Kal-El and J’onn J’onzz are the supreme powerhouses of the Justice League. But the question must be answered: Who would win in a fight between them?
Although Superman and Martian Manhunter are allies, they could one day be faced with a reason to fight. In such a dire circumstance, who walks away, and who doesn’t? These two titans would have almost any hero or villain running scared, including each other. Clark Kent rightly admits that he’s afraid to face J’onn J’onzz. With Manhunter’s recent connection to the Totality, the possibility of an actual comics showdown is increasing. The question must be answered: who would win?
Superman derives his powers from the radiation of Earth’s yellow sun. The energy from the star supercharges every one of his cells like a battery, unlocking godlike destructive potential. Superman’s powers include cosmic level strength and speed, invulnerability, flight, heat vision, enhanced senses, and cold breath. His sheer power cannot be understated, and even Manhunter doesn’t match it in most aspects. While Kryptonite is Superman’s most iconic weakness, he has shown susceptibility to psychic attacks on several occasions. J’onn’s powers are common to his entire race, although he is the most powerful among them. The full range of the Martian’s abilities is unknown, though some of his notable powers include strength, speed, shapeshifting, flight, heat vision, cold breath, invulnerability, density manipulation, complete invisibility, telepathy, and more. Manhunter’s only significant weakness is his crippling fear of fire.
Martian Manhunter and Superman have proven themselves to be similarly matched in terms of hand-to-hand combat. In JLA #20 by Mark Waid, Arnie Jorgensen, and Dave Meikis, Manhunter easily keeps up with Superman and the Flash. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Superman can’t move faster, which he almost certainly can. In terms of strength, the two are top-tier. Although not on par with Superman, J’onn is able to KO Shazam in JLA #6. While Superman is astronomically powerful in these areas, Manhunter is no shrimp, and it would take more than strength or speed for either to overwhelm the other.
These two titans are similar, but the Martian’s telepathic abilities give him a unique edge in this fight. J’onzz is the most powerful telepath on Earth, on one occasion mentally manipulating the Spectre in JLA #35. Although Kent has shown some telepathic resistance, this is due to training from Martian Manhunter. In a real fight, Superman’s mental defenses would never be able to hold back J’onn. Superman could perhaps strike back with his heat vision, taking advantage of Martian’s weakness. The only issue with this tactic is that a White Martian tried something similar in Martian Manhunter Vol. 2 #13, and J’onnz simply phased through the beam.
Unfortunately for Superman, Manhunter could easily anticipate any attack strategy. In Infinite Frontier: Secret Files #4, by Brandon Thomas, Joshua Willamson, Inaki Miranda, and Nick Filard, Manhunter meets an alternate version of himself who has fought Superman before. This other Manhunter downloads into J’onn’s brain everything he knows about Superman, and how to beat him. In this very same issue, Manhunter demonstrates his ability to telepathically block someone from remembering how to use their powers. With all of this preparation already in place, there is no way for Superman to come out on top.
Although Superman and Martian Manhunter are both nigh unbeatable, the Martian has a clear advantage over his JLA leader. On many occasions, Kent has expressed that J’onzz is the one being he is most scared to fight, and for good reason. Manhunter‘s power set is simply too diverse for Superman to overcome, and he would be mentally overwhelmed. Here’s to hoping the two just stay friends.
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