In my early comic book reading days, I regarded J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter as a pale imitation of Superman. Both hailed from other planets, both came equipped with super-strength, super-vision, flying powers, etc. I owned plenty of the earliest issues of Justice League of America, and it was those that I formed this opinion.

Actually, JJ probably has the greatest array of powers of any Justice League member, ever. Many readers distinguish the Manhunter from Superman by virtue of the Martian's telepathic powers or shape-changing talents.

But it wasn't until I recently read Showcase Presents Justice League of America, Volume 1, which gathers all of the JLA's earliest adventures under one cover, that I realized how J'onn J'onzz favored a particular one of his abilities. I guess he decided if you want to stand out, you need to specialize. With Superman, super-breath was a secondary, almost superfluous power. In the early days of the JLA, the Martian Manhunter decided to OWN super-breath!

How did I never notice this predilection of the Martian Manhunter's before?

Here is a sequence from the very first Justice League story, "Starro The Conqueror!," which appeared in Brave and the Bold issue #28. J'onn swings into action for the very first time under the JLA charter, herding a swarm of meteors with his Martian Super-Breath, turning them into weapons, and then creating a rainstorm by sucking in some clouds with his lungpower:

Next issue, B&B #29: JJ gets fancy with his breathing skills, picking particular minerals out of the soil and turning the whole mess into a mirror, That's super-breath elevated to a fine art! Incidentally, notice the misspelling of his name in the caption below.

In BB#30, the Manhunter from Mars runs into a bit of trouble while using his mighty breath to clear the fog away for an ambulance:

It turns out his momentary lapse was caused by a new enemy, called Amazo. Later, J'onzz has a chance to unleash his lungpower on the android villain:

Amazo's gimmick is, he steals super-powers for his own use. When it comes to the Martian Manhunter, that means stealing his Martian Breath, naturally. Amazo turns it against JJ's teammates:

I'm not sure how you create a tornado with your breath, unless it involves waggling your tongue around real fast as you blow:

In Justice League of America #1 ("The World of No Return!"), JJ invokes his classical inspiration, the Big Bad Wolf, and has as much success as the wolf did against the house of bricks:

JLA #2 ("Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers!") JJ tries again, with less lofty goals: Blowing a piece of paper away:

JLA #3 ("Slave Ship of Space!"): Back to form, here he is blowing gas trucks around:

Also JLA #3: A bit later, J'onn's breath gets the job done when all of Superman's powers can't:

JLA #4 ("Doom of the Star Diamond!"): He doesn't inhale hard enough!

JLA #5 ("When Gravity Went Wild!"): "If??" Sounds like he might be deleloping a little confidence problem:

Manhunter stops to catch his breath, but starts blowing again in JLA issue #8: