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Metallo (John Corben) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of Superman. Created by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino, the character first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959).
Metallo in Action Comics Annual #10 (March 2007)
Art by Art Adams and Alex Sinclair
|First appearance||Action Comics #252 (May 1959)|
|Created by||Robert Bernstein
|Alter ego||John Corben|
|Notable aliases||Metal Zero (Metal-0)|
Metallo was created by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino and debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). John Corben and Metallo first appeared in the daily newspaper strip called "The Menace of Metallo", which ran from 15 December 1958 to 4 April 1959.
Fictional character biographyEdit
The Golden Age MetalloEdit
The Golden Age Superman battled an unnamed scientist calling himself "Metalo" who wore a powered suit of steel armor. Years later, Superman encountered the villain a second time. Metalo (now named George Grant) had a new suit of armor and had also taken a serum to increase his strength to superhuman levels. He exposed Superman to a ray that reduced his power significantly giving Metalo superior strength in their first battle. Superman engaged in a lengthy regimen of exercise and training to restore his powers and returned to easily defeat Metalo.
First Silver Age MetalloEdit
A different Metallo appeared as Jor-El's robot to battle Superboy, in Superboy #49 (1956).
John Corben was originally a journalist (and secretly a thief and murderer) who had just committed what he thought was the perfect murder. While fleeing from the scene of the crime, he suffered a near-fatal accident that mangled his body beyond repair. An elderly scientist, Professor Vale, happened to come upon him and used his scientific skill to transfer Corben's brain into a robotic body covered by a flesh-like artificial skin. Corben discovered that his power source, a capsule of uranium, would only last a day, but was told by Vale that kryptonite would provide him an indefinite power supply.
After obtaining a job with the Daily Planet, Corben briefly tried to romance Lois Lane, while deciding that he would use his powers to eliminate Superman, the one person who might expose his criminal deeds. After setting a kryptonite death-trap for Superman, Corben stole what he thought was another sample of kryptonite from a museum as a new power supply, not knowing it was a fake prop; this mistake caused him to die, just as he was about to kill Lois Lane for discovering that he was not Superman (he had pretended to be him, being super-strong and invulnerable as a cyborg). Superman eventually escaped from the kryptonite trap, and arrived just after Metallo (John Corben) had died. (Action #252, May, 1959)
The Bronze Age MetalloEdit
A second Metallo, John's brother Roger Corben, debuted in Superman #310 (April 1977) by Curt Swan and Martin Pasko. This Metallo was created by a secret organization named "SKULL" that transferred Roger's brain into a new robotic body so that he could get revenge on Superman for his brother's death. Like the previous Metallo, this one was also powered by kryptonite, although this newer version wore orange and green armor, as well as a green helmet to conceal the "new" identity he had created using plastic surgery (which turned out to be WGBS Staffer Martin Korda).
The Modern Age MetalloEdit
In this version, John Corben was a small-time con man who was fatally injured in a car crash, but thanks to luck, Professor Emmet Vale happened to pass by. Professor Vale was a pioneer in robotics and erroneously believed that Superman was the first in a wave of superpowered Kryptonian invaders after recovering Superman's ship and mistranslating Jor-El's message to his son. Vale transplanted Corben's brain into a robotic alloy body, which was powered by a two-pound chunk of kryptonite, and instructed him to kill Superman. Metallo, now Corben's new moniker, thanked Vale by snapping his neck and killing him.
Despite ignoring Vale's commands, Metallo came into conflict with Superman on various occasions, largely due to his continued activities as a petty thug. Metallo later lost his kryptonite heart to Lex Luthor, though back-up life support systems allowed him to reactivate himself and escape. He remained a thorn in Superman's side and was powerful enough to cripple the Doom Patrol. Still, the Indian-born hero who called herself Celsius did blow him apart with her thermal powers. Metallo later received a major upgrade via an unholy bargain with the demon Neron. As a result, Metallo could morph his body into any mechanical shape he could imagine (turning his hands into guns or "growing" a jet-pack from his back) and project his consciousness into any technological or metallic device. He could also grow to monstrous size. During one battle, his gigantic fists were separated and later turned into housing by other superheroes. In another incident, Metallo was rendered more insane by the Joker and used his height to destroy an elevated train of commuters.
