Or – “The Green Man Has Gone Away…”

J’onn J’onzz of Ma’aleca’andra, aka John Jones, aka Marco Xavier.  The character who, arguably, really represents the beginning of the Silver Age at DC.  Invisible, super-strong, super-speed, telepathic, intangible, shape-shifting hero with laser vision.  The heart and soul of the Justice League in many of it’s incarnations, a cornerstone of the DC Universe…  The Martian Manhunter is dead.  Long live the Martian Manhunter!

Previously on Final Crisis:  Oh, my god!  They killed J’onn!  Yoooou bastards!  At the behest of the lamest of the lamers, a minor villain from 1950-nothing-much called the Human Flame, the mysterious being called Libra has engineered the downfall of the hero that Flame blames for his obscurity, the Martian Manhunter.  (I have to say that having a Village People mustache and a costume that looks like you have udders that shoot fire might, possibly, have something to do with your inability to break into the big leagues, there, Mikey.)  Thanks to Libra, the Secret Society brought themselves together and killed off one of the biggest of the League’s big names, proving once and for all that the villains are ready to make that last step towards really winning the day, once and for all.  Now, in the aftermath, the League prepares to say goodbye to an old friend…

We start at the end…  of J’onn’s funeral, that is.  The center of the DC Universe, it naturally falls to Superman to say the final words.  “J’onn was a friend, an ally, a brother in arms, a confidant, and a comedian with the driest delivery you could possibly imagine.  J’onn knew most of us better than we know ourselves, and sometimes had no problem letting us know that fact when we strayed from our true north.”  We pull back to see the entire Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, the Justice Society, and Aquaman (and Josh Smith wouldn’t let me write this without pointing out… ISN’T ARTHUR CURRY DEAD???) gathered on the red sands to say goodbye.  “We were J’onn,” says Superman, “and he was us.”  The next page is silent, with a very lonely looking Superman, Batman resolved and vaguely angry, Hal Jordan standing at attention with obvious thoughts of who is responsible, Wonder Woman sad, Green Arrow close to engraged, Black Canary openly weeping for their lost comrade…

…as we cut to the moments before J’onn’s murder.  Doctor Light and Effigy stand guard around a ring of flame, watching the Manhunter convulse, with hundreds of tranquilizer darts impaling every inch of his skin.  The picture brings my blood to a boil, and the blase way that Light regards a man they’re obviously about to kill crystallizes my distaste for his character.  They drag J’onn before the Society, and Libra himself remarks how a fair fight against the Martian would be suicide…  then impales J’onn through the heart!  Bastards… all of them.  Suddenly, the Manhunter reacts, his body changing shape, his uniform morphing back to the historical red harness and blue cape, while his skull returns to an approximation of his original martian face.  J’onn lays into the entire assembled Society, slapping aside villains like tenpins, before the walls break open and the League rushes in.  Superman!  Batman!  Aquaman!  (Isn’t he dead?)  Elongated Man!  (Wait, he’s definitely dead.)  Captain Marvel!  (Now a wizard in the sky?)  The Leaguers sweep in and viciously attack all the villains, burning, thrashing, Marvel force-feeding Sivana a handful of Mr. Mind worms while Superman RIPS OUT LUTHOR’S VERY HEART…

…until Libra stabs J’onn again, and his psychic projections are disrupted.  Effigy and Dr. Light burn J’onn within an inch of his life, and LIbra smarmily asks if he has any last words.  “Your kind will fail…  your kind will always fail…”  Libra asks Vandal Savage for his ubiquitous knife, and ends J’onn’s last words by stabbing him in the heart.  I’m not sure I like the brutality of the new DC Universe, by the way, folks.  Across the DCU several heroes are overcome by mental projections, the last will and testament of the Martian Manhunter.  Batman’s response is the best ever.  “Alfred.  I’m in pursuit of some slimeballs, and I seem to be on fire.”  Heh.  When Canary tells her husband she’s on fire, Green Arrow murmurs, “I know, babe, but I”m just too tired…”  HA!  Sorry, but that was funny.  J’onn’s body is discovered some time later, impaled on a billboard of Mars, and the Leaguers gather to try and figure out what has happened.  In a pretty interesting moment, Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen, who were recently dead themselves, are the last to check on their dead pal. 

The next night, the heroes contacted by J’onn find themselves almost possessed.  Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Gypsy, and Black Canary reveal, in flashback, the life and times of the Martian Manhunter, each recording the events in their own way.  “No matter what ordeals we may face,” finishes the last echoes of J’onn, “There is one thing we know for certain.  That there are always beginnings.  And there are always endings.”  We see the preparations for the funeral that started the issue, including Superman wrenching J’onn’s ancestral home out of the desert and relocating it to Mars.  Afterwards, the five chosen heroes leave the history that they’ve written on J’onn’s casket, and leave…  all save Batman.  The normally unsentimental Dark Knight pauses for a moment, his mask off, and reaches into his belt.  He places one last memorial on the casket before saying his final goodbye…  a single Oreo cookie.  (Well, a Choco.  Same difference.)

