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!”
“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.