||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2013)|
The Martian Manhunter by artist Alex Ross.
|First appearance||Detective Comics (vol. 1) #225 (Nov. 1955)|
|Created by||Joseph Samachson
|Alter ego||J'onn J'onzz|
|Place of origin||Mars|
|Team affiliations||Justice League
|Notable aliases||John Jones, Bloodwynd, Bronze Wraith, Fernus, Manhunter from Mars, Marco Xavier, Mrs. Klingman, William Dyer, Betty Nehring, John Johnstone, Joan Jones, Brainwave, Blockbuster|
The Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz) is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Joseph Samachson and artist Joe Certa, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #225 (Nov. 1955). The character is known for being one of the core members of the Justice League of America (JLA).
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Silver Age (1950s–1960s)
The Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz) debuted in the back-up story "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" in Detective Comics #225 (Nov. 1955), written by Joseph Samachson and illustrated by Joe Certa. The character is a green-skinned extraterrestrial humanoid from the planet Mars, who is pulled to earth by an experimental teleportation beam (originally presented as an attempted communication device) constructed by Dr. Saul Erdel. The Martian tells Erdel where he is from, and is told that to send him back will require the Computer Brain's thinking plot to be changed. The shock of the encounter kills Dr. Erdel and leaves J'onn with no method of returning home. The character decides to fight crime while waiting for Martian technology to advance to a stage that will enable his rescue. To that end, he adopts the identity of John Jones, a detective in the fictional Middletown, U.S.A. He is thought to have been inspired by a story in Batman #78 where a Martian lawman comes to Earth and teams up with Batman and Robin to capture the Stranger, a Martian criminal called Quork who has stolen a spaceship and come to Earth.
During this period, the character and his back story differ in some minor and some significant ways from modern treatments. Firstly, as with his counterpart, the Silver Age Superman, J'onzz's power range is poorly defined, and his powers expand over time as the plot demands. The addition of precognitive abilities (Detective Comics #226) is quickly followed by telepathy and flight, "Atomic vision", super-hearing, and many other powers. In addition, his customary weakness to fire is only manifested when he is in his native Martian form.
A more significant difference is that at this time, there is no suggestion that Mars is a dead planet or that the character is the last of his kind. Many of the tales of the time feature either Martian technology or the appearance of other Martian characters. Detective Comics #236 (October 1956), for example, features the character making contact with the planet Mars and his parents.
J'onzz eventually reveals his existence to the world, after which he operates openly as a superhero and becomes a charter member of the Justice League (JLA). During the character's initial few years as a member of the Justice League, he is often used as a substitute for Superman in stories (just as Green Arrow was, for Batman) as DC Comics were worried about using their flagship characters too often in Justice League stories, fearing overexposure. The Martian and the archer inaugurated the team-up format of The Brave and the Bold. J'onzz appears there one other time, working with fellow JLA-er the Flash. In some stories he is shown travelling through space at near-light speed  or to other planets.
The detective John Jones is ostensibly killed in action by the Idol Head of Diabolu, an artifact which generates supernatural monsters. J'onn abandons the civilian identity as he decides fighting this new menace will take a great deal of his time. At this point his feature moves to House of Mystery, where J'onn spends the next few years in battle against the Idol Head. Shortly after its defeat he takes the persona of Marco Xavier in order to infiltrate the international crime cartel known as VULTURE, which he defeats in the final installment of his original series.
As Superman and Batman were allowed by DC to become fully active members of the Justice League, J'onzz's appearances there dwindled. He last participated in a mission in his original tenure in #61 (March 1968), shortly before his solo series was discontinued (HoM #173, May–June 1968). In #71, his people finally came to Earth for him, and he left with them to found and become leader of New Mars. However, over the next fifteen years J'onn appeared sporadically in various DC titles.
Bronze Age (1970s–mid-1980s)
In 1972, Superman was teleported to New Mars. J'onzz briefly returned to Earth by spaceship in 1975. J'onn made another trip to Earth shortly thereafter, leading to Superman and Batman fighting alongside him on New Mars. Three years later, he was discovered playing cosmic-level chess with Despero, using JLA-ers as the pieces. The Martian again encountered Superman in outer space. He permanently resurfaced in the DC Universe in 1984. Shortly thereafter, the League had several members resign (among many other changes), leaving an opening for the Manhunter to take. In staying on Earth, he decided to revive his John Jones identity, this time as a private detective, but had to explain his twenty-year "disappearance". This contradicts J'onzz's final story in the back of Detective Comics, wherein everyone was led to believe that Jones was killed.
In early 1987 DC revamped its struggling Justice League of America series by re-launching the title as Justice League International. This new series, written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Kevin Maguire (and later Adam Hughes), added quirky humor to the team's stories. J'onn is present from the first issue and within the stories is used as a straight man for other characters in comical situations. The series also added a number of elements to his back story that have remained to the present (such as J'onn's obsession with Oreo cookies, partially due to Captain Marvel's influence).
The 1988 four issue miniseries Martian Manhunter by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Badger further redefined the character and changed a number of important aspects of both his character and his origin story. It is revealed that Dr. Erdel did not die and that the character's humanoid appearance was due to physiological trauma and attempts to block out the death of his race, his familiar appearance a "compromise" between his true form and a human appearance based upon Erdel's mental concept of what a Martian should look like. Later series use retroactive continuity (retcon) to establish that his real form is private and that, even on Mars, his "public" appearance was the familiar version. The native name for Mars is said to be "Ma'aleca'andra" in his native tongue (a nod to "Malacandra", the name used by the inhabitants of Mars in C. S. Lewis' novel Out of the Silent Planet, though neither J'onzz nor the planet itself resemble Lewis's conception). The series also adds to canon the idea that J'onzz was not only displaced in space but in time and the Martian race, including J'onzz's wife and daughter, has been dead for thousands of years.
