Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter?

I love J'onn J'onzz

But I don’t know a thing about him. Not really. Not like I do the majority of DC’s other Justice League Members. Oh, sure, I know he’s a Martian. From Mars, in case you were wondering. He loves cookies. Seriously; loves them.  I know his biggest weakness is fire. And I’ve been told - umpteen times - he’s the heart of the League. Seriously, if I hear that one more time...

Aside from that, though? He's a mystery. I know bits and pieces; snippets of his backstory. And yet, somehow, I care about J’onn J’onzz. He reminds me of that friend we’ve all had in our lives, who is loved by everyone. If I was on the Justice League – and I am sure it’s only a matter of time – J’onn would be my best friend. He’s so compassionate. So nonjudgmental. Chatting to him would be therapeutic. Plus, we’d have a lot in common. Fire’s one of my biggest weaknesses, too.

Y’know something, else though? Take away those character elements, strip him down to the bare bones, and what’ve you got?

You’ve got a Martian with badass powers, man.

Telepathy? Yup. Shapeshifting? You better believe it. Super strength? Uh, duh. What else? Oh, just intangibility. Invisibility. Heat vision. Flight.

And a little something called Martian Vision. Now, I don’t know exactly what that is, but comparing that to Superman’s X-Ray vision? His telescopic vision? Please. I know which vision power I’d want.

So, after Green Wake, writing J’onn J’onzz should be a cinch. He’s a complicated character, sure. There's a lot of continuity there. You want to deal with that, go for it. But he also provides the perfect canvass for a classic action-packed super-hero page; the kind that allows a writer the chance to forget the backstory and just write a fun yarn.

And after the depressing – albeit finely crafted, and possibly some of our best - scripts from last week, I think we could do with some good old fashioned super-hero goodness.

But as always, dear Thought-Ballooner, the choice is yours.


  1. Martian Manhunter – The Joys of Shapeshifting - MK Stangeland Jr.

    (To get the right idea of the intended tone of this script, imagine if it were done in the art style of either TINY TITANS or as if done by Gurihiru Studios or something along those lines.)

    (7 Panels)

    Panel 1: Scene is set inside a room on board the JUSTICE LEAGUE SPACE STATION. BLACK CANARY, WONDER WOMAN, and ZATANNA are sitting around a table. BLACK CANARY is talking, while WONDER WOMAN and ZATANNA have their hands half-raised up.

    BLACK CANARY: Anyone else tired of all the comments about what our costumes look like?

    Panel 2: MARTIAN MANHUNTER enters the room from behind them. He’s carrying a plate full of Oreo expies and wearing his traditional costume.

    ZATANNA: I know. I’m a stage magician. What do people expect me to dress like?

    Panel 3: MARTIAN MANHUNTER eats a cookie while WONDER WOMAN holds a hand out indicating to him.

    WONDER WOMAN: The part that bothers me is the apparent double standard. You don’t see anyone commenting on J'onn costume, and he’s not wearing much more than a swimsuit.

    Panel 4: MARTIAN MANHUNTER looks down at himself to see what WONDER WOMAN is commenting on.

    Panel 5: Same panel, except that MANHUNTER’s costume has changed. His legs are now covered to match his boots and ‘underware’, his hands have gloves that match his boots, and his arms and the area of his chest outside the red ‘X’ (other than that connected to his head/neck’) are covered in what appears to be a blue material.

    Panel 6: The woman watch as MANHUNTER walks away. He has a small grin on his face as he eats another cookie.

    Panel 7: The woman are leaned over on the table to rest their heads on their crossed arms. Theirs a look of irritation on their faces, though it’s more out of jealousy than any indication of being upset with MANHUNTER.

    BLACK CANARY: I wish I could change my waistline that easily.

    (END PAGE)

  2. Martian Manhunter: Horrors

    Setup: As John Jones, J'onn has been tracking a sadistic serial killer. Knocked out (with fire), J'onn awakens tied up in the killer's basement, where the sociopath plans to visit "horrors" on the detective.

    PAGE ???

    1) John, tied down, morphing into J'onn. His eyes are red and he is enraged.

    J'ONN: Horrors?

    2) The killer reacting with fear and shock, his murderous zeal gone.


    3) J'onn has now morphed into his familiar Martian form, having slipped out his bonds in the process. He is livid.

    J'ONN: I have felt the pain of countless billions -- of my own wife and daughter -- as they burned to death from the inside out...

