Martha Johansson as she appeared during Nation X. Art by David and Álvaro López
|First appearance||New X-Men #118 (November 2001)|
|Created by||Grant Morrison
Ethan Van Sciver
|Alter ego||Martha Johansson|
|Team affiliations||Brotherhood of Mutants
Jean Grey School Students
Mentally broadcasts mind-clouding "psycho-chaff"
Fictional character biography
Martha was a mutant runaway who was captured by the transpeciesism group, the U-Men. Their founder John Sublime had her brain removed from her body, keeping the disembodied brain alive in a capsule. Sublime controlled her through drugs and syringes and used her to telepathically subdue his opponents, the two X-Men Cyclops and Emma Frost. Emma eventually freed herself and Cyclops from Martha's psionic control, inadvertently allowing Martha to take revenge on Sublime by telepathically forcing him to fall to his death.
She later becomes a student in the Xavier Institute's Special Class. Quentin Quire invents a special hovering case to hold her brain, allowing her a level of mobility. She befriends another student, Ernst, a mysterious and timid mutant girl with the appearance of an old woman who often serves as Martha's means of communicating with the rest of the world by voicing her telepathic speech to others.
When Xorn destroys the school and forms a new Brotherhood of Mutants under the guise of Magneto, Martha joins alongside Ernst. However, Martha's loyalty does not last; she accurately predicts that Xorn's scheme to murder every human in Manhattan and turn the planet upside down will fail. Following Xorn's death, Martha returns to life as a student at the X-Mansion, appearing infrequently as part of the student body.
After the X-Men abandon the X-Mansion and relocate to San Francisco, Beast finds Martha in his old lab and retrieves her from the ruined Xavier Institute in a carrying case, bringing her to the new X-Men headquarters.
Martha is later featured in a one-shot story entitled "Martha Johansson vs. Quentin Quire: 7½." Now relocated to the mutant safe haven of Utopia, Martha finds herself the appointed "arch-nemesis" for a newly revived Quentin Quire. Finding life on a higher plane to be "boring," Quentin revives himself and decides to become a villain and secretly destroy Utopia, claiming that the X-Men stole his idea to create a mutant nation. Making a game of his master plan, he gives Martha seven and a half minutes to attempt to stop him. Martha attempts to alert the X-Men and locate Quentin, but he manages to intercept and taunt her at each attempt, ultimately smashing her container and leaving her to die. Martha realizes that Quentin has infiltrated Cerebra to destroy the island and take revenge on the Cuckoos by trapping them in a mental loop. Martha outsmarts Quentin's plans by using her powers to tip off the Cuckoo Celeste to an error in Quentin's mental loop. The Cuckoos are then able to break free and quickly defeat him. They send help for Martha and thank her for saving them. Martha reflects on the experience, finding that she enjoyed it, and contemplates the possibility of taking up superheroism.
Curse of the Mutants
Following her path in superheroism Martha possessed a sleeping Rogue to experience further heroics. In Rogue's body, followed by Ernst who looked after her unconscious brain, she met Damen, a vampire claiming she was his lover Rue reincarnated. As the event culminated Martha kissed him to experience vampirism via Rogue's absorption powers, but realized he was soulless. Distraught, Damen allowed Martha to end his existence.
During the separation between the X-Men in two teams, Martha choose to stay at Utopia. At the request of Zero, she joins the Lights of Hope Summers. Through the use of Zero's techno-organic powers, Martha has received a new physical body very similar to Zero's, with her front lobe exposed. She has subsequently been seen sharing Zero's bed, though whether this is a depiction of intimacy or merely the only practical way for her to keep her new body is undetermined. During Zero's rampage on Utopia, Martha and Hope work together stopping him and sacrificing her new body in the process, but Hope saves her and she is back in a new brain canister. It is revealed that Martha's powers could negate Zero's with ease.[volume & issue needed]
Spider-Man and the X-Men
After Wolverine's death, one of his last requests was for Spider-Man to join the Jean Grey School as a teacher for the Special Class so that he could identify a mole that Wolverine believed was among the student body. While Martha was one of the suspects, Spider-Man came to trust her while Martha respected him as a teacher, helping to shield his mind from an attempted telepathic probe by Rachel Summers and later protecting his conscious mind when he was forced to take on a new symbiote to stop a symbiote invasion of a S.W.O.R.D. satellite. It was eventually revealed that the mole was Ernst, who had been working with Mister Sinister to provide him with DNA samples of the X-Men in exchange for him giving Martha a new body. However, when the time came for Sinister to uphold his end of the bargain, he just placed Martha in a clone of Storm's body rather than recreating her old one, prompting Martha to reject this offer and convincing Ernst to remove her from the clone. Once Sinister was defeated, Martha apparently began dating Eye-Guy, whose new perceptions had expanded to a point where he claimed that he could even 'see' Martha 'smile' if he looked at her the right way.
