"Pilgrimage": J'onn is at the JLA Watchtower and speaks with Superman concerning his ever-growing feelings of alienation. He decides to embark upon a pilgrimage to visit the ruins of his home world, Mars. Before piloting a shuttlecraft and ar
- This is something of a pilgrimage for me—a journey through my past
Synopsis for "Pilgrimage"
J'onn is at the JLA Watchtower and speaks with Superman concerning his ever-growing feelings of alienation. He decides to embark upon a pilgrimage to visit the ruins of his home world, Mars. Before piloting a shuttlecraft and arriving on Mars, J'onn recalls the last days of his people and explains how he and Superman are similar as the last survivors of their alien peoples but they will always be different as Superman was raised by humans and identifies with them.
The telepathic plague of fire known as H'ronmeer's Curse, raged throughout the Martian civilization. The only way to live through the mental virus was to stop using the native Martian telepathy that connects all Martians in the "Great Voice". J'onn held out in spite of the overwhelming feelings of isolation but his wife and daughter were unable to keep from using their telepathy and thus became victims of the plague as well. Grief-stricken, J'onn attacks the architect of the plague: his brother Ma'alefa'ak, who was incited by jealousy at being the only Martian without telepathy. The two briefly fight in a temple at Olympus Mons before it explodes and J'onn wanders his home planet as the last of his race.
For an indefinite time, he tries to recreate his family and loved ones—shape-shifting into versions of them to provide himself some company and ease his conscience at being unable to stop the spread of the Plague. Suddenly, a transmitter beam from Earth whisked J'onn away, transporting him across space and time where he met the scientist Dr. Saul Erdel (who introduces himself as James Erdel). Erdel has previously discovered a teleporter buried in the ground and his first time using it causes it to violently explode, destroying his home laboratory. J'onn is horrified and confused by fireball but comes to his senses to save Erdel from the wreckage. Erdel dies on his lawn explaining what has happened and J'onn turns invisible as the Denver Police Department show up on the scene, lead by Lieutenant John Jones.
J'onn becomes curious about humanity and its diversity and so follows Jones in his personal and professional life. He is present when to of Jones' fellow officers arrive at the lieutenant's apartment ostensibly to accompany him as he gives his testimony in a trial against a major mob boss. In reality, the officers are there to kill him for the mob and J'onn intervenes too late to stop them. He knocks out Officer Kawicki but Officer Morgan and Lieutenant Jones kill one another in a shoot-out. J'onn decides to morph into Jones' place and to testify in the dead man's stead as he has previously read Jones' mind and knows all of the facts of the case. This tragedy convinces him to commit his life to bringing the guilty to justice and he continues to serve as Jones and later join the Justice League of America.
In the present, J'onn ends his storytelling and convinces Superman that he doesn't need to be accompanied on his first trip back to his home planet. When he arrives, he forgives Mars for the death of his family and forgives himself as well. Unbeknownst to him, Ma'alefa'ak, sits in the ruins of his lair, observing the Martian Manhunter from afar.
Appearing in "Pilgrimage"
- Martian Manhunter (Flashback and main story)
- K'hym (Dies in flashback)
- M'yri'ah (Dies in flashback)
- Saul Erdel (Dies in flashback)
- John Jones (Dies in flashback)
- Ma'alefa'ak (Flashback and main story)
- Batman (Cameo)
- Wonder Woman (Cameo)
- The Flash (Wally West) (Cameo)
- Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) (Cameo)
- Aquaman (Cameo)
- The Flash (Barry Allen) (Flashback only) (Cameo)
- Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) (Flashback only) (Cameo)
- Black Canary (Flashback only) (Cameo)
- Officer Kawicki (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
- Officer Morgan (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
- Saul Erdel's teleporter
- J'onn J'onnz's shuttle
- This is the first issue where J'onn's wife is referenced by name: M'yri'ah.
- Doctor Saul Erdel is called James Erdel in this issue.
- This issue makes various changes to J'onn's backstory as depicted in Martian Manhunter (Volume 1):
- Previously, J'onn's came to Earth with amnesia, and his human-like "beetle-browed" form was made up by Erdel to make him feel more at home on Earth. In this version of events, all Martians used a humanoid form, and only showed their spindly "true" alien forms to their immediate family.
- Likewise, in Volume 1, J'onn's profession as a detective was also made up by Erdel to give him a direction in life. Here, he was already a "manhunter" in his life on Mars.
- Originally, the plague that killed most of the Green Martians occurred naturally, and J'onn's weakness to fire stemmed from his repressed memories of the funeral pyres used to cremate the victims. Here, the plague was engineered by Ma'alefa'ak and it actually caused its victims to ignite in flames.
- This issue shows K'hym dying on Mars, whereas Martian Manhunter #3 reveals that J'onn actually brought her dead body to Earth with him, whereupon Erdel later buried her remains.
- In Volume 1, Saul Erdel was a self-taught scientist who called himself "Doctor" as a nickname, and he faked his own death after meeting J'onn. Here, his name is James Erdel, he really is a doctor, and he truly is dead.
- Previously, J'onn made up his identity as "John Jones". Here, Jones was a real human detective whose place J'onn took after Jones was murdered.
- Despite all these changes, most of the events of Martian Manhunter Volume 1 apparently still took place, as J'onn mentions having visited Mars in a dream-like state before this issue.
- The first page of this issue's flashback is repeated in the first page of the final issue.
- Martian Manhunter Recommended Reading
- Detective Comics (Volume 1): Detective Comics #225– #326
- House of Mystery (Volume 1): House of Mystery #143– #173
- Martian Manhunter (Volume 1)
- Martian Manhunter (Volume 2)
- Martian Manhunter (Volume 3)
- Martian Manhunter (Volume 4)
- Martian Manhunter: American Secrets (Volume 1)
- Martian Manhunter Special #1
- Justice League Task Force (Volume 1)