Warning: contains spoilers for Justice League: Last Ride #1!
While Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman may be the faces of the Justice League, the League’s beating heart is the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onnz. In Justice League: Last Ride #1, it’s made painfully evident just how important Martian Manhunter is to keeping the League together through times of crisis.
Justice League: Last Ride #1 begins with a fragmented Justice League going about their individual routines, until being called back to the now-abandoned Watchtower by Green Lantern John Stewart. Stewart reveals that the remaining Green Lanterns have successfully captured Lobo and need a place to hide him before his trial. Shortly after, Hal Jordan arrives, and explains to the gathered Justice League members that carrying out this mission successfully would probably get the recently disbanded Green Lantern Corps reinstated as a galactic peacekeeping force, following their fall after an unspecified crisis. While most of the remaining League agrees to help Hal and John with their ploy to get the Green Lantern Corps reinstated, Batman refuses, and goes back to Gotham. Superman then follows his estranged friend and attempts to convince him to help the League.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Most of the team’s iconic members make an appearance during the issue, but Martian Manhunter is confirmed to have died before the story begins. The circumstances of that death remain a mystery, yet through the dialogue it is clear that it was on a mission, and that Batman and Superman may have been directly involved. Superman’s grief keeps him up at night and gives him nightmares of not being powerful enough to save the people he loves. Batman’s grief, on the other hand, has completely shattered his ability to trust the Justice League, and forces him to retreat back to operating in Gotham as a loner. Batman and Superman’s relationship is severely strained, exemplified by Superman’s accusation that Batman sent Martian Manhunter to die on their last mission as the Justice League. Martian Manhunter’s death seems to have been the downfall of the Justice League.
In other comics and media, Martian Manhunter has often served as the Justice League’s “mission control,” coordinating the League’s resources and planning missions. In the Justice League Unlimited television series, Martian Manhunter famously stayed on the Watchtower most of the time, coordinating the Justice League’s massive roster and deploying them to missions across the globe. In that incarnation, he was the heart and brain of the League, managing the day-to-day protection of life on Earth. In other adaptations, Martian Manhunter’s alien origin puts him in a unique position to appreciate how important the Justice League is to Earth both as a symbol of hope and an effective means of safeguarding the planet. J’onn often moves mountains to make sure the League sticks together and does its best for the people of Earth. His loss cripples the Justice League as both a crimefighting outfit and a group of friends.
Martian Manhunter may not be as recognizable as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but he is arguably the most important part of the Justice League. J’onn J’onnz’s death is the catalyst that crippled the Justice League – a rift that DC’s flashforward event Future State suggested is never healed – and his absence is felt by his former team members as they set off on one last mission in Justice League: Last Ride #1.
Next: The Evil Version of The Justice League Isn’t Evil Enough
Why Most MCU Superheroes’ Power Levels Change