DCAU #210: The Fire This Time

IN THIS ONE... The Martian Manhunter saves kids from a rogue flying saucer. In the back-up, Ultra the Multi-Alien!

CREDITS: Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

REVIEW: Though like the JLA story in issue #1, this Martian Manhunter tale makes it too easy for him to power through a blazing inferno, it nevertheless juggles both laughs and excitement in a "day in the life" interrupted by UFO-themes jeopardy. There's something quirky and magical about J'Onn J'Onzz renting videos and spitting out sour milk. I also like the impromptu guest cast, neighborhood kids (including one recently moved from Metropolis) who ground J'Onn as a community-centric hero, much as he was portrayed during this era. Of course, we need action in there, and the Roswellian threat, though a little glib, serves that purpose AND puts the kids in danger, which links back to J'Onn's origin. They're a nice contrast to the JLA, which also appear. We see both sides of J'Onn's life.

If I have a complaint, it's with the art. Maybe it's all the flames, but Delaney's action beats are a bit rough this time around. On the characters and comedy, he's perfect. A little more cartoony than most DCAU fare, he reminds me of Phil Foglio here, and it's perfect for the lighter moment which make up most of the issue.
It's a hoot to see Ultra the Multi-Alien in ANYTHING - he's one of DC's most absurd heroes - but aside from giving us his origin, demonstration of his four powers, and mocking his Silver Agey speech patterns, I'm afraid there's very little to this back-up called "Aliens Among Us!".  Nice punchline and link back to the first story, but really, this is just a piece of silliness unless the character returns for a proper engagement.

IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: It was Grant Morrison's JLA that first put the Martian Manhunter in Denver (among other cities around the world). His fondness for Oreo cookies is from the Justice League International comedy League. Unless I'm mistaken, no version of the character before this arrived on Earth with his dead daughter in his arms, however. Ultra the Multi-Alien first appeared in Mystery in Space #103 (1965), but lived his life almost entirely in the future. He would not come to the present day until the late 2000s, and under unknown circumstances.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A lot of fun, and a brilliant presentation of who J'Onn is as a person. The back-up, though slight, shares the issue's overall 50s SF feel.


American Hawkman said...

The dead daughter in his arms bit is straight from the J.M. DeMatties mini that gave J'onn this origin. This was one heck of an issue. I love the punchline of the backup unconditionally.


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