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Justice League Infinity Delivers The Martian Manhunter Story He Deserves

SPOILER WARNING for Justice League Infinity #1!

The Martian Manhunter is a founding member of the Justice League and is easily one of the most powerful heroes on the team. Despite this, J’onn J’onzz hasn’t had many opportunities to shine lately, especially when compared to other League members. During DC’s New 52 era, he was basically treated as a powerhouse who kept an eye on his fellow teammates, and since then he hasn’t really held down a major role in comics. The recent Justice League: Last Ride storyline highlights this problem further, only using J’onn’s death as a catalyst for the team’s fracture. Ultimately, DC hasn’t known what to do with the extra-terrestrial hero in a very long time. Luckily, a new series is pointing the spotlight toward the Martian Manhunter and is already exploring his character more thoughtfully than anyone has in years.

That comic is Justice League Infinity #1, which is a continuation of the DC Animated Universe’s Justice League Unlimited cartoon. In the final season of the show, Martian Manhunter decides that he wants to fill the lonely void left behind after his species was killed off by getting more in touch with humanity. Realizing that he cannot accomplish this by staying in the Watchtower, he uses his shapeshifting abilities to take human form and disappears into civilian life. In the series finale, however, J’onn joins up with the Justice League once more to help defend Earth from an invasion by Darkseid. By the episode’s conclusion, it’s unclear whether Martian Manhunter will stay with the League or go back into hiding, but Justice League Infinity provides some clarity.

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J.M. DeMatteis, James Tucker, Ethen Beavers, Nick Filardi, and Tom Napolitano’s Justice League Infinity #1 reveals that, in the years since Darkseid’s attack, Martian Manhunter has been traveling the globe, taking on a variety of new identities by shifting between different genders and races. Currently living in New Delhi as a woman, he truly wants to leave his life as a superhero behind, but still feels an instinctual pull to help his former teammates whenever they are in trouble. Although he considers many members of the Justice League close friends, Martian Manhunter realizes that they choose to engage in dangerous heroics, whereas he’d rather live a life of peace.

While the story doesn’t focus solely on Martian Manhunter, readers get a fascinating look at how he’s changed since Justice League Unlimited. One of the most noticeable details is J’onn’s willingness to take on all sorts of different human identities. By choosing to explore a diverse selection of identities he is developing a truer idea of what different groups of people experience and broadening his worldview. Martian Manhunter’s unique physiology and his ongoing quest to figure out who he allows the creative team to add much more depth to his character.

In addition to exploring J’onn’s identity, the book does a great job at presenting him as a genuine pacifist who turns down the Justice League’s call because he knows that they choose to involve themselves in conflict. He has proven time and again that he’s the heart and soul of the team, and giving him this peaceful nature only drives that point home. Done well, Martian Manhunter can be a captivating and ruminative character with a lot to say, but currently it’s only his DCAU version that’s receiving this type of treatment. Hopefully the mainline comics will take a page from this new series and give J’onn J’onzz the attention he deserves, giving him an identity that isn’t tied to the Justice League.

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