Frumpy Guy For a Day

DETECTIVE COMICS #249: Target for a Day

When you give a character like J’onn all the powers he has, his comics start to involve a few reoccurring elements. First, something takes away his powers and he has to find a way to cope without them. Secondly, they will give him a weakness to deal with and this weakness will show up more than would ever be plausible. Third, he has to find a way to use his powers without letting anyone see him do it. Oh I forgot the fourth which is to give the bad guys superpowers too, my bad.

While a story might not always completely revolve around one of these, there’s usually a good chance of one of them coming up.

So one night at the governor’s mansion, someone hurls a rock with a note tied to it through the window. It is a good long throw too. You could narrow the culprits down to local shotputting champions probably. The governor takes the note off the rock and reads it: “IF THE EXECUTION GOES THROUGH TONIGHT, YOUR LIFE WILL BE FORFEIT TOMORROW. REPREIVE CARLSON.”

The governor calls the police who arrive with the uh, captain and John. The captain says that his men will guard the governor while other men round up the Carlson gang, but the governor is all “I ain’t gon’ let criminals tell me what to do. I’m gonna go about my bidness.”

John cleverly ducks into another room and shapeshifts his face to look like the governor’s. A few minutes later he pops out and says that oh, uh, you didn’t see it, but I TOTALLY brought my make up kit long and now I look EXACTLY like the governor.

In a matter of minutes. I know I could probably get a really good job on a Hollywood set for how fast I can do makeup this well but I would rather fight crime! I even already have an in in the movie business, but trips there never go that well anyways so…

John says he’ll pretend to the governor for the next 24 hours and then the gang will know he ain’t scurred. And maybe they’ll capture them too, but that wasn’t really discussed.

John takes a look at the faces of the five gang members they have to round up as he reviews the governor’s schedule for the next day. It has three items on it: Review a parade, meet a foreign dignitary at the airport, and lay a cornerstone at the new library. Being a governor in the 50’s was apparently fucking easy. Do I have to go to any meetings or anything? No? Fuck yeah this is awesome.

The next day as John watches the parade, he notices with his martian vision that there are two of the Carlson gang members hiding in a GIANT DRUM. But how, he wonders can I reveal them without giving away that I’m a martian? It’s easy, of course. He subtly blows a huge blast of air from his lungs at the drum, blowing it over and knocking the gang members out of it.

After they’re cuffed and dragged away, John suggests that uuuh, it must’ve been a GUST OF WIND that blew the drum over. Yes. A gust of wind.

To the airport! John greets the foreign dignitary and they get in a convertible to ride to town hall. As they are driving though, John notices a low flying airplane that is suddenly shooting at them! His driver makes a terrible face that I have to at least somewhat blame on the printing of the book, but I still love it all the same.

This time thankfully a storm cloud is nearing and John uses his martian powers to ELECTRIFY it and get a bolt of lightning to strike the plane down! No idea he could do that, huh? Well he can. He’s a goddamn martian.

As John and the captain look at the wrecked plane, the captain notes that twice now John has been saved by a fluke of nature. HAHA ISN’T THAT SOMETHING. HOW STRANGE. LET’S NOT DISCUSS IT ANY FURTHER.

Another two members of the gang rounded up leaves just one guy to deal with and one more event for John to attend. As he prepares to lay the cornerstone however, his martian hearing picks up on something on the other side of the wall. It is, of course, the last of the Carlson gang, Reagan, and he’s setting a bomb to kill John and also a bunch of the innocents that have gathered to watch something seriously boring. John notes that if he just walks through that wall, everyone will KNOW he’s not the governor, because everyone is pretty damn sure the governor can’t do that. Instead he focuses his martian vision on a nearby boiler causing it to burst and fill the area with steam.

Using the cover, he phases through the wall quickly and knocks out Reagan and destroys the bomb. He returns to the podium and finishes the ceremony. Afterwards the police find Reagan who will join heaps of other criminals in prison who also saw their crimes thwarted by a mysterious invisible force. Thankfully, everyone thinks they’re all just crazy.

The governor thanks John for taking his place but also feels the need to point out that it was just some CRAZY FLUKES that saved his life so ya know, it wasn’t even necessary really, right?

What I mean is, I’m not giving you a medal for this.

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Forgot About J’onn

DETECTIVE COMICS # 248: The Martian Without a Memory

I gotta say, I read that title, I look at the preview panel and I am simultaneously excited and terrified. Oh god, I think, what is going to happen NOW. And then I reassure myself. It’ll be the same sort of stupid shit that happens every time and I should really be desensitized to it by now.

