The Palan Arsons Project

DETECTIVE COMICS #239: Ordeal By Fire

This issue’s uh, “teaser panel” is of our heroic Detective Jones unable to pursue a criminal because a bunch of fucking kids are setting off fireworks like a bunch of little shits.

One kid has just lit some firecrackers and then throw them in to the air. It is the most dangerous use of explosives that I have maybe ever witnessed. They are just in an alley, lighting and throwing, lighting and throwing. I mean the one…it looks like he’s just holding a stick of dynamite. How I want J’onn to hurt them. Oh how.

This panel though, ends up being only in the absolutely loosest possible way connected to the rest of the story. But it, and the next FOUR panels all serve to remind us, yet again, that J’onn is weak to fire,  yet manages to encounter it far more than other person alive.

At th station, J’onn finds out that uuuuh the chief (I always have to check who he is talking to) is assigning him and some other guy to an arson case. AN ARSON CASE! OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRIBLE THING FOR J’ONN TO DEAL WITH.

Honestly it is surprising that there hasn’t already been about 10 arson cases for him to deal with. I kinda feel like the writer one day just went “Oh my god that’s right, ARSON is a crime.” And smacked himself on the forehead. Totally gonna put that in my comic about the martian detective that hates fire. Tooooootallly.

So our mostly fearless hero goes to the fire station where he’s gotta hang out for 24 hours and investigate what the chief suspects is an arson ring. J’onn just hopes he doesn’t have to go to any fires. But within an hour the alarms are going off and he is riding on the back of their firetruck, in his snappy suit/tie/hat combo. A fire has broken out at the movie set and the firefighters can’t get it under control. J’onn sneaks off to a nearby moon journey set where he puts on a lead-constructed robot suit and wears it while he puts out the fire. The rest of the firefighters are like “Gee willickers! A robot is putting out the fire! That’s crazy!” J’onn doesn’t reveal that it’s him in it though, he just runs off and changes somewhere.

Back at the firehouse, he is a worrisome mess when suddenly the alarms go off again. This time he’s got a fireman’s coat and hat to wear. I guess they thought maybe he looked a little silly riding on that firetruck in his suit. This fire is at some apartment building and no one can get the sprinkler system unjammed. J’onn uses the power of “mind over matter” to construct another uh, him and puts his coat and hat on it. He has the other him, made out of rags and cloth go into the fire and turn on the sprinklers. How this other him doesn’t catch fire or manages to turn a stuck valve or how this works AT ALL is never fully understood, but everyone is very happy that it worked!

Neither of these fires were arson either, just the usual ol’ big fire that breaks out in this crazy as fuck town. Finally J’onn, that other guy who was on the arson case (Burke), and the chief go to check out an oil tank that was on fire last week. J’onn believes himself to be safe, because the fire was last week. Oh how foolish he is!



J’onn is knocked away from his two pals and has to find  way to get the fire out. Thankfully a…jesus christ, a fireworks truck is just parked nearby.

Hey where’s a good place for my truck full of fireworks?

Eeeh, put ’em next to the oil tank. I see no reason why that should concern anyone.

J’onn uses some of the logic from There Will Be Blood, in that an explosion can smother a fire. It actually IS sound logic and actually works.

Except that in this case, uh, there’s two dudes he’s trying to fucking save right by the fire!

He makes a huge bundle of fireworks, but can’t get the fuse lit. Is it…is his hand too weak to strike a match? Because it’s not too weak two panels later to break open the glass on a neon sign. 

He finally gets the fireworks lit and uses them to smother the other fire, saving his friends.

And then, ha, turns out there wasn’t even an arson ring to begin with! But the firemen got him a cake with a bunch of candles.

I think J’onn just went home and wrote “fuck my life” in his diary.

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He Said "Booby."

DETECTIVE COMICS #238: Earth Detective for a Day

Oh no! J’onn is going to lose his powers for this one! I’m sure the reason will be entire plausible!

