Random Retrospective #17 – JLA Classified #43

Martian Manhunter gets the spotlight in the five issue Ghosts of Mars storyline from JLA CLASSIFIED and converses with the ghost/spirit/memory of his brother Ma’alefa’ak who is imprisoned in J’onn’s mind. Along the way, he remembers how he met various members of the League and joined their ranks, all the while denying Ma’alefa’ak’s assertions that J’onn only hangs out with the humans because he is terrified of being alone.

In this issue, J’onn remembers the battle against Starro which, at least at this point in time, was the origin story of the League.

The caption boxes are Ma’alefa’ak’s, by the way.

There’s also a parallel story running through the issue where J’onn remembers speaking with Green Arrow in a bar after Arrow had been thrown out of the house by Black Canary for cheating on her. J’onn, disguised as a stranger in the bar, offers advice to Arrow.

It’s revealed that, rather than occurring during the Grant Morrison run on JLA, a telepathic link enabling the League to communicate with each other is set up by J’onn following the battle with Starro.

Back in the bar, there’s a news report of Dr Light causing havoc in San Francisco and both Ollie and “Ben” make their excuses to leave.

Did Ollie know Ben was really J’onn all along? I don’t think so, at least not at the start, but by the time that part of the story takes place, they’d known and worked together for a while so it was probably fairly quickly that Ollie realised.

As nice as it is to see one Leaguer helping out another, back at the conversation between J’onn and Ma’alefa’ak, J’onn’s brother points out something that it appears J’onn hadn’t realised: if J’onn’s able to converse with the spirit of his dead brother, why can’t he do the same with his long-mourned and beloved wife and daughter?

JLA CLASSIFIED could be a bit hit and miss, but this was one of the stronger tales, I think, both in terms of writing and the art. Plus always nice to see not only a Martian Manhunter story, but one which picked up on the world building and background developed in John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s MARTIAN MANHUNTER series.