As John is leaving the station one night, a big storm knocks down a some power lines and SPUTTER SPUTTER he gets his Martian ass zapped! Another police officer sees it happen and rushes out to help him. When he finds John alive, he assumes the live wire must’ve missed him but still insist they take him to a hospital fast. John says nah, he’s fine just a little shook up because of all the electricity still coursing through his veins. They suggest he see a doctor, but John insists that he’s okay.

And he is okay, except for one tiny problem…


The comic then gives us a sweet 2 panel recap of John’s powers. He can pass through solid objects and turn invisible to arrest people who are then very confused, and he can see through walls. He can do other stuff but the recap does not fucking care.

The next day, on his day off, John goes to an auction and buys a replica of Aladdin’s lamp. WHAT. WHY. I DON’T KNOW.

As he picks up his purchase, auctioneer guy congratulates him and tells him that some say this replica lamp has the SAME POWERS as the real Aladdin’s Lamp. You know the lamp that is just in a story and not real and even in the story the only powers the lamp itself had was the ability to have a genie inside it. The ability to tell when someone was rubbing it, maybe.

Suddenly he hears a ruckus and someone yelling for the police and even though it’s his day off he rushes outside to help. However he can’t tell where the cries are coming from and oh man, if only he could see through walls. Then suddenly he can! Amazing! How did this happen! He doesn’t spend a lot of time questioning it though, and runs inside to save the day.

The crook in the store shoots John’s gun out of his hand, which is really an AMAZING shot.

I have no idea why someone who can shoot that well wouldn’t just nail John right in the head right then because seriously what kind of crazy person goes for the disarm? Before the guy can think to take a more sensible shot though, John has turned invisible and is letting the bullets pass right through him. He punches the dude with an invisible arm and is pretty much amazed at what he just did. He makes the most logical assumption possible.

It must be this sweet lamp I just bought.

Of course though, he’s gotta test this theory, so he’ll try to do something without touching the lamp. He wishes he could see through a wall and then BAM HE CAN as he peers through a wall into a movie theater next door. Sweet, he thinks, I am never paying for a movie ticket again. I will just awkwardly hangout in the store next door for 2 hours staring at a wall.

He then assumes though, that the lamp must not be responsible. So what is it! He needs to consult with someone and decides he’ll talk to the chief. Of course, he’ll never believe John, so he’s gotta get proof first, so he’ll photograph his new powers. You’re gonna photograph that you can see through walls and turn invisible? Uh, good luck. I have lots of pictures where I could just say that I am in them but you can’t see me. In fact, that would describe every picture that I am not visible in. And not just my pictures. But ALL pictures.

Anyways, he goes home and sets up his camera and takes a picture of him using his mind to make his piano float. Doesn’t really establish a linkage but okay. Then he takes a picture where he is…uh, I’m not sure, walking through a wall?

I can’t help but think that all of these things would prove your abilities just as well if done in person for the Chief rather than documented with a camera. Finally he takes a pictures of him flying around his apartment. He develops the pictures in his private dark room and so excited to go prove his powers.

With pictures. Instead of just doing them.

As he strolls happily towards the police station however, he walks under a couple painters who manage to kick a bucket off their platform.

The bucket just NAILS John right in the head and as he comes to, he looks down at the pictures in his hand.

Suddenly he remembers that he is a martian and he has been trying to keep this whole “superpowers” thing a secret! HOLY SHIT THAT WAS ALMOST THE STUPIDEST THING I EVER DID.

Instead he rips the pictures up and throws them away. (NO HE DOESN’T BURN THEM)

And that’s how it ends! That is it! Crisis averted!

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DETECTIVE COMICS #247: The Impossible Messages

Let me just assuage your expectations for a second regarding these messages. They aren’t really that impossible. Just poorly conceived. And unfortunately our new friend, Diane Meade does not show up to fill the lady quota. No ladies in this comic!


At police headquarters, the uh, what is he this issue…the chief (he is really just ‘fat guy in charge’ to me) has informed John that some smugglers are managing to get their illegal cargo right past the coast guard. What’s this illicit cargo you wonder? What could it possibly be?


This is 1957 dollars too. How much fucking perfume must that be? Dear lord, I can’t even imagine how they can’t find these smugglers, given that they must be landing, at bare minimum, a jumbo jet’s worth of perfume somewhere near the harbor.

