After DC’s unique take on familiar Hanna Barbera properties, the comics line has decided to take its “bend the rules” attitude to the world of Looney Tunes. In this instance, the heroes of the DC Universe are pitted against the Merry Melodies cast in some truly strange “Vs.” tales. After enjoying the Hanna Barbera outings, I decided to give this series a chance (outside of an initial raised eyebrow at some of the match-ups (Batman Vs. Elmer Fudd? Lobo Vs. Road Runner? No, I’m not making these up).
This particular issue gets intergalactic by pitting J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter against Marvin the Martian.
There are two stories to each of these specials: One in a more “realistic” take from the DC Universe, and one more in a classic cartoon style.
The more serious tale finds J’onn intercepting what he believes to be distress signal in his native Martian language. After using a interdimensional portal, Marvin steps out, curious, but with a familiar goal.
The tale interweaves the Martian Manhunter’s need to find any sort of connection to his native Martian homeworld, and the lengths traveled to find something familiar. Marvin, however, retains his droll demeanor mixed with his genocidal need to destroy Earth.
While different in every conceivable way, a debate takes place of J’onn’s need to save his adopted planet regardless of its bigotries and weaknesses, countered by Marvin’s observations that no matter what is done, they will never be appreciated due to their differences. They are two vastly different types of Martian, and yet they are connected by being Martian.
It’s an interesting moral tale. The Manhunter’s loneliness and need for connection is real, isolated by a world that rejects him despite the good he tries to bring to it. Marvin is dark, lost, angry… and true to character, looney. It’s dark humor mixed with madness. The familiar elements are there, but J’onn’s attempts to sanely reason with him versus Bugs Bunny’s practices of humiliating to send Marvin packing back to Mars is a stark contrast. In many ways, both make compelling arguments in the case for and against humanity. The final resolution of the story’s conflict was fitting.
The second tale is far more slapstick in to, with the Martian Manhunter passing by Marvin’s observatory. The tone is far lighter, but Marvin’s attempts to blow up the Earth are still ever present. J’onn and Marvin match wits in a more playful way with the more animated style of “putting one over him”, and they do give as much as they get. Marvin being jealous of J’onn’s various powers is an amusing mini conflict, and the resolution is far more typical Looney Tunes in style.
Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian Special #1 is as weird as you would expect it to be, and is the first time that Marvin the Martian has been portrayed in such a menacing light, yet staying true to character. Still, it’s a fun romp, and worth checking out simply to see how this story concludes.