The 1990s saw the character continue to serve in many different versions of the Justice League of America. In addition to serving in the League under his own identity, he also joins (under duress) disguised as "Bloodwynd". Soon after, it is revealed that J'onn had accidentally bonded with Bloodwynd prior to his joining the League: J'onn assumed the physical form and manner of Bloodwynd, while Bloodwynd himself was transported to the inside of his "Blood Gem." They were separated  and both continued their associations with the League.
The 1992 miniseries American Secrets is set in the character's past, exploring a previously unrevealed adventure against the backdrop of a changing America during the 1950s. Written by Gerard Jones and with art by Eduardo Barreto, the series finds the Manhunter drawn into a murder mystery that rapidly escalates into paranoia and alien invasion.
Post Zero Hour (mid-1990s–mid-2000s)
Martian Manhunter began as an ongoing series in 1998, written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Tom Mandrake (with fill-in art provided by Bryan Hitch among others). The series lasted 36 issues before being canceled due to low sales. Ostrander established that Martian Manhunter is the most recognized hero in the Southern Hemisphere, and that he maintains a number of different secret identities, many of them outside the United States. However, following two incidents later in the series in which John Jones separates from Martian Manhunter[volume & issue needed], he decides to focus on his original human identity and retire the others.
The series establishes that J'onn has a disturbed brother, Ma'alefa'ak, who uses his shape shifting abilities to pose as J'onn, capturing and torturing Jemm, Son of Saturn, and terraforming part of Earth to resemble Mars (areoforming). This is all part of a grand plan designed to convince the rest of the Justice League that J'onn has turned into a sociopath. However, J'onn is able to clear his name and defeat Ma'alefa'ak despite having most of his body destroyed in an exploding spaceship (he is later[volume & issue needed] able to regenerate his body from his severed hand).
The series also further established the history of both the Manhunter and the Saturnian race. The first issue revealed that there was a "real" human John Jones, a police detective who is murdered by corrupt colleagues, and that J'onn subsequently assumed his identity to complete an important court case.
In issues of JLA written by Joe Kelly, J'onn attempts to conquer his fear of fire and makes a deal with a flame-wielding villainess named Scorch, who wants J'onzz' telepathic help in dealing with her own mental issues. The story served to redefine his traditional aversion to fire—he is now invulnerable to flames unless they are "flames of passion" or of some other "psychic significance." This change is forgotten about in later series and adventures.
Crisis Era (mid-2000s–early-2010s)
During the lead-up to the Infinite Crisis miniseries, the character is feared to have been killed in an attack on the Justice League's HQ. He is later revealed to be alive and a captive of Alexander Luthor, Jr. After Infinite Crisis, most of DC's series jumped ahead one year, having the weekly series 52 fill in the missing time. In 52 #24, it is revealed that the character has been working behind the scenes in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Checkmate for its role in the death of Ted Kord.
Several weeks before World War III the Martian Manhunter disguises himself as a young girl and tries to defeat Black Adam telepathically in Bialya. He is defeated by being exposed to Adam's darkest memories and flees Earth. The miniseries WW III is told from his perspective. Using these events as a catalyst, DC Comics redesigned the appearance of the character, changing his costume and giving him an appearance that more closely resembles that of his Martian form. Those changes were further explored during a Martian Manhunter limited series that spun out of the DCU: Brave New World one-shot. Written by A.J. Lieberman with art from Al Barrionuevo and Bit, the series portrayed a Manhunter more mistrustful of humanity and their actions towards each other. The miniseries focuses on J'onn's search for other survivors of Mars.
Following this miniseries, J'onn was intended to be in Outsiders. He appeared in the third issue of the Outsiders: Five of a Kind series with Thunder, and joined the team afterwards. Due to the change of writers, he was quickly written out within the last two issues. He was next seen working undercover during the events of the limited series Salvation Run. At the end of the series, J'onn is left captured and alone on an alien planet.
In Final Crisis #1 (2008), written by Grant Morrison the character is killed, with the death being further developed in the one-shot, Final Crisis: Requiem. The character next appears in the Blackest Night storyline as a Black Lantern At the end of the miniseries, the character is resurrected. Following this, the character is featured in the weekly Brightest Day series. During the series, J'onn encounters another surviving green Martian: D'kay D'razz, a scarred and warped psychopath who wants J'onn to be her mate.
In Brightest Day he is a very prominent character, finding a water source on Mars and meeting and talking with the daughter of Dr. Erdel, Melissa. J'onn is depicted tucking her into bed in a retirement home, in the form of her father. He later appears at Erdel's old lab. However, plant life starts to die every time he gets near. Later still, J'onn goes to see M'gann M'orzz in Australia during her mediation search, but finds her beaten and tied up. While tending to her, he is contacted by the Entity, who instructs him to burn down the newly formed forest. When J'onn asks M'gann who did this to her, M'gann says she was attacked by a female green Martian. After this, J'onn senses something in Star City. J'onn arrives in Star City's new forest and attempts to complete his task; however, he is stopped from doing that by the Entity. The Entity reveals to him that the newly formed forest J'onn is to burn down is on Mars. After J'onn lashes out Star City's forest, he returns home. During this same time period, J'onn is found by Green Arrow, who attacks J'onn after mistaking him for some sort of monster. After being knocked unconscious and dragged out of the forest by Green Arrow, J'onn explains that the forest somehow tampered with his Martian shape-shifting abilities and temporarily drove him mad. When J'onn arrives home, he sees his planet covered in a newly formed forest on Mars.
When J'onn enters his home, he is confronted by a female green Martian named D'kay D'razz, the green Martian who attacked M'gann. D'kay explains her origins and wants to be J'onn's mate. J'onn refuses and learns that she is a psychopath when D'kay angrily lashes out to attack and enters his mind. J'onn tries to resist influence from D'kay's mind, but her control over his mind tempts him with visions of a fantasy world where all the Martians and J'onn's family are resurrected by the Entity. While re-united with his lost family, J'onn discovers that they are false and realizes that they are a ruse and the death corpse is carved of Martian symbols of love and hate from D'kay's influence. J'onn arrives vengeful and wrings D'kay's neck in disgust. J'onn defeats D'kay by forcing her into the sun, saved from the same fate by the White Lantern Entity, who informs him that his mission has been accomplished, and returns his life to him. The Entity then tells J'onn to choose between Mars and Earth. J'onn chooses Earth and returns to his adopted home world only to be absorbed into the Earth by the Entity as "part of the plan."
