Friday, November 13, 2009

Martian Manhunter is the Laziest Cop EVER . Detective Comics #246

Sorry, anyone wants to buy me a
nice, color copy, go right ahead!

Superheroes attract nosy broads like nobody's business. So it's no real surprise when John Jones-Manhunter From Mars- catches the eye of Police Commissioner's daughter, Diane Meade.

Miss Meade has recently completed her test for "emergency police-woman" and, after taking one look at tall, square-jawed Detective Jones, requests that Captain Harding pair her with Jones for her first assignment. (Which begs the question: why doesn't this guy have a partner?)

Martian Manhunter, meanwhile, is busy catching recent escapee Tiger Raffity. By cheating. Jones sees Raffity through the wall of a building and then pops in behind him, taking him by surprise. I wonder if using superpowers to teleport behind a guy constitutes illegal seizure?

When Jones is approached with the proposal to partner with Miss Meade, he is apprehensive. See, if Diane is with him, he can't use his super powers. And if John can't use his super powers, he'll have to BE A DETECTIVE!

Jones and Meade are sent to investigate the theft of an "invaluable, jeweled African mask". Why are art objects in old comics always jeweled? Could kids in the 50's not wrap their heads around the value of a wooden mask? I took African Art History in college. Not one jeweled mask! Unless cowrie shells count as jewels...

This Diane chick is trouble from the get-go. She smokes, which means she whips out a cigarette lighter and strikes a flame- fire is like Kryptonite to Martians. Jones makes up some BS regulation about not smoking on duty and Miss Meade nonchalantly tosses a lit cigarette over her shoulder. Any regulations against LITTERING?

Upon arriving at the Barnes Museum, Jones and Meade are handed the easiest bust I've ever seen.

The curator explains that, shortly after he and his assistants unpacked the newly arrived mask, he was robbed by two guys in black masks. His assistants, Morris and Scanlon were on their lunch break at the time.

Detective Jones has a "hunch" and scans the assistants' faces with his super-vision "which enables me to magnify the electronic components of any object to 1,000 times their natural size!" I'm assuming he means that he can see subatomic particles. "electronic components" makes it sound like he's shopping at Radio Shack. Jones sees black lint on the faces of the two assistants, cluing him that they committed the robbery.

Really? You think? Hmmm, motive, opportunity... But does Johnny take these two guys downtown for some questioning? No. Even though they so far have not produced an alibi for their whereabouts (not that Jones asked for one, mind you) , Jones tells the curator he'd like them all to lock up and leave Jones and Meade here to look for clues.

Now maybe I've watched a little too much Law and Order- okay, a LOT too much, but it seems to me that- even if the curator is too dumb to recognize the two guys who work for him when they have on masks- a suspect is a suspect. You don't just send them home because you peeked with your superpowers and don't want to give away that you're a Martian by DOING YOUR JOB!

The curator and his assistants leave and Jones and Meade begin to discuss the case. Jones voices his suspicions of the two assistants. Unfortunately, Morris and Scanlon have doubled back to the curator's office and are eavesdropping on the detectives via the inter-office intercom.

The two crooks sneak back into the museum and take Meade hostage and then try and take Jones out by dropping a totem pole on him. I love a good assault with a totem pole scene!

The detectives are imprisoned in a model of a cave in the museum's backyard while the two baddies attempt to loot the museum and flee town.

When Jones comes to, he leans against the cave wall. Pretending to be more injured than he is he reaches through the cave roof with his now intangible arm. John triggers a landslide that dislodges the boulder the bad guys used to block the cave and BINGO! the detectives are free.

Does Detective Jones phone headquarters and put out an APB on Morris and Scanlon? No! Instead he uses his Martian senses to smell out the exhaust trail from the recently- departed getaway car and uses his Martian vision to spot its tire tracks.

Using his wits (for the first time this issue) John sends Diane to the apartment of one crook while he claims to be headed to the apartment of the other. He tells Diane to wait at the apartment in case the bad guys show, but not to go in without him.

Assuming his Martian form (albeit invisibly), Jones quickly tracks down and catches the crooks by knocking them unconscious with "sonic vibrations". He then deposits them in Scanlon's apartment and then rushes around to the front door where Diane is waiting. Jones and Meade kick in the door and apprehend the crooks.

Prior to this story, I've read at least two stories where the theme was that J'onn J'onnz had to do his job without powers for a day. He always freaks out at the idea. I understand it would be kind of inconvenient not to have superpowers, but yeesh! Grow up, you big, green baby!


  1. Hey, cut the green guy some slack, monkey descendant. Just suppose you were snatched to the planet of nearsighted quadrapalegics. By carefully taping down your arms and legs and squinting, you could shuffle along in the dirt and disguise yourself as a native. But, you endured this schlumping along because you knew, when no one was looking, you could stand up, run, climb and see five times the distance of anyone else. Okay, now circumstances dictate you HAVE to complete your day armless, legless and nearly blind.

    I'd moan and whine too...

    I guess I watch too much procedural crime on TV too. But then, 61% of TV is procedural crime, so what other options are there. It kind of boggles my mind trying to envision John Jones' reports. How he'd have to explain to his captain and D.A. and whoever the exact Probable Cause that led him to arrest these boobs and where is his chain of evidence (did the typical forensic lab back then even have casual access to a microscope as powerful as his martian vision?)

  2. I agree with Blaze up there. Despite the fact that "Chicks really dig when you're the last of something," MM has had a hard life, so give the poor guy a break. He did lose his whole civilization, after all!

    Wait ... was he actually the last Martian during the Silver Age, or did that get retconned in later?

    I'm just not up on these things. But then, that's why I'm reading this!


  3. Alright, alright, I DID think of that when I was writing this. I understand that MM is just using his natural, Martian abilities. But I DO think he depends on them a little too heavily. Kinda like driving a tack with a sledgehammer.

    Blaze- great analogy. And yes, I too would like to see these arrest reports. Of course, this was pre-Miranda, so I guess crooks are just lucky J'onn doesn't have the natural Martian evolutionary adaptation of "rubber hose beams" or something.

    7- Actually during the Silver Age J'onn frequently communicates with his friends and family on Mars... whenever planetary alignment allows. In a later issue I have skimmed but not read, J'onn's little brother T'omm (seriously)visits Earth, acting as a de facto kid sidekick. But only for one story.

    I have not yet sorted out at what point the rest of the Martians die. When I discovered MM in the 80's (Thank you Kenner Superpowers Collection!) he was already the last.

  4. Actually, the whole last living Martian thing didn't come into play until 1988. Super Powers was in '85, and there had just been a big Martian invasion 3-parter in JLofA the year before.

    Going against the current, I've got to agree, J'Onn cursed the heavens every dang time the playing field was leveled back then. It's understandable, I do it myself, but its not so much heroic, right?