He’s not the only alien on the Justice League team, but he’s the only one who looks like an alien. Nevertheless, the green-skinned Martian Manhunter has become an integral part of the DC flagship team’s line-up as seen in comics and in his invigorating appearances in the Justice League cartoons. In the wake of DC’s New 52, the martian known by some as J’onn J’onzz has become part of the revamped Stormwatch team with no word yet on if any of his backstory counts…. but it counts to us.
Created in the mid-50s in a back-up strip inside Detective Comics, he mixes the extraterrestrial outsider threat with America’s own views of cold war paranoia. As he involved, he became an oddly arresting figure in solo and team ventures, being both distant and approachable depending on the company he keeps. The gang over at IGN ranked the Martian Manhunter as the 43rd greatest comic character of all time, and our friend Ben Morse at Cool Kidz Table has called him one of the most underrated characters in comics.
By special request from an iFanboy reader, iFanboy takes on the challenge of delineating the best stories to start with when it comes to Martian Manhunter.
Martian Manhunter: American Secrets: This 1992 prestige-format series re-visited Martian Manhunter’s origin in the heady days of the 1950s and played it up against the changing American landscape of the time. Writer Gerard Jones turns in an admirable murder mystery against the baxckdrop of J’onn J’onzz’s first years on the planet, and comics legend Eduardo Barreto really does something special with the character and the setting here. This little-known series has never been collected, but it’s worth a trip to the back-issue bins to find this engrossing story.
JLA: Trial By Fire: An original member of the Justice League of America, Martian Manhunter has become a key member of the team acting as both a powerhouse and defacto telepath in a group of heavy-hitters. This under-rated story-arc by Joe Kelly and Doug Manhke puts Martian Manhunter on the front lines he’s forced to probe every mind on the planet to find out why the president is in a coma, the world leaders are unusually agreeable and hardened villains are turning over new leaf. Sounds like not so much as a problem, but when you think about what could be behind it you see how Martian Manhunter is the only person in the JLA capable of getting to the bottom of it.
Martian Manhunter: My Brother’s Keeper: Although he’s never been able to keep up a solo series for long, the ongoing series launched in 1998 after the success of Morrison’s JLA has proven to be the best, going on for 36 issues. Writer John Ostrander and artist Tom Mandrake cemented themselves as the defacto quintessential creators for Martian Manhunter as their run stretched onto three years, and this first arc really gets to the core of J’onn and gives readers a viewpoint on the character’s purpose, conflict and foes. Like AMerican Secrets, DC has yet to collect this story-arc but readers should be able to find issues #0 – 9 for a reasonable price in any decent-sized back-issue collection.
DC: New Frontier (Vol. 1 and 2): Although not a M.M. solo story by any degree, J’onn plays a key role and his origin is intertwined inside this miniseries’ story. Pay no attention to the animated adaption if you’re looking for Martian Manhunter action, as the comic is the place to go.