Down at the docks, John talks to an undercover police contact who says he can’t figure out how the smugglers are communicating with their shore contact, who is obviously keeping them informed of the coast guards’ movements. John turns invisible into his Martian form and searches around for clues, because I guess a detective poking around for clues would look out of place. He finds some fuses and decides that a fireworks place must be involved, of course.  Checking a phone book, he finds a fireworks manufacturer that is right on the waterfront (the root of all evil) and heads there.

EXCEPT oh goddammit, the place is full of FIRE. John makes a note to be careful because seriously, fire is right in the name. Also I love the fireworks testing area, where all the fireworks scientists are testing their new fireworks. It is wonderful.

Apparently John’s investigation of this place has been cleared with the manager and stuff, and all the workers have been told that he’s just some efficiency dude, here to check the efficiency. As he pokes around, he notices a guy paying far too much attention to a plane flying around outside. Obviously, the thing to do is to teleport himself to this plane.


So now while hanging out on the plane, he notices it has three stripes on the side. Right then, an American flag appears in fireworks! How exciting! But wait, it appears to be missing three stars!

Unless you actually count them, then it’s missing five stars, but WHO IS ACTUALLY COUNTING THEM? (me).

Anyway, the flag missing three stars is obviously connected to the plane with three stripes, and John watches the plane the next day which has four stripes and a the flag firework which has four stars missing.

So someone is shooting off an American flag firework…every single day? A giant overly elaborate firework that is up long enough to count the number of stars and determine how many are missing? And the guy has time to make a specific different flag every single day? It seems there would be an easier way to communicate just a NUMBER to someone with fireworks, than with elaborate subtraction techniques.

John talks to his undercover contact again. They determine the number being communicated is to tell the smugglers how many miles from a certain lighthouse to land.

The next day John goes back to the fireworks factory, where he says the contact about to launch the special flag firework with two stars missing, as today’s plane had two bars on it. However John has made his OWN special firework with FOUR stars missing, as he’s told the cops to wait for the smugglers four miles away from the lighthouse. Why he doesn’t just tell the cops to wait two miles away instead, I don’t know. Any excuse to make a giant elaborate flag firework I guess.

As he goes to stop the criminal though, the guy throws down a match and lights a huge fire around John because apparently at this fireworks factory, people just leave flammable powder freakin’ EVERYWHERE.  Surrounded by fire on all sides, John dematerializes and sinks into the ground to get away. Underground he travels to a nearby toy shop, where he apparently explains that he is a detective and needs two loaded water pistols right away, and the guy gets them for him. Then John thinks “it’s only seconds ago I left there…”

Those are some long ass seconds, John.

He teleports himself to where the flag firework is just appearing and uses the water pistols to shoot out two more of the stars. You know these messages ARE becoming more and more impossible with each passing frame.

The smugglers think four stars are missing and all end up in police custody. And thank god all that perfume hopefully got back to its rightful owners.

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A Little Ditty About John and Diane

DETECTIVE COMICS #246: John Jones’ Female Nemesis

I am surprised by the bluntness of this issue’s first panel (after the weird teaser they always have). It just plainly says “At police headquarters, it’s always Detective John Jones who gets the day’s toughest assignment…”

Oh. So they’re actually just purposely making his life miserable. Got it.

Today the Captain wants John to round up Tiger Raffity, a recently escaped convict. As John leaves, the young woman in the room asks the Captain if she can go on her first assignment with John. The Captain identifies the young lady as the daughter of the commissioner we have never met, Diane Meade. She’s recently passed her policewoman’s test, and he figures why not, she’ll be safest with Jones. Even though we just determined he always get the toughest assignments.

Diane puts on some lipstick and is super excited to hang with John because she has some wicked hots for him.

Out on the town, John has already tracked down this escaped con, who is just hanging out in a doorway. He uses Martian Angle Vision to see around a corner, then moves all his molecules to suddenly appear behind him and capture him. All in a matter of two panels. Then I guess he takes him back to jail and goes back to headquarters for the day’s second toughest assignment. You’d think they’d give him the rest of the day off or something. NO SUCH LUCK, JONES.

The Captain now informs John that it’s like a regular fuckin’ crime spree out there, as the Barnes Museum just reported the theft of a jeweled African mask and John needs to go take care of it and he needs to take Diane with him. He’s a little like, OH GREAT, but agrees that he can probably keep a lady from gettin’ murdered or something.

As they leave the police station, Diane lights a cigarette and asks John if he minds if she smokes. John immediately thinks “GOD FUCKING DAMMIT” to himself then tells Diane that it’s against regulations for probationary officers to smoke. Smooth, John. Maybe you could’ve just said, yeah actually, I do mind. No, make up a fake rule instead.

