thelazyreader ([personal profile] thelazyreader) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-01-26 10:25 pm

Martian Manhunter week Part 3-B: Fernus the Burning

Continuing from my last post, here are some scans from the second half of JLA: Trial by Fire by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke.

Recap: A powerful telepath has been manipulating people across the world to forcibly put an end to its problems, lobotomizing criminals and making world leaders peacefully resolve all their disputes. With the Martian Manhunter in an oddly weakened state, the Justice League is left defenceless from assault. Ultimately it becomes clear that their formidable opponent is a Martian, and in fact, none other than J'onn J'onnz himself, now turned into a monstrous being calling himself Fernus.

After getting their asses kicked in the initial confrontation, the League have regrouped at the Fortress of Solitude. Their prisoner, Vandal Savage reminisces about how he encountered a crashed Oan ship and fought a creature much like Fernus back in his caveman days.

Superman figures the 80-odd White Martians they had earlier trapped in the Phantom Zone might know more about Fernus, only to find that he's already entered the Zone and killed them all.

And he's invited Aubrey along to watch her new and improved boyfriend at work. Bad Krypto!

Time for a heroic rescue. Green Lantern(the other John) earlier dissapeared when the League teleported to the Fortress. Now he busts in to interrupt Fernus's fun, with his wounds healed, an energy construct over his head and his mind now immune to telepathic attacks.

After saving their bacon John(not J'onn, take note) takes the League to a safe place. He reveals that Ganthet intervened to save him and taught him how to re-route his brain to shield it against telepathy. And finally explained what's been going on: there's a dark history regarding the Martians that even J'onn knew nothing about.

J'onn, like all Martians, has most of Superman's powers plus others like telepathy, telekinesis, matter-phasing, invisibility and shapeshifting. The only thing that balances all this is his weakness to fire. But in his 'true' form, as a Burning Martian, he thrives on fire, devastation and suffering. And once he's caused enough chaos and destruction he gains the strength to reproduce. Asexually.

The League realises that unless they find a way to stop Fernus they'll soon be facing an army of Burning Martians. Since they can't beat him in an actual fight, they take Manitou Raven(the team shaman) to Stonehenge to work his magic.

Of course, he knows all their secret identities. And we get to see things from his perspective as he mind-controlled lynch mobs at the heroes' family members to keep them preoccupied...

...while he telepathically triggers the launch of the Earth's nuclear missiles.

Meanwhile, we finally see what Batman was doing during this debacle. After teleporting away from the Fortress he made his way to the home of Ralph Jonhs, aka, Plastic Man, to seek his assistance. To his shock Ralph can't remember ever being a superhero and insists that he's just an average guy.

Batman finally gives up and leaves to help with the nuclear missiles. Plastic Man's son Luke wants his dad to fight, leading to a poignant exchange between him and Batman.

Poor Luke. Meanwhile, as the others try to stop the nuclear missiles Manitou Raven brings Atom and Major Disaster into the astral plane to find J'onn/Fernus.

Fernus detects their prescence and they find themselves in a battle for their souls(literally) with J'onn's many alter egos, now under Fernus' control.

At Ralph's home Luke tries to convince his dad to go back to being Plastic Man. Another great exchange:

And as the League struggles to stop the Burning Martian, the tide is turned by an unlikely savior.

Fernus is amused at the idea of Plastic Man being Batman's secret gambit and commands him to stretch till he snaps. He stops laughing when Plas ignores his telepathy and smashes him through five apartment blocks.

Turns out Batman had planned for this scenario long ago and had nominated Plastic Man to the JLA for the specific purpose of being their contingency plan against the Martian Manhunter. Plas manages to tie up Fernus, but the Martian has one more trick up his sleeve. He telepathically planted the belief in the JLA's minds that they'd dealt with all the missiles, when there was one left.

'And here we... go'.

It's the Flash's turn to shine. That's one of the most impressive speed feats ever seen in comic books.

Though no lives were lost, seeing the mushroom cloud finally puts all thoughts of restraint out of the League's minds.

'Whatever it takes.' It has to be really bad when even Superman gives up on saving J'onn and decides on killing him instead.

Aubrey is torn between her love for J'onn and the her revulsion at the monster she unknowingly helped him become. Finally, the League gets their opening when all the flames in the city die down unexpectedly, weakening Fernus.

Fernus blasts her with psychic flame and then regenerates his body. The carnage has given finally given him the energy to breed offspring, and the JLA is out of ideas.

Wonder Woman: Please don't say "I don't know."
Batman: ... All right, I won't say it.

But seeing Aubrey collapsing has finally given J'onn the strength to regain control over the astral plane and separate himself from Fernus.

The League causes a tidal wave to wash over the city, nullifying the fire advantage and letting J'onn settle the score.

J'onn disintegrates Fernus with his Martian Vision and puts an end to the devastation. Thus he regains his old life, albeit at a great cost.

It's no Rock of Ages, Tower of Babel or Obsidian Age, but it's a good story by itself with some great characterisations. And the art by Doug Mahnke is fantastic. It's a pity Fernus was never revisited by other writers.

And so ends the MM week. Whew.

[personal profile] omgwtflolbbqbye 2011-01-27 05:27 am (UTC)(link)
Well I meant in the period right after this story long before Final Crisis.

[personal profile] psychopathicus_rex 2011-01-27 09:47 am (UTC)(link)
Oh. Well, another argument you could make is that he may have accidentally reestablished the limitations while changing back from something else, since they had been an inherent part of his biology for so long that they were basically part of the genetic 'pattern' he recognized as his own. Or perhaps the changes were temporary ones. Or maybe the writers were being lazy.