Some cops are chasing “Booby-Trap” Bagley into an abandoned circus area, but stop there, as Lieutenant Saunders ordered them never to follow him into a possibly booby-trapped area.


Lieutenant Saunders is back!?

I also just have to accept the abandoned circus thing. I try not to think about it too hard. It’s something I just need to go with and deal with it. Fine, there’s an abandoned circus. Whatever.

Meanwhile, J’onn is walking down the street past something that is on fire. Just the side of some building or something, on fire, happens to be on his walk to work. I think I actually prefer it when he just freaks out at cigarettes, because at least it’s semi-plausible that he would run into those on a regular basis.

At the station, Saunders is there telling J’onn they need to get to the abandoned circus right away! There is no heartfelt reunion, no pleasantries exchanged. They head right to the scene where the cops are ready to shove an empty police car down a hill into the circus area to see if it’s booby-trapped. Um, okay? They give the car a good push and as it reaches the bottom of the hill, the thing just fucking explodes. So I guess that’s a yes? The cops try flooding the area with tear gas to drive Bagley out but he’s in like a glass dome or something that is never explained.

The cops decide to draw to see who has to go in after Bagley, thinking that one guy might have more luck than that squad car. John, knowing that his powers would give him a definite advantage in this scenario, uses his powers to make sure he has to go in. I’m sure if he’d just volunteered, they would’ve let him too, but rigging a drawing is way more fun.

He heads into the circus area when some balloons start popping and he realizes they are filled with poison gas. To keep his powers secret, he pretends to cover his mouth and runs away. Then he spots Bagley who is out running around, instead of just staying in hiding somewhere, which is what I would do. Bagley jumps on a roller coaster and John jumps on the car behind him to give chase, as though a roller coaster doesn’t just eventually return someone to the same place. Why would you ever chase someone on a rollercoaster? Why wouldn’t you just wait? If they jump off, guess what? You’re already off the rollercoaster and ready to chase them. Why are you getting on the damn thing?

But he does it anyways and of course the rollercoaster is booby trapped so that part of it explodes in front of John’s car. He uses Martian Concentration (IT CAN DO ANYTHING) to fix the track and continues his chase of Bagley, who just rode his car back to the start of the track and got off of it. DON’T CHASE PEOPLE ON ROLLERCOASTERS.

After the ultimately pointless rollercoaster ride, John goes to chase Bagley into a building. Fuck opening that door, I will just phase through it. (This is totally what I would do though if I could phase through walls. I would never ever ever bother with opening a door unless for some reason I absolutely had to). As he does, oh god, he just smashes into it.


Deja vu? This happened before right? Yeah like 8 issues ago! That comet! I thought that only came around once each century though. Let me check. Yeah once each century. Blocking the rays from Mars or whatever.

Wait wait wait…

Now you’re telling me he lost his powers because of a DIFFERENT comet that passes between Mars and Earth once every YEAR? This one doesn’t block the rays though, it uh….”Wherever the rays penetrate a high ore content on earth, it cancels out Martian powers.”


The thing is…I don’t even know if the writer is intentionally inventing a different comet, or just doesn’t remember what the hell that first comet did and just decided to make up something new.

John just opens the door instead, but as he does he notices a bunch of clocks that were apparently going to be prizes in a carnival game before the carnival folk just up and left mysteriously. John notices that only one is set to the correct time and determines that must mean it’s a bomb and dives out of the way.

Disaster is only momentarily avoided though, as he sees a shadow around him and uses “Earthling Detective Sense” to dodge the aerialist platform plummeting towards him.

For some reason, Bagley flees to the high wire and J’onn again chases him. I used to think walking on a high wire was supposed to be hard but apparently anyone and everyone can do it, in loafers even. Bagley however, swings to the ground, and J’onn begins to lose his balance.

“Why did I climb up here, I should’ve just stayed down there and waited for this asshole to come down…”

He sees a water tank and is ready to jump in it but Bagley sets the water on fire, as he had put gasoline in it earlier. J’onn freaks out for a second, then remembers that he’s not got any Martian Powers right now! He can just jump into fire! Just like an ordinary earthman! Who loves fire!