At the museum, the uh, curator, I guess? Some guy explains that shortly after they unpacked some new gem-studded mask, two guys in black-masks broke in and stole it. And it happened while his two assistants were out at lunch. How convenient.  John uses some Martian Vision to see tiny bits of black lint on their faces, but really those two guys just look fishy as shit and you don’t need eyes from Mars to know that.

John suggests to the curator that he leave him and Diane alone in the museum to look for clues. If I didn’t know better, I would assume he was going to put his moves on her in some ancient Egypt exhibit, but no this is actually just part of some elaborate plan. The curator leaves and sounds SO SUSPICIOUS as he does.

It’s like that whole panel is just full of ulterior motives, except there actually are none in it.

Once alone, John tells Diane that he suspects the two fishy assistants, not because they were fishy looking but because no one else knew the mask was coming. The two assistants though are listening in on the conversation on some weird intercom thing and decide to take care of John and Diane and fuck even bothering with masks this time. They push a totem pole over on top of John, unable to use his powers for fear of giving away his Martian identity.

The crooks lock them in a reconstructed prehistoric cave and take off, assuming they’ll be long gone by the time they find them there. When John wakes up in the cave, he needs to figure a way out so he does some weird thing with his arm that really, even if I typed it up your brain would just process it as “did some weird thing with his arm.” It makes the rocks blocking the cave move out of the way which causes Diane to declare that John MUST HAVE SUPER NATURAL POWERS.

How she came to this conclusion, I have no idea. But John shows her that no, I don’t, it was obviously just a freak avalanche that caused the rocks to move.  He needs to make a mental note though, right freakin’ now, this woman will leap to wild conclusions with little to no provocation.

Outside, John can easily follow the exhaust fumes of the crooks’ car, but can’t tell Diane this, so he suggests they split up. She go to one apartment and he’ll go to the other. DON’T GO IN THOUGH, he says, WAIT OUTSIDE FOR THE LOVE GOD.

As soon as she’s gone, he revs up his Martian Powers and quickly finds the crooks driving away from the city. He flies over them invisible, knocks them out, then picks them up out of their car, turns them invisible too, and flies them to the one’s apartment where Diane is waiting.

There they wake up and just assume they must’ve crashed the car and wandered back here. John goes around to where Diane is waiting and kicks in the door. These crooks must be seriously fucking confused. How did we get caught? How did we end up back here? What is happening? CURSE THAT DETECTIVE JONES.

Diane thanks John for letting her tag along, and John wistfully thinks of how fun it was having a pretty lady on the case.

Oh but if only she knew he was a Martian.

Aw it’s cool John.

I know some ladies who would be really into that sort of thing.




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Burned On the Fourth Of July

DETECTIVE COMICS #245: The Phantom Fire Alarms

With a title like that, I was all strapped in for this thing to involve anything from ghosts to people pretending to be ghosts to fire alarms that people pretending to be ghosts were pulling to scare people away from buildings they were trying to rob. The title however, was not actually that straight forward.

In a hideout, some gangsters (always with the gangsters!) are discussing the problems they are having trying to crime it up with that dang detective John Jones foiling them constantly. As they stew over this dilemma, the door bursts open! It is another gangster, and he has such news for the boss, Lance Faber.

This goon had been riding the same bus as John, when some idiot smoking on the bus just throws down a lit cigarette and starts a fire, like “oops. I’m a turd.”

Before he can get what is the tiniest of fires out, John is practically passed out in his bus seat, mumbling that FIRE IS THE ENEMY OF ALL MARTIANS AND IT LEAVES HIM HELPLESS.

After recounting this tale to Lance, the gangsters wonder. Is it possible? Could John Jones be a Martian? I mean, that’s what he SAID when he appeared to be in some sort of half-conscious state, which is when the things people say are most reliable. OCCAM’S RAZOR. HE MUST BE A MARTIAN.

They decide to test this fire thing the next day, by hanging out outside police headquarters. The fuck? Aren’t you guys like, wanted criminals? I thought you were laying low? As John approaches they start a small fire, and he collapses. I guess at some point, they blink because John has vanished and they find him on the other side of a wall. They determine he must’ve gone through it and this PROVES BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that he is a Martian. Because that’s something everyone knows about Martians, is that they can walk through stuff.

Later as John is walking around, apparently his favorite hobby, he sees a man trapped in a burning building. With no one else around, John risks the fire and runs in to help. But much to his surprise, the fire doesn’t seem to be affecting him!

