Recently released Dan Mora-drawn promotional art for DC's upcoming 'Future State' event, which supplants DC's line for two months to show a version of the publisher's future, includes its share of surprise characters. One of which it seems is a villain from DC's not so distant past, whose presence in the teaser may hint at the nature of Future State's Justice League title.
The original version of DC's vaunted Justice League formed to stave off an invasion by strange, shapeshifting aliens. So in the mid-'90s, when writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter relaunched the team with an all-killer-no-filler roster of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter, reminiscent of the original Silver Age version, they paid homage to that concept – with a twist.
Now, it seems the villains introduced in the opening story of Morrison and Porter's Justice League, the White Martians known as the Hyperclan, may serve a similar purpose in DC's Future State. With the new Justice League consisting of the protégés and successors of the original team potentially about to face off against the Hyperclan, we're about to break down who they are and what leads us to believe they could play a big role in the larger story of Future State: Justice League.
Who are the Hyperclan?
J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, has long been one of the core members of the Justice League. As the last remaining survivor of the population of Mars, the League has often functioned as J'onn's ersatz family. But the death of the Martian population left behind a secret that became one of the Justice League's greatest threats.
On Mars, the population was divided between Green Martians, such as J'onn, and White Martians – bloodthirsty geneticists whose experiments on the early beings of Earth sparked a war with the more benevolent Green Martians. That war ended nearly all Martian life, leaving only J'onn J'onzz – or so J'onn always thought.
Unbeknownst to him, trapped in an extra-dimensional space known as the Still Zone, was an armada of White Martians led by the warlord Protex and his inner circle.
When Protex and his cabal of White Martians finally escaped from the Still Zone, they used their natural Martian shapeshifting abilities to take more human-looking forms, and arrived on Earth as the Hyperclan – a team of extra-terrestrial superheroes looking to become Earth's newest protectors.
Protex and his crew each used aspects of their extensive array of natural Martian superpowers to impersonate a different heroic archetype. The eight members of the Hyperclan and their powers are Protex (telepathy), A-Mortal (intangibility and claws), Primaid (super strength), Armek (giant power armor), Fluxus (shapeshifting), Zenturion (super shield), Tronix (energy blasts), and Züm (super speed).
With their new identities established, Protex leads his Hyperclan in a scheme to prepare the Earth for invasion by the White Martian armada awaiting his command in the Still Zone.
How does the Hyperclan fit into the DC Universe?
Protex and the Hyperclan's plan started with Protex using his telepathy to ingratiate himself to the people of Earth, all the while sowing seeds of distrust for the Justice League. Protex's plan comes to a head when the team uses their advance technology to terraform the Sahara Desert into a lush green space, despite Superman's warnings that such a huge, sudden environmental change could cause ecological problems.
Through the power of Protex's mental manipulation, the people of Earth grow to love the Hyperclan's actions, even as they begin violently executing criminals –eventually supplanting the Justice League as Earth's greatest protectors in the eyes of the people.
When the Justice League and Hyperclan finally confront each other in combat, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman are captured and taken to Hyperclan's headquarters - an ancient Martian city on Earth called Z'onn Z'orr. Superman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter pursue the villains, with Batman's plane being shot down, and the Caped Crusader apparently perishing in the wreckage.
Superman fights Protex, who produces green Kryptonite, subduing the Man of Steel. Martian Manhunter impersonates the fallen Hyperclan member Armek to infiltrate the stronghold.
But Batman has survived, and, finally deducing Hyperclan's nature as White Martians, breaks into Z'onn Z'orr and frees the rest of the Justice League, with Martian Manhunter's help. Now at full capacity, the League defeats the Hyperclan in combat, preventing the White Martian invasion and solidifying their place as a newly re-formed team.
As for the Hyperclan, Martian Manhunter uses his own powerful Martian telepathy to mindwipe the White Martians and brainwash them into thinking they're baseline humans, with the Hyperclan shifting into human forms to complete their punishment.
How could Hyperclan fit into DC Future State?
Though they aren't mentioned in any of DC's January Future State solicitations by name, the Hyperclan appear to play a role in the alt-future story, with Protex appearing in Dan Mora's promo art of significant characters appearing in Future State. Aside from that, we mostly have context clues to indicate where and how they'll appear.
Since there's a new Justice League forming for Future State consisting of the protégés of the same heroes who once defeated the Hyperclan, and a new Justice League forming often coincides with a shapeshifting alien invasion, it's natural to look to Future State: Justice League for some potential clues about Hyperclan's returns.
"Witness the start of a new era for the Justice League starring Jonathan Kent as Superman, Yara Flor as Wonder Woman, Jo Mullein as Green Lantern, Andy Curry as Aquawoman, a new Flash from the Multiverse, and [REDACTED] as Batman!" reads DC's official Future State: Justice League solicitation.
"Together, they protect the future, yet apart, their identities are secret even from one another - but why?" it continues. "When their greatest adversaries wind up murdered in an abandoned Hall of Justice, all clues point to...the Justice League! The new team's adventures begin here!"
Right off the bat, there are some potential indicators that the newly-formed League might be headed for a face-off with the Hyperclan in Future State.
Remember that Hyperclan has a history of ruthlessly killing villains – and the crime that sets off Future State: Justice League's story is the murder of their arch-foes. And, with "all clues pointing to the Justice League" as the culprits, who could be more likely to be the real killers than the evil Martian shapeshifters with a reputation for impersonating superheroes, and a long-festering hatred of the Justice League?
While we can't say anything for certain, all signs seem to point to the burgeoning Future State version of the Justice League cutting their teeth in a fight against the Hyperclan – the potential return of some classic, but long-dormant DC villains.
We might find out when Future State: Justice League #1 releases on January 12.
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