A few weeks ago, a group of io9 staffers (including yours truly) were engaging in some truly rarefied discourse — which science fiction characters
we'd like to bone
would make the ultimate valentine. I don't remember which names were bandied about, but Man-E-Faces, Bib Fortuna, and Clarence Boddicker were (definitely not) on the short list.
Anyhow, when it was my turn to name a comic book damsel to court with a full-bodied muscat and two tickets to Mummenschanz, I was flummoxed. Who to pick? Jim Lee-era Psylocke? I-Ching Wonder Woman? Jack Kirby-era Granny Goodness? The options were legion, to say the least.
After some careful deliberation, I had my perfect date: J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. I realize this seems like a strange choice for a heterosexual male, and yes, I'm aware that he resembles the illegitimate spawn of Mr. Clean and the Jolly Green Giant. But hear me out — your gender, sexual preference, or particular kinks don't matter when it comes to my favorite Martian. Allow me to elaborate why he's the Manhunter of everybody's dreams.
1.) The Martian Manhunter is a shapeshifter.
He can transform into any human, extraterrestrial, or tetrapod you want. Tawny Kitaen in Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again?" Boom. Bobbie Brown in Warrant's "Cherry Pie?" Blammo. David Lee Roth in "Just a Gigolo?" Natch. None of these are a problem. He can be anyone you want him to be; he is polymorphous perversity personified. But wait? How does he know what your summer fling from your 2004 family reunion in Grand Forks looks like? Well...
2.) The Martian Manhunter is a mind reader.
That's right. He can become your ex. He can become your ex's ex. All he needs to do is reach into your memory banks and pluck the mental image right out. And don't worry about an awkward conversation involving kinks or unique sexual proclivities — the Manhunter already knows what lies in the corners of your filthy mind. If you get off on vintage Frank Miller, Ovaltine, and knifeplay, that bald, beautiful bastard knows. And he'll indulge you. Why?
3.) The Martian Manhunter is a mensch.
The Martian Manhunter is frequently regarded as one of the nicest superheroes out there. He doesn't have Superman's prudishness, Batman's megalomania, The Flash's raging meth addiction, or the persistent and unshakeable scent of Labatt Blue that follows Wolverine wherever he goes. His worst addiction is cookies, and his only weakness is fire (depending on who's writing him, of course). He's as powerful as Superman, has the power to make the Joker sane, and, in the DC Universe, is more popular than Superman overseas (so cosmopolitan). If there's any superhero who's — in the words of Dan Savage — good, giving, and game, it's this superhero. He'll also never break your heart like other shapeshifters (Mystique, Martia from Star Trek VI). How come?
4.) The Martian Manhunter believes in commitment.
J'onn J'onnz was a family man...before a scientist's experiment whisked him away to Earth and his entire species went extinct (well, with exception of nutty Green Martian named D'Kay D'Razz, but that's a complex situation). The alien's had painfully few relationships throughout his comic book career, so you know he's not going to leave you for Lobo or something.
5.) The Martian Manhunter has dulcet pipes.
On Justice League Unlimited, he spoke with the soothing baritone of Carl Lumbly (a.k.a. M.A.N.T.I.S.). So yes, there's really no reason why the Martian Manhunter shouldn't be on top of your to-do list. Unless you happen to be prejudiced against Martians, and trust me, he's not the H.G. Wells kind. He can be whomever you want him to be, but you won't want him to be anyone but himself.