Little did he know, the fire wasn’t real! It was all…really overly elaborate special effects done by the gangsters, using dry ice and heaters and wow, this is just bonkers.

The next day, they pull a similar stunt in the basement of John’s building, where he again puts out the “fire” and feels no affects from it.

John is the happiest he has been in just the longest time. It is actually a tiny bit depressing knowing that this is just a stupid elaborate prank. In fact, it would be depressing, if the prank wasn’t just so very very stupid. John contemplates what could be behind his sudden transformation.

A new planet? What? I don’t get, John, how your powers and weakness all apparently come from space. I need a diagram or something because it just is not processing in my brain.

Then he sees another of the gangsters lighting a cigarette and again is not scared because the match is…”a piece of cardboard painted with luminous paint to give it a glow.” Okay guys, you got him fooled, reel it in a bit.

I do have to wonder though. Usually John is encountering fires at what seems to be a rate of one per CONSTANTLY. How has he suddenly not managed to come across a real flame in this time? Did everyone at the police station stop smoking? I HIGHLY doubt that.

The rest of gangsters are asking Lance what they’ll do now that John thinks flames can’t hurt him. Isn’t it obvious, gangsters? We’re going to lure him to the 4th of July fireworks display! And then the fireworks will kill him! WE ARE BRILLIANT CRIMINALS!

That night at the fireworks display, Lance runs out and yells, “JONES!” John, recognizing yet another of the city’s notorious criminals, takes off after him, unafraid of the large fireworks display he is heading towards. Suddenly though, the flames begin to weaken him.

Oh no! What the fuck! I thought this was over! The gangsters start shooting fireworks at him or something. It’s honestly hard sometimes to tell in these old comics exactly what is going on. John crawls his way to some giant pinwheel that is not on fire and uses his Martian Lung Power to blow it over on top of the goons, trapping them all.

The other cops coming running up and arrest the crooks, who suddenly decide that obviously this whole “John is a Martian” thing is crazy, and he must’ve been tricking them the whole time just to lure them out of hiding, even though to trick them John would have to have been aware of their attempts to trick him and would probably have just known where they were and could’ve arrested them then, yes? I don’t know! I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU, COMIC BOOK.

Honestly though, overall this issue seems less crazy and outrageous than so many of the preceding issues. Maybe I’m just becoming immune to the craziness…maybe…oh god the issue is an elaborate prank to make me think I am better. That, much like the fire could no longer hurt John, the craziness of this comic can no longer hurt me!

Oh wait, I am flipping through the coming stories.

No this shit is still crazy.

Yes, I agree, next issue, a sassy lady friend is just what this comic needed.

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Only YOU Can Perform Stunts Around Forest Fires.

DETECTIVE COMICS #244: The Four Stunts of Doom!

Let me go off on a bit of a side tangent here for a moment. And shut up, yes I can START a blog on a side tangent, yes I can. These blogs are all about old J’onn stories where his powers are ill-defined and the stories are weird and confusing, but I think the core of what makes J’onn J’ONN is still there. He’s still a Martian stranded on Earth, he’s still lonely, and he’s still dead set on always doing what is right and helping everyone as much as he can.

I love these old stories, and I love current Martian Manhunter stories as well (not ALL of them, sure, but most of them). Martian Manhunter has become my favorite comic book character. And there is something intrinsically sexy about a shapeshifting mindreader. Though I’ve also thought, how would I be sure that he actually WANTS to do his uh, BEST in that regard.

And this story. This story, while written so long ago, is the best example of J’onn’s immense amount of concern and willingness to go too far for the people he cares about.

Maybe that was a weird tangent to go on….

You know what let’s just get to this story.

John is going on vacation. FINALLY a vacation, thank fucking god. He’s going to Hollywood to visit his director friend, Ted Martin. I have no idea when he managed to make a director friend in his crazy life of crimesolving but I guess he did. As soon he approaches the set though, goddammit something is already on fire. This is the first frame of the story you guys, do you really need to start in on him right away? The poor man is trying to take a fucking vacation.

John arrives on the movie lot to find his poor director friend Ted arguing with a stunt man  who is quitting and refusing to do the just bat-shit crazy stunts in Ted’s movie. Ted explains his woeful situation to John. If no one will do his stunts, his movie will never get finished, and he will be in debt and ruined forever. John, of course, being a badass Martian is all “fuuuuuuuuck, I can do any stunt check this shit out.”

