Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Martian Manhunter
150px MartianManhunterRossAlex Martian Manhunter
J’onn J’onzz drawn by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #225 (November 1955)
Created by Joseph Samachson (writer)
Joe Certa (artist)
In story information
Alter ego J’onn J’onzz
Species Green Martian
Place of origin Mars
Team affiliations Justice League
Notable aliases Bloodwynd, Bronze Wraith, Fernus, John Jones, John Johnstone, Manhunter from Mars, Marco Xavier, Mrs. Klingman, William Dyer, Hino Rei, Betty Nehring, Joan Jones, Brainwave[1], Blockbuster
Abilities Genius-level intelligence, Superhuman strength, invisibility, regeneration, speed, durability, flight and longevity,
Martian vision

Martian Manhunter is the superhero alias of J’onn J’onzz, alternately known as John Jones or the Manhunter from Mars, a fictional character published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in the back-up story “The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel” in Detective Comics #225 (November 1955), written by Jack Miller and illustrated by Joe Certa.

J’onzz is a native of the planet Mars, also known as Ma’aleca’andra in his native tongue. (This is a nod to “Malacandra,” the name used by the inhabitants of Mars in C. S. Lewis’s novel Out of the Silent Planet. This is a much later addition and not part of the original version of the character.) His usual public appearance is as a tall, hairless, green-skinned humanoid with a pronounced brow.



  • 1 Fictional character biography
  • 2 Publication history
    • 2.1 1955 – 1985
    • 2.2 1985 – 2004
    • 2.3 2004 – 2008
  • 3 Powers and abilities
    • 3.1 Weakness
  • 4 Other versions
  • 5 In other media
    • 5.1 Videogames
    • 5.2 Parodies and analogues
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Fictional character biography

In his debut story, J’onn J’onzz is accidentally teleported to Earth by scientist Dr. Mark Erdel, who immediately has a heart attack and dies, leaving the Martian stranded. He is able to use his powers to disguise his appearance, adopting the identity of police detective John Jones.

He joins the Apex City, Florida police force, secretly using his powers to help the inhabitants of Earth. Later revisions of this story have him replacing a deceased police detective and locate these stories to the fictional city of Middleton, Colorado.

Later comics retconned several new details into the origin story, such as the revelation that Mars was dead when J’onn was taken, killed by a mental plague deliberately started by his brother Ma’alefa’ak, and that, prior to becoming a superhero in his real form, he took the identity of the Bronze Wraith and fought crime with the Justice Experience, a group that was created to fill the gap between the eras of the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America.

Publication history

1955 – 1985

The character makes his first appearance in Detective Comics #225, cover dated November 1955. This origin story sets up a number of important character points, many of which have carried onto the modern age with little or no change. In first story, the character is pulled to earth by a experimental teleportation beam constructed by Dr. Erdel, the shock of the encounter kills Dr. Erdel and leaves J’onn with no method of returning home. The character decided 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 Johns, a Chicago detective.

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, his power range is poorly defined and they expand over time as the plot demands. The addition of precognitive abilities (Detective Comics #226) are quickly followed by telepathy and flight [2][3], “Atomic vision”, super-hearing [4] 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’onn eventually reveals his existence to the world, after which he operates openly as a superhero and becomes a charter member of the Justice League.[5] He abandons the detective John Jones identity when Jones is ostensibly killed in action.[6] J’onn spent the next several years involved in mystical adventures involving the Idol Head of Diabolu.[7] He later takes the persona of Marco Xavier in order to infiltrate the international crime cartel known as VULTURE.[8]

His appearances with the League kept him in the public eye long after his own series were canceled. He is a founding member of the team, and served as a member during many of its various incarnations. From the late 1960s until the late 1970s, J’onn was absent from the JLA, having left Earth to find and become leader of New Mars. This time period is later retconned during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and his period of absence is never again referenced.

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J’onn J’onzz, trying (and failing) to relax in his true form and reflecting on his history with the League

1985 – 2004

In early 1987 DC decided to revamp its struggling Justice League of America series by relaunching 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 mini-series 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. Edskel 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 Edskel’s concept of what a Martian should look like. Moreover, the series notes that his real form is private and that, even on Mars, his “public” appearance was the familiar version. The series also adds to canon, the idea that J’onzz was not only displaced in space but in time and the Martian race has been dead for thousands of years.

