Martian Manhunter or else J’onn J’onzz was created by writer Joseph Samachson and designed by artist Joe Certa. His first appearance was in Detective Comics #225 back in 1955 in the story “The Manhunter from Mars” and is considered one of the strongest characters in the DC Universe and also accredited as one of the seven Justice League original members and founder.
J’onn J’onzz is (as you can probably deduce from his alias, Martian Manhunter) a extraterrestrial humanoid from Mars that was initially pulled to earth from a “failed” experiment done from a human scientist Dr. Erdel who was working on a communication device that he believed could reach other planets, times or even dimensions but instead worked as a teleportation device.
Silver Age (’50s – ’60s) J’onn J’onzz Origin
At our first introduction to Martian Manhunter we see a very different origin story than the one that currently exist.
J’onn J’onzz was a scientist from Mars that was teleported from a human scientist named Dr. Erdel. Unfortunately after seeing and speaking with J’onn J’onzz and after seeing him transform into a human in front of his eyes his heart gives out and he dies leaving Martian Manhunter trapped on earth as he is the only one that knows how to use the device he built.
In realization of that, J’onn J’onzz decides to do the only thing he can do and wait for his fellow Martians envolve in a technological state that allows them to travel to different worlds in order to come and pick him up. Something that we know that will take even centuries since they just started experimenting with rocket ships.
As a Martian though, or because stories back in the ’50s were mostly like that, we don’t get to see J’onn’s feelings on the matter. Without losing much time he assumes a new identity by the name of John Jones and he travels the world before he decides to become a detective in order to fight crime since he says that it’s something that is already solved in his homeworld and would like to help humanity solve as well.
Like other character in the early years of comics we don’t really get to see a lot of his abilities all at once but mostly the character “expands” depending the needs of the situation. Starting with his precognitive abilities at Detective Comics #226 followed by telepathy at #227, flight at #228, super hearing and atomic vision later on.
Justice League of America & the Death of John Jones
Five years after his first appearance, in March 1960, and at The Brave and the Bold #28, Martian Manhunter becomes one of the seven founding members of the Justice League of America (JLA) where he is mostly used initially as a substitute for Superman.
During this whole time J’onn’s second identity that was up until now kept secret from everyone, seemingly dies on the line of duty by
The stories of Martian Manhunter moved at this point to the House of Mystery where he spends the next couple of years fighting against the Idol Head of Diabolu from House of Mystery #143 to House of Mystery #158.
The Fall of Martian Manhunter
Shorty after the defeat of the Idol Head of Diabolu, in House of Mystery #160 Martian Manhunter infiltrates an international cartel named VULTURE, after acquiring another persona called Macro Xavier. Their defeat in House of Mystery #173, marked J’onn J’onzz last installment of his original series. And as Superman became a full-time member of the Justice League, Martian’s appearance started to fall apart resulting with his last mission participation in the Justice League being in the issue Justice League #61 and finally a farewell issue at Justice League #71 where his people finally reach Earth to find him. He leaves with them to become the leader of New Mars.
Bronze Age (’70s – mid ’80s) Martian Manhunter
During the Bronze Age of comics, we see Martian Manhunter sporadically during the best part of the decade and mostly as a secondary or supporting character.
He permanently returned in Justice League of America #228 in 1984 since huge changes in the JLA allowed for plenty of openings in the team to be available for grabs.
While on Earth he also decided to revive John Jones who will now be serving as a private detective, even though he had to explain a 20 year gap.
mid-’80s – mid-’90s) – Martian Manhunter Origin Redefined
In 1988 a new creative team led by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Badger redefined the origins of Martian Manhunter and create the background we know till today.
In J.M. DeMatteis four-issue miniseries “Martian Manhunter” we learn that during the initial encounter with J’onn J’onzz, Dr. Erdel did not die and that J’onn (not the only one that came through that machine) was not just teleported there through space but through time as well.
During the miniseries, we learn that on J’onn’s homeland, Mars, there was a plague that killed everyone and that those that died were burned to “prevent” the plague from spreading which was the cause for J’onn’s fear of fire and his “weakness” to it which turns out it wasn’t a weakness but his mind linking fire to death.
