other title other than Detective before this comic here. I am not sure if there were foreign edition comics around the time that may of had him on a comic cover, though. Couldn't find any information on that.

The move in placing Martian Manhunter in the Justice League of America would impact the character. Some say they are significant to the evolution of the character.

You'll see what I'm saying as we progress further with this key issues series. Brave and the Bold #28 has the cover date of March, 1960.

2nd appearance of Justice League of America
2nd J'onn J'onnz cover?

Might as well throw this one in here as well. Not only is this the 2nd appearance of the Justice League of America, this comic may have the 2nd J'onn J'onzz cover appearance.

Yep, that could mean that Brave & the Bold #30 is the character's 3rd cover and Justice League of America #1 might very well be his 4rth cover appearance.

Not really sure if that gets Martian Manhunter fans all excited or not. The 2nd appearance of the Justice League of America key issue worthiness alone is more than enough reason to snag this issue. May, 1960 is the cover date for Brave & the Bold #29.

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Martian Manhunter returns to Mars

Some might think that this shouldn't even really be counted as a significant key issue to the character, and it is debatable. I'll explain why it may be.

So we all know that his early stories in Detective Comics had the character stranded here on Earth. Yep, that was one of the reasons for having a secret identity and stuff.

Well, then he reveals his identity to the world. Before, he'd mostly take Martian form when he was invisible. That had to change. Why?

That changed so he could get his superhero on in the Justice League of America. Once you throw a super powered group like that into the mix for this character, it's kinda unbelievable that the character would still be stranded on Earth with no way of returning home or going anywhere else in the universe, right?

You betcha, especially since the Justice League of America are traveling all throughout space and different dimensions. Would be odd that Martian Manhunter couldn't get a lift from Green Lantern or Superman, even if Martian Manhunter was seen flying or something like it as early as Detective Comics #227.

So out with the whole stranded theme. Just wouldn't make sense for the character anymore.

J'onn J'onzz doesn't fly to Mars in this issue. He is teleported there by some martian technology, and has a brief reunion with his parents.

Eventually, Martian Manhunter would be able to fly as fast or faster than Superman, making traveling to distant planets even less of a problem for J'onn J'onnz. Detective Comics #301 has the cover date of March, 1962.

1st appearance of Zook

I don't really think anyone out there counts Zook as an important supporting character for Martian Manhunter, do they? The character kicked around Martian Manhunter as his sidekick or pet for a while until they did away with the character for quite a while also.

Zook is an alien from "a parallel world in another dimension" and has the powers to increase his body temperature to be boiling hot or freezing cold. He also has limited shape-shifting abilities as well.

Basically one of the campy pets that DC slapped a long side their heroes like Bat-Hound for Batman or Krypto for Superboy. I think Zook was intended as comic relief for Martian Manhunter.

I don't consider this an entirely important Martian Manhunter key comic, but some out there might. Detective Comics #311 has the cover date of January, 1963.

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1st Martian Manhunter crossover
Team up format begins for title

So Overstreet notes this issue as the 1st Martian Manhunter cross-over outside of Detective Comics. Brave and the Bold #28 doesn't count.

Some might think this 1st crossover outside of Detective Comics would be in House of Mystery, but this issue precedes it. This issue also begins the team up format that Brave and the Bold is known for, especially for being a Batman team up book.

Before Batman, however, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter would kick off the team up goodness. Brave and the Bold #50 has the cover date of November, 1963.

1st appearance of  Idol Head of Diabol
Last J'onn J'onzz feature in comic series
Martian Manhunter drops secret identity

In the story of "The Death of John Jones, Detective", John Jones is presumed dead and this does change quite a bit for the character of Martian Manhunter. For one, the character drops the whole John Jones identity after this issue.

Two, out with the whole detective job thing-a-ma-bob as well. Onto full-time superheroing for the green martian. 

The Idol Head of Diabol is a notorious plot device, and fans of the Martian Manhunter often point to it. This Idol Head of Diabol promised to unleash a new evil upon our hero and would do so every month in the Martian Manhunter stories featured in House of Mystery.

Not only did it secure an on-going plot for Martian Manhunter, it also supplied the creators of this plot device - Jack Miller and Joe Certa - continued work. Overstreet has House of Mystery #143 as the intro of this Idol Head, but it is first seen in this issue here. It's actually the thing that supposedly kills John Jones or makes his death appear to be so to Diane Meade and Captain Harding.

This is the last issue where Martian Manhunter is an on-going back up feature. He would move to House of Mystery and this story is continued from there. April, 1964 is the cover date for Detective Comics #326.

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There is Detective Comics #305 that has the 1st and only appearance of B'enn B'urnzz, another martian criminal that finds his way to Earth to cause trouble, but he's just a one-off character or villain. Not sure if he is even worth mentioning. 

So, some of these keys definitely helped evolve the character, but they are kind of subtle. It's not clear if the parents of Martian Manhunter depicted in the early stories are the same in later canon when his mythos was more fleshed out and developed after the Bronze Age of comics.

Part 3 is ready. Click the blue link below to read onward.


  1. Hi Mayhem,

    don' t even have one of those keys. Well, the green guy was never on my hot list. Talking about keys - I just shelled out 30 bucks for the Dark Horse 5th anniversary special. I consider it a big investment, and I wanted to hear what you think about it. Allthough a next Sin City movie is not around the corner, I still believe this one has a great mix for a long term investment:
    1. Sin City in comics + 1. Marv in comics + Frank Miller key + Independent key with probably a low print run.

    So long, hope all is well

    Max Rebo

    1. Good call, Rebo! I think it's a great snag...despite movie hype or no movie hype...just added that to my want list.