When the "Dark Avatar" makes his presence known, J'onn is revealed to be one of the Elementals. Martian Manhunter is transformed by the Entity to become the element of Earth in order to protect the Star City forest from the "Dark Avatar", which appears to be the Black Lantern version of the Swamp Thing. The Elementals are then fused with the body of Alec Holland in order for Holland to be transformed by the Entity into the new Swamp Thing and battle against the Dark Avatar. After the Dark Avatar is defeated, Swamp Thing restores J'onn to normal. Afterward, J'onn helps Melissa (daughter of Dr. Erdel) remove the piece from her head after she loses her mind.
The New 52
Following the events of Flashpoint, Martian Manhunter becomes a member of the covert Stormwatch organization. Despite now being allied with the militant Stormwatch group, where he says he goes when "I need to be a warrior" instead of being a hero, it is mentioned that J'onn is "from the Justice League". Issue six of Stormwatch does a mild retcon, saying "with the Justice League" is shorthand for being a public superhero; J'onn says he has never tried to actually join the League, as being a Stormwatch member means he would have to keep secrets from them and potentially betray them. This is later contracted, as it is revealed in Justice League that he joined at some point, resulting in a fight between him and the League. He is close to the members of Stormwatch, viewing Harry Tanner as a friend and being dismayed when he is betrayed; he says he was "starting to enjoy" the Projectionist's company "a great deal".
During his first appearance with Stormwatch, he accompanies Jack Hawksmoor and the Projectionist on a mission to recruit Apollo, whom J'onn is forced to fight (and manages to withstand direct strikes from Apollo) after he attacks the agents. He gets angry and stops fighting when Apollo suggests he is there to kill him, and goes on to attempt diplomacy with Apollo (and an arriving Midnighter instead, saying that fighting instead of talking would be acting like superheroes, the very thing both men claim not to be). He later faces down a member of Stormwatch's superiors, the Shadow Cabinet, cutting him off when he tries to talk about J'onn's history and saying he knows what the Shadow Lord is. Before J'onn spoke, the Shadow Lord had said, "He wants humans to think he's the last Martian: a noble, tragic orphan. But--"
Martian Manhunter later arrives on Oa to extract information from Guy Gardner's prisoner before proceeding to erase his memory. When investigating and afterwards helping the Legion of Super-Heroes the Martian Manhunter explains that he has never actually been a member of the Justice League and that the only team he has joined was Stormwatch. He later quits Stormwatch, erasing his existence from every member minds in the process, in order to deal with a new upcoming threat.
The Martian Manhunter appears as part of the new Justice League of America ongoing series, the team is controlled by Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. Each member of the newly formed government-ran Justice League of America is intended to have a counterpart in the Justice League, incase they would ever go rogue. Martian Manhunter's counterpart is Superman. J'onn's history with the original Justice League is referenced in both Justice League of America and Justice League, contradicting his prior statements of never joining the League. Steve Trevor is said to be acquainted with J'onn and that J'onn left the League after a "drag-out fight", a scene previously shown as a flashback in Justice League #8 (June 2012). In Justice League #20 (July 2013), during Despero's assault against the Watchtower, Martian Manhunter is mentioned by Firestorm as previously being part of the Justice League during their initial fight with Despero. After Despero incapacitates Firestorm, Element Woman, and The Atom, Martian Manhunter appears and defeats him with a telepathic assault.
Powers and abilities
The Martian Manhunter possesses a wide variety of superhuman powers— including telepathy, shape-shifting, projecting energy, x-ray vision, phasing, invisibility, flight, and super strength— but his abilities have been shown inconsistently throughout the years.
In the current DC continuity, many of his powers are similar to those of Superman, including superhuman strength close to that of Superman, flight, invulnerability, vortex breath, and "Martian Vision" (a term designating both the ability to see through solid objects and the ability to project beams of energy from his eyes). Superman once said of the Manhunter, "He is the most powerful being on the face of the Earth".
During the 1990s, it was stated that the source of his flight and "Martian vision" is a limited form of telekinesis[volume & issue needed] (he had occasionally[volume & issue needed] demonstrated more traditional uses of telekinesis to levitate and animate objects during his Detective Comics and House of Mystery appearances). His "Martian Vision" energy beams have sometimes been shown to knock foes backwards.[volume & issue needed] On most occasions, however, these energy beams are depicted as heating objects rather than delivering a concussive impact.
The Martian Manhunter possesses the power of shapeshifting, which he employs for various effects (adopting human or monstrous appearance, elongating his limbs, growing to immense size, altering the chemical composition of his body, etc.). His default form during JLA meetings and in public is a "human-friendly" version of his actual birth shape.
J'onn can become intangible, passing harmlessly through solid objects. He can also render himself invisible. He lost the ability to use his other powers while invisible during the Silver Age.
J'onn can become invisible to the naked eye. Until he was stripped of the use of his other powers while invisible J'onn was virtually unknown to the world except as John Jones, detective. He did his heroing while invisible as an unknown "angel" helping those in need.In "The Unmasking of J'onn J'onzz" from Detective Comics #273 where B'rett, a yellow-skinned Martian criminal, lands on Earth he reveals J'onzz's existence to Earth-1's public by using a Martian weapon to take away J'onn's ability to use his powers while he is invisible. Once visible to fight B'rett, J'onn is quickly outed as a Martian hero.
He is a powerful telepath, capable of both perceiving the thoughts of others and of projecting his own thoughts. He often acts as a "switchboard" between minds in order to coordinate the Justice League's actions. The extent of his telepathic abilities is great; several times he has connected his mind to the entire population of Earth[volume & issue needed].
