I’d like to introduce you to my son’s latest obsession. Perhaps some of you XY types can come on in here and lend me some of that insight that can only come from testosterone poisoning, because frankly, I am stumped. This is Martian Manhunter, a.k.a. John Jones, a.k.a. J’onn J’onzz (which I’m thinking is his rap star name). He’s evidently a very cool dude, and I–in my unhip femaleness and even worse, MOMness–am unable to grasp his inherent fabulousness. I see a big green ugly dude in a blue diaper (and let’s be honest here: the package? nonexistent. Perhaps he did too many steroids, poor guy) and ill-fitting boots. Also he appears to be wearing a toddler leash. But who am I to judge?
Here is what I know: Martian Manhunter has been present in every incarnation of the Justice League, even when Aquaman spearheaded a reorg. (It does not surprise me to learn that Aquaman felt the need to flex his muscles. The guy has gills; WOW, how SUPER!) He has a variety of superpowers that are just like Superman’s only different. Ummmmmm, yeah. And although he is of alien origin, he will lay down his life for humankind! Which is SUPER! Not DUMB, Mama! Heck, I’m a native here and I certainly wouldn’t risk death to save this pitiful species, but I guess they do things differently on Mars.
Back in the E.D. days (those are the Early Divorce days, for the uninitiated), my ex won an Oscar for his dynamic portrayal of Fun Daddy Who Is Terrified His Children Will Stop Loving Him Unless He Buys Them Lots Of Cool Stuff. It was a gripping performance and he earned that shiny statuette, I tell you. That era yielded a box of action figures for Monkey that would make any D.C. Comics fiend weep. I forget how many different Batmans (Batmen?) were in there. Every time I thought I’d seen them all, Monkey brought home a new one to show me. (“This Green Lantern doesn’t like the other Green Lantern, because they both want Cheetah to go ride bikes with them.” Alrighty then.)
The crown jewel of the collection is a Martian Manhunter figure dressed in some weird head-to-toe red get-up which I gather is some sort of disguise. Various pieces of it come off to reveal our hero much as he is pictured above… including his head. Yes, there’s a fairly normal human-looking head in a helmet, which can be removed to reveal the reptilian skull that draws my son’s steadfast worship. Martian Manhunter can be in diguise, or he can be SUPER.
For some reason, Monkey does not like it when I ask him what he and Super Iguana are doing. But, see, if I think of him as an anthropomorphized iguana, it creeps me out less. And, really, I love my son, and I want to understand him and share his interests. But so far every conversation about him has sort of gone like this:
Me: Monkey, what is it you like about Martian Manhunter?
Him: He’s super!
Me: Well, yes, okay, but what makes him super?
Him: He can go really fast! See? *waves him around in the air*
Me: Right, but so can most superheroes. What else can he do?
Him: Well, his head comes off!
This last is spoken with such rapt admiration, I haven’t been able to leave Monkey unattended for more than 60 seconds at a time, since. Most moms worry their little boys will tie a blanket on and leap off the bed, or try to pick up furniture. Me? I’m worried about self-decapitation in the name of super-ness. He has already told me that if I’m mean he will peel off his face and show me his true Martian self. It’s not that I doubt he may be from Mars, it’s just that I’m rather fond of the face he has now.
Anyway, Monkey’s birthday is fast approaching, and the previously agreed upon Justice League theme seems to be a perfect compromise. He gets Martian Manhunter, and I get other, non-head-removing mainstream heroes to point the other children towards. Despite Monkey’s excited suggestion that I make him a Martian Manhunter cake (which I’m guessing would make the little girls in attendance cry), I think I may have been able to talk him into a cake with a Super Monkey emblem (ala Superman), instead. Phew.
Now if I could just stop laying awake nights trying to figure out why a Martian is so darn determined to save Earth, that’d be good.