He makes a perfect dive, climbs out of the tank, and as Bagley runs under the net (there’s a net now?! I thought we were worried about falling a second ago). J’onn uses another earth detective skill: Marksmanship! And shoots the supports on the net, making it fall and trapping Bagley.

Lt. Saunders congratulates J’onn on another successful arrest. Back at his apartment, J’onn realizes that his Martian Powers have returned because he breaks the door knob off of his door.

How you explaining that to your landlord, dude?

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Come Jail Away

DETECTIVE COMICS #237: The Sleuth Who Went to Jail

Wait, what? To jail? Wasn’t he just in jail like three issues ago? How is he going to jail again?

It’s like the writer of this comic wrote that first jail story, then three weeks later suddenly came up with a different jail story that he liked way better and felt so stupid for even writing that first one and didn’t even care that John had just been to jail, he’s writing this new jail story and he is writing it right goddamn now.

While John cringes at a hobo stirring up a fire in a garbage can, he notices that a jewelry store across the street is being robbed. As he peers inside with his Martian Vision, he is suddenly knocked out with a blow to the back of the head. 

When he awakes, he is in a prison courtyard, some sort of weird underworld prison where a group of thugs are jailing rival gangsters. I guess they want to try to reform them or something. THE SYSTEM DOESN’T WORK GUYS!

John wants to get close to the leader of the operation, so he decides to stir up trouble. A guard brings him bread and water, but John asks for a turkey dinner instead. The guard says no, so John walks through the wall to the nearest restaurant and returns.

With an entire turkey. 

As the….strangely well-dressed-for-a-fake-prison guard tells the warden about John’s stunt, they allow him to continue consuming this whole turkey, and decide he should be placed on laundry duty. 

In the laundry room, they leave John alone and he of course uses his amazing Martian mental powers to make all of the clothes wash themselves.

The guard returns and is once again freaked the fuck out.

Fine detective. To the quarry with you!

John again uses his brain energy beams to smash the rocks and his Martian lungs to blow them all into the back of the truck. Fine, the warden says, they will bring the chief in on this.

They throw John in a room and tell him shovel coal into a…oh no! A fiery furnace! John is losing his powers, but also says he needs to keep shoveling because if that guard shoots him the bullets won’t affect him and everyone will know his secret. 

As the prison leader arrives, John summons his last bit of energy to use his Martian vision and bring down the water tower, spilling into the room and extinguishing the fire.

He knocks out the gangsters and gets many congratulations from the…captain? 

I never know who his dang boss is.

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CARPe Diem

DETECTIVE COMICS #236: The Great Earth-Mars Mystery

This dang crook is giving John one hell of a time. He steals shit, naturally, and then heads to the waterfront. He jumps in and seemingly disappears. Even John can’t keep up with him! Even with his superspeed! And his, his…mist-dispersing vision. His magic eyes that do whatever they want!

After a tough night of trying to catch him, John returns to his home and tries to get a view beam through to Mars again.

I have no idea when he suddenly got this machine, how long he’s had it, what it does, where it came from, anything. It is just suddenly there, and also suddenly working! On a screen in front of him are his parents, who were apparently expecting his uh, view beam. They ask J’onn where he is and he explains how he became stranded on earth. 

When are you coming home though? You never visit and you never call. You know how we worry about you. Don’t you care about us? 

J’onn immediately regrets calling his parents and remembers why he left that damn planet in the first place. Wait no he didn’t leave on purpose. He’s just starting to wish he had. Stop bugging me mom! I live my own life now! I’m an awesome detective and stuff!

Well we could use a detective on Mars too, you know.


Wait no, they actually could use a detective on Mars.

See, some raiders are using the exact same escape trick the crook on earth is. They’re plundering museums and leaping into the canals which are apparently the home of some fish that are covered with other smaller fish, and of course, the giant Martian cruise ship. 

