We all know we here at CMMH! love J'onn J'onzz. But there's one potential problem with his character that didn't hit me until literally thirty seconds ago.
Becuase hit counters have REALLY evolved since the days when I first got on the Internet, I can see what search keywords lead readers to my blog. Some make me quite proud: "noir storytelling devices," for example, some are non-sequiturs, but make sense given my usage of certain words: "existential crisis comic," some make perfect sense: "adam strange covers," some are plain awesome: "comics bromance," some are funny: "superman is a jerk" and "happy martians," and others make hardly any sense at all: "make me comics." Well, no, only if you pay me good money will I do that.
But this one gave me pause:
"green skin", "blue cape", "blue boots", comic
Someone was obviously looking for the Martian Manhunter and either couldn't remember or didn't know his name!
My first thought was "whoa." My second thought: well, how many times does the Martian Manhunter introduce himself in comics, or is introduced by someone else, where, by the magic of comics, when someone speaks a superhero's name, the words are automatically rendered into that superhero's logo? I can't think of any time when that happened with J'onn J'onzz. And does he even have an official logo of his name anymore, or did DC forget about that? And how often do other superheroes call him by his full name and not "J'onn" or "Manhunter?"
So, here's the question which is being begged: Is "The Martian Manhunter" a catchy enough name? I'd imagine that most fans from the cartoon don't even know him by his official moniker, only "J'onn J'onzz," becuase that's the only way they ever refer to him. Smallville fans know him only as "John Jones," too, apparently, becuase when I mentioned how I love Smallville cameos by the Martian Manhunter, my Smallville-watching best friend said, "Oh, you mean John Jones?" (She must've figured out who I was talking about through osmosis, I think.) I can understand Smallville wanting to stay away from superhero names, becuase they do that with a lot of characters, but why the cartoon? Is "Martian Manhunter" too hard for kids to pronounce? Does Bruce Timm have something personal against the letter "M"? Is it just too long? Or--gasp!--is it not memorable enough?
Well, I wish I had the answer, but I don't, becuase I can remember his name. (Though I still have trouble spelling "J'onn J'onzz" on occation.) But I challenge you to find one member of the non-comics-reading-general-public who even recognizes the name "Martian Manhunter" and associates it with a superhero. I'm a betting kind of gal, and I'd bet you good money that you can't find anyone who fits that criteria.
Honestly, I think "Martian Manhunter" is kind of a clunky-sounding nom de guerre, and it just doesn't roll off the tongue like "Superman!" or "The Flash!" or even "Green Lantern!" do, all of which sound like they automatically have exclamation points after them, which is why I put exclamation points after all of them. Logistically, there's just too many syllables, and semantically, no one knows what a manhunter is anymore, so I wouldn't be too averse to a name change. "John Jones" is way too plain. "The Martian Detective" has some potential, but really doesn't sound like a superhero name, and probably wouldn't be any more memorable than "Martian Manhunter" is. I'm at a loss, because I suck at naming things, and I come from a long line of people who suck at naming things, because every time my grandparents got a new dog they named it the same thing as the previous one. (Yes, really.) Talking about dogs in my family made it sound like you were talking about royalty becuase "the Second" or "the Third" was always appended after pets' names for the sake of clarity.)
So, what do you think, fair citizens? Could J'onn J'onzz use a new superhero name? Is there no improving the old one? Could you offer a few suggestions?
Oh, and a side note: the fine folks at the Dow Chemical Company are workin' hard or hardly workin', becuase somebody was surfing for the Brightest Day Teaser Poster and stopped on over for a visit. Chemists do need their comics, too, I suppose.