Crime, Punishment and Revenge
Ma'alefa'ak was the twin brother of J'onn J'onzz (the Martian Manhunter.) He was brought in before the Assembly of Minds by J'onn to answer for the crime of "mind rape", the most serious offense a Martian can commit. Ma'alefa'ak argued that he had needs that the Assembly was not prepared to admit or cope with, pleading insane. J'onn responded that his brother did not seek their help and violated the very essence that held the Martian society together. He was found guilty and the sentence passed down to him was to scrub his memory clean and shut down his telepathic abilities so that he would never remember who he was, what he did, or that he ever had the Martian gift of telepathy. Angry and defiant, Ma'alefa'ak exclaimed that his heart would still hate even if it didn't understand why, and swore vengeance upon the entire Martian race.
His memory wiped, his telepathy removed, Ma'alefa'ak was (to the Assembly of Minds) reborn to start again. Believing himself now to be born without telepathy, Ma'alefa'ak considered himself the "freak". Now immune to the Martian weakness of fire, he served as a priest/scientist at the Central Power Cathedral stationed within the volcano known to Earth as "Olympic Mons". Unknown to the rest of the Martian race, Ma'alefa'ak had created a plague known as the "Hronmeer's Curse", named after the Martian god of fire, death, and art. The plague would cause the Martian body to erupt into flames upon the use of their telepathy, and this curse would be transmitted in the same manner. Ma'alefa'ak was the only suspect, as his mind was the only one not open to them. J'onn defended his brother, however, arguing that the evidence is circumstantial at best, and that it was against Martian law and tradition to judge Ma'alefa'ak for his actions before his mind was purged. The Father of Elders therefore charged J'onn to fullfil his obligation as a Manhunter, to seek the truth of the matter by confronting his brother.
When J'onn arrived at the temple of energy and explained the situation on Ma'alec'andra, Ma'alefa'ak quickly stated that the accusations were true. He intended on wiping out the Martian race. While the two battled, J'onn asked his brother why he would want to kill his own people. Ma'alefa'ak reasoned that his hate was motivation enough; that although he was cut off from their minds, he still saw how his fellow Martians were afraid and repulsed by him. It didn't matter that he couldn't validate his hatred, he only knew that he hated and followed that emotion, proclaiming that he hates J'onn J'onzz most of all. J'onn managed to escape the temple after learning that there was no cure for the disease, and hoped to save his family.
After J'onn saw his family die, he went after his brother through the flames of the temple, seeking to end it all. Ma'alefa'ak was both surprised and infuriated that J'onn was still alive, as by his rationale, so long as there is another Martian alive, he will always be the freak born without telepathy. The two fought, presumably to the death, but in the process, collapsed the temple around them. J'onn J'onzz made it out unharmed, but Ma'alefa'ak was presumed dead.
Many years later, J'onn briefly returned to Ma'alec'andra for the first time, seeking long overdue closure. Little did J'onn know that he was not the only Martian to return to the Watchtower, as Ma'alefa'ak had stowed aboard his space craft. Making his way to Earth, Ma'alefa'ak studied J'onn J'onzz and his adopted lifestyle. He took on the name "Malefic", much as J'onn had assumed the identity of John Jones. Malefic made it his goal to ruin the life of his twin brother. He began by killing Karen Smith with his Martian vision while posing as John Jones. Strangely enough, Karen was working on a report that eventually made its way to Cameron Chase, bitterly exposing John Jones' true identity, but likely, Malefic saw her as a means to hurt J'onn. Indeed, the evidence left behind at her murder scene led J'onn to suspect Jemm (son of Saturn) was responsible. Apprehending the Saturnian, J'onn found that he was immensely paranoid, and scanned his mind. To J'onn's surprise, Jemm was replaying memories of his torture... by J'onn himself! Unable to reach through to Jemm, J'onn brought him to the Watchtower, calling on the care of Wonder Woman to watch over Jemm, or so he thought.
In reality, Malefic was posing as Wonder Woman, and proceded to torture Jemm after shapeshifting into J'onn again.
For Malefic, his goal was to destroy the Martian Manhunter's reputation. He returned Jemm to Z'onn Z'orr, the Martian city embedded in the Antarctic by the Hyperclan. When Jemm sent an emergency call out to the League, Steel, Wonder Woman, Huntress, and Aquaman found him badly beaten. Aquaman used his limited telepathy to discover that the assailant, in Jemm's mind, was J'onn J'onzz. Seeking answers, Steel, Huntress, and Aquaman followed the Martian teleporter back its last use, travelling to an unknown location terraformed to resemble Ma'alec'andra. To their horror, they found a number of failed human experiments stored in tanks, deformed, and begging to be put out of their misery. It wasn't long before the three happened upon "J'onn", functioning as a mad scientist within the laboratory. When he began to overpower the three, Aquaman started a chain reaction that detonated the "Martian" laboratory, hoping to at least put an end to his work. Feigning defeat, "J'onn" allowed them to escape the facility as it exploded, watching in amusement as the Justice League sought to hunt him "like a dog".
