Saturday, September 05, 2015

Mr. Moth Week 4: Money, Means, and Mania

We've focused so much on J'onn in this story. But what of the great menace himself. Mr. Moth?  And where does one hide a giant radioactive clock?

Why, in an isolated lighthouse, of course. [Which, by the way, is more proof, if more proof were needed, that Apex City is on the ocean (as most cities in Florida are).]

If you just remove the word balloons, this is nearly a perfect surrealist painting.

Wow; there's a lot going on here.  First is the fact that Mr. Moth probably doesn't seem as menacing to you in person as he does when the Mothcopter is looming overheard.  Why, he may even seem a tad risible to some jaded souls!  

But that's because, as a comic book reader, you're endured to object-headed villains.  I assure you, if you saw a white-gloved man in a purple suit wearing a moth-shaped helmet covering his entire face coming toward you in person, you would know with 100% certainty that you were about to die like an innocent suburbanite in a home invasion flick and would feel menaced accordingly.  Particularly if, as he advanced, he intoned, "Another light-giving prize to add to my collection of rarities!"

We need a gritty reboot of Mr. Moth, Hollywood!

Second is that his hideout is in a commandeered lighthouse.  That may seem way too obvious, in the manner of a Batman '66 villain, as in "Catwoman's at the abandoned Gato & Chat warehouse".  But remember: this is Apex, America's Most Flammable City.

Most businesses in Apex are about things that BURN.  Here, to demonstrate, is a page from the Apex City Telephone Directory of the day:

And that's just the A's.

Given that...there are a LOT of places that someone like Mr. Moth might be hiding out. Places he can stash his precious, stolen collection of light-giving rarities like...




Mr Moth (much like his more successful Gotham counterpart, Killer Moth) is clearly a villain who makes money for the purpose of committing crimes, rather than one who commits crime for the purpose of making money.  Men like Mr. Moth have money, means, and mania.

All of which he employs the next day, as Det. John Jones and the notoriously idle gawkers of Apex City flock to a new statue unveiling (which probably should have been held at NIGHT):

"Glowing Globe Greets Grateful Gawkers", writes Dominic Magenta, unveiling critic for the Daily Clarion.

I think the City of Apex's Department of Parks & Public Monuments needs its own back-up series, so we could see the process by which civic leaders decide that what their city REALLY needs is a statue of Atlas, painted in phosphorus...

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Mr Moth Week #3: Coal-Oriented!

When we last left Apex City, Officers Toody and Muldoon, blinded by Mr. Moth's super-spotlight, were careening their squad card into a flock of gawking Apexians.

If only J'onn would share with the world his marvelous Martian technology of 'brakes".

Naturally, nothing can be done, and scores of people die.  Ha, no; this is where the Martian Manhunter lives, after all. As mentioned in previous posts, he never has anything to do and is always wandering around, waiting to be imperiled by a garbage-can fire.  In fact, here he comes now...

In what world do detectives have 'routine rounds'?  

At this point I feel it important to emphasize: J'onn is an alien.  VERY alien.  J'onn does not see the world as you and I do, at all.  If J'onn sees a discarded light bulb or a used paper cup lying on the ground between him and a trash can, he does not think, "I shall pick this trash up and place it in the bin."

No. What J'onn thinks is: "A piece of trash! Lying on the ground in front of me, near that trashbin!  Hm... If I oscillate my hand quickly enough, it can create a vortex that will lift the debris up...up...and into the trashbin! And any bystanders gawking around this area will attribute it to a lucky gust of wind!"

Because J'onn is WEIRD. I shudder to think what his house looks like.  He probably uses Martian-vision to make toast, then uses the unplugged toaster to butter it.  Wouldn't want to risk the bread catching on fire, now, would you?

A...a coal truck? What th--?!

Skipping the obligatory "change into Martian Manhunter" scene, here.

Obviously this must take MUCH less time than, say, just grabbing the car.

Once again, crazed alien disco queen J'onn J'onzz decides that spinning is the thing to do.  Even I'm non-plussed.  Even for J'onn this plan is absurd.  

