Deck Log Entry # 123 Supplemental: The World's Second-Finest Heroes?

In this week’s Deck Log entry on the Flash and Green Lantern, there was some commentary on the subject of the J’onn J’onzz-Green Arrow team-up that appeared in The Brave and the Bold # 50 (Nov., 1963).  The question was raised as to whether or not DC intended to establish the Manhunter and G.A. as a regular team, as it had with Superman and Batman, and the Flash and Green Lantern.


At the risk of appearing to toot my own horn here, I addressed that possibility four years ago, in an article that appeared under my by-line in Comics Buyer’s Guide # 1627 (Apr., 2007).  Having my name attached to it was gracious; our leader, Captain Comics, polished it to make it publication-worthy, and he applied a lot of literary Turtle Wax.   I’m reproducing it here, as a Deck Log supplemental:



“Two Great Heroes Teamed in a Book-Length Blockbuster!”


With this blurb on the cover of The Brave and the Bold # 50, DC teamed two of its minor but long-running characters:  Green Arrow and the Manhunter from Mars.


“Wanted---the Capsule Master” told the story of a gang of Martian criminals undertaking a “master plan” on Earth.  When Green Arrow and Speedy found themselves outclassed, they turned to help from a logical source:  Green Arrow’s fellow Justice Leaguer, the Martian Manhunter.


While “Wanted” can be enjoyed---and is, indeed, entertaining---on a surface level, an astute DC fan of the day might have detected the seeds of deeper planning by The Brave and the Bold editor Murray Boltinoff.  The selection of the Emerald Archer and the Alien Ace as the headliners seemed to be more than just random.  Green Arrow and Speedy had long been considered an imitation Batman and Robin, while J’onn J’onzz was looked upon as a second-tier Superman, especially in the pages of Justice League of America, where the Martian rarely utilised his more esoteric, non-Superman-like powers.


Viewed in that light, “Wanted” comes across as an attempt by DC to duplicate the success of World’s Finest Comics, which since 1954 had featured Superman and Batman working as a team.  Bob Haney’s script for The Brave and the Bold # 50 establishes a logical reason for Green Arrow to seek out J’onn J’onzz’s aid, balances their contributions to the defeat of the villains, and shows the heroes comfortable enough with each other to mutually divulge their identities.  In fact, had Batman and Robin been substituted for  the Ace Archers, Superman for the Manhunter, and villains from Krypton for Martian criminals, “Wanted” would have read very much like a story from World’s Finest Comics.


In fact, even more evocative of this feeling is the fact that Haney’s script included a climax in which Green Arrow and the Manhunter thwart the villains by exchanging costumes and posing as each other; a gimmick used by Superman and Batman in their very first WFC  team-up, in World’s Finest Comics # 71 (Jul.-Aug., 1954).


If a DC fan of the day was getting a hunch that The Brave and the Bold # 50 was intended to be a tryout for making Green Arrow and J’onn J’onzz a team in the fashion of Batman and Superman, the story “Decoy Missions of the Justice League” which came out in JLA # 24 (Dec., 1963)---one month following The Brave and the Bold # 50---probably would have cinched the notion.


The details of “Decoy Missions” aren’t important here, save to say that the villain, Kanjar Ro, tackled only part of the Justice League:  Aquaman, the Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman.  During the course of the plot, the villain explained why he limited himself to five JLAers (italics mine):


“Since Superman and Batman---and the newly formed team of J’onn J’onzz and Green Arrow---are away from Earth at this time, I need not concern myself with them just now!”



This simple line determines one thing and carries significant implications.


Since at no time in “Wanted---the Capsule Master” did Green Arrow leave Earth, the fact that “the newly formed team of J’onn J’onzz and Green Arrow” was away from Earth meant that there was an unpublished second adventure involving the Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow, one which took them both off-planet.


Now, Gardner Fox maintained exceptional attention to continuity in his JLA stories.  Many of his JLA tales made references to what was going on in a particular member’s own series at the time; sometimes, Fox even made a plot point of it in a JLA story.  That makes it unlikely that Fox’s mention of “the newly formed team” of the Manhunter and Green Arrow was just an offhand remark.


I’ve always suspected that Fox was privy to plans by DC to create an ongoing Green Arrow-Manhunter team, contingent on the sales of The Brave and the Bold # 50.  If so, then evidently those sales weren’t impressive enough and the idea was deep-sixed.  But at the time of JLA # 24, sales figures from The Brave and the Bold # 50 would have barely started to come in, so the idea of an ongoing MM-GA team would still have been viable.  And Fox would have been able to use it as a convenient excuse for excluding those two heroes from the main action of JLA # 24.


In stating that J’onn J’onzz and Green Arrow were on an off-world mission, Fox may have just been referring to an “untold tale” of that “newly formed team”.  Or he might have been making reference to an actual story, one that was shelved after final sales figures from The Brave and the Bold # 50 showed the idea didn’t have as much promise as DC had hoped.


