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.
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.
Shittiest vacation ever.