Suddenly everyone is talking about meters like it’s a measurement of time and I am momentarily confused. 10024 meters ago? What? J’onn says goodbye to his parents and spends a while pondering the two cases, when he has an epiphany and rushes to the waterfront where the Chief is on stakout.

He stares off at the nearby buildings when suddenly he sees the crook and takes off after him. 

He dives off the roof of the building he’s on and sees the crook getting into a small underwater…boat thing. He chases him and crashes the boat, catching the criminal. He explains to the chief that crook was getting in this underwater boat and attaching it to the bottom of these other ships as they left the harbor. 

He figured this out from those weird fish on Mars.

Apparently the crooks on Mars are doing this too, but you never actually see J’onn say that or call his parents to let them know. 

He’s too busy with his hip new earth life. 

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Oh, Oh, Oh, It’s Magic

DETECTIVE COMICS #235: The World’s Greatest Magician

One day at the station, John and the Chief are approached by the owner of the circus that is passing through town. Someone has been stealing from him! Their latest take being the diamond-studded collar that their lion wore. My initial reaction was why do have that thing on a lion, but immediate retracted it, as “on a lion” is probably a pretty safe place to keep something like that. 

The circus owner suspects one of his performers but when he went to the police in another town, they had trouble figuring out who, as the crimes stopped once they were involved. How to catch them?! 

A duuuuh, says John. I’ll go undercover! I totally used to be a magician!

You…um okay. The circus owner agrees and John uses “concentration” to grow a goatee. I’m not sure of the actual mechanics behind this growing. Did he shapeshift a goatee? Or is he like, actually just growing it fast? How does this work? 

The owner introduces John to the rest of the circus as J’onzz the Great and he performs his first show that night. First he makes an elephant float by uh concentrating at it, it would seem. I think if J’onn just thinks hard enough he can do absolutely anything. 

The other circus performers are absolute flipping out at this. This damn magician has gone too goddamn far. He can’t float an elephant, that’s just too much. Next J’onn climbs into a box and has them stab him with swords that he just allows to pass through his translucent body. 

Finally he climbs up to the high wire, except that it’s no wire! It’s a strand of thread! 

Everyone is having an absolute shit-fit at his goddamn stunts. Who does he think he is? 

Unfortunately none of his crazy tricks manage to lure out the thief, so John decides he needs to sweeten the pot.

The next night, he has a boy place an object in a box and says that he will duplicate the object in another box.

Someone from the audience shouts that this is just too far! TOO FAR J’ONZZ! YOU’LL PAY FOR CRIMES AGAINST MAN AND GOD!

First he looks in the box and sees it is an ice cream cone. Then he uses…component parts from the very atoms in the air and make another ice cream

He continues to make duplicates of various things for audience members for 30 damn minutes, until finally one guy doesn’t want to reveal what he had duplicated. Like he had the magician duplicate his favorite sex toys or something. NO! DON’T SHOW EVERYONE! IT’S TOO EMBARRASSING!

Oh wait no, he had J’onn duplicate the diamond-studded lion collar he stole! 

The thief runs towards the fire-eaters flaming torches though, having noticed earlier that they startled J’onn. J’onn blows them out from across the room though and apprehends the criminal who turns out to be the circus’s clown. 

The circus owner asks J’onn one last time how he blew out those torches. J’onn says “I’m a Martian! A freakin’ Martian! Hahahahaahahaha!”

N0, he says he can’t tell  because of some Magician’s Oath crap.

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DETECTIVE COMICS #234: The Martian Convict

This is maybe, maybe the most sensible story in this entire book. J’onn goes undercover at a prison to figure out who is planning a prison break that the warden suspects is going to happen.

Don’t worry though, dumb stuff will still happen.

At the station, the chief sends Detective Jones down to the prison to check out this prison break rumor. It’s important to figure it out before the break occurs, even though the chief states that the prison is apparently escape-proof. Escape-proof! It is far better designed than the martian prisons where you float in space for the rest of your life. 

John decides he needs a disguise, as many of the criminals would recognize him as the detective that arrested them. Unless they were arrested when he pretended to be a ghost and drove them to confess their crimes. Those ones won’t recognize him. 