In the Alex Ross series Justice, J'onn's "telepathy" is described in terms provocatively similar to the concept of grokking from Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. In an internal monologue, the Manhunter says:
- "Since the first moment I chose this form and set foot on this world, I experienced it in ways no other human could. The humans call it telepathy. But that is only what it is like. There is no human word for how we Martians coexist with others. We don't read minds. We share in other beings' thoughts."
J'onn is also capable of absorbing energy projectiles such as beams and other energy waves.
He has demonstrated regenerative abilities, once able to regenerate his entire body from only his severed head, but with great strain (due to the loss of mass, he found it necessary to incorporate new matter from the Martian sand). Early appearances of the character show him as able to breathe underwater; he displayed this power when he encountered Zauriel in the sea of San Francisco in JLA #6. The Manhunter has sometimes been said to possess nine senses, but these additional senses are poorly defined and generally ignored by most writers.
Aside from his superhuman powers, the Manhunter is also a skilled and very capable detective. As Batman mentions in his file, "in many ways, Martian Manhunter is like an amalgam of Superman and the Dark Knight himself."[clarification needed]
J'onn J'onzz has also demonstrated the ability of generating and manipulating heat or energy beams, waves and blasts, and even absorbing extra mass from the earth to greatly increase his size.
One of the Martian Manhunter's signature traits is his vulnerability to fire. Although it has been an element of the character since his earliest appearances, writers have depicted it with great inconsistency throughout the character's long career. In some instances, it is portrayed as a physical susceptibility inherent to the Martian race, while at other times it has been explained as a personal psychosomatic disorder. The degree of vulnerability has also been wildly inconsistent, in some cases capable of stripping away his powers and killing him, while at other times simply inflicting pain or delirium with no actual danger of physical harm[volume & issue needed]. This weakness has been diminished or cured on more than one occasion, only to have it return with a vengeance in a later story, as in the case of Justice League: Doom. Thus, it is difficult to define.
In his earliest appearances, the character was shown as having a weakness to fire while in his native Martian form. Over time, this was developed into the character having pyrophobia, with fire being the Martian's "Achilles heel", equivalent to Superman's weakness to Kryptonite. Exposure to fire typically causes J'onn to lose his ability to maintain his physical form, 'melting' into a pool of writhing green plasma. One portrayal explained that the flame weakness was tied into Martian telepathy, with fire causing so much chaos in Martian minds that they collapse[volume & issue needed]. Most recently it was revealed, during the Trial By Fire storyline, that this fear was instilled on a genetic level by the Guardians of the Universe 20,000 years ago to weaken what was then a very aggressive species on the verge of interstellar conquest—this act split the race into the Green Martians and White Martians, though no mention is made of the pre-Crisis third race known as the Yellow Martians. At the end of the arc, this weakness was partially removed, with J'onn explaining that only fires of "psychic significance" were of harm to him, such as flames of suffering or passion (this was seemingly a roundabout way of limiting his weakness to flames of a mystical or pyrokinetic nature).
During the Fernus storyline, Batman noted that Martian shapeshifting was based around study and analysis of others rather than actual independent inspiration. Although their telepathy made this process virtually instantaneous, it also put the Manhunter at a slight disadvantage when faced with Plastic Man, a being immune to telepathy who could transform his shape with greater ease than a Martian's.
Two of the earliest Manhunter Detective stories, "The Sleuth Without a Clue" had J'onn lose his powers when exposed to a specific comet. The plot in Detective #230 had J'onn J'onzz completely lose his martian powers for a period of 24 hours while the "Blazer Comet" was in the night sky and eight short months later in "Earth Detective for a Day" Detective #238, it was the "Earth-Mars Comet" that stripped J'onn of his martian abilities for only two hours this time. Perhaps the writers only meant that these comets had swung sunward from the Kuiper belt but really never got any closer than the Earth but still managed to sweep in closer than the Mars orbit.
The following are enemies of the Martian Manhunter:
- Imperium - The alien that was responsible for wiping out almost all of the Martian race in the Justice League of America television series.
- Bel Juz – Martian that survived the fate of Mars and used her womanly wiles and devious mind to manipulate those around her. After her home world of Mars was rendered uninhabitable, Bel Juz fled to the planet Vonn with the remnants of her fellow Green martians. Bel betrayed her people to the Thythen, invaders who had driven out all the known natives of Vonn. The Thythen employed cybernetics to enslave the Martians, then used their life-force to drive Robo-Chargers. Only Bel Juz remained free among her group.
- B'enn B'urnzz – A Martian criminal who was hiding on Earth in 2062 and then came back to the present time to wreak havoc.
- Bette Noir – A hideous genetically engineered clone with telepathic powers. She often projects the illusion of being a beautiful woman.
- B'rett – A Yellow Martian convict who escaped captivity to Earth by stowing away in an experimental missile that overshot its mark. He landed in Middletown, U.S.A., where he immediately went on a destructive rampage. He carries a Martian Ray Gun that destroys most things it hits.
- Cay'an – One of the few surviving green martians, Cay'an brainwashed a group of White Martians to attack the Martian Manhunter.
- Commander Blanx – Leader of the polar-dwelling White Martians, enemies of the desert-dwelling Green Martians. In Pre-Crisis continuity he caused the destruction of the martian race.
- Darkseid – An evil alien "god" who, although is primarily a Superman and New Gods enemy, has invaded Mars years before J'onn came to Earth. He is responsible for driving Malefic insane.
- Despero – A Justice League of America villain who murdered the parents of J'onn's protégé Gypsy and his team-mate Steel. J'onn in turn is responsible for some of Despero's most humiliating defeats, leading to a strong mutual enmity between the two characters.
