Martian Manhunter’s Sailor Moon Disguise Is More Tragic Than It Seems

Martian Manhunter uses his shape-shifting powers to pass as human, but he can’t help leaving clues, like when he became Sailor Moon’s Sailor Mars.

The Martian Manhunter is considered one of the Justice League’s main powerhouses, with abilities which include the ability to alter and shape his body, but there is a hero he’d apparently rather be – Sailor Moon’s Sailor Mars. Although he’s taken a few forms throughout his time as a citizen of Earth, J’onn J’onzz once disguised himself in the character’s honor for a public meeting between him, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent to discuss the Justice League’s membership, revealing that Batman is apparently intimately acquainted with the franchise.

In JLA #27 by Mark Millar, Mark Pajarillo, Walden Wong, and Marlo Alquiza, the Justice League are dealing with two separate issues. One is the discovery of an Amazo – Professor Ivo’s infamous robot that is able to absorb and mimic the powers of any nearby superhuman – in the Florida Everglades. The second is the expansion of the Justice League’s membership as members of the core Justice League are joined by reserve heroes like Steel and Huntress, or seen trying to recruit former members like the Atom.

While the other heroes deal with the ticking clock of Amazo’s activation, Bruce Wayne sits down with the Daily Planet’s Clark Kent and Hino Rei, introduced as a representative from Japan’s largest financial newspaper, Nihon Kezai Shimbun. In his guise as a playboy, Bruce Wayne can’t resist complimenting the attractive young woman, but as Batman he can’t help offering constructive criticism to Hino, who is actually J’onn J’onzz in disguise. He compliments him on his flawless accent but admits that despite noticing details about his alien body language that only Batman would notice, “the name is a giveaway.” This is because Martian Manhunter patterned his disguise after Sailor Moon’s Hino Rei, aka Sailor Mars.

Whether or not this confirms that Batman is a Sailor Moon fan (and it certainly seems to), this brings up a point that J’onn can’t resist referencing his Martian heritage whenever he assumes an alias. When the last of the Green Martians was accidentally teleported to Earth, he assumed the identity of detective John Jones, the human version of his true name. After later assuming the superhero identity of the Martian Manhunter, his use of Sailor Mars’ public identity can only be in reference to their shared planet of origin, as they are very different in terms of personality and power. Hino is the princess to the kingdom of Mars who uses her abilities which include precognition, pyrokinesis, and spirit purification while also being hot-tempered yet loyal to her friends and fellow Sailor Scouts. Although her power to control fire is the inverse of Martian Manhunter’s weakness to it, they are both impressive powerhouses who support their respective teams to protect an adopted world.

Although this mini-JLA meeting is interrupted by news that Amazo has been activated, this instance reminds readers that while Martian Manhunter has maintained multiple identities during his extended stay on Earth, he always attempts to imbue them with some essence of his lost homeworld. Unlike Marvel’s shape-shifting Skrulls, J’onn’s transformations are as honest as he can make them in a world that is prejudiced against alien life, maintaining the hero’s distinctive sense of melancholy isolation even when he’s at his most accepted. J’onn J’onnz is proud to be a Martian, and he signals that in the only way he can while remaining acceptable to the people he’s sworn to protect. Of course, Martian Manhunter’s adoption of the Sailor Moon moniker is not only a subtle reference to his alien heritage, but also suggests that members of the Justice League are way bigger anime fans than anyone originally suspected.

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Martian Manhunter uses his shape-shifting powers to pass as human, but he can’t help leaving clues, like when he became Sailor Moon’s Sailor Mars. The Martian Manhunter is considered one of the Justice League’s main powerhouses, with abilities which include the ability to alter and shape his body, but there is a hero he’d apparently…

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