The first rule of being a Martian is:
"All problems that can be solved by spinning
must be solved by spinning."

As a reminder: apparently, Apex City squad cars' brakes do not function if you can't see where you are going. 

I challenge you to come up with a more ridiculous way for J'onn to save the crowd from the squad car.  You can think about it all day, and you will fail.  Because YOU are not a Martian.  

You know, I think I have figured it out: there is some sort of Martian version of the Prime Directive that J'onn is trying desperately to uphold. He can't DIRECTLY interfere in anything, but if he sets up the right dominos, he can indirectly create the outcome he desires, and advert a war in the Gamma Quadrant.

Later, at police headquarters, Detective John Jones shows once again why the department would be lost without him:

"Good god, Holmes; it's so simple once you've explained it!"

"ORLY?," thinks Captain Harding. "That's a GREAT idea, Jones. And here I was, wondering whether I should ask him out on a date.  If you weren't the ONLY detective on the entire force, I would fire you so fast it would make your head spin.  But you'd probably like that..."

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Mr. Moth Week 2: Three O'Flock!

Have you even wondered what people in Apex City do for fun in their spare time?  The answer is: they flock.  All the time.  There is, as I recall, no evidence that there is television in Apex City. Unlike Star City, where heroes can just sit and wait for criminals to expose themselves on live teevee, Apexians in need of distraction need to don their brightly colored suits and fedoras, tighten their black ties and wander the crater-pocked streets of the city for some action.

Thus, Apexians wile away the hours looking for things to gawk at collectively, like falling safes, planes, and meteors.  If construction is the native industry of Central City, than Apex City's is insurance.  Fortunately for the listless citizens of Apex, as this story begins, the ACE TIME COMPANY is opening its new building!

I'm trying to picture this happening in my own life.

Scipio: "Josh, you simply must drive into the city right away!"
Josh: "Oh? What's up? Statue unveiling? Public demonstration of a dangerous weapon?  Or is it time for the Running of The Meteors again...?"  
Scipio; "No, it's the opening of a new WATCH company!"
Josh: "Grabbing my orange fedora! I'm out the door, text me the address en route!"

In all fairness to the fine citizens of Apex, the Ace Time Company does have a snazzy GIANT LADIES WATCH on its roof.

Josh does look pretty good in that hat, though.

If you are wondering why anyone would paint a public commercial monument in a toxic, radioactive substance... good question.  This was still in the era where science was in it's "oo, what do THIS button do?" phase of pre-adolescence.  People liked radium because it made stuff glow.  

Stuff like, say, Henry Ross.

And people used to love to have watches that glow in the dark for the same reason you now use your cellphone to light up a dark room.  They are technological tiki torches.

Eventually, as the bodies mounted up, science figured out, "Hey, stuff isn't really supposed to GLOW. Glowing is almost always a sign that something it bad for you."

Sometimes VERY bad.

But like Mr. Moth we are all attracted to the power of light. Speaking of whom...

Apexians are a cowardly, superstitious lot.

WHAT do they see? Whose shadow drapes over them? What ULTIMATE HORROR could be freezing these folks' souls?  Darkseid? Gamora? The Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man?


If he can see Mr. Moth from there, Officer Exposition must have the keenest vision in all of Apex.  Plus x-ray eyes.
Maybe it's the radium

Yes, using a special device called a 'crane', the terrifying Mr. Moth is stealing a giant prop clock.  

That is a REALLY small building.

So Toody and Moldoon decide to drive their squad car about 50 feet at top speed in hopes of getting up to the roof and stopping a helicopter by hand.  What could possibly go wrong?

See? There's a downside to having sensitive eyes, Muldoon.

Thanks to Mr. Moth's super-spotlight, the squad car is careening toward a crowd of flocking Apexians!  And (apparently) the driver can't possibly put his foot on the break when he can't SEE!


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Mr. Moth Week 1: The Menacing Begins!

Oh, I've been trying to fight it. But its allure is ineluctable. It beckons to me like a beacon; but like a siren it only calls me to my doom.  Finally, I can fight no more and I am giving in to the irresistible attraction of...


