Martians are creatures native to the planet Mars, a neighbor of Earth in the Sol system.
Martians are incredibly resilient and unique creatures. An individual Martian possesses exceptional psychic talents, able to communicate wordlessly over a significant distance. Martians are capable of shapeshifting to a remarkable degree. With training and focus can adapt their internal biology to a wide range of environments, though they must be specifically aware of toxins or environmental hazards to deal with them effectively. Martians can become as hard as steel or phase through solid matter. They can fly at subsonic speeds unaided and are incredibly dense and tough, allowing them to lift substantial weight. Martians breathe C02 and prefer an atmospheric temperature of around 45F. At 140F or higher, Martians actually pass out in a few minutes and may even die. Martians have a profound psychological aversion to flames; flash thermal radiation can cause extremely severe sunburns, while open flames can cause portions of their bodies to instantly disintegrate into ash.
Green Martians share in a 'race memory'. Any experience of any member of the race can be recalled by all others. They call this gestalt harmony 'The Great Voice', though it has not existed for millennia.
This has turned them into pacifists as a matter of social courtesy; no Martian wants to add to the suffering of their people. White Martians do not have this racial trait. There is a disease among Martians that dates back to their primordial roots: too much exposure and close psychic contact can trigger a burning conflagration. Intense emotions can rapidly spread from carrier to carrier, and closely interlinked Martians can die in short order. For this reason, Martian psychic contacts are infrequent and highly regimented affairs, and experiences are carefully compartmentalized and shared through highly ritualized means.
For millions of years, the Martians existed as a singular race called the Burning. Malevolent and hostile, their relative lack of technical capability kept them from being a threat to any but themselves. They thrived on fire and violence, with intense psychic battles producing burning conflagrations form which new progeny would emerge. Their presence created a shadow in the intelligence of the Demiurge, threatening to create a spreading corruption that could destroy the vast intelligence of that entity.
An Atlantean plague-curse was released on Mars sometime around 16,000 BCE. It sterilized many Martians and slowed their birth rate. It also instilled a weakness to intense heat and a fear of fire in general, forcing Martians to reproduce through pair bonding.
Martians no longer existed as burning pyres of psychic rage. Instead, they developed an insectlike appearance with green skin and deep red eyes, though they retained their psychic talents.
A unique mutation would strike just under 1% of the Martian population due to latent Celestial DNA patterns. This infant would have all the powers of the Martians, but be much stronger physically as well as more resistant to psychic influence. However, increased tendencies towards violence made them a lower social class-- White Martians were generally confined to their own regions, and ostracized from regular Martian society. The remaining Green Martians, as they were called, began communing with the Demiurge in ways never before possible. An entire race of potent and instinctive psychics, they praised the Demiurge as 'The Great Voice' and their entire culture resonated to it.
The silencing of the Demiurge in 15,000 BCE led to the collapse of Martian society. Many Martians perished in the effort to turn back the Celestial invasion force.
Without 'The Great Voice' as a harmonizing presence, society collapsed into isolated city-states. The great communion of Green Martians was reduced to a hundred lesser gestalts, huddling together and fearful of outside influences.
In 14,000 BCE, the White Martians rallied and overtook the Green Martians in civil war. Many Greens were forced from their homes and into hiding. White Martians began breeding without limitations and so rapidly that they depleted many of Mars' natural resources. Within a thousand years they were so densely populated that they launched an invasion of their nearest neighbor, Earth.
The Martian invasion force encountered the Inhumans and ousted them from their home aboard the Omrut Beacon. With Oan science in hand, the White Martians recognized the much-craved Celestial DNA strains that were also present in their people before Atlantean sterilization. They modified the Terrigen Mists to delete the coding for the Celestial genetic code, and released it into the upper atmosphere. 99.9% of the human species lost their metahuman genetic potential.
The invading White Martians then attempted to build permanent portals to their homeworld, but the damage to the Demiurge destabilized their efforts. The portal remains intermittently active in Central America to this day.
Five years later, the Green Martians gained enough of a foothold on Mars to pursue their enemies to Earth. They assisted the Inhumans with retaking their home on the Omrut Beacon and many White Martians were lost to space in time when their transit portal was destroyed with an invading force en route.
The Greens prepared to withdraw with their cousins, but humanity had other ideas. The Inhumans burned down 100,000 acres of rain forest and killed the thousands of remaining White Martians in the conflagration. This action so horrified the Green Martians that they abandoned their colony plans and returned to Mars. With dwindling birth rates and the loss of tens of thousands of Martians, the outlook for the species over the next millennia was lonely and bleak.
It was in 10,000 BCE that the Green Martians discovered a reason for hope. 'The Great Voice' had returned! Slowly the race rebuilt their harmony with the Voice and each other, trying desperately to heal the deep scars from the deaths in the civil war.
The Martians found solace in deep philosophy, and became known as a race of profound moralists. The promulgated-- quite by accident-- one of the conceptual axioms of the Life Equation. If the concept of value only exists with a consciousness to value things, all value depends on the existence of life, and thus by mathematical equivalence, if value stems from life, then life creates all value.
Their deep wisdom would prove to be their undoing. The potent New God Darkseid was exploring various worlds of the resurgent Demiurge to determine how many of them were shattered by Ragnarok. His agents came to the Martians posing as friends and allies. He discovered that the Martians had conceptualized part of the Life Equation and deduced the existence of an Anti-Life Equation.
The cruel tyrant convinced a Martian leader, Ma'alef'ak, to inflict 'Hron'meer's Curse' on his people. The ancient curse of The Burning exploded any time a Martian used their psychic powers, spreading like a mental plague. Only very isolated communities survived, ones that had developed sufficient internal harmony with their shared memories and experiences. Martian breeding exercises became strictly regimented affairs that as often as not ended up with both mating couples dying as they embraced their psyches.
J'onn J'onnz came to Earth following the crash of a Kryptonian hyperspace vehicle in 1941. The first Martian to visit the planet in centuries, he concealed his identity using shapeshifting. Taking the name John Jones, he accepted a position as a private detective, similar to his duties as a Manhunter in the Martian police force. He spent several decades on Earth incognito, returning to Mars only briefly to make contact with his people. Many refused to believe that he was cleansed of Hron'meer's curse, but J'onn was determined to show how The Great Voice lived on-- muted, dormant, but alive-- in the subconscious of humanity.
(The Martian Manhunter is an appellation J'onn gave himself, based on his role as a 'Manhunter' in the Martian police services. The word is derived from vastly ancient Oan Manhunter servitors that provided sentry and defensive support for the early stages of their racial development).