As Superman and others learned on various occasions, the most effective way to neutralize Metallo was to remove his (largely invulnerable) head and isolate it from other metallic items.
Superman: Secret OriginEdit
In the 2009-10 miniseries Superman: Secret Origin, (which retells the origins of Superman and his supporting cast), Metallo is Sgt. John Corben. He serves under Lois Lane's father, General Sam Lane. General Lane is trying to push his daughter, Lois into a relationship with Corben. Though they had one date, she does not return his feelings for her. Corben is next seen signing up for a military option to neutralize Superman (ostensibly with the help of a powersuit built by LexCorp). However, in his first encounter with Superman, a stray bullet hit the Kryptonite rock inside the suit, leading to a disastrous energy cascade within the battlesuit which almost killed Corben. Through the efforts of Lex Luthor and a crack team of scientists, Corben survived, part-man, part-machine, with the Kryptonite rock functioning as his new heart. Driven by a hatred for this alien invader, he became the villain known as Metallo. Metallo, now wearing a green, orange and red armor, subsequently attacked Superman again in a rampage which endangered not only the citizens of Metropolis, but his own fellow soldiers. He was defeated by Superman once more.
The New 52Edit
In the rebooted continuity of "The New 52", John Corben is under the command of General Sam Lane. General Lane tells him to talk to Lois Lane, when she keeps questioning where Superman is. It is implied that Corben and Lois once had a relationship. When Superman escapes from the military's custody, Corben is seen enlisting in what appears to be a military project co-opted by Lex Luthor, General Lane, and young scientist Doctor John Henry Irons - "Project Steel Soldier" - to go against Superman. Corben is seen in the "Metal 0" suit with scientists, mostly Irons, trying to help him. He continues believing that he did it for the affection of Lois and when the robotic needles are in his head, Metallo takes control and his heart bursts. Metallo then screams "Where is Superman?" Although the attack on Superman succeeds, Metallo is revealed to have been subverted by Brainiac as part of his own plans, and his rampage is defeated when Doctor Irons uses an armoured suit of his own to fight Corben and upload a computer virus that he designed in the event of such a situation. After escaping, and still under Brainiac's control, Corben continued to fight Superman until he was able to reason with Metallo and to fight Brainiac's influence because of his feelings for Lois Lane. In doing so, Corben attacked Brainiac until Superman could defeat the villain, but he subsequently fell into a coma and was taken back by the army. It was revealed that the armor was keeping him alive thanks to alien technology, but without a heart he would soon die. General Lane told his scientists to find a way to save him since he helped to save Metropolis. He was later given a kryptonite heart to keep him alive since it was the only energy compatible with his cybernetics. After thirty-one months in a vegetative state, Corben was brought back with a shard of kryptonite to active duty in the U.S. Army. Since his actions caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians, General Lane tried to kill him by exploding the plane he was being carried in. He survived, and sought vengeance against Lane at his base, only to be confronted by an upgraded soldier like himself "Metal-2.0". When Corben proves too much, Metal-2.0 activates his self-destruct mechanism, hoping to destroy Corben along with himself. However, he is saved by the Scarecrow, and offered a place in the Secret Society of Super Villains, now calling himself Metallo. In "Forever Evil", Ultraman rips off his kryptonite heart, because of his addiction to the mineral.
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Powers and abilitiesEdit
Metallo’s metallic body offers him a high degree of protection from physical and energy attacks. He has enhanced abilities and no longer needs to eat, sleep, or breathe. His brain is hermetically sealed inside a shielded alloy skull that has its own power supply. When he was first created, he was powered by a kryptonite heart. Additionally, because of his cyborg body, Metallo possesses superhuman strength and speed, enough to pose a challenge and even a threat to opponents such as Superman (in that case, he also takes advantage of the weakening power of kryptonite besides his own strength).
Metallo sold his soul (or what was left of it) to Neron to gain the ability to absorb any mechanical or metal object he touches. He can transform any machine into an extension of his exo-skeleton (an ability similar to the Cyborg Superman).
Brainiac 13 upgraded Metallo to tap into light spectra and energy frequencies. Metallo also used the technology to upgrade his body to monolithic proportions.
