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DETECTIVE COMICS #225: The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel

The very first Martian Manhunter story isn’t very oh, how should I say…plot-heavy. It’s a LOT of exposition. It’s like 8 pages of “hurry this shit up, he’s gotta be a detective so he can solve a crime in the next story.”

“But Mr. Editor, it takes a long time to become a detective.”

“No. No it doesn’t.”

The story starts with Dr. Erdel building something he calls a “robot brain.” And now that it’s done, he’s gonna push the button to turn on and see what it does. I don’t…I don’t really GET how you build something where you won’t know what it does, but what do I know, I just write blogs.

He pushes the button (OH GOD THE EXCITEMENT) and ponders if the machine will reach into the TIME or perhaps the FOURTH DIMENSION!


No no, instead it will reach to Mars (wait, maybe he thinks Mars is the fourth dimension? Maybe they meant fourth planet? These questions! ARG!). And from Mars it will pluck a Martian, the incredible J’onn J’onzz.

J’onn is a pretty understanding Martian though. “Whoa, what’s up, where am I?” The good doctor explains then J’onn asks that he please send him back to Mars because he was kiiiiind of in the middle of some important stuff.

Dr. Erdel instead tells that he’ll need to uh…reverse the thinking plot of the robot brain to send him back, which could take WHO KNOWS how long. So just to clarify… you built a robot brain but apparently didn’t know what it would do, but now know that it’ll take months or YEARS to reverse what it did? Wha di….who..uhh whu…nevermind.

Anyways, J’onn is still remarkably understanding and just says, that he’ll shapeshift into a human for however long that whole reversing the whatever thing will take. He transforms in front of the doctor, who is SHOCKED at this, and then has a freakin’ heart attack! And then dies! Goddammit! Now who’s gonna fix this thing?

J’onn thinks that Mars is working on coming to Earth and that might happen sometime, so he’ll just hang out til then…though they’ll probably just assume he’s dead. And he’ll probably end up on Mars Unsolved Mysteries. Siiiigh.

J’onn has already shapeshifted himself a suit and tie but goes ahead and grabs himself an overcoat and hat too from the doctor’s closet. Then he goes to, I don’t know, the ocean? And extracts gold from it? I guess so he can buy things, but I’ve never bought anything with just a big old pile of gold.

He wanders around earth for a while, thinking to himself how much less evolved it is than Mars. Cars? Pfff, we are soooo over cars. Wars? Been there, done that. Tall buildings? Sick. of. them.

And this thing, this…this crime. Mars used to have crime too but…good lord, that was YEARS ago!

J’onn decides the best thing to do on earth since he’s stuck here, is to fight crime! He heads down to the police station, and tells them he would like to be a detective. The officer up front seems skeptical for about half a second, and then sends J’onn up to see Lt. Saunders. The officer also lights a cigarette, and J’onn takes a moment to freak out at it.

Lt. Saunders tells J’onn that he passed the detective test and he starts tomorrow! And oh ho ho, he’s got…JUST THE CASE FOR HIM.


(Also the lieutenant lit a cigarette too. There’s a lot of smoking in this comic!)

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