Then he climbs up a derrick and leaps into a truck full of brush JUST TO MAKE A POINT.

Ted agrees that John is perfect to do the stunts in his movie and the day is saved!

The next morning, John arrives on the set and sees the title of the movie.


Fuck. Everything.

John asks Ted. This movie is about firefighting? WHY DIDN’T I ASK THIS BEFORE? WHY IS MY LIFE SO HORRIBLE?

Ted tells John that his first  stunt is to jump out of plane and parachute into a forest fire. He explains that his clothing is all fireproofed, so it’s perfectly safe! Except that it’s still so dangerous, absolutely no other stunt man in town would do it.  John cries quietly to himself and leaps out the plane. He uses his massive Martian lungpower to creat whirlwind that blows the flames away from him. FOR ONCE HE REALIZES THAT HIS BREATH MIGHT HAVE AN EFFECT ON FIRE. I AM HONESTLY ASTOUNDED.

Stunt number two involves leaping off one oil derrick onto a truck, then up to another oil derrick. I am beginning to wonder what is actually  happening in this firefighter movie, but I can only assume that its plot is as haphazardly constructed as this comic’s, so I shake my head and soldier on.

This task I can’t even…he ties a rope to his wrist and then magnetizes a fire extinguisher so it slowly pulls him back up to the second oil derrick. Fucking, thank god for Martian Concentration. How else would anything get done ever? The cameraman complains that the action appeared to happen in slow motion. IT MUST HAVE BEEN SOME KIND OF FLUKE. Oh well! We’ll fix it in post.

Stunt numero three-o requires John to surface in the middle of a big oil fire that is occurring in the water.  Under the water, John makes a sand mold of himself and pushes that above the surface of the water instead. This is truly a comic that begs the question: “Is there nothing a martian mind CAN’T do?”

The final stunt involves John riding a bike away from a flame at precisely 20 mph.  What kind of goddamn firefighter is he; what is happening in this movie?

The scene hinges on John riding the bike at this precise speed directly towards the sun. Right before the scene starts, John grabs some electrical conductors and straps them to his legs. Somehow, after the fire has made him pass out, the conductors channel some solar energy and keep his legs pedaling. No, I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

Ted is so happy that his film is finished and John is just happy he’s fucking alive.

My god.

Shittiest vacation ever.

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Thank You Very Much Sir, Mr. Robot-Tor

DETECTIVE COMICS #243: The Criminal From Outer Space

One day as John is leaving the police station, he sees a hub-bub going on around the corner. What’s all the fuss about? Well it’s a goddamn fire, of course. A freakin’ COVERED WAGON is on fire. Why the f…where did a covered wagon come from? This isn’t Little House on the Prairie. There is no reason for there to suddenly be a covered wagon rolling through the middle of town on fire with no explanation.

The fire of course, saps John’s  strength for a bit and has he regains it, he suddenly hears a voice saying his Martian name: J’ONN J’ONZZ!

He is immediately startled as he also immediately recognizes the voice as TOR, THE ROBOT CRIMINAL OF MARS.


John recalls the tale of Tor, an indestructible robot built by Martian scientists to serve martians. Martian scientists by the way, are skinny nerds with giant glasses for some reason.

Anyway, they make a terrifying robot to serve them and this plan has no way of going wrong until OH NO, ONE OF THE DUMB SCIENTISTS! The “master criminal thought-control card” is accidentally fed into Tor’s mechanical brain. Why do we even have that card?

Tor absorbs the thoughts of criminals and then goes on a crazy crime spree across Mars, stealing everything he can. Thankfully our hero, J’onn still lived on Mars at this time and has a plan to stop Tor. He has them leak rumors of great Martian wealth hidden I guess inside this rocket ship. Then when Tor enters it, they slam the door shut on him, and launch him to the dead planet Turas, with J’onn mocking him on an intercom most of the way there.

Back on Earth, John is clutching is diary,

when he again hears the voice of Tor and turns to find it coming from the body of gangster Marty Kirk! Tor explains that he is still on Toras where the solar dust is destroying him, but in his last 24 hours, he is going to kick J’onn’s ass. He explains that he has built a machine to let him control an earthling criminal

How did Tor even know J’onn was on Earth? What?

John instead tricks Tor/Kirk into jumping out the window, a fall of about 5 stories, and is shocked to look outside and see that he is completely fine, and somehow being possessed by an indestructible dude has also made Kirk indestructible. Which, otherwise J’onn would’ve just let this robot guy basically kill this Kirk guy.