He is also occasionally portrayed as having a liquid metal-based exoskeleton, possessing the ability to morph parts of his body, specifically his limbs, into different weapons or tools, such as chainsaws, shovels, hammers, etc. In previous continuity, pre-flashpoint Lex Luthor modified Corben to holster and utilize different forms of Kryptonite; boasting mutagenic Red-K, inverted Blue-K and lastly, artificial Gold-K.
- Metallo appeared in Superman: Red Son as a project (among many others) invented by Dr. Lex Luthor for the US government to combat Superman, who serves Communist Russia.
- Marvel Comics cover-featured an unrelated character named Metallo in Tales of Suspense 16 (April 1961).
- The Silver Age Metallo appears in the series Justice.
- In Art Baltazar's Superman Family Adventures, Jack Corben was an astronaut who became sick after flying through a kryptonite asteroid field. Lex Luthor manipulates him into believing that it's all Superman's fault and that he can help Jack if Jack defeats Superman. Jack gets the upper hand in the fight with his kryptonite, but the Superman family is aided by John Henry Irons into trapping Jack in a lead case. This version is not a cyborg, but instead has a large metallic armor that contains all his kryptonite poisoning.
In other mediaEdit
- In the second-season Superboy episode "Metallo", Roger Corben (played by Michael Callan), a bungling bank robber, tries to rob an armored car even though he is having extreme chest pains. Superboy arrives and apprehends the bank robber, but the small-time crook has a heart attack and is taken to a hospital. After a lengthy recuperation, he escapes by murdering his doctor. After he leaves, he suffers another heart attack and his car crashes into a tree and explodes. The police assume he is dead, but journalist Clark Kent is not so sure. Meanwhile, Corben is alive. He falls into the hands of a mentally-unbalanced doctor who turns him into more of a machine than human being and replaces his failing human heart with the radioactive power source kryptonite. As Metallo, Corben made several more appearances in the Superboy series, specifically in the episodes "Super Menace", "People Vs. Metallo", "Threesome" (parts 1 and 2), and "Obituary for A Super-Hero".
- In the second-season Lois & Clark episode "Metallo", Johnny Corben (played by Scott Valentine) was Lucy Lane's boyfriend and, unknown to her, a petty criminal. Not only does he have a criminal past, but he's hitting up Lucy for money. Lois Lane tries to convince her sister that Johnny's no good, but Lucy will hear none of it. Johnny was shot when a holdup went wrong and having fallen into the hands of Dr. Emmett Vale, a former Lexcorp scientist with the help of his brother Rollie Vale, rebuilt Johnny into a Kryptonite-powered cyborg named Metallo and begins causing havoc in Metropolis. And, since Metallo is powered by Kryptonite, even Superman can not stop him. When Metallo kidnaps Clark to use him as bait to lure Superman, it's up to Lois and Jimmy Olsen to save Clark, but nothing can save Metallo after a final run-in with Superman, who, now aware of his kryptonite power source, keeps his distance, using his super breath and heat vision to defeat him. Emmett is captured, but Rollie manages to escape with Metallo's kryptonite, leaving Metallo dead.
- In Smallville, John Corben/Metallo (played by Brian Austin Green in season nine, uncredited actor in season ten) appears in the season premiere "Savior" as a former war reporter working at the Daily Planet alongside Lois Lane. In "Metallo", he is revealed to despise the Blur (Clark Kent) because the latter rescued a prisoner that went on to murder Corben's sister. After being hit by a truck, he is experimented upon by Major Zod's Kandorian soldiers and wakes up with bionic appendages, including a kryptonite-powered artificial heart, and targets the Blur in revenge for his sister. Clark, though weakened by the kryptonite radiation, uses a lead plate to defeat Corben, who is recovered by LuthorCorp CEO Tess Mercer. In "Upgrade", Corben's prior insanity was explained as a flaw in his kryptonite heart and Tess' scientists repair him and turn him into a mindless weapon. Corben defeats Zod and a red kryptonite-infected Clark, regaining his free will after the control chip is removed from his head. Corben goes underground after receiving from Lois a red kryptonite heart. Despite regaining his sanity and parting on good terms with Lois and Clark, he is back to being a villain with a green kryptonite heart in "Prophecy", as a part of Toyman's team of villains, "Marionette Ventures": he is assigned to target Supergirl. He appears in the comic book tie-in Smallville: Season Eleven which explains his character change as his biology rejecting the red kryptonite heart and he became a mercenary.
