One of the more famous members on this list, and easily one of the strongest, Martian Manhunter has several superpowers, but perhaps the most notable one is ‘being underestimated’.
No. 3: Martian Manhunter
Alias: J’onn J’onnz (given name); John Jones (human alias)
- Superhuman strength (on par with Superman)
- Super speed
- Extrasensory Input (has four additional senses to the regular five)
- Telepathy (able to induce illusions, hallucinations, astral projection and possession in addition to reading minds)
For someone constantly overlooked in DC, Martian Manhunter has one of the deepest and most complex origin tales. He was born as the elder twin brother to Ma’alefa’ak. He was named J’onn J’onnz (Light of Light), but his brother was born a mutant, bereft of the Martian’s innate ability to communicate telepathically. For this, he was given the name Ma’alefa’ak (Darkness in the Heart). J’onn became a Manhunter in his adult life, and married a martian woman named M’yri’ah. They established a modest home together and and had a daughter named K’hym.
As the years passed, J’onn’s twin brother Ma’alefa’ak grew to despise everything about Martian culture. He attempted to commit full-scale genocide, engineering a contagious virus called H’ronmeer’s Curse. The virus reacted to telepathic energy, and carried from one Martian to another whenever they elected to use their psionic abilities. The plague responded to a Martian’s innate fear of fear, causing them psychosomatic stress so intense that their minds and bodies would literally burst into flame.
J’onn desperately tried to keep his family from using their abilities, but they were unable to and contracted the plague. K’hym was the first one to experience the symptoms and M’yri’ah followed soon afterwards. J’onn looked on in anguish as his family perished before him, and the event nearly drove him mad.
Meanwhile on the planet Earth, a would-be scientist named Dr. Saul Erdel developed a transmitter machine based upon ancient Martian technology. Seeking to make contact with extraterrestrial life, he aimed his device towards the vicinity of Mars and activated it. The transmitter beam streaked across both space and time, striking the Martian Manhunter at a point in time several centuries before Erdel would even be born. The beam brought J’onn back to Erdel’s natural time era, where he collapsed on the ground outside of the doctor’s Colorado laboratory.
Erdel brought the distraught Martian inside and attempted to nurse him back to health. The anguish of J’onn’s mental state created a psychic bond between the two, and Erdel became aware of the events that took place on Mars. In an effort to heal J’onn’s mind, Erdel used the mental link to fabricate a new history for the Martian. He created a back-story inspired by the writings of famous science fiction novelists such as Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Eventually, J’onn’s sanity was restored, and he was prepared to function in this strange, new world. Erdel put the idea into his head that he should become a great champion, and thus J’onn adopted the heroic guise of the Martian Manhunter.
Martian Manhunter is one of the strongest members of the Justice League, able to match Superman in strength, and is often considered to outstrip him in terms of raw power, just going by the variety of his superpowers – look at the list of his abilities!
That said, which of these powers actually STICK in any incarnation of him seems to depend on the writer, none of whom ever seem to keep them consistent. In an attempt to portray him as somewhat different from the ‘Flying Brick’ that Superman is, they usually had him use his psychic abilities and shapeshifting. If Superman wasn’t around, though, they let him cut loose with super strength, sometimes combining it with his shape-shifting abilities to impressive results. He even has eye-beams! In fact, it would be fair to say that he is essentially Superman with a few extra abilities thrown in.
Martian Manhunter has only one (rather crippling) weakness – and that is his fear of fire. Much of this can be attributed to the trauma of what happened on his homeworld. He is depicted as nearly invulnerable, so fire should not hurt him any more than it would hurt Superman… but considering the psychological trauma he endured on Mars as a result of watching his family burn, it is fair to say that he bears the psychosomatic trauma of it, and that he might be as vulnerable to it as his fellow Martians were. He has been shown overcoming it, but only in moments of great stress, and at great cost to himself.
Martian Manhunter, despite being out of the mainstream of comic book popularity is the current leader of the Justice League of America (not to be confused with… erm… the Justice League. Who they’ve sometimes had to fight. Don’t ask, it gets complicated.)
- Stated to be the one protecting the Southern Hemisphere of Earth, splitting the duties of global protection with Superman. This only emphasizes the similarities between the two.
- NO ONE CAN AGREE WHAT HIS MARTIAN FORM LOOKS LIKE. His appearance seems to change with every artist.