Telepathy:  Professor X vs. J’onn J’onzz

This week I would like to compare two more primary characters of the Marvel and DC universes, the redoubtable Professor Charles Xavier and the inimitable J’onn J’onzz.  Both are considered among the greatest telepaths in their respective universes.

J’onn first appeared in 1955.  He is an advanced telepath, able to connect with the entire planet at one time in order to locate someone.  He is also an advanced shapeshifter, capable of changing his size and shape to anything he wishes.  His density can be modified at will; he can phase in and out or become incredibly dense.  He can use energy attacks, fly, turn invisible, has x-Ray vision, can create force fields, and has strength, durability, and endurance to match Superman.  He was at one point weakened by fire, but now only certain types of psychic fires have any impact on him.

Professor X first appeared in 1963.  He is also an advanced telepath and one of the most powerful on Earth.  However, apart from telepathy his abilities are nothing like J’onn’s; unaided he can only contact minds within a 250-mile radius.  He can go much further than that, touching every mind on the planet, but he must use his artificial creation, Cerebro, to do so.  

His telepathy has led to other powers.  He is able to learn and teach instantly by touching another person’s mind.  He is able to create psychic bursts, induce paralysis, create illusions, and project himself astrally.  However, the professor only has his mind.  He cannot stand because he is a paraplegic.  His strength, durability, and endurance are also less than ordinary because he cannot exercise like a normal person.  He cannot fly or use any form of telekinesis (movies notwithstanding).  His senses are ordinary.

As with Wally, J’onn’s powers are so far beyond human it is difficult to imagine a worthy adversary for him.  He also has no personality wrinkles.  J’onn is either separated from his people or the last of his kind (depending on the era his story is told in), but no attempt has ever been made to explore that aspect of his personality.  He is another flat character from the DC pantheon of pseudo-gods.

Professor X is powerful, and even more so with the support of his X-Men.  But he is not all-powerful.  He is vulnerable to the most basic attacks; his wheelchair can be tipped over to leave him prone.  He cannot outfight someone with even a minimal knowledge of streetfighting, either.  His crippled state works perfectly for a character whose goal is to peacefully champion mutant rights.  It makes him interesting, too.  It just doesn’t make him a superhuman hero.

So does his humanity.  Xavier’s human mistake of women-chasing in front of his ward allows him to lose Mystique in the fourth X-Men movie.  His ability to empathize with Magneto makes the pair one of the most interesting adversaries in all of comics.  His depression almost loses him the future in Days of Future Past.  Professor X is one of the most powerful of the primary Marvel characters, but he is no match for his counterpart in the Justice League in combat, just as J’onn is no match for Professor in the department of interesting.

About Cian Beirdd

I live with my kitty, and encourage his tuna and catnip addictions. I have a website as well;
This entry was posted in Comic book heroes, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Science Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Telepathy:  Professor X vs. J’onn J’onzz

  1. Loki says:

    And with all of that, J’onn is still among the more interesting members of the Justice League, in spite of his ridiculous overabundance of powers. Just goes to show you how overpowered the JL really is.

    By the way, you mention that the Professor doesn’t have telekinesis or can fly “movies notwithstanding” — but try as I might, I cannot recall him doing either in any of the X-men films to date. When has he ever done anything other than telepathy in the films?

    • Cian Beirdd says:

      I was thinking of the scene where Magneto is using the army’s weapons to shoot themselves and Professor X is stopping the bullets (X-Men I?). Of course I have not watched them much or often so it may have been another person?

  2. Loki says:

    If you’re thinking of the scene I think you are, with the police officers, the Professor took control of Sabretooth and Toad in that scene, he didn’t do anything with the bullets, Magneto (temporarily) stopped those himself.

  3. Cian Beirdd says:

    Sounds about right. Interesting that I had missed that dynamic. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Loki says:

      Well, I won’t swear to it, it’s not like I rewatched it in the last year or two myself. 🙂 But I’m fairly certain Xavier never uses telekinesis, at least.

      • Cian Beirdd says:

        Thanks. I never took too much time with that trilogy; too many issues with the divergence from comics.

      • Loki says:

        X-men comics weren’t being published in Norway when the movies started coming out, so I had no relationship to the source material whatsoever beyond vague memories of the animated series crossovers the Spider-Man cartoon had with them when I was younger. So I’ve been fortunate and had no issues with that due to not knowing any better. 🙂

      • Cian Beirdd says:

        You are so lucky! Had I not watched the X-Men cartoons and already known what the comic continuity was supposed to be like I probably would have enjoyed the movies. They are good on their own merits and Stewart, Berry, Jackman, and Janssen did well.

  4. Loki says:

    The only thing I knew that they didn’t follow, was that Wolverine should have been a short guy rather than a tall one. Otherwise I was green as all get out. Dunno if that’s lucky, though — I didn’t get to read the comics growing up and have never really caught back up since. 😉

    • Cian Beirdd says:

      I really do think I would have better appreciated the X-Men movies without the background I had. As you have pointed out, all of the earlier movies were a set-up for what we are seeing now anyway.

      • Loki says:

        I definitely agree it likely increased my appreciation of the (first two) movies. But I’m saying I’m not sure if that’s worth the trade-off of not having grown up with the comics.

      • Cian Beirdd says:

        Ah. I wouldn’t trade off the evolution of the series. There is more depth there, the connection to blacks, nerds, geeks, and every other minority that was being persecuted in the seventies and sixties is what makes them so important.

      • Loki says:

        Well, I wasn’t alive in the sixties or seventies, so unless the early nineties produced similarly good stuff, I’d probably have missed out regardless, then…

      • Cian Beirdd says:

        The cartoons have continued those same themes, even to present.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s