- There are two different versions of Metallo who appear in the second season of Supergirl:
- John Corben appears in the episode "The Adventures of Supergirl," portrayed by Frederick Schmidt. He was initially hired by the then-arrested Lex Luthor to assassinate his sister Lena Luthor to prevent her from rebranding Luthor Corp. His first two attempts to kill Lena fail due to the intervention of Supergirl and Superman and his third attempt is foiled by Alex Danvers and Lena who shoots Corben when he tries to take Alex hostage. While being sent to the hospital, he is intercepted by Project Cadmus who perform an experiment to convert him into Metallo. After meeting Project Cadmus' leader (who was later revealed to be Lex Luthor's mother Lillian), Metallo is unleashed on Supergirl and Superman. While Superman fought the other Metallo, Supergirl received help from Alex Danvers to remove his Kryptonite heart. Afterwards, Supergirl used Metallo's eyes to speak to Project Cadmus to let them know that she will find them. He later is busted out of jail via a smuggled synthetic Kryptonite "heart" brought in by Hank Henshaw (who also doctored the security footage to make it seem as though Lena Luthor had been the one who smuggled in the heart as part of an elaborate plot to both frame Lena and force her to aid her mother). However, because the synthetic Kryptonite was unstable, Corben was slowly undergoing a radiological meltdown, and ultimately perished via self-destruction despite Supergirl's best efforts to save him.
- Aside from Corben, Project Cadmus scientist Dr. Gilcrist (portrayed by Rich Ting), was also subjected unwillingly to be the second Metallo model by Lillian Luthor. During his fight with Superman, Martian Manhunter removed Dr. Gilcrist's Kryptonite heart shutting him down.
- An entirely robotic Metallo, voiced by Frederick Schmidt, features in the four-part crossover story "Crisis on Earth-X", linking the shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. It appears as the servant of a Nazi regime led by Oliver Queen and Kara Zor-El, and takes the primary heroes of the aforementioned shows captive. It is eventually defeated by the combined powers of the shows' supporting characters, Black Canary, Killer Frost, Captain Cold, the Ray, the Atom, Firestorm, Heat Wave, Zari, Vibe, and Vixen.
- Metallo appeared in season 5 of the animated series The Batman, voiced by Lex Lang. His kryptonite heart is not in his center, but in the upper left quadrant of his chest. Also, Metallo has a back-up power source and can operate without the kryptonite heart. Metallo was paid by Lex Luthor to kill Superman. Because of the kryptonite, Superman fought a losing battle until Batman and Robin showed up. They managed to get the kryptonite out of Metallo long enough for Superman to recover. After he recovered, Superman defeated Metallo by trapping him in a hydraulic compactor, although it is said that a certain type of battery keeps him alive. His origin is not given.
- Metallo makes a cameo appearance as one of the villains Superman and Batman take down together in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Superman is wrestling with Metallo on top of a building when Metallo exposes his kryptonite heart and weakens Superman. Batman comes and uses a grappling hook to pull the kryptonite heart from the center of Metallo's chest. Metallo is then easily beaten by Superman with one punch. His design is like the Bronze Age Metallo although much bulkier than Superman.
- John Corben/Metallo appears in several animated series set in the DC Animated Universe:
- He made his debut in Superman: The Animated Series, voiced by veteran actor Malcolm McDowell. John Corben was originally an English criminal-for-hire, who was eventually caught and jailed by Superman. During his time in prison, Corben contracted a rare and fatal disease. His past employer (and the person responsible for Corben being infected by the disease), Lex Luthor, then offered him a new lease on life by transferring his consciousness into a robotic body, and in exchange Corben would kill Superman for Luthor. The android body is made of an indestructible alloy called "Metallo", and is powered by a kryptonite power source to use against the Man of Steel. However, Corben soon learned that his new body had no sense of taste, smell or touch, and this sensory deprivation drove him insane. Realizing he was no longer the man he once was, Corben dubbed himself "Metallo".
- Metallo returns in the Justice League episode "Hereafter", voiced by Corey Burton. He appears as a member of the Superman Revenge Squad.
- Malcolm McDowell reprised his role as Metallo in Justice League Unlimited, where he is a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society. He, along with Silver Banshee, are sent on a mission to Skartaris to obtain a large kryptonite rock, but are ultimately defeated by the Justice League. When he attempts to tell the League about the new Secret Society, his brain is fried by a protocol Grodd secretly programmed into him.
