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J'onn J'onzz, AKA Martian manhunter, has the ability to go intangible.

My question being, why does he not use this ability full-time whilst in battle?

Are there any limitations to his intangibility, or is the answer out-of-universe?

  • There are some examples in the JL cartoon of J'onn being electrocuted or attacked in some way while he's intangible. The result of such an attack usually means he's out of the fight from that point on, so he might try to limit how often he uses this power to avoid these sort of one-shot knockouts – Daft Jul 7 '15 at 7:46
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There aren't many limits. The main one is that he's doing this "manually". Density shifting is a conscious action. If he's distracted, or surprised, it won't work and/or fail. And he gets distracted by fire, electricity, plasma, those kind of things (these all generate heat).

For example, in the Young Justice cartoon, season two, during a battle aboard an underwater Reach ship (episode 10, Before the Dawn), Miss Martian tries to phase through a door. The Black Beetle notices her and shifts the density of the door, surprising her, and rendering her unconscious (and stuck halfway through the door). In a later episode there was a risk that fire from Deathstroke's grenades would prevent her from escaping via density shifting.

As for the Martian Manhunter himself, I don't remember any specific examples, unfortunately, but I'm sure fire would interfere. In the Justice League: Doom movie, he was painfully "shocked" and thrown off to the ground by King's handheld plasma emitter (handheld plasma something, I can't remember exactly). In the same movie, he couldn't use intangibility to escape the fire set on him.

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  • There is no DCAU tag in the question, so I think the OP want's answers from comic canon. – Daft Jul 7 '15 at 8:48
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    No, nevermind, the Justice League tag is for the tv show too. +1 for you! – Daft Jul 7 '15 at 8:48
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Heat and electricity seem to disrupt his intangibility. as lex luthor was once able to stop him by poking him with a cattle prod while he was intangible.

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