Superhero Origins: The Martian Manhunter

Superhero Origins: The Martian Manhunter

He made his debut in the Detective Comics short story “The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel.” That tale was centered on a scientist accidentally teleporting a green-skinned friendly martian to his lab named J'onn J'onzz. Unable to reverse the process and go home, he instead decided to await rescue while fighting crime with his many special abilities, before joining The Justice League. Join as we explore the comic book origins of J'onn J'onzz, otherwise known as The Martian Manhunter.

Superhero Origins: The Martian Manhunter

He’s a sleuth that’s out of this world! Welcome to, and today we will explore the comic book origins of J’onn J’onzz, otherwise known as The Martian Manhunter.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1955’s Detective Comics #225 and 1962’s Justice League #9.

Marking his debut was his introduction in the Detective Comics short story “The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel.” That tale was centered on a scientist testing his greatest invention, “The Robot Brain”, a computer capable of teleporting objects to his lab from outer space.

However, upon activation something unexpected happened and a green-skinned alien appeared, instead of mere space debris.

A friendly extraterrestrial that could read minds, the humanoid creature introduced himself as J’onn J’onzz, a resident of Mars and fellow scientist. Shaken, Dr. Erdel apologized for the mishap, and promised to redesign the machine to transport the alien back home.

Unfortunately, just as the Martian took on human form with his chameleon-like powers, Dr. Erdel’s weak heart gave out from excitement.

Trapped on Earth in fictional Middletown, U.S.A., J’onzz decided that his best option was to wait for his race to complete “Project Star-Ride”, an endeavor to create a rocket ship to visit other worlds. Knowing that his rescue may take hundreds of years, which he could afford to wait due to his race’s natural longevity, J’onzz adopted the Earth identity of “John Jones.”

Exploring the strange new planet and studying its differences, he noticed that crime was rampant. As something that had been eliminated from his own planet thousands of years ago, he decided to fight it as a means to pass his time. Visiting the local police station, he applied for a job, having adopted the persona of a gritty and hard-boiled detective.

Taking on criminals, J’onzz’s only weakness turned out to be fire, as it could injure him and disrupt his many powers, which included his use of telepathy, invisibility, flight, super-hearing and atomic vision.

In the years that followed, J’onzz’s origin was retooled and rebooted several times. Among the most notable changes, he was re-introduced as an intergalactic police officer from Mars, known as a Manhunter. He had also been said to have survived a plague that killed his entire species, which horrifically caused his family to burst into flames before his very eyes. Even the story behind the transporter beam that captured him was altered as to have taken him back in time, centuries before the plague ravaged his world.

Following these revisions, the re-dubbed Martian Manhunter decided to reveal himself to the people of Earth, becoming a full-fledged superhero that was enlisted by the Justice League.

This extraterrestrial crimefight has become famous for using his extraordinary skills to protect and serve the people of Earth. Today, he is still a major comic staple and remains a mainstay of The Justice League, serving as their most serious member and the universes greatest telepath.

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