Martian Manhunter

From Academic Kids


The Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz), is a comic book superhero appearing in DC Comics. He is a native of the planet Mars and possesses powers beyond those of normal human beings, including telepathy and the ability to change shape. His usual appearance is of a tall, hairless, green-skinned humanoid. He is highly sensitive to fire; in some stories this weakness is a physical weakness, and in others it is psychological. A recent story in the JLA comic book indicates that the Guardians of the Universe instilled the aversion to fire into the Martians to prevent them from overrunning the universe.


J'onn J'onzz first appeared in 1955, in a back-up story in Detective Comics #225 written by Joe Samachson and illustrated by Joe Certa. In the story, J'onn J'onzz was accidentally teleported to Earth by a human scientist, who immediately had a heart attack and died, leaving the Martian stranded. Fortunately, he was able to use his powers to fit in; adopting a human-like appearance and calling himself "John Jones", he joined the police force, secretly using his alien powers to help the inhabitants of his new home planet.

Later, during the revival in superheroes that became known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, the Manhunter from Mars adopted a more characteristically superheroic modus operandi, openly fighting crime in his real green-skinned form.

Missing image
MM trying (and failing) to relax in his true form and reflecting on his history with the 'League
The history of the Martian Manhunter is closely linked with that of the Justice League - he was a founding member of the superhero team in the 1960s, and his appearances with the League kept him in the public eye long after his own series (which ran as a back-up in Detective Comics and later in House of Mystery) was cancelled. During the Justice League International series, J'onn was shown to be obsessed with "Chocos", cookies similar to Oreos; the story of how he got over this addiction was later told in his series.

In addition to serving in the League under his own identity, he also joined (under duress) under the alias of "Bloodwynd".

The Martian Manhunter received his own ongoing series in 2000. Written by John Ostrander, and illustrated by Tom Mandrake (with fill in art provided by Bryan Hitch, among others) it lasted 36 issues before being cancelled due to low sales. Outside of this, the Manhunter appears predominantly in the Justice League comic book. He is, famously, the only character to be involved with every "incarnation" of the league.

He also had a short appearance in the Sandman comic, in the album Preludes and Nocturnes, where Morpheus, the dreamlord, inquired him about the whereabouts of his Dreamstone.

In an attempt to conquer his fear of flames, the Martian Manhunter made a deal with a flame-wielding villainess named Scorch, who wanted his telepathic help dealing with her own mental issues. This story leads us to find that 20,000 years ago, there was an extremely dangerous race of beings called 'The Burning', which caused large fires to help themselves asexually reproduce. The Guardians of the Universe split these creatures into the Green Martians and the White Martians, changed their reproductive behaviour, and gave them an inherent fear of fire in order to stop their species from destroying much of the universe. When the Martian Manhunter confronts his fear of fire, he becomes possessed by one of these ancient creatures known as Dakath, who was originally killed on ancient Earth by Vandal Savage. Although Superman concedes that the Martian Manhunter is the most powerful being on the planet, the Justice League eventually defeats Dakath by re-enlisting Plastic Man, who is immune to the psychic powers of the Martian Manhunter, and has superior shape-changing abilities. We also learn that this is the reason that Plastic Man was originally brought to the Justice League by Batman, who wanted a balance in place in case the Martian Manhunter ever got out of control.

In other media

Missing image
The Martian Manhunter, as depicted in Justice League Unlimited.

In the Justice League animated series, the Martian Manhunter's history is even more closely tied with that of the League. In the series, the Justice League originates as a temporary uniting of Earth's heroes against an alien invasion; the invaders had previously invaded Mars, wiping out all the inhabitants except J'onn J'onzz, who travels to Earth to warn of the invaders, and joins the fight against them. When the invaders are defeated, he chooses to remain on Earth as a member of the League. In the animated series, J'onn J'onzz is voiced by Carl Lumbly.

One plot hole in the series is the matter of J'onn's appearance. His original Martian form is loosely similar to his well-known form, but his skin is scaly, his head and some of his extremities end in sharp points, his eyes are further apart, and he has no nose. In the series, he adopts his well-known form when Batman is skeptical to believe an alien he has just met: J'onn responds by transforming into his famous form and suggesting that Batman would be more comfortable with this appearance. The paradox is that the Manhunter's new form, although slightly more human in appearance, is no less alien and unsettling than his original form. So the question arises as to why J'onn thought this form would be more appealing to Batman and why he did not just assume a completely human form instead. Another question that arises is how J'onn is able to sustain this form at all times, even when unconscious, when he cannot hold most of his other forms for extended periods of time and loses any new form when he is no longer in control of his body (unconscious or otherwise). One theory is that he can hold forms more easily when the form better resembles his 'natural' form. Also, in theory, he can hold a form better if he has had more practice using'onn J'onzz


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