Friday, May 13, 2011

Intro to Comics: Martian Manhunter (Upgrade)

(I originally wrote this for my Facebook notes section last year, but have added a bit to this, I do not own the images and the character belongs to DC Comics)
            You may have heard of this character, but I doubt it.  He is the last survivor of a doomed world, except for all the evil members of his race that pop up from time to time.  He can lift fantastic amounts of weight, he can fly, and he can move at super-speed, he can even see through walls and fire powerful blasts of energy from his eyes.  He can also turn invisible, incorporeal, shape shift into anyone, read thoughts and connect minds so they too can communicate with each other.  Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that his super weakness is Fire (the everyday chemical function of combustion) he would be the most overpowered superhero ever, as is he is like number 5.  He is The Martian Manhunter.
"Why, yes.  I have been doing a lot of squats my last few trips to the gym."

            Eons ago the Martian race was the dominate life form of our solar system, but they were a race divided.  The stoic and peaceful Green Martians sought to explore the creation of life on other worlds, including the Red Saturnians and Humanity, the savage White Martians sought to wreak endless carnage, and spawned the White Saturnians to help them in their quest to rid the Solar system of the Green Martian legacy.  Ultimately the White Martians were defeated, with the White Saturnians left refuges in perpetual war with their Red counterparts.  But before the White's had been completely eliminated they tainted the experiment of humanity, robbing them of the extreme abilities the entire race would have possessed had the Green Martians been allowed to complete their experiments.  In other words, the White Martians are such douches, they are the reason cancer exists.  Wrap your head around that.
White Martians, they gave us cancer.

            Centuries later the Martian known as Ma'alefa'ak (or Malefic) a criminal and sociopath destroyed the Martian race with a terrible plague, leaving only his brother J'onn J'onzz and himself alive.  J'onn imprisoned his brother and was left to mourn his lost race and more specifically, his lost family.  Malefic, having been robbed of his telepathy (but also his Martian susceptibility to fire) sat growing ever more insane in confinement.  Because being free to walk around a dead desert Mars was any better for J'onn's mental health.
The chains are symbolic of him being imprisoned in his own mind and having been imprisoned on Mars.  That and it I believe it was still the 90's and "Spawn" was still in fashion.

            In our own recent history, many years after the fall of Mars, Dr. Erdel attempts to communicate with Mars, hoping to find and transport life to Earth, sadly for him he could not have envisioned the utter success of his experiment, and teleported J'onn to Earth.  The inhuman appearance of the visitor startled the doctor and he died of an undiagnosed heart complication.  Not J'onn's best day, the first living being he had seen in centuries and the guy drops dead the moment J'onn enters sight, still better than the day before when he just had to relive his wife and child melting in his arms because he is so consumed by loneliness.
This is basically how J'onn looks in his natural state, which admittedly is a little freaky for a scientist expecting to find (at most) some sort of Martian bacteria or mushrooms.

            Stranded on Earth J'onn shape shifted into a human form and went about trying to acclimate himself to the world, which mostly consisted of doing private investigative work under the name John Jones, squatting in a dingy apartment watching television, and eating a shit ton of Oreo cookies, I kid you not, it is ostensibly the only thing he eats, and he loves them.
Serving size?  The what now?

            Eventually other extraterrestrials took to the lime light, Superman especially, and J'onn adapted his look to be a mix of human and Martian, and his old Manhunter Uniform (Manhunter is a Martian police officer it turns out) into a Superhero garb.  He helped save the world... A LOT.  Including battling dozens of White Martian refuges that were going to take over Earth posing as a super hero team "Hyperclan", morphing his brain to become a good guy version of the Joker's insanity to escape a psychic prison modeled on Joker's thought pattern's, linking the minds of everyone on Earth and activating temporarily the dormant super gene left by the Martian race allowing everyone on Earth the powers of Superman for an hour so that the could battle the Anti-God machine Maggedon, and having to Kill his escaped brother Malific by throwing him into the sun.  J'onn was even turned evil breifly and transformed into the Martian God of fire, nightmares and suffering, "Infernus" before the entire Justice League banded together to stop him.  Superman saying "There are only a handful of people in the universe that can stand up to me in a fight, J'onn is at the top of the list."  High praise coming from Superman, a guy who has been to the end of the universe and pulled a dead god free from the mortar to use as a bargaining chip.

            J'onn helped found the Justice League, and remained on nearly every roster of the team, only recently taking a sabbatical on account of having been killed for a brief time and coming back first as a Super Martian Zombie Black Lantern, and now being brought back for real and trying to recover from the whole being dead thing.  His murder is widely considered to be one of the dumbest moments in the last ten years of comics, he is captured by three low level super flunkies and killed off panel just to establish that they mean business, sooooo lame.
J'onn as a zombie, beating the puss out of two superheroes who has also just been brought back from being dead, though, they had been dead for 20 years (Flash) and 15 years (Green Lantern) compared to 2 (J'onn).

            J'onn is the most under appreciated character in DC comics, and was my favorite character for years until they tried to give him his own series, which while having a lot of good ideas, didn't work out as well story wise.  He will, I imagine, soon get a new gloss of awesome thanks to the author Geoff Johns, who was responsible for the zombie monster and resurrection stories, but I think that with Green Lantern, Flash and Aquaman getting first dibs I doubt I will see J'onn getting his own series too soon.
This is M'Gann, or Miss Martian.  She is J'onn's sidekick and is actually a White Martian who has decided to turn her back on her race's murderous legacy to be a hero on Earth.  Though considering the White Martians are all imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, she was probably just being pragmatic about the whole thing.

            J'onn is considered to be a part of the big 6 DC characters, the others being Clark "Superman" Kent, Bruce "Batman" Wayne, Diana "Wonder Woman" Prince, Hal "Green Lantern" Jordan, and Barry "Flash" Allen.  Other big names that are usually added to round out the group are Dinah "Black Canary" Lance, Arthur "Aquaman" Curry, Kendra "Hawkgirl" Saunders, Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen, Ray "The Atom" Palmer, and Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson.  Really the only thing that holds him back is that he is a diet coke Superman in a lot of ways, but then again, so aren't most super heroes.
His latest costume.  Now with PANTS!

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