- D'kay D'razz – A female green Martian, D'kay was imprisoned on Mars by her fellow green Martians because she conducted experiments on members of her kind whose minds were not open to the communal Martian telepathic mind. After the death of the green Martians, she no longer had even the company of those who imprisoned her. D'kay goes insane as a result of the complete isolation until she was beamed to earth by Dr. Erdel. Once on Earth, the assault of thoughts thrusts her into greater extent depths of insanity, and she attacks Dr. Erdel and his daughter, leaving her permanently scarred as D'kay escaped. In desperation, D'kay stole the identity of a human and completely erased all memory of her previous identity. J'onn's death in Final Crisis message put cracks in these telepathic memory blocks, but she did not regain her memories until J'onn's resurrected in Blackest Night. D'kay is desperate to recreate the Martian race with J'onn to the point where she even attempted to kill Miss Martian because she perceived a threat to her claim to J'onn. D'Kay's body is distorted and includes an extra mouth at her torso which manifests from her broken mind. She has carved the Martian symbols of love and hate onto her body.
- Getaway King – aka Getaway Mastermind; Monty Moran, a criminal scientist, uses futuristic gimmicks of his own design to help his gang make safe and spectacular getaways from crimes he has them commit. The Martian Manhunter helps nab several members of his gang in two incidents. Then he trails a third unit of the gang to Moran’s hideout, where he learns of the getaway genius’s ultimate gimmick: a force-field. Using his powers invisibly, J’onn J’onzz herds Moran and the rest of his gang into the hands of the police.
- The Headmaster – Real name Thaddeus Romero Hoskins, an arrogant elitist born to a rich family, Hoskins graduated M.I.T. at the age of fifteen. However, Hoskins' social skills never developed properly, and he felt alienated by all around him. He feared mankind will die out if they stayed on earth, becoming extinct like the dinosaurs. Hoskins was inspired to develop a robotic model for military application that consisted of an inhuman head attached to spidery legs. Dubbed a "headman," it could decapitate enemy soldiers in the field and reanimate their bodies to act as cannon fodder for its controllers. Those in scientific circles, including John Henry Irons, were unaware of the robot moving beyond the theoretical stage. Later, Hoskins body was discovered, his head detached by a laser, and his brain missing entirely. In a powerful new bipedal shell, Hoskins renamed himself "the Headmaster," and set his master plan into motion. He re-purposed a former NORAD installation, dubbed the Ark, and designed as a nuclear bomb shelter. From here, the Headmaster set to work on a massive spaceship that could carry the finest examples of humanity off their home planet. In need of a work force to carry out the task, the Headmaster created an army of headmen. He then sent them out to kill and commandeer the bodies of homeless people to construct his craft. The murders of two police officers, who stumbled upon one of Headmaster's victims under the control of a headman, attracted the attention of private investigator John Jones—secretly the Manhunter from Mars. Using his shapeshifting abilities to assume the visage of a derelict, J'Onn J'Onzz staked out an alley until he was attacked by a headman. After being wounded in a struggle with the device, the Martian Manhunter took its remains to the JLA Watchtower for further study. With the aid of Steel and Oracle, the Manhunter located the Ark and its contents. The Headmaster met with J'Onzz, hoping to convince him of the merits of his plan, so that he would not lose precious time by abandoning the base. Dedicated to the preservation of all life, equally treasured, the Manhunter from Mars declared himself the Headmaster's implacable foe. A scuffle ensued, which ended with the Martian Manhunter burying the Headmaster under his own space ship. The damage Headmaster took deactivated his headman, and pieces of his robotic armor were uncovered after an explosion leveled the Ark. It is unclear whether Hoskins' brain was still within the Headmaster body, or if he is perhaps still at large. Martian Manhunter #1,000,000 (cameo, as the Headman, November 1998,) Martian Manhunter #1 (full, December 1998)
- The Headmen – A robotic military group led by The Headmaster. The Headmen were spider-like robots created by Hoskins to do his bidding, with heads resembling the Headmaster's. Standing at roughly two feet tall, with long arachnid legs tipped with blades, the headmen were controlled by human brains wiped clean and "reprogrammed." The headmen were often assigned the task of decapitating derelicts, dipping their spiked limbs into their victim's chest cavity, and replacing their headspace with its own. The headmen could then animated the deceased bodies to perform most motor functions. To facilitate this act, the headmen were armed spectacularly. A laser beam emitted from their right ocular cavity could kill most people on contact, and were capable of momentarily blinding one of the most powerful super-beings on Earth. Their electronic eyes were further enhanced with thermal and radar imaging. The headman robots were physically resistant to incredible amounts of damage, and were both quick and agile.
- The Prophet – The ancient holy man K'rkzar travelled the known universe, to sit with instructors of every religion in his pursuit of the one spiritual truth. Long ago, he paid a visit to Mars, learning of their gods, such as H'ronmeer. Eventually, K'rkzar went into a centuries long seclusion to process all he had absorbed from his quest. When his intended emergence to discuss his findings was announced, it should be fairly predictable that the leaders of most every organized religion would scream for his head or his hand. As luck would have it, J'Onn J'Onzz decided on that very moment in time to seek out K'rkzar in hopes he might have information about other survivors from Mars. He instead found himself one of K'rkzar's few defenders in the midst of a holy war. It was widely believed that K'rkzar's trusted disciple, fellow priest Bruaka, was the only being aware of K'rkzar whereabouts. The Martian Manhunter joined a small group of agents in taking Bruaka into protective custody, with legions of bloodthirsty zealots in pursuit. The reptilian church head Paral was a central figure in organizing "an unprecedented alliance of faiths... All for the sole purpose of destroying K'rkzar before he can spread his blasphemy across the universe!" As the Manhunter and his group consistently evaded these forces, Paral to unleash the power—and the wrath—of the Prophet! The Prophet spoke almost entirely in the scripture of his deity, Grud, as he matched the Martian Manhunter blow for blow in battle upon asteroids in the vacuum of deep space. The Prophet was distracted when the ship he had been pursuing exploded in a kamikaze-style collision with the vessel of the fundamentalist's aides. This gave J'onn J'onzz both the hostility and the opportunity needed to overtake the Prophet, busting his sceptre and throttling him unconscious. K'rkzar delivered his simple message of peace, and the Prophet has yet to reemerge. Appearance: Martian Manhunter Special #1 (1996)
- The Human Flame – A villain who wore a special suit that allowed him to project fire, which is the weakness of the Martian Manhunter. He was the first actual supervillain the Manhunter faced.
