Friday, October 4, 2013

Inaugural Post: A Simple Question


Doug:  Why are the Vision and the Martian Manhunter the "faces" of their respective teams?




18 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Was/is Martian Manhunter the face of the JLA? If so, that's something that occurred long after what we call the Bronze Age, because he hardly ever appeared in the JLA's book (or anywhere else) in much of the 1970s and early '80s.

As for Vision, for me the answer is simple: he only appeared in the Avengers, and I remember when I started reading Avengers sometime in the mid-'70s, on every cover his picture (and his alone) was up in the left-hand corner right next to the word "Avengers."

david_b said...

Edo sums it up pretty well. I never thought of MM as the face of JLA.

If anyone, it would have been Supes.during the '70s, probably Batman or Guy in the kooky '80s JL era.

The Vision's easy.. The consumate team player, birthed and developed solely in the pages of Avengers.

While MM always had his solo backup stories.., Vish never did for most of the Bronze era (sans a few scattered MTU-MTIO appearances..), at least none I can recall.

Fred W. Hill said...

With the Vision, I'm sure it was because shortly after his introduction, he became the fan favorite of those Avengers who did not have their own series. His standing, arms folded across chest pose started appearing in the covers with issue #93, during the Kree-Skrull War, replacing the box full o' Avengers' heads that had been part of the logo for most of the previous 9 years. And I'd guess the FF & the reprint-era X-Men also replaced the head shots box with a single representative of the team, which in the FF was the Thing charging at us, and in the X-Men the Angel in flight.
BTW, has anyone ever noted of how many of the characters most associated with the JLA are aliens (Superman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, even Wonder Woman, although still from Earth) or, as in the case of Green Lantern, have powers from an alien culture?

Doug said...

Fair enough on J'onn, guys. Perhaps I'm showing my ignorance of JLA history, but around the time I was most interested in the book (both sides of the Crisis) he led the team and then seemed like that central influence during the "Bwah ha ha" days. But hey -- let's not let that stop us from discussing some Justice League history and perceptions -- if J'onn isn't "the face of the organization", then who is (and feel free to nail down certain periods in the team's annals)?

The Vision, on the other hand, comes up around here from time to time as definitely the face of the Avengers. We've had conversation in the past about essential team members, and we generally zero in on the synthezoid himself. So today just add your thoughts on "why"?

I've slotted one more of these. As with all things BAB, we hurl something up against the wall and see if it sticks. The next topic is non-controversial and will give you an opportunity to expound on your own history.

Thanks for playing!

Doug

david_b said...

Nope, Doug, this is a excellent topic.

Is there anyone else in other teams that effectively served as 'the face of..', perhaps Hawkeye for WCA, Cyborg for later NTT, etc..

As for 'the face of..', I cannot come up with a more clear or precise example, identity-wise, than Vish.., or Benjy for the FF.

Perhaps the pre-Vish Avengers face could have been Goliath. Despite Hank's early solo adventures in the Silver Age, they were frankly a distant memory in the Bronze Age of limited reprints (kept to annuals or 'king-size specials'..) and pre-tpb.

Silver Age JLA..? Snapper Carr maybe..?

(Just kidding...)

MattComix said...

I think it mainly boils down to the fact that they are characters who stand out but usually don't have their own books to contend with. So you can have them as a constant even when the rest of the roster goes through various shuffles. Hell, J'Onn even survived the lameness of the Detroit era Justice League.

I think it also helps that both characters bring for lack of a better way to put it, a certain Mr. Spock mojo to their respective teams

I don't know if "face" of their respective teams is accurate. "Mascot" would be bringing it down too much. Somewhere between the two maybe?

themiddlespaces said...

Am I allowed to say I don't really like the Vision?

I don't really like the Vision. I'm not hating on him, but as a guy who loves "robots trying to be human characters" there was something about Vision that never did it for me (I'm more a Machine Man guy).

I do like Martian Manhunter, but my DC knowledge is severely limited.

I think there was a period that MM was the face of the JLA, but yeah pretty sure that was post-Crisis and thus post Bronze Age as most people (not me) measure it.

Humanbelly said...

Matt has a point, in that "face" of the team doesn't quite nail it, although Vision in particular really did function in that capacity on the covers, as did J'onn at times. For the purpose of quick identification, it does make sense, as both fellows would be immediately identifiable as members of their respective teams, as opposed to Cap or Supes or Thor or Flash, etc-- whom you indentify w/ their own titles first and foremost.

