January 17, 2017 8 min read
Martian Manhunter is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa and first appeared in Detective Comics #225(November 1955).
Martian Manhunter's alter-ego is J'onn J'onzz(pronounced John Jones) a Manhunter(policeman) of Mars. After his entire species died, a scientist named Dr. Saul Erdel brought him to earth using a transmitter machine. On earth when he is not being a superhero and saving lives, he is a detective under the name John Jones.
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.
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 member, 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. Over the next fifteen years J'onn appeared sporadically in various DC titles.
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 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.
Centuries ago on the planet Ma'aleca'andra, the Green Martians known as M'yrnn and Sha'sheen gave birth to twin sons. The bearing of twins was uncommon among the Martian culture, and as such, the first of the twins was named J'onn J'onzz, whose name means "Light to the Light." J'onn's brother however, was born a mutant, bereft of a Martian's innate ability to communicate telepathically. He was named Ma'alefa'ak, whose named means "Darkness in the Heart."
As an adult, J'onn became a Manhunter (police officer) and married a Martian woman named M'yri'ah. The two established a modest home for themselves beneath the windswept Martian plains and gave birth to a daughter named K'hym.
Years passed, and J'onn's brother Ma'alefa'ak grew to despise everything about Martian culture. In an ambitious endeavor to commit full-scale genocide against his own people, he engineered a contagious virus known as H'ronmeer's Curse. The virus reacted to telepathic energy, and carried from one Martian to the next whenever they elected to use their psionic powers. The plague responded to a Martian's innate fear of fire, causing them psychosomatic stress so intense, that their bodies and minds would literally burst into flame. J'onn desperately tried to keep his wife and daughter from using their mental gifts, but they were unable and so, contracted the plague. K'hym was the first to experience the symptoms, and M'yri'ah followed soon after. J'onn was anguished as he watched his family burning to death before his very eyes. The trauma of the event shattered his psyche, and nearly drove him mad.
Meanwhile on the planet Earth, a would-be scientist named Dr. Saul Erdel developed a transmitter machine based upon ancient Martian technology. Seeking to make contact with extraterrestrial life, he aimed his device towards the vicinity of Mars and activated it. The transmitter beam streaked across both space and time, striking the Martian Manhunter at a point in time several centuries before Erdel would even be born. The beam brought J'onn back to Erdel's natural time era, where he collapsed on the ground outside of the doctor's Colorado laboratory.
Erdel brought the distraught Martian inside and attempted to nurse him back to health. The anguish of J'onn's mental state created a psychic bond between the two, and Erdel became aware of the events that took place on Mars. In an effort to heal J'onn's mind, Erdel used the mental link to fabricate a new history for the Martian. He created a back-story inspired by the writings of famous science fiction novelists such as Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Eventually, J'onn's sanity was restored, and he was prepared to function in this strange, new world. Erdel put the idea into his head that he should become a great champion, and thus J'onn adopted the heroic guise of the Martian Manhunter.
When J'onn shapeshifts into a human-like form, Erdel is shocked and suffers from a heart attack that kills him. Erdel asks J'onn for forgiveness for making him a prisoner of Earth. He is able to use his powers to fit in, adopting a human-like appearance and calling himself "John Jones." He joins the police force, secretly using his alien powers to help the inhabitants of his new planet. After he had given up his John Jones persona, J'onn became Marco Xavier in order to infiltrate the international crime cartel known as VULTURE. Early on, the Manhunter from Mars adopted a more characteristically superheroic modus operandi, openly fighting crime in a green-skinned form.
It was later revealed that Mars was dead when J'onn was taken, killed by a mental plague deliberately started by his brother Ma'alefa'ak. He took the identity of the Bronze Wraith, and fought crime with the Justice Experience.
The Martian Manhunter's history is intimately linked with that of the Justice League of America; he is a founding member of the team.
Martian Manhunter is one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, he can go toe-to-toe with Superman and has once fought the entire Justice League all by himself.
Martian Manhunter has a number of abilities including superhuman strength, speed, durability and endurance, a regenerative healing factor, flight, invulnerability, intangibility, phasing, invisisbility, phasing, shape-shifting, telekinesis, telepathy, martian vision, nine senses and a genius-level intellect.
He is considered one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe.Superman once admitted that he is afraid to face Martian Manhunter in open combat and said that he is the most powerful being on the face of the earth.
Martian Manhunter's biggest weakness is fire. Even though he is invulnerable, it affects on a mental level. It does not do any physical harm to him but affects him mentally on a very large scale.
Martian Manhunter has made a number of allies throughout the years including Blue Beetle, Dr. Saul Erdel, Grifter, Miss Martian, Rip Hunter and Superman. He also occasionally has help from the Justice League because he is one of the founding members.
Martian Manhunter has a number of enemies including Imperium, Bel Juz, Despero, Getaway King, The Headmaster, The Human Flame, Kanto, Ma'alefa'ak, Mongul, White Martians and many more.
Martian Manhunter is debuted on the small screen in Supergirl TV Series. The character is played by David Harewood and is under the name of Hank Henshaw. The characters portrayal had mixed reviews.
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