All-Ages All-Stars: Jon McNally’s Martian Manhunter

Note: All-Ages All-Stars is a new regular feature here at Project: Rooftop. Take your favorite superheroes from their usual settings and reimagine them in an all-ages, kid-friendly format, and what do you get? A cuddly Man-Bat? A snuggly-wuggly Punisher? Or how about this excellent take on The Martian Manhunter by the eminently talented Jon McNally! Check it out! If you’d like to submit an All-Ages All-Stars redesign, check our Guidelines for submissions info. - Jon Morris

Jon had this to say about his take on the Martian Manhunter:

I first saw the Martian Manhunter on the pages of Justice League of America 229-230 (which I picked up on a walk to 7-11 with my grandma).  In the story, a Martian armada invaded our planet and J’onn J’onzz betrayed his race to defend the Earth. Space operatics ensued—the JLA satellite was destroyed, and the Manhunter duked it out with a Martian champion. Since then, I’ve read lots of stories featuring the Martian Manhunter, but that one remains one of my favorites.

The image above is my attempt to depict a Martian Manhunter who’s ready for the kind of rollicking space action I just described, as well as some serious police work.

Oh, I gave him a shape-changing Martian dog, too.  Why?

Wonder Woman has her sisterhood on Themiscyra. The Flash has his fellow speedsters.  Superman and Batman have their respective families.  By contrast, poor J’onn J’onzz hasn’t much in the way of connections, aside from bands of bloodthirsty White Martians that appear every now and then. By gum, if Superman and Batman can have pets, then Martian Manhunter can have a dog!

Deep in the recesses of the abandoned Martian fortress Z’onn Z’orr, J’onn discovers a frost chamber holding a tolakk—one of the telepathic, shape-changing hounds of Mars!  As you might imagine, the two are ecstatic to find one other.  J’onn and his new pal return to Apex City and embark on a career of case cracking and criminal cuffing!

Tremble, evildoers!  The Martian Manhunter and his faithful companion, Red Rover, are hot on your trail!

26 comments on “All-Ages All-Stars: Jon McNally’s Martian Manhunter
  1. Aaaaaaand now I want J’onn to have a dog. They can share Chocos!
    and not be dead even

    I love how the buckle on his baldric is Mars-shaped.

  2. So so incredibly cool, Jon. I love this.
    Everyone (in comicsville) has an argument about what comics should be. How to improve the mass-appeal, and so on. I feel that the primary reason comics once enjoyed a hay-day in a huge cross-section of society is because they once hit the perfect balance of relatable artwork that fell closer to the mark of simple elegant cartooning. Characters that were easy to imprint on because they simultaneously captured the imagination with their unique designs and expressive “acting”, and allowed themselves to be closer to a symbol of what you as an individual needed them to be to act as your personal symbol of heroism. In this way I think your Martian Manhunter serves the purpose of vehicle for adventure stories far more effectively than any current version of him has (with the possible exception of the super-sweet one in New Frontiers). I sometimes think that the dominant bulk of superhero books should fall under the all-ages category, but maintain a level of sophistication that would allow for adult to enjoy them too! Aren’t they ultimately there to provide the reader with an escape from the day to day? To be a fun little blip for you to live in for a hot minute? In my opinion, folks who crave realism in their hero-books are pretty emotionally stunted. That’s what real life is for! So give me a martian dog over a story about a hero dealing with gritty real-life shenanigans any day! No more soap operas! I for one think that all-ages needs to include 18+ Good show sir, good show.

  3. The fact the he finally has some companionship is music to my ears. Lord, do I ever feel bad for him in those ‘lonely nights’ type stories.

    You’re the best!

  4. I appreciate the positive reactions to this flight of fancy, folks.

    Mike, I’m glad the letters look good to you. I think the lead-in text at left uses the font Mister Earl, with some squash and stretch. The logo is hand-drawn.

    J. Evan, Matthew, TBolt, and T.J. Bragg, I’m tickled you like the “canine” pal and, further, aren’t put off by the arguably corny name. In my mind, “Red Rover” works on multiple levels; I couldn’t resist!

    Thanks for your kind words, Tyler.

    Vinent M., I didn’t know about the dachshund! It’s a shame he simply vanished.

    Ah, King and Vito D., you’ve stumbled upon fodder for many a gag. Who knows what a tolakk might eat (or how it might behave)?

    Cute dispatcher Ginger is dismayed at the sight: “Frolickin’ ferrets, John, you can’t share your Chocos with Rover! You’ll make him sick!”

    Obedient Serpent, I’m flattered you favor the flourishes. I wanted to give his classic, already rather Barsoomian, costume just a bit more sword-and-planet flair.

    Daniel K., thanks for the compliments. I’m humbled by the comparison to Cooke.

    I couldn’t agree with you more on your various points.

    As the imagery in mainstream comics is subjected to increasingly heavy rendering, I find my interest waning. Edward Tufte makes the point that the tiniest line or splash of color is a bit of information that should be weighed for relevance, no less than should the words on a page. If the point can be applied to comics, I’m inclined to say the modern mainstream comic book conveys a significant amount of irrelevant information.

    On the topic of audience, I too take the “all ages” label very literally. It shouldn’t be a code word that means “for kids.” Related to this, I was regularly befuddled by the difference in storytelling between the Justice League cartoon and the tie-in comic book series. The cartoon (rated Y7) seemed to enjoy more latitude in story than did the comic book, although I assume either was an “all ages” endeavor. Or am I wrong in that assumption?

    In any case, thanks again for the friendly comments!

  5. I like the dog, it gives a John Carter of Mars vibe to the character. I can see popping back and forth between Earth and Mars on adventures.

  6. Pingback: Straight for the art | Jon McNally’s Martian Manhunter | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  7. Bravo! The moment I saw this, I wanted to see it as a cartoon & read it as a book. The Martian Manhunter’s powers are notoriously difficult to deliniate in a pleasing and involving way; I think the style you use here would allow the joyfullness of abilities such as shape-changing and invisibility to be shown without bogging the absurd fun down in the distractions of faux-realism. I’m with you on allowing form rather than the detail of a multitude of lines to predominate.

    And the dog’s a fantastic idea. Nothing takes the edge off of loneliness – nor accentuates it if the pet goes missing – as a splendid dog. Excellent.

  8. I’d pay $10 and issue for a comic this awesome. Maybe $20. I wish Jon McNally just had a monthly anthology at DC where he was free to do whatever stories with any character he wanted.

  9. That is just a whole other level of awesome.

    I just picture MM and RR having these telepathic debates on tactics, while the criminals too afraid to flee stand bewildered.

    Really great job.

  10. Pingback: Wonder Girl by Jon McNally | Project : Rooftop

  11. This is really nice, but I personally wish you had taken the Jon Carter look a bit further. It might’ve eroded the kid-friendly aspect a bit, but I think it would’ve made him and Red Rover look more compatible.

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