- Kanto – Darkseid's master assassin, he fought J'onn during the attack on Mars. The two have been bitter rivals ever since.
- Ma'alefa'ak (also called Malefic) – The twin brother and archenemy of Martian Manhunter. He was created by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. The character first appeared in Martian Manhunter Vol 2 #0 (October 1998). The brother of J'onn J'onzz, Ma'alefa'ak was the only member of the Martian race born without telepathy and a weakness to fire. Feeling ostracized because of his genetic differences, Ma'alefa'ak was the architect of an extinction-level event. This event is known as H’ronmeer’s Curse. H’ronmeer’s Curse was a plague of fire, this curse attacked Martians via their telepathic abilities. Whenever a Martian attempted to use their telepathic gifts or commune with the Great Mind, they would fall victim to the Curse, and ultimately burn to death. With the exception of Ma'alefa'ak's brother, J'onn and himself, nearly all Green Martians on the planet died as a result of Ma'alefa'ak's handiwork. For centuries, Ma'alefa'ak continued to live in the ruins of Mars, unaware that his brother had survived the plague, and had been transported through space and time to the planet Earth. Several years ago, Ma'alefa'ak learned of J'onn's existence, and followed him back to Earth in an effort to complete the genocide of the Martian race, by destroying its last surviving son. Ma'alefa'ak has tried many times to finish his work and kill his brother J'onn but has not succeeded. Ma'alefa'ak has all the same powers as other martians except for telepathy. Ma'alefa'ak also does not have the weakness of fire like other martians do. He worships Darkseid as his God, in turn undermining the independence of Martian history, and helped to inspire the Anti-Life Equation that has cost countless lives.
- The Marshal – Genetically altered to be the perfect Martian warrior, the Marshal towered over his soldiers. Tried to invade earth.
- The Master Gardener – The Master Gardener and his shapeshifting Lizard Man came to Earth during World War II, and took advantage of the terror and confusion of the time to infiltrate governments and communications cartels. They grew plants bearing fungus that bonded to the human nervous system, allowing them to control the very words they spoke under threat of spontaneous combustion.
- Mister V – aka Faceless; leader of VULTURE.
- Mongul – An alien Warlord who tried to force J'onn to give him the key to a super weapon.
- Professor Arnold Hugo – An evil genius. Originally a Batman enemy, in his second appearance he fought J'onn and went on to become his first recurring opponent.
- Robo-charger – Gigantic monstrosities which seemingly combined elements of both androids and tanks, the Robo-Chargers were designed for war and employed by the Thythen. Fueled by the life force of living beings, the Robo-Chargers were used to police the planet Vonn. Their unconscious "batteries" were hung from girders, and had their essence drained through helmets connected with networks of cable to the Robo-Chargers. The Robo-Chargers stood several stories tall, and moved through rocky terrain with great speed on tank treads. The constructs were covered in turrets called projectors, which fired blasts that could disintegrate a target. The design of their upper bodies were humanoid, complete with head, chest, arms and five-fingered hands (including opposable thumbs.) The Robo-Chargers had large antennae, likely used to receive commands from the Thythen, who also bore antennae. Whether communication with the Thythen was telepathic was not made clear, but this seems most likely to have been the case with the Martians. appears in World's Finest Comics #212
- Thythen – Thythen appears in World's Finest Comics #212 The Thythen were warmongers, "engaged in a cosmic struggle with their neighbors." According to writing found on a tablet and translated by J'onn J'onzz within the Alien Arsenal, the Thythen invaded the planet Vonn, and preyed upon the native people there. In order to escape the Thythen, this people abandoned their world and "broadcast" themselves to a distant solar system. Three members of the Thythen, an "unholy trinity," remained on Vonn to "charge their Robo-Chargers" with the remaining inhabitants life-force. These victims included a group of green martians, who had survived Mars' devastation and found their way to Vonn. The Thythen camp was located in the west, where their domed headquarters and the girders that held the Robo-Chargers' "batteries" could be seen from well off. The Thythen seemed to have no compunctions about exploiting the life energies of their prisoners while treating them inhumanely. They also encouraged the traitorous Bel Juz to lure others into a trap to expand their herd. Of the three Thythen on Vonn, two were disintegrated by their own Robo-Chargers after they were taken over by the minds of the martians. The third traveled from Vonn in the Alien Arsenal before being defeated by Superman. How that Thythen was managed afterward is unknown.
- Tor – The ghost of a robot criminal from Mars. Martian scientists, among them J'onn J'onzz, constructed a nigh indestructible robot of vast strength and intellect to serve their planet "forever." J'onzz was apprehensive about the result, and rightly so, when a fellow scientist accidentally fed a master criminal thought-control card into the TOR control board. TOR's mechanical brain quickly absorbed its crime facts via a remote electronic connection, and the robot began to function as a violent criminal. TOR proceeded to ravage Mars, its appetite for material possessions and the general rule implacable. Unable to reason with TOR or damage it with Martian weapons, J'onn J'onzz devised a plan to use the robot's greed against it. TOR was lured onto a rocket ship with the false rumor of riches within, and blasted off to the dead planet of Turas. There discovered the solar dust on the world would slowly destroy even its impressive being. Through unknown means, TOR eventually learned of J'onn J'onzz's own exile to Earth. TOR spent months developing machines that would allow it to mentally control an Earthling, as well as somehow make the host immune to harm. TOR succeeded in taking control of the gangster Marty Kirk, just 24 hours before TOR's fated destruction, and set upon a campaign of revenge. Despite TOR's best efforts in Kirk's body, J'onn J'onzz managed to elude the robot until its remaining 24 hours were nearly up. TOR made a last-ditch effort to ruin J'onzz by revealing his presence to his adopted world, but J'onzz set a fire that led to TOR's exorcism from Kirk. DETECTIVE COMICS #243 (May, 1957)
- VULTURE – An international crime syndicate whom J'onn infiltrated for sometime before finally destroying them.
