J’onn J’onzz AKA Martian Manhunter may be on the Justice League but he plays for the other team. Aquaman learns about his sexual identity crisis firsthand in Martian Manhunter #5 by writer Rob Williams with artists Eber Ferreira and Eddy Barrows. The shapeshifting alien has been living a lie. He’s not a superhero but a sleeper agent given false memories in order to open the door for a Martian invasion. Rather than be used as a weapon of mass destruction, he attempts to commit suicide inside a “trans-warp engine” (emphasis on trans). The experimental device is supposed to create a localized wormhole for inter-galactic travel but it still has a few kinks.
“It…umm..tends to annihilate 94 percent of any obeject we place in it,” NASA scientist Helen Demoff explains to him.
J’onn survives, or at least part of him does. His consciousness is spilt into several people including an Arabian woman named Pearl. She is unaware of her origin and makes a living as a cat burglar in Dubai until the Martians come seeking to retrieve their weapon. Pearl nearly drowns in the ensuing chase but she is rescued by Aquaman, who senses a familiar presence. Pearl rewards her “ridiculously hot” savior with a kiss that has the effect of kryptonite on Aquaman.
Another incarnation of the Martian Manhunter named Mould explains that he is the head while Pearl is the heart. In other words, she is not merely an aberration of one of his forms.
“I don’t know what’s happening to you, J’onn, but I think we’ve always understood each other,” Aquaman tells Mould. “We both know what it’s like to be outside the norm.”
The language could just as easily applied to being gay, lesbian or transgender. However, Aquaman is less open-minded when Pearl asks if he feels the same about her.
“I like you as a friend…J’onn?” Aquaman tells the clingy woman. “This is all rather awkward.”
Martian Manhunter’s origin story formerly presented him as last of his race, including his daughter, K’hym J’onzz, and wife, M’yri’ah J’onzz. The solicitation for Martian Manhunter #6 teases the appearance of a “new female Martian warrior.” This could be a new version of his wife or the unrelated character Miss Martian.
There has been a recent push for diversity in comic books but DC Comics isn’t necessarily retconning Martian Manhunter’s family. It’s possible his sexuality is fluid, which would make sense given he is a shapeshifter.