For too long has he been shrouded in mystery, his name spoken only in the darkest alleys of the internet. It's time to shed some light on MR MOTH, one of the Martian Manhunter's few thematic foes.

I REALLY miss intro-exposition panels like this. Every one is worth ten "Batman cold opens".

Already you know you're in for quite a ride. The Martian Manhunter will have to use HIS GREATEST POWERS to end the menace of Mr. Moth.  And since J'onn has every power imaginable, makes up new ones on the spot for one-time use, and always uses them in bizarre and indirect ways, what constitutes 'his greatest powers' boggles the mind.  We're talking about a being that can create ice creams cones from nothingness, gather gold from seawater with is mind, cause  his laundry to do itself, and spin like nobody's business.  Yet even he will be stymied by....  

Mr. Moth-- a name even less suited to invoking terror than "B'rett". 

Mr. Moth had better be danged impressive.  Because, with that name and his penchant for glitter, I'm already picturing him as Killer Moth's sassy gay friend.  
"Give yourself up, Moth!" a policewoman shouts.  
"That is MISTER Moth to YOU, little lady cop!' he sasses back.  

At least he starts out pretty well on the splash page: he defeats still-not-yet-able-to-fly J'onn Jonzz with a thematically tricked out CH-53 Sea Stallion, painted bright yellow...

Yep. Nothing you can do, J'onn. Because you're nearly powerless, right?

Monday, August 31, 2015


Ordinarily, I begin posts about the Martian Manhunter by talking about how weird or unloved he is.  But lately -- particularly compared to the other founding JLA members -- he's doing pretty well.  

He's got his own series (where the fact that he's weird is finally being made to work in his favor), his backstory's being cleaned up, and he's been given unique threats and situations to deal with. He hasn't lost his memory, like Batman (in fact, he's gained it back).  He hasn't lost his secret ID, like Superman (in fact, he seems to have gained several).  He's not spending all his time fighting his sibling, unlike Wonder Woman (unless they are going to make Ma'alefa'ak his brother again, which I doubt).  Okay; like Aquaman, his countrymen have been trying to kill him, But at least his wife isn't; in fact, he never even HAD a wife.  On the whole, for being the Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz is doing pretty well, Except for being dead, but we know that's just a temporary set-back for JJ.

When a character starts doing well in comics, there's often a lag time before that goodwill is felt in other media and ancillary merchandising.  So it could be another ten years before we see a Heroclix figures of, say, Ma'alefa'ak or the Martian Man-Eater or Mister Biscuits.  Unwilling to wait, I've tried to do my bit for J'onn-boosting by having customs made of some of his cast (Diane Meade, Captain Harding, Officer 'Big Mike' Hanson).  MM foes are slim pickings; I've long had a Human Flame custom (because everyone loves the Human Flame) and I have ones on the way for The Falcon and the Human Squirrel.  And soon I will get out some yellow paint and turn an old MM figurative into that wicked mastermind, that ultimate expression of Martian lawlessness, the nefarious B'RETT.

It's not easy to make "B'rett' into a name of terror, but he gave it a rum go.

So, to prepare for some Manhunter-focused Heroclix games I have designed a map just for them. In his original adventures, the locals had created both a museum and a theme park dedicated to J'onn J'onzz.  So surely they would have had at least one commemorative plaza as well:  I call it: "Mars Park"

With trees and picnic tables (hindering terrain)  at one end and concession stands (blocking terrain) on the other, Mars Park has four glass-domed pavilions (hindering terrain) to provide shelter during inclement weather (like, say, a meteor shower).  

The center is occupied by inlaid stone areas showing the orbits of Earth and Mars, punctuated by statues of each planet (blocking terrain), with Mars held aloft by J'onn J'onzz, like an Alien Atlas (copyright Frank Diabolu) upholding the memory of his lost world.

The Earth orbit area has sunken pools of water as befits the Big Blue Marble. And at the center of it all is a well-lit globe of eternal flame that represents the sun--AND a danger to Martians, due to their weakness to fire.  As a result, the area around the fire is special terrain injurious to Martian figures (who take damage each time they enter it, each time they start a turn there, and each time they end a turn there)