(Metagame Archive) Justice League of America Preview: Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz

By Melody Maysonet

If Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz is any indication, Justice League of America will significantly enhance the Vs. metagame. Just like in the DC universe, Martian Manhunter’s abilities make him a leader of superheroes. The DC character helped to co-found the Justice League of America (that’s one of Martian Manhunter’s team affiliations), and after JLA was disbanded, he co-founded Justice League International (that’s his other affiliation) and became the organization’s leader (thus his leader ability). In the world of DC, Martian Manhunter is a mentor to many of the younger, undisciplined heroes (he gives +2 ATK to adjacent defenders). And as a Martian, he can fly and become invisible (he flies and can become concealed).

That’s all very interesting, but you’re wondering how Martian Manhunter stacks up in the Vs. game. Let’s start with his basic stats. As a 9 ATK/9 DEF with flight and range, Martian Manhunter is a solid 5-drop. But he also has two team affiliations, so he’s useful in both Justice League of America and Justice League International decks—two of the four teams introduced in JLA. If you’re playing a JLA/JLI deck, there’s no need to team him up. Heck, you don’t even need a second character to play the typical Team-Up card. Just choose Martian Manhunter’s two team affiliations, and all your future characters of either affiliation will have both.

Also, Martian Manhunter has willpower 4. That may not seem that important, but I suspect that JLA will feature lots of cards that play on willpower, which will make his willpower score a big deal. Even if JLA proves weak in the willpower department, there are several plot twists in Green Lantern that should rock in a deck with Martian Manhunter (such as The Ring Has Chosen and Helping Hand, both of which gained notoriety in GLEE decks).

As with some other concealed characters, you get to choose whether to play Martian Manhunter in the visible or hidden area. And that’s an important choice to have; concealed characters can be weak when you’re on the defensive and need a buffer character to absorb breakthrough. But since you have a choice . . . If you have the initiative on turn 5, it might make sense to play Martian Manhunter in your hidden area so your opponent can’t reach him on the counter-attack. If you don’t have the initiative, you may want him as a defender to absorb breakthrough, so it probably would make more sense to bring him into the visible area.

Better still, you can move Martian Manhunter back and forth between the visible and hidden areas by paying 2 endurance. This means that he can run to the hidden area at any time to protect himself or move himself to a more strategic location in either area.

But that’s just the beginning. Martian Manhunter’s fancy footwork and leadership are sure to encourage some crafty plays. His leader ability gives reinforcement and +2 ATK to all defenders adjacent to him. That’s reinforcement and +2 ATK regardless of team affiliation. And he can move any number of times in a single turn as long as you have the endurance to pay the cost of moving him. That means that unless your opponent can attack concealed characters, you can keep Martian Manhunter in play to gain a significant advantage. Martian Manhunter also discourages your opponent from attacking down the curve because the +2 ATK to defenders may be enough to cause a return stun. That +2 ATK may even be enough to persuade your opponent to choose a less advantageous target. If you don’t think that these are phenomenal abilities, try this scenario:

Martian Manhunter is in your hidden area. In your visible area, you have the 7 ATK/7 DEF Abin Sur protecting the 2 ATK/2 DEF Kyle Rayner, Last Green Lantern. Your opponent, a guy named Caleb, has the initiative and declares that he will fly over with his 4 ATK/4 DEF Jade to attack Kyle Rayner.

“Fine,” you say. “The attack is legal.”

So Caleb exhausts Jade and passes to you. You pay 2 endurance and position Martian Manhunter beside Kyle Rayner. Suddenly, thanks to Martian Manhunter’s leader ability, Kyle Rayner has reinforcement and +2 ATK, which is enough to stun Jade in return. (Plus, you don’t take the 1 breakthrough.)

 

Hmm, Caleb thinks. That was unexpected.

Yet there’s more to come. It’s the same turn, and now Caleb realizes what a pain in the neck Martian Manhunter is and declares an attack on him with his 9 ATK/9 DEF Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Sector 2814. But you respond by moving Martian Manhunter to your hidden area, which makes the attack illegal.

“Curses!” Caleb says. “Foiled again!”

Now the only character that Hal Jordan can attack is Abin Sur. The attack is legal, but you respond by moving Martian Manhunter beside Abin Sur. Now, not only does Abin Sur have reinforcement, but he also has +2 ATK and is able to stun Hal Jordan in return.

“Okay, this is getting ridiculous!” says Caleb.

Now all of Caleb’s characters are stunned and it’s your attack. Time for Martian Manhunter to saunter in for 9 breakthrough.

There’s only one word to describe what Caleb is feeling now . . .

“Y’OUCH!”

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