- White Martians – A warlike offshoot of the Martian race.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2010)|
Within the publications of DC Comics, many alternate versions of the characters have appeared. Some of those have appeared in stories that set within the shared fictional DC Universe and others in self-contained stories.
Those alternative versions have appeared in a range of genres and time periods and many appear in Elseworlds stories featuring a Justice League, including JLA: The Nail, JLA: Act of God, Justice Riders, the fantasy-themed League of Justice, the World War II-set JSA: The Liberty Files, and John Ostrander's dark JLA: Destiny which features a world without Superman or Batman. Other notable stories provide a more pessimistic future for the character.
Kingdom Come features a J'onn mentally shattered from his attempts to understand humanity by attempting to open his mind to all human thoughts at once. He is now apparently stuck in his human form, demonstrating no flight or superhuman strength and possesses no apparent control over his phasing abilities; requiring Batman to hold up his coffee cup as his hands pass through it. He is however still shown to possess some limited control over his remaining telepathy and at Batman's request makes a mind scan of Captain Marvel, the effort of which is shown to very nearly overwhelm him. Despite showing a willingness to stay and continue aiding Batman in his cause, Batman tells him to go and rest, saying he has earned it more than any other of the original Justice League members. Given his lack of a physical body it is unlikely (thought never stated or shown) that he participated in the Battle of the Gulag and thus presumably survived.
DC One Million
On Earth-3, the many-membered Crime Society of America exists, with a monstrous version of J'onn J'onzz showcased.
Martian Manhunter's antimatter reality counterpart is a White Martian and was Ultraman's chief rival until Ultraman killed him.
Countdown to Adventure
Countdown to Adventure #1 depicts the Forerunner planet, in an alternate universe (Earth-48) where the races of the planets and dwarf planets in the universe conquer Earth; the leader of the Martian army and populace is General J'onzz.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, J'onn J'onzz was teleported to Earth and held captive in one of the Outsider's research facilities. After studying and torturing J'onn, the Outsider then sold him to the Russian government, after which J'onn attacked them and took over the country. He disguises himself as Blackout for undercover work against the Outsider. After a confrontation with the Outsider, J'onn's cover was blown when the Outsider tells him that Blackout has no skill. During the battle, Outsider used the recovered teleportation technology device to trap J'onn. The Outsider then threatened J'onn to tell him about any future assassins, when J'onn refuses, the Outsider closed the teleport cutting J'onn in half killing him.
Parodies and analogues
There have been few parodies of Martian Manhunter made in recent times, due to the concentration on more well-known heroes like Superman and Batman.
- Martian Anteater – a member of Just'a Lotta Animals
- Jack From Jupiter – a member of The Seven in the Garth Ennis series, The Boys.
- Mr. Martian, CH'kk Kk'xx (Chuck Cox) – a Big Bang Comics hero
- Martian Man in the Guardians of the Globe from Invincible
- Vigilante from Venus – a female character in Top Ten
- Skrullian Skymaster from the Squadron Supreme
- The Freedom City sourcebook for the role-playing game Mutants & Masterminds includes pastiches of many popular superheroes, including Pseudo, a shapeshifting alien telepath who is a member of the Freedom League, which is an analogue for the Justice League
- Stalker from the "secret" Stormwatch team.
- Shapesmith from the Invincible series is also a Martian superhero with shapeshifting powers. He was inspired by Martian Man, an earlier hero in that universe who appeared to be a more direct analogue of J'onn as part of the original Guardians of the Globe.
In other media
- J'onn J'onzz appears in a ancient message recorded by Jo-Rel in Kevin Anderson's novel The Last Days of Krypton and describes that his civilization has been swept away by the winds of time, and that he is the only Martian left. He hints that white Martians were involved in his people's passing. He asks finally that the viewers of the message remember . Whether this J'onn J'onzz ever is a member of the Justice League is not said by Anderson.
- J'onn J'onzz, is played by David Ogden Stiers, in the 1997 Justice League of America live-action television pilot. He has difficulty shapeshifting, being only able to impersonate others for a short period of time, and no mention is made of any other powers—although he sets a chair aflame during a scene where he impersonates JLA member Fire, with what may or not be Martian vision. He also does not appear to be vulnerable to fire/heat (when the villainous Weatherman attempts to cook the heroes alive by superheating their base with a laser, J'onn does not leave with the others, claiming the intense heat is not considered dangerous "where I come from"). He was also played by Miguel Ferrer when he temporarily changes into Weatherman, Miguel's character in the film.
- J'onn J'onzz appears in the Justice League animated series, voiced by Carl Lumbly. He is referred to by his name or as "the Martian", not as "Martian Manhunter". In this series, J'onzz' 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 join the fight against them. For the animated series, executive producer Bruce Timm revised and reduced J'onn's powers somewhat; his superstrength was downplayed (though he was still seen performing great feats of strength on occasion), his superspeed, invisibility and Martian vision are not present, and emphasis was placed on his telepathy, shapeshifting and density alteration, specifically his ability to become intangible. J'onzz only increased his density sporadically on the series, usually noticeable by a glowing blue aura surrounding his body. In the episode "A Knight of Shadows", J'onn transforms himself briefly into a dense, metallic substance hard enough to deflect the blows of, and even harm, the super-strong demon Etrigan. In season two episode Comfort and Joy, J'onn lands on a childs roof and reaches down the chimney for cookies, which are drawn like Oreos. In the comics, J'onn has always displayed a liking for the cookie called Chocos, which are essentially Oreos. In the same episode, he is shown to be a beautiful singer in his native Martian language. Like the other member in the first two seasons he is used on a semi regular basis. In Tabula Rasa, he becomes disappointed in humanity after hearing their thoughts, showing how selfish some humans are. His faith is somewhat restored when he mentally spies on a group of people seeking a lost little girl. Spying on one guy who thought, "I'm freezing my butt off for the girl and I don't even know her; but I know how I would feel if she were mine." It is J'onn who turns the tide in the battle with A.M.A.Z.O allowing him to simulate his powers. When Luthor tells A.M.A.Z.O. he has all their powers, J'onn tells him to use them well, leading to A.M.A.Z.O. telepathically discovering Luthor's true intentions and turning on him.
