WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #35, by Christopher Priest and Pete Woods, on sale now.
Though DC Comics may be shifting away from the Rebirth branding to the New age of DC Heroes, there are still plenty of characters in need of a revamp or return from the post-New 52 continuity. One of those characters may have just been jumped to the head of the line, care of this week's Justice League #35, the second issue in Christopher Priest's "The People vs. The Justice League" arc, with art by Pete Woods.
Men from Mars
It's been a hot minute since we've seen even a glimpse of J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter. He had a solo series that ran practically up to the very bitter end of the New 52, but it ended without much fanfare and even less clarity as to just what J'onn's future in the DCU might be. Then, when Rebirth officially rolled along, he was nowhere to be found -- and apparently, heartbreakingly, not all that missed. None of the teams he once belonged to in any iteration of continuity made mention of his absence, and there were no whispers about any form of solo series revival.
It seemed, unfortunately, that Martian Manhunter had been lost in the shuffle.
That is, until now.
Justice League #35 features the on-page return of one of Priest's own character creations: Alien bounty hunter Glenn Gammeron, who invades the Watchtower (much to the dismay of Jessica Cruz). Gammeron is -- apparently -- actively looking for J'onn, though the only reason he gives is an evasive need for "help," with the slightly pointed explanation that J'onn is a "friend."
That's not entirely inaccurate, either. Long time fans of Priest's comics will recognize Gammeron from Justice League Task Force back in the '90s. He was first introduced back in issue #28, and has since had only a handful of appearances around the DCU. His relationship with J'onn has always been prominent in his stories, though, and they genuinely are friends -- if not sometimes slightly adversarial ones.
So Gammeron is back, and he's looking for J'onn -- but that doesn't mean anyone actually knows where J'onn is.
Hunting the Martian Manhunter
Gammeron is transparent about his need to find J'onn and, helpfully, explains that he came to the League because he knows J'onn used to work with them. While that's probably not news to Martian Manhunter fans, it's actually the first real confirmation we've gotten about J'onn's continuity in Rebirth. He's definitely been a member of the League -- something Batman is able to corroborate immediately -- which means that the New 52 origin of the League has officially been folded up into the big Rebirth machine.
Obviously that leaves some slightly incongruous loose ends to be dealt with -- but slightly incongruous loose ends have kind of been the name of the game for Rebirth, so that's not too surprising.
Jessica Cruz also supplies that she's never heard of, or seen, J'onn, since he was before her time -- another clue as to how this whole timeline thing is shaking out. Assuming not all of the New 52 stories are going to be deleted entirely, that would place J'onn somewhere in the League's history before Jessica and Simon were around, and likely means that J'onn wasn't an active or highly public member to begin with -- a smart continuity loophole to build in to the story to help slot things into place.
So the question becomes, where, exactly, is J'onn?
Unfortunately, there haven't been very many clues since the start of Rebirth about any of the DCU's Martian characters, though issue #35 does end with a potential trailhead. The "A" plot of the issue revolves around Gammeron and the League tracking down an alien parasite -- a cockroach-type creature that has the potential to overrun the planet. They are able to stop and contain it without much problem, but the story closes with a pointed panel of Gammeron and his new insect captive.
He's looking pretty pleased about his prize, too, while apparently leaving Earth behind. Now, it's unlikely that the bug itself actually has anything to do with J'onn, but it is, however, very likely that this particular plot thread isn't going to just go away. Gammeron needed J'onn's help, after all, and he certainly didn't get it -- and whatever this insect actually is, it's definitely dangerous.
Unfortunately, J'onn's real Rebirth reintroduction might have to wait, because the League has their hands full with some seriously bad press at the moment -- something that will likely take precedence over whatever Gammeron may or may not be up to in the background, at least for a little while.