Martian Manhunter R.I.P.

After reading DC Comics' "Final Crisis" #1, on sale now, the identity of the character being mourned in the upcoming one-shot tie-in "Final Crisis: Requiem" would seem to be a no-brainer. But CBR News asked writer Peter Tomasi ("Green Lantern Corps," "Nightwing") directly just to make sure it was indeed J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

"Yes, I can confirm it here, my favorite Martian is indeed, and unfortunately, the lead character in 'Requiem,'" Tomasi told CBR News. With art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy and covers by J.G. Jones and Mahnke, "Final Crisis: Requiem" goes on sale July 9.

Tomasi, an editor-turned-writer, shared the Justice League founding member was one of his favorites in the DCU. "My first published writing work featured J'onn. I did two stories in 'Showcase' that were drawn by the great Eduardo Baretto. I was also the editor of the 'Martian Manhunter' monthly by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake a little while back," said Tomasi, who added the character himself has a great history.

"Some people would say he's a poor man's imitation of Superman, I completely disagree," said Tomasi. "He's a rich character with so much inherent drama and a wide variety of powers that, coupled with his idiosyncratic personality, he's incredibly easy to write, in my opinion. I look forward to one day taking another crack at him in a monthly or a limited series from the writing side of the desk if he ever makes it back into the world of the living."

So there's a chance Martian Manhunter could one day pull a Barry Allen and have rebirth of his own? "I surely hope so," said Tomasi. "He's too great a character to be relegated to the morgue for all eternity."

Martian Manhunter first appeared in the back-up story "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" in "Detective Comics" #225 in November 1955. The concept was created and originally plotted by science fiction writer Joseph Samachson. The actual first appearance was scripted by Jack Miller and illustrated by Joe Certa.

Again, speaking as both a writer and a fan of the character, Tomasi disagreed with the notion that perhaps J'onn J'onzz no longer worked as a character in DCU. "No, I don't think that's the case. J'onn works," he offered. "Wherever you put him he simply works. But not everybody can get a handle on him."

But Tomasi agreed J'onn was perhaps the most expendable. "I would say at this moment and juncture, yes, he did seem to be the big-gun death that would make a difference and have future repercussions."

Martian Manhunter was summoned and unceremoniously killed by Libra, all in one panel of "Final Crisis" #1, after the Human Flame made it his wish in exchange for joining the lead villain's new Secret Society. "Being that I was in the know, I didn't have any feelings one way or the other about his one-panel death," said Tomasi. "Would it have been nice to have the scene go longer, sure, but Grant [Morrison] had a lot of stuff to get to in a limited time, his specific thru-line wasn't able to fit much else and, more importantly, we knew there was going to be the 'Requiem' issue that would be solely devoted to J'onn, and I was really glad I drew the straw for the book."

Tomasi said both DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio and editor Eddie Berganza knew he was a big of J'onn from his previous work with the character so when it was decided Martian Manhunter deserved a proper sendoff, the writer was as an easy choice. "I think they agreed it was a no-brainer to simply say, 'Look, we don't have time to give J'onn the proper send off, so come up with something cool and thoughtful and run with it,'" the writer explained. "And that was about it, really. There were no parameters or other ideas about where to go after he's stabbed by Libra, so I put on my red straps and my blue buccaneer boots and went to work."

Tomasi revealed "Final Crisis: Requiem" begins and concludes at Martian Manhunter's funeral. "I didn't want to spend page after page of people eulogizing J'onn. That kind of issue has been done to death," said Tomasi. "Sorry for the pun."

Desiring to do something different, instead of using broad strokes and 'what the death means to the world at large,' Tomasi wanted the story to focus on the smaller details of how Martian Manhunter's death would reverberate and the raw emotions it would bring out. "The issue fleshes out J'onn's death scene and shows how his passing affects people who were close to him," said Tomasi. "It's more of a personal story along with some nods to J'onn's past."

Asked who is most saddened by the death, Tomasi quipped, "Me. And some other big guns of the DCU."

And the most angry?

"Me. And some other big guns of the DCU," laughed Tomasi. "And a particular Green Lantern, who goes by the name of Hal Jordan."

Which would seem to confirm the death that fuels James Robinson's upcoming "Justice League" book, which the writer confirmed for CBR News spins out of death in the pages of Final Crisis, is that of the Martian Manhunter.

Beyond his regular ongoing duties on "Nightwing" and "Green Lantern Corps," Peter Tomasi is also working on a creator-owned book called "The Mighty" for DC, which is a twist on the superhero concept. The book is illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg ("Light Brigade," "Starman") and co-written by Keith Champagne.

"Final Crisis: Requiem," with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy and covers by J.G. Jones and Mahnke, is on sale July 9.

Check back to CBR News all this week for more stories spinning out of "Final Crisis," including Brad Meltzer on "DC Universe: Last Will and Testament," Greg Rucka on "Final Crisis: Revelation."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Final Crisis forum.

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