How Martian Manhunter Became the Animated Justice League's Heart

Welcome to Adventure(s) Time's forty-fifth installment, a look at classic animated series and their tie-in comic books. This week, we examine Justice League, once the DC Animated Universe's most ambitious project, for the first time.

By 2001, DC's Adventures line had been going for nearly ten years. After producing tie-ins for the animated Batman, Superman, and Batman Beyond series, a Justice League inspired comic was a no-brainer. (Though this did require DC to forget their previous attempt at "animating" their heroes in Adventures in the DC Universe. Given reader response to this title, maybe that's for the best.)

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After years of steady creative teams on the Adventures comics, DC altered tactics in this era. Editors have no shortage of submissions from talented people they'd like to give a shot. Monthly titles, especially in the days of continuity-heavy comics, don't allow too many opportunities for this. Self-contained, continuity-free series, however, do. Therefore, the Adventures line became a rotating showcase of new talent.

One of the writers given a break came from an obscure sketch comedy series called The Upright Citizens Brigade. While he remained unknown in 2001, a comedy nerd of today likely would recognize Josh Siegal's name, as he has gone on to executive produce and write for series like 30 Rock, The Good Place and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt .

Siegal's comics debut occurred in Justice League Adventures #10 (October 2002.) Joining him is penciler Chris Jones, and cover artist Butch Lukic. Lukic, a director on the cartoon, displays some impressive painting skills.

The rotating creative teams have been cited as a reason for why the Adventures line lost so much attention after the 1990s ended. That's possibly true, but if more of the stories had hooks as strong as this, perhaps it wouldn't have been an issue. "Must There Be A Martian Manhunter?" is a character piece on J'onn J'Onzz, often the heart of the animated series. The idea of Superman, a humanoid alien, becoming accepted on Earth while the very alien J'Onzz is shunned for his appearance, is the story's hook.

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