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Detective Comics 225
"The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel!


Story: Joe Samachson
Art: Joe Certa

There are many types of detectives -- F.B.I., private eyes, treasury agents. Here, for the first time -- is the most unusual one of them all... a detective from another world! He comes from Mars and walks the streets of Earth on a search to thwart crime, a man who was drawn to our planet by ... "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel!" On the splash page, Detective John Jones knows that one of the men in the line-up has a scar on his wrist -- and a laundry mark on his clothing which will give him away as the guilty one! This is especially amazing to a co-worker who knows that Jones has only been on the force for twenty-four hours! In the observatory-lab of Professor Mark Erdel, the famed scientist is preparing to activate the robot-brain, which will enable him to explore the galaxy -- and scan other dimensions! As he presses a button, Erdel wonders how far the robot-brain will reach when activated...

BZZZ -- BZZZ -- CLICK CLICK The laboratory is soon caught in a brillant shower of brightly colored lights... Erdel wonders if his invention will search through space -- time -- or the fourth dimension! Moments pass, and the robot brain continues with its crackling and buzzing sounds -- a brilliant flash of bright light -- and a strange being appears... The scientist sees what his creation has brought -- an alien from another world! This new visitor knows through telepathy about what Mark Erdel has done, as well as his language! The alien is from the fourth planet from the sun! He is a scientist on his world and is known as J'onn J'onzz! When the scientist tells him that he is on planet Earth -- brought here by the robot brain, the Martian smiles -- and asks Erdel to send him back to his home! The elderly scientist is sorry, for he must change the thinking process of the robot brain! It could take weeks -- months -- even years! Realizing that Erdel meant no harm, J'onn J'onzz prepares to adapt himself to this world until he can return home -- so that his unearthly appearance will not terrify others!

The next few moments find the Martian gone... and in his place... an Earthman! The scientist can scarcely believe his eyes, but on J'onn J'onzz's world, everyone can alter their appearance. Now, he is like any other citizen on Earth! Suddenly, he sees Erdel putting a hand to his chest, and learns that the scientist has a weak heart! All of this has been too much of a shock for him to take! The Martian regrets that he can't reach the xymo serum in his lab -- it could save Erdel's heart! The scientist knows that it is already too late! He regrets that he will soon die... the only one who can operate the robot brain... and who has made the Martian a prisoner on Earth!

Professor Erdel is dead, and J'onn J'onzz knows that he can never return to Mars! He looks up at the stars and knows that millions of miles away -- the Martians are working on Project "Star-Ride!" The experiment will produce a rocketship which will take them to other worlds! Until that time -- when they reach Earth -- he must stay, disguised as an Earthman! In the meantime, he will explore his new home planet... Donning a hat and trenchcoat, he looks more like an Earthman! As for his name -- J'onn J'onzz becomes John Jones! Outside, he heads for the seashore, where he extracts gold particles from the earthly waters! John soon has enough of the bartering material for now!

In time, John Jones has made an exploratory trip around the Earth... He sees how the citizens all live in a small area and build their structures towards the skies! John sees the Arch of Triumph as a monument to a victorious war! On Mars, it had been one thousand years since his home planet was at war! John sees the earth automobiles as ancient-wheeled vehicles! He knows that in a hundred years or so, things will change for "modern" transportation. The invisible, intangible Martian is unaware that a car is bearing down towards him! Once the car has passed through his unseen form, John decides to revert to visibility so that others can see him!

His new home planet is behind Mars in many ways -- but this makes sense since Earth is a younger world! There is evil -- which is called CRIME... Centuries ago, Mars once had crime in the time before the Great Evolution! There was wickedness, but thanks to their enlightened science, crime was soon rendered obsolete! While he remains on Earth, John Jones will help the people by fighting crime! At a police precinct, he is sent up to Lieutenant Saunders, Chief of Detectives! The Desk Sargeant and the Lieutenant both are cigarette-smokers, and the Martian knows that fire is his enemy! Even though he can do many things that Earthlings can't do -- he is vulnerable to flame... his one weakness! He is told by the Lieutenant that he is qualified to become a detective! John Jones will begin on the force in the morning! Lt. Saunders has an interesting case for this rookie to start on right away! He wonders how John Jones will work out...

Later events altered some of J'onn J'onzz's natural powers, and John Jones soon became the Manhunter From Mars!

In this Silver Age story, many of the character are shown smoking a cigarette!

Another 1950's robot brain was Ultivac, which was defeated by The Challengers of The Unknown!

Another alien who can change his appearance is Chameleon Boy from the planet of Durla!

Another hero who had a weak heart and who was aided by an elderly scientist was Tony Stark. With help from Professor Yinsen, who sacrificed his life, The Invincible Iron Man was born!

Like John Jones, Shell-Head donned a hat and trenchcoat, as he made his way back to a waiting world!

The Martian Manhunter was able to use the power of mind over matter to extract gold particles from seawater! The Man of Steel could squeeze coal and produce diamonds!

The Legionnaire known as Lyle Norg could turn himself invisible, while the synthozoid Avenger known as the Vision could alter the density of his own body... becoming intangible!

As presented in this story, J'onn J'onzz is an alien scientist from another world, whose history is older than that of Earth.

Gerard Jones and Eduardo Barreto wrote a three-issue prestige format book entitled Martian Manhunter: American Secrets! It takes place in the 1950's during J'onn's time as a police detective.

J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Badger wrote a four issue limited series, which revealed the true origin of J'onn J'onzz, with Professor Erdel alive, and using his knowledge of science fiction to give the Martian a sort of life on Earth.

John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's Martian Manhunter series had J'onn J'onnz shadowing a police detective named John Jones, then adopting his identity after he was killed by some crooked cops!

Today, J'onn J'onnz, The Martian Manhunter can be seen on the Justice League animated series on Cartoon Network.

Steve Chung
"The Strange Review Of Dr. Erdel!