The DC Animated Universe’s evil version of Superman met his match in Martian Manhunter, who revealed that his true greatest weakness was not physical.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League Infinity #3, available now from DC Comics.
The latest crisis to hit the DC Animated Universe brought the Justice League face to face with Overman, a corrupt version of Superman who was brainwashed by Vandal Savage. With all the powers of Superman and seeming resistance to kryptonite, the League was at a loss as to how to defeat the Nazi villain until Martian Manhunter arrived and tore into Overman’s mind with his telepathy.
And in Justice League Infinity #3, by J.M. DeMatteis, James Tucker, Ethen Beavers, Nick Filardi, Tom Napolitano, the act not defeated Overman and left him deathly afraid of the martian, so much so that the mere possibility of J’onn entering his mind again was enough to keep him in line.
Throughout the DC Multiverse, Superman is always portrayed as one of the strongest heroes on the planet. However, he does have his weaknesses like Kryptonite and magic. And despite his power, Superman’s mind is vulnerable to outside threats. too. When Overman was being interrogated by the Justice League, Martian Manhunter exploited that weakness.
In Overman’s case, there are quite a few reasons as to why Martian Manhunter’s attack frightened him so. The first reason is that it breaks his delusion that he is invincible. In his world, Overman used his powers to help conquer and enforce Vandal Savage’s will. This meant that he had very few enemies that he couldn’t easily tear apart with his bare hands.
For someone who has known so little defeat, the Martian Manhunter took him down without even touching him, which was clearly a terrifying experience.
During Manhunter’s mental interrogation, it was also revealed that Overman had been brainwashed throughout his life to be the perfect weapon, a champion of bigotry and hatred with no perceived flaws such as compassion or love.
When Martian Manhunter read his mind, he saw that this was merely an act. In his heart, Overman did have a weakness: His world’s Lois Lane. But losing her nearly shattered him, a blow far worse than any punch or telepathic assault. Further memories showed Savage trying to suppress this moment of humanity in Overman, something that undoubtedly made the tyrant even more stable.
For this to be on full display, to be reminded that he does have personal weaknesses in addition to physical ones must have been a devastating blow. Villains like Overman need to maintain a certain image of themselves in order to keep control. If doubt is allowed to creep in, then their whole façade crumbles instantly. Overman isn’t just afraid of what J’onn could do to him; he’s afraid of what he could remember about himself in the process.
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