And since I'm the only blogger I know who ever talked about this guy before he was revealed to be a pivot point of the Final Crisis crossover, it behooves me to tell...
The Story of the Human Flame
"Yes, the secret is out!" This story takes place right after the existence of the Martian Manhunter first became public knowledge (in "The Unmasking of J'onn J'onnzz") to the phlegmatic citizens of Apex (Apexians? Apexites?). Instead of going "Nyyaahhhhg! A Martian is among us! Bomb him!" like any decently xenophobic denizens of the 1950s, the Apexers simply said, "Cool; our own superhero." When you live in a town where meteors fall daily, I guess you develop substantial sang-froid.
So, once he's come out, J'onn's first challenge is facing a Human Flame. Ain't it always the way?
Poor Joey. Home from getting the Sunday edition of the Daily Clarion, ready to snuggle in at the secluded country cottage, eagerly anticipating Mike's emergence in a frilly negligee, or a boy scout uniform, or a leather harness. But instead...
"Nnyyahhhhg! Jeez, Mike no "full body suit" scenarios!
Who do you think you are... Masterman?"
And thus we set the stage for our tale:
Anyway, Mike seems pretty confident that no cop on earth can stop him because he's wearing a suit that shoots fire. I suppose the ordinary police couldn’t possibly handle the crime suit by, you know, shooting Mike in the leg. The crime suit raises other interesting questions, like, where does the fuel for the flames come from, how does it generate lightning bolts, and is that a cinch-waist jacket or sansabelt pants? If they're sansabelts, then Apex City is definitely in Florida.
Mike didn't just design the crime suit to confound the cops (who couldn't possibly just shoot him in the leg), but to stymie the Martian Manhunter as well, since there's a rumor in the underworld that his weakness is fire. You see, in the previous story, J'onn defeated an invading Martian villain by using his Martian breath to suck in burning leaves from several miles away, then blow them into a circle around the villain, all without extinguishing the flames. Yes, really.
Anyway, the rumor may have gotten started when the villain, who was a total drama queen, fell to his knees screaming out loud to the entire city, "FIRE--the one Martian weakness! I--I'm losing all my strength! Oh-h-h!" That's how rumors get started.By the way, how we got through that panel without seeing Mike light Joey's cigarette, I'll never know.
Mike, like many inventors, had his concept down pat, but was a little fuzzy on how to apply his technology. Thus, his plan for using the crime suit is to stagger leadenly down a Florida highway like a crazy guy on the road until an armored truck comes along. Which, fortunately for the plot, and Mike, it does.
Just in time. Mike's already taken a dump in the crime suit and is about to pass out with heat exhaustion from walking along a Florida highway in a fireproof suit. I think I'm going to re-do my Apex City map to include a roadsign that says "DETOUR -- CRAZY GUY IN ROAD NEXT 500 FEET".
Although we call crime-suited Mike “the Human Flame”, the suit actually did more than just shoot flames. Give the guy some credit. It also shot out electric bolts. In fact, Mike appears to have developed a practical, affordable, portable, non-lethal, and directable EMP generator.
Naturally, the security guards radio for help, and, even more naturally, John Jones is the only person to turn up.
Even more more naturally, John turns into the Martian Manhunter to handle the situation. Rather than, you know, just getting out of the car and shooting Mike in the leg... .
So, instead of just shooting Mike in the leg with his service revolver, J'onn has to use his absurd panoply of Martian powers to deal with the situation. What do you think he does (no fair peeking in the MM Showcase?)
(a). uses his superstrength to throw a rock at Mike, breaking his leg.
(b). uses his invisibility and intangibility to sneak up on Mike and tie his shoelaces together, causing him to trip and break his leg.
(c). uses mind-over-matter to draw gold from the local seawater and bribes Joey to shoot Mike in the leg.
(d). summons all the powers from the void of space to conjure a giant ice cream cone atom by atom with which to dowse the flames.
(e). something pointless that doesn't debilitate Mike but gives him the opportunity to attack the Martian Manhunter.
Turn in tomorrow to find out, same Martian-time, same Martian-station!