Around the same time, J’onzz has two minor appearances in the Sandman series in the story “Passengers” in issue 5, in which the Dreamlord Morpheus inquires about the whereabouts of his Dreamstone. At this time, J’onn identifies him as an old God, and he sees Morpheus as a floating face, rather than the humanoid form others see him in. He also appears in issue 71 during “The Wake” story arc, conversing with Batman and Clark Kent about dreams.

The 1990s sees the character continue to serve in many different version of the Justice League of America. In addition to serving in the League under his own identity, he also joins (under duress) as “Bloodwynd”.

The 1992 mini-series American Secrets explored the adventures of the characters 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.

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, 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 shapeshifting abilities to pose as J’onn, capturing and torturing Jemm, Son of Saturn, and terraforming part of Earth to resemble Mars. 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 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.

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Cover for JLA #89, featuring Fernus vs. Plastic Man. Art by Doug Mahnke.

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 adverse 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[citation needed].

2004 – 2008

Main articles: Infinite Crisis and One Year Later
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Cover artwork for Martian Manhunter vol. 3, #2 (Nov, 2006)
by Al Barrionuevo

During the lead-up to the Infinite Crisis mini-series, the character is feared 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 had been working behind the scenes in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Checkmate for it’s role in the death Ted Kord.

Using the events of World War III as a catalyst, DC Comics redesigned the appearance of the character, changing his costume and giving 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.[1]. 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 humanity. The mini-series focuses on J’onn’s search for other survivors of Mars.

Following this mini-series, the character 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, the character is quickly written out within the first two issues. He is next seen working undercover during the events of the limited series Salvation Run. At the end of the series, the character is left captured and alone on an alien planet.

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The Martian Manhunter’s murder at the hands of Libra. Art from Final Crisis #1 by J.G. Jones.

In Final Crisis #1, He is soon released, however, when Libra summons a boom tube for him at the behest of the Human Flame who then kills him in front of an onlooking Secret Society. In Final Crisis #2, he is buried on Mars, where many of his colleagues attend the graveside burial service. The events of those two issues are explored in the one-shot, “Final Crisis Requiem“.

Powers and abilities

Martian Manhunter possesses a wide variety of superhuman powers, many of which are virtually identical to those of Superman, including superhuman strength, speed, durability, flight and “Martian vision” (a term designating both the ability to see through solid objects and the ability to generate optic heat beams). Early appearances of the character showed him as able to breathe underwater. The last time he displayed this power was when he encountered Zauriel in the sea of San Francisco in JLA #6.

The Martian Manhunter also possesses the power of shapeshifting, which he employs for various effects (e.g., adopting human or monstrous appearance, elongating his limbs, growing to immense size). He can also render himself invisible, and is able to become intangible so as to pass harmlessly through solid objects.

In addition to these abilities, J’onn 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. He has also demonstrated regenerative abilities, once able to regenerate himself from only his severed hand but with great strain (due to the loss of mass he found it necessary to incorporate new matter from Martian sand). The Manhunter has sometimes been said to possess nine different senses, although these additional senses are poorly defined and generally ignored by most writers.

Aside from his superhuman abilities, he is also a cunning and logical detective. As Batman mentions in his file, that “in many ways, Martian Manhunter is like an amalgam of Superman” and the Dark Knight himself.[9]


In his earliest appearances, the character was shown as having a weakness to fire while in his native Martian form[10]. 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. Numerous explanations have been given for this over the years, usually portraying it as a racial trait of Martians; a more recent portrayal explained that the flame weakness was tied into Martian telepathy, with fire causing so much chaos in Martian minds that they collapse. Most recently it was revealed, during the Trial By Fire storyline,[11] that this fear was instilled on a genetic level by the Guardians of the Universe 20,000 years ago, when they split the original “Burning” Martians into the Green Martians and White 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. Following Infinite Crisis and One Year Later, it has been shown that J’onn’s weakness to fire has changed once again. Martians are no longer afraid of fire nor do they lose their powers in its presence, however physical fire and intense heat can still injure and kill a Martian.

It has also been stated that Martian shapeshifting is based around the study of whatever the Martians wish to transform into, with their telepathy being the main instrument of ‘research’ for their study. Although the telepathy makes this study practically instantaneous, when facing the telepathy-immune Plastic Man, Fernus- J’onn’s ‘Burning Martian’ identity- the Martian was outmatched by Plastic Man’s superior instantaneous shapeshifting abilities.