The disguise they stick on him is, quite seriously, a bigger nose and a pair of glasses. While they put the uh…nose on him, the cheif lights up a cigarette and J’onn momentarily panicks. I strap in for a large fire to start later. 

In the prison, they put John near the break’s presumed ring leader Big Mike. They suspect there are two other ring leaders, and John turns invisible and walks into Mike’s cell late at night to eavesdrop on their plans. 

The next morning while still covertly spying on Mike during laundry duty, a big basket of laundry hits John in the back and knocks his disguise off

I am still a bit flabbergasted as to why a shapeshifter would wear a fake nose, but when it gets knocked off one of the cons recognizes him and rushes off to tell Mike, who says that Jones is on his last case! I get excited for the big fire! Oh boy!

Then as John is working lumber detail (lumber detail? what?) the line on the crane snaps somehow and a pile of lumber almost crushes John. I guess it’s presumed that the cons did that to try to kill him, but I don’t know how or when. Later John is in the license plate plant (god, seriously?) when a barrel rolls towards him somehow (there’s no one near it) and almost knocks him into the stamping machine. A guard notices his second near-death experience in one day, and tells John to man, go take a nap or something, I’m tired just watching you. 

Big Mike is frustrated at his failure to kill Jones, and decides instead to frame another convict as being one of the escape plans leaders. He tucks a note into a the pants of another con, and John sees it, grabs it and arrests everyone he can right then and there. Big Mike throws the bar of soap that he apparently carries around with him at another con that his laughing at him. 

As John looks over the record of the framed convict he realizes that he’s been had, and also figures out who the third break leader actually is! He runs back to the guy Mike threw the soap at. It’s him! And inside the soap is the evidence!


Who hides evidence in..

I guess convicts.

And that’s the end, prison break busted.


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Criminals Are a Superstitious and Idiotic Lot

DETECTIVE COMICS #233: The Ghost from Outer Space

Issue #233 promises John Jones’ most INCREDIBLE case. Without qualification. And, well, while it is pretty silly, things definitely go…uphill? downhill? Somewhere from here. This is not the most incredible or most ridiculous or most amazing or most anything case. It’s really just another fucking weird story.

Right away we are reminded of J’onn’s fire weakness as he balks at the flares a police officer is using to mark a car accident. As usual, this is practically a guarantee of a fire encounter later. At the car accident, notorious gang leader Gus Bartley has died in the crash and the police officer who moonlights as a mechanic points out to J’onn that the brake line on the truck was cut. 

He also refers to J’onn as “Lt. Jones” even though I had no idea John had a rank in the department. I thought he was just “detective.” Probably no one will call him lieutenant again though, so I really shouldn’t put much stock into this one frame.

Next J’onn follows the tread marks using his crazy martian vision (more uses discovered daily!) back to Bartley’s gang’s hideout. He says that “By sustained concentration, I can keep that ONE tire mark enlarged on the retina of my eyes.” Dude, what? Also he does this while driving. He is staring at the ground, with the door to his car wide open, and driving. 

Finally he reaches the gang’s hideout and peers inside where he discovers that they are highly superstitious based on their decorating. 

This decorating is so stupid. If you are super worried about breaking a mirror? Just don’t own a giant mirror. You don’t want to walk under a ladder? Don’t have one in your goddamn living room. Concerned you might open an umbrella indoors? Why do you have even one umbrella? Let alone two?

J’onn listens in on their conversation and hears that not only did THEY kill Gus, but that Gus threatened to come back and haunt them if they ever did kill him. Well well well, I hope you’re excited. Because it’s time once again for the classic Martian crimebusting tactic of “freak the criminals out until they confess.” 