A few hours later, Kirk is in an airplane trying to crash it down right on top of John. John uses his Martian lungs however to blow the plane into statue instead, crashing it. He figures if he can just avoid this dude for 24 hours, Tor will die and everything will be fine. That night at the docks though, he sees a girl drowning and jumps in to save her. BUT OH NO. IT WAS A TRAP.

Tor tries to drown J’onn but as we saw in the last issue, that won’t happen. John tries asking him to stop. “C’mon man, you’re just a machine!” Tor is still pretty miffed though, and decides the best way to get revenge is to head to the newspaper and reveal that John is secretly a Martian.

John is very set on stopping him, even though I don’t know what newspaper is going to believe a notorious criminal claiming that the city’s most prolific detective is actually FROM MARS.

As Tor stomps to the newspaper office, John tries everything to stop him. Then! IDEA! He sets a bunch of newspapers on fire, and the fire weakens him AND the Tor-possessed body of Marty Kirk! As he explains it, ALL MARTIANS are weakened by fire, even robot ones, and then I guess, even the human bodies the robot martians might be possessing? There are so many levels to this that don’t make sense. As the fire dies out, Tor dies too and Marty is free from the possession only to find himself being arrested by John.

He IS a notorious gangster still.

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Johnnie It’s Hottah Undah Dah Watah

DETECTIVE COMICS #242: The Thirty Fathom Sleuth

So often in these comics, I am really unclear as to what is going on. It was uh, it was the 50’s. It was a different time. Stuff didn’t have to make sense! No one cared! JUST GO WITH IT!

One day John Jones is walking around, as he often does, when he spots a fugitive speeding off in a car. He says that there are no cars nearby that he can commandeer for pursuit, outside a sports car auto agency. Um, okay. So he turns invisible, goes inside the agency and steals a car. Is there something maybe about commandeering cars that I don’t know? Like, you can only commandeer cars that are already on the street?

He takes off after the fugitive in his sports car, but in his pursuit also manages to terrify the driver of a gas truck. The truck of course, crashes and of course, starts a fire. J’onn, still invisible, handcuffs the criminal he’d been chasing and rushes to find a way to put the fire out. To make matters worse, the fire is headed towards the chemical plant, of which I think there are dozens in this town. I really think J’onn should consider moving.

He manages to get the fire out with some sand or something, and ends up in the hospital in his visible, human form with a touch of smoke poisoning. And the chief, maybe? I don’t know if this guy even has a name anymore. He’s all ready to send John out on another assignment.

The hijacker Jack Platter stole his “crime files” and then dumped them in harbor. Arrrgh. I hope they have already started a new file. That says “stealing crime files” in it. John volunteers to dive into the harbor and look for the stolen files himself, since he can breath underwater and won’t  be slowed by the helmet another diver would have to wear.

He’s also excited, because underwater! No WAY there could be fire there!

Oh if only his life could be that good for a few moments. Almost as soon as he is underwater, a bunch of phosphorescent fish swim by.

And THEY weaken him. I have to admire J’onn. He is persistent.

He then sees the files in the metal box they were thrown into the harbor in, and two hoodlum divers with, oh for fuck’s sake, underwater acetylene torches trying to cut into it. J’onn tries shape shifting into a horrible monster to scare them away,

but they are just as persistent as he is, and continue cutting. He then tries to create a whirlpool, but the divers are unfazed.

The fire from their torches continues to weaken him, when suddenly the writer ran out of pages to finish this story, and wrote four panels that make absolutely no sense.

Let’s look…okay..

A fiery blast from a jet speed boat hits him. He sinks towards the bottom of the ocean. The hoodlum divers see him. One declares “get him!” They then notice that their torch fuel is gone. This is, for some reason, startling.

Then back at the police station, John is being congratulated and stating that the divers “imagined” him breathing underwater and collapsed from fright.


I have read and reread the end of this story over and over and I cannot figure it out.

Okay jet boat, right, get him, sure, torches are out, yipe, uh huh, congratulations, they collapsed from fright.


But they said they were going to get you! If they startle so easily, how come that scary monster didn’t work? You looked like you were knocked out, sinking to the bottom, why would that scare them? What happened to their torch fuel? Why did that scare them? What is happening?


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Them Jones, Them Jones, Them…John Jones.

DETECTIVE COMICS #241: The Impossible Manhunt

Okay does everyone remember that thing that John is weak against? That’s right, it’s fire. If you somehow forgot, don’t worry. If you happen to pick up this issue and somehow make it through the first 5 panels going “Uh, an arson case? Who cares? That should be easy for Detective Jones,” it is okay. When John gets assigned to this arson case, they take a moment for him to think about his fear of fire. And a guy is smoking. Because just talking about it isn’t enough.

