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Martian Manhunter

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Shouldn't little green men from outer space be, you know, little?

J'onn J'onzz lived with his family on Mars until the mad priest Ma'alefa'ak set off a telepathic plague, leaving J'onn the only survivor. He wandered Mars' surface for decades until he was transported to Earth by Saul Erdel's teleportation machine, he adopted the identity of a murdered detective named John Jones. Eventually, choosing the name Martian Manhunter, J'onn became a founding member of the Justice League of America and devoted his life to the team.

Despite the fact that he actually has more powers, J'onn often seems superfluous in a world that has Superman. He's strong, can fly, has vision powers and super-breath... plus the shapeshifting and telepathy. But put him in a comic, and Superman's the star. So the current interpretation is that from an in-universe perspective, J'onn is more popular than Superman outside America: he watches out for most of the Southern Hemisphere, for instance, and has a variety of secret identites around the world.

Martian Manhunter is a very sharp looking figure. The green, blue and red they chose for him are nice, solid versions of the colors, and though they do clash a little, it's little enough that the colors serve to make each other pop. He uses Hawkman's torso, which means he has nipples - and it's quite odd he does, especially after all the various shirtless men who have lacked them. After all, J'onn's not a mammal; he only wills his body to take a shape similar to ours, so they're not natural. You're telling us he can't make his forehead the right shape, but he bothers to forge himself some nipples? That seems unlikely. The harness is a separate piece, which I believe is the first time such a thing has happened - Kenner and DC Direct both sculpted it as part of the torso, but Mattel's gone one better, and it's to the figure's benefit.

The head is good - oversized brow and all. The chin is large and square, but the jaw itself is narrow. That, coupled with the prominent cheekbones, gives him a distinctly angular look, and gives the lower face a great deal of interest, allowing it to contrast with the smooth and featureless pate. His eyes are solid red, rimmed with black to offset the colors.

Mattel has long had trouble understanding what making something in a 6" scale means, as their figures have crept ever-upward. J'onn's a true giant, though, topping out at a ridiculous 7" tall. He's never drawn particularly large in the comics, but there must be something in a DC style guide somewhere that suggests he is, because toys of him tend to be too tall. Remember the stupidly oversized DCD "Public Enemies" Hawkman? Their excuse was that they wanted to reuse the body for J'onn. The JLU figure was taller than the rest. Now we have a 7" J'onn in a 6" line. What gives, guys? The articulation is standard for a DCUC figure, with the addition of swivels at the top of his boots.

J Diddy has no accessories, but he does have a variant. Intended to show him in a slightly more "natural" form (since the appearance we're all familiar with is halfway between his real shape and full-on human), the variant has a new head (more pointy) and a new right hand (morphed into a big, curved blade). They're minor differences, so don't feel like you need to go nuts trying to hunt him down. No, that utter headache is reserved for a different variant in this series. It's not a bad variant, really, but you know us: we'd rather have interchangeable parts than two versions of one figure.

Series 15 was the last to come with DC 75th Anniversary collector buttons. Hooray! Martian Manhunter's pin is a portion of the cover of Justice League of America #4, from 1961. That's back when they just drew him as a bald guy, and the green skintone has more yellow in it than the one chosen for this figure.

The figure also includes part of the Series 15 Build-A-Figure, Validus. Validus is a big monster, and that's evident from the pieces J'onn includes: the crotch and head. The crotch is the same seen on Kilowog and everything that uses that mold, so now you know what the rest of the BAF will be like. Yay for predictability!

Martian Manhunter is the last DCUC figure a lot of people are going to buy - not because he's bad, but because he's the last "major" hero who still needed to be made, and with prices as high as they are, not many more characters are worth what Mattel is asking. The only real flaw with the figure is that he's so tall, but is that really so bad? The character fills an interesting spot in the DC universe, being a combination of the best parts of both Batman and Superman: from one, he gets the whole host of superpowers; from the other, the keen detective skills. He's been described as the heart of the JLA, and this is the best action figure anyone's ever made of him.

-- 04/21/11

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