- Metallo appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is based on Jeph Loeb's 2003 comic book story arc of the same name that appeared in the Superman/Batman comic book. In the movie, Metallo is voiced by Scrubs star John C. McGinley. He acts as Lex Luthor's bodyguard who then fights with both Superman and Batman. After they escape him, he is killed by Major Force and his death is used to frame Superman, although a cursory analysis of his body by Batman confirms that he was killed by a radiation blast rather than heat vision.
- Metallo makes a brief appearance in All-Star Superman. He is seen lifting weights when Lex Luthor, escorted by armed guards, and Clark Kent (who is interviewing Lex Luthor), walk past his glass cell. He looks up when they pass by. Clark Kent seemed to shy away from Metallo's cell since it was not made of lead. This led to Parasite's escape from his cell near Metallo's since Parasite easily absorbed Clark Kent's power from a few meters away. The only reason Superman was not affected by the kryptonite heart was because his overcharged powers made him impervious to it.
- Metallo appears in the animated film Justice League: Doom, voiced by Paul Blackthorne. He is part of Vandal Savage's Legion of Doom, and is his counterpart to Superman. He is more lighthearted than his fellow Legion members, as shown by his attempts to shake Bane's hand after saying he was a fan of Bane's work, and openly laughing when Vandal Savage presents his plan. He draws Superman's attention by posing as Daily Planet reporter Henry Ackerson and heading to the top of the building itself, claiming to commit suicide. Lois Lane tells Superman about Ackerson, and the Man of Steel flies onto the roof and convinces him not to jump. Metallo then pulls out a gun containing a kryptonite bullet and shoots Superman in the chest and exposing his Kryptonite heart before knocking Superman off the roof and into the streets below. Despite mocking Savage's plan initially, he takes part in it. When the Justice League storms the Hall of Doom, Metallo fights Superman, gaining the upper hand using his kryptonite heart to weaken the Man of Steel. Despite holding off Superman for most of the fight, once Savage launches his missile Superman slammed the plating containing Metallo's heart over the kryptonite, forcibly trapping it before Superman uses his heat vision to decapitate Metallo. Metallo's head was most likely reattached and he was put into custody.
- Metallo was initially considered to be the antagonist in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel, but the project was eventually cancelled in favor of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His creator, Emmet Vale, appears in Dawn of Justice, portrayed by Ralph Lister.
- Malcolm McDowell reprises his role as Metallo in Superman: Shadow of Apokolips as the final boss.
- Metallo appears as one of the bosses in Superman: The New Adventures.
- Metallo appears as one of the bosses in Superman: The Man of Steel, voiced by Roger L. Jackson.
- Metallo appears as a recurring boss in Superman Returns, voiced by John Billingsley. In the game, he can assimilate metal cars, light poles, etc., to become a larger and stronger version of himself. Metallo eventually realizes he is defeated and shoots a missile, which Superman stops. Superman then tears out Metallo's power source.
- Metallo appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by Ryan Wickerham.
- Metallo appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us. He is an interactive character in Stryker's Island.
- Metallo appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Travis Willingham.
- Dirk Maggs' 1990 BBC Radio adaptation of The Man of Steel included Metallo as a major character. In this version, Corben (played by Simon Treves) was wearing the suit of battle armour that Lex Luthor sent up against Superman. To cover his tracks, Luthor ensured that the suit's psionic interface was unstable, leaving Corben a complete vegetable. He was 'rescued' by Doctor Schwarz, a disgruntled former Lexcorp employee, who had been tracking the capsule that brought the infant Superman to Earth and stole this from the Kents' farm. Having built Corben an android body powered by the capsule's kryptonite power source, they hatched a plan to kill Lex Luthor and Superman. Metallo double-crosses Schwarz and breaks his neck. Kidnapping Lois Lane, Metallo holes up at the power station at Two Mile Island waiting for Superman to face him. During the ensuring battle, Lex Luthor steps in and tears out Metallo's kryptonite heart.
His DC Universe Classic figure is a Collect N Connect figure in Wave 5 featuring the Riddler (Head & Torso), The Atom (right arm), The Eradicator (left arm), Amazo (right leg), and Black Lightning (left leg).
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