We also learn from Dr. Erdel that J’onn J’onzz is not his real name which as he mentions is “beautiful but unpronounceable”.
We get a glimpse of his family. His wife and daughter that perished because of the plague and that the person that came through the machine with him was the body of his dead daughter that he carried through the desert in order to save her from the fire.
His form is also not the real one. His took this form after Dr. Erdel suggesting it to him. After his appearance on earth and his mental
Dr. Erdel fabricated an entire life so that J’onn can live until he finds the strength to cope with what happened at his past life. Along with the reality that Dr. Erdel created he also manufactured a new form of what he believed a Martian would look like as well as one that will be friendly enough for the humans to not fear and we get to see his real form in those issues.
Post Zero Hour (
mid-’90s – mid-2000s)
Starting 1998 writer John Ostrander and illustrator Tom Mandrake worked on a Martian Manhunter series which lasted for 36 issues before it was unfortunately got cancelled by DC for low sales.
During the series we got to learn that J’onzz is extremely recognized in the Southern Hemisphere and that he used a number of secret identities (many of which outside the United States) the same way he had used John Jones in the past.
We are also introduced to J’onn’s evil twin brother Ma’alefa’ak, who is responsible for the death of their fellow Martians and the creator of the deadly plague that killed everyone.
In this series Ma’alefa’ak seeking to destroy J’onn’s reputation he battles several members of the Justice League and tortures Jemm, Son of Saturn while impersonating J’onn but he ends up defeated by his brother after all.
Crisis Era (mid-2000s–early-’10s)
Crisis Era was a complicated, big chapter for DC Comics and
During the lead-up events for the Infinite Crisis comic line, and more specifically on JLA #118, J’onn J’onzz is presumed dead at an attack that happened at the Justice League HQ. Of course killing J’onn is not such an easy feat after all and we later see him as a captor of Alexander Luthor Jr. within Infinite Crisis #3.
One Year Later
“One Year Later” was a 2006 comic book published by DC right after the events of Infinite Crisis. The book is described as multiple, thematically linked individual issues from multiple ongoing series and as the title suggests the events take place one year in the future.
During the same time DC published a limited comic series called “52” that filled in the blank spots of what happened during the missing period during which we see J’onn J’onzz working undercover in an attempt to kill Checkmate for its role in the death of Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle.
In the event of World War III, J’onn’s battles and loses versus Black Adam, gets a design overhaul making the character look closers to his Martian form instead of his human form and gets a mini-series dedicated to him which focuses on his mistrust against humanity due to their actions against each other and his search for his past and other Martians.
Adding to the complexity of his character background, in the events of Final Crisis #1 (2008), J’onzz dies and we see him one year later as a Black Lantern at the Blackest Night (2009) storyline at the end of which he is also resurrected at Blackest Night #8 (2010). Afterward, we see the character again at the Brightest Day storyline where J’onn encounters another Green Martian named D’kay D’razz (Brightest Day #12 – 2010) a psychopath who wants J’onzz to be her mate and goes to extreme measures to do so. She attacks M’gann M’orzz she forcefully enters J’onn’s mind but ends up dead from the hands of J’onzz.
The New 52 (2011–2016)
2011 was a big year for DC and with Flashpoint they cancelled and relaunched pretty much everything up until that point (bold move for such company).
In the new continuity J’onzz is a member of the Stormwatch organization which was previously only published under DC’s imprint Wildstorm Comics. Unfortunately for the team, Martian Manhunter erases himself from his teammates minds in Stormwatch #12 and later moves on to being a member of Justice League of America under direct orders from the US Government.
Justice League of America team characters were picked as counterparts of members from the independent Justice League if it was ever to go rogue. As you can imagine Martian Manhunter was picked in order to defeat Superman if the time requires it.
DC Rebirth (2016–present)
Currently Martian Manhunter is the chairman of Justice League. Under his capable leadership the team functions as one since J’onn’s mental abilities creates a mind link for the entire team.
Martian Manhunter is one of our favorite superheroes of all time. In many comic
He has a solid background and his character development goes all the way back to the silver age of comics.
We hope to read more of him in the future.