J’onn disguises himself as the ghost of Bartley and starts doing weird things to each of the gang members. He puts Bartley’s old hat on one particularly fat and sweaty guy. As another guy is shaving he comes over and starts lathering up his face for him. Then as the third of these hardened criminals is about to bust open a soda pop, J’onn makes it appear as though the ghost of Bartley is rising from the bottle, oooooOOooOoOooOooooh! The three gang members all start freaking out, but decide that they won’t let a little thing like a ghost stop them from doing their criming. 

The next day though, as they head out to steal stuff, invisible J’onn shoves one of the guys under a ladder, and berates him with Bartley’s voice. Muahaha. Crime FOILED. Because they can’t do a crime with a bad omen like that hanging over them. Later they again try to break into a safe, except there’s a mirror near the safe that J’onn (aka GHOST OF BARTLEY) breaks, once again scaring off our crooks.

The next week, they decide to try to break into an exclusive beach club, and THIS TIME they took a lot of zig zags across town so that ghost couldn’t follow them! Guys, it’s a ghost, not an alligator. Well, really it’s a Martian, but you THINK it’s a ghost, and I don’t know why you think that taking some crazy route to your next job is gonna “lose” him. Case in point, they enter the club to find a room FULL of giant umbrellas, ALL opened! Another crime, down the tubes.


They’ve had just about enough and decide it’s time to fight that ghost off. One of the gang members finds in a book, a legend about trapping a ghost using a snake’s rattle, a lily pad, and a hound’s tooth. “To the zoo!” he says, because they are going to go there and kill a snake? What in the fuck.

That evening, the gang has all the necessary items to trap their ghost. Apparently a ghost can’t resist touching the things they got, so they place them in a room and when the ghost goes in after them, they’ll slam a steel door shut, trapping him. I get the superstition of luring the ghost, sure. I don’t get the whole uh, trapping him in a room? With a steel door? Are they ghost-proof? Does the person writing this just have some completely different ideas of ghosts than I do? Do I need to go research the general ideas people had of ghosts back in the 1950’s?

“Oh well, in 1956, people thought that ghosts could be trapped by any room if it had a steel door and the right kind of wallpaper. The idea that ghosts could walk through walls didn’t come about until around the mid 1980’s when a middle-aged man in Newport, Connecticut claimed a ghost had entered his  home and slapped his sister-in-law’s ass. This lead to a rash of misdeeds across the United States being blamed on ghosts, until late 1987.” 

Uh, anyway, J’onn decides to play along with their little trick and goes into the room. Except oh shit, who didn’t see this coming? In the room is a goddamned oil lamp. The flame weakens J’onn and the gang members all think that they have got that ghost whupped for sure. J’onn however goes to the lamp and basically CRIES on it to extinguish the flame, then gives the gang members one last good spook.

Back at the station, they can’t confess fast enough. And J’onn doesn’t get any credit. Good job, LIEUTENANT. HOWEVER YOU GOT THAT RANK.

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Nothin’ but a Hound Dog

DETECTIVE COMICS #232: The Dog with the Martian Master

I’m just gonna say this is one of my favorite issues ever, and then dive right in.

J’onn one day is chasing a jewel thief, Andy Fletcher, across a bridge. As he does, some people are pointing to the water where a dog is drowning. J’onn, being a big hearted, kind gentleman that he is, decides he can worry about the thief later, and instead decides to save the doggy. Under the bridge, he uses another made up on the spot Martian power to walk on top of the water, then decides if he’s not wet when he carries the dog out of the river, well that might look suspicious.

Back at the station, he’s standing around in his underpants while the rest of his clothes dry. He tells the Sergeant to work on locating the dog’s master, then heads back out again to look for Fletcher.

At an iron works factory J’onn uses his martian hearing to listen carefully to the footsteps inside, sure that they might be Fletcher’s when suddenly the dog sneaks up behind him and starts barking! The sound startles J’onn and sends Fletcher looking for a new hideout.

J’onn says he’ll take the dog home and tie him up there until he’s done with this case. As he does, a man walks by smoking a cigarette and J’onn mentions how much he hates fire and how it weakens him.

