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|First appearance||Action Comics #252 (May 1959)|
|Created by||Robert Bernstein
|Alter ego||John Corben|
|Team affiliations||Injustice League
United States Army
|Notable aliases||Metal Zero (Metal-0)|
Metallo (John Corben) is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly serving as an adversary of Superman. He is usually depicted as a cyborg with a kryptonite power source, which he uses as a weapon against Superman.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Fictional character biography
The Golden Age Metallo
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 personal strength to superhuman levels. He exposed Superman to a ray that reduced the hero's power significantly and that gave 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 Metallo
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, Corben suffered a near-fatal accident that mangled his body beyond repair. An elderly scientist, Professor Vale, happened to come upon Corben, and used his scientific skill to transfer Corben's brain into a robotic body covered by a fleshlike 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 in reality 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) died.(Action #252, may, 1959)[volume & issue needed]
The Bronze Age Metallo
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 Roger 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 his "new" identity that he had created using plastic surgery (which turned out to be WGBS Staffer Martin Korda).
The Modern Age Metallo
In this version, John Corben was a small-time con man who was fatally injured in a car crash, but to his 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 Metallo 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 was able to 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 Origin
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. But 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 subsequently attacked Superman again, now wearing a green, orange and red armor 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 52
In the rebooted continuity of "The New 52", John Corben is under the command of General Sam Lane. General Lane tells Corben 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 to go against Superman called "Project Steel Soldier". 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 Superman was able to reason with Metallo to fight Brainiac's influence due to his feelings for Lois Lane. In doing so, Corben attacked Brainiac until Superman was able to 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 the 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 on vegetative state, Corben was brought back with a shard of kryptonite and back to active duty in U.S. Army, but since his actions caused the death of hundreds of civilians, General Lane tried to kill him by exploding the plane he was being carried on. He survived, and sought vengeance on 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.
Powers and abilities
Metallo’s metallic body offers him a high degree of protection from physical and energy attacks. He has enhanced abilities. Metallo 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, as a result 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 in order 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.
- 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 other media
- Metallo appears in the first episode of the second season of the TV show Supergirl on the CW network.
- 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 presume he is dead, but journalist Clark Kent is not so sure. Meanwhile, Corben is actually alive. He falls into the hands of a mentally-unbalanced doctor who turns Corben 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 the boyfriend of Lucy Lane 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't stop him. When Metallo kidnaps Clark to use him as bait for luring 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.
- Brian Austin Green portrays John Corben/Metallo in three episodes in Smallville's ninth season. His first appearance was in the ninth season premiere episode "Savior". In Smallville, he is a war time reporter. As a back-story for this version, he had been recently stationed in Afghanistan. When he meets Lois Lane, he expresses his distaste for vigilantes, particularly "The Blur" (aka Superman aka Clark Kent). In the next episode "Metallo", John Corben is hit by a truck. He wakes up with bionic additions, including the Green Kryptonite powered matrix that replaced his heart and now powers his body. He seeks assistance in a hospital, with Dr. Emil Hamilton attending to him, but Corben loses control when they attempt to sedate him. With new power of super strength and Kryptonite due to the implants, Corben begins a hunt for the Blur, blaming the Blur for his sister's murder. Later it is revealed that the Blur had saved a prison bus full of convicts from a crash, one of which escaped and went on to kill John Corben's sister. Corben overhears Lois Lane telling the Blur/Clark that Corben is the person from the hospital incident, and he kidnaps her. Clark confronts Corben and attempts to disable his cybernetics using a short-range EMP. Corben revives from the EMP after only a few moments, throws Clark and then turns to an unconscious Lois. Clark heats a lead door from a nearby boiler and quickly fixes it to Corben's chest, covering the heart. When Corben attempts to remove it, the heart is ripped from his chest and he appears to die. Later, it is revealed that Tess Mercer has both the Green Kryptonite core and Corben. She asks one of her scientists if Corben can be revived and he states that since he is more machine than man, he has simply gone "offline." At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Major Zod and the Kandorians experimented on him to try and regain their lost powers. At the conclusion of the episode "Echo", Tess takes Metallo's Kryptonite heart to the incarcerated villain Toyman. She instructs him that he is going to tell her how the Green Kryptonite heart functions, which he agrees to do. Corben is "reactivated" in the episode "Upgrade" after Tess' scientists are able to correct the initial design flaw in the Kryptonite heart that causes an adrenal overload and resulting psychosis. Tess intends to use him as a defensive weapon against the Kandorians, implanting a control chip that can make him a mindless drone. Corben is spared this fate when Lois infiltrates the base he is imprisoned within. She is on an undercover mission for the Blur - really Major Zod, who has regained his lost superpowers, posing as the Blur - and is discovered. The commotion gives Corben a chance to escape his restraints and flee the base in an explosion. Freed of his psychosis and mind-control and feeling obligated to Lois, he saves her when the fiery explosion throws her down an elevator shaft where he is hiding. Lois later discovers him in the basement of the Talon. He collapsed the night before as Tess had drained his Green Kryptonite heart to keep him contained, but he eventually finds a Kryptonite arsenal and recharges his heart. While skeptical after their previous encounter, the revelation he has saved her and the discovery of the port in his neck (similar to that of Wes in the Ares Project) makes Lois sympathetic. He subsequently meets with Clark (who was under the influence of Red Kryptonite through red dust inhalation at the lab where Corben was held prisoner), and helped cure Clark of a recent Red Kryptonite 'infection' that had caused him to side with Major Zod in destroying Chloe's arsenal stash of Kryptonite-based weapons, before he departs Metropolis, Lois declining the offer to go with him due to her feelings for Clark. Before John leaves, Lois gives Corben a Red Kryptonite heart as his new power source. He reappears in the finale season episode "Prophecy" as a member of Marionette Ventures, with Supergirl assigned as his target.
- 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. Then they unleash him on Supergirl and Superman.
- Aside from Corden, the second-in-command of Project Cadmus' director Dr. Gilcrist (portrayed by Rich Ting) was also subjected unwillingly to be the second Metallo model.
- 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 in one punch. His design is similar to the Bronze Age Metallo although much bulkier than Superman.
DC Animated Universe
- 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, 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 wasn't 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 against 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 him attempting 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 Daily Planet 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 shooting 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 his genocidal plan. 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 put into custody.
- Metallo was initially considered to be the antagonist in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel, but the project was eventually outed 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 is able to assimilate metal cars, light poles, etc., to become a larger and stronger version of himself.
- 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. In order 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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