Stephen gave this book a low grade due to what he saw as schmaltz, but I have to say, I was very much moved by this one.   J’onn’s various histories are resolved into one, with nice touches referencing the Ostrander series, events throughout the DCU, even giving us a nice nod to the “Bwah ha haaa” era of the Justice League.  There’s sentiment to be found here, yes, but as a Manhunter fan, it worked for me.  The main problems that I had with the issue were the point-blank depiction of homicide, and the fact that the J’onn seen on the cover and in the coffin aren’t the character as he is usually depicted.  Honestly, is the character’s funeral the best place to do a graphic overhaul?  But, all in all, this issue worked for me, both as an epitaph, and as a story, and I’m glad to see that the most powerful being in the DCU went out on his feet, fighting every step of the way.  These kind of issues are always tough, though.  As Barry Allen proved a couple decades ago, having a character die can often be the best thing for their popularity.  If you read the last couple of years of his title, you’ll see nary hide nor hair of the “Saint Barry” that most readers recognize now.  Hopefully, J’onn will get the same treatment.  Aside from the “dead Aquaman” question, though, there isn’t a whole lot to hate here.  It’s a well-done tribute, which tends to blunt some of the disappointment in having J.J.’s death appear off-screen in Final Crisis, earning a strong 3.5 out of 5 stars, with 1/2 star for the Choco moment alone…  You will be missed, Mr. J’onnz.  You will be missed…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Randallw
    July 15, 2008 at 11:18 pm — Reply

    “Isn’t Arthur Curry dead?”

    It’s Final Crisis, nothing that has ever happened before seems to have any relevance on what is actually available.

    Strangely, I woke up this morning with the realisation that if MM is dead then he can’t possess Mars in DC 1 million and help with the death of Vandal Savage. Wow, Vandal Savage really plans ahead.

  2. smithTEAMuno
    July 15, 2008 at 11:32 pm — Reply

    YES!!!! You remembered! After continued research I am now certain that Arthur Curry is dead. I went through all my issues of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis (hey someone had to buy it), and Orin does indeed take that long dirt nap… again.

    But other than that, I completely agree with the review of the book. A great send off to an amazing character that certainly will be missed, and if DC plays this one right it should have ramification near to Captain America’s death at Marvel.

    And the choco moment was pretty moving… In a fanboy kinda way

  3. July 16, 2008 at 4:36 pm — Reply

    Aww, Batman…no one cares as much as you as yet another JLIer bites the dust. It was a good send off to an epic character that just never truely found his own role in the DCU.

    On a slight side not, I always thought MM would be a good Vertigo character, exploring thoughts, the human psyche and what it truely takes to blend in and such.

  4. ~wyntermute~
    July 17, 2008 at 4:55 pm — Reply

    Between Batman’s oreo moment in this, and the scene in Booster Gold #1000000 (I won’t Russell it for anybody who’s a fan of the Gold)….. Damn, he’s turning into a softie in his advancing years! Is “Batman R.I.P.” going to mean “Reversal In Personality”???? Will we be seeing a Bat-Love scale, to replace Bat-Dickness? THIS might be what brings about the Crisis — Bats turns mushy!

  5. Sanlear
    August 18, 2008 at 6:53 am — Reply

    I just read it and thought it was very well done. My favorite line in the book was probably “Say hello to my Super Friends.” Heh.

    I’d say R.I.P. to J’onn, but this is one death I’d rather didn’t stick.

  6. September 7, 2008 at 2:10 am — Reply

    The “graphic overhaul” of which you speak could be one of two things. If it’s just how emaciated J’onn looks, I think that’s supposed to have come from the burning. (A human burned to death doesn’t look normal either.) If it’s the costume, he’s been wearing that since his latest miniseries for reasons explained therein. I thought it was pretty good; it broke J’onn down a bit, but rebuilt him in the end, a courtesy that too many characters are denied.

    I’m surprised that a “Manhunter fan” is so nonchalant about J’onn’s death. Don’t get me wrong, I think we comic fans (and fans in general) are way too easily outraged… but J’onn was obviously killed just for shock value. Morrison and Tomasi have made the most of that decision (I particularly like J’onn’s last words), but whoever made it, it was a bad one. The character deserves better.

    (Also, the marketing line they’ve been using — “Where were you when the Martian Manhunter died?” — is really offensive. There are things comics shouldn’t compare themselves to. It’s like this trend of sticking “World War” on everything.)

    I usually respect writers more when they stick to their guns, but if DC brings J’onn back tomorrow, I’ll be fine with it. You can’t cheapen a death that was cheap already… and we all know he’ll be back eventually. With Bucky running around, the last wall between life and death in comics has fallen.

    As for brutality in recent DC, damn straight. I couldn’t believe that full-page splash in 52 of Osiris’s crocodile biting him in half. Who wants to see this stuff?

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