Some thought on J'onn's Appearance (and shapeshifting)

Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio


While writing my last post I was thinking about the appearance of the Martian Manhunter.   Most of us are accustomed to the way he looks, but most depictions of the character show that this is a modified form he has taken for humans.   The true Martian form looks more like this:



            I am just wondering why he would bother to change his appearance at all.   You might argue that its in the interest of appearing more normal to humans, but then why wouldn’t he just take on a full human appearance?   I guess it could then be argued that he wants to be recognized as different without appearing too strange to humans.   Still I am not sure.   As usual a superhero’s main concern should be with saving lives.   If I saw the Martian Manhunter we are used to seeing I might be scared, but if I saw the regular Martian form then I would be terrified.   And the ability to terrify people can be seen as a sort of superpower, and if it stopped villains before they could do more damage it would be beneficial.   Also I would think as heroes are always promoting equality that he would be more interested in showing humans that its all right to be who you are.   Its like Mystique said in the second X-Men movie when asked why she doesn’t just always just choose to look like someone else as opposed to her blue skinned natural version   – why should she have to?  

            Another thing which is weird about his costume (this holds true for all shapeshifters) is that when they change their appearance they don’t put on a fresh set of clothes, which means the clothes in their new selves are actually part of their body.   So MM’s long cape is actually attached to him biologically.   This is not such a big deal because he is mostly invulnerable, but for shapeshifter like Mystique, she could actually be injured if you cut the clothes she was wearing.          

#1 Posted by SC (15000 posts) - - Show Bio

I am very fond of J'onn's natural look. Its very cool. After Wonder Woman he is my favorite character out of the big 7. Have you seen the Iron Man by Design covers that were released a few months ago? i would love to see J'onn go though a similar art process.  
I think as for the justification with his appearance, well its projected upon him by the writer. Not something that totally pulls me out of the story, but I would probably approach his look differently if given the chance, That or he telepathically scanned a broad sample of people and created a visage that both made him approachable and less terrifying to the greater majority but still maintain features unique to himself that he wished to hold on to. Similar to what you said pretty much just adding the other abilities he has to let him know how effective his more conventional form is. 

#2 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio
I didnt see those, is there a link out there somewhere? 
I guess when he can do pretty much anything he wants already he doesnt really need to look scarier. 
#3 Posted by SC (15000 posts) - - Show Bio
@RazzaTazz said:
" @SC: I didnt see those, is there a link out there somewhere?  I guess when he can do pretty much anything he wants already he doesnt really need to look scarier.  "
Essentially a bunch of top comic artists were tasked with redesigning Iron Man to fit for an era or a setting or even an art style, for variant covers.  
I think given Manhunter's powers and his distinctive color scheme and even outfit to some degree, he could work really well being re-imagined similar to above (preferably by artist as good) 
Well, you won't see me denying him any chocos anytime soon. Oh and it was great that time he gave Starro a good talking to...
#4 Posted by warlock360 (28180 posts) - - Show Bio

I like his natural look more than his humanoid one

#5 Posted by SC (15000 posts) - - Show Bio
@warlock360 said:
" I like his natural look more than his humanoid one "
Better to be natural than unnatural I agree. Oh, but what of the supernatural. Interesting argument you make. 
#6 Posted by warlock360 (28180 posts) - - Show Bio
@SC: like yoda you talk :p
i guess the supernatural is something people aspire or look up to
#7 Posted by CrimsonAvenger (1288 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd like to see J'onn with the classic look but in human form. I don't like his natural look, he looks cool but I think he looks cooler with clothes on.

#8 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio
@CrimsonAvenger: I have never been sure why he needs suspenders to hold up his shorts.
#9 Posted by CrimsonAvenger (1288 posts) - - Show Bio
@RazzaTazz said:
" @CrimsonAvenger: I have never been sure why he needs suspenders to hold up his shorts. "
Maybe he likes Larry king?
#10 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2135 posts) - - Show Bio

J'onn looks awesome in true martian form, not to kid friendly.... 


