This is a blog hop hosted by The Geek Twins, Just a Dash of Geek, L.K.Hill, and Comic Book & Movie Reviews.
To start, because I'm working my way to my actual subject, let's just start with Martians. My favorite Martian is DC's Martian Manhunter. In his usual depiction, he's basically a bald human who happens to be green and have a giant brow. Also, his costume is a blue cape and basically two red straps that criss-cross over his chest.
But he's really awesome. He was the only sane member of the famed "Bwa-ha-ha" Justice League, although this period also surfaced his obsession with Oreos. He had his own ongoing series in the late 1990s thanks to the popularity of Grant Morrison's JLA, but his best spotlight was in another eponymous mini-series from 2006-2007 (he wears a better costume here, and looks more alien), in which J'onn J'onnz (because he's a shapeshifter and as in human form, this naturally becomes John Jones) is faced with his truly being a stranger in a strange land for the first time.
In Smallville Martian Manhunter was portrayed by the underrated Phil Morris.
Another TV Martian milestone for me is "Little Green Men," an episode from the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which the irascible Quark (who is a Ferengi, the species with the comically oversized ears) bastardizes his nephew Nog's break from their culture's tradition of institutional profiteering by entering Starfleet Academy. He loads the ship the family (along with Nog's father Rom) takes to Earth with contraband that inadvertently sends them all into the past, where they crash-land in Roswell, NM. They become the source of all our wild speculation about Martians (even though they're Ferengi). Odo, the shapeshifting (though unrelated to Martian Manhunter) constable who snuck aboard Quark's ship because he didn't trust his most reliable adversary, helps save them.
Although if you haven't seen the episode (or adore DS9 like I do), I've just gone ahead and spoiled one of its best surprises.
Now that I'm talking about Star Trek, let me wax nostalgic on a few of its most notable aliens. I'm thinking here of Spock and Worf, one from the original crew and the other from The Next Generation. Both of them serve in Starfleet, where they operate among mostly human crews. Spock is literally half human, by the way, though he's often pointed out as a Vulcan, while Worf is all Klingon but raised by humans. Both of them are militantly impassioned representatives of their respective alien cultures, however. Don't remind Spock that he shares some of the same genetic material as the illogical "Bones" McCoy. Don't make the mistake of being that Klingon who tries to tell Worf that he doesn't belong in that culture just because he was raised outside of it and is a warrior for another team. Spock is most definitely a Vulcan and Worf is most certainly a Klingon. It's what all their friends will tell you.
Getting back to comic books for a moment, I'd like to bring up the Green Lantern Corps. It's basically the Starfleet of DC. It's an intergalactic organization that provides each of its members with a ring that gives them the ability to exploit their willpower and imagination to police their respective sectors. Two of the more notable aliens to wear such a ring are Abin Sur and Sinestro. Abin Sur was Hal Jordan's predecessor in our particular sector of space. This may be odd for you to comprehend, because Hal Jordan is known for many things, but patrolling much beyond Earth is not one of them, and Abin Sur hadn't really bothered with Earth prior to the spectacular crash-landing that cost him his life. Sinestro meanwhile believed so much in the Green Lantern cause of galactic order that he reshaped his entire homeworld in its spitting image. Or perhaps merely his interpretation of that image, to the point where he was booted from the Corps and for a time became Hal Jordan's greatest enemy.
Like Spock and Worf, Abin Sur and Sinesro represent the kind of aliens we all think about when we think about aliens at all, maybe not the conquering invaders of War of the Worlds, but aliens who behave much as we do, extremely ethnocentric in nature, even when encountering many other alien cultures as a way of life.
Well, that's why I'm reaching my real subject. I'm talking about Phlox, of course. Phlox was the doctor from Star Trek: Enterprise. If you know much about Enterprise at all, you may still not know too much about Phlox. He was easily one of its most fascinating characters, but in terms of actual use, he was kind of like Scotty in the original series, the fourth lead after the trio of Archer/Tucker/T'Pol, as in Kirk/Spock/Bones.
Yet for a series about humans experiencing their first real taste of what's out there in space, there were only two aliens among the crew. One of them was T'Pol, who was the token Vulcan, at the insistence of Vulcans who had bitterly opposing speedy human progress in warp engine development. The other was Phlox, who was a Denobulan, a species currently only known from Enterprise.
It may seem a little odd that on a ship full of humans the only doctor was an alien, but Phlox was exactly that kind of alien, and why I'm writing about him now. His best friend was a human, actually, who was also participating in the interspecies medical exchange program. That pretty much sums up everything that made Phlox so awesome. Even before the crew understood its relationship with the possibilities they were about to encounter, they had among them someone who had already enthusiastically embraced them.
That's what sets Phlox apart. Plenty of characters in Star Trek love the thrill of adventure and the unknown, but Phlox is the rare one (Jadzia Dax from Deep Space Nine being another) who loved simply experiencing other cultures. At this point in Star Trek lore, that's exactly what the franchise needed, because in a lot of ways that's exactly what Enterprise was all about, why we finally revisited species like the Andorians (memorably embodied by Shran), Tellarites, and even Tholians while also spending so much time with the definitive Star Trek aliens, the Vulcans.
Phlox came from a culture that has, for simplicity's sake, an extremely complicated family structure. He could already appreciate the benefits of extensive bonds. He was a one-man Federation at a time when it didn't exist, an alien whose best and most simple advice to his captain was to embrace optimism. Many times Phlox himself was forced into dark corners and had to make difficult decisions, and he didn't seem so optimistic then, but then he was also the guy who kept his medical bay stocked with exotic creatures he had to manually feed each day (some of them snapped at his fingers!), and never had the benefit of or need for a regular nurse like Voyager's holographic Doctor. He was adaptable.
Admire Spock all you want as the paragon of virtue. Respect Worf for his stoic devotion to integrity. But give me Phlox. He's the one lived the message of Star Trek, the one that says Martians are what's out there, and that our future isn't so bad for it.