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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Martian Manhunter Key Issues Part 3

We are back with Martian Manhunter key issues, and this is Part 3 if you can believe it. This is definitely one of the key issue series I've struggled more on, debating pretty hard on what to put in here and what to omit.

Even some that I decided to feature might be sketchy to some collectors or, perhaps, most. I wouldn't even doubt if hardcore fans of the character definitely think I should've put in some issues that I chose to omit or bypass.

Let's get this thing rolling! This Part 2 link will bring you back in case you missed the Martian Manhunter key comics in that one.

Intro Idol Head of Diabol?
Martian Manhunter begins in titled series

1st off, I'm not entirely sure why Overstreet notes this issue as the intro of Idol Head of Diabol when the idol is clearly in the pages of Detective Comics #326 prior. Perhaps, Detective Comics #326 might not be considered a 1st full appearance or whatever.

Who knows? So, Martian Manhunter stories begin in this issue and the Idol delivers its promise to unleash some new menace for our hero every month. This comic was published monthly and Zook was still a side kick for J'onn J'onnz during this comic series.

This issue here is starting to get more recognized in the market, but I have no idea what for or even why the entire run of Martian Manhunter in House of Mystery are extraordinarily significant to the character over-all. The stories actually get weird and whacked when the feature gets into the whole Mr. V and the VULTURE organization.

Just my opinion, but I'm sure someone else out there knows better. Not to say that this issue isn't valuable. It sure is currently in high grades. House of Mystery #143 has the cover date of June, 1964.

1st appearance of Mr. V
1st appearance of VULTURE
1st appearance & apparent death of Marco Xavier

After J'onn J'onzz defeats the Idol Head of Diabol, a new plot line takes hold for the character. This is where things get a bit whacky for Martian Manhunter.

So Marco Xavier is an international playboy that supposedly has ties to an international crime organization called VULTURE. When a special security department alerts J'onn J'onzz to this fact, Martian Manhunter scopes out Xavier.

Xavier apparently seems to die in a car accident and J'onzz assumes his identity to infiltrate VULTURE with the intent on bringing the organization down. This plot line would go until issue #173, the last Martian Manhunter back up feature in the titled series.

In issue #173, it's revealed that a character named Faceless (also known as Mr. V) and leader of VULTURE is actually the real Marco Xavier who did not die in the car crash shown in this issue of House of Mystery #160. Of course, Martian Manhunter defeats Marco Xavier and VULTURE.

Marco Xavier as Faceless and Mr. V is the Martian Manhunter's longest recurring villain during the Silver Age. A definite eye brow raise when it comes to that, and he may be the 1st recurring villain for the superhero if you don't count the Idol Head of Diabol.

This issue is also toted as the 1st DC appearance of Plastic Man. However, it really isn't Plastic Man as in Patrick O'Brian. It's Robby Reed who uses his Dial H for Hero to turn into Plastic Man.

I believe it's the only time Robby Reed turns into a duplicate of an existing superhero. House of Mystery #160 has the cover date of July, 1966.

Martian Manhunter quits team
J'onn J'onzz leaves Earth

Usually I don't care to write about a member leaving a team or thinking it's a big key issue, because usually it's short-lived. Although Martian Manhunter obviously returns back to the Justice League of America, there is a reason he quits the team worth addressing here.

So in this issue, Martian Manhunter seeks the aid of his Justice League comrades to fight a Benn Blanx character who has taken over Mars and wishes to return Manhunter's martian race back to their warlike ways. Of course, his evil plan threatens to destroy Mars also.

In the end, Mars is destroyed and the planet barren and dead. The rest of the martians blast off in rocket ships to seek a new world to inhabit. Martian Manhunter defeats Blanx and joins his race in seeking a new home.

Thus, he resigns as a member of the Justice League of America in this issue, and him and his people would find another world that they called Mars II. He still does show up in issues of the Justice League of America here and there before eventually returning to the team.

Justice League of America #71 has the cover date of May, 1969.

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1st appearance of  Bel Juz
1st appearance of Mars II

During this time in comics, J'onn J'onzz sporadically appeared in various DC titles. Before this issue here, he was seen briefly in Superman #253 volume 1.

However, he did have a certain hiatus between Justice League of America #71 and Superman #253 which the later came out in 1972. This issue sees the 1st appearance of Mars II, also called New Mars or sometimes Vonn.

Vonn is the adopted home of the surviving martian race and Superman is teleported there. Explanation and story is continued from Superman #253.