Powers and abilities
Martha is a telepath, able to communicate mentally and manipulate the minds of other beings. In her introduction as an isolated brain Martha uses her telepathy to communicate through others near her, but typically only directs her telepathic speech to her classmate Ernst, who then repeats her comments to others. She is able to telepathically override and control the motor functions of others. This allows her to temporarily negate the powers of other mutants, though she must be at close range to do so. She can also project her consciousness into the minds of others, taking complete possession of their bodies while leaving her brain unconscious and vulnerable.
Martha can broadcast disruptive psionic distortion (called "psycho-chaff") into her immediate environment that clouds the minds of others, inhibiting their concentration and autonomic nervous functions to the point of stupor. Her abilities in this area are shown to be strong enough to overpower the subconscious defenses of Emma Frost when Emma was in her diamond form and unable to access her own telepathy. However, Martha's "psycho-chaff" is not strong enough to bypass Emma Frost's conscious telepathic abilities, as Emma was able to easily overpower Martha and regain control of her motor functions after shifting out of her diamond form and regaining her telepathy.
Without a body, Martha is limited in all other areas. She, as a brain, travels in a fluid-filled jar with technology (invented by fellow Xavier Institute student Quentin Quire) that allows it to float, and is anchored via a metal chain. The floats offer her some level of mobility, moving in the direction of her choosing.
It was also stated that, in her original body, Martha's blood had luminescent properties; Martha wrote a note to her parents using her own glowing blood when she ran away from home.
It is unknown if Martha had Zero's powers in the body he created for her, but it seems she was dependent on Zero's concentration for her form to be maintained.
Age of X
Here Comes Tomorrow
In the Here Comes Tomorrow future timeline, Martha is still alive 150 years from now. She is still close friends with Ernst, who is revealed to be a benevolent reincarnation of Cassandra Nova. Along with Nova, she stands alongside Wolverine, E.V.A., the Three-In-One, and Beak's Grandson Tito Jerome Bohusk against a Sublime-possessed version of the X-Man Beast, who prematurely revives Jean Grey in order to control her and the Phoenix Force.[volume & issue needed]
During a conversation with Cassandra Nova, it is confirmed that Martha was No-Girl all along, as well as the fact that Martha knew Nova was Ernst all along as well. As having no body limits her range of actions, Martha is Cassandra's pilot of the X-Plane and the two die after reviving Jean Grey's true personality and freeing her from the Beast's control. Dying, Martha's last telepathic words are to a dying Wolverine, telling him that they are going to the "White Hot Room," the higher plane of existence for all those touched by the power of the Phoenix Force.[volume & issue needed]
X-Men: The End
- Generation Hope #14
- New X-Men #118-120 (2001)
- New X-Men #134-136 (2003)
- Kyle, Craig; Christopher Yost (2007). New X-Men: Childhood's End Volume 5. New York: Marvel Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7851-2239-5.
- X-Men: Divided We Stand #2
- John Barber (w), David López (p), Álvaro López (i). "Martha Johansson vs. Quentin Quire in: 7½" Nation X 2 (March 2010), Marvel Comics
- Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires #1
- New X-Men vol. 2 #136
- Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires #1
- New X-Men vol. 2 #119
- New X-Men vol. 2 #120
- New X-Men vol. 2 #118
- X-Men: Legacy #245