    4) J'onn advances on the killer, who stumbles backwards onto the floor, staring at the Martian.

    J'ONN: I have known a lonliness and solitude that forever gnaws at me...

    5) J'onn's shadow looms over the terrified killer.

    J'ONN: (OP) I have seen death in all its forms...

    6) J'onn, now absolutely furious, grabs at the weeping killer's shirt, hoisting him to eye-level.

    J'ONN: (Large) And you lure me here with the blood of innocents under the notion that YOU have horrors to show ME!?


  3. MK - you make such a great point, and one I'd never noticed. Everyone always rags on Robin's little legs pocking out but MM is wearing dick-stickers with massive boots. That's not cool. Then he's got a cape on top, with gold link, to boot. Lame.

    Seems like he's dressed more for Boogie Nights than to team with the Gotham Knight. Ooh, shotgun that for my script, ha.

    @JD - damn, nice dialogue work, man. I love that last line and really feel like MM is about to get his Sam Jackson rant on before taking this fool out. I dig it completely. Everything works for me, right on.

    I'm shocked that people are making MM work for me. I'm really liking this week so far. Thanks, guys.

  4. @Ryan: Thanks, man! J'onn is one of my favourite characters, and I think he's got a lot of built-up anger under all that calm.

  5. MK - that was loads of fun, I liked the style you chose... and you make an interesting point.

    JD - man, that was dark, with very dramatic dialogue and a nice build.

    MK & JD - the pedant in me wants to ask... you guys never heard of spellcheck? ;-)

  6. Shoot, what did I misspell? I regularly run my stuff through spellcheck before I post it, but unfortunately some words still get through.

  7. @Rol: It's my keyboard, I swear! (It really is -- damn thing skips out letters, and I constantly have to double-check.)

  8. Ah, don't worry about it guys, I give the tenured guys a hard time about such things, I'd hate for you to be left out.

    Actually, MK, to be fair, yours were mostly stuff a spellchecker wouldn't spot - woman instead of women in panels 6 & 7, theirs instead of there's in 6 and underware instead of ...wear in 5.

    Sorry, it's the proofreader in me.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. While it's an interesting page and I like the idea, I have to question the use of the word 'saved' for what happened to everyone.

    That, and I'm intrigued by the one billion person inflation from panel 2 to panel 4.

  11. The Whole World in his Hands

    Setup: The Justice League (except for Martian Manhunter) have just returned from fighting in some crazy, multiversal Morrison-run-level crisis. The group exits the Watchtower teleporter and finds themselves under a bizarre psychic barrage. They their way to the bridge, where they get a glimpse of an Earth far different than the one they left behind.

    Panel 1: Widescreen panel. The Justice League (sans-MARTIAN MANHUNTER) is standing in front of the huge bay window on the bridge of the Watchtower satellite. All of them stare through the window, down at the panoramic view of a torched and burnt-out earth. SUPERMAN is at the front of the pack, bracing himself on the glass, one hand on his forehead. We can only see his back, but his shoulders are hunched in pain. Everything other than SUPERMAN and the Earth has a slightly washed out look, a screen of gray, transparent, meaningless text covering those portions of the panel.

    MARTIAN MANHUNTER (PSYCHIC BUBBLE): The world ended in your absence.

    Panel 2: Close-up of FLASH’s head. His hands are pressed to his ears, to silence the thousands of psychic messages he’s receiving, to the point where the background of the panel is crowded by—almost made up of—slightly faded psychic speech balloons, housing fragmented cries for help. MARTIAN MANHUNTER and FLASH’s speech balloons are much bolder, separating them from the pack. FLASH is biting his lip.

    MARTIAN MANHUNTER (PSYCHIC BUBBLE): Luckily, all seven billion were saved.

    FLASH: At least that’s—nNnggg—that’s some good news.

    Panel 3: Close-up of SUPERMAN’s eye, the iris of which glows pale blue thanks to his telescopic vision. Surrounding the eye are several small, inset panels, representing what he sees. The panels can show pretty much anything within the range of massive destruction, so go hog-wild. Volcanoes, meteors, tidal waves…just make sure to include bodies. The gray word filter used in Panel 1 should be applied to the base panel (Superman’s eye), covering everything except the iris.

