- I offered to send you home. You didn't exactly take to the idea. Thirty years of work... destroyed in less than a minute. You were fast, J'onn -- I'll give you that. And you were damned efficient.
- — Dr. Saul Erdel src
Dr. Saul Erdel was a man of lofty dreams, and misguided ambition. He grew up reading the pulp novels of wordsmiths like Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Bradbury. Enraptured by tales of space-men and alien civilizations, he decided to become one of the great scientific pioneers of the 20th century. Erdel had no formal education to speak of, and very little money, but what he did have he invested in a career that spanned over thirty years of his life. He wanted to explore the cosmos just like his childhood heroes, Buck Rogers and John Carter.
He came upon various parts and devices that he began working with, having little idea that they were actually antique remnants of Martian technology. He developed a machine designed to probe the galaxy for extraterrestrial life. After numerous failures, he finally got his machine to work.
One evening, with no real game plan in mind, he directed his transmitter probe towards Mars and activated it. A beam of energy reached across the space-time continuum grabbing hold of Mars' last son, J'onn J'onzz and transporting him back to Earth. When the Martian appeared inside of Erdel's laboratory, he carried with him the body of a dead Martian girl - his daughter, K'hym. Erdel thought that his device may have killed her, but soon discovered that she had already been dead for some time. J'onn, alienated and scared, opened his mind to Erdel and the aging scientist experienced every facet of J'onn's tortured final days on Mars. The Martian flew into an enraged panic, destroying the transmitter device and most of the laboratory before falling down unconscious on the floor.
Saul kept him inside of his small Colorado cabin where he slowly nursed the Martian back to health. He even buried J'onn's daughter deep in the woods behind the cabin. Erdel soon realized that J'onn was trying to suppress his own memories of the trauma he left behind on Mars. The mind-link established between Erdel and J'onn allowed the would-be scientist the ability to reshape J'onn's memories into something less horrific. He fabricated an entire history for him, based upon concepts that he had read about in his pulp novels. J'onn's sanity was restored, but the truth about his origins would lay dormant in his psyche for years. The sense of heroism that Erdel fed into J'onn's mind prompted him on a quest to become Earth's greatest protector.
Soon after, Erdel realized that any connection that he kept with J'onn would risk the old memories resurfacing. In order to break the tether, he decided to fake his own death, thus allowing J'onn the ability to go out into the world and grow on his own.
Years passed, and J'onn J'onzz became every bit the hero that Erdel dreamed. It was during J'onn's tenure with Justice League International that he discovered that Saul was still alive. Once again tormented by ghosts from his past, J'onn reunited with Erdel who helped to restore his true memories. He had since rebuilt the original machine that first brought the Manhunter to Earth, and agreed to use it to send him back to Mars.
When J'onn returned, he was ready to deal with the truth about his existence and felt a level of contentment the likes of which he never experienced before. He thanked his old friend for everything that he had done for him, and the two parted ways.
Random pieces of ancient Martian technology; transmitter ray
- Dr. Saul Erdel is the New Earth counterpart to the Earth-One Professor Mark Erdel.
- In most Post-Crisis sources, Dr. Erdel's first name is given as Saul. In the flashback from Martian Manhunter (Volume 2) #0, he indicates that his name is James. He also states that he is a professor in archaeology.
- Despite his title, Saul Erdel, by his own admission, never actually earned a doctorate degree. He merely calls himself a Doctor because he likes the sound of it.
- In later years, Dr. Erdel owned a pet cat named Miles.
- Prior to his bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth, Erdel authored a book titled Are We Alone?. It was not a great success, but among the people who read it was Alexander Luthor, back when he was a teenager.
- 15 Appearances of Saul Erdel (New Earth)
- 1 Images featuring Saul Erdel (New Earth)
- 2 Quotations by or about Saul Erdel (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Saul Erdel (New Earth)