The fictional character Martian Manhunter is one of the members of the Justice League that appears in DC Comics publications, although he made his first appearance in Detective Comics #225 in November 1955. His creators, writer Joseph Samachson and artist Joe Certa, collaborated in conceiving this superhero creature from Mars.
The Martian Manhunter is also known as J’onn J’onzz, and is described as a green-skinned extraterrestrial humanoid – the Green Martian – who was accidentally pulled down to earth. An experimental team headed by Dr. Erdel was working on a certain communication device when it sucked him through a form of teleportation beam. Dr. Erdel was not able to contain the impact of his “successful” invention and he died, thus leaving J’onn helpless and unable to return home to Mars.
It took some time for Jâonn to accept that he was fated to remain permanently on Earth, and having no other choice, finally decided to live as a ânormal human beingâ. He takes on the identity of detective John Jones, living in Middletown, U.S.A., where he spent his life fighting crime while awaiting rescue from Mars. He realized that it would take a long time for Martian technology to advance sufficiently to bring about his rescue.
The earlier version of the superhero differs from its modern presentation. Initially, the powers that he was able to use were not precisely defined, but appeared to be created as and when needed. There were times when he would demonstrate powers that were beyond the capacity he had previously displayed. Some of these included precognitive abilities, telepathy, flight, super hearing, âAtomic Vision”, and many others. He was known to be helpless to resist fire when he was in his native Martian form.
The Martian Manhunter then revealed himself to the world as a superhero and became a member of the Justice League. Aside from his regular stint in the league, he often pitched in for Superman in some stories. It is a usual practice for DC Comics to use this strategy, just as Green Arrow used to alternate for Batman. DC believed that it is advantageous not to overexpose their characters and maintain their popularity. The Brave and the Bold marked the start of the team-up of the Green Martian and the Archer, and at times he also appeared with another Justice League member, The Flash.
As the characters of Superman and Batman appeared to continuously have an increasing numbers of fans, DC decided to reduce Jâonzzâs appearances. His solo appearance was finally discontinued in 1968 after his last appearance in a mission as a member of the League. His disappearance was explained by his Martian family rescuing him and taking him back to Mars where he led the New Mars.
Fifteen years later, he reappeared in a number of DC Comics titles. There were stories that paired him with Superman in Mars and others with Batman, the two settings for the various stories being Mars or Earth. These sporadic appearances continued until he was given the slot in the Justice League when some of its members resigned. In 1984, the Martian Manhunter permanently resurfaced, together with the John Jones identity, presenting himself as a private detective.
DC’s efforts to save the then dwindling popularity of the Justice League of America series Prompted the decision to launch the title Justice League International. The partnership of writer Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with artists Kevin Maguire and Adam Hughes added a touch of humor to the stories. The Green Martian appeared from the first issue as the straight man amid a number of comical characters and situations.
During the 90s his character joined the Justice League of America and its various versions. In 1992, writer Gerard Jones and artist Eduardo Barreto worked for the miniseries ‘American Secrets.’ Here, the Martian Manhunter was drawn into a murder mystery, paranoia, and alien invasion. The setting of these stories presents the backdrop of a changing America during the 1950s.
In 1998, the Martian Manhunter series began with writer John Ostrander and illustrator Tom Mandrake. The series struggled to gain market acceptance, but had to stop through a drop in sales after churning out 36 issues. Ostrander tried to revise Jâonnâs character as the hero of the Southern Hemisphere with several secret identities. However, he later focused on the original idea of the hero’s identity as the Green Martian.
The Martian Manhunter has many superhuman abilities and powers. He is known to possess super strength, flight, super-breath, invulnerability, and âMartian visionâ. He can see through solid objects and can project beams of energy from his eyes. There are many similarities between his powers and that of Superman. In addition, he can change his appearance, a form of shape-shifting. He could appear as a human or a monster, lengthen his limbs, increase to a huge size, even change the chemical make-up of his body among many other super-powers.
He can choose to be invisible and intangible, which enables him to pass through solid objects. He can also read minds and project his own thoughts to others, a power he uses effectively as a member of the Justice League. In fact, his mind occasionally acts as the coordinating center for the members of the Justice League.
As mentioned earlier, the Martian Manhunter is vulnerable to flame. However, this weakness was not a consistent one, and there have been several other inconsistencies since his first appearance. One explanation was that this weakness is inherent to all Martians, while another explained it as a personal psychosomatic disorder. There was also a discrepancy in portraying the extent of this weakness, and there are times when exposure to flame could kill him while at other times it could only inflict pain on him but not physical harm.
Just like the other Justice League members, the Martian Manhunter as Jâonn Jâonnz has been featured in many products that were endorsed by DC Comics. These include TV series, video games, animated films and consumer products such as trading cards and action figures.
The long history of the Martian Manhunterâs adventures has covered the span of more than five decades. He has gone solo as well as being a member of the Justice League, but he has established his own identity as the green-skinned superhero – the Green Martian, or the Martian Manhunter known to humans as John Jones, but to Martians as J’onn Jâonnz.