Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Guide For Writing the Rebooted Martian Manhunter Part 6

Top Ten Things Writers Need to Remember When Writing the Martian Manhunter

5.  Develop (and stick with) a unique Martian fighting style.

Part of what makes a hero exciting is his or her fighting style.  Now, the Martian Manhunter is uniquely poised in the DC universe to have a very unusual fighting style, which has the potential to be visually striking.

J'onn has the powers of intangibility, shapeshifting, and telepathy (amongst others), so let's give some thought to how that would play out.  Possessing intangibility (passing through solid objects and likewise having them pass through him) means that bullets, fists, anvils, and anything else lobbed at our hero will go right through him.  Throughout the new Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths DVD, J'onn's fight sequences really shined and took advantage of his powers.  One sequence relied on my favorite Timmverse move--a villain smashes J'onn with a heavy object, he disappears, and comes up through the floor behind the guy and knocks him out.  It's something that (to an extent) showed up in his Silver Age appearances:

Imagine how much the sight of a big green guy bursting through the floor would scare the crap out of criminals?  It's so cool and visual exciting it just never gets old.  (Though I prefer he would do it without the property damage...) It's something the writers should stick with and exploit to its fullest.

As for the shapeshifting, it hasn't been handled in comics too well because it often descends into cheesiness--like J'onn taking the form of a saxaphone-playing Bill Clinton (I am not making this up) to scare villains.  It's got to be more than just taking the form of scary Martian "monsters" to instill fear--it's got to be a little more organic and practical (e.g., Alex Ross's Martian sea creature to make swimming easier) or something that lets us peak behind the curtain into J'onn's psyche and cultural memory (e.g., J'onn's shapeshifting sequence as he chases Earth-2 "Green" Arrow down an embankment in the Crisis on Two Earths DVD, where the terrifying forms he takes seem to be expressive of anger.)

Also, we've got the telepathy, which I've complained about before.  Telepathy would probably give him enhanced awareness of his enemy.  Meaning, if someone's behind him they shouldn't be able to sneak up on him and punch him because he should know they're coming.  I'm not really hard-set on the telepathy staying around anymore, and if we have a hero who never can get hit, well, that's going to get boring fast.  (At least we've got the common weakness of fire to balance out all that insane power.)  He definitely shouldn't get hit as much as he does just because of the intangibility.  (Unless the writers want to add some more rules to that superpower as well--it takes concentration, etc.)

Anyway, my personal favorite fight sequences of J'onn always seem to come from the Timmverse, both the JLU cartoon and the new DVD.  They always seem to get it right, with few exceptions, and I think comic writers should take note.


The One True GL said...

Yes, I LOVE it when he comes up through the floor behind an opponent. It shows that JJ is always thinking to end things quickly.

The verification word is bouti (an alternate spelling of...well, expect SallyP to mention J'onn soon)

The One True GL said...

UNRELATED: Knowing that you're a Star Wars fan, I was wondering whether or not you caught this:

LissBirds said...

It really is a unique fighting move and just so darn cool.

Sally already covered J'onn. (Well, uncovered, I guess...*rimshot*)

Unrelated: No, I hadn't seen that. I don't know how you find this stuff. So Batman traded in the Shark Repellent for a Lightsaber? Much cooler. I think he'd be a pretty good Jedi...except that the whole obsession with avenging his parents aspect would probably preclude getting selected as a Jedi. Now, Hal Jordan, on the other hand...

Sea-of-Green said...

Hal would make a perfect Jedi. He'd have to get a lightsaber-proof helmet, though.

LissBirds said...

And he better not have a yellow lightsaber, or, knowing him, he'd accidentally slice himself in half or something... :)