December 5, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #351: Jemm, Son Of Saturn

An alien prince was almost the Martian Manhunter's cousin.

Whether or not Martians are a plentiful race in the various worlds created by DC Comics means that J’onn J’onzz may or may not be the last Martian, the last Green Martian, or one of many Martians.  It also means that something might come up where I have to explain a character to Jimmy Impossible someday, so this week’s entry is for Jemm, Son of Saturn, who was almost a Martian.

Jemm first appeared in a self-titled mini-series, namely Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 in September of 1984.  The thing is, writer and co-creator Greg Porter conceived of Jemm originally as a cousin to J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter.  J’onn had, at the time, been missing for a while, but plans were changed when it came out that J’onn was going to be a prominent member of the Justice League again.  This probably seems a little odd for readers of a certain age (i.e. mine) considering J’onn was often thought of as the heart and soul of the League.  But, the thing is, J’onn was the one member of the original League to not even have his own solo series.  He was actually the first member of the League to quit and only came back years later in real world time.  J’onn’s original departure was back when Martians were plentiful, and J’onn was helping the Martians rebuild their society after a near total devastation of all that they were.  As such, at the time of Jemm’s planning and creation, J’onn was missing.  Jemm might have even been conceived of as a replacement Martian Manhunter.  But then not only did J’onn come back, but Jemm went from originally coming from Mars to Saturn.

So, what was Jemm’s whole deal?  He looked a lot like a red version of the Martian Manhunter, and Red Saturnians actually have most of the same powers.  Jemm possess flight, superhuman strength, and a number of psychic powers thanks to an organic gemstone in his forehead.  The one power he was missing was shapeshifting, but he did possess a healing factor to somewhat make up for that.  And yes, red was only one color Saturnians came in.  Some also came in white, and some of the white ones can also shapeshift, but that’s neither here nor there.

However, after his initial mini-series, Jemm basically disappeared.  He eventually returned as a member of Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang during Grant Morrison’s JLA run.  Luthor had gathered an archfoe each of the seven founders for that incarnation of the League, but J’onn didn’t really have one, leading to a brainwashed and largely subdued Jemm taking the slot.  After he was freed, Jemm’s people came for him.  It turned out he was a prince back on Saturn’s moon of Titan, and they needed him for a political marriage to end a long war between different Saturnian races.  J’onn went along, discovering that the Saturnians were products of genetic experimentation by the Martians.  The Green Martians created the red race and the White Martians created the white ones, only the White Saturnians were kept as slaves.  After the White Martian Hyperclan was banished to the Still Zone (probably the Phantom Zone), the Saturnians were freed but then just warred with each other for centuries.

If anything, it looks like there’s more stuff on the history of Jemm’s people than there is for Jemm himself.  However, he has been known to appear in other places.  An evil version of him appeared on the live action Supergirl series.

Meanwhile, over on the animated Young Justice‘s most recent season, Jemm, son of Saturn became Prince J’emm, son of the S’aturnian race of Martian royalty.  In this universe, it seems there are three races of Martians:  the reds (royalty), the greens (the philosophers and Manhunters), and the whites (the disrespected underclass).  Though as I type this, J’emm’s story may not be complete, the series has already set him up as a heroic figure who will bring unity and reform to Martians everywhere.

So, for a guy with maybe 20 comic book appearances over nearly 40 years, he does tend to pop up.

That would be why I will eventually have to explain this guy to Jimmy Impossible.

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