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The DC Comics Martian History & Rehistory

by Michael "Rabbit" Hutchison


For those of us who’ve been following the revelations about the Hyperclan in the new JLA comic, we now know the answer...they’re Martians.

But which Martians are these? The revised Martians were Gumby-shaped pacifistic, ballet dancers, not warriors. And they wouldn’t all fear fire...that "fire as a weakness" thing has been explained as psychosomatic trauma resulting from J’onn watching his wife burn in the huge pyres of Martian bodies. Now...unless the Hyperclan were ALL watching their spouses consumed by fire, this just doesn’t jibe!

So, maybe Grant Morrison is completely forgetting the Martian Manhunter mini-series and going back to the pre-Giffen days when the Martians were beetle-browed, muscular warriors. Now, if that’s the case, what’s all this "true shape" nonsense? And if there wasn’t a plague, where are all the rest of the Martians?

It seems that Grant is only paying attention to the parts of retroactive continuity that he likes. For your use, I’m going to put down the different stages of Martian history, backwards revelations and retroactive continuity.


Original History

(From Introduction through Legends)

Martians were a race of muscular beetle-browed warriors. They had vast powers, but they could be weakened and killed by fire. There were two races, the Green Martians and the White Martians, who warred constantly.

In the middle of a great battle agains the White's Commander Blanx, one of the Green's greatest warriors, J’onn J’onzz, suddenly disappeared. He was teleported to Earth by an American scientist who was testing his transporter. Saul Erdel, seeing the huge Martian, died from a heart attack. Trapped on Earth, he became the Martian Manhunter.

Many years later, Blanx and a team of White Martians came to Earth after J'onn. Blanx was stopped by J'onn and many of the heroes who would later found the Justice League. The heroes decided that Earth wasn't ready to know about the existence of aliens and parted ways. They would form the JLA six months later after uniting to stop the warriors of Appellax.

After serving as a founding member of the Justice League, J’onn confronted his own people, and together, they left Mars to found New Mars.

J’onn visited the JLA a few times. Finally, he returned to warn them that the Martians were leaving New Mars and preparing to conquer Earth. This story arc was called War of the Worlds. (Issue #3 of the new JLA bears the same title; this is either brilliance or coincidence on Morrison’s part) The Martians destroyed the JLA satellite and brought about the end of the "classic Justice League team." J’onn fought off the Martians and returned to the JLA.


The New Martian History

(Martian Manhunter first miniseries - JLA third series)

The Martians were a lizard-like race of pacifistic artists that inhabited Mars ten thousand years ago. Their race was suddenly annihilated by a vicious disfiguring plague. The plague became so terrible that the dead bodies had to be destroyed in mountainous funeral pyres. One of the remaining Martians returned from watching the pyres (to which his wife had just been added) to find his daughter dead. Consumed by grief, he seized his daughter and fought off the other Martians who came for her body. Then he disappeared.

In the 1950s, a scientist named Saul Erdel was testing his teleporter when a green alien appeared on the pad clutching a disfigured smaller alien. The teleport beam had reached across space...and, due to Einsteinian physics, back across time!

The Martian went mad, destroyed the teleporter and sank into a coma. Saul buried the daughter, then began caring for the mentally unbalanced Martian. The Martian entered a mentally-linked state with Saul to try to retain his sanity. Saul realized that, to restore the alien’s mind, he’d have to...overwrite...his traumatic memories. Drawing on his pulp sci-fi mags, he gave the Martian a new set of memories of a warlike homeworld...and a name that was a play on "John Jones." No dead wife, no dead daughter, no dead planet. The alien’s shapeshifting physiology even adjusted to the beetle-browed images in Saul’s mind.

Finally, Saul left a parting image...that of himself dying of a heart attack a moment after teleport, so that J’onn wouldn’t hang around and discover his true origin.

J’onn wouldn’t discover the truth until after the JLI was formed.

Since there were never any warlike Martians, we can assume several things:

  1. The Justice League members joined for the first time against the conquerors of Appellax.
  2. J'onn never left the JLA. (In current continuity, this helps to fill the gap left by Superman's removal from JLA history.)
  3. The JLA satellite was destroyed by a different race of aliens.
The Martian race is dead.



Postscript to First Revision:

(Martian Manhunter: American Secrets)

In the third and final issue, J’onn meets another Martian in the late ‘50s...and it’s a Gumby Martian! The heck? How’d he get to Earth and survive 10,000 years? And J’onn somehow accepts the Martian’s "True Form", even though he didn’t discover his true origin as the Last Martian until our decade! J’onn, at the time, should believe that he’s trapped on earth and that there are millions of beetle-browed Martian warriors, alive and well, across the gulf of space.


Latest History

(JLA Third series)

The Green lizard-like Martians were pacifistic artists. There was another race, the White Martians, who were of a slightly-different species; they were warlike and despicable, and used all of their more advanced technology to create instruments of torture and destruction.

The White Martians had an actual vulnerability to fire to the point that they were filled with stark raving terror at the sight of a tiny flame. The fear of fire became a part of the joined Martian cultures. Their ancient cultures worshipped and feared the god of fire, H'ronmeer. This left a latent fear of fire even amongst the Green race, which did not have an actual vulnerability to the element. For the creature we would come to know as J'onn J'onzz, this fear was heightened by the sight of the funeral pyres (as above).

The Green Martians finally decreed that the White Martians had nothing productive to offer the planet and exiled them and all of their evil technology to the "Still Zone", another dimension where they would be in suspended animation. The White Martians remained there for 70,000 years, until they somehow escaped

The Martians sent an advance team to Earth pretending to be a humanoid superteam known as the Hyperclan. This team used mind control broadcast waves to lull the Earth's populace into hailing the actions of the Hyperclan as they executed criminals and terraformed deserts. The JLA fought the Hyperclan and Batman discovered their secret when they showed a fear of fire (Oddly, Batman was operating on inaccurate information; had J'onn ever revealed to Batman that his fear was psychosomatic and that he was overcoming it, Batman might not have learned the truth!). Superman appealed to the people of Earth on TV and they all pulled out matches and lighters (I guess the Martians would have been smarter to let the populace succomb to lung cancer, as apparently 100% of the DC Universe are smokers.) and these Martians all went apoplectic and surrendered. J'onn mentally reprogrammed them to believe they were humans, they used their shapechanging powers to become human, and some if not all are working as fireman. What this says about their mental states and vulnerability to fire is unknown.

The White Martians have two great vulnerabilities: 1) fire and 2) monumental stupidity. They can run close to the speed of light but they can't stop someone from lighting a match! They have the powers of speed and flight but they can't LEAVE when they see fire! And, I'm sorry, but this was the BEST plan they could come up with? Isn't there some way that seventy people with shapechanging abilities and mental powers could have covertly taken over the Earth? After all their work at seducing the populace, why would they show up in big saucers and stormtrooper outfits?

Martians are really dumb.

I'm also the editor of Fanzing.

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This page is in no way associated with or endorsed by DC Comics. J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, the Justice League and all related characters are the property of DC Comics. TM & © 1996. Mention of these characters in this document is without permission of DC Comics, but this non-profit use is not intended to challenge DC's trademark rights or copyrights.

Readers who want to learn more about J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter are encouraged to purchase the comic books. Permission is granted for non-profit distribution of this document, provided all headers remain intact and the original authorship is acknowledged. Any other use requires the written permission of the author.