    SUPERMAN: J’onn…there are bodies everywhere. How—


    Panel 4: Large, splashy panel. Martian Manhunter is sitting in the Watchtower command chair, in the most deformed state we’ve ever seen him. He’s hunched, hands clutching and melding with his head. His eyes bleed down his face. His flesh is warped, and in places it’s almost liquid. Every inch of his skin is covered in faces of all sizes, ages, and genders, all of them screaming. He’s absorbed the minds of every human being on Earth.

    MARTIAN MANHUNTER (SPOKEN, FEEBLE): Everyone was saved. All seven billion.

  12. @MK: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not sure what that trashed comment falsely attributed to me was or how you posted a critique
    before I posted my actual, first-draft, non-corrected script but the numbers have definitely always been the same.

  13. I still have to wonder if 'saved' is the proper term to describe what's become of the people of Earth. :-P

  14. Four rows of panels. Each row is a single panel. The fourth panel can be a big taller than the previous three. Within panel 4 is an insert panel, panel 5, that is located on the right hand side, taking up a quarter or so of the area.

    1 – Straight-on shot of J'onn. He sits alone at a table. A bag of Choco cookies, a jug of milk, and a glass sit on the table in front of him. J'onn's expression is unreadable (i.e. he wears his default lack of expression).

    J'ONN (CAPTION): They say there are a million ways to eat a Choco.

    2 – J'onn is reaching into the bag, taking out some of the cookies. Already there is a large pile in front of him. More than one person would be expected to eat.

    J'ONN (CAPTION): I imagine that is mostly hyperbole on the part of the cookie manufacturer.

    3 – J'onn begins to pour some milk into the glass.

    J'ONN (CAPTION): Nevertheless, I have determined my favourite way to enjoy them.

    OFF-PANEL: Hey!

    4 – Change the camera angle to be from behind J'onn. In front of him stand Captain Marvel, Black Canary, Batman, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, and others. Some are pulling back chairs to sit, others are still standing. They are all wearing large grins.

    CAPTAIN MARVEL: Room for a few more?

    5 – A straight-on shot of J'onn, similar to panels 1 through 3. The difference is that he is wearing an enormous, friendly smile on his face. He holds his hand out, offering the glass of milk to the reader.

    J'ONN: Always

  15. @MK: You wouldn't call it saved, I wouldn't call it saved, and the rest of the league probably wouldn't call it saved. But J'onn is a member of a telepathic, shapeshifting race. I'd imagine that mental integrity takes a higher priority in their mind than physical form. That's just my take, though.

  16. Aryeh - that's a pretty powerful script. It opens up all kinds of questions... though I'd have to wonder how you'd move it on from there.

    Grant - considering that's my favourite DC / JL era, you had me at cookies.

  17. MK - A very fun, tongue-in-cheek piece. Well done.

    JD - Really strong sense of mood in your script. The dialogue is bang on and really sells the piece as a whole.

    Areyh - I really like it. An effective, dark set-up to an interesting potential storyline. I like the moral relativity posed by J'onn's comment at the end - when is someone saved and when it is something else? I agree that it is hard to imagine where one goes from there, but I'm sure the answer would be mighty interesting.

  18. Martian Manhunter.

    Super Spy.

    Panel 1. JLA satellite hallway. Slightly open door. We see steam coming out its obvious someone is taking a shower.

    Voice – Singing....

    Panel 2. Now in the Bathroom. We see a steamed up shower the figure of a women in silhouette. We see a toilet on the right next to a sink. On the left of the room is a mirror and a towel rack with a red and yellow towel on it.

    Voice -Singing...

    Panel 3. Int Bathroom: we are now looking at the door from within the shower stall. We see the women from behind and the waist up. The women exits the shower, and grabs the towel.

    Panel 4. Int Bathroom: From behind Wonder Woman. The women puts a tiara on in the mirror and its obviously Wonder Woman. The towel is wrapped around her body. Plastic mans head is now sheepishly looking over he shoulder. We only see the top of his glasses and head.

    Plastic man – Man, Diana if you wanted me to hold you, you could have just asked.

    Panel 5. Int Bathroom: Wonder woman freaks out and runs out leaving the towel hovering covering any nudity.

    Plastic Man – Man I thought thistime was a sure thing...

    Panel 6. Int Bathroom: Plastic man is now in human form and walking out of the bathroom.

    Plastic man – Still, nice to know I can pass as a towel if I want to...

    Panel 7. Int Bathroom: Empty Bathroom....

    Panel 8. Int Bathroom: J'onn J'onzz is now leaning out from a wall using his intangibility. And looking towards the door.

    J'onn – Amateur..


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