But I do think both characters have a common appeal that sinks a subtler, deeper hook into the readers we once were (well, except for Middlespaces, maybe). Both characters are extreme outsiders (non-human, in fact!) with deeply difficult orignins that, by all counts, should make them bitter, unhappy, cynical bad guys-- and yet both have a fundamentally kind nature that turns them away from that path. That quiet kindness in the face of both personal and societal adversity was enormously appealing, I think, to many adolescent comic-reading kids back in the day. It was certainly a highly-geeky pastime in my youth-- most of the comic fans were pretty fringe-y even then-- but these guys were even moreso. . . and the fact that they valued and sacrificed for "regular" humans was both validating and provided such a sterling example of a quiet heroism that we could worse than to emulate.

Mind you, NONE of that is something I would have been aware of at the time. I just recognized feeling a tremendous sympathy for both characters, and that was more than enough.

HB

Rip Jagger said...

Logically it would be The Vision and Red Tornado, since both were created utterly and completely in the context of the books in which they most frequently appear. But as you say, it's Martian Manhunter who has become the quintessential JLofAer and it's what most have already said. He and the Vision are outsiders, others who are actually defined by the context of the team in which they operate.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

Yes, both the Vision and MM had distinctive looks, both of them being non human, one a green skinned alien and one a red faced android. To me whenever someone mentions the Vision, the first thing that comes to mind is the Avengers. That alone says just how intrinsically linked he is to this team.


- Mike 'Avengers Assemble!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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Matt Celis said...

Martian Manhunter isn't the face of the JLA. At least, he wasn't when I read it. He was barely a footnote in their history. I guess he's been pushed forward recently now that comics fans are writing it. Dunno, I always thought he was just a green Superman knockoff. Never found him interesting.

The Vision as the face of the Avengers I suppose the result of his long tenure as well as being an interesting character on his own and yet not having a solo comic book, thus the writers from his debut until John Byrne destroyed him could use him a lot and change things without stepping on anyone's toes. The only other character they had who shares those qualities was Hawkeye.

Murray said...

As indicated by others, for a "Face", you need a character that is found 90% exclusively in the Avengers title.

The characters with that pedigree would be Giant Man-Ant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket...but there we have the obvious disqualifier. Hank Pym's appearance changed over and over again. He can hardly be a recognizable symbol.

The Wasp. Even with her costume changes, she is readily identifiable with her wings. But, the Wasp suffers from being a girl. Comics in the early Bronze Age, and even near its end, were a hobby for boys. Unfair and all that, but that's the demographic.

Scarlet Witch. Same problem as Wasp.

Quicksilver. I'm not sure. No easy answer why not Quicksilver. Not that likeable a character, maybe?

Hawkeye. Hawkeye should be a definite contender, but he did a little identity switching himself. When they initially chose Vision for that cover corner, Hawkeye was Goliath. And then he returned in a different archer costume. The brand is muddied again.

The Panther. Not around nearly enough.

And there's the other thing. The Vision had a gold star attendance record that some other contenders lack. From his induction into the team, he never missed an issue for a very long time.

So, Vision. Same costume thru his career until Byrne messed things up. Male. And one of the mightiest of the bunch, when written well.

Martian Manhunter. I have to go with everyone else. His link to the Justice League of whatever is a post-Bronze thing.

Doug said...

I guess I really blew it with the premise of this post. As I said above, my apologies. We'll try this one more time in a week or two and see if it works better.

That being said, some of you are way too hung up on the name of this blog -- it really is OK to discuss things that fall outside that 1970-85 parameter. Really. It is.

Doug

Luis Olavo Dantas said...

I don't think Vision is the face of the Avengers these days, unfortunately. He used to be for roughly the 1970s, though. Alas, there _are_ no more Avengers and I don't even remember whether the Vision is considered alive today.

But when he was, it was because he was a very active member of the team and his history was strongly linked to it. Also, he is quite simply an interesting character.


As for Martian Manhunter, he used to be the public face of the JL as well (alas, hardly as much as he should have been) roughly since the last few days of the late, lamented JL of Detroit. Then came the low point that was the DeMatteis/Giffen/Maguire JLI, and without access to more traditional faces it fell on J'onn to take the spot of a serious, traditional face on the team and to keep things somewhat respectable. For various reasons, that was kept to some extent later, roughly until the time of JL Task Force.

So basically J'onn earned the spot by default.

Doug said...

Luis -- welcome!

And Karen and I may have been remiss in welcoming several other new commenters who've "gone public" over the past few weeks. We appreciate all who help us to further these conversations. Don't be strangers!

Doug

Bruce said...

Martian Manhunter definitely is the face of the JLA in my book.

He was one of the few holdovers who remained with the team during the Justice League Detroit era, and he became the team leader during the outstanding Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire era. He's the team's calm voice of reason, and a noble soul. Not to mention he's got more powers than a Swiss Army knife.

Doug said...

Bruce = kindred spirit.

Finally, someone with the same memory set as me! Now I don't feel so badly!

Thanks!

Doug

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