This is pretty much a guarantee that the fire thing will come up again later. Almost every time it is brought up, it is to remind you so that in the next three pages when an oil lamp gets kicked over and a cigarette is haphazardly tossed into some dry brush, you’re not all crazy confused about why J’onn is laying on the ground, dying.

The dog tied up safely in his apartment, Detective Jones heads to the market where he finds Fletcher holed up in a flour warehouse. As he stands invisible on a ledge outside the window, the goddamn dog is back again! He leaps onto to J’onn’s invisible back and Fletcher turns and see a dog floating in mid-air. He damn near has a heart attack at this and makes for yet another different hideout.

Back at his apartment, J’onn does some more investigating: namely, how did the dog manage to escape. Oh it is quite the tale! Apparently the dog BROKE THE WINDOW to cut his leash, and then LEAPT TO A NEARBY ROOF TOP to get down. Holy shit are you kidding me? That is one crazy fucking dog.

This time J’onn decides he needs a doghouse, so he makes him one out of some old golf clubs. It looks more like one of those American Gladiator spheres people would roll around in, but the dog also has one of J’onn’s sweaters on. No that doesn’t make anything better.

After J’onn leaves, the dog starts yipping and manages to roll his cage all the way down the fire escape to the ground where it busts open.

J’onn has tracked Fletcher to the Bijou Theater. He turns invisible, ready to apprehend him. I don’t know why he thought he needed to be invisible to do it, but he was. As he grabs him, oh guess what! The oil lamp next Fletcher gets knocked over and immediately starts a HUGE fire. J’onn manages to drag Fletcher to the window where he throws him out of the building and tells the people outside to hold on to him. He’s still invisible. So it was just like…the voice of god to them or something.

Firefighters show up, but J’onn doesn’t have the strength to change into a normal form again and be saved. No one can see him, and crying out will give away his secret. But then!

Oh hurray!

The dog is there! And he pulls J’onn out of the fire and J’onn turns visible again and names the dog Jupiter and says they’re gonna be pals for a long time!

(We never see that dog again.)

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Don’t Drop The Space-Soap

DETECTIVE COMICS #231: The Theif Who Had Super Powers!

At a robbery, J’onn is talking to a victim who tells him about the robber who could walk through walls (Whoa!) and bend bullets with his mind (dang!). J’onn thinks that sounds pretty crazy but figures there must be a reasonable explanation. Suddenly he’s called away to another robbery on a boat. Some ladies were modeling the crown jewels when one of the diamond tiaras started floating and was seemingly carried off the ship by an invisible man.

The cop on the scene tells this all to J’onn then immediately lights his pipe as though it is the most important thing on his mind right then. “Oooh all this floating tiara nonsense gives me the spooks. I need my pipe!”

J’onn, naturally freaks out in his head over the fire a bit, but manages to maintain his composure. He thinks the case over to himself, how this strange theif seems able to do everything he can do! It doesn’t make any sense. Well J’onn here takes an Occam’s Razor to that bitch and decides it MUST be a magician-thief. Which is a thief that is also a magician, not a thief that steals magicians. While his brain churns along, he is alerted to yet another robbery downtown. J’onn ducks into a room and here’s a new power!

The ability to WILL his body to any part of the world.

Couldn’t you…will yourself back to Mars?

Nevermind. J’onn is downtown now where the thief is carrying an armored car. J’onn activates this issue’s interpretation of “Martian Vision” and uses his eyes to heat the armored car. The thief though suddenly turns invisible. J’onn uses his super hearing to track him, saying that no two people sound exactly the same when they run. We are like little running snowflakes. With our own special thumps thumps when our feet touch the ground. Isn’t that just magical?

So he gets him cornered at the hotel where the thief tries to disappear again. Right then though, someone in the next room tells the bellhop that he will be FIRED if he messes up again. Just hearing the WORD makes J’onn freak out a bit and after calming himself notices that the theif has shrunk to only three inches tall.

Now J’onn realizes that the thief must be another Martian! Oh my god. And when he heard the word “fire” he flipped out and shrunk. He’s got some definite flight instinct, except instead of flying he tries to be small and out of the sight of the fire.