- In Justice League Unlimited, he is in the Watchtower manning it. He takes the place of Kalibak when Flash goes with Mister Miracle and Big Barda to save Oberon. In task force X he fights off Flag, Bette Sans Souci, Captain Boomerang and Deadshot single handedly. He leaves the tower at the end of season 4 to battle Luthor with the rest of the original seven. He leaves the tower again to help Wonder Woman against Killer Frost, Devil Ray and Giganta. At the end of that same episode he leaves the League, claiming he was too detached from humanity to serve them, and makes Mister Terrific the new man in charge of dispatching the League. He returns in the series finale taking the form of an elderly Asian man and seemed to have found love. He reunites with the League and helps to fend off the invasion. He is noticeably different than when he left, demonstrating more human behavior.
- Dorian Harewood voices the character in The Batman animated series. In addition to the character's standard powers, he also displays telekinetic abilities. He uses the guise of Detective John Jones to warn Batman about "The Joining", a coming alien threat to Gotham. Despite not being in continuity, his appearance is very much like his appearance on the Justice League series (the only real differences being that his features are more angular and that he wears shorts).
- Phil Morris portrays Martian Manhunter in the Smallville television series. In this show, he is portrayed as an old friend of Jor-El who came to Earth to monitor Kal-El and assist him when he needed it, aiding Clark in defeating the escaped Phantom Zone prisoners. The Manhunter sacrifices his powers at the beginning of the eighth season to save Clark from a fatal wound—flying Clark close to the sun, restoring Clark's temporarily lost powers while depriving him of his own—but, after joining the Metropolis Police Department under the name 'John Jones', he is restored to full strength mid-Season Nine by Doctor Fate, who sacrifices a chance to save his life so that he can send the Manhunter to Mars and restore his powers. John then returns to help battle Icicle's son who had taken the mask of Fate from Dr. Fate's dead body. Later, he and Chloe went for dinner with Oliver Queen, where he mentions that, during his time as a human, he gained a strange desire to eat cookies.
- Martian Manhunter appears in the Young Justice TV series voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Miss Martian is the Martian Manhunter's niece in the show's backstory. Like the original Silver Age stories, the show's tie-in comic book reveals that Mars is still heavily populated and that J'onn still has family living there. When assuming an earthbound secret identity, Martian Manhunter takes the appearance of an African-American man and uses the alias "John Jones." In "Failsafe," Martian Manhunter puts Young Justice through a mind-training exercise on Batman's orders which ends up going horribly wrong when Miss Martian takes Artemis' simulated death hard. Martian Manhunter ended up having to enter the mind-training exercise to correct this by knocking Miss Martian out of the trance. While Captain Marvel comforts Miss Martian about what happened, Martian Manhunter tells Batman and Red Tornado that in terms of raw power, Miss Martian's telepathy is the strongest he has encountered, including his in comparison.
- Martian Manhunter appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Darkseid Descending" voiced by Nicholas Guest. He is a member of Justice League International. He appears in "Shadow of the Bat!", where he and the rest of the JLI try to stop Batman after he is turned into a vampire. The vampire Batman tortures J'onn by entering his mind and forcing him to relive the violent deaths of his wife and daughter. In "Night of the Batmen!", he takes care and keeps an injured Batman from leaving the Satellite.
- Miguel Ferrer reprises his role as Martian Manhunter in the direct-to-DVD animated film, Justice League: The New Frontier. The movie shows his first adventures after arriving on the planet Earth. His weakness to fire is portrayed as an unexplained mixture of the psychological and the physical: when confronted with a fire, he is mesmerized, and falls to his knees, seemingly powerless to move at all, until someone else douses the fire.
- Jonathan Adams voices the Martian Manhunter in the direct-to-DVD animated film, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He also has a Crime Syndicate counterpart called J'edd J'arkus (a play on the Martian "Tars Tarkas" from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom novels) who was killed during a raid by Lex Luthor and Jester.
- Martian Manhunter appears in the animated film Justice League: Doom, with Carl Lumbly reprising his role from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
- The Martian Manhunter is a playable character in Heroes voiced by Daniel Riordan. He also appears as a non-playable character in Justice League Heroes: The Flash
- Martian Manhunter appears in Injustice for All.
- Martian Manhunter appears in Justice League: Chronicles.
- Martian Manhunter appears as a NPC in DC Universe Online, voiced by Dwight Schultz. In the hero campaign, he assists the players when Circe poses as Mera in order to get Aquaman into attacking Metropolis.
- Martian Manhunter is referenced in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. After defeating Deathstroke, Flash contacts Wonder Woman, who needs him in Gotham City. When Flash is influenced by the Rage, Wonder Woman asks if he is okay, saying that he has been running from city to city for hours. She would have asked Martian Manhunter to go to Gotham instead, but Flash comes to his senses, heading off.
- Martian Manhunter appears in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, voiced by Cam Clarke. He appears as a member of the Justice League and a playable character
- Martian Manhunter appears as a non-playable character in the Watchtower stage in Injustice: Gods Among Us. He also appears as a support card in the IOS App.
- Martian Manhunter was the 18th issue in DC Comics Super Hero Collection.
- Martian Manhunter is also part of the DC Deckbuilding Game by Cryptozoic Entertainment, his Hero card was given as a special Promo Card when bought at participating retailers.
IGN ranked the Martian Manhunter as the 43rd greatest comic book hero of all time describing him as one of the most sound members of the DC universe, and being maybe one of the most criminally underrated characters in comics.
- Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter vol. 1 ISBN 978-1-4012-1368-8
- Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter vol. 2 ISBN 978-1-4012-2256-7
- Martian Manhunter: The Others Among Us ISBN 978-1-4012-1335-0
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