Friday, May 14, 2021

College Days: Martian Manhunter

Verdict: J'onn J'onnz did not go to college and does not have a degree.

At least, ya know, not on Earth.  H'ronmeer alone knows what J'onn did on Mars, because it simply makes zero sense that there is still life on Mars in the DCU (although maybe this week there isn't, because of, um, hypertime or whatever they are calling their latest hypertimely conceipt these days).

Much like Wonder Woman, J'onn got his civilian life the old-fashioned way: by cheating.

In his original origin, J'onn just sort of walked in off the street and applied to Captain Harding directly, then solved some case he was given and got hired. Which is a thing that totally happened in those days. In comics.

Probably deduced who stole Harding's supersized hoagie from the Department fridge.  Harding does NOT take food theft lightly.

Later versions of J'onn's origin recognize how unlikely that seems to us now, and add in that J'onn just showed up at a police station one day and IMPLANTED FALSE MEMORIES in everyone there that they'd already worked with him for years, which is exactly the sort of typically creepy thing J'onn would do and never feel bad about.  Yet another reason the Identity Crisis windwipe controversy was so absurd; JJ mindwipes people every day and probably has never paid a restaurant tab in his life.

An intermittent part of JJ's backstory is that he was a police officer on Mars, which means he's qualified to be one on Earth (in the same way Diana was trained as a nurse on Paradise Island so it's okay for her to be one in the U.S.A.).  But that kind of implies that Martian justice and police methods are pretty much the same as ours, in which case, what the heck did Katar and Shayera come here for at all?  They could have just asked the Martians.

And boy was Shayera ticked when she found out.

Unlike Diana, however, there is zero way JJ had ANY compulsion to rectify this situation. And if one of his SuperFriends ever had the nerve to call him on it (like Barry-- it would be Barry), J'onn would just say that he knew morally that his time was best spent helping the people of Earth rather than selfishly trying to earn proper credentials for himself, or find some other way to spin it.

Because simply spinning is always J'onn's preferred solution,.

Besides, what on earth would JJ even bother to get a degree in, other than the obvious and redundant criminology?  And the only time I've ever seen him admit that he should learn how to do actual detective work instead of relying on his plethora of powers all the time was in a Sholly Fisch story.

Because Sholly Fisch is a genius
who understands all characters and how to write them better than we do, period.

Really, the only thing I can imagine him studying would be History, since he's from another planet.  

Or Interpretive Dance.
I can definitely imagine J'onn studying Interpretive Dance.

And what's the point of studying History in a world that gets rebooted on the regular?  His time is better spent helping the people of Earth rather than trying to selfishly earn credentials for himself.  At least, that's how he explained it to me...


John C said...

Yeah, Martians probably learn by, like, making a communal smoothie of their brains and drinking them, so he's not going to waste time fiddling with those weird rotating desks. And you know that he'd complain that there weren't any left-handed desks, even though he's probably ambidextrous.

Although it's possible that he somehow amended continuity so that he retroactively got a legitimate degree without actually putting in the work. I'm not saying that J'Onn was that necessarily the Anti-Monitor, but I am saying that Crisis on Infinite Earths transformed him from an occasional guest star that wasn't a big deal to the "heart and soul of the Justice League," who was secretly central to everybody's origin, and was even Darkseid's ancient arch-enemy for a while...which I just realized was Lex Luthor's arc in Supergirl's previous season. He also compiled dossiers of weaknesses on the other JLAers until the same writer (Waid) recycled the story for Batman, and had the latter story retold so many times that the former is forgotten. So, having a Yale diploma fall in his lap doesn't seem out of the question...

Scipio said...

"that the former is forgotten"

Oh I remember it fondly. "JLA Year One" was a very interesting story that simply didn't have a universe to fit into. I'll never forget Larry Trainor deducing Green Lantern's secret identity simply because he spits out the same trite aphorisms that Hal Jordan does.

Anonymous said...

Fully agreed about Sholly Fisch. Why DC doesn't let him write 30% of their titles, I'll never know.

MarkAndrew said...

My last monthly corporate superhero hold-outs were Scooby-Doo Team-Up and Squirrel Girl. *sigh*

I think J'J certainly could have a degree, though. (A) He has plenty of free time not headlining his own series, (B) he has a metric crap-ton of secret identities, and (C) while he might not gain much book-larnin' from Earthian higher education, I can't think of a faster way to learn about Terran culture and social dynamics than four years at a state school.

Bryan L said...

Sholly Fisch is indeed a genius.

I can't see J'onn earning a degree. Pretty sure he'd just copy all the knowledge he needed from some human's brain. I could see him posing as a student to learn about humans, but I don't think he'd need four years to pick up beer pong.