True to form, the real Martian Manhunter surrendered peaceably to the League's demands, hoping that their collective minds would discover who was trying to frame him. Unfortunately for J'onn, Malefic phased into him, firing his Martian vision at the League to raise their guard. Remaining intangible, Malefic staged the battle to look as if J'onn was acting out, fighting Steel, Superman, Huntress, Aquaman, the Flash, Orion, Big Barda, Wonder Woman, and Plastic Man all at once. When it was clear the Justice League wasn't open to listening to J'onn's pleas, he was forced to defend himself and fled. Taking precautions not to harm anyone, J'onn crippled the teleporters and attempted to escape in a shuttle. It was there that Malefic revealed himself and his intentions, albeit from a safe distance. Stating that he had anticipated every possible action J'onn would take, Malefic set his brother's ship on fire, sending him to his apparent death as the shuttle crashed into the Moon.
Superman, having recovered J'onn's skull from the crash site, started to contemplate the Martian Manhunter's innocence. Although Huntress disagrees, the rest of the League reflect on the battle and decide that they were manipulated by a third party that is likely still present in the Watchtower. The League then split up to search for the mysterious intruder. Malefic, having observed their discussion while invisible, is disappointed with his failed plan to defile the memory of his brother. Reaching the conclusion that he will just have to kill them, Malefic began to shapeshift into various members of the League to pit them against each other. Largely successful in his efforts, Malefic was pleased with his progress until J'onn J'onzz sent a transmission out to the Watchtower.
As it happened, J'onn had transferred his brain into his right arm, cut it off, and teleported it to the Martian city Z'onn Z'orr before the rest of his body took the device online. From then on, the body of J'onn had acted on his accord, following his will to escape in a shuttle. He returned to the Watchtower using the entire city of Z'onn Z'orr as a vessel, challenging Malefic to fight him on even grounds. Malefic, enraged, proclaimed that he would be glad to kill him a hundred times, teleporting himself aboard the Martian city, just before it went to warp. The two Martians battled, with Malefic yielding the physical advantage over J'onn, as J'onn's condition at the time prevented him from changing his shape. After antagonizing J'onn over his inability to go the full distance and kill him as he had wanted to for so long, Malefic was made aware that Z'onn Z'orr had just dropped out of warp just before entering the Sun.
Springing the trap, J'onn restored Malefic's telepathic ablilities with his mind, opening his brother up to the Martians' mental (and therefore physical) vulnerability to fire. J'onn exclaimed that for ages, fire had no hold over Malefic, for he had no telepathy. J'onn had disciplined himself not to stare into the flame, to attain some degree of control over the Martian weakness - but his brother had not.
The Martian Manhunter was saved by Superman and Orion via Boom Tube, but Malefic was consumed by the fire and is presumed dead.
The Ghosts of Mars
Malefic appeared after his death in the JLA Classified arc The Ghosts of Mars. In their youth, J'onn and Ma'alefa'ak shared in the Martian rite of G'amal'khul, the exchange of self between loved ones. Centuries later, this aspect of self left behind in J'onn's psyche allowed Malefic to influence his actions from beyond the grave and trick him into attacking the JLA, as well as threaten the similar aspects of J'onn's wife and daughter.
Powers & Abilities
Malefic posses the same abilities as all martians.
- Super Strength - He posses strength comparable to Superman and has harmed Superman with his blows.
- Invulnerability - Like all martians, Malefic is invulnerable to harm from most sources.
- Flight -Malefic possesses the standard Martian ability of flight.
- Super Speed - Malefic can move, process thoughts, and carry out actions at super human speeds.
- Telepathy - All Martians are skilled telepaths, capable of mind reading, illusion casting, limited mind control, and other mental manipulations. Malefic is not as skilled as his brother however, and for much of his life this ability was removed by the Martian council.
- Shape-shifting - Martians have a high level of shape shifting ability that stems from complete control over their molecular structure. They can alter their shape, appearance, size, density(to the point where they can move through objects), and even their chemical make up. Malefic made use of his shape shifting to frame J'onn for crimes and ruin his reputation.
- Regeneration - Martians can heal from almost any wound very rapidly.
- Invisibility - Malefic can turn invisible. While intangible and invisible he attacked the Justice League from where J'onn was standing in order to provoke them to attack J'onn.
- Martian Vision - Malefic can fire blast of heat or force from his eyes.
- X-Ray Vision - J'onn J'onzz described this ability colloquially as ionized particulate matter mapped to a variable density wavepacket. It allows them to see through objects.
Malefic, like all Martians, is vulnerable to fire and weakened by it. While his telepathy was removed, he was not subject to this weakness.
In Other Media
Malefic appears as one of the lead villains in the film. He is a member of Vandal Savage's new Legion of Doom and is tasked with killing J'onn. He was voiced by Carl Lumbly, who also voiced Martian Manhunter. He ultimately appears to be killed in the film's climax, as he battles his brother he is in the path of the exhaust of Vandal Savage's recently launched rocket.