J’onn shrinks down too, but I’m not really clear why. I think to be like “hey I’m a Martian too” like it’s a well known ritual. If ye be Martian, shrinketh and we shall know ye! (in the Biblical sense).

They both return to normal size and the other martian explains that he’s one of the criminals from Mars (I thought we got rid of that crime stuff like centuries ago?) and that the belt that kept him floating in space around the planet must’ve malfunctioned and brought him to earth. J’onn looks at the belt, knowing he could use it to get home, but then this other Martian would be free to rob and pilfer whatever he wanted on Earth. And really, he’s already committed THREE robberies in a single day. He’s not gonna just hang out and behave.

So J’onn fixes the belt and watches the Martian float away into space.

And I guess that case just stayed unsolved officially in the police files because how the fuck is explaining this shit to the Chief?

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These Are the Rays of Our Lives

DETECTIVE COMICS #230: The Sleuth Without a Clue

This issue is…befuddling at times, to say the least. We have the usual recap of J’onn’s story and a nice run down of the powers that are used at least semi-consistently: Passing through matter, allowing matter to pass through him, “Martian vision” which usually seems to manifest as just anything involving his eyes. Also sometimes it seems like when he lets the bullets pass through him he’s supposed to be mostly invisible because they like to refer to it as turning “translucent?” I’ll be honest, a lot of these stories need a caption under the occasional frame that says “Just…just go with it, okay?” 

After the nice recap of his powers, we see that J’onn is currently have trouble with his current case, busting the Farrow Gang! The Chief (what happened to Captain Harding? What happened to Lt. Saunders? Are these the same people getting morphed every issue or is J’onn getting promoted and transferred without anyone mentioning it?) is in a meeting with the DA, who tells him that he’ll need to resign if no one catches the Farrow Gang within 24 hours! J’onn overhears this with his Martian hearing and is distraught. After all, he’s known the Chief for…this whole issue? Since he came to earth? I don’t know!

As the Chief leaves the office, J’onn tells him not to worry, that he’ll have the Farrows soon enough. He asks J’onn how he heard the DA’s threat, and J’onn pretends that he read in the newspaper that it might happen. Smooth, Mr. J’onzz.

J’onn hits the street to look for clues and while questioning a gun salesman, he hears one of the Farrow gang in the shop next door. He decides to quickly hurry into that shop by walking through the wall between them. Only as he makes his move, he discovers that for some reason his power doesn’t work, and just SMASHES into the wall face first. The shopkeep is staring right at him, but doesn’t say anything like “what the hell, detective? You know there’s a WALL there, right?”

Instead our hero leaps to his feet and runs outside where Bennet, the gang member is climbing into a getaway car. He turns to Detective Jones and shoots him. J’onn tries to let the bullet pass through him, but again his powers fail and it nicks his shoulder. His powers fail him a third time when his Martian Vision can’t read a license plate.

He looks towards the sky and realizes the most ridiculous thing. It’s the time of year when the BLAZER COMET is passing between Earth and Mars for the next 24 hours. And the comet is blocking off the rays from Mars that are suddenly the reason J’onn has magic powers. What. When did this happen?

He decides not to let this comet stop him however, and uses some old fashioned detective work to track the gang to a beach. At the beach, he can’t find their hideout and there’s only 2 1/2 hours left to save the Chief! Noooooo! Then he sees an old ship in the water and a trail leading to it. Deciding that must be the hideout, he heads that way, but is jumped by the Farrow Gang. They take him back to the boat and tie him up before deciding to leave for a new hideout. J’onn uses a nearby car battery full of battery acid to somehow eat through his ropes and chase after the crooks.

Outside the boat, Jones catches up to them and somehow more cops are there too. Not sure how they got contacted…

He apprehends them just in time to save the Chief, who says that sometimes haha, he thinks Detective Jones must have superpowers.

Oh isn’t that crazy. This is the one time when he didn’t!

And then J’onn winks to the reader. It’ll be our little secret!

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