Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Secret Origin of Miss Martian

I know that some of you are aware of this fact, but for those who don't know perhaps the coolest bit of comic book trivia about my life, there is indeed a Teen Titan named after my fiancee.

In 2006 after attending Wizard World Los Angles, Megan (my aforementioned intended), her friend Ashleigh and myself remained in the City of Angels for a couple more days on vacation. One night, we met up with Geoff Johns for an evening of sushi and Sapporo (the latter for me and Geoff) on him (he makes Hollywood money and I was 24, folks, no shame on my part). After Geoff and I overcame our disappointment over the fact that they never served us the Superman Roll we ordered, he told us a bit about his upcoming plans for Teen Titans, Megan's favorite comic (really the only one she read) at the time. Geoff mentioned that he was trying to come up with new characters for both the One Year Later roster and for what eventually became Titans West, and that he wanted to do more legacy characters for heroes and villains who didn't actually have any yet.

Perhaps it was the Japanese beer that fueled Geoff and my creativity as we noted that Ashleigh's last name was "Catsos" and thus there should really be a Catgirl (she ended up being cutting room floor material), but I've got to give full credit to him for realizing if you put Megan's first name and my last name together (as we're planning to do in under a month and a half), you got an alliterative identity in the classic tradition of Clark Kent, Peter Parker, John Jones, Matt Murdock, etc. Not only that, Geoff already had a character in mind who was going to have a double-M name to begin with.

And that's how Miss Martian got her civilian identity of Megan Morse (or M'gann M'orzz if you're from Mars).

Truthfully, we weren't sure if Geoff would remember his promise from that dinner, even though he had already put Megan in one issue of JSA the year before as an Air Force pilot who gets hit on by Hal Jordan (the best I did was score a cameo as a zombie who gets decapitated by one of Mr. Terrific's T-Spheres in an earlier JSA). Lo and behold though, Teen Titans #37 rolled around and there was Megan in all her Martian glory. Both Geoff and Miss Martian's co-creator, artist Tony Daniel, claimed around that time that her visual appearance was based at least a little bit on Megan, but I'm pretty sure they were just humoring her. It was definitely tough for me to keep the secret Geoff told me that she was going to end up being a White Martian from Megan so that when she went all monster form at the end of Teen Titans #40 I could watch her freak out, but I did.

So needless to say, even though Megan doesn't read Teen Titans regularly anymore, she always wants to know how "her" character is doing and always gets a smile out of reading her name being "spoken" by Wonder Girl or Kid Devil (and she just loved that issue where future Miss Martian made out with that dreamy Robin). We also both live in constant fear that the character will get killed off at some point, but with my old Wizard bud Brian Cunningham currently at the editorial helm of Teen Titans, I'm sure we have nothing to worry about...or everything to worry about.

Following in the footsteps of me and my Nova sketchbook, a couple years back Megan began her own sketchbook featuring Miss Martian. I need to scan in the entries from Todd Nauck, Bill Willingham and others, but I do have this gorgeous piece that Ethan Van Sciver did for the inside cover handy.
It's totally classic and awesome EVS, from the meticulous detail to the pronounced horror vibe (and as more than one person has pointed out to me, it's almost certainly not a coincidence that Ethan drew those aliens in the background in perfect position to see up Miss Martian's skirt). Megan couldn't have asked for a much better opener to her book as it definitely screams to whoever is drawing in there "You better live up to this benchmark," which Ethan said was his goal from the start.

Megan also bought the uncolored very first appearance of Miss Martian off Teen Titans inker Marlo Alquiza a couple years ago for me on my birthday (so she essentially got me a picture of her for my birthday, but that's my girl) and it hangs proudly framed on our wall.

The moral of the story: get Geoff Johns drunk enough and you too could have your very own Teen Titan (provided your name is alliterative)!


Anonymous said...

Haha, funny stuff, and very cool as I'm a fan of Miss Martian. I found your blog from a link to this article, and I instantly recognized your name. I remember when you use to write for a website I -think- named Comic Nexus. Maybe 411 or Insidepulse... But I remember when you left to go elsewhere, glad to see you doing well! Take care!

Ben Morse said...

Not only did I write for Comic Nexus, I *founded* Comic Nexus back in 2002, but back then it was just the comics section of 411 until we switched to Inside Pulse in 2004 and I left shortly thereafter for Wizard.

So you were right on all accounts!

Glad to have you aboard.

Devin said...

You think Ethan Van Sciver's work on GL Rebirth, Flash Rebirth, New X-Men, etc. wouldn't have been delayed if he didn't do all these sketches for Ben and his family?

Martin Gray said...

I'm a little late to the party, but what a great story. I bet Megan loves her Tiny Titans counterpart too. Best to you both.