Either way, it seems clear that there was an idea in the wind to make an ongoing team of the two heroes.



Views: 865

Comment by Eric L. Sofer on April 27, 2011 at 2:19pm
Commander, you'll remember it better than I do (and I know that your archives are close at hand), but I remember one scene in a JLA book where members who weren't initially involved in the story were arriving... and GA and MM  were shown together (GA kneeling down on J'onn's back since, y'know, the surest way to show respect for your fellow hero is to ride him like a kanga... ;)  Perhaps you remember whereof I speak?
Comment by Philip Portelli on April 27, 2011 at 2:35pm

Commander, that was fast!

To Eric: That was in the aforementioned Justice League #24.

If they did intend to have a regular GA/JJ team-up, where would they have published it? There were no "open" titles unless they went with House Of Mystery as they did with the Manhunter solo. I can't see them putting out The Green Arrow & Manhunter From Mars #1!

Comment by Lee Houston, Junior on April 27, 2011 at 5:48pm

As to where such a series would have wound up, maybe within the back pages of World's Finest or Adventure Comics? Just a guess. The team could have just started out as guest stars within each others series until the concept/feature gained popularity.

But the second try-out could easily have been another issue of The Brave and the Bold or perhaps Showcase.

Yet for Fox to have made that reference, there had to be at least a script in progress, if not a story already in the penciling or inking stage. So what I want to know is: WHERE IS IT?

Hopefully at least a script is buried somewhere within the DC Archives. Does DC even have an archivist today? The last one I'm aware of was E. Nelson Bridwell.

Perhaps when found, DC could commission new art for it and print the story as a special. Maybe combined with a reprint of the original. I know I have never had the opportunity to read it myself.

Comment by Philip Portelli on April 27, 2011 at 6:20pm
A second tryout, maybe. But as a continuing series, it couldn't be a back-up. Not with three main characters, anyway.
Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on April 27, 2011 at 7:23pm

Good article Commander. Well both articles actually. Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter seem like an odd pairing to me. Most of my DC knowledge comes well after Crisis on Infinite Earths, though. I am one of the many who associates Green Lantern and Green Arrow together. However the Green Lanter/Flash combo makes sense. Actually the two have teamed up a few months back in several issues of Green Lantern. This would be Hal and the newly revived Barry Allen. They do make for a great team.


As always I enjoy your articles. My knowledge of Silver Age DC is lacking so I typically find your posts informative. I enjoy your posts about Marvel Silver Age as well. I've always been more of a Marvel guy, myself.

Comment by Figserello on April 27, 2011 at 7:58pm

Conceptually Superman and Batman are a great team.  Yin and Yang, Man and Superman and all that.


An alien shape-changer and a chancer with a bow?  Not so much. 


Individually, DC took too long to do the spadework on those two characters to bring them up to their potential.  Exploring the anti-authoritarian aspects of 'Robin Hood' was at least something beyond 'generic superhero', and the post-Crisis depiction of J'onn as utterly alien outsider who tried to belong was also fruitful.  At least they found a role for J'onn that no-one else could really fill, which is the name of the game.


A friendship/regular team-up between the post-crisis MM and GA is intriguing.  Supes and Bats had a good balance between having much in common and being different, whereas the gap between the utterly alien, multi-powered J'onn and grubby street vigilante Oliver seems wider.

Comment by Philip Portelli on April 27, 2011 at 9:20pm
Actually a Green Arrow/ Martian Manhunter mini-series NOW sounds really intriguing!
Comment by Figserello on April 27, 2011 at 9:42pm

Yeah.  MM is a fairly well-centred peaceloving life-form and GA is an uber-violent almost sociopathically malfunctioning nutcase.  A good writer could do a lot with this odd couple.


Trouble is that most writers think that GA is just a fine example of macho capability rather than a deranged nutcase.  Many of them seem to think that writing him as a take-no-prisoners tough guy somehow reflects well on their own masculinity.

Comment by Philip Portelli on April 27, 2011 at 10:35pm

The Green Arrow of the Golden/Silver/Bronze Ages used his trick arrows so not to puncture his opponents. It was the Post-Crisis Longbow Hunters phase where he began shooting real arrows. And today's GA is so damaged, for lack of a better term, that violence becomes his language. Is he out of his mind? Perhaps but if he truly was a "deranged nutcase", wouldn't the JLA already have taken him down? If not Batman, at least?

And J'onn has as much bad luggage as Ollie does so they may have to help each other before themselves.

Strangely. I can't remember much interaction between the two since the Silver Age!

Comment by Figserello on April 27, 2011 at 10:43pm

GA being a deranged nutcase is solely my own non-professional opinion.  His writers try to 'normalise' how he behaves, but if you stand back and look at him, he is a mess.


It's funny, but Smith went to quite convoluted lengths to ensure that the GA he resurrected wasn't the damaged nutter he'd become in the nineties, but nevertheless, subsequent writers could only write him as this.


I think: superheroes + too much faux 'realism' = violent damaged nutters


It's inevitable.


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