After arriving, Superman discovers that the planet has been invaded by an alien race called the Thythens and the martians have been kidnapped. Martian Manhunter was in love with Bel Juz, but Superman and Martian Manhunter discover that she had betrayed her people to the Thythens.

She's a pretty minor villain for the Martian Manhunter anyways. World's Finest Comics #212 has the cover date of June, 1972.

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1st appearance of R'es Eda
1st appearance of N'Or Cott

Not really a major key issue. By this time, J'onn J'onzz is leader of his people on Mars II.

R'es Eda is a character that is 1st seen and dies in this issue. He is the friend of J'onn J'onzz and his last words were "was from...was...sol...".

Sol is the martian word for Earth's Sun. Since no one else but the members of the Justice League of America from that area know where Mars II is located, J'onn J'onzz suspects that one of the Justice League members might be behind the murder of his friend might.

So, this story line runs in Adventure Comics #449 through #451 and finishes in World's Finest Comics #245, which has N'Or Cott's final appearance. Yes, he's a martian from Mars II as well.

Considering that Mars II was retroactively eliminated since Martian Manhunter was later retconned to be the last of his kind, the martian characters and their 1st appearances aren't part of modern canon either.

I'll let you decide whether it's a Martian Manhunter key worth getting. February, 1977 is the cover date for Adventure Comics #449.

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1st appearance of J'en
Begins the Earth/Mars war

Nothing about the key issue notations above are extraordinarily important. Nothing to really get excited about.

This issue does see J'onn J'onzz permanently resurface in the DC Universe. Before this issue and after World's Finest Comics #112, Martian Manhunter had sporadic appearances here and there, often not showing up for a few years here and there.

His last appearance in 1972 was in Justice League of America #100 and then appeared next in issue #115 of the titled series in 1975. Two years later his next appearance was in Adventure Comics #449, and he appeared in a few titles in 1977 before another hiatus until 1980.

As for the martian character of J'en. She is very short-lived character who had the hots for J'onn J'onzz but chose to follow a character called the Marshall. Actually, Mars II all decide to follow the Marshall, and this baddie has it in his mind to conquer Earth.

So the story begins with Martian Manhunter racing back to Earth to seek the aid of his old allies the Justice League of America. This story line would run until #230, in which sees the final appearances of both J'en and the Marshal.

This story line is also not considered part of mainstream modern continuity. Post-Crisis stories would replace the martian fleet that invades Earth with another group of interstellar invaders call the Debris.

The Debris that retroactively replaced the martian invaders in this story first appeared in JLA Incarnations #4 that came out in 2001. After all and by that time, Martian Manhunter is suppose to be the last of his kind.

Just an interesting tid-bit concerning Martian Manhunter. Justice League of America #228 was published July, 1984.

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While Edgar Rice Burrough's was successful in creating an impressive and detailed world on Mars or Barsoom within the tales of John Carter of Mars nearly 47 years prior to J'onn J'onzz 1st appearance in Detective Comics #225, the creatives at DC Comics during the Silver, Bronze and even Copper Age failed to give their martian creation a decent back drop or back story of his martian roots. It is quite puzzling as to why there was such a limit placed on a whole world and mythos that could've been created around the Martian Manhunter during this time.

Not to say that it wasn't tried. J'en and Bel Juz were martian characters that could've sustained more than three or four appearances. The destruction of Mars story in Justice League of America #71 seems a waste of a world with loads of potential stories.

However, it seems that Martian Manhunter and his Mars tales was just a way to get the Justice League of America involved in more stories, as if they weren't all over the place by then anyways. It definitely appears that the creatives purely intended J'onn J'onzz to be a supporting character for the Justice League of America.

Even the Earth/Mars war story line could've been an epic story to further progress tales that widened the scope of J'onn J'onzz and his martian race, but it seemed to be a second fiddle concept and wasn't expanded much upon. Even when the character left Earth and quit the Justice League, the character's adventures after always linked him again with the team.

Anyways, Part 4 is ready, so click the link below to continue.


  1. How about HOM 144, 1st solo MM cover? (and best MM cover ever.)

  2. I believe HoM 143 is the first book where J'onn J'onzz as Martian Manhunter headlines a story arc. Also, he's referred to as "the new J'onn J'onzz" on the cover so I'm curious what is different between previous stories including him and his appearances starting in HoM 143. Thanks for the great series.