Other versions

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; 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 pessimist future for the character. Kingdom Come, features a J’onn mentally shattered from his attempts to understand humanity, while Frank Miller’s dystopian The Dark Knight Strikes Again has a powerless alcoholic J’onn murdered by Dick Grayson).

Within the shared DC Universe, J’onn appears in the 30th century as an acquaintance of Dream Girl and assists the Legion of Super-Heroes against Mordru.[12] In the Grant Morrison penned series, DC One Million, a version of the character is shown merging with Mars and turning it into a home for humanity and other races.

In 52 #52, a new 52-Earth Multiverse is revealed. On Earth-3, the many-membered Crime Society of America exists, with a monstrous version of J’onn J’onnz showcased in 52 #52 (but not in subsequent Countdown appearances of the Society). 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.

In other media

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Martian Manhunter as he appears in the Justice League 1997 pilot.

J’onn J’onzz, played by J’onzz is played by David Ogden Stiers, appears in the 1997 Justice League of America live-action television pilot. He has difficulty shapeshifting, and no mention is made of any other powers.

J’onn J’onzz appears in the Justice League animated series, voiced by Carl Lumbly. 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.

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J’onn J’onzz as he appears in Justice League.

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.

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Phil Morris as John Jones from Smallville

The character is introduced to the television series Smallville in the episode “Static“. Phil Morris portrays John Jones in the Season 6 episode “Labyrinth“.[13] Though his name is never given (he gives Clark the name John Jones in the deleted scenes on the season 6 DVD disc 4 episode 12 and reveals his home as Mars, adding that he was charged with watching over young Kal-El), he relates to Clark that he is “from Mars”. This version of the Martian Manhunter has some preternatural talents, including flight, telepathy, superhuman strength and healing. In Clark’s asylum vision he wears a loose blue robe about his shoulders that recalls the Manhunter’s cape. In the animated spin-off series Justice & Doom (available online and on Season Six DVDs), John is shown to shapeshift into his Martian form aboard an artificial satellite.

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Martian Manhunter as he appears in The Batman.

Martian Manhunter appears in The Batman, voiced by Dorian Harewood. 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 difference being he wears shorts).

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Martian Manhunter as he appears in Justice League: The New Frontier.

J’onn J’onzz appears in Justice League: The New Frontier, playing a pivotal role against Earth’s ancient evil The Centre. In the film, J’onn’s origin is once again retold, but more focus on his roles as a detective and a refugee than a superhero and finding faith within humanity. He also seems to have an infatuation with soda pop. He is voiced by Miguel Ferrer. He does not have red eyes instead he has black eyes, to make him look more in the DCAU style, and calling back to his appearance in the early comic stories.


  • The Martian Manhunter is prominently featured in the videogame Justice League Heroes voiced by Daniel Riordan.
  • The Justice League animated version of Martian Manhunter appeared in both the Game Boy Advance games Justice League: Injustice for All and Justice League: Chronicles.
  • There is a rumor that he’ll be in Lego Batman: The Video Game.

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
  • 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 and 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
  • Jack from Jupiter from the series The Boys.
  • Stalker from the “secret” Stormwatch team.

See also

  • Miss Martian
  • Jemm
  • Faceless Hunter
  • One Year Later
  • White Martian


  1. ^ Mark Millar (w),  Chris Jones (p,i). “The Secret Society of Super Villains” JLA 80-Page Giant vol. 1,  #1 (July, 1998)  DC Comics (10/1)
  2. ^ Detective Comics #227
  3. ^ Detective Comics #228
  4. ^ Detective Comics #231
  5. ^ Detective Comics #273 (November 1959)
  6. ^ Detective Comics #326 (April 1964)
  7. ^ House of Mystery’ #143 (June 1964)
  8. ^ House of Mystery #160 (July 1966) to House of Mystery #173 (May–June 1968)
  9. ^ Justice #1-12-from Bruce Wayne’s private files in the Batcomputer
  10. ^ Detective Comics #233
  11. ^ Justice League of America #84–89
  12. ^ Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #43 (May 1993) to Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #50 (Late November 1993)
  13. ^ Shows – Smallville – Episode Guide – Labyrinth

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