The name of the Martian Hunter has a shocking connection with the legends of Green Lanterns. The Guardians of the Universe, a race of immortal aliens, watch over the space-spanning Green Lantern Corps; however, before the Guardians created the Corps, they had another police force: human-Hunting robots that eventually rebelled against the Guardians. Defeated, but not defeated, the Manhunters went underground to continue their mission to restore order in a chaotic universe— and this is where J’onn J’onzz got his name.
The Brutal Manhunters are far from the first to bear this name; indeed, it dates back to the Golden Age of Comics, when there were not one, but two different characters named The Manhunter, including a version created by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Others have adopted the mantle of the Manhunter, most notably Mark Shaw, who wore a red and blue suit designed by Jack Kirby. In 1977, in Justice League of America #140, writer Steve Englehart and artist Dick Dillin presented the Manhunters, the forerunners of the Green Lantern Corps, whose appearance closely resembled the red and blue outfit of the Show. The problem established the origin of the Human Hunters: they were built by the Guardians to guard the universe, but turned against their masters. The Guardians mistakenly believed that the Human Hunters had been destroyed, and although many of them did disappear, a handful survived and scattered across the universe to continue their mission.
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Despite the rebellion against their masters, the Human Hunters continued to pursue the idea of restoring order in a chaotic universe. To this end, they sowed many worlds, creating organizations and societies dedicated to the ideas of justice, including ancient Mars. There they created a cult of Human Hunters known as the “Martian Human Hunters”. Over time, this organization, which included J’onn J’onzz, became the main law enforcement agency of Mars. When Dr. Erdel’s teleportation experiment transported J’onn J’onzz through space and time to modern Earth, he actually made him the last of the Martian Manhunters-the name he used when he began operating in the open air. On Earth, Human Hunters founded a similar cult, which included Mark Shaw and others who called themselves “Human Hunters”.
As mentioned earlier, the name “Human Hunter” has a long history in DC Comics, and this little detail darkly includes the Martian Hunter in this pedigree. Cold-blooded and calculating Human Hunters killed countless people in pursuit of “justice”, and when the Guards dealt with them, they simply went underground, creating cults to continue the mission. Although the origin of the cults has become unclear over the years, so much so that many adherents (including J’onn J’onzz) remained unaware of the true origin of their organizations. These Human Hunters went about their business as agents of law and order, never knowing about their dark and perverted origins. Various cults created by Human Hunters across the universe are responsible for a lot of death and destruction; Mark Shaw, a member of the cult of Earth, eventually became a megalomaniac warlord, and the District of Columbia created an entire 1987 Millennium crossover event about Human Hunters and their attempts to infiltrate the universe.
The Martian Hunter is considered the heart and soul of the Justice League and is respected among his peers; it can be argued that by his heroism he regained the name of the Hunter of People. However, the origin of the name has deep connections with some truly terrifying Green Lantern villains.