#11 Posted by danhimself (21302 posts) - - Show Bio

I was always under the impression that his modified form was as close as he could get to taking human form but now that I think about it I'm pretty sure I've seen him take on complete human forms before

#12 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio
@danhimself: He can copy anything
#13 Posted by SC (15000 posts) - - Show Bio
@RazzaTazz: Along the lines of his ability to copy anything, I wrote an elaborate VS boards thread once on how J'onn could increase the size of his brain to 20 times its normal size, whilst maintaining its complexity but boosting its overall efficiency allowing him to create and contort new pathways and crossroads within his own mind, creating a minor form of Omniscience, then by harnessing the power of exponential growth with his abilities of, first the mind and subsequently the rest of his abilities, the Martian Manhunter would rapidly succumb to a minor relative form of Omnipotence. He would then invent a new form of origami, folding various dimensions into a very spiffy hat that is also a crane, that is also a swan, that is also your name, and that is also a star as well as also being Supermans feet (thats who the thread vs was against, but you could insert any character really). Then after reality crippling *insert character here* Martian Manhunter departs for the Boötes void, where he takes a giant cosmic space bubble, and twists and manipulates it into a giant poodle space balloon animal, which he sends to eat the rest of the *insert characters here*.  
Feasible Razzatazz? He could copy two people at once yes, as in their brains then merge them, and then use the extra brain power to augment his ability to copy to grant him greater access to knowledge and raw brain power? (lol)
#14 Posted by jrh7925 (301 posts) - - Show Bio

First off, Martian Manhunter is my favorite comic book character, and I think I have almost all his appearances. So forgive me if I get too "into" this discussion...
The Martian Manhunter you see actually didn't have this form when he started. Actually, he looked a lot like a normal person... just green. When he was introduced in 1955, he looked like this: 

He, and the martian race, had their history pretty heavily patterned after the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series of novels (which ran from 1912 to 1940). And of course, during that time, you couldn't have a hero looking weird. The Comics Code Authority wouldn't like that. So yes, he was a shape-shifter, but this look was his "natural" look (back when every alien looked pretty much like a human).  I still think he would have looked cool looking like a true Burroughs Martian, but that would have been too much for the 1950s.
After the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths, many of the DC super-heroes received reboots (Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman). One of the lesser publicized ones was Martian Manhunter. When J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Badger rebooted him in his 1988 miniseries, they threw away his "Edgar Rice Burroughs" origin and repatterned his history after more of a Ray Bradbury "Marian Chronicles" look and feel. It was the two of them that introduced the form he is in today. 
@SC: There was a great story in the 1997 JLA series called Rock of Ages. In it, Joker gained near-omnipotence. In order to create a strategy to defeat him, Martian Manhunter shape-shifted his brain to emulate the Joker, allowing him to see the world as the Joker does. Supes was pretty freaked out, because MM became kinda insane during the shape shift. It was pretty cool to see MM laughing like the Joker for a bit...

#15 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio

This one was weird too:





#16 Posted by SC (15000 posts) - - Show Bio
@jrh7925: Wow, thats great, I didn't know Martian Manhunter was your favorite character! I rather like when I met people who have a favorite character out of a character I like, when that character traditionally isn't known to be the favorite character of people. You got into the discussion perfectly lol Thanks, I have heard of that book, and moment, I really need to start tracking down those issues to read them for myself. That does sound pretty cool to see J'onn temporarily a bit insane lol 
@RazzaTazz:  My second favorite JLA member perfectly duplicating my favorite DC character... 0_o 
lol @ Superman's exposition.
#17 Posted by darkcloakx (788 posts) - - Show Bio

he's one my favorite  members from the justice league besides flash (wally west) and he awesome on smallville  wished he had stayed on the show way cooler than green arrow.

#18 Edited by Kallarkz (3389 posts) - - Show Bio
I actually like how they have him use the 2 different forms and add to the complexity of his character. I forget in which book it was but i had read that on Mars a Martians true form was a very personal thing and that usually a Martian only assumed it when they were in the comforts of their home. It was more common for Martians to use the form we usually see him in.
#19 Posted by mlj (3 posts) - - Show Bio

Martian Manhunter is one of my favorites as well--for me, it's Batman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Booster Gold, not necessarily in that order.  
I really like both the actual martian and humanoid martian forms Martian Manhunter takes on; like SC said above,I think the human disguise reflects the individual series writer. I do like what Kallarkz wrote about the true Martian form being a very personal thing; I didn't know that before.

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