Here’s the case. Someone is burning down any business belonging to someone named Jones. It starts with Jones’ Wax Works and continues on to Harold Jones: Jewewler and then Jones’ Supermarket, Jones’ Hardware, and Jones’ Clothing.

Panic spreads through the most implausible town in the world, and Jones Fancy Fruit and Vegetables decides to take down his sign.

The chie-no wait. He’s the Captain this time.  He has a note from the arson:

“Down with all men named Jones. I won’t stop until every business owned by a Jones is burned down. Long Live the Smiths!

-A Man named Smith.”

The captain decided that since John’s last name is Jones, he gets this case. So that he can like…defend people with the same name as him I guess. So John opens up John Jones Art Gallery. Where they are painting the walls…with asbestos-based paint. Awesome.

As everyone ogles the paintings that I hope are just replicas, a fire bomb is thrown through the skylight. John grabs a fire extinguisher and tries to put it out, only to find the fire extinguisher is filled with gasoline. Are you fucking kidding me.

He instead uses his patented Martian Vision to liquify the glass of the skylight and put out the fire with…that? What?

Last issue, John could blow at like hurricane force winds. But melting glass with your eyes, that’s how we’re putting this fire out. Does he not know you can put fires out like that? Is it because he leaves the room everytime a candle-covered cake shows up? What the hell?

He darts out of his fake art gallery, and tails the arson to Sam Jones Museum of Famous American Ships. Inside this completely ridiculous museum are several full scale replicas of famous ships.

They appear to be in water, next to a fake pier. What in the goddamn world.

John hears the footsteps of our arson and catches him. The museum owner recognizes him as a former employee who threatened to ruin him. Not named Smith at all! It was all a ruse! The arson explains that it’s too late, he’s already placed a firebomb in one of these fucking crazy ass ships and they’ll never find it in time.

Ah, but John is a detective! He quickly finds the firebomb in the Ranger, because it was the ship captained by John Paul Jones. But I thought that Jones thing was just a…

You know, don’t worry about it.

Day saved. No cake. Everything’s awesome.

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Have Your Cake and Burn It Too

DETECTIVE COMICS #240: The Hero Maker

As if J’onn’s life wasn’t already a minefield for disaster, today is the last day on the force for its oldest officer, Pat Brady. But it’s Detective Jones’s day off! He should just stay home, surrounded by fire extinguishers. Alas, he does not. As he walks over to congratulate Pat on his 40 years of police work, he becomes startled and dizzy at a guy who is outside just burning something.

Just standing next to a big ol’ fire. Oh that’s right, fire is a martian’s weakness. Thank you for the reminder, I had forgotten.

He approaches Pat and finds him to be rather bummed about retirement because in 40 years he has never made the headlines or made a big important arrest. John feels bad, and as they part, a truck drives by that John recognizes as one reported in a robbery. He uses some Martian vision to see the priceless stolen goods in the back, then some “space lightning” shoots from his eyes, melting the tire and crashing the truck. The spry criminals make a run for it, as Pat Brady gives chase. John uses his lung power to stop their escape and hurray! Pat arrests them! And now he’s on the FRONT PAGE OF THE LATE EDITION NEWSPAPER!

A bit later, as Pat reads the paper, John is apparently just following him around in his invisible form. They walk past a chemical plant where John just hears some clinking noises and determines that someone must be breaking into a safe inside. And he’s right! The crooks are about to take a blow torch to the safe when J’onn, through sheer will makes it fall through the floor.

Unfortunately the blow torch falls too and saps his strength. As he does, the crooks make a run for it and J’onn worries that Pat Brady will not be able to stop them by his old, useless self. Stupid old people! I don’t know what made Pat come inside this chemical plant, but there he is.

J’onn attempts to turn the torch off but passes out and falls down a shipping chute, where he stays for three freakin’ hours. When he finally gets up, he hurries to the station, worried that Pat Brady is seriously injured. But he’s not! They’re throwing a party for him!

John asked how he defeated the safe robbers and Pat explains with a horrifying expression that he threw some pumice powder in to a fan and blew it at them.

Holy shit, what? Don’t you guys just have guns or something, I mean my god. Pumice powder and a fan?

Pat asks John to help him blow out the candles on his cake